unimaginable heights


Keeping Up with the Kardashians

by Jack

[Talita: In the good days when we had Airbnb-quality cable, we got into a groove of watching KUWTK every morning. I had to leave for work about 15 minutes into it, so Jack would text me the episode's highlights during my commute, which was nice.]

So I've begun watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians. I'm getting quite involved with it now. It's my Game of Thrones. It’s a bit like how I imagine Persona by Bergman to be. All of them seem to come close to blending into one person & then they diverge into these fragmentary personas but not quite whole people. It’s hypnotic. And then all these various guys who just sit there looking jaded. They all seem like parodies of masculinity. Like stunt-doubles for real boyfriends, all doomed in their own way: Kanye West - narcissist, Scott Disick - alcoholic, Rob Kardashian - depressive fat failure, Corey Gamble - dating a 60 year old woman who looks a bit like Kim Kardashian, Lamar Odom - ex-basketballer, has to hang out with the most annoying sister when he could be smoking crack with hookers. But the most compelling relationship is Kris & Caitlyn Jenner – formerly known as Bruce. Because no-one seems to have noticed that Kris is also looking more & more like Caitlyn. And then there are all of these cut scenes full of music & life rushing around; but then it cuts away, & these people are still floating languorously in the hills, talking about ‘feelings’ and thinking of what to do next.

1. Highlights from KUWTK in Cuba: They went to a rum and cigar tasting. It's called a sobremesa. Kanye said that he was enjoying the experience "because I like fire and I like alcohol." Kanye West has a young artist following him around filming his every move with a giant VHS camcorder. I found him! Julian Klincewicz.
Then Kim and Kourtney and an unexplained third person - a woman who looked like she'd come out of the Matrix, all cyberpunk dreads and fishnet vest - visited Hemingway's house. Kim and Kourt both read Old Man and The Sea at school.

Things Kim and Ern have in common:

  1. They both weigh(ed) themselves every morning
  2. They both like Cuba

Everyone keeps saying they're excited all the time. Kanye West is genuinely excitable. They're driving in that car, Kanye shouts "Viva La Cuba!" really loud and the taxi driver looks touched, gives him a thumbs up. Then Kanye West leans over and does a syncopated honk on his horn for ages, looks really pleased with himself. "You ever played the horn like that?" Driver looks piiiiiiissed!
Scott Disick is in LA, annoyed he's not in Cuba. He's really intense and always shouting, hard to tell if he's happy or angry, everything is go go go, and his face is blotchy, needs to borrow some of that gold face paint that's going around...
How they speak - maybe it's social media - it's like the Letterman irony, this very slow way of speaking. Everything sounds condescending, like they're talking to children. I call it 'broadcasting of emotions'. It's very lowest common denominator, nothing subtle is allowed.
Their actual little children all look genuinely terrified of being film, getting their picture taken etc. They hate the smartphones. Are these the children of generation Y? Almost. Perhaps they will save/murder us all.
Khloe Kardashian loves how the Cuban people don't have access to social media and so just stare out of windows instead of constantly checking on their boyfriend who may or may not be smoking crack
Kanye West is the best.
Was just reading a list of 12 things you may not know about Kim Kardashian's assistant: she once had to search all of San Francisco for the Cards Against Humanity game because Kanye was "obsessed."

