December 21, 2020
A notification appears in a small box at the upper right corner of my computer screen
I am informed my daily average screen time — the time my computer is linked with the Internet — is seven hours, thirty-one minutes.
I close the box.
Algo continues to supply videos it/he/she/they (a plethora of pronouns is the safe bet these days) reckons that I’ll enjoy.
In its/his/her/their ongoing effort to obscure the ruthless and relentless math, render the system familiar and comfy, and secure my trust, Algo steps up the pace as the quarantine continues, pandemic sweat flows freely, and the solstice arrives.
I’m in the basement, at the screen.
I can’t get away.
I fear for my physical and mental health.
I contemplate a menu for dinner.
Stuffed shells? What type of stuffing? The common ricotta, mozz, parm, egg, spinach, etc.? Maybe a sausage based stuffing, the meat buffered by some crumbs, amped up with cheeses, onion, garlic, herbs. Sauces? It’s a lot to deal with for someone in my condition. I’m not up to it.
Crepes rolled around quasi-bourguignon goodies and topped with a hefty mornay before a trip to the oven and a minute or two under the broiler? Sounds good, but crepes are a pain in the ass to make. The meaty/winey filling takes time with a major prep then maybe four hours braising in the oven before its intro to the crepes. Do I have the attention span and/or the desire?
Wilted lettuce and two-day old tuna?
Saltines and water?
Yes…vodka. And one or two Fruit Slabs (The OG Mango) to smooth any rough edges.
I mouse to the “Watch” option on Facebook at 8 a.m. this morning, and I’ve been glued to the screen since. It’s easy to capture my attention when I’m slightly depressed.
I remember Kundera’s observations, his remarks about the “stupidity” accompanying the arrival of “moving pictures” that, to this day, has deepened with each technological advance. I promptly discard them.
I can’t resist. Algo has me by the sack. As I’ve entered the “elderly” zone, that sack has sagged in alarming fashion. It’s grotesque, and way too easy to grab.
Now, it’s 5 p.m. There’s dinner to be made, but I can’t tear myself away from these clips — three-minute snippets from a Canadian television comedy series about a bunch of rubes in Ontario who burp, make frequent trips to the bathroom, drink a lot, exchange inane rhyming chatter, fart, run a produce stand, and engage in fistfights.
I enjoy this, but a month ago I was happier with Algo’s video fare than I am now. The more extensive my exposure to that fare, the more I manifest Kundera’s stupidity. The dumber I get, the greater my despair. The more I despair, the greater my urge to watch videos. It’s the proverbial vicious circle. Inescapable if your sack is clutched.
A month ago, Algo delivered short videos showing female pilots flying massive commercial airliners, with landings and takeoffs at airports located around the globe: Miami, Winnipeg, Amsterdam, Boise, Kinshasa, Martinique, Chicago, etc. I was pretty damned happy. The fact I fell into the YouTube rabbit hole early in the day and remained there for hours enjoying second-hand cockpit thrills didn’t bother me at all.
Now, however, thanks to Facebook, that drip Mark Zuckerberg, and Algo’s perverse logic, I receive videos of large commercial aircraft seen at a distance, the planes landing and taking off at Heathrow, in London. There’s no more recorded aero fem action, no rotations ordered in an authoritative yet erotic tone of voice, no control manipulation featuring polished fingernails, no suggestion of alluring scents in the cockpit — the heady mix of altitude-provoked intestinal upset, damp nether parts, and Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue Eau de Toilette.
This bothers me. I despair.
The current aircraft segments are supplied by goofs who park near the runway at Heathrow where they video takeoffs and landings for hours on end, providing occasional comments to spice up the show. It seems that handouts from an inefficient British socialist system provide these fellows with plenty of leisure time, and all the chips they can consume. That’s what happens when a great empire disintegrates and a working class that once functioned as cannon fodder in distant lands remains home and unemployed, left to its own devices with the encouragement and support of a cynical government. Handouts, an iPhone 7 OS, low-grade potato products, and shiftless dawdling.
It resembles my life in too many ways.
It bothers me. I despair.
The louts speak.
“Hey Reg, looks like the Air France 777 is leaving the gate.”
Reg replies, “Yeah, mate, sure does. Wonder where it’s off to?”
The fucking algorithm decides that these parasitical nitwits are more engaging than two supremely competent gals in the cockpit of an Emirates A380 going through their pre-flight checklist. With accents and perfect fingernails. The occasional flimsy headscarf. And the promise of enticing odors once aloft.
Algo also pushes cooking and food-related videos to my screen.
A month ago, I’m comforted by Jacques Pepin as he demonstrates how to cook a fruit tart using an overripe pear and some scraps of store-bought puff pastry. His right hand trembles ever so slightly. A touch of Parkinson’s? I worry when he slices the pear.
