The Importance of Donuts

… I decided to be deliberate about marking achievements by eating one donut. Well, sometimes more than one, if it’s a really big deal. The act of donut-eating has actually helped me feel like I’m accomplishing my career goals.

This lady has the right idea.

On Reading

1.

We’re in the middle of getting a terrifying amount of work done to our house in Marino, so we’ve temporarily decamped out to my mother-in-law’s house in Greystones1. My commute into work has switched from a 15-20 minute cycle each way to a 50-minute train ride each way. As a result of this new-found extra (dead) time, my reading has gone through the goddamn roof in the seven weeks since I’ve been out here. Instead of just the few minutes of reading I can snatch before falling asleep, I’ve got these huge swathes of time in my day where there is almost nothng else to do but read. Here’s a graph of my reading, based on what I’ve logged to Goodreads:

I’m finishing books I’d previously started and given up on (e.g. A Wrinkle in Time2), and books I’d been too terrified to even begin (e.g. Radley Balko’s Rise of the Warrior Cop).

As a result of this, I’ve decided there will probably never be a better time to tackle Infinite Jest.

2.

Infinite Jest will be the eleventh book I’ve read in the seven weeks I’ve been out in Greystones. In this time, no-one has ever come up and commented to me about the book I’m reading. Even when I’m reading stuff that I secretly want people to come and talk to me about (e.g. John Darnielle’s Wolf in White Van3), nothing.

On Friday evening, as the train came into the station in Greystones, after I’d packed my copy of Infinite Jest into my coat and got my coat on, a complete stranger came over and sat down beside me. “Sorry, I couldn’t help but notice the book you’re reading there. How are you getting on with it?” I told him how I was really happy - I’m enjoying it because I’m actually making significant progress in the book (currently on page 305, which is the first time I’ve even got past page 100). “Yeah, stick with it. There’ll be parts in there that will make you want to give up, but stick with it, it’s totally worth it”, he said.

“Oh, I don’t intend to, I’ve also got a non-fiction book going at the same time to keep me sane”, I said.

“Good idea! Well…”

And then, awkward silence, because what else is there to say?

Now I feel awkward. Does this interaction mean I’m part of the problem, a pretentious DFW lit-bro? Do I now need to give up on Infinite Jest entirely, just in case I fall into some stereotype?

3.

I get home and I tell the above story to my wife. She says “yeah, that’s weird!” She knows this isn’t my first time trying to make my way through Infinite Jest. and asks me how many pages I’ve read of it this time. I tell her just over three hundred.

“How many pages are in the book?”

“Nine hundred and something, not including footnotes. So I’m about a third of the way through. I’m pretty happy with my progress!”

“Yeah, but you’re not halfway through.”

Marriage.

  1. There’s an entire blog post to be written about the differences between living in Greystones vs living in Marino, but this is not that blog post.

  2. Which I gave up on previously because it felt like it was dull and overrated and which, having now finished it, I can confirm, is indeed, dull and overrated.

  3. If you’ve read this book, please hit me up on Twitter. I’d love to find more people (read: literally anyone) to talk to about it.

The Unofficial Lord Mayor of Ballymun

A couple of weeks ago, Jamie Harrington appeared on Humans of Dublin talking about how he helped save a suicidal man by just asking if he was okay.

I was just on my way to the American sweet shop to buy some Gatorade, when I saw this guy in his 30s sitting on the ledge of the bridge. I just thought, “wow…” I stopped and asked him if he was okay, but I knew from the look in his eyes he wasn’t, and he didn’t say anything either, but I saw tears coming from his eyes. I pleaded with him for a while to come down and sit on the steps, and eventually he did. We sat on the sidewalk on the south side of the Liffey and talked for about 45 minutes, about what was happening to him, why was he feeling that way…

(If you’d rather hear him tell the story, he was on the August 8th edition of RTÉ’s Playback - skip to ~30’00)

Trailer for the Hateful Eight

From the IMDB’s trivia page for The Hateful Eight:

According to Quentin Tarantino, this show is inspired by the Western television shows Bonanza (1959), The Virginian (1962) and The High Chaparral (1967): “Twice per season, those shows would have an episode where a bunch of outlaws would take the lead characters hostage. I love it in a Western, where you would pass halfway through the show to find out if they were good or bad guys, and they all had a past that was revealed. Just a bunch of nefarious guys in a room, all telling backstories that may or may not be true. Trap those guys together in a room with a blizzard outside, give them guns, and see what happens!”

I wasn’t crazy about Django Unchained, but I’m pretty sold on this.

(Also, it’s hard to believe this is only Tarantino’s eighth film.)

The New Devils' Dictionary

Google (n.): The kind of fun, colorful name you stick with to conceal the fact that your mega-corporation has become objectively terrifying.

