Do readers really digest?

I had a thought earlier about how often I consume and how little I digest. I’m not talking about my propensity to inhale cheese. This is more of an intellectual intake. It’s amazing that we can have the entire world an arm’s length away from our face. We’ve all got the internet in the palms of our hands these days. Hell, some people have psalms in the palms of their hands these days. I’m not sure how much I read or watch in a day. I literally couldn’t tell you everything I passed on my journey down the information super highway today. There was too much and I wasn’t paying enough attention. That’s sort of the crux of what I’m talking about. So often I’ll get to the end of an article/thinkpiece/rant/movie/episode and reflect well that was interesting, wasn’t it? That’ll usually be where my interaction with that text ends. If I cast my mind back to it later, I’ll recall only scant details. I think they call it The Google Effect (would looking it up be ironic?). Essentially I assume I can always find it and re-read it if it’s important enough.

I was in the bathroom maybe an hour ago reading an article, got to the end and asked myself how much of that did I really take in? Yes, I appreciate the juxtaposition of thinking about digestion while sitting on the loo. I thought back to learning techniques used in school. Doing book reports or going through supplied questions about the texts. Provoking thought on something I’d just taken in. Just because I’d devoured it didn’t mean my mind took any nutrients before flushing it out. I started to think about my regular daily intake and how much I retain when I rise the following day. Maybe 1% at a conservative guess. If that’s true, then why read so much? Why am I bothering to cover so much ground if its footprint is so small in my brain?

I’m thinking about my habits and what they do for me. Modern online life revolves around getting as much as we can all the time. Apps and websites are designed in a manner that encourages consuming more and more. It makes sense. They want to sell ads and monetise our consumption. They want us buying their products, subscribing, etc etc. Synapses in our brain are constantly firing off as the carefully cultivated content hits all of our pleasure/reward centres. They know what they’re doing. Do I? What’s the point of reading so much if it’s not doing anything for me? If I go to a buffet and eat till I’m in pain, did I really get more value for money than if I’d stopped when I was satisfied?

I don’t know for sure how you all use the internet, but did any of that ring true for you? If so, I want to put something out there (I’ll probably say this then forget about it (I can just google it later)) that I think might help to ring more out of a text. After you’ve finished an article/thinkpiece/rant/movie/episode, ask yourself questions. Do a little book report for yourself. Ask how the piece made you feel. What arguments did you particularly like that it put forth? Was there anything that felt underdeveloped or you disagreed with? Why? What were your takeaways from the piece? If you were to tell someone about it at a party, how would you phrase it? What important or novel things did you learn from it? How was your perception of the piece shaped by your wider societal views?

It sounds like a waste of energy, but if I did this for everything I took in and only consumed two pieces in a day, I’d probably come out having learned more than I do at the moment. I may read 20-30+ pieces in any given day, but retain very little. In retrospect, that sounds like a waste of energy.

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Is this that movie moment where you look back and realise “Oh, so I was the problem all along”?

I’m not good at social norms. I’m not tossing this out there like I’m some roguish rebel with no cause to speak of. This also isn’t some edgy Hot Topic mall goth style “I’m so weird and random lol” thing either. It’s more that a lot of established niceties don’t make a lot of sense and seem like a waste of energy.

Take “how’s it going?” for instance. My usual response is honest. I’ll say how I feel. If things are going great, I’ll say so and give an explanation. If they aren’t, #same. If they didn’t want to hear it, then they shouldn’t have made an emotional bid. Why waste the words if they didn’t care? If all they wanted was to acknowledge my presence, a nod would’ve sufficed, right?

Now I’m fine with this as a concept, but the execution doesn’t always stick the landing. Lately, as things have been generally sub-par, I’ve found myself unloading on unprepared people and giving them more than they signed up for. Nobody has had a massively adverse reaction or anything. People have listened and responded as best they could for the most part. The issue I have is that it’s created an unbalanced dynamic. I often end up talking about myself (which is everyone’s favourite thing to do, don’t lie) and they don’t reciprocate. I’d be happy to do the emotional labour for others. I’m open to be there and listen. The thing is, people aren’t conditioned to know that it’s an option. If I ask “how’re you doing?” I get back an auto-response. “Fine. Good. Alright.” It’s shorthand for “I’m not looking for a conversation.”

This isn’t to mention my odd conversational disappearing act thing. That one I fully understand is absurd, but it’s been an intentional bit. A while back I decided that I liked how in movies nobody ever says goodbye when they hang up the phone. I decided it’d be amusing (to me only, clearly) if I just vanished once the conversation had run its course. No so long, farewell, Auf Wiedersehen or goodnight. Why? Because I wanted to cultivate an air of mystique. Because I realised a while back that to some people I was basically a magical creature who apparated, said something interesting or different then disappeared into the aether. Why not lean into that? I thought.

