A Quick Hello After a Long Absence

And then I decided, well, it’s been a while. The world has… gone batshit. Literally. And so perhaps I should return to this space and write things down every once in a while. Not for you. But for me. It might be nice to get my thoughts in order.

So that’s what I’m doing.

In March I lost my job. Well, if I really think about it, I lost it a long time before that, but that’s just a text about office politics and rather boring. But after 20 odd years at the same company I found myself free and it was liberating once I’d realized completely what had happened. The world was, well, batshit, by then, and a part of me (and soon all of me) was relieved to not have to take part in trying to maintain an order that had so obviously failed.

This allowed me think and write. I even spoke to some people about new work but nothing has come of it. Not yet.

I had been writing and then I really started writing a lot. My agent was already shopping one novel and I’d started writing a sequel to it. (For those asking the obvious question, my agent continues to shop the novel – the book world, not functional at the best of times, – is not immune to the inanity of the world. And then once the sequel was done (it’s not done, but it’s advanced, quite a few drafts) this other story poured out of me and I got four (!) drafts done and I just sent that one to my agent as well (and all of you should be feeling a touch sorry for him by now). So I’ve been busy. In my own way.

But this plague, man.

The plague showed us what people are really like and while a lot of it was uplifting (hello front line workers), a lot of it…was not.

The nationalists couldn’t figure this out and made it worse (they always do because to be a nationalist is to be devoid of empathy and a health crisis cries out for competence but mostly for empathy). But they are not alone in their incompetence.

I have seen the cynicism politics is engendering in the world, especially among young people (ie: Generation Z) and I worry about that. I don’t blame them for their cynicism. And now, with the plague, well, the world will feel this for a long time to come.

And then the fires and the hurricanes and the fact that even when the world was at a standstill we couldn’t bring down carbon emissions that much. Which points to the enormity of the work we have to do (and how little we’ve done so far).

I’m really concentrating on plastics, mostly in the water, but everywhere else as well. If one thing is going to get us it’s the plastics. In the future, archaeologists may well call this not the Anthropocene but the Age of Plastic (or carbon). Because we make a lot of it and then we throw it out.

I can’t watch the news. Just snippets of it. I especially can’t watch television news. It’s the voices. So I don’t listen to news on the radio either.

Having said that, it’s impossible to escape the news.

I am off Facebook. I haven’t deleted my account and I suppose at some point I will. But I am off. Hopefully I can wean myself off the entire ecosystem.

I am reading a lot of the chest thumping from those who built the social media ecosystem and now regret their choices. I have a big middle finger pointed in all their directions.

I’m also reading a lot, period. I should probably create a list of stuff I’ve read and watched. Speaking of watching…

I have now accepted the mediocrity of Netflix’s vision. The “throw stuff on the side of the barn and some of it will stick” curation of their offering. They have money, for now, and they’re willing to spend it. Same with the other streamers.

I rarely leave my neighbourhood. We went to the country over the summer a few times and hiked and swam in lakes. I’ve been to adjacent neighbourhoods. But I haven’t been downtown in months. Probably since March. I’m not the only one. And it’s not entirely a bad thing (though it’s bad, don’t get me wrong).

We ordered a lot of food and discovered some new ways to get our vegetables and seafood. We shopped locally. We’re lucky we live in a place where almost everything we need is available within a few blocks.

I cook more than I used to and I was already cooking a lot. Now the cooking process isn’t rushed.

Time is elastic. For everyone who ever said “time is relative” you have been proven correct. Congratulations.

I drank a lot of White Claw this summer and I’m not ashamed to admit it (when I say I drank a lot I’m totally downplaying it).

I’m thankful pot is legal and easy to access.

I am lucky and thankful that my family is healthy.

I hope yours is as well. See you soon.

How do you like me now?

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Response

Sometimes You Just Forget

You get busy. You lose the habit. What was once regular becomes not so regular. You stop thinking about the thing as a part of your life. You end the habit of thinking about doing something about thinking about it. You do other things.

You write another book. You find a new agent. You can’t sell the book and so you change the agent and then the new agent can’t sell it either. So even though you still believe in the book you say “fuck it” and move on and meanwhile you’ve written another book and then started yet another one.

