We Never Just Talk Anymore, Do We?

It occured to me tonight that Emily and I haven't actually had an evening out with other people (aside from my family, who came to town for Thanskgiving last week) since Halloween. This, of course, is the time of year when we regularly turn into hermits-- there's grading to be done, abstracts to write (for her), letters of recommendation to compose (for me), and next semester to plan (or at least think about). Add to that my recent thyroid difficulties (which, I'm afraid to say, wound up getting worse again before they got better), and, well... We're really hermits this year.

So in an effort to reach out to the rest of the world, I thought I'd open up a discussion-- sort of like I did months ago after I read John McNally's When I Was a Loser collection. This time, I'm reading David Shields's Remote, which explores the impact our culture (mostly of the "pop" variety) and various forms of media have impacted and constructed the author's identity.

So my question to all of you is, what pieces of pop culture debris have had the greatest impact on your life? And don't try to get all intellectual on us here-- I want to hear about the crap. The pleasures you don't feel remotely guilty about, but that you call "guilty pleasures" anyway."

It's a tough one for me. I love horror movies and soap operas and message boards devoted to horror movies and soap operas. But I think, more than anything else, superhero comic books of the late seventies and the eighties have had a more profound impact on my life and identity than any of the other worthless crap I've absorbed like some type of flushed-away sponge. When I was little, I learned to read with The Incredible Hulk and Batman and the Outsiders. As I got older, I became pegged as a "geek" (and hung out with fellow geeks) because of Justice League and Flash collections. And even now, after I've graded a stack of student essays and have done all the assigned reading for the rest of the week, I reward myself by reading Batman in the Sevnties or Essential X-Men until I fall asleep.

Don't get me wrong-- I don't have much use for most comic books produced after 1992 or so. I don't know why that is, except that most of the "mainstream" comic books produced today are written by guys around my age or a little bit older who firmly believe that comics should be written for the same audience that buys Dennis Lehane novels and watches Quentin Tarantion movies-- grim, violent fantasies of suffering and righteous retribution. Bah. Who needs that? I'd much rather read about the Flash, using his cosmic treadmill to achieve speeds fast enough to travel through time in order to prevent Gorilla Grodd from conquering the future. Or the past. Doesn't matter. It's totally awesome either way.

You know I'm right.

So, what gets stuck in your imagination, even when you're trying to think deeper thoughts?

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