Jesus of Narrative

"Black Jesus" is the most under-appreciated show on television.

New York City, April 27, 2016

weather review sky 042716★★ The morning sky was unappealing, though here and there were unconsolidated spots of blue. Pigeons fluffed and huddled on a narrow ledge against a wall. The hoodie was too thick but the other hoodie would have been too thin. The men in suits were the ones who had probably gotten it right. The inside of the office was almost as cold as it had been in high summer. Out the windows, the clouds weakened and broke, till rush hour was cloudless. Faded phrases high on the sides of buildings brightened into legibility:  CIVILIAN AND MILITARY … JAPANESE FOODS. The stagnant, still-warm air down on the subway platform was a relief.

Game Consumed

11111203796_519001c126_k

This blob is food. Food is good. Get the food. In a game about eating, you are naturally drawn to the most delicious-looking thing.

As games became more graphically advanced and complex, the rote simplicity of food-as-bonus-points evolved, impacting gameplay in more integral ways. In this new context, eating food didn’t just boost your score. Now, eating food could actually change the game in your favor, based on choices and actions made by the player.

I wasn’t ever a Sims person, but I can understand the appeal. I had a Tamagotchi once, for the week that was a thing in middle school. There’s something about puppet-stringing your way through the mundanities of someone else’s life that is both a temporary distraction from your own, and also very satisfying in a way that tying your own shoes never is. The stakes are nonexistent and all you have to gain is points, or stars, or strength.

Enter the new indie video game, “Don’t Starve.” The objective is exactly as the game states. Perversely enough, very few players live long enough to starve to death, because the game is strategically and psychologically complex—it involves not only real monsters but also hallucinations (because you’re hungry, remember). Some players have reported changes in their own real-life eating habits because of the starvation mindset the game puts you in.

Besides a thorough exploration of “Don’t Starve,” Chris Mohney from Serious Eats has provided a fantastic, thoughtful overview of food in video games through the years. You may say this game sounds like torture, but I say it is the torture our food-obsessed culture deserves. I’ll worry about civilization when someone invents “Don’t Forget To Shit.”

Photo: Flickr

“[T]he large metros that today come closest to looking like 1950 America are Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Ogden and Provo, in Utah; and several in the Midwest and South…. Looking across all of America, including the rural areas, the regions that today look most demographically similar to 1950 America are the portion of eastern Ohio around the towns of Cambridge and Coshocton and the Cumberland Valley district in southeastern Kentucky.”
“‘Normal America’ Is Not A Small Town Of White People”#

Tweets Allowed

Those of us who work on the Internet can relate to that sense of delirium that sinks in after the tedium of daily, unbroken hours spent in front of a computer screen. And then from time to time, we’ll come across a tweet from McDonald’s that just says “My balls” or something. There’s a lot of power in being able to write pretty much whatever you want and have it online within minutes, for the whole world to read! Over the past year or so there has been a lot of buzz about the amount of re-branding taking place at MTV, specifically within its news division. In an attempt to win younger audiences back from the clutches of Vice and Buzzfeed, they’ve been on a hiring spree: snatching up entertainment writers left and right. One recent acquisition is Darcie Wilder, a writer in New York who ran a Vice parody account and is known for her specific brand of stream-of-consciousness tweeting. There’s been a lot of that happening recently and it seems like Darcie is really holding on to that account password tight.

 

All of these tweets so far have gone down within the past day which leads me to believe some sort of hostage situation is taking place. MTV, if you need help air an episode of Just Say Julie within the next ten minutes so I know.

Eric Bachmann, "Mercy"


The lyric “I’ve got friends and I’ve got family from Alaska to Miami; you won’t believe the crazy shit they sometimes say” sounds like an audition for a new National Anthem. Hell, this whole song sounds like an audition for a new National Anthem. I’m voting yes. Enjoy.