That’s what happens. You get busy. You lose the habit. Not of writing but of writing in that particular place. But it’s there. You’re still paying for it, after all. You still get bills to remind you. You think about the nature of neglect. Or negligence. So you write something. To feel more alive. Or, perhaps, just to prove that you haven’t forgotten the thing. Even though you have. You’ve just proven it.

You get busy. Or you’re an asshole. Maybe the two are the same thing.

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

You May Have Noticed…

….or not.

But the Twisters are over. The last straw, to use a well-worn idiom, was Twitter’s idiotic shift to 280-characters. I say idiotic, but I’m sure there were people at Twitter who saw this as….a path to further “engagement” or, perhaps, a way to get new users to sign up, since they must have had research that indicated Twitter was “too complicated” and “too short” and “too much noise.” So given their myriad problems, their solution was to increase the character count. There was no clamor for this. But it’s what they decided. Did this work? For the bottom line, it’s possible. For the user, I doubt it. For the long time fan (and I’ve been on Twitter since 2008): absolutely not.

If anything this change had the opposite effect on me.

Had Twitter continued with the character counter, it might not have been a big deal. Not to people like me (and I admit I’m a member of a small tribe here). But, no, they decided to go to some circle that approximated your character count; it is a solution only an engineer could love. And added to the character count change was the change in Twitter’s character; its refusal to silence the bullies, it’s idiotically idealized notions of “free speech” (and, let’s be clear, this notion is pervasive throughout Silicon Valley – I’ve long said that ideology is easy but thinking is hard), its standing by while individuals and entire communities were hurt by bullies and trolls and Nazis, its bully pulpit status for countless politicians but mostly for a certain President who continues to do whatever it is he does for reasons that remain unfathomable to me, and Twitter had become a place I no longer wanted to visit.

Others have published far more eloquent things about the problems with Twitter. My friend Mike Monteiro has written about quitting Twitter a few times (here and here). Here’s another great piece by Lindy West. There is this by an educator (I’ll get to this reason shortly). CNN published a list of famous people who left the platform. I could go on and on. All of the essays cite arguments that are valid. My reasons are “all of the above.” How does one enjoy a place where so many people are so angry and hurtful and, well, dumb?

In the past year (18 months really) I have also completed two (!) novels. One is really complete (and during its completion I also switched agents) and the other is very complete. I have rough outlines (and when I say outline I really mean “paragraphs” and “advanced scribbles”) for two more. I’ve been productive! To put this in perspective, my first novel took the better part of a decade to finish. All this productivity means something has to give.

Back in 2008, Twitter, and social media in general, cut in to my TV time. A media platform had to fall off, time is finite after all, and I cut back on TV. Today, I find I’m watching more TV again. So something had to fall off. This time, it’s social media.

I’d given up on Facebook a long time ago (though, full disclosure, and for reasons that I almost resent, I still have an author page). It makes people ridiculously inane. More so than Twitter. It functions at a level that most people don’t quite understand – is it media, is it a place to meet friends and stay in touch with family, is it news, is it, rather, the world’s most successful and lucrative personalized ad delivery service….All of the above? The fact that the Russians used Facebook so well, serving up highly targeted ads and memes, to help elect the Orange Clown, and that Facebook denied that involvement for so long (take a look at Mueller’s indictment; it mentions Facebook almost 40 times), all the while reaping incredible profits…is, well, it is the way the world works. The Russians, Shitler and his minions and the trolls in general seem to understand how social media works better than most people. If they are in possession of genius, this is it (the Russians are much smarter, of course – they saw social media as a way to divide people, as a way to feed their basest hungers, and they fed it; they did not exploit anything that was not already exploitable). All this to say, I don’t really have feelings for Facebook one way or the other. It’s there. It’s the Microsoft of social media. The fact young people aren’t attracted to it anymore gives me a certain amount of satisfaction. (The other thing Facebook has accomplished, of course, with Google, is to suck up an amazing amount of digital advertising, a fact that impacts local media around the world every day, and I truly believe that the entire edifice of journalism begins with local media.)

Twitter, on the other hand, meant a lot to me. The novel my agent is shopping now started with a character that I found reappearing in my Twisters, a character I wanted to explore more and more until I found I’d written an entire novel. I have met people on Twitter, made connections and friends, I would not have otherwise have made. I enjoyed it when it was enjoyable. Because it was. At its best, Twitter was exhilarating, like watching the world unfold in real time, with a group of genuinely entertaining and smart people. And funny. Twitter was a funny place. Talking about it like this now makes it sound like make-believe, like something out of a parallel universe. Which makes my retreat from it all the more painful. To me. (Make no mistake. Whether I am writing 140-character short stories on Twitter or not will not change the world one way or the other.)

