1) I never noticed how profoundly TV affects the culture, until I stopped watching it as often. I now hear people repeating common phrases I’ve never heard before. I hear people laughing at the same jokes, gesticulating and posturing in similar ways when they tell jokes, and they may start laughing at jokes others tell before the joke is even finished. They seem to know the same stories and the same jokes. They seem to have the same rhythm to their jokes, and they all land on the same note when they hit their punch line. It gives us all comfort to hear a story or a joke that we know, and to know where it’s headed. Our brain rewards us with a shot of dopamine when we figure out the pattern of a story, joke, or song before it’s concluded. Dopamine makes us feel good for a moment, so we all watch the same TV shows and listen to the same songs over and over again, because we know where they’re headed, and we hang out with people who say “okay, right” and tell the same jokes in the same manner and land on the punch line in the same note, because they make us feel intelligent and funny and we get our dopamine rewards, and we couldn’t do it without them, because we are the complex species who need companionship.
2) Movie studios spend big money to put attractive people in movie roles, and we pay big money to watch them walk and talk with one another on screen. It’s not about being gorgeous, however, because audiences often spend time trying to spot the flaws in the flawless. Those who appear on screens most often have a quality about them that we enjoy watching for 90 minutes. Part of this quality is beauty, but another part of it is that elusive, indefinable “I don’t know, but I know it when I see it” quality.
3) As a ten year old, I was able to fool most of the adults most of the time. I played the role of the innocent child who didn’t know any better. More often than not, I did know better. My peers knew that, but the adults were bent on understanding me better and being sympathetic. My fellow ten-year-olds would scoff in my general direction. We adults should be scoffing, but we don’t. We don’t because we want to be viewed as intelligent and sympathetic individuals. We want to understand criminals, but more than that we want to be seen as individuals who are trying to understand. We don’t want to believe in absolutes. We say there are no absolutes, and this makes us feel like our structures are complex. Maybe there aren’t any absolute 100% truths, but isn’t a truth that is true 50.1% of the time enough to act on? The ten-year-old mind deals more in absolutes than the progressive, complex mind of the adult, but there are times when the absolutes are a lot closer to the truth.
4) I had a friend who described himself as “very sincere some of the times.” How can one be “very sincere” some of the times? I can see how a person would be very sincere about some things and insincere about others, but how can one characterize themselves as very sincere some of the times in a general manner?
5) There is a struggle in every mind to be intellectual. There is also a resultant struggle to be perceived as an intellectual. Unfortunately, many forego the internal struggle of the latter and place too much value in the latter.
6) I’m toilet trained, but every once in a while I imagine what I would look like if I suckled breasts as big as mountains. Would I have crooked teeth and mongoloid eyes?
7) Some people complain that they have no choice in life. This is a fallacy, for the most part, but they lean on this to explain why they are not doing what they want to do in life. If it is true, in the present, the only reason they have no choice is because of the decisions they made in the past. This is true of most people, and you are not an exception to this rule.
8) Relaxing the mind during the respites of relaxation reserved for artistic venues (i.e. movies) can produce a Chinese water torture effect. What starts out as meaningless drips hitting your forehead can incrementally evolve into accepting ideas that we would not otherwise consider.
9) I’ve tried being one of those guys that changed his underwear every day. It never got me anywhere.
10) If all theory is based on autobiography, then what does it say about those who pose theories on why and how people think. On that note, what’s the most terrifying motive for slaughtering a bunch of people: nothing. We search for motive, because we need a motive, and the thought that a person could do kill people for the thrill of the kill might prevent us from leaving the home as often as we do.
