Hurrah for other things

My five-year-old grandson recently announced that he didn’t like SpongeBob SquarePants. I always found him a bit grating too, but rather than agree, I asked why? Without hesitation he said, “Some people like some things and other people like other things.”

Maybe that insight applies to all ages and explains why I like some people and not others. Take Salman Rushdie, for example. Now that he has turned his murderous fatwa into a novel, Joseph Anton, he has become inescapable. Not to wish another period of danger upon him, but I liked him better when he was in hiding. Then there’s Leonard Cohen. So languid, so laid back. He’s a wonderful songwriter (Judy Collins and Joni Mitchell both sang his material) but except for Suzanne from 1967 everything he has intoned since all sound the same to me. Must be a chick thing. In the immortal words of Mitt Romney, Leonard Cohen probably has binders full of women.

Speaking of women, has anyone been able to finish a Margaret Atwood novel since Surfacing, published in 1972? And what’s so great about Diana Krall? All she does is sing covers. If she weren’t so beautiful – not that there’s anything wrong with that – she’d be playing the piano bar at the Bide-A-Wee Motel in Shediac.

But just in case you think I’m some grumpy geezer who doesn’t like anyone or anything, here are a few folks I admire and can’t get enough of. I’m currently reading The Passage of Power, Robert Caro’s third volume in his continuing biography of Lyndon Johnson. This book took Caro more years to write than Johnson spent living them. As a tribute, I might take even longer to finish it so much do I treasure Caro’s storytelling style. My favorite novel has long been F. Scott Fitgerald’s The Great Gatsby with its impossibly lyrical last line, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” I reread Gatsby once a year.

My favorite music includes anything by Vivaldi as well as Beethoven’s 32 sonatas. I’ve listened to the complete 10 CD sonata collection so often that when one ends, I can hum the opening bars of the next before it begins. From the nineteenth century, I revel in Gilbert and Sullivan. Among more modern musicians, Adele, Queen, and Sarah Brightman.

Amateur psychologists, read into all of that what you will.

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