Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Guilty Pleasures

A few weeks ago, a friend asked me what my guilty pleasures were. She was specifically referring to music, but it’s an especially fascinating question when you apply it to other areas. I define a guilty pleasure as something that you really like, but you don’t like to admit it. The reason for your reluctance to own up to your cravings really doesn’t matter much, but it is instructive. For instance, there are some things I keep quiet because they don’t really fit in with a certain image I have of myself…ok, a certain image I like to project of myself. Sometimes it’s just that you know that your pleasure is a lowbrow thing. In some cases (not mine) you just feel that it’s somehow morally wrong.

Of course, if it actually is a matter of morality, one should just stop doing it. But the kind of guilty pleasure I’m talking about is more a matter of taste.

And as we all know De gustibus non est disputandum, especially since Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum videtur. So here is my basic list.

This is an easy choice. My guilty pleasure is ABBA. I listen to an ABBA tune once, and I can’t get those crazy Swedes out of my head. And I LIKE that I can't get it out of my head. Catchy tunes, scintillating harmonies, hooky hooks. And none of them could actually speak a word of English. You gotta admire that on some level.

I also like Gilbert and Sullivan and Burl Ives. I would have to include Sugar Sugar by the Archies. I can't help it, I like it.

I have to admit a certain fondness for most anything by Bernard Conrwell, especially the Richard Sharpe series. But those aren’t too bad really. Cornwell is a fine storyteller, does first rate research on his historical settings, and one comes to love his characters. If I truly come clean about actual guilty pleasures, I would have to admit that I have enjoyed any number of Dick Marcinko’s Navy Seal stories. The writing is horrible, the storytelling is completely formulaic, cliché-ridden and predictable – but I still enjoy it. For my money, it's hard to beat hard drinking, foul mouthed, bad ass former soldiers going renegade to save the world from being overrun by Tangoes. Guns, bombs, blood and dirt. That's some good reading right there, you betcha.

I have always been fond of Reader’s Digest, even as a kid. My kids seem to be picking that up as well.

I remember as a kid going to see a film called the Devil’s 8 in a Saturday Matinee at the Scenic Theater. I suppose it really wasn’t a good movie for kids to see, and I had never heard about it since. It was a total B movie (maybe even a C) but it made such an impression on me that I never forgot it. I can’t remember any of the plot, just that there were good guys, bad guys, lots of cars racing and flying through the air and guns. It was like, the coolest thing ever. I just looked it up on IMDB, and here are the tag lines.

They're the dregs of the prisons... scum of the chain-gangs... welded into a shock squad to smash an Underworld Empire the law can't touch!

All they had was a skill for violence and nothing to lose but their lives!

Nice! I’m sure my mother would have been proud.

On a more up to the minute note, I will say that I have no problem whatsoever viewing movies commonly pigeonholed as ‘chickflicks” with one proviso – that they are actually good stories. When Harry Met Sally, and Sleepless in Seattle are two that come to mind that I thought were pretty enjoyable. I wouldn’t rate them as best movies ever, but I enjoyed them because they were good stories about likeable people, well told. I did not cry at any of them, but I did laugh a lot.

For some time I followed the Highlander series. Immortal sword wielder defeats other immortals by chopping off their heads and receiving their power into himself in an orgy of lightning, thunder, screaming and roaring. Totally ridiculous. Lots of fun.

I never feel guilty about food. Ever. I eat what I want, and I don’t eat what I don’t want. If you don’t like it, that’s fine. Just means more for me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cartoons have been a guilty pleasure all my life- until the good ones went cable on me. I loved to watch Recess and Kim Possible with the kids. In college I loved Thundercats and even He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

I'm also with you on "some" chickflicks.

My real guilty pleasure is watching the Terminator type movies when everyone is in bed. Wendy hates these movies.