At the risk of sounding arrogant, I consider myself a relatively bright guy.
I've read books -- and even understood a few of them -- and remain curious about the people, animals and other creatures with which I share this planet, having long believed that true intellectualism has its roots in curiosity.
As Thomas Jefferson wrote, "The wise know their weakness too well to assume infallibility; and he who knows most, knows best how little he knows."
That quotation has always resonated with me and helps me keep in mind that whatever knowledge I have managed to acquire in the first 29 years of my life is far overshadowed by the things that baffle and confound me, things that I struggle to understand despite my best efforts.
And I'm not just talking about the big stuff like dark matter or neuroscience or how scientists develop biofuels from algae and animal waste or how to correctly use a semicolon.
There are plenty of conundrums in everyday life and in pop culture that I simply can't get my head around and in an attempt to puzzle this out, I thought I'd list a few of the things that have me a bit gobsmacked at the moment. Maybe you can help shed a light on these mysteries for me because I've got nothing.
Sigur Ros: This Icelandic band plays songs that feature not a lick of English yet have remained a popular act stateside for many years. To date, they have more than 1.4 million likes on Facebook and about 130,000 followers on Twitter, an account that features more English than any one of their songs. Putting aside the fact that their music sounds like someone let a bunch of raccoons, possums and other woodland creatures loose in a recording studio, I fail to understand how anyone could like this band. The only thing I can figure is they're faking it.
Barefoot running shoes: Ridiculous-looking and expensive? No, thanks. Don't tell me it's natural and that ancient man ran barefoot, etc. We also used to grunt at one another and draw on cave walls but we've evolved. Also, as a species, we voted long ago and decided we were cool with our toes touching inside our shoes. Sorry, barefoot runners.
Young People Who Smoke Cigarettes: It seems that science is on this and the news isn't great. Turns out, for those of you who slept through every health class from elementary school through senior year, smoking is addictive, causes lung cancer and a number of similarly serious and sometimes fatal respiratory and pulmonary ailments. Also, it's gross.
Skeptics: Believing that nothing is mysterious or unexplained doesn't seem like very much fun yet there are millions of people who don't believe in ghosts or UFOs or anything they can't physically see with their eyes or explain away, to varying degrees of success, with science. Call me crazy but I'd rather live in a world of endless possibilities and mysterious creatures than one in which the Loch Ness Monster was just a log or Bigfoot was a dude in a costume.
The appeal of "How I Met Your Mother:" Seriously, how do people watch this show? They basically cast a whiny, interesting-looking, dark-haired guy a la Zach Braff, Doogie Howser and that one girl from "American Pie," and locked Jason Segal into what I can only imagine is an iron-clad contract, and wrote the world's most boring sitcom. Nothing happens on that show. Not ever.
And that's just the start of the list, but I've resigned myself to the notion that some of these things I will never understand.
Maybe I'm not meant to.
This week, a playlist of eight songs about confusion, uncertainty and the unknown.
Also, if anyone can tell me what the heck last week's "Mad Men" was about, I'd really appreciate it. Would love to scratch that one off the list.
Fleetwood Mac, "I Don't Want to Know" -- Sometimes willful ignorance is the way to go. I mean it worked for Fleetwood Mac ... right?
The Raveonettes, "Uncertain Times" -- If ever there were uncertain times, these would certainly be them.
Coldplay, "Things I Don't Understand" -- None of the things I listed above made it into this song but I'm sure that's just an oversight.
The Vaccines, "A Lack of Understanding" -- There are very, very few songs by this West London quartet that I don't enjoy. This isn't one of them. So great.
Little Boots, "Confusion" -- What I feel every time "The Big Bang Theory" wins an Emmy.
The Kinks, "State of Confusion" -- How cool of The Kinks to write this song about Florida.
Dinosaur Jr., "Don't Pretend You Didn't Know" -- Don't pretend you didn't know your barefoot running shoes look ridiculous.
DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, "Parents Just Don't Understand" -- I'm glad I'm not the only one who doesn't understand stuff.
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