“…feeling ‘progressively out of it’ is an unavoidable consequence of growing older.”

I am having trouble finding the source for this; however, it rings true in my Gen X ears. At least, how I interpret this quote to mean - out of touch with current pop culture. Case in point - Taylor Swift - I do not get Taylor Swift. Yes, I have heard of this person and seen her in TV commercials, but I cannot recall any of her music. Maybe I have heard a few songs and did not know it was Taylor Swift (this seems likely given her popularity). I checked my music library just in case….and…no…no Taylor Swift songs sprinkled in between my collection of Weezer albums or rare b-sides of Nirvana or acoustic Stone Temple Pilots (STP has one of the coolest album names in their inventory with Tiny Music…Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop). Essentially, I’m stuck in a time loop that only gets more pronounced as I age.

Swifties to me is either an adult weight-loss protein shake or brand name for a Yoga pant bought by middle-aged women on Temu. I thought Lady Gaga and her Little Monsters were still all the rage and every time I hear them mentioned it reminds me of that Fred Savage movie called Little Monsters despite the fact I never saw the movie. Probably cause in 1989 I was too busy playing Ninja Gaiden or catching the new Batman movie or Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (best of the 5 films) to be bothered watching a Fred Savage movie. Fred Savage…oh how my twelve-year-old self envied you and your 30 Nintendo game collection (how did you find the time in-between smooching Winnie Cooper to play all those games!?).

I think we all experience this phenomena where we hit a point in our aging where we take a mental snapshot of the culture around us and from that point forward are frozen in it - the pop culture time loop.

In Quantum Leap terms…a string that represents our pop culture life, at one end our indoctrination in pop culture and the other end the point we stopped paying attention to new pop culture; we tie the ends of the string together creating a loop, we ball the loop up to where all the points of pop culture touch each other and the rest of our lives we leap between all those points of pop culture.*

Quantum Leap Foundation of Quantum Leaping

New pop culture is lost to us or is forever something we associate to youth - what are those darn kids listening to these days? I am perplexed when I see Harry Potter themed stick figure families or random adults discussing which Hogwart’s house they would belong to - Isn’t that a kids movie? Yet, I see one of those the Empire doesn’t care about your stick figure family stickers on a minivan and laugh. My pop culture string was tied into a loop before Harry Potter was a major cultural phenomena and thus I did not grow up with Harry Potter. As for Star Wars - I grew up on it and adamantly believe Han shot first.

The reason I am putting words to screen about this, is lately I have had a lack of interest in seeing new movies or TV shows. This is a concerning thing for me as I consider myself a cinephile. As long as the criteria for being a cinephile is that I’ve watched more than a dozen Criterion Collection movies and have the ability to randomly point out fun facts about guest actors in 1960’s TV shows or recognize the subtle references made in dialogue. Like in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? when the TV announcer states that Jayne Mansfield’s character had just completed filming a movie with Cary Grant. I lept out of my seat yelling “He’s talking about Kiss Them for Me!” disappointed that no one shared my excitement of this meta-referrence between Jayne Mansfield’s two acting roles.

There are exceptions to my disinterest, to include Shogun on Hulu or Franklin on AppleTV+. It is a simple explanation, the former due to reading the James Clavell novel and seeing the Richard Chamberlain version and being mildly disappointed despite Toshirô Mifune (cause every movie is good that has Toshirô Mifune in it (see Yojimbo or 1941); the latter because I am an avid history buff. Yet, there are other examples of cinematic art I have largely ignored. I would like to watch Deadpool 2 as I found Deadpool refreshing in its humor and poking fun at the superhero genre (which is overdone). The scene in the movie trailer where Ryan Reynolds references One-Eyed Willy in Josh Brolin’s presence was a twist on actor allusion and an intertextual easter egg that brought a laugh. Yet, it just made me want to watch Josh Brolin in The Goonies. Maybe the lack of interest is due to my superhero movie burn out?

Maybe it is all due to entropy. Low entropy is orderly, predictable, more stable in comparison to high entropy that is more messy, unpredictable and unstable. Low entropy could be considered simple, while high entropy could be seen as complex. Applying entropy to human behavior, the pop culture loop drives low entropy in my daily life. New TV show, new music? No thanks, I’ll stick with the known, the reliable instead of increasing the entropy in my life to experience new pop culture. This makes sense considering the older one gets the less time one has left on this planet, thus a desire to maximize time spent only on proven things. Things that are a known quality from previous experience. So maybe that newish three-hour Batman movie with that guy from those vampire movies is pretty good, but I’ll never know as I will not get around to watching it. This is not to say I do not introduce high entropy for a few hours in my weekends watching something new. I took the time to watch Oppenheimer recently due to my interest in history and Chris Nolan directed pictures (despite the Oscar wins, I felt Dunkirk was soo much better).

Maybe the trick to increasing exposure to new pop culture is to wrap it in a blanket of familiar. I can introduce high entropy by using mediums that traditionally represent low entropy. WTTS 92.3 is my default radio station (read: greatest radio station in Indiana…ever) - the music they play, the hosts and shows is a staple of familiarity and low entropy for my radio scanning (I miss the Hangover Cafe on Sunday’s…Overeasy just seems less fitting with its lack of ambient diner noises reminding me of memories of pre-Biglari Holdings Steak ‘n Shake). Yet, 92.3 frequently plays new music that I would have never heard otherwise creating high entropy with an upredictable music shuffle in a low entropy medium. If not for 92.3 I would never heard of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Barns Courtney or that Beck made another album after Odelay (after “The New Pollution” and “Loser” what did he have to prove?). Yet, why listen to new when you can listen to “Rainbow in the Dark” by Dio or “Blue Monday” by New Order?

This concept could apply to things outside of pop culture. For the longest time I drank Vitaminwater due to a coworker (low entropy) introducing it to me. I did not experiment (high entropy) with new beverages fortifide with vitamins and minerals as new products were released on the market. No, it was not until another coworker (again low entropy medium) introduced me to BodyArmor that I changed up my hydration routine. It all comes down to entropy.

This is the difficulty in growing older - the pop culture time loop - progressively growing out of touch as I leap back and forth in the loop. Does this really matter? Perhaps, in relatability with younger generations, but there is always sports.

I am speaking of the original Quantum Leap with Doctor Sam Beckett played by Scott Bakula and teamed with Al played by Dean Stockwell (who played the son of Nick and Nora Charles, portrayed by William Powell and Myrna Loy, in the film Song of the Thin Man, which is a great comedic film noir series) and not that reboot (continuation?) Google keeps thinking I’m trying to learn about. Which I have no idea is any good as I just cannot get onboard with remaking shows that rocked the first time around - reference Magnum P.I. with Tom Selleck and John Hillerman (who’s character Higgins made that show just as much as the Ferrari 308 did) - there is just no point to remake such a brilliant show that ages like a fine first growth Bordeaux. You thought I was going to say Scotch didn’t you?

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Switzer, Michael, dir. 1991. Quantum Leap, Season 3, episode 13, “Future Boy-October 6, 1957,” Aired March 13, 1991, NBC video.

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