One time in high school we watched a clip from a game show called Golden Balls where two contestants choose to split or steal a shared prize a la the Prisoners’ Dilemma. They get 1 minute to reason with each other about their options. If they both choose split then they each get half of the prize money, and if they both choose steal then neither gets anything, but if one of them chooses split and the other chooses steal, then the one who stole gets the full prize.
In the clip we watched, a short and innocent looking lady is matched against a man, and she spends the whole minute pleading with him not to choose steal. He agrees early on, and then spends the whole minute reassuring the lady that he will split. Then when the timer runs out the lady chooses steal and the man chooses split.
I’m writing this post because nothing has ever made me angrier than the class conversation that followed, in which a girl in my class said that she thought the lady was kind of a genius. That she technically didn’t even lie because she never outright promised to split, and that it was impressive how she was able to outwit the man, and isn’t that what the game is all about? And I’m actually seething with rage just recounting this. Because what kind of fucking idiot, what kind of narcissistic and condescending piece of shit do you have to be to not only betray someone when they acted out of good faith and meta-rationality – but on top of that, to think that you outsmarted them? As if it didn’t occur to the man that the woman might choose steal. It’s literally the point of the game you moron. There’s only two things the woman can do, and your tiny brain thinks that doing one of those things is some sort of unexpected remarkable play? Well here’s the bit you missed while you were jerking yourself off on how much better than other people you think you are: when you chose steal, YOU DID THE UNREMARKABLE THING.
You did what a monkey would have done. You followed your immediate incentives. I’ll see you in 30 years when your heart is full of hate and you deserve it, and not just me – every discerning and intelligent person in your life will have sized you up, and we’ll all judge you for it, and you’ll never change our minds unless you begin to change yourself, which will never happen because you can’t see past your stupid forehead, and it’s the year 2050 and you’re still here, congratulations you got carried on the shoulders of people who care enough about others they HATE that they didn’t leave them behind on the dying fucking planet they created. Here’s your stupid fucking banana Einstein.
During this year’s quarantine, our 3 bedroom 5 person apartment has found plenty of time to dive into the board games we own. Today Mark was at Jo’s and Sijia and Chad were out biking, so Michela and I spent the morning in with iced coffee and a french omelette on toast, which I have recently begun to perfect. Around 11 we broke out Bananagrams and I taught Michela our house rules.
Shuffle all the tiles around face down in a pile. Every player then gets 40 tiles of their own. When the game starts, each player flips over their tiles and tries to use them to make connected words at least 4 letters long.
At any point a player can say PEEL and grab a tile from the middle, and all other players still in the game must also grab a tile.
At any point a player can say DUMP and put a tile back into the middle, replacing it with 3 other tiles.
The first person to use up all of their tiles is the “winner,” and the game ends when all players have used their tiles.
My words (left) were: roti, fish, harken, frank, allot, reel, brave, forte, tries, seethe, exciting, and roomie.
Michela’s words (right) were: sane, oared, teat, fined, near, sated, judged, joyous, hoot, coitus, tweens, chore, broiled, and chore (a second time).
Here are the poems we came up with:
‘Frank tries fish’ or ‘Remembrance’
It never was my forte, dear, but brave as I can be
I’ll take the fish with roti, dear, with rage I will not seethe.
And as I cut the fish in two, the sauce I will allot
Harkens to exciting roomies’ sauces I forgot.
My poem is about Frank trying fish, and it’s also about remembering times past with your roommates who may or may not be moving to Europe.
‘To be sated and sane’
To be sated and sane,
in a time such as this,
To be oared through the channel,
is a chore for the rower.
Such a chore that,
in the ‘twixts and the ‘tweens,
we find ourselves broiled
in joyous coitus
and fined ourselves sums
for the teat we sucked
and judged ourselves sinful
to be near the hoot.
Michela’s poem is about how we judge ourselves for giving in to baser instincts when that’s what it takes in quarantine to stay sane.
Altogether one round of Bananagrams with our house rules takes 15–20 minutes. I highly recommend it as a short and fun little game that also lets you be creative.
Well first of all, and let me just say that I don’t mean to be inflammatory, but can I just say: I wish I was LUCKY enough to have poop to eat right now. I mean I’m not saying I love poop, but it’s been a few days and nothing has made it through the first 4 people or so. You know the survival rule of threes: three minutes without air, three days without water, three weeks without food. Well, what they don’t tell you is that even a few days without food is pretty miserable!
I’m trying to be positive. Gah. I am positive. In general, I’m an optimist. It’s just that sometimes our circumstances get the best of us and, how would you feel?
