Far Too Detailed Review

Why you like art is never solely about the art but also about what is happening in your life during its consumption. Read a book in a certain mood, in a certain life phase and it does nothing. Read it again in a different mood, in a different life phase and it profoundly moves you.

So it is that your card hit me at just the right time that I woke up today and the idea appeared to respond with a hilariously not-normal 2020 review. By not-normal, I mean that reviews of any sort between friends who see each other infrequently rarely touch the most interesting parts of human experience. Usually, you spend all the time retelling all things you’ve been up to, happenings your friend genuinely wants to hear and that you genuinely want to tell, that the clock runs out before emotion, philosophy, and messiness is revealed.


Culture Creation

Oh my God did you see … is a phrase that’s carving out ever more conversational real estate. And yea, there are some crazy, disturbing things happening at the moment. So, paying attention and “getting educated” seems like a noble use of time. But however well-intentioned this enterprise may be, and even however productive it may be, its hamartia is obvious: what we are mostly doing is feeling good about ourselves by complaining about things we do not control and which have so very little actual effect on our day-to-day experiences. The flip side being that in a world that is infinitely vast and filled with nonsense, there remains much that we – specs of sand and soon to be forgotten – can still do to actually improve our lived experiences not in some far-off time, but today. And no, this is not about turning hyper-selfish per se; this is about a real appreciation that the “culture” you exist within is almost entirely not some thing out there controlled by the idiots in Oh my God did you see, but rather a tangible ethos that you are tasked with managing.


Cracking (redux)

i thought i could endlessly amuse myself in isolation. i thought that the gospel of self-improvement was enough. i thought if humanity needed a single brave soul to check out, say, jupiter’s moons, i could be such a soul.

i was wrong.

for here i am on an innocent saturday cracking. this is it? this is all existence offers? really?

guitar: too hard
food: too repetitive
reading: am i even paying attention?
fitness: for what?
writing: i have no ideas
exploring: it’s 28 degrees
driving: ice owns all
friends: i have none who aren’t (a) petrified of covid or (b) officially in a life stage where the tv and its attached streaming services are more enjoyable than hanging with a cracked-out crazy person like me

i can’t even go to my usual oasis of coffee ’cause just like the type of person who would hubristically think he could solo through the universe, i decided to give it up and expunge the last bit of fun from daily life.

i want to do drugs. that would solve this. d::::::r:::::::u::::::g:::::::::s so it’s no longer this day=that day=yesterday=tomorrow.

but wait. xxxxxxxxx. it stares at me on the venom-injection precipice. and not just xxxxxxxxx, but xxxxxxxxx+guest. there is this girl that maybe i like {though maybe it’s just loneliness}, who maybe is interested in me {though who knows because part of her charm is her mystery in such matters}, who maybe would let me touch her {just the clavicle is all i’m asking for}, and then all would be well enough to obviate future “interventions.” hope’s power is destructive in taking us out of this here moment, but sometimes this here moment is maybe worth destroying.

Not a Champ

Champ? To some, sure. I hiked 3hrs yesterday to a friend who had power … only to have him lose it hrs later. I did hundreds of pushups, jumping jacks, and laps around the inside of his house. I read for hrs & have written several pages on this trusty legal pad. I even mounted his Peloton and broke a sweat. That all sounds kind of impressive when I write it out, but I assure you it is not. I’m bored in an unprecedented way; time is moving at the speed it moves for a child on Xmas morning as he counts down to 7AM when presents can be unwrapped. The major difference is I have nothing to look forward to. “It’s only XPM?!?!??!” FUCK. I hate the practice of “killing time,” and yet I’m struggling to break its mind grip. There’s something important to be learned in these tragic mental depths…

Was I Wrong?

Hahah. What’s come in handy is my propensity to make up stupid little games for my own amusement. Still, I’m bored in what feels like an unprecedented way. It makes me wonder if I’ve overrated my ability to thrive “alone.” This is not to say my preference ever has been infinite bachelorhood, just that I feel I’d never need to desperately settle for a woman since the alternative (i.e., being alone) is more than fine. Though, hopefully, life alone/coupled will not ever again be lived in a 40-degree apartment w/o electricity or food, and so any conclusions drawn from such an experience are probably none too relevant for 21st-century living. TBD.

Red Bull

It will not “solve” it, but it will reduce the suffering. For the energized self is often the best self, the one most likely to charge into laughter instead of anger, creativity instead of frustration, and compassion instead of egocentricity. It’s these probabilities, far more than any long-term health benefits, that should motivate us to *actually* prioritize sleep instead of merely rehearsing incantations about blue light, caffeine, and bedtime consistency without ever enacting the required dramatic behavior changes. 