2. Scott's birthday: Scott Disick is sitting next to Kourtney at his birthday drinks in Vegas. He keeps flirting with her. By flirting, I mean asking her to fuck him. Someone suggests they go to the chapel in Vegas, Scott Disick breaks out in maniacal laughter. Kris 'the hottest 60 year old' goes to see Rob the unmotivated fat failure of the family. Everyone's on a journey, even Rob. Kris knows this. Sometimes people don't know they're on a journey & they need to be reminded. Kris is there to remind us all. She looks like she's going through a wind tunnel. Now I'm thinking about deep fried sushi. Maybe all those wild transition sequences every 5 mins in the show are there to remind us of the journey: incessant, pointless, like being a bee or any other insect.
"A man on house arrest is the perfect man." Khloe K. on the perks of dating an ex-felon. Kendall's back. Khloe's having a birthday now. This evil doppelganger for Scott Disick has appeared and he's talking about paradise and honey. He's their PR guy. Jonathan.
Scott's still around and brooding. He's like a wild cat or something, a lynx. I reckon people have tried to apply makeup to him before shooting and he was like "GET THE FUCK OFF ME!" The PR guy is called Jonathan Chaban. "People like visual."
Scott seems to hang around alot with Kendall. He's suggesting jelly wrestling for Khloe's birthday. I'm surprised none of them are scientologists. Khloe is talking about energy and the atmosphere a lot. I reckon she's into law of attraction stuff. Kanye and Scott are at Khloe's birthday party. That'd be a great buddy movie. Scott's eyes are all bleary. Blac Chyna turned up. Blac Chyna is INSANE!!! She is like Wario to Kim's Mario.

3. Back to the episode before last: I think Rob is going to be an okay dad. He's chubby and calm. He might be neglectful but not OTT.
Kris's absence has created a power vacuum. Kim is the natural heir but she's not quite there yet. Rob & Scott have taken over a kids' day centre. All the kids are crying. Scott is sitting there with his feet up, not doing anything. All he says is, "I've been in this game for years." Disick is a wise teacher. He says Rob has the 'heart of a dad.'
Somehow Scott is back hanging with Kris. I think they're seriously trying to fix those two up or something.
There's a trailer for the next season. Got a cool montage of Kim's robbery, Caitlyn, Kanye West's breakdown, Scott being found with a prostitute in his bathroom! Powerful scenes. It ends with them all sitting around the table in silent prayer (without the prostitute).
Everyone has now gone to Miami. Jonathan Cheban is here. He's causing trouble. But then SD turns up and all seems well. But he's drunk at the meal. Scott is acting wild like a Lynx. He's digging at Kourtney a lot, putting her down. It's a shame. I think he's doing that thing some guys do when they like a girl and so are mean to her, especially in front of their pals. I blame Jonathan Cheban.
Kourtney: "Kids are the future." Scott, laughing, "The fuck does that mean? What else could they be?" I think we should allow that zinger as it was very funny and delivered with impeccable timing.
Khloe has a new bf, Tristran: Pisces, Jamaican, B-ball player.
Cheban has such a weird crew: dirty old hairy dudes and skinny gay guys. He just brings a bad energy. I reckon they do some shady shit.
One of the things I like about KUWTKs is how they throw different people together, like they have a really inefficient carpool system or something.
I think I've become stuck in a timeloop because we just finished the episode with the floating Kanye stage thing. Jonathan Cheban is so cheesy, always wearing these distressed Guns n Roses tshirts. Kourtney is trying to stop SD hanging out. Now I'm back where I started except for one major difference... there's a dog in the house! I've never seen it before and no-one seems to notice it and it looks lost and scared. I feel like this could be a Mandela alternate reality.

