Teachout Cultural Concurrence Index

by Chris Bertram on July 6, 2004

“The latest parlour game”:http://www.artsjournal.com/aboutlastnight/archives20040704.shtml#82118 , via both “Norm”:http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2004/07/choose.html and “Chris Brooke”:http://users.ox.ac.uk/~magd1368/weblog/2004_07_01_archive.html#108912007834711318 .

1. Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly? Astaire.
2. The Great Gatsby or The Sun Also Rises? Gatsby
3. Count Basie or Duke Ellington? Ellington, by far.
4. Cats or dogs? Cats and I get on so much better.
5. Matisse or Picasso? Picasso, by a long long way.
6. Yeats or Eliot? Yeats, definitely.
7. Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin? A tie.
8. Flannery O’Connor or John Updike? Don’t know O’Connor …
9. To Have and Have Not or Casablanca? Casablanca.
10. Jackson Pollock or Willem de Kooning? Pollock.
11. The Who or the Stones? The Stones – no question.
12. Philip Larkin or Sylvia Plath? I find I have more and more in common with gloomy dirty old men…
13. Trollope or Dickens? Dickens.
14. Billie Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald? Has to be Billie.
15. Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy? A real divider of people this one: Dostoyevsky!
16. The Moviegoer or The End of the Affair? The End of the Affair.
17. George Balanchine or Martha Graham? Pass.
18. Hot dogs or hamburgers? Hamburgers, but either with enough mustard.
19. Letterman or Leno? Pass
20. Wilco or Cat Power? Pass
21. Verdi or Wagner? Wagner, by a country mile.
22. Grace Kelly or Marilyn Monroe? Kelly.
23. Bill Monroe or Johnny Cash? Cash.
24. Kingsley or Martin Amis? I was going to go for Kingsley on the same basis as Larkin, but the way Martin’s going, I have to declare a tie.
25. Robert Mitchum or Marlon Brando? Brando.
26. Mark Morris or Twyla Tharp? Pass.
27. Vermeer or Rembrandt? Vermeer.
28. Tchaikovsky or Chopin? Tchaikovsky, for the Pathetique.
29. Red wine or white? Rouge.
30. Noël Coward or Oscar Wilde? Come on! Oscar of course.
31. Grosse Pointe Blank or High Fidelity? Haven’t seen GPB, found the film annoying after the book.
32. Shostakovich or Prokofiev? Shostakovich! The 8th String Quartet gets onto my desert island some days.
33. Mikhail Baryshnikov or Rudolf Nureyev? Don’t know enough here.
34. Constable or Turner? Turner.
35. The Searchers or Rio Bravo? Pass.
36. Comedy or tragedy? Hard, but in Shakespeare, the latter, certainly.
37. Fall or spring? Spring.
38. Manet or Monet? Monet. In reproductions, Manet, but the distance between a reproduction of a Monet and the real thing is so huge.
39. The Sopranos or The Simpsons? Sopranos.
40. Rodgers and Hart or Gershwin and Gershwin? Gershwins.
41. Joseph Conrad or Henry James? Conrad.
42. Sunset or sunrise? Sunset.
43. Johnny Mercer or Cole Porter? Porter.
44. Mac or PC? I’ve never owned a Mac, though I’ve coveted them. But honesty has to say PC, for now.
45. New York or Los Angeles? New York (though I’ve never visited LA).
46. Partisan Review or Horizon? Partisan.
47. Stax or Motown? Stax
48. Van Gogh or Gauguin? Van Gogh.
49. Steely Dan or Elvis Costello? Elvis by a mile.
50. Reading a blog or reading a magazine? Depends on the blog ….
51. John Gielgud or Laurence Olivier? Olivier.
52. Only the Lonely or Songs for Swingin’ Lovers? Pass.
53. Chinatown or Bonnie and Clyde? Pass.
54. Ghost World or Election? Pass.
55. Minimalism or conceptual art? Minimalism.
56. Daffy Duck or Bugs Bunny? Bugs.
57. Modernism or postmodernism? Modernism, of course.
58. Batman or Spider-Man? Batman.
59. Emmylou Harris or Lucinda Williams? Pass.
60. Johnson or Boswell? Johnson, especially if played by Robbie Coltrane.
61. Jane Austen or Virginia Woolf? Come on! Gimme a break. There’s only one winner here: JA.
62. The Honeymooners or The Dick Van Dyke Show? Anything’s better than DVD.
63. An Eames chair or a Noguchi table? Like Eames, don’t know Noguchi.
64. Out of the Past or Double Indemnity? DI.
65. The Marriage of Figaro or Don Giovanni? Depends on my mood, probably Figaro though.
66. Blue or green? Blue.
67. A Midsummer Night’s Dream or As You Like It? AYLI
68. Ballet or opera? Opera!
69. Film or live theater? Film, usually.
70. Acoustic or electric? If Dylan then electric.
71. North by Northwest or Vertigo? Really really hard. Saw NBNW most recently and was really knocked out by it, but a viewing of Vertigo might cause a switch.
72. Sargent or Whistler? Whistler.
73. V.S. Naipaul or Milan Kundera? Naipaul.
74. The Music Man or Oklahoma? Pass.
75. Sushi, yes or no? Yes.
76. The New Yorker under Ross or Shawn? DK.
77. Tennessee Williams or Edward Albee? Williams.
78. The Portrait of a Lady or The Wings of the Dove? Portrait.
79. Paul Taylor or Merce Cunningham? Pass.
80. Frank Lloyd Wright or Mies van der Rohe? Mies, I think.
81. Diana Krall or Norah Jones? Pass.
82. Watercolor or pastel? Watercolour.
83. Bus or subway? Subway.
84. Stravinsky or Schoenberg? Schoenberg (early post-Wagnerian S though).
85. Crunchy or smooth peanut butter? Smooth.
86. Willa Cather or Theodore Dreiser? Pass.
87. Schubert or Mozart? Schubert.
88. The Fifties or the Twenties? 20s.
89. Huckleberry Finn or Moby-Dick? Moby Dick.
90. Thomas Mann or James Joyce? Mann.
91. Lester Young or Coleman Hawkins? Hawkins.
92. Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman? Whitman.
93. Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill? Lincoln.
94. Liz Phair or Aimee Mann? Pass.
95. Italian or French cooking? Italian.
96. Bach on piano or harpsichord? Piano!
97. Anchovies, yes or no? Yes yes yes.
98. Short novels or long ones? Some short ones can be awfully long and some long ones can be very short.
99. Swing or bebop? Bebop.
100. “The Last Judgment” or “The Last Supper”? Which?