“Does this mean I can’t …?” YES, that’s exactly what “dramatic” means. You thought you could transform into your best self without some serious sacrifices?

“Well, how about I just drink some Red Bull and obviate these unpleasant sounding ‘dramatic’ changes?” Because you might end up powerless in the blistering cold with no plausible access to Red Bull. Having trained your body to rely so heavily on a foreign substance that now may as well be discontinued forever, your FML quotient will be 4x your peers’. Which maybe you think doesn’t matter much, “I mean, it’s only, like, four days,” but once in it, that time will be indistinguishable from eternity. 

tl;dr No, Red Bull will not solve this problem.

The next suitable person you’re in light conversation with, you stop suddenly in the middle of the conversation and look at the person closely and say, “What’s wrong?” You say it in a concerned way. He’ll say, “What do you mean?” You say, “Something’s wrong. I can tell. What is it?” And he’ll look stunned and say, “How did you know?” He doesn’t realize something’s always wrong, with everybody. Often more than one thing. He doesn’t know everybody’s always going around all the time with something wrong and believing they’re exerting great willpower and control to keep other people, for whom they think nothing’s ever wrong, from seeing it. This is the way of people. Suddenly ask what’s wrong and whether they open up and spill their guts or deny it and pretend you’re off, they’ll think you’re perceptive and understanding. They’ll either be grateful, or they’ll be frightened and avoid you from then on. Both reactions have their uses, as we’ll get to. You can play it either way. This works over 90 percent of the time.

    • ­From David Foster Wallace’s “The Pale King”

I think this is completely true. Furthermore, I think the willingness to respond to such an inquiry honestly is a sign of great confidence.

But what about “manhood” and “toughness” and “a stiff upper lip”? These traits should not be dismissed as anachronisms worth evolving beyond. They should, though, be correctly defined so as to maximize flourishing.

Imagine a restless six-year-old named Jimmy. Think of how his shirt always seems stained by an amalgamation of peanut butter, dirt, and blood. Picture him earnestly working through his math test with his knee bouncing at 200bpm. Jimmy jumps off swings. Jimmy jumps off beds. Jimmy touches everything in the check-out aisle. Jimmy is chaos in a tiny package. And when Jimmy’s speed outpaces his balance, he sometimes crashes. “Don’t cry, Jimmy. Come on, boys don’t cry,” his All-American father, Christian, utters.

Society is often quite bad at telling the complete story. What we are here to do is complete the story so Jimmy isn’t left stranded with only part of a valuable lesson.


4.15.20 Rule HJ8945 Part B

Citizen 78998238733209497832631265872334793274932

Citizen 56263648733420979312047132907213901279737


Bad ideas: good

Good ideas: terrific

No ideas: terrible

As previously stated, King World XVIII is a thinking man. He is also a man of action. Sometimes, these two traits can seem at odds. For if one stays too mired in thought, one never acts, and if one remains too consumed by action, one never thinks. But for anyone who actually makes consequential decisions, there is no onerous tension at all. You simply parry the insatiable desire to learn just a tad more by accepting imperfect information and choosing a path forward. Sometimes that path proves golden. Sometimes it doesn’t. Both outcomes are far preferable to a situation devoid of ideas wherein paralysis ensues.


4.15.20 Rule HJ8945

Citizen 78998238733209497832631265872334793274932

Citizen 56263648733420979312047132907213901279737


Pre-4.15.20 Rule HJ8945, you would have been afforded understanding and sympathy when the world’s winds blew against you. While it’s true that there are always people worse off, it’s just as true that there are always people better off. In moments of challenge, it’s easier to default to the latter perspective – I’m not as smart as person X, I’m not as healthy as person Y, I’m not as charismatic as person Z, etc. – to make failure palatable. And we, the rest of the world, were okay with this arrangement. Key word there is “were.” Please notice that it is in past tense, for the world’s okayness officially expired with the passage of 4.15.20 Rule HJ8945 and your excuses, however legitimate, will no longer be tolerated.


I didn’t catch it at first, but I now realize that something important was left unexplained from our last conversation. You, a man of high self-awareness, contended that your risk-aversion holds you back in matters of love. This didn’t strike me as true since an obvious manifestation of risk-aversion is settling for a “good enough” girl who checks many boxes and provides undeniable aid against loneliness – and you don’t do this. You, in fact, are likely to hear pleas from friends to be “less picky” and other such well-intentioned nonsense that risk-averse individuals utter to risk-lovers. I guess xxxxxxxxx simply had a blind spot in his self-model and risk-aversion isn’t plaguing him.

But that’s too easy a conclusion, right? You have thought about yourself and love a lot, and surely you considered that which I noticed in 60 seconds: