What I Hated the Least Today 157/365: Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency (NSFW)

What I Hated the Least Today 157/365: Optimal Tip-to-Tip Efficiency (NSFW)

A model for male audience stimulation

*The following contains no explicit material, but sexual implications are involved.*

Have you ever wondered, hypothetically, how you could jerk off the audience of a full lecture hall within a ten-minute presentation? Neither have I. Until I watched what is so far my most favourite episode of the Silicon Valley TV series. It’s a geek/tech comedy which is as funny as smart—not all of the time, but sufficiently so to make it worth a try. You’re likely to like it especially if you prefer entertainment that exposes popular clichés as being just that—meaningless rhetoric.

Besides Making the world a better place and Putting people first and Making a difference (I feel ridiculous only typing this nonsense), the show features a start-up at a competition where they have ten minutes to present their app, impress the judges and entertain the audience. That’s what happening in the following video, which considers the optimal efficiency for male audience stimulation. Based on this scene, a perfectly legit looking research article on the subject has been produced under the names of the show’s characters.

What I Hated the Least Today 150/365: Lifestyle

What I Hated the Least Today 150/365: Lifestyle

Annoyingly showy lifestyles
Annoying lifestyles

I’m scared of people who take a perfectly normal thing, like eating or exercising, and turn it into a whole lifestyle, so making it somewhat abnormal. The trouble is that people with a conscious lifestyle (orthodox yogis, vegetarians, non-gluten eaters, you name it) tend to spread their enlightenment like crusaders.

I found myself very uplifted when I came across a YouTube channel of a slightly creepy but likeable guy who pokes fun at conscious lifestyle leaders. While it’s difficult to say to what extent it’s a marketing pose, it can’t be denied that the man possesses the rare qualities of common sense and sense of humour.

Below is the first video I saw (I think it’s all over the internet now), which is somewhat lengthy for my taste but you don’t need to watch for more than a few seconds to see how he nails it.

My special favourite is his yoga video, which is hilarious and which also gives him away as a yoga practitioner (if he didn’t do yoga, I doubt he’d be able to strike the poses, plus check out his figure). It begins: The three most important things in my life are: God, my family and my Instagram account. Said with a deadpan face. Gotta love this.

What I Hated the Least Today 126/365: Scotch and Pizza

What I Hated the Least Today 126/365: Scotch and Pizza

Cheap (but still too expensive) whisky
Cheap (but still too expensive) whisky

It was Friday night and I got depressed—as do all people who don’t know what to do with themselves when they don’t have anything urgent to do at the moment. My solution to depression was classically self-destructive: I ordered pizza, poured Scotch and watched Game of Thrones. I found all of these but the Scotch deeply disappointing, so the solution didn’t really solve much, besides successfully dissolving some of the disappointment in the budget whisky.

What I hated the least was that my favourite (possibly the only) pizza delivery service in my location tentatively entered the twenty-first century and introduced the option of online ordering. Since they launched the online order feature, I’m sure the company has noticed a huge influx of new customers recruited from the ranks of sad, pathetic and socially inapt people like me, who are willing to do anything to avoid making a phone call. Even if it means starving to death because ordering by phone is too much of an embarrassment to go through. What needs to be done now is the deployment of drones for pizza delivery—I don’t want to talk to the pizza boy.

Though the pizza wasn’t worth the money (next time I’ll use the pizza money to buy more/better booze) and the latest episode of Game of Thrones had sedative effects on me (unrelated to the alcohol consumed), I did my best to have some fun: I made a pizza unboxing video. This feat was inspired by a conversation with Cardinal Guzman and Rebekah (and others) below the post on my new laptop, where iPhone unboxing videos were ridiculed and the subversive idea of making a pizza unboxing video was suggested. Here you go.

What I Hated the Least Today 125/365: Yoga Block What Again?

What I Hated the Least Today 125/365: Yoga Block What Again?

"Mindful" and ironic about it
“Mindful” and ironic about it

My yesterday’s post about a yoga block received a bunch of great and greatly amusing comments, which prompted me to revisit the topic for a follow-up with clarifications and answers to pressing questions which I didn’t even realise my post posed.