Jeremy Osner 07.06.04 at 6:42 pm

Get to know O’Connor. Really — her stories are amazing. And I’m not sure how the authors of this game would have come up with the question but she’s a far far better author than Updike.


harry 07.06.04 at 6:48 pm

Very revealing Chris.

You have either not seen a Dick Van Dyke Show recently, or your taste in this very narrow genre is appalling. One of the great geniuses of the TV era, IMHO.


eszter 07.06.04 at 6:50 pm

Pierre Bourdieu or Basil Bernstein?;)


Ophelia Benson 07.06.04 at 7:05 pm

Johnson played by Robbie Coltrane, very witty idea. Especially given Johnson’s many rude comments about Scotland and the Scots (most of them of course Boswell-teases). The finest prospect a Scotsman ever sees is the high road that leads to England, sort of thing.


Chris Bertram 07.06.04 at 7:09 pm

Not my idea, Olivia, there’s a Blackadder episode ….

And, sorry Harry, I just remember hating DvD when I was a child. Not a considered view.


Tom 07.06.04 at 7:14 pm

TCCI = 47.5 (I had to pass 21 times)

Is Teachout predicting that the scores should be bimodally distributed?


jdw 07.06.04 at 7:39 pm

I’ve read several responses, and I don’t think anyone’s picked Woolf, the Simpsons, or Eliot (this is probably just); Henry James (surprised me); Aimee Mann (which is ridiculous, and a little odd since every responder is an Elvis Costello partisan); Tolstoy (again surprising; you’re all nuts); or French food (I mean, okay, me too, but _nobody_?).

Teachout himself is the only one who favors Steely Dan, Matisse, and Bill Monroe.


todd. 07.06.04 at 7:58 pm

I’d feel obligated to choose Steely Dan as a resident of Annandale and student of the ‘old school’ to which they’ll not return.

My favorite question, though, is “93. Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill?”


Scott 07.06.04 at 8:15 pm

Well, I picked Eliot, anyway. I’d prefer Steely Dan in a lot of heats, but not in that one…


djw 07.06.04 at 8:39 pm

Harry’s right–DVD is top-notch TV, the best of its era. In addition, the Honeymooners is singularly appalling. This is one of the easiest choices on the list.


Jeremy Osner 07.06.04 at 8:47 pm

Appalling? The Honeymooners? Are we both talking about the same greatest-ever situation comedy? Dick van Dyke is fun and all but not remotely in the same class as Gleason, Carney, Meadows and Randolph — they rule.


howard 07.06.04 at 8:59 pm

Goodness, Chris, run right out and buy Only the Lonely and Songs for Swinging Lovers – the two greatest Sinatra albums – so that you don’t have to pass.

Me? Songs for Swinging Lovers.


Walt Pohl 07.06.04 at 9:09 pm

Preferring the Stones over the Who is a serious character flaw.