Huh? I don’t need to defend myself to you? You get it? Thank goodness.
I think about death. And how there’s no way I’m going to get fed. Even if the person in front of me died and I had a chance to eat their butt cheeks from the hole outwards, I don’t think I could do it. So it’s just a waiting game. And then sometimes, I think: hasn’t it always just been a waiting game? Haven’t I just been eating shit pooped at me by someone else who’s been eating shit from a line of shit eaters, my whole fucking life, just waiting to die? I’m only 25. I always wanted to do something big. And I never did. Too busy with other things. Netflix. Work. Eating shit. So I think that’s the gift I was given. To see the whole pattern, finally, physically. And to have the privilege to see the end of the pattern, here at the tail of the line. To know that I won’t have my own shit thrust into someone else’s mouth. To know that it ends with me. And to know that no matter how much I would totally kill for some shit to eat right now, it’s never going to come. That the cycle is broken, but that I am free because for once in my goddamn life, I don’t even have the choice to eat shit.
I think sometimes we can only be free when we end our bondage to ourselves.
For 3 years in college, I spent a lot of my time playing and teaching the carillon.
It’s weird that the definition of carillon involves the word carillon itself, but, also per the Guild, that’s because a carillon bell is a specific kind – a cast bronze cup-shaped bell, whose partial tones are in such harmonious relationship to each other as to permit many such bells to be sounded together in varied chords with harmonious and concordant effect. Neat.
Takeaway: If you line up 23 sleigh bells and hit them with sticks, that is a fun time, but it is not a carillon.
I’d say I learned a lot of things from the carillon.
For instance, while teaching my first class, I picked up the story of the Tsar Kolokol III, or the Tsar Bell. No carillon involved. The Tsar Bell stands 20 feet tall, and currently sits outside the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia. Some consider it to be the world’s heaviest existing bell.
Back in Imperial Russia, making bells bigger than other bells was a standard royal one-upmanship project. So, after failing to cast the first 20-ton Tsar Bell, and then again failing on a 110-ton version, the behemoth Tsar Kolokol III was successfully cast in 1735 and weighed in at 216 tons (that’s about 90 average-sized SUVs). After such a feat, the bell needed to spend significant time cooling above its casting pit.
Two years later (still cooling), and, before our Tsar could be hung and rung, a fire erupted in the Kremlin! The blaze spread to the young bell’s wooden support structure, and a choice arose: throw water on the bell and risk cracking it to oblivion, or let the fire burn and risk sending the bell down to its doom?
The fateful firefighters chose the former, and, alas – CRACK – down in the pit still fell the bell, cleaving from its mouth an 11.5-ton metal slab (4.5 SUVs). The Tsar Bell remained in its casting pit for another century before it could be rescued and begin serving its eternal watch outside the palace.
So, it didn’t ring. The bell never rang! World’s heaviest... bell-shaped sculpture?
Wikipedia fact: “In the spring of 2016, a team of UC Berkeley, Stanford, and University of Michigan researchers publicly performed an electronic reproduction of how the Tsar Bell would sound if it had not been damaged during casting. To simulate the sound of the bell, the team researched the bell's material characteristics and constructed a polygon mesh that modeled the shape of the bell. The team then used finite element analysis to compute the component frequencies of the bell when rung. For the first public performance, a stack of twelve speakers installed below the campanile on the UC Berkeley campus played the digital simulation of the Tsar Bell. The fundamental frequency of the sound was approximately 81 Hz.”
So, it did ring. The bell rang!
Personal fact: For an entire week before the simulation’s public debut, the team set off test knells as night fell. The Tsar’s 81 Hz and its melancholic minor tierce wafted past my walking path each evening that week. I found myself drawn in close, lingering a long while, savoring the deep resonance and its impossibility. My bones were uneasy, yet at home, and the air was just a little too cold for April.
Carillon history and repertoire no doubt left their mark on me, but this feels more indelible.
I’d say I learned a lot of things from the carillon.
For instance, if you eat cottage cheese and lie on the floor, you might quell some of your performance anxiety. The world’s largest carillon bell takes the weight of 2 young adults to properly sound, yet no one on the New York City streets below can hear it anyway. I learned to give in to the thunderous anonymity. To climb to the Widow’s Walk of the tower, you only need to pick the lock to the maintenance staircase with a lanyard and a spork. And, after the tower closes, you can still perch on the ledge, wrap your fingers around the open-air safety bars, and stretch your legs out, pushing against the sunset and floating above the lights that are just turning on for the evening. And somehow, like that, you’re no longer afraid of the height.