I’ve now recorded 54 episodes of my weekly hour-long podcast.
My podcast currently has 30 questions that I ask my guests. (They’re listed in the link above.) The show is dually entitled, “The Funny Indian Show Podcast” and “The Tangent Show.” The latter has a double entendre, indicating that we go off on tangents and that I’m a tan… gent.
Since we do veer away from the questions or take one and run with it for minutes on end, we don’t always cover them all. And that’s fine. The questions start relatively easy and then become more difficult. The idea isn’t to stump my guests but rather to banter with them and then try to shed some light on the things in this world that I’m trying to figure out.
I redid the numbering of the questions and may even do so again. But for now, this is question three (and yes, sometimes each question contains multiple queries within it). Here goes:
3. What could you give up most easily – books, TV, music, or movies?
That’s also the most popular answer provided by my guests.
Btw, no cheating. You can’t answer, “music,” and then try to get around it by watching videos. Or say, “movies,” and then catch them on TBS instead of at the theater. You can’t smart-ass it and go, “books,” and then try to listen to Books on Tape. If you give up music, though, that doesn’t mean you’d have to hold your ears if a song comes on during a movie. Let’s not be ridiculous.
- Books: It’s funny because this is the one people don’t want to say they’d give up. It kind of reminds me of something my friend, Jon Langdon, said when I asked him about his movie tastes. He answered, “What do I like or what would I like to like?” In other words, I think we want to believe the best about ourselves, that we’d choose Citizen Kane and Gone with The Wind as our faves. But they’re really Office Space and Airplane! Nowhere is this better reflected than in my Netflix queue. I keep moving Taxi Driver and Bull Durham farther and farther down, while the next DVD in the mail is Entourage: Season 6. (Yes, that’s TV.) And I’ve had Dr. Strangelove in its red envelope at home for no less than six weeks. So… a lot of people reluctantly sigh and answer, “books.” But to me, books are like religion. They’ll become important later in life. Sure, you learn about religion at an early age and it’s always vital to many people, but I’ve always believed my desire to explore it in more depth will happen as I get older. And in fact, most of where I’d get my information about religion will be from the good books themselves. I cannot imagine giving up access to the greatest compendium of knowledge bestowed upon us by our ancestors. (That’s an example of a sentence I want to be able to say.) These texts were placed upon this earth for us to read. Books, more than any other medium of entertainment, represent the highest achievements in human history. As my author brother, Rakesh, said, ~”If you don’t, at some point, read The Odyssey, you will be a person who has never read The Odyssey.” I need to not be that person. Besides, I already am a person who doesn’t have an advanced degree. Then again, neither does Rakesh. Ha.
- Music: There’s no way I could give up music. Even though, of the four, it’s the one that’s generally a background experience, it literally provides a soundtrack to our lives. (Boy, that was cheesy.) I often have it on while driving or working or socializing. But I’d probably rather give up ten years of my life than live without it. To not hear the Beatles or Led Zeppelin (or Ke$ha) ever again? I can’t imagine that.
- Movies: Even though I’m the most avid movie quoter I know, I’ve seen many of the films I’ve wanted to see. That’s one way to look at this question, to be sure. I’m not saying you’d had to have given these media up from birth. It’s kind of like asking whether you’d go blind or deaf or if you’d rather have been born without vision or hearing. Are the answers different? I don’t know. Either would be incredibly difficult, but I’d rather have my eyes from birth. To never have seen this world would be extremely hard because you’d just have no point-of-reference about so many things. Going forward, however, I think it’s more of a toss-up. Interestingly, if you did lose your hearing, you could still experience books and TV and movies but not music. If you lost your sight, you could still experience books and music but not TV or movies. So, within the realm of this question, it’d be more challenging to live without seeing. But, we digress. Now, you can see why my podcast is called The Tangent Show. Anyway, the reality with movies (and music) is that they’ve steadily gotten worse over the years. Dramatic films peaked in the 1970s. Comedic films peaked in the 1980s. There are still great movies being made but they are few and far between. Though it wouldn’t be easy, precisely because my memory for them is so good, I could play flicks back in my head from here on out and enjoy them that way. (Although I’d appear more and more dated. I’d be frozen in time. But that happens to a lot of us. If you only listen to ’90s on 9 on XM/Sirius, you are kind of living in the past. You know you’re old when you can’t believe what “kids these days” are watching/listening to/reading.) Even though I do watch them again and again, for the most part, a movie is something you watch once or twice. Music you listen to over and over again. Finally, a lot of the best movies are based on novels (and are widely considered better), so I wouldn’t totally miss out.
- TV: I’d give up TV. (The upside would be that the incentive for me to get on TV would be increased.) The hard part with TV is that it isn’t monolithic. It’s made up of shows, sports, and news. I actually lived without TV for a year when I first moved to LA, ironically the capital of TV. People say you get used to it. I didn’t. Americans watch something like four hours a day. (My parents thought that was nuts until I told them they have the TV on for about 10 hours a day. Granted, it’s mostly CNN and MSNBC, but if the box is on FOX, it’s still tox-ic.) I only watch about two hours – 30 minutes each for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and then 30 more at night to unwind. In this day and age of the internet, though, it’s easier than ever to give it up. Not so much because of the content, but the TV used to be our connection to the rest of the world. Today, it’s our computer. Still, posting up on the couch and watching my 55″ screen is markedly different from sitting up and watching my laptop. As they’ve called it, it’s a lean-back vs. lean-forward experience. Though Scientific American explored whether TV is actually addictive, it did state that watching TV is counter-intuitively draining. It’s weird. If you chill on the couch and watch four hours of TV, you’ll find yourself anything but relaxed and refreshed. Because of the cuts, pans, edits, and zooms, you’re actually working. I think a lot of people aspire to throw out their television sets. So, despite the fact that I couldn’t watch TV on the internet (in keeping with the guidelines of this question), I’d give up TV. I could still read the news. I could still go to sporting events. (And I haven’t followed sports closely in about ten years.) TV is also more of a time commitment, week after week. It’s literally a pastime, something one does to pass the time. Movies are event-based; TV is character-based. It’s a slow build. Plus, my life has been changed by movies, books, and even music. I’ve loved a lot of TV shows but I can’t say television is life-changing. And it’s the only one that’s kind of considered a vice. “I gotta cut back on my… book-reading?” Not so much. Beyond that, entertainment is now so fragmented, reflected in the sheer number of channels, that there isn’t really a water cooler show like Seinfeld or Friends. Partly because of the rise of niche programming and partly because societal standards are changing, writers are doing more in TV than they ever have, meaning that, while movies and music (and books) worsen… we’re not topping the Gita or the Bible… TV is the best it’s ever been. Missing out on LOST, The West Wing, The Sopranos, The Wire, Arrested Development, Louie, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Extras, The Office, et al., would be tough, though those are in the past. But let’s face it: I was never going to get around to these in my Netflix queue, anyway.
So, in order, I’d give up:
Good thing I didn’t have “Rajiv’s Blog” as one of the options. That’d be everyone’s first.