While I assumed that the existence of yoga blocks was generally known and acknowledged, I was proven wrong. Fellow blogger John was piqued to such an extent that he undertook to Google yoga blocks to see what the heck was going on. Fellow yogi Amy reasonably observed that she needed to get not one but two yoga blocks, which led David to come up with a list of metaphysical inquiries concerning yoga blocks, including why people would have more than one. The central question, though, is what is a yoga block?

A yoga block is basically a fancy brick. Mine is made of firm foam, so it’s not too hard to sit on and not too soft for your hands to sink into the material when you lean on it. There are different shapes and sizes, my block weights a little over 100 grams and its dimensions are 22 x 11 x 7.5 cm. As I say, a light-weight rather expensive brick.

You don’t need a block to do yoga, but it comes in handy for some postures. Imagine you are to bend over and reach the ground with your hands but you can’t quite reach all the way down—here’s where you can rest your palms on a block rather than balance precariously on fingertips and hope you won’t faceplant. There’s a number of body-bending (and mind-bending) poses in yoga, so once you have your block, you are bound to make a good use of it.

I did so as I went through one of my favourite yoga series with Adriene, video posted below. If you’re not up to watching for half an hour a person who is disgustingly flexible and fit (and Zen, the horror, the horror), you can skim this article on yoga block uses or just scroll through a few pictures. There’s also your answer as to why have two yoga blocks—if you have the standard number of arms and legs, then you’ll probably want one block for each arm/leg, which makes two blocks.

What I Hated the Least Today 122/365: Slothrust

What I Hated the Least Today 122/365: Slothrust

Picture made deliberately ugly
Picture made deliberately ugly

I discovered the worst band ever and I can’t stop listening to them. Their style perfectly encapsulates the cynical whatever-attitude that I cultivate myself. They are Slothrust and are not suitable for the squeamish and the sensitive.

First I stumbled upon 7:30 am with the refrain “I’m gonna leave you anyway”. This stabs in all the right places. Leaving and/or being left behind is the natural conclusion to all things. I love lyrics that say “I’m gonna leave you anyway” rather than “I love you forever”. I advise not to watch the probably intentionally horrendous video and let the song play in the background instead.

Their next song I idly clicked on is “In a Sexual Way”, which is why I clicked on it. Do watch the video and take note of the irresistibly deadpan presentation on the part of the singer. Her totally indifferent expression excellently counterpoises her words. Speaking of which, the band’s lyrics seem to have the habit of juxtaposing the genius, the ludicrous and the idiotic, which works in surprisingly good ways.

The band’s singer is not even much of a singer (I say this with affection, as a person who can’t keep the tune of her own national anthem if her not being shot depended on it)—and apparently, she couldn’t care less. It’s a refreshing thing to have when you wish to opt out of the deadening mainstream.

Finally, here is what appears to be a cover version, called “Happy Together”. It’s a brilliant show of emotion without showing emotion. Should the lyrics be sung and heard at their face value, they would likely make me want to hurt myself. Slothrust’s self-sneering interpreter’s brutal expression has the lyrics sound sarcastic—what she sings is rubbish and she knows it.

What I Hated the Least Today 118/365: YouTube, Scorpions and Pigeons

What I Hated the Least Today 118/365: YouTube, Scorpions and Pigeons

Just don't
Just don’t

I’m highly doubtful about the smartness of smart technology. However, for one, YouTube pleasantly surprised me when I entered a halfwit query and it returned the answer I was hoping for.

In one of the recent episodes of The Americans series, the male lead was strangling, with little pleasure, a random guy who was at the wrong place at the wrong time and asked the wrong questions. (He should have asked YouTube.) The whole business was being done to the accompaniment of a song which I liked and from which all that stuck on my mind was the line “got to run away”. It wasn’t even the refrain of the song.

Tentatively, I typed this in the YouTube search box and SmartTube replied that what I mean is the song “Tainted Love” by Scorpions. It turned out that it was precisely what I meant. This is rather different from my usual experience with Google, who thinks it’s smart but is not so much and whose Did you mean…? assumptions are routinely plainly wrong.