So for the past few years at work, I’ve engaged with people, had conversations beyond the mere “so how’s it going” mentality and just kind of left. It’s often dawned on me that it’s probably considered quite dick-ish, but my commitment to the bit is strong enough that I don’t want to relent. In retrospect, this is likely all the more dick-ish and serves nobody but me. If nobody else is in on the bit, what would it do for them. Furthermore, does anyone consider me to be enigmatic and magical? Who knows? I probably disappear before they could mention it.

The un-examined life is not worth living, right? So I figure it’s pertinent to question why these structures exist. What are people really getting out of these minor social flourishes? Does it serve us to continue using them? Or is it up to us to find some that serve a purpose?

Sounds more Autummy-nal than anything else.

Oy vey, I’ve eaten well today. My girlfriend and I started the day with a solid sweet potato, onion, salami and garlic egg scramble. Yes, I realise that rather than a cohesive meal, that sounds more like multiple single items together. We paired them with my brunch nemesis: grilled to tomatoes. I swear I fuck them up every time. They’ll be burnt, but cold inside. Way more solid than desired. None of that hot warm goodness with slightly crispy exterior that makes them pop. Today I loaded them the fuck up with sea salt and pepper and hoped for the best. They delivered. I defeated my personal dragon and claimed its treasure.

I had one of the $3.50 large banh mi buns for lunch. Loaded up with cold cut meats, paté, salad and chillis. Then caught up with a friend over key lime pie and tea. Later my girlfriend and I are off for homemade pizza and beer with a couple we haven’t seen in ages. As you should be able to tell from the diet, fall is setting in. There’s a reason why this is my favourite time of the year. It’s comfort food day in and day out. Consequently, I feel comfortable.

With each year that passes, I get more and more settled into the vastly different sessions Canada has to offer. Back home in New Zealand the variance wasn’t that huge. Winter was colder, a bit more drizzly, but ultimately not considerably different from Autumn. Here you actually make use of a rotating wardrobe. Certain pieces only make sense for a couple of months each year. Layering comes in stages with incremental temperature shifts. Beer changes and you have seasonal brews. Some months you rarely go out. Life revolves around the weather and it’s logical, because you don’t have much of a choice otherwise.

I think after four years that I’ve reached the point of normalcy. I’m used to the flow of the year. It’s no longer jarring or unnatural working around my environment. Instead it’s become a matter of embracing each season as they come. Learning to love the intricacies and charms of temperature fluctuations and shifting winds.

Or in short, enjoying the food.

I wish I had some kind of jean genie.

Welp, I did it. I cashed in any anti-consumerist cache I’d amassed over the years of rants and brand dodging. All of it down on credit at Lululemon.

I remember this slang term from my childhood. Being a “label basher”. A label basher was someone who prided themselves on being a head to toe brand ambassador. Maybe the term rose from the 90s anti-corporate cultural climate. People rallying against those buying into snug franchise affiliation. Maybe it was a mentality erected to oppose the Valley Girl movement. Whatever it was, it eventually all became meaningless as the style and fashions of the contrarian backlash were commodified and sold back to a willing consumer base. Pre-ripped jeans, big stompy Doc Martens and intentional safety pins. Hell, Hot Topic Mall Goth became a thing. Nirvana’s legacy of band tees probably outlived their music. Check and mate.

For years I’ve extolled how unnecessary branded fitness attire is. Wear whatever’s comfortable, but there’s no need to add a hefty price tag to something you’re gonna ruin with sweat. Get things that’ll be useful and ease the struggle of grueling workouts. Then my parents sent money over with my Big Sis for me to get some decent cold weather jogging legwear, since my shorts won’t cut it once the weather reaches five degrees or so. I’m not gonna say how much they sent, but it was more than I considered these things should cost. I’m sure the smart move would’ve been to buy something cheap and pocket the rest, but that didn’t feel like it inhabited the spirit of the arrangement. They’d sent me a generous amount, so why not get high quality clothes that would last. My mind went to Lululemon. They’re a premium brand, but they’re also certainly high quality. The only Lululemon clothes I’d previously owned were hand me downs. My dad had a pair of long pants that got a bit beaten up with time. He had them taken up and tailored into shorts. He used them for a bit, then offered them to me after a while. I used them consistently for around three years until finally they gave up. They were great. Sturdy construction with zippered pockets. Harder to find on pants than you’d think, but perfect for an iPod that bounced back and forth. In the hopes of something that’d last a similar amount of time, I decided to give Lululemon a shot.