Matt 07.06.04 at 9:21 pm

I think Teachout is seriously wrong about election v Ghostworld- ghostworld was dreary teen-age self pitty and angst while election was wickedly good fun. WHile a peace corps volunteer in Russia it was something I showed over and over again to teach school teachers about highschool in the US. I liked it more each time I watched. If it hadn’t been for Steve Buschemie (SP?) Ghost world would have been unwatchable.


harry 07.06.04 at 9:24 pm

Thanks djw, and sorry jeremy — the only good thing about the Honeymooners is the Flintstones. I have never understood Gleason’s appeal at all. Comparing him with Van Dyke is like comparing Cannon and Ball with Morecambe and Wise.
But to each his own.


Jonathan 07.06.04 at 9:36 pm

I know it’s Terry Teachouts list, but so many missing choices. Just some of the more obvious:

Clash vs. Sex Pistols
David Foster Wallace vs. Dave Eggers
Buffy vs. Xena
Captain Kirk vs. Captain Picard
Akhmatova vs. Tsvetaeva
Garcia Marquez vs. Vargas Llosa
Red Sox vs. Yankees
Beer vs. Wine


vanya 07.06.04 at 9:50 pm

Stones vs. The Who? Isn’t it customary to compare the Stones to the Beatles? Seems like The Who should be compared to Led Zeppelin.


Matt Weiner 07.06.04 at 9:59 pm

Inspired by this Poor Man thread, I’m going to lower the tone:
Paul Thomas Anderson or Kevin Smith?

(OK, fine, John Crowley or Gene Wolfe?)


Harold 07.07.04 at 12:09 am

vermeer over REMBRANT??????!!!! SHEESH!

Tchaikovsky over CHOPIN???

Wagner over VERDI????

Olivier over GUIELGUD?

The philistines who invented this “game” only understand brand naming and are obviously unfamiliar with the finest things in life.


Edo 07.07.04 at 1:08 am

kinda pathetic that you pass on all the dance related questions (Ballet vs. Opera does not count). You might want to open your cultural eyes a little.

17. Martha Graham
26. Mark Morris
79. Merce Cunningham (but its *really* modern dance–not particularlly approachable for the non-dance fan–unlike Mark Morris for one; go see The Hard Nut, you will have a good time)


Dick Thompson 07.07.04 at 2:39 am

Looks like the comments here nicely confirm Teachout’s thesis, there are indeed two types of people.

I followed Chris’ choices, almost always nodding my head, so I guess I’m in the same partition with him.


justa grata honoria 07.07.04 at 7:18 am

First time here, and I too am appalled – schubert over mozart? gleason over dvd? and rouge? what a cop-out.
to quote johnny mac -‘you cannot be serious!’


Jon H 07.07.04 at 12:50 pm

“94. Liz Phair or Aimee Mann? Pass.”

Get thee a copy of Mann’s “Bachelor #2” or the soundtrack of Magnolia (from which many of the songs originated).


Bernard Yomtov 07.07.04 at 2:31 pm

Wagner over VERDI????

Mark Twain had the explanation for this choice:

“Wagner’s music is much better than it sounds.”


Stentor 07.07.04 at 2:47 pm

I think I’m certifiably culturally illiterate. I was familiar with less than a quarter of the choices, and they were all the non-arts ones like “Cats or dogs?”.


harry 07.07.04 at 3:21 pm

Thanks stentor, for saying that. I think I got more than a quarter, but hardly any of the classical music, dance, etc and most of the art…. But didn’t have the guts to admit it in public (as it were).


Jonathan 07.07.04 at 4:21 pm

Anyone who thinks a direct choice between Tchaikovsky and Chopin makes sense isn’t familiar with either one.


Jonathan 07.07.04 at 4:22 pm

Anyone who thinks a direct choice between Tchaikovsky and Chopin makes sense isn’t familiar with either one.


Jonathan 07.07.04 at 4:27 pm

Anyone who thinks a choice between Tchaikovsky and Chopin makes sense isn’t familiar with either.


fyreflye 07.07.04 at 4:48 pm

The genius of Ghost World is in the way Zwigoff’s characters, settings and color tones – even the way the characters walk – reflect the comic books he’s evoking. Steve Buscemi looks like someone R. Crumb might have drawn. To criticize the content of the movie is so – 1950’s ;-)
Of course, Election’s content is brilliant.


monica 07.07.04 at 10:36 pm

ok, johnny cash is good and all, but Bill Monroe is the father of bluegrass!

also, how many did other people pass on? you did 13, i did 12. not the same ones.


Zizka 07.08.04 at 12:23 am

I got about 50% “pass”, which lumps “Who?”, “Who cares?” and “Hate ’em both”. Marketers are wise to ignore this particular idiographic.

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