I doubt that I was going to continue to write my Twisters forever (and for those who care, about 80% of my Twisters are searchable here). The road would come to an end sooner or later. All roads do. And that end has come. I just thought I’d let you know.

 

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Responses

I Had a Tweet Made Into a Movie, Too

It just didn’t have the budget that, perhaps, a Rihanna-Lupita heist movie might have (and honestly how great does that sound?). And it wasn’t produced by Netflix. But it was still something. A really cool something. It even won an audience award at the Filminute Festival in 2009. (Directed by Torontonian James Cooper).


But it didn’t have Rihanna or Lupita. Though it did feature some pretty cool – and witty – special effects.

I swear I would sell my entire Twitter feed to Netflix if they were interested. There must be at least 100 movies in there. Anyone can buy them. If the price were right. (Meanwhile I still have a screenplay idea based on some of my Twisters, and the novel currently in the hands of my agent was inspired, in part, by a “character” that kept showing up in my feed).

But I never tweeted about Rihanna or Lupita or a heist movie. My bad.

PARIS, FRANCE – MARCH 05: (L-R) Actress Lea Seydoux, Margot Robbie, singer Rihanna, actresses Lupita Nyong’o and Elizabeth Olsen attend the Miu Miu show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2014-2015 on March 5, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Absolutely Useless Thoughts: 7


It is difficult to talk about useless thoughts these days when the world is mesmerized by the useless thoughts of President Whack-A-Mole who is pretty much doing what he said he would do. All of those people who voted for him because they didn’t “take him seriously” or just “wanted to see” what would happen or who claimed there was “no difference” between The Orange One and Hilary are not just assholes but idiots and guilty of the most intense kind of intellectual laziness. The sheer awfulness coming out of Trumplestiltskin’s mouth is leaving an insanely smelly oil slick over America. And soon it might be a literal one. Normally, I don’t feel bad for anyone who must live under a leader who was voted in by democratic means. But I am beginning to feel very bad for my American friends. Very much so.

1. And what is up with Jared Kushner? Like he appeared smart. Sure he had the misfortune of having Sir Whines A Lot as his father-in-law but still. It appears that there is a rupture in his family because of what he is doing. Or not doing. His brother was very visible at the Women’s March. Jared seems to be abandoning everything he may have believed in earlier in life, but his new station very much questions the make up of his very soul. A friend said that he thinks Kushner is gay and that he married a drag queen. That would at least make him interesting.

2. Speaking of dicks. We were dicks to the Neanderthals. They seem like they were nice folk, and the DNA we inherited from them made us start smoking. Or something. I’m not too good with science.

3. And further speaking of The Mouth That Roared, it is possible to escape from him. Because a town in Austria has a job opening. For a hermit. If it’s a 4-year term, where do I apply?

4. Do you like parking garages? Do you like self-driving cars? Well you can’t like both.

5. Did you know there is a “war on cash“? Because there is. Before you ask, “Why would there be a war on cash?” or “What kind of Communist manifesto are we talking here?” this war is being waged in places like Germany and Sweden and Holland. And it’s fucking a lot of people up (never mind the war on cash in India which is a totally different story). And I haven’t even mentioned Bitcoin yet. Because that just new cash.

6. Speaking of cash, you should have bought Dominos stock. Yes, pizza. You should have bet on pizza and not on, say, Google. Because people always need pizza. There’s a chart to prove it. The stock. I don’t need to prove that people always need pizza.

via GIPHY

7. Do you ever wonder what it’s like to move to a place so foreign, so diametrically different from the land of your birth that down is up and yes is no? (This might soon be how it will feel for everyone to move to the US as long as they’re not Muslim or Latino because then the point is moot). This story might make you rethink your assumptions. Especially if the place you end up does not resemble what you know from the movies.

8. Speaking of assumptions, Dubai’s firemen now have jetpacks.

9. This story, of a boy and his special friendship with a bunch of marmots (oh, behave), is an antidote to everything the Golden Haired Id will say or do.

