Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Pretentiousness Meter

Anyway, well before Kath & Kim came onto the scene, chardonnay socialist was a fairly popular insult. They just took it to the next level.
Reader commenting on Australian chardonnay is fighting back

Black currant, blackberry cobbler, baked pear and blackstrap molasses complement each other in this phenomenally balanced, syrupy yet clean and sweet cup.
from Stumptown Coffee Roasters' blurb on Kenyan Gaturiri Reserve

The New Yorker, I've met with their cartoon editor and I got him to admit that that cartoon ... MADE NO SENSE ....
Elaine Benes in the Seinfeld episode, "The Cartoon"

Parody of New Yorker Cartoon #1 (+8)
I'm developing a Pretentiousness Meter. Of course, I'll need a good name for it and it'll be under wraps until I market it. But it is sure to be a top seller.

And you, my dear reader, are privileged to read about it in this SNEAK PREVIEW.

The idea for my Pretentiousness Meter came about when my friend Babs popped over last night for a New York dinner party for two. On the menu were - items of your choice from Nina's Argentinian Restaurant take-out menu. And just in case any of you are ever in New York, we don't say "take-out" or "take away". We say "delivery" (Pretentiousness Meter score plus five).

Babs had brought a bottle of Lagar de Costa AbariƱo 2008, but we needed to chill it. Not wanting to wait for our alcohol fix, I told Babs that I had indeed some white wine already chilled. Oops. I could have bitten my tongue off. For too late I realised - it was ... Chardonnay.

How did a bottle of Chardonnay even happen to get into my fridge I do not know. Chardonnay. How could I? Chardonnay is at level minus one on the Pretentiousness Meter.

Chardonnay used to be very popular at working class dinner parties in Australia circa 1995. Its popularity took a nose-dive when Kim of the Australian "Kath and Kim" asked for it at her husband Brett's office party, pronouncing it as "cardonnay".

BRETT: "It’s not cardonnay, Kim, it's chardonnay. Chardonnay."
KIM: "Oh alright, chardonnay! CHARDONNAY! You pack of chunts!"

Main Street (+2)
Chardonnay is now known by the cognoscenti, as the wine with an image problem. Chardonnay - it is right out there with "color by numbers", another minus one on my Pretentiousness Meter. I actually have relatives who have been known to color by numbers. My Auntie Vi did a loverly rendition of Van Gogh's Sunflowers. It took pride of place in her kitchen next to the three flying ducks in the wall.

Sometimes pretentiousness scores "wrap around". Ceramic flying ducks on walls, for example. Once the height of Aussie kitch and hence around minus one on the Pretentiousness Meter, they are now acceptable as satiric culture-comment, scoring a healthy positive eight. Cardonnay may well follow in the same path. How very "in" it may be, to deride the lower classes with a slumming it dinner party in South Yarra, a bottle chardonnay sitting in the middle of the oh-so-tastefully-arranged table.

Working-class chic. But not in America.

In America the working class has completely disappeared. I'm not sure WHEN this happened. They were certainly here when I first arrived. They ate hamburger helpers as mains and were married to their cousins.

And then - it's a case of now you see them now you don't.

They have been replaced by "the Middle Class" or "Main Street".

Parody of New Yorker Cartoon #2 (+8)
Main Street" isn't really a street of course. It is where people live who don't belong in Wall Street. These people are the "middle class". In Australia we'd call them "aussie battlers".

Aussie battlers don't "do brunch". "Doing brunch" is around plus three on the Pretentiousness Meter. Cancelling brunch however rates a 6.5. My friends in the New York Post Menopausal Sorority Brunch Club (thanks, Bill) average a positive seven. But I suspect they all aspire to plus ten.

The middle class of America now eats hamburger-helpers for mains and many of them do not have health insurance or jobs. In light of this, one can only wonder at the plight of the American working class. It isn't surprising that they are hidden from view.

A New Yorker cartoon comes in anywhere between a plus eight and a plus ten on the Pretentiousness Meter. New Yorker cartoons are "Leunig sans whimsy". The phrase "Leunig sans whimsy" scores a perfect plus ten.

The plus ten for New Yorker cartoons is for those cartoons that make no sense whatsoever; cartoons that give a new dimension to the meaning of obscurity. Some however look like they just might in a teeny-weeny way, have some meta-meaning for UCLA graduates. These register a plus eight. Or even less.

Coffee beans that have a vintage, or the word "reserve" in their names get a plus nine. People who know the elevation of the land from whence their coffee beans came, get a plus seven. People who use the word "whence" get a plus six. And people who spell out numbers when they write them, a plus seven.

You might like to rate your friends on my Pretentiousness Meter. Most of my friends are high-end and high maintenance. There is a positive correlation between pretentiousness and personal maintenance cost.

By now you might be wondering what my Pretentiousness Meter will look like. What will it be made of, and will it come in different colors?

I'm not giving the show away just yet. But I CAN let you know the following:

It WILL have a iPhone app. It will NOT have an iPad app as having a Pretentiousness Meter is very pretentious and having an iPad is not.

It will be green. And cool. That doesn't mean it will be colored green and cold. That would be so UNpretentious. It will be made of olyethylene terephthalate (+8). Cradle to cradle stuff.

It will NOT have a cradle.

It will be child-friendly.

It will NOT have a manual, or instructions of any kind.

It will not come in beige and will NOT be sold to anyone who has a shag-pile carpet.

It will not have a YouTube promo.

I will shortly be taking orders.

Stay tuned.

Postscript: Chardonnay socialists may NOT apply!


Ian (chinamonty) said...

Chardonnay - yes I used to like dry wine made from Chardonnay grapes called Chablis. Now that you can't call the Australian version by any name than Chardonnay I not only can't buy it but can't be stuffed trying out various Chardies til I find one. I do not buy French wine very often and even then it is that sparkling white with the funny shaped cork.

Terry said...

Ah Ian, you have to climb higher for Kate's meter, you need to throw out names like Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc or even Chenin Blanc or perhaps Frizante. Just try harder mate or you will be lost in obscurity.

Jed said...

Come on, don't you describe your coffee like that?

Anonymous said...

The Pretentiousness Meter scorecard decreases with each kilometer West of New York. In our neighborhood of Retired Middle Managers and their college-acquired, sophomoric, reinvented wives among whom few have ever held a responsible job outside the house, the PM score card is quite low. Their conversations are frequently high school bitchiness writ large (have I said that before?)
Note that my wife did not say that. I did. She is far too gracious to say that in public. Her tactic is to keep 'em guessing and nevah stoop to gossip. Drives 'em mad! I love her.

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