11) I walk into a department store and I see aisles upon aisles of things I’ll never need, yet some of them are red and sparkly. I wonder if these products could change my life. What will happen if I don’t purchase this latest, greatest, and top of the line product that has resulted in happiness and peace on earth for those who weren’t afraid to purchase now at a new, low price. Would my stubborn decision not to purchase such products result in me being forever portrayed in black and white, with a miserable face that results in complete anguish and a degree of dissatisfaction in life that the rest of the human species was in before they decided to indulge in this incredible convenience. I need to be in color again. I need to be the guy in the after picture with a smile so bright he doesn’t mind the backbreaking work of this task anymore. This guy in black and white suggests a certain nutrient depletion that I simply can’t go back to. Look at the scowls that guy makes as he works with the product that has served me well for so many years. Was I ever that miserable? I don’t want to be miserable anymore. Look at that guy. He looks like the most miserable guy since that feller that had his chest picked at by the bird in Greek mythology.
12) Pet peeve: People who quote Hollywood stars and give that star sole credit for that quote. “You know it’s like Jack Nicholson says …” If that quote came from a movie, I want to say, it’s likely that quote wasn’t a Nicholson creation. More often than not, it was a line a screenwriter wrote for him. The primary reason this bothers me –other than the fact that few put any effort into finding the actual writer of that quote, and even fewer will give that writer the credit he has earned– is that when a naïve, moronic star (not Nicholson) says something political, we listen. Why do we listen to them, because if that star is smart enough, or lucky enough, or in the right place at the right time often enough, he can compile enough lines over time to achieve a certain degree of credibility with us that he can take off screen with him. After they deliver enough of these lines, over the years in movies and TV, our conditioning might be such that we believe that these stars are smart based on lines written for them by other people.
13) Some people look at total strangers and think they’re total idiots. Others look at total strangers and think they have life all figured out. I got a little secret for you though. Something that may change your life: Most of us aren’t looking back at you. Most of us don’t care about you. So move on. Live your life and deal with it as it is. Quit worrying if anyone’s impressed with you or onto you. We don’t care about you.
14) One of the worst things Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David brought to the American conversation is the hygienic conversation. I heard these conversations sporadically before Seinfeld hit the air, but in the aftermath of the great show it seems every fifth conversation I hear involves the minutiae of cleanliness. People now proudly proclaim to their friends that they not only wash their hands, but they use the paper towel to open the door. “Oh, I know it!” their listener proclaims proudly. “It’s gross!” I have no problem with exaggerated methods of cleanliness, but to have non-stop conversations about it? Last week, I saw two fellas form a friendship on the basis that they both used disposable paper towels to open public bathroom doors. They both respected one another’s bathroom ethics, and they are now friends. It’s all a little silly at some point.
15) Another aspect of life we waste a lot of conversational time on is cell phones. We talk about our cell phone plans in a competitive manner. We talk about the ‘Gigs’ on our cell phone, the time it takes us to pull information off the web, the portability, the horrors of our prior plan, the ease with which we can text, and the apps our service offers, and we do it all with personal pride. We tell our peers that our phones are superior, as if we had something to do with their creation. We may not know where we stand on the various totem poles of life, and we may still have no idea what Nietzsche was going on about, but we know that our cell phone is superior to yours, and some of the times that’s enough.
16) Talking head types love to be unconventional as long as it ticks off the right people. I’ve always thought there was something conventionally unconventional about that.
17) I’ve always wanted to have a name like Bert Hanratty. When I do something wrong, my boss could scream: “Hanratty!” I would then walk to the boss’s desk like a 70’s sitcom star who is always messing things up in a comical way. My current name last name has two syllables in it, and there’s nothing funny about two syllables.
18) The anti-religious don’t have to think objectively, for they are objectivity personified by the fact that they are objectively objective.
19) What would you do if you scratched an itch on the back of your neck, and your hand came back with a tiny screaming alien on it? What would you do if another alien was perched on your other shoulder, and that alien said: “Quit living your life in preparation of disaster.”
20) The other day I laughed at the antics of our local radio show’s morning program. Scared the hell out of me. I ran to the bathroom and looked in the mirror, and I confirmed that I was, in fact, laughing. I cannot remember what it was that caused the laughter, but whatever it was I hurried up and shut the damn thing off. I picked up Finnegans Wake and read a few pages. This is my usual punishment for enjoying the idiotic humor of zany morning radio stars.