4. Kendall's stalker: So, Kendall feels compassion for her stalker. Could be a cool romantic twist. No-one's sleeping. If we think switching off the internet at night makes us sleep better, imagine how much crazy waves are going around that house.
Kim heard someone coming up her stairs who didn't respond to her cries of "Hello?" ...it was Kanye! Kanye can't hear after concerts (?!?!?!)
I think he needs to get that checked out.
Another intruder is after Kendall. This episode is mad.
Corey Gamble, so long a mute onlooker, jumps into the mix! He calls someone, tells them to get into a TRUCK and "check out the neighbourhood." What the hell does that mean? Apparently he has a security background. He could have a cool tagline, something like: Gamble don't take no risks!
Cuts to Kendall's house. Caitlyn Jenner is stalking around Kendall's house lol, shouting "Kendall?" Great security they got. I really like how Caitlyn's dropped the voice, she sounds like Groucho Marx. "No-one's after me!" oh Caitlyn.
Corey Gamble's pushing for Kris to get a gun! "Why won't you go to the range wit me?" America's dilemma encapsulated.
It's now Kim's birthday. How many fucking birthdays do these people have? The combined sisters singing happy birthday is a thing of unbridled horror. I wonder who, if any of them, has ever tried out a singing career.
For some reason, I like Kylie less than Khloe now. Kylie doesn't do anything.
Khloe is launching a new line of jeans for average sized women.
Another intense transition. I swear they take up 20% of the show's runtime. I'd love it if one day one of those transition things just never ended and that was the entire episode.
Kim's talking about leaving "this planet." Maybe she's Heaven's Gate or Raelian.
Rob is rediscovering his Armenian roots, talking about teaching his kid "Armenian values" Haha! He wants an Armenian BBQ. "Isn't that just a BBQ?" "Yeah but with Armenians!"
Final insight: Khloe looks like Drew Barrymore as a CIA agent going undercover. A bit like how Will Ferrell and Tom Hanks have sold their souls to spend their afterlife on Brazilian telenovellas.
Also: Drew Barrymore's funny, no-one really knows what she looks like. She looks like a combination of loads of leading ladies' faces. Like the focus group perfect face to market a film.

The Sims 1

by Talita

Friday, 12th November 2021

First time back. Installation so far working well, no annoyances.

During the week I browsed a few Reddit posts by people coming back to The Sims 1 after a long time, and everyone seemed shocked at how difficult this game is. They weren't exaggerating. I can't seem to get anything done. I played until 1am while Jack was out with Tristan, the frustration felt familiar. I'd describe it as an engaging hollowness: I went through the tutorial with the Newbie family, then tried to get a storyline going with them. Betty got a job as a night guard. My plan was to get Betty earning some money while Bob focused on learning magic. But Bob went to Magic Town, failed to earn any MagiCoins, played chess with a guy in a waistcoat with whom he had in common an interest in politics, and suddenly all his Need bars were bright red and I had to rush him home. He had spent hours in Magic Town, but back home Betty was still at work, it was morning. Already my schedule was out of whack, and I never got it back on track. After a few days of watching them sleep every 3 hours and wake up to piss themselves and complain they had no friends, I quit the Newbies' lot without saving.

The Goth family was no easier. I love them, I'm looking forward to following their arc all the way to The Sims 4. Bella is trying to be a superstar - my goal is to make her a movie star, a tragic one - but there's no time to get her to practice her Charisma. She has to cook for her family 24/7, and their only mirror is in the bathroom, which she keeps getting kicked out of because her daughter refuses to pee in front of her.

Finally, I created a new family, and we will see what will happen to the Pergamons. My only concept for them so far is "orange hair, with a cat". I like the pet items. I think I need more of strategy worked out before I tackle this game again.

Sunday, 21st November 2021

It went slightly better this time. I'm sticking with Lulu Pergamon, and she has made friends with her neighbour Cris, who lives alone with her dog - Lulu lives alone with her cat! It's interesting to feel I am getting to know these Sims somehow, negotiating with them rather than controlling them. I think that might be an overlooked feature of The Sims - I am always on the edge of control. Some of the analyses that describe it as a dollhouse, or a projection board, miss the fact that Sims feel very external, mysterious and untenable, in a very, very different way to, for instance, the characters in Stardew Valley. I bought some items today, a candle and a carrot. I don't know what they're for. The in-game hint system tells me the same obvious stuff over and over again and adds to the feeling that there is so much about this world that these Sims know and I don't, that they are doing things I can't yet understand. What I mean is, I feel like a newcomer. And I feel that this world has always been here. I quit my job yesterday (in real life). Not sure what's going to happen. Life feels expansive again, like The Sims. Another thing I've never seen anyone comment on: time is weird in this game. "Normal" speed is too slow, fast speed is stressful. Things don't happen as they should - if Lulu's cat happens to be in front of her ten minutes before she has to leave for work, she'll jump around and wave, and miss work if I'm not careful. There is medium speed, of course, but it's still not quite right. Nothing is quite right. The Need bars are never full, you just have to come to terms with that.