10. And if the boy and his marmots don’t do it for you, this website just might. It’s the most random peek at humanity ever. It is also completely hypnotizing. At least it is to me. Because it is Asshole-in-Chief free. I promise. Why? It randomly selects YouTube videos with zero views.

via GIPHY

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Absolutely Useless Thoughts: 6

Might as well number them. Because I think I’m going to be doing them on a regular basis. So the first officially regular collection of Useless Thoughts, is AUT: 6. Makes about as much sense as anything else in the world right now.

1. Do we ever regret what technology does? Are we so enthralled that we kind of forgive the errors we make in our headlong rush to “the future”? I’m asking because it just seems we’re at a point where we are going to give up a lot of our freedom for the sake of convenience. Sure, Google is convenient, and Facebook allows you to keep tabs on your second cousin’s new puppy, but I get the sense we ain’t seen nothing yet. And the company that’s going to really lead the charge toward a real future, and I say real in the sense of the future = flying jetpacks, is…Amazon. And more specifically, Alexa. We’re going to talk to our things now. And sometimes the things will get what we say wrong (because we’ve forgotten to switch off the defaults and the results will be hilarious). But they will do it with cute faces so we’ll forgive them. More and more, the most prescient movie ever feels like Wall-E.

2. I am a Gen Xer and have never felt anger toward Millennials. I tend to shy away from any headline with the term “millennial” in it because it’s a lazy catch all phrase meant to disparage “the young” and tends to be a flag for articles that overgeneralize and oversimplify complex ideas, meaning they were probably written by Boomers, who as a group do that kind of thing and are to blame for almost everything.

3. Speaking of oversimplifying, and of our headlong drive toward dystopia, and speaking of driving, look what Uber is doing. (Honestly, Uber just fills voids, like any good business. You don’t have to like that they fill voids, but if it works it must be filling in need).

4. I’m big on the health of the oceans. Of water in general. And as a corollary, I’m not a fan of plastic and its ubiquity. Sure, plastic filled a need, and it did it so well that chances are the fish you eat has plastic in it. So it makes perfect sense that in the future, the ugly Australian fish you order at the local restaurant may well come from…Iowa. Because that’s the kind of world we live in.

5. And speaking of health, shopping malls are in bad health and struggling with ways to fill up all the empty space that come with store closures. Before you blame the internet (and you can) in general and Amazon specifically (you can do this, too), perhaps blame…the malls themselves. And you, because you’re responsible for everything. We all are. But I, for one, am never going skiing in a mall. Probably.

6. The Chinese take a long term view of everything, which is why the government doesn’t care what you think and never has (unless you’re talking about Taiwan and then they get pretty prickly), and why this story makes a certain amount of sense: The Chinese are “easing” a 2,000 year old monopoly on salt. And you thought water was important.

7. I don’t know about you, but I’m still evolving. Not in the holistic sense, but in the sense that I’m a human and we’re still evolving in a very real sense. Not only that, we’re still discovering organs inside of us. (I honestly thought we only had 5 or 6 organs, tops, not 70).

8. Pluto’s unceremonious demotion from planetary status was harsh and I’m still not over it. So perhaps it’s a feel good story that Pluto shares some unique features with Earth, which is still a planet, and would definitely be a feel good story if planets had feelings, which they don’t, but Pluto’s not a planet, right? So who knows?

9. I still don’t know what to think of President-elect Whack-A-Mole other than that I am more convinced then ever that we must learn to ignore his tweets and just focus, people, focus on what is happening, because our concept of “authoritarianism” is false, the facts are much more boring and the banality of it is why its so potentially insidious.

10. My agent, who is wonderful and talented, etc etc has my new manuscript out with publishers in two countries (UK and Canada so far) and nothing, no word, and being a writer you start to wonder whether or not what you’ve written is any good. Because this thought is in the back of every writer’s mind, it’s the thing that keeps you honest and that keeps you going. So you think it, and you pause. Until you get back to your next manuscript and keep on keeping on, because as I’ve said before, writing is a sickness and I don’t think we’ve found a cure for it yet. (And to the editors in the UK and Canada that have the manuscript, what are you waiting for? I’m not getting any younger here.)

11. This is my favorite new thing maybe:

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Absolutely Useless Thoughts, Jr: 2017

best-sweatpants-for-men-0I might as well continue this, right? After all, my only new year’s resolution is to buy sweatpants. I own sweatpants already, but I need a new pair. And, apparently, the athleisure thing has peaked, so maybe there are good deals on sweatpants now. Or even on companies that produce sweatpants.

