I Have Thoughts XV

It’s 2021, we’re still stuck in the plague and I’m still going to have thoughts. And then some of those thoughts will find their way here. So this is a series. Of thoughts. Published randomly. For no reason. Thank you for coming.

Scenes from a simpler, pre-plague Super Bowl Halftime Show. A Tom Brady quarterbacked team won the game.

For the past few years, my brother and his family have come over to our place to watch the Super Bowl. I make a lot of chicken wings (his kids can go through their weight in wings in one sitting), my brother picks up some smoked meat and rye bread, some cole slaw and potato salad, and we make an evening of it. Until the kids get cranky and it’s time for bed.

I don’t remember when we started doing this and I’d have to look through my photo history to figure this out and, well, why bother. My brother is a sportswriter, and he comes up after the traditional Super Bowl Sunday afternoon hockey game. By the time he’s arrived, my nephew and nieces and sister-in-law have run roughshod over the place. Not my sister-in-law, just to be clear. She’s very well behaved.

Not this year, of course. For one, one of my nieces became a vegetarian recently and I was going to make some cauliflower “buffalo” wings or whatever they’re called because cauliflower don’t have wings. For two, everything else. It’s not happening because it’s not happening. The game is happening. The ads are happening. Just not the happening. I bought wings again this year, and started preparing them yesterday, but I didn’t buy as much and, again, it’s just not the same. Apparently my brother is going to make wings as well and we’re going to FaceTime…what? Eating wings? What level of hell in Dante’s Inferno is that?

So the plague drags on. And on. And will continue to do so while the majority of the world’s countries botch the vaccine roll out. The plague is changing the nature of our relationships. It is changing how we eat and what we eat, and where we work and shop. It has eliminated the element of chance that rules our lives in many ways. The chance that greets you when you leave the house and go to work, or to the movies or a show or a museum, or to a restaurant, or to a bar. Man, I miss bars.

I am reading more and more that people are losing it. My son, who had the (mis)fortune of turning 21 during quarantine, has not seen a friend IRL in three weeks. He’s getting justifiably tired of his parents (memo to his peers: if you have a chance to move out of your parents house, take it). He’s taken up yoga to handle his mental health. I can’t imagine what anyone growing up during this thing makes of it. We will all be scarred by this thing (well, not all of us, just most.)

Other things I read that gave me thoughts:

· All tech works better if you take into account the predictable reaction of humans. In this case, how humans interact with animals.

· In China, a meme of sorts has come to life and become policy: the same country that invented the one child policy and then saw those lone children spoiled by their parents and grandparents (big surprise!) and then because of traditional (ie: sexist) notions found this policy led to girls being aborted in favor of boys and then found itself with a dangerous gender imbalance, now worries that boys are suffering from a “masculinity crisis.” On one hand, the one child policy helped the world environmentally. The less mouths the cleaner the planet, after all. And with China’s economic rise, and their newfound status as the world’s pollution center, the less polluters the better. But the gender imbalance is not good. Not for China, not for its neighbors, who have to make do with a newly belligerent nation, and not for the world. There’s nothing wrong with a low birthrate — it’s preferable if you ask me. But a gender imbalanced society, which almost always means too many men, is bad for everyone.

· This story, about a new star on the French literary scene, is both extremely (extrêmement!) French and extremely universal, which just makes it all the more French.

· The decolonization of species names. You will never read the name of any animal the same way again. Especially the animals named after people.

· The political right, the world over, but especially in America, has a lot of original sins. But the modern right, which is not based in reality, or truth (in other words, it is batshit crazy), has a single, original original sin. It’s not what you think.

· The origin of the word “taboo.” Is fascinating. And the original meaning of the word might help us in our quest to repair the oceans.

· And, also Jeff Bezos stepping down from Amazon. To do other things. I am sure his pocket book will be just fine. The pandemic has been kind to him.

I’m going to attend to my chicken wings now. Buy some beer later. And, fuck it, I’m going to FaceTime my brother and his kids when the eating starts. I will tell my niece I was going to accommodate her new diet and I was going to be heroic about it. And I will remind her of watching her face while she watched Katy Perry’s half time show performance from 2015. The “left shark” performance. I have a photo of my niece, slack-jawed, her face still not entirely wiped clean from the wings. “This is the best thing I’ve ever seen,” she said then. She’s mature enough to let the reminder slide off her. Even if her uncle isn’t mature enough to not tease her about it.

Thanks, Chrisjen Avasarala. I feel it. But not today.

Writer. Complainer. I drink bourbon. I have edited media, worked in content and branding and strategy, and chances are I’ll do those things again. @arjunbasu

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