I’m happy with Jacques videos, but too happy according to Zuckerberg’s algorithm. Algo turns the crank, and bothers me.
Now, I glance at the screen and watch a young guy who, obviously unencumbered by employment or a lack of funds, eats staggering amounts of food in Hong Kong, Singapore, Seoul, Winnipeg, Flushing, etc.
He’s not Jacques but, dammit, now that I’m stupid I can’t turn away as the churl crams down a chili crab then polishes off two stuffed dosas before consuming three savory custards and two skewers’ worth of cumin lamb.
Cumin is an underused spice in the American low-end restaurant industry. As is tarragon.
Jacques told me this as he demonstrated how to cook the perfect crepe. According to Jacques, cooking crepes is not as difficult as I claim it is.
But, now I’ve got this geek who eats, but can’t cook.
As I watch the privileged glutton gulp an order of Shanghai dumplings and two Korean street-stall egg sandwiches, I wonder where this millennial asshole gets the cash to pay for travel to distant sites, and to suck down food by the truckload? He’s not British.
Well, obviously, he gets help from mom and dad (he’s convinced them that his career as an “influencer” will free them of any obligation to pay off his student loans), but he also profits from ad revenues. Revenue from the irritating Nissan ads that interrupt his grotesque indulgences.
Advertising — a prime driver of Kundera’s “stupidity.” It’s long been a first principle in the ad trade that the consumer’s lack of intelligent discrimination and taste is the foundation on which to build a successful sales campaign. The ad geeks have gone into overdrive on You Tube, fortifying said foundation, creating a rich revenue source for the advertiser and cash for the savvy online personality.
Since I’ve chosen to ignore Kundera, I create a plan. I write it out knowing I’m likely to forget it if I don’t leave evidence before I wolf down the Fruit Slabs.
• research ways to video yourself being outlandish, eating way too much, acting the idiot. You’re really stupid now, getting dumber by the day, and you’ve long exercised a talent for eating way too much. You can do this big guy!
• buy a 4K Camcorder Vlogging Camera with night vision, microphone, wide angle lens, and handheld stabilizer.
• convince Kathy to help with the video project by promising to give her the title of “Director/Producer.” She loves to think she’s in charge.
• bribe 7-year-old grandson Bodhi Valhalla and have him teach Kathy to operate the camera.
• post a flurry of vapid video blather on You Tube, Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitter. Develop a signature outfit you can wear during videos to allow for instant recognition by what is sure to be a legion of fans. Remember: you look good in gray and blue.
- get in touch with 12-year-old grandson Banzai, bribe him, and ask him to fake user numbers for your posts. He knows all about this shit.
- call Zuckerberg and ask him to tell Nissan you are ready for financial support.
- open a Pay Pal account under an assumed name, for tax purposes.
If the twits parked at Heathrow can chum in an ad or two, so can I!
If a gluttonous pinhead who dropped out of a low-grade state college and abandoned his dream of being a high school golf coach in order to travel and gorge on the foods of all nations can do this, I can do this! After all, I graduated from a low-level state institution and abandoned my dream of becoming a jazz dance instructor. This is right up my alley.
Nissan will see to the monetary reward.
I look forward to eating chili crab, in Singapore.
And several orders of Shanghai dumplings. In Shanghai.
I will not share the dumplings with Kathy, since she’ll be operating the 4K camcorder.
She’ll capture my feasts with the 4K and I’ll forward the videos to those women in the A380 cockpit.
I think they’ll enjoy it once they reach altitude, flip to autopilot, sit back, open the laptops, zip to YouTube, and begin to outgas their way to Abu Dhabi.
Foodie influencers be warned: A giant will soon walk among you!
Stupid, just like you…and very large.
December 29, 2020
A notification appears in a small box at the upper right corner of my computer screen
I am informed my daily average screen time — the time my computer is linked with the Internet — is seven hours, fifty-two minutes.
I close the box.
HER: “You said you’d take the crap in the garage to the dump.”
Kathy interrupts me as I study a YouTube video featuring the privileged young glutton I mentioned in the previous entry. I’m taking notes in preparation for my debut as an online star.
The irritating dweeb nails a giant slab of Wagyu beef in a Tokyo restaurant, and tops it off with an entire lobe of flambéed goose liver.
I tell myself: That’s for me! One lobe? That’s it? Child’s play!
I need to make another note to self to remind me to review my first note to self on the stopic of stardom — the one reminding me to contact Mark Zuckerberg and solicit his help with my plan to fund my role as an influencer. Also, I need to find Zuckerberg’s phone number. It’s probably unlisted. I’ll contact Banzai, bribe him, and ask for his help in contacting The Zuck.
Kathy seems ready to communicate a long list of things she thinks I should do, so I short-circuit her move. I look away from the screen just as a rivulet of molten, golden goose fat streams down the lad’s chin.
ME: “Yep, I said I would. Just like my Viking ancestors, I need to get rid of belongings as I prepare to die. This way, my surviving family members are left with little or no refuse to deal with, other than my ashes. If you’ll recall, I compiled specific instructions on how to deal with the ashes, including the amounts to be added to a number of dishes to be served at the meal following my elaborate memorial service. I left a document in the cloud, wherever that is, and another copy of the instructions are on my external hard drive in a folder titled ‘Dead Karl Plans.””
HER: “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Don’t try a diversion here. The crap in the garage. The dump. For god’s sake, Karl, focus! For once in your life, focus!”
Me: “OK, whatever you say my delicate flower.”
She’s right: I made a mistake last year (perhaps two, maybe three years ago) and promised to clean the garage, separate the sparse wheat from the huge amount of chaff, load the truck with chaff, then haul the debris to the dump where I can see my pals at the employee hut, trade gossip about incompetent county officials, and share QAnon updates.
Things in this world of ours are not what they seem, you know. The guys at the dump are aware of this thanks to my instruction and a list of conspiracy websites I provided them, and they now cruise the back roads in the county after work on Tuesdays, searching for pedophiles. I alerted them to the fact that pedos wear clown makeup and drive old Econoline vans and are, as a result, easy to spot. The deviant kidnappers prowl for prey on Tuesdays. They are up to no good and must be stopped — on this we agree.
I’m anxious to hear what the guys have discovered, and if they’ve rescued any kids from Hilary Clinton’s child sex ring — the ultra left-wing, amoral Antifa thugs who deliver baker’s dozens of white kids abducted from day care centers and birthday parties to ravenous pervs like Tom Hanks and Bill Gates. Oligarchs and celebs do a lot more than make marginally poignant films and fund charitable trusts, don’t you know?
I know. I learned about it on the Dark Web.
HER: “You said you would clean the garage way back in … God, it’s been so long I don’t remember. Nothing’s happened.”
ME: “I’ve been busy.”
I feel the noose tighten.
HER: “Plus, you’ve promised to …”
I execute an end run.
ME: “Gotta go to the garage, get to it. You’re right, sweetie, I’ve put it off for too long. Boy, are you right. As always, I might add.”
I put on pants and waddle to the garage. I open a box labeled “books-1985.” I discover a collection of short stories by Donald Barthelme. The lighting in the garage is not ideal. It takes me more than two hours to read the book.
The best thing about Barthelme is that most of his short stories are real short, and he doesn’t clutter things up with too many big words or much in the way of a complicated plot. This is a bonus for a reader whose Internet exposure has reduced his IQ by twenty points.
Plus, Barthelme’s stories are not like the pseudo-mysterious, allegedly magical/delightful drivel produced by Murakami — the kind of stories that, once read, force the reader to confront the limited number of days of life that remain, and question why they squandered even a minute on duds like “A Shinagawa Monkey.”
I recall that Barthelme died of throat cancer. Pals of the deceased say he was fond of the work of Husserl. I’m not sure I buy this, since Husserl is a bore. More boring than Barthelme. I once plowed my way through Logical Investigations, and it damned near finished me off.
But, that cancer of Don’s.
Since I host a cancer that will surely kill me if something else doesn’t do the dirty work first (like a re-read of Husserl or a forced diet of Murakami), I am interested in Don’s disease.
What did Don smoke? I smoked many things over the course of many years. I even inhaled the smoke from the torched, dried linings of banana peels back in 1966.
It didn’t work.
I smoked several massive hits of DMT that same year in Manhattan, in the company of a Wiccan from Boston as we huddled in a tattered suite at The Hotel Albert.
That definitely worked.
I quit a two-pack-a-day Marlboro habit by switching to two-ounces-per-week of weed, a habit it took thirty years to break.
My lungs are a disaster, what of my throat?
I’ll make a note reminding me to contact my personal physician, Wanda, and set an appointment for a Cat Scan, an MRI, and a battery of lab tests. Perhaps some Ketamine.
What did Donald lick?
I licked things, and people, including Raina Love, The Love Goddess of The Lower East Side — an incident that resulted in extensive and expensive medical treatment. Say what you will about predatory Big Pharma, but there are times when Merck is a lifesaver.
I refuse to identify objects licked, or to name any other names.
I promise Kathy the garage will be fully cleared of junk by June.
If I don’t die first, because I licked the wrong person or smoked the wrong crap fifty years ago.
Or re-read Husserl and Murakami.
Meanwhile: Keep an eye out for clowns.