1. Should we rename our species? Like are we really sapiens? Some people think we’re not and should be named accordingly.

2. Cars. We won’t be driving them. Or trucks. Already, self-driving trucks are driving self-driving cars. This is bad for a lot of people. No one seems to connect automation with unemployment much (Trump still hasn’t figured this out) but worse, automation has led to inequality. And very few people in power care about inequality. But they should.

3. And now someone has built those scary human-driven robots we see in sci-fi movies.

4. Fish have feelings. Sometimes very strong ones. Finding Nemo is, perhaps, a documentary….

5. Speaking of food, this is a great story about Chinese food in small-town Canada. There have been terrific books about Chinese food in the US (I highly recommend this one and this one and this one), but not so much about Canada. Out West, especially, every single town seems to have a Chinese café. I remember once taking my son to Milo, Alberta (his name is Milo) and we ate at the only restaurant in town, a Chinese-Canadian restaurant where you could get chop suey and won ton soup or a hamburger. North America is full of these places and you often think of the people who work there, who own these places, often the only Chinese people for miles.

The Milo Cafe, Milo, AB

The Milo Cafe, Milo, AB

6. Speaking of food, this story is one of the most delightful I read all year, not really about food so much as about a time and place but most of all about brothers and the odd bond they share, even when the bond doesn’t feel so strong. I loved everything about this story. Bonus for being set inside a Carl’s Jr.

7. American soft power is still its strongest and hardest power. I’m not sure the incoming President knows this because culture is not one of his strong (and ill-fitting) suits. But when KFC and Donald Duck become synonymous with Christmas in places as disparate as Japan and Sweden, well, that’s the hardest example of soft power.

8. I can’t keep up with TV anymore. I didn’t watch TV for a while because I couldn’t find the time. Then I realized it was because all the good shows are now long form serials – you have to watch them from the beginning to get what’s going on. I watch some shows now. But still, TV’s gotten so good these days it’s like too much of a good thing. I don’t know how anyone has time for anything anymore.

9. New Hampshire is not far from where I live and suddenly there is reason to be afraid of this simple fact of geography.

10. You’ve heard of OPEC. But I doubt very much that you have heard of the maple syrup version of OPEC.

11. It snowed in the Sahara. I’m sure this happens from time to time. It’s quite beautiful.

12. I hope 2017 turns out to be less awful than 2016. The pessimist in me suggests 2016 was just a warm up. We’ve suffered in the past and will suffer in the future. From a purely Canadian perspective, 2016 wasn’t so bad. But globally, well, more people were happy to see 2016 in their rear view mirror. And then the new year started with a terrorist explosion in Istanbul…

13. My son, who is almost 17, doesn’t quite get the concept of rotary phones. Or even the pre-internet era. This video of an old Cathode Ray Tube television, slowed down, might freak him out. But I could watch this forever.

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Son Of And Yet More Absolutely Useless Thoughts

bubbles
1. I’m going to run out of things to call this series of posts or I can push it beyond the limits of good taste and logic and then keep going. I choose to keep going. Not because it is easy. But because it is hard.

2. I’m going to say something nice about journalism (next point). But before I do, here’s something that is obvious: journalists missed the Trump phenomenon because they don’t inhabit the same media bubbles that the people who supported him inhabit. I’ve written about bubbles before. And about how the internet facilitates, encourages and enhances our bubble lives. The idea of getting out of your bubble is easier said than done but one look at the world, and how incomprehensible some people are to others, should encourage you to get out a little. Easier said than done, I know. I just don’t believe that a world of bubbles is a good place. Because eventually bubbles pop.

via GIPHY

3. Now, having just pissed on journalists, let’s all admit that we need journalism. With the rise of fake news, and with it, the reality that someone out there thinks almost anything is plausible, we need good journalism more than ever. And we need to pay for it. Because good journalism is tiring and expensive and requires many talented people to come together to unearth the stories we need to hear. Because without it, we don’t get stories like this and this, both heartbreaking stories about the abuse of young athletes who just wanted to become the best at their respective sports, who trusted their coaches and supervisors to do right by them, and who were victimized not just by those adults but by the entire system(s), the value we all place on winning, the way some will look away when things get icky and uncomfortable. Every time an adult says “how am I supposed to do explain this to a child?” I want to look at them and say “You’re the adult.” And make them watch this Louis CK bit (especially the end, starting around 1:04)

