Thursday, June 16, 2011

Expert of nothing good, really

I'm fully aware that this is topic is well-trod among stand-up comics, bloggers, and thoughtful internetsters, but I must weigh in. It sucks being a master of trivial knowledge in 2011.

In 2001, I passed Boston auditions for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. I made it through the throngs lined up outside the Park Plaza hotel, made it through the producer's written test with 30 other potential contestants, and made it through the producer interviews and saw my Polaroided head thumbtacked to their wall. They told me I was in the contestant pool. My phone never rang.

I will assume part of that had to do with the fact that I've had 15 phone numbers since 2001, and god knows which one I wrote down that day. But that small badge of Trivia excellence, my dominating audition performance, is all I've got left when the skank to my right in the bar will happily Google the answer to "Who is the only James Bond to be in one film only?" when the Triviamaster asks the crowd. I want to slap the phone out of her hand. I want to stand up and point down at her dumb head, yelling, "CHEAT! THIS CHICK IS CHEATING!" But that's something I might have done in 2001. I'm a goddamned grownup now. So I just write "George Lazenby, 10 pts" on my slip of paper, sip from my glass, and walk over to the Triviamaster and whisper THAT CHICK IS CHEATING as I hand him my answer. I'm a grown-ass man, dawg.

The point is this: I always relished my role as Information Provider when it came to helping people I knew get connected with information that was relevant to them. I would routinely get text messages from friends who knew that I would know the answer. Those don't happen as much anymore. Information has become devalued in the last ten years, even as the internet has become more cluttered with bullshit.

What pains me is that I have become no less hungry for new information, concepts, or music. I still yearn to connect the people I care about with what I think they would care about. And where it hurts most is music.

There's a million things in the world about which I am embarassingly uninformed. side note: Hockey is one of those things. I'm waiting for J.D. Salinger to swoop down from his hermit castle in New Hampshire and yell PHONY as I walk into work today with my Stanley Cup Champions shirt. But music is not one of those things. In fact, with each passing month, I become more and more laser-focused on what it is that gets me off about music. I find musical elements in unsigned bands' EPs that remind me of Oh Darlin! by the Beatles, or how a pedal steel can elevate a minimal song to a brutally heartbreaking minimal song. And nobody cares. People have their own musical taste (mostly wrong), and they don't need my expertise. And the more I feel like I'm approaching Music Nirvana, the less it matters to anyone.

And those subjects about which I'm embarassingly uninformed? It's all willful ignorance. The world is an ugly place these days. Our government is a mess. And the more I read, or plug into the CNN machine for an hour, the less I want to know about it. And the less I know, the more it passes me by. Which is part of the plan, I'm sure. Lazy voters make for easy elections.

So I will continue to post things on this blog which are more and more right, just so our readers are aware. My recommendations are not made lightly. I will tell you when I am a dumbass on a particular topic. But if anyone's looking to join an elite high-stakes Traveling Trivia Night squad, feel free to apply below. Let's win some goddamn airline tickets or something.

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