Here is the song:

I listened to some more music by the same band, which I of course knew, except I didn’t know that I knew, and got as far as to the song “White Dove”. This one is so famous that it received a Czech cover version (the same tune, but new lyrics). I actually listened to the original Scorpions lyrics for the first time now and was terrified. While the sentiments are surely commendable, their expression can’t get any more cheesy. It didn’t help that I listened while watching a home-made Polish cover video for the song.

If you want to be scared, here’s the video:

As I was being exposed to the above torture, I was meditating on the choice of dove as a peace symbol. I’m positive there is a history behind it, which I’m too lazy to Google (and Google would anyway think that I mean something else), but does everyone realise that a dove is basically a pigeon? Pigeon is an instant trigger for me because I’m plagued by these pests fiercely.

Gangs of pigeons hover around my terrace, driving me and the cat crazy. The cat grinds her teeth very intensely and very noisily at the sound or sight of a pigeon, sometimes waking me up in the night. At this pace, she’ll soon be totally toothless. Pigeons thrive here, as far as I can judge from the huge blobs of nasty and shockingly gluey substance they cover my terrace with. It sticks to the surface and seriously doesn’t wash off. (Please tips and tricks for pigeon poop removal. Thank you.)

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What I Hated the Least Today 104/365: That’s My Spot!

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That’s my spot! You’re sitting in my spot!

Since I’ve been off antidepressants, whose side effect was apparently depression, I’m so Zen, which is so unlike me, that I’m scaring myself. Among the appalling symptoms that I now manifest is the fact that I don’t even hate my commute. I find it almost delightful to spend two hours a day sitting shielded from weather and people on the bus.

I still may have some hope of not turning into an entirely zened-out person with her chakras so aligned that nothing can mess with them. This hope is founded on the anger that possessed me when I was ordering my bus tickets and discovered that my seat was taken. As I’m a frequent rider (as of frequent flyer), it should be generally and universally known that seat no. 53 is my spot. How dare someone challenge my carefully thought-out seating arrangement?

My reaction to the loss of my chosen seat was akin to Sheldon Cooper’s on The Big Bang Theory. While I didn’t approach the trespasser while yelling in her face THAT’S. MY. SPOT. ! YOU’RE. SITTING. IN. MY. SPOT. !, my thoughts were preoccupied with murder. I didn’t enjoy my alternative seat at all because it was on the wrong side of the bus. As everyone, I hate to end up on the wrong side.

I still approve of the seat allocation system though. I believe it is essential that people’s names are matched with specific seats in the unlikely, as they insist, case of an accident. Should the bus drive into a bridge with everyone dead belted in their seats, it will speed up the identification of the bodies immensely.

I imprudently shared this positive view with my colleague and co-traveller, who didn’t appreciate its ingenuity and looked upset. Especially in the light of the incident shortly after the bus set off when the driver hit the brakes rather hard and rather unexpectedly, sending all unbelted passengers and unattached objects flying. If I hadn’t been belted, I would have certainly cracked my head on the seat before me. This way I was only hoping that we hadn’t run over a kitten.

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What I Hated the Least Today 102/365: The Americans

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Spoiler alert: the following contains minor spoilers and alarming personal opinions.

The Americans (2013—15, aired on FX channel) is a TV show that I’m currently most fascinated with. I knew it’d be a match for me the moment I discovered the series and read its description. Set in the early eighties, it works with the premise of two KGB agents on a long-term mission in the States which entails their posing as an American family. Included is their having day jobs and two now teenage kids, who remain uninformed of their inherited schizophrenically split identity. As I was born in a Soviet satellite state and went on for a degree in English Studies, there’s hardly anything I’d watch with a greater involvement than The Americans.

Naturally, the series is USA-made, but I’ve long discovered that even the dumbest TV is made by smart people who mostly do their jobs catering for a dumb majority audience while occasionally creating something that gives away their capability of intelligent insight. It’s admirable how well the writers manage to convey Eastern European mentality, especially considering that it’s not merely alien but above all positively antithetical to the foundations of the North American way of life.