“The winds of pop music are fickle. And guys who’ve played for me know I am disciplined, but also kind of a softie. I don’t think yelling and getting mad are ever productive. All that said, I WILL BE DIPPED IN SHIT if you try to tell me that Gotye’s ‘Someone I Used to Know’ is over. Let me tell you something: I’m not done enjoying it yet. I love it to pieces. And the guy who pulled up next to my vehicle yesterday on the way out of CVS will attest to that.”
Awl pals Jeff Johnson and David Roth tell you what professional coaches are listening to these days.#

Riding In Cars With Beers

TitlePhoto

If you ask someone from Mississippi how long it takes to drive from Jackson, the capital, down to the Gulf Coast they might tell you “about six beers.” Walk into most gas stations there and you’ll find waist-high barrels filled with tallboys (sixteen to twenty-four ounces) and hog legs (thirty-two ounces) covered in ice. The beers are located near the door, sold individually, and placed in brown paper bags for a reason. Mississippi is the only state that doesn’t have an open-container law that prohibits drivers or passengers from drinking inside a motor vehicle. And while some counties and cities have passed their own ordinances to ban the practice, Mississippi still has an abnormally high rate of alcohol-related traffic fatalities.

In Desoto County, a beer-and-half drive from Memphis, drivers are free to keep a cold one in the cup holder. Confusingly, some cities within the county prohibit it, creating what was described by Michael Cory, a practicing attorney in Jackson, as a “hodgepodge of laws.” In 2014, Desoto County tied for the most alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities in the state. “From a public safety standpoint, I can’t think of a single good reason for it [prohibiting open containers in motor vehicles] not to be state law,” Cory said.  

Lieutenant Gary Ricks, a police officer with Desoto County since 1998, explained that some drivers like to have a beer on the way home from work. Drivers who partake must maintain a blood alcohol content (BAC) below the .08 legal limit. Ricks said that officers will “most likely” administer a breathalyzer test to any driver that’s pulled over in Desoto County with an open container. “But if they check out all right, we let them go,” said Ricks.

Keith Brown, a school resource officer (essentially a cop assigned to a school) just outside of Jackson, said you couldn’t pay him to “drink a wine cooler while driving.” Brown explained that even without an open-container law, officers can deduce when a driver doesn’t belong on the road. “If there is anything out of the norm that raises suspicion, even just a twinkle in [the driver’s] eye, then you as an officer are required to investigate,” he said, noting that a driver with a beer in hand would qualify as suspicious. Still, Brown conceded that passengers are free to obliterate themselves inside a car. Brown said that, in cases where a passenger is already half-gone, but the driver is sober, all he can say is, “Have a good day.”

Jenny Diski, 1947-2016

diskigratJenny Diski, one of the few people left worth reading, died this morning. Diski, whose cancer diary for the London Review of Books became the basis for her recently published memoir In Gratitude, was 68. You can read some of her LRB stuff here, and you are warmly advised to do so.

Ross From Friends, "Talk To Me You'll Understand"


Why do people still love “Friends”? I have a theory: People are stupid and lazy and easily satisfied, and if you give them something that makes them feel like they are being amused without having to work very hard they will be infinitely contented. A nice thing about this theory is it also helps to explain the inexplicable sense of affection we are told young people have for the show, young people being even stupider than the general population which, as we have established, is rather stupid indeed. So there you have it: People like “Friends” because people are stupid. It’s no big mystery, but I’m glad we got a chance to clear it up if you were troubled by the question. Anyway, Ross from Friends is a pretty good name for an act. Enjoy. [Via]

Les Waas, 1921-2016

“It was born in Philadelphia but is as much a part of New York’s aural landscape as taxi horns, ‘that heavenly coffee’ and ‘watch the closing doors.’ An annual herald of summer for more than half a century, it is exquisitely Pavlovian, triggering salivation or shrieking — sometimes both at once. It is the textbook embodiment of an earworm: once heard, never forgotten. It is the Mister Softee jingle, which for generations has sprung from ice cream trucks throughout the metropolitan area and beyond after first springing from the mind of Les Waas, a Philadelphia adman who died on April 19 at 94.”
This is very sad news for everyone who is unable to imagine summer without this tune going through their heads. Margalit Fox’s Times obituary offers a few of the song’s words, but neglects to acknowledge the alternate lyrics we revealed here three years ago: