Curbing The Cynicism

Two threads of my inner monologue came together today leaving me feeling like I’m simply not a good person.

The first thread: I learned the sad news of the passing of Grant Imahara, who had been part of the team that brought the world Mythbusters. He was tragically young and it’s clear how much his death has affected fans around the globe. I loved Mythbusters and still do. This is one of those unexpected deaths that really hit me on a gut level.

Yet what puzzled me in that grotesque way that some things puzzle me and leave me feeling ashamed is the manner in which some people have been reacting to the news of his passing. This reflects poorly on me, I’m sure, but I could never be one of those people who tweet out my sympathy to his family. That doesn’t mean that I don’t feel for their loss or wouldn’t mark it with some expression of sadness, but I couldn’t ever inject myself into that private grief. I just don’t think it’s a stranger’s place to start sending “love” to named individuals currently experiencing loss. If you start naming partners and kids then you overstep a boundary, in my humble opinion. They have my sympathy, of course, but there’s a point at which my reticence kicks in. Not only does it kick in, but I start to feel annoyed at the presumption of other people who write flowery tributes. It doesn’t feel entirely normal to be so friendly towards strangers. In fact, much as I hate to say it, it begins to feel just a bit creepy…

Now, I admit all this to my blog because it’s a place where I throw this kind of random thought and I’m sure they don’t portray me in the best light. I am, however, being honest.

Which brings me to the other thread…

It’s thoughts like this that explain why I’m such a big fan of Larry David. In fact, I’m probably a bigger fan of Curb Your Enthusiasm than I ever was of Seinfeld (and I loved Seinfeld). I first saw the show late one night when the very first series was picked up by ITV and broadcast around midnight. I remember watching one episode and immediately doing everything I could to watch the rest. Back before it became big in the UK, I’d import the DVDs from the US and binge on them repeatedly. I loved the fact that Larry didn’t fit in with the world. He had the same awful scepticism and ultra-rationality that I find debilitating.

Larry obsesses over points of formality such as when does it become too late to wish people a Happy New Year or at what time is it too late to ring somebody? As the beginning of this post attests, I obsess over the very same kind of detail, to the point where it probably hinders me. Should I take away the extra sugar sachets I pick up in cafes? Should you say hello to a shop assistant who serves you regularly if you see them outside the context of their work? Not great examples, I admit, but these are the things that can bug me.

I also love that kind of humour yet, currently watching Series 10 of Curb, I realise Larry has become terrible. I mean the man is a monster.

The series begins with him walking down the street talking to his friend Leon when they pass a couple using a selfie stick. Without breaking stride, Larry grabs the stick, breaks it across his knee, and carries on walking. He then demolished a row of scooters for no obvious reason. As a start to the series, these were fine gag to remind us that Larry is a curmudgeon but it is also out of character for Larry, who is usually passive in most instances and only becomes aggressive when confronted. I don’t know why David chose this route for the new series, but Larry has become almost unrecognisable. The main plot of the series is Larry opening a “spite store”, his own coffee shop to spite his regular barista, ‘Mocha Joe’, who threw Larry out of his café. That he would spend so much time to achieve this is untypical of Larry who is, above all things, immensely lazy. It’s also problematic because it also speaks directly to the one thing David has managed to avoid addressing in the previous series: his/Larry’s vast wealth. Bored but hugely rich multimillionaire spends tens of thousands of dollars to spite an ordinary guy trying to earn a living… It feels like a big miscalculation.

The whole series has gone from wry observations about life to being crudely judgemental. It baffles me why, except saying that perhaps aggression is easier to write than observation. I’m only halfway through the series and I hope there’s some balance restored to the universe because I’d hate to think this is the destiny of all cynics. There’s a big difference between being overly sensitive and having no sensitivity at all.

Leave a Reply


It’s a cool domain name and it was available. Yes, I know. Available. Crazy, isn’t it?


Yes. It also helps that it’s also my favourite satire written by Alexander Pope, one of the most metrically pure English poets who also knew his way around a crude insult or two. If you’ve not read it, you should give it a try.

So this is satire, right?

Can’t deny it. There will be some. But it’s also an experiment in writing and drawing, giving work away for free in order to see how many people are willing to support a writer doing his thing. It’s the weird stuff that I wouldn’t get published elsewhere in this word of diminishing demands and cookie-cutter tastes.