To me, the crucial difference between the West and the East in the context of this series is not as much the ideology as rather the way individual humans work out their existence as they are confronted with issues that, ultimately, have little to do with political alliances per se. The stereotypical Western way is to talk about shit and drag people down with you in the gutter – the customary Eastern way is to shut up and get shit done. No need to elaborate on which approach I prefer for myself.

When one manages to see past the red scare, what transpires are Eastern Europeans as a hardy set of people who persist despite defeating circumstances. I find the no-nonsense, utilitarian approach impressive and imitation worthy. However civilised we like to consider ourselves, I don’t believe that the Darwinian survival of the fittest has yet been surpassed or can be cheated. I’d rather be a practical survivor than a sentimental corpse.

In The Americans series, two opposing worldviews meet and clash, and their interaction illustrates, if anything, that there are differences that can’t be worked out. We might be all people alike at the end, but to think that any two or more thinking units could peacefully coexist without obsessively striving to dominate each other seems a misguided idea(l). This underlying motif is nicely shown in the relationships of the main characters in the series.

The show is particularly strong in female characters. The one that appeals to me the most is the supporting character of the double-agent Nina. She’s the perfect model of a powerful personality who indeed experiences emotions but knows better than to allow herself to be overwhelmed by them. She deceives and manipulates when required, yet she scrupulously avoids deceiving herself. She ends up betrayed by her American informer and lover, who is too engrossed in himself to know whether he prefers to do the right thing for the abstraction of his homeland or whether he will choose to do good to the very concrete fellow person.

Nina’s American nemesis, a tormented CIA agent with a disturbing facial tic, chooses his country and sends the woman whom he insists he loves to the Soviet jail. As an Eastern European, I’m likely to be biased, but I suspect that the CIA agent hasn’t checked the standard dictionary definition of love lately. The tension between a declaration of love and a manifestation of love recurs in his affair with Nina throughout the series. At one point, he is enlightened by another character that he should consider cutting the I love you phrase with Nina because Russian women don’t care for clichés. (Neither do Czech women, in case you wonder.)

To conclude this heavy post – which I set to myself as an opinion piece writing exercise – on a lighter note, here is a dialogue that was never literally spoken on The Americans but could have just been.

The American (heartfelt): I love you.

The Russian (distanced): Don’t make me say it.

The end.

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What I Hated the Least Today 100/365: Yoga Check

I’ve been practising yoga at home half-heartedly for a year and vigorously for the last three months. I devised a strictly anti-zen branch of yoga, which has the same postures minus the spiritualism. In yoga according to Mara, it’s essential for the yogi not to enjoy herself and to persist in practice solely to prove herself that she can.

In keeping with my perception of yoga as homework, today I made a video of my workout so that I could check how wrong exactly I’m doing it and adjust my asanas accordingly. I think my home video deserves an Academy Award for the comedy of the year. While I’m not going to share the video, I took a few screenshots to show you how it’s not done.

Most Messed Up Poses

 

Less Messed Up Poses

 

My Workout Model Video

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What I Hated the Least Today 99/365: The Borg

Today I was woken up by the synthesised voice of the standard Borg hail. I found it strangely comforting to awake to the reassuring message of a highly developed alien race: We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile. I wasn’t drinking absinth last night, but I did set the friendly Borg greeting as my ringtone.

I’ve been fascinated with the Borg a lot recently. The epiphanic moment happened when I was teaching class and accidentally stepped in the beam of the overhead projector. Immediately I felt like I was being assimilated by the Borg and was having my eye implant mounted. I mentioned this to the students as a humorous distraction, sadly, they had no knowledge even of the existence of Star Trek. I found that deeply saddening. So I decided I should keep more in touch with the popular culture that formed my youth.

As to who had the lack of sense to call me on a Saturday morning at half past nine, it was my landlord. He had no adequate excuse. There was no fire, no earthquake and no Borg vessels anywhere near. He wanted to check what I thought of his summary invoice issued after one year of rent to settle the difference between deposit payments and actual usage of energies and the like. I had my thoughts about the bill, but I deemed them inappropriate to share because I’d hate to offend. I assured the landlord that the invoice had been paid. He wished me a good night. I think it was him who was drinking absinth last night.