Before we get started, I wanted to warn you. I have a guilty secret: I don't have cable. Or satellite TV.
Sitting down to only nine channels counting Unavisíon may sound eccentric in America. In my new line of work, it sometimes makes me feel like I've painstakingly filled my waders with rocks before heading out fly-fishing.
But I have a baby, and I have wild fantasies of him making it through preschool without finding out who Eminem is. And since he's already reaching out his tiny hands to play with the remote (yes, ladies, it is hardwired from birth), my husband and I have banished the lot: Tony Soprano, Carrie Bradshaw, the gal from "Witchblade."
My son is also the reason a trip to the movies requires only slightly less advance planning than mounting an Arctic expedition. For a concert or performance, we plan on three months of logistics, multiplied by the cost of tickets, divided by the number of bad reviews, carry the one, and ... well, you get the idea.
But appearances to the contrary, pop culture fascinates me. If it's true that, as John Maynard Keynes reportedly said, the secret to the stock market is figuring out what they think you are going to do, there's as much cultural value in learning what the entertainment industry thinks we'll buy or in some cases, buy into.
Not convinced? We recently rented "The Seven Year Itch." It took just four days of intense concentration and baby-wrangling for me to make it through all 105 minutes. (My poor husband passed out, exhausted, before Tom Ewell took off for Maine, leaving Marilyn Monroe the air-conditioned apartment of her dreams.) Anyone who'll go to those lengths to watch a movie has got to love the arts.