4. In the future we will all eat bugs. We won’t have a choice. And we will learn to love them just like we have learned to love almost every other thing we eat (have you ever seriously looked closely at a chicken?). Plus, there are a lot of bugs. Like, really, this is their planet and we’re the interlopers. But we eat things and eventually we will join the small groups of people who already eat bugs. Because they are everywhere. The good news? Someone has already invented the cutlery. And it’s pretty fucking gorgeous. And good packaging is the first rung on the ladder of acceptance.

5. It’s breath suckingly cold here today. There is snow on the ground. How to shovel it efficiently and quickly? How about using a Hoverboard? Sure, they blow up, but that’s only because they overheat. But the cold weather solves that problem. This kid is a genius, in other words. Keep an eye out for him. He’s going places.

6. Social media. What a crock. Right? But should your posts land you in jail? Just for being a woman? Maybe. If you live in Iran or Saudi Arabia.

7. The internet of things. What a crock. Right? Especially when it’s spying on your kids. Or better yet: Imagine if everything we owned came embedded with a microphone? Stop imagining it because it’s happening.

8. George Saunders who is great and can elevate anything into something way more elevated than you imagined it could be, writes about why he finally wrote a novel. (This comes from Austin Kleon’s great newsletter, which you should definitely subscribe to because it, too, is great).

9. The Obama Presidency is coming to a close and Ta-Nehisi Coates writes an amazingly personal piece about what this singular presidency has meant to him. And to African Americans in general. You read this and you miss Obama already. A lot. When my kid was much younger we used to joke that he suffered from “instant nostalgia.” Maybe it wasn’t a joke.

10. Booze. What can’t it do? If you switch your poison, it can help extend your life. And it can also help settle national debts. Don’t you wish that you had lent Cuba some cash now?

11. RIP Alan Thicke, who was an amazingly prolific and successful writer of jingles and theme songs. His music will outlive Dr. Jason Seaver. Probably.

12. I turned 50 this past week. This is very very hard for me to believe. These things also turned 50 this year. I’m in good company. Mostly. Now, kids, get off my astroturf!

13. These are the heroes we all deserve. (Though I could use without the condescending use of “feisty” to describe these ladies – though I have to admit they seem pretty feisty in the video and the would-be robber seems like a loser perfectly susceptible to that brand of feistiness.)

via GIPHY

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

And Yet More Absolutely Useless Thoughts

1. Lists are coming out. More and more of them. I can foresee a day where, really, everything is a list.
• Best of the day.
• Best of the week.
• Best of the month.
• Best of the year.
• Best of 2:00 PM.
• Best Tweets you missed since you last check Twitter 17 minutes ago.
• Best hot dog I ate on my way to work.
• Best insults overheard in the park.
• Best commercials during the the first half of the football game.
• Best articles you should read right now.
And then, of course, the worst. The lists of the worsts. Why choose anything anymore? Just read lists.

lists

2. If you’re going to make a list of best movies? Make it in the form of a movie. Just watch this whole thing.

3. The British, despite their faults, are, well, funny. Here is Boris Johnson, who is only as funny as your politics might allow, saying the word “pub” about 8 million times in the span of 2 minutes and then running away to avoid responding to a question. I mean, he’s hilarious. Also, he wants a pint. Badly.

4. If a man is going to receive a “bionic” penis, should that man be a virgin? And should he deny his bionic penis to the women who are “bombarding” him with requests to take it for a test drive? If you’re this man, apparently yes. Because he’s “tired”(!!!!) More proof the patriarchy hates women.

5. Is the world going to hell? I don’t know. Honestly I don’t. Sure, Trump. And Brexit. And so many other things. Also – we’re fucking with human evolution apparently. Maybe it’s going to hell. I mean, look at this.

6. So if we’re going to hell, what better way to pass the time on the way to hell than with…data? Wait. What if it’s really cool data. I mean, data is killing us and tracking us and enslaving us. It’s the opiate of the masses. But this data is kind of gorgeous.