A salesperson spotted me as soon as I walked in the door. I told her what I was looking for and she grabbed me a couple of styles, telling me the pros and cons for each. I found a decently priced pair of workout shorts on the sales rack and grabbed them to try on too. To be honest, the pants were really comfy, with a pleasant amount of compression. They stretched to allow for depth of moment, with a good weight. I don’t like it when pants are too light and hang loose. Then I tried the tights and discovered surprisingly they were even better. Solid compression with a pocket that would hold my iPod tight while I ran. Thick enough to keep me warm in the chilly lake air, but also protect against the all too real threat of camel tail that comes with male tights. Unexpectedly I walked out with the tights, paying far more than I ever would’ve expected. Plus the shorts, because they were somewhat reasonably priced. It’ll nice to have two pairs of workout shorts I can rotate.

In terms of my anti-consumerist bent, whatever. We all selectively decide when rules do and don’t apply to us, right? The concept of “selling out” is outmoded, especially as it pertains to fashion. I’m not remotely saying that protesting unfair sweatshop working conditions and the companies that employ them is a bad way to go. I’m also not gonna suddenly start outfitting my wardrobe with only the finest things. I’ve been looking for new jeans for a while. After I finished at Lululemon, I walked across the street to H&M and balked at the idea of paying $20 for a brand new pair of jeans.

So don’t worry, I’ll be fine.

Personally I think I hit a house run.

Well folks, turns out I’m old. I had a spicy burrito and got heartburn, which was mildly irritating for the rest of the night. Alas, my youth has fled and with it, my innocence.

I swear I never used to get heartburn before I reached my late 20s. Perhaps New Zealand had a natural invisible barrier that protected me. Or maybe my body, before growing ancient and feeble, produced the necessary antacids on its own. Now we just have Tums, which honestly I’m kind of fine with. If my reward for suffering mild heartburn is to eat candy, then SEND ME THAT HEAT, BABY. However last night as I was out and about to watch comedy, I didn’t have Tums on me. I sort of wanted ice cream to combat the burn, then I started questioning a world where my desire for ice cream stemmed from anything but a desire to be eating ice cream. Ice cream is like frozen joy. It’s the laughter of a child distilled into a foodstuff. It tastes like refracted light, but also sometimes you get weird flavours like garlic. Ice cream should be the reason for anything, rather than needing a reason for ice cream.

N. E. Weigh.

If it wasn’t apparent by now, I’ve reached the point of the festival where my rational mind has fled. Perhaps due to sleep deprivation, alcohol or too much caffeine, last night I went on a dumb Full House joke tear. It started out so simply:

Already reached the point of the festival where I’m doing bits in regular conversation. May Stamos have mercy on my soul.

Cute, right? Because Stamos’ catchphrase is “Have mercy”? I thought so. Primarily I just liked the idea that Stamos would be so method that to this day he still said his catchphrase in everyday life. Don’t worry, things got worse:

At Thanksgiving is John Stamos all “Have Merci”?

Do you think if Dave Coulier had a tumour he’d go to the specialist and be all “cut it out”?

If John Stamos was a Colosseum editor, would his judgement be “Half Mercy”?

To be honest, I had to do a little bit of research for that one. I didn’t really know the veracity of the film Gladiator and whether or not the emperor would judge the games. Turns out the title was called “editor”. The moar you know, eh?

Do you think if Mary Kate/Ashley Olsen were Westworld hosts working at the brothel and a guest asked for A Sex they’d be all “You got it, dude”?

I’d always remembered that Dude Ranches existed, but I had no idea what Dude really meant in this context. Was it just a cowboy? Once again, I did some more research (okay, so I went on Wikipedia) and discovered that Dude is another name for city slickers. So then I needed to figure out some kind of scenario where MK&A would not only be in the (wiki wiki) Wild Wild West, but in some kind of service position. I’m watching Westworld at the moment and it clicked. Then I realised that despite them being fully formed adults with realised existences, the world might cringe a little at the idea of former child stars being sex workers. Which is stupid, of course, sex work is real work and people are overly too averse to sexuality. So I softened the language to the childish “A Sex”. Also because it sounded funny to me.

Do you think if Jodie Sweetin asked some guy for his daughter’s hand in marriage and he said no she’d be all “How Rude” and marry her anyway?

I just wanted an excuse to think about this sublimely written article about why that song is such a pile of fuck.

Also maybe I need to go get ice cream now.

Well I certainly won’t be motherbored.

At the moment life looks like a bunch of pixels. My brain is unravelling and I can see The Matrix. It’s not bad enough for my vision to have devolved into binary, but I could be in need of a graphics card upgrade. RAM’s usually pretty cheap. Let’s toss some more in there too. I don’t know if that ol’ 512MB of DDR RAM can keep up any more. It’s been a decade since I last knew anything about computers and it seems like my mind is similarly outmoded. Oh well, it’s not like overclocking could have any severe ramifications…

I still haven’t caught up from my holiday hangover. I caught a cold and instead of shirking it off, I spread it to my girlfriend who begrudgingly held up her end of keeping the contagion going. Thanks honey. So I spent the weekend soaking in the festering putrescence. I’m still congested and my squishy think-y bits are accordingly dealing with my internal traffic jam. Everything’s taking a while to process. Pity, because returning from holiday has meant a significant backlog at work. We’re ramping up to the busiest time of the year, which co-incidentally coincides with the colossal comedy festival, which I’m covering. Cool. Cool cool cool.

Buuuuut, my accreditation hasn’t yet been sorted. Normally I’m all geared up a week or two ahead of time. This year, a combination of poor communication and a new PR firm covering the festival has meant that three days out I still haven’t been told the status or extent of my accreditation. They want me to submit my requests, but they haven’t told me what level of shows I get access to. This means I have to put together requests with contingencies. I usually plan pretty carefully to maximise what I’m able to see. Some comics stay for a couple of nights, others pop in for a night or two. This makes the festival into an elaborate puzzle.

This puzzle is further compounded by travel times. It’s all well and good to book a 7pm show and 9pm show, but if the 7pm show is at the Sony Center and the 9pm show is at Comedy Bar, it can be pretty fucking tricky to make it from the first show to the second in time. Sometimes shows run long. Furthermore, now that they’ve included Yuk Yuks in the venue list for midnight shows, it’s damn near impossible to get from a 10.30pm show to the midnight show in time, even after taking an Uber (RIP the novel experience that is Andy Kindler’s Alternative Show).

So one axis is timing and venue distance, the other is headliner access. If I can see headliners, it’ll change which shows I prioritise. If I don’t, that’ll change the shape of my festival. Without knowing whether or not I get headliners then, will affect the structure of my schedule. If I get Mulaney on Thursday night, for instance, it won’t only change what I see on Friday night, but could affect which shows I opt in for on Friday, Saturday and Sunday too. Which means I need to submit multiple contingencies based on what access I will get, without knowing how this will play out. Anyone else confused?

Then while all this is happening I’ll also have daily coverage, a full time job (which could be in another department with later hours if I get the job (it’s a six month assignment that would start over the next week or two. Fingers crossed) and the necessity of keeping up physical activity (or otherwise truly go insane). Sleep comes in there somewhere too. Is caffeine more effective if I shelve it?

The scary part is, this is what I do for leisure. I think I need to learn what priorities are.

Let the arbitrary hate flow through you.

Some dude on the subway in front of me us wearing a book with the Facebook logo, except in its place it says “fakebook“. What’s he rebelling against, really? Did he recently undergo a traumatic identity theft case revolving around the use of the popular social media platform? Is this some greater statement on the fleeing insincerity of online communication? Drawing contrasts between the facetious digital contact in lieu of a more personal connection? Or has he just seen The Matrix for the first time and convinced himself we’re all living in a simulation, thus goading one of the world wide web’s most influential sites into proving its worth in a land of make believe? Or maybe, just maybe he’s a gormless milquetoast zygote with a rudimentary sense of humour. You know what? Fuck that guy. He’s a FakeMook.

Work was shitty and frustrating today, so maybe that’s why I’m picking on this bland dweeb. A major shift in protocol right in the middle of my vacation means I need to do a metric fuckton of work before I leave. Otherwise it’d be left to other team members to pick up my slack. I bet that’s what Fakebook Dipshit does all the time. Slack prick. I bet he paid full price to see The Emoji Movie in cinemas. Maybe just to see his cousin, the poo emoji, on the big screen. Actually, that’s kind of sweet. I don’t want to personify him like that. I hate this guy, remember? How’s about this? I bet he was one of those goons bitching about the women only screening of Wonder Woman a while back. Yeah, that seems like his M.O. You know, they’re doing a Clown only screening of It at The Alamo. I wonder if gamer gaters will shit themselves over that too? Probably not. They’re just misogynists. They’ve got no beef with Arlequino and his ilk.

I saw someone on the train that I thought was a local comic I saw the other day. I was just about to tell her how much I enjoyed her “Kid Rock grandma” bit, but couldn’t tell if it was her. So she saw me turn to her, make eye contact and open my mouth. No sound came out, then I blushed, closed my mouth then turned away. She may have thought that I was some form of human/fish hybrid that’d forgotten about my gills. I remembered the comedian had chipped her tooth on the mic, so I wondered if that’d be how I could tell if it was her or not. I darted my eyes back to her periodically before realising I was trying to look inside her mouth and if things weren’t creepy already, they were bound to get into Slenderman territory in T-minus five seconds. I spent the rest of the subway ride trying to burn a hole in the floor with my glare.

At least I can console myself with knowing I’m not wearing a fucking fakebook shirt. That dude is an anus.