Perfect.

How to Get Rid of Clutter and Live Abundantly

Have you ever owned anything? This is why you cannot forgive any of your former lovers. Things like “having chairs” is preventing you from living your best life, and also you should throw away any item of clothing you’re not currently wearing. If it’s not on your skin, you don’t really love it, do you?

The Good Dinosaur

Pixar are pretty great at pulling at my heartstrings, but this is the first time they’ve made me cry during the trailer.

This looks amazing.

Authenticity

Casey Neistat just launched his new social network, Beme. It’s probably easiest if I just link to Casey’s video so he can describe it himself.

I really love the idea of Beme. I mean, is there anyone genuinely advocating for these awful, fake, rigidly curated lives on Facebook and Instagram? When these perfectly-composed, perfectly-filtered shot appears in my timeline, I get the worst fomo. The consolation, the thing that prevents me spiraling into a full-on, god-what-am-I-doing-with-my-life depression is realising that for someone to take the time to line up the shot, crop it, choose the right filter, and upload it - this all means that they weren’t actually engaged in the moment they’re depicting 1. So I understand the problem Beme is trying to solve.

So here’s another one of his videos, where he climbs a theater in Belgium.

This is the moment when I realised that even Casey Neistat is guilty of not being engaged in the moment. At 4’00 in that video, you can see him scrambling up a near-vertical wall. God, I haven’t ever climbed up a Belgian theater - the fomo is starting to set in! But hang on a second. To get that shot, he had to climb up the wall, set up the shot, climb down again and then climb up again. And then later on, he had to edit out the first two parts of that2.

Casey Neistat made a name for himself through his youtube videos. And his youtube videos are so watchable partly because of his enormous, planet-sized personality. But they’re also watchable because they’re really well made. They’re tightly edited, and they’re shot with a filmmaker’s eye. None of which are available with Beme - you get a potentially wonky shot (apparently worse if you have boobs), with no way to correct it. And since you don’t know what you uploaded, there’s no way for you to improve your skills. Chances are you’ll always be shooting wonky junk.

I really would like Beme to succeed, but I worry that heavy users of social media (i.e. not me) aren’t going to like the limitations, so we’ll just be left with videos like this one. Authentic as fuck, but that’s pretty much all you can say about it.

  1. One of my biggest personal achievements of the last year is when I climbed Croagh Patrick. But would you know I’d done it by looking at my Instagram or my Facebook timeline? Would you fuck.

  2. He addresses this in his vlog, where he often posts videos of him running in New York and he says his runs end up taking three times as long because he has to set up the shot, go back, run past the camera, then go back for the camera.

Slate's review of Armada

I hated Ernest Cline’s previous book, Ready Player One. I genuinely hated it with a burning passion. It was one of the worst books I read last year. And the fact that everyone else (even the New York Times!) loved it made me wonder if it was just something broken in me. Which is why Laura Hudson’s review of his new book, Armada (and by extension, her critique of RPO), has cheered me up no end.

Armada often feels like it’s being narrated by that one guy in your group of friends who never stops quoting the Simpsons, a tic that feels increasingly tiresome and off-putting in the face of the novel’s supposedly apocalyptic stakes. On more than one occasion, soldiers salute each other en route to world-ending battles by solemnly swearing that “the Force” will be with them, and one character flies to his supposedly tragic and moving death while screaming quotes from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. This is a book that ends with someone unironically quoting Yoda.

See also I don’t even own a television’s review of Ready Player One.

Thank You, Mr Iwata

Remember when video games were fun? Remember when they were about colour and happiness? Watching E3 2015 a few months ago, you’d be forgiven for thinking that these were things that video games had grown out of. It was dour, brown, post-apocalyptic shooters as far as the eye could see. Bombast and spectacle were the order of the day. The thing that drew one of the biggest cheers from the Microsoft crowd was when they lowered a fucking Ferrari from the roof. A fucking Ferrari.

Here’s what Nintendo did for their E3.

They teamed up with the Jim Henson Company to make puppets of their corporate team and made the most adorable, dorky video imaginable. And it was lovely.

It was a uniquely Nintendo way of approaching the industry. It was showing that video games could still be about colour and happiness and fun. And it’s largely because of this man, Satoru Iwata.

When someone asks me to picture the president of one of the three largest video game companies in the world, this is exactly what I want to imagine. Not someone in a blazer and jeans with a focus-tested number of shirt buttons opened. I want a person who understands why we play games. I want a person who knows that games are about bringing people together, not just about shooting people in the face. I want someone who gets it.

Iwata got it. And the world feels a little less joyful now that he’s left it.

Thank you, Mr Iwata.

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