7. Unfortunately, some people are already in hell. This is the kind of journalism that reminds you, again, that you probably have it good. Or you’re lucky. Or your complaints are a little whiny. I hate how the New York Times covered the American election. And I hate how they bowed down to Trump when he visited their offices. That kind of capitulation felt like bad (old) American jokes about the French. Surrender monkeys! But, this is harrowing. And just amazing. (And of course Trump thinks the guy behind this is a good person…)

7. Speaking of Trump. Are the Germans going to be the bastions of liberalism? Like can they save the western world? Will Hollywood have to stop making Nazi movies? Just out of decency? Does Hollywood do anything out of decency? More to the point: Did the Germans see Trump coming?

pess

8. More pessimism. Read this and tell me we don’t already live in a Dystopia. Just read the keywords here. And this is by a “futurist” who works for a car company.

9. And, well, this is absolute pessimism. This is getting into 1984 territory. If any of these things happen (and each and every one is plausible) I’m going to shut off all media and hide in my room.

10. If I hide in my room, I will need access to some Dan Dan Noodles. Then I can survive.

dan-dan

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Absolutely Useless Thoughts

bf

1. Is there anything more depressing than the pushing and shoving and punches thrown every Black Friday? And doesn’t Black Friday feel especially apt this year? Isn’t 2016 a kind of Black Friday bildungsroman for all of us? No? I kind of think it is. Because don’t you kind of enjoy it? You shake your head and watch people fighting over a flat screen TV and admit it, this is like reality TV and wrestling all rolled into one. The cameras are there, so those crazed consumers are egged on and they lose all sense of themselves and they snatch toys from kids. Without thinking about it. Search this stuff on YouTube. There are annual compilation videos of consumers fighting over just about anything. (I’m not going to include those videos here. But you know how to search things on the internet.) But then… then you remember real life. You recall your empathy. You realize that everytime you said “this is like a TV show” in real life, you ended up in a world of Brexit and Trump. Those are real people fighting over real TVs because the marketing industry figured out how to kick start Christmas sales. And it involves real kicks.

2. If it’s a food fad, chances are the harm to nature is big. You name the fad (quinoa!), bad things are happening. The new bad thing is happening to…coconuts because now everyone wants to drink coconut water. I really think beer is a lot more refreshing.

3. Lists are starting to come out. Everyone has a favorite list, even people who hate lists. I hate lists. But I’m writing one now. I’m just as awful. (We live in an era of cognitive dissonance so there.) I don’t think these lists should come out until January. There’s little to do in January anyhow. I understand why these lists come out in December, before the year is out (everything is about consumption, right?), but deleting December from the year is like Congress deleting the last year from President Obama’s term to justify not approving his nominee for the Supreme Court. Of course it counts. The year lasts right through to the end. To December 31st. Anyhow, here’s The Guardian’s list of books of the year, and here’s the New York Times (and here), and here’s Quill & Quire’s.

4. trumpIsn’t getting more and more obvious that Trump was a grift all along? That he’s in this to make his family richer than it already is and that his cabinet is going to run the country and the world? That he doesn’t care about the truth and thus challenges some basic things about, oh, everything? He’s more than just post-truth. He embodies a kind of fluidity with language that is either appalling or amazing or both. And for whatever reason, journalists continue to report on his ridiculously unhinged tweetstorms. There is no reason to. Either way, journalism is completely and totally screwed. Unless…

5. …your newspaper is bought by a billionaire and then learn that “fast” doesn’t equal “bad.” A great read about The Washington Post in the digital era.

6. Speaking of lying, what is fiction but a lie well told? Michael Chabon is one of the our finest prose stylists, constantly evolving, a surprising classicist in the best sense of the world. And says this:
screen-shot-2016-11-30-at-12-54-29-pm
The entire interview is worth a read. It really is a post-truth world.

7. The only show I might watch on broadcast TV right now is Bob’s Burgers (the most realistic families on television are almost all animated – Bojack Horseman may be the most human character on TV). I have no idea what’s on any channels. If I’m not binge watching something on Netflix (last one: The Crown and I highly recommend it), I’m watching something else on cable (Westworld). The only reason I haven’t cut the cord yet is live sports and I’m going to figure this one out soon enough. But apparently there are some decent shows on broadcast TV (so decent they are already “overlooked”). But barely. (I still think the best show of all time was M*A*S*H).

8. RIP Florence Henderson.

9. This baby, for real, is your antidote to 2016 (as is this gesture).

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment