7 Quick Takes: In Poor Taste


Never mind the talk about sex, gin, or condoms —  I really ruffled some feathers when I allowed my violent distaste for “The Little Drummer Boy” to spill over into the public realm.  Well, I stand by my words.  It’s just a dumb, dumb song, and I don’t like it.  Harumph all you want.

Okay, that was kind of a stretch.  My point is that, despite my entirely justifiable disdain, I can understand why you would like “The Little Drummer Boy.”  Not because there’s anything good about it (there’s not), or because there’s anything wrong with you (there is), but because personal taste is a strange and embarrassing phenomenon.  As my old college professor used to say, De gustibus non figureoutum est.

So, just to let you know that even a sneering elitist like myself has some chinks in my armor (although my heart of stone remains intact), I present:

Seven Examples of Simcha’s Execrable Taste

1.  Footprints in the sand.  Did you ever look back on your life and see the part that was all soggy?  That was me, weeping heartfelt tears over this unforgivable bit of religious schlock.  It doesn’t even actually make sense.  When you felt the worst, that was when God was carrying you?  Does He do that?  In my experience, it’s more like He says, “Go ahead and have a tantrum — see if I care!”   And the He stands back with his arms folded and watches me make a fool of myself, until I get so worked up that I fall down and hit my head on the coffee table.  Then He picks me up, checks my pupils to make sure I don’t have a concussion, and maybe puts on Shaun the Sheep for a while until I calm down.

Don’t ask me what the sand would look like at this point.

But yeah, “Footprints in the sand” kind of gets me.  Whatever.

2.  Billy Joel’s “Leningrad.”

It’s bad enough that it’s Billy Joel, but why “Leningrad?”  I hang my head in shame.

3.  SpaghettiOs.  Yes, I realize it’s basically extruded flour glue in warm ketchup.

Remember that movie Se7en where the guy makes the fat guy eat all those SpaghettiOs?  Hated the movie, but I would love to be that fat guy.  Except for when he gets killed.

4.  Plastic leaves.  We had a Greek myths birthday party in September, and I liked how the dining room looked with strings of plastic ivy tacked onto the wallpaper, so I left them up.  They’re from Dollar Tree, and now my house looks like Dollar Tree.  It’s my house, and that’s how I like it.

5.  Gold or silver spray paint.  IT MAKES EVERYTHING LOOK FANCIER, and you can’t tell me otherwise.  So if you get something like this from me for Christmas

it’s not ironic hipster kitsch.  I just thought it was purty.  Don’t you like pretty things?  What are you, some kind of monster?

6.  Nic Cage.

Not because of his puppy dog eyes or his upsetting hair, the shredded wheat-like likes of which have not been seen since Gene Wilder in his heyday

— but because of a kind of a funny story.  You see, about ten years into my marriage, my husband rented a movie with Nicholas Cage in it.  I forget what it was, but it sure stunk, as Nicholas Cage movies are wont to do (yes, Bad Lieutenant was mesmerizing.  The Rock was fun. Raising Arizona was amusing, though overrated — but let’s face it, he’s only still around for the same reason as you keep that horrible old tippy coffee table:  because it more or less does the job, and you just don’t have the time right now to go out and get a replacement.  Nicholas Cage:  go ahead and put a wet glass on him.)

Oh, I think the movie was Ghost Rider!  Anyway, we just couldn’t watch it.  And we are people who watched Zardoz all the way through.  We watched Thunderball all the way through.  We watched Yentl, for pete’s sake.  Anyway, it developed that my husband had chosen Ghost Rider because he thought I had some particular affection for Nicholas Cage (which I don’t); and I watched it because I thought he wanted to watch it (which he didn’t).  Very Gift of the Magi, isn’t it?

So that’s why I like Nicholas Cage.

7.  Budweiser.

I like how it tastes.  So sue me.

And then head over to Conversion Diary, where Jen Fulwiler is hosting 7 Quick Takes.  I can almost guarantee you that nobody else’s list will force you to think about Nicholas Cage’s hair.  Although Advent is a penitential season.


  1. …And thank you for finally describing Spaghettios in the very most of perfect words. I don’t even like them, and it still worked for me.

  2. Somewhere in the back of our garage, I think I still have a tree branch that I intend to spray paint & hang ornaments, hearts, Easter eggs, birds, etc depending on the season. Not sure where I will display said spray-painted branch yet (hence the procrastination). Hubby has probably tossed it to deter me. But there are always new branches…

  3. I watched an *awful* Nic Cage movie this week – “Knowing”. My 10 year old son said, “Mom, you’re not going to like it. It looks stupid. And Nic Cage movies suck.” Yeah. My 10 year old boy is wise beyond his years. I was all, “Oh no, it looks so cool. I have to watch it. Watch it with me!?” No. He refused. Said we saw all the cool parts in the previews.

    He was totally right. !!!

    It was the worst movie I’ve ever seen (at least the worse Nic Cage). I will never get those hours of my life back. Oh how it sucked, and sucked more to have the boy RIGHT.

    I *did* really, really like “Face Off”. I keep thinking Nic Cage will be like he was in that movie again. But no.

    Thanls for the laugh this morning. I would have commented earlier, but I got all caught up reading the comments on your last post.😉

  4. 1. I heard Little Drummer Boy on the radio yesterday — just some version, it don’t matter who sung it — and I thought, “Simcha was right! This song sucks!” I think it had a children’s chorus, which is even more egregious.

    6. I remember, back when I had disposable income, watching ConAir in the theater. I went because Nic (is that really how you spell his nickname) Cage was in it, and I found it entertaining enough. But I was 18 then, and tastes change.

  5. Thank you for praising Spaghetti-O’s. Sometimes I will be at the store, and I will buy some just thinking how they will be yummy and warm. :)p

  6. My aunt, as a child had an unsatisfactory experience with her beloved spaghetti-os and wrote a letter to Franco-American which sent a person to their house to “get her statement” and reward he in free spaghetti-os. She grew up to be my Godmother. You are in good company Simcha, very good company.

    Am I the only one who watched Con Air for John Cusack???

  7. “Footprints in the Sand—The LibCat Version”
    One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
    Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
    In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
    Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
    other times there were one set of footprints.

    This bothered me because I noticed
    that during the high periods of my life,
    when I was triumphant from
    revising liturgies, wreckovating churches, or gender-nuetralizing Scripture,
    I could see only one set of footprints.

    So I said to the Lord,
    “You promised me Lord,
    that if I followed you,
    you would walk with me always.
    But I have noticed that during
    the most triumphant periods of my life
    there have only been one
    set of footprints in the sand.
    Why, when I needed your Godself to celebrate me,
    you have not been there for me?”

    The Lord replied,
    “The times when you have
    seen only one set of footprints,
    is when I threw you into the ocean,
    and the times when you have
    seen two sets of footprints,
    are when you kept coming back.”

  8. What a great list! I am with you 100% on the Footprints in the Sand and The Little Drummer Boy, especially … though there is actually one good version. Ringo Starr on his Christmas album, which is one of our family’s favorites. Which may actually deserve a place on that list right along with those *shudder* Spaghetti-Os.😀

  9. God, you even REMEMBER there was a movie called Zardoz let alone watched it all the way through? Confession: I actually saw it in a movie theatre………correct meif I am wrong, but isn’t there a nursing home for old rockers in that movie?

  10. Oh man, I am so with you on Nicholas Cage. It’s an inherited affliction for me. My mom and I watch every Nic Cage movie ever, up to and including both National Treasures. I’m currently 3/4 of the way through The Sorcerer’s Apprentice right now. It’s terrible, but for some reason I can’t ever stop loving him, even though I’ve wasted entire days of my life on wretched movies simply because he’s in them.

    I guess my defense of The Little Drummer Boy makes more sense now.

    But Spaghetti-O’s! You’re on you’re own there. Yuck. I prefer the canned chicken and dumpling soup, because that’s not gross at all.

  11. Oh, man…it was all pretty forgivable until the Budweiser…

    The only version of The Little Drummer Boy I can stand is this one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOe6REmAf8g (forgive the cheesy claymation mash-up — it’s the only version I could find quickly)

    But that’s because Bob Seger could sing me the phone book and I’d think it was sexy.

  12. I always thought that Footprints in the Sand was one of the most saccharine bits of drivel I’d ever heard. But it did serve as the inspiration for the following

    One night I had a wondrous dream,
    One set of footprints there was seen,
    The footprints of my precious Lord,
    But mine were not along the shore.

    But then some strange prints appeared,
    And I asked the Lord, “What have we here?”
    Those prints are large and round and neat,
    “But Lord, they are too big for feet.”

    “My child,” He said in somber tones,
    “For miles I carried you along.
    I challenged you to walk in faith,
    But you refused and made me wait.”

    “You disobeyed, you would not grow,
    The walk of faith, you would not know,
    So I got tired, I got fed up,
    And there I dropped you on your butt.”

    “Because in life, there comes a time,
    When one must fight, and one must climb,
    When one must rise and take a stand,
    Or leave their buttprints in the sand.”

    “Buttprints in the Sand — author unknown

  13. Budweiser substituted for the liquid in any pancake recipe makes pretty good pancakes. Other than that, I can’t think of any use for the stuff.

  14. Hey, Family Man is in good taste! We watch that every Christmas, including the first Christmas I was dating my husband, so it has sentimental value for me.

  15. Love spaghettios, Little Drummer Boy, and, I must admit, Nicholas Cage–but only bc I LOVED the movie Valley Girl back in the ’80s. I guess everything he’s done since then has been pretty horrible.
    Budweiser–uh, no.
    Great post as always–thanks!

  16. Buttprints in the sand!! Too funny. Works well with that aspartame phrase ,”grow where you are planted” I refused to grow so here’s where my bum has been planted.

  17. I thought that you may be my New Best Friend and favorite blogger ever, then I see that you don’t like Nic Cage. Traumatized. And disappointed.
    Lucky I’m trying to be forgiving at the moment…..

  18. Great- now I have the Shaun the Sheep song in my head. While we’re in the confessional of bad taste – I like Mogen David wine. Guess it’s the wine equivalent of Budweiser.

  19. You’re right no one else”s “Takes” made me think of Cage’s hair but no one else’s made me laugh either..that’s why I go to yours first. BTW, Moonstruck was his best…
    And, in case you needed to know, the only sappier Christmas song than Drummer Boy is “Mary Did You Know?” I always can see Blessed Mother shaking her head when it’s sung…like “How would I NOT know??”

  20. Hi, Simcha, I’m new to the blog and love it.

    I’m with you on The Little Drummer Boy. But, if you really want to get people riled, tell them you really hate the song Christmas Shoes. It makes me gag, but for some reason, many people seem to love, love, love it and consider me heartless for hating it. I even made one woman weep when I nominated it for worst Christmas song ever!

    (p.s. Nic Cage? I’ve never understood the appeal. The only thing I’ve ever liked him in was The Rock, and that may be simply that he was reflecting the glow from Sean Connery…)

    • Oh, the emotionally manipulative Christmas Shoes song. I’m so with you on that! They even made a Halmark movie out of it a few years back. That song annoys me even more than the little drummer boy!

  21. Simcha,

    I’ll see you your SpaghettiOs and raise you SpaghettiOs WITH FRANKS. I loved them when I was in first grade and I love them now, 40 years later. Every once in a while they’ll go on sale and I’ll snap them up (bad enough to buy them at any time, but paying full price… oh, no!).

    And I like Nicholas Cage! And I love your blog – Anne Kennedy directed me here.

  22. I despise Family Man, because they suck you in with his daughter—and then they annihiliate her. Never existed. Gone, never to be.

    Moonstruck? I’m Sicilian from Brooklyn. Loved it. But I never met the Nic Cage character in my life. The Cher character? The mom? The dad? The older brother? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. But the Nic Cage character? Please. I’d use him as a footrest.

  23. I came to this post late but have to say I completely disagree with the phrase “De gustibus non figureoutum est” (“there is no disputing about tastes”).

    There is disputing, because in art, literature, music, architecture, etc. there are works that are genuinely great and others that are objectively poor or mediocre. And within the extremes some works are simply better than others (even if they are not the absolute best).

    Little Drummer Boy, musically, is simply a better song than Billy Joel’s “Leningrad” (which is plodding and mediocre).

    “Footsteps in the Sand” is schmaltzy and saccharine.

    Now, of course, people may like these works better than Little Drummer Boy, but of course that does not mean that objectively speaking they are as good as Little Drummer Boy, no matter who likes what.

    Taking into account objective standards for beauty is what enables artists to rise above mediocrity and create something genuinely good. Having poor taste leads to having poor music, liturgy, art, and architecture within the Catholic realm, as we’ve experienced first hand these last forty years. God bless.

  24. Full of language cliches,,,so American…so poor:
    Sue me…talking about Nicholas cage, Hollywood
    You Americans live in a bubble with your fatty food, disposable media and culture. Never nothing interesting to say.

    • You foreigners live in a bubble with your poor command of the English language.

      Never nothing interesting to say.”

      By the rules of English grammar, you just complimented us: the double negative means that we always have something interesting to say.

      Go back to your WAGs, your Bollywood, your PIIGS debt crisis, or whatever passes for popular culture in the sewer from which you slithered.

        • I love foreigners. They are addicted to the lowest of American mass culture, then they always take a shot at it, proclaiming their superiority. Analogous to über-manly bearded redneck gay-bashers who secretly dress up in Grandma Erma’s girdle and pearls.

  25. OK, now that it’s an entire YEAR since you posted this, I come to the party late, which is always my fate in life. Anyway, I hate the Little Drummer Boy, think Spaghetti-O’s ARE extruded gluten in ketchup, AND subscribe to the Spray Paint Makes Things Better philosophy in life. But, I have to ask, since you are Jewish, why all the Christian holiday references? Are gentiles the main component of your subscribers/fans???

    BTW…I totally relate to stone age Venus, I look just like her with my clothes off (different hairstyle, though). Oh, and the fact that I still have arms.

  26. You spelled “Nicolas Cage” wrong. There is no “h” in “Nicolas”. You spelled it wrong at least four times. Dumb bitch.

  27. “…those were the times I carried you”
    Oh, well…what..wait a minute I can see those are my footprints I have shoes and you have bare feet, Jesus, what the heck!?
    “I’ve got to go perform a few miracles..um… we’ll talk about this later.”

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