Saturday, 27th November 2021

Just out of an unexpectedly long session. Lulu Pergamon is now more-or-less officially dating Cris, I think they make a good couple. I also found out you can train pets, even cats, so I'm going to take my cat Frizzy to a cat show.

I kissed Cris in public and got told off by an old lady, I remember this happening when I played this game as a kid. This feeling when something unexpected and often inexplicable happens - it gets you out of game-mentality, it makes it feel uncontrollable - that's so different in The Sims compared to other games of this sort, i.e. where you just play as a person going about their lives and there are no grand stories or goals. The Sims, on one hand, is a lot closer to games that were popular at the time, that involved a lot of status grinding and required strategy. 'Indulgent' is not a word I would use to describe it. At the same time, the lack of control is appealing, it turns us into spectators as well as players. The vibe of The Sims is, yes, chaotic and fun, as I believe is its memetic essence, the ultimate time-sinker game. But there is a strangeness, this melancholy. I wonder if everyone feels this, but I really do and always have when playing The Sims. This world is so involving and familiar, at the same time it's shallow, at the same time it's unforgiving, at the same time it's compelling, beautiful even. It's *funny*, always, yet it's so easy for horrible things to happen.

Lulu got a few promotions and so far financially it's going okay. The career-ladder climbing is useful for building up skills while money is still coming in. The friendship requirement, though, is brutal, and Lulu has to constantly socialise while on the brink of passing out from exhaustion. She's been making so many friends, I think soon it will be a good time to throw a party. There was a good comment on Reddit, in response to everyone saying The Sims 1 is so hard: "TS1 is amazing. It holds SO MANY weird surprises. Throw a giant and successful house party and see what I mean."

Sunday, 5th December 2021

Played The Sims for a couple of hours today and I don't feel better, but I feel focused and serious. There's something about The Sims that is not unlike hobbies such as cooking, sewing, gardening, where there is a degree of pressure and a real chance of failure - it can get you in a zone of sorts. It is all going wrong. Lulu has lost many friends, Cris wants to know where their relationship is going. Her only friend left is her cat. I tried to start a garden and it got destroyed by a squirrel. Everything costs money - building a fence costs money, tearing the fence down costs money. Everything has terrible consequences - Lulu is depressed because her garden looks like shit, she passes out in her work clothes, she pees in her pants and doesn't even have time to have a shower before it's time to go to work again. How visceral that there is so much of this game that is almost impossible to experience without a lot of money, we end up stuck doing the same routine for hours on end, dreaming of what we’ll do when we have the time. Feed the cat, shower, pay the bills, sleep. Progress is slow and uncertain. I bought an ironic Tiki painting for my bathroom, is this progress?

Thursday, 10th February 2022

My god. Will I ever get out of this? Just had an intense one. Game crashed without saving after a splurge in Build mode - dance floors, the science lab - probably for the best. Lulu has settled into a routine and is improving in every way. She has been painting. She enjoys playing chess in her backyard. She has been saving up money because she wants to move somewhere with more outdoor space. She has reconnected with the Townie sisters. Cris is still playing her hot and cold, but it’s okay because her life is full. Even the cat has been learning some tricks. Look, I’m trying to get out of this loop - I know there’s much more out there - she could be growing vegetables, she could be singing karaoke, she could be learning magic tricks. Instead she’s reading cookbooks. But I have a warranted suspicion it is about focusing on one thing at a time, and I will get that promotion.

Monday, 14th February 2022

Got the promotion! It’s been going so much smoother. Two more to go I think. Bought a Genie lamp, used to be one of my favourite items when I was a kid. Livin’ Large is underrated. But I’m loving finding all the Sims resources, database amateurs who have dedicated themselves to the mystery. I’m getting Lulu to miss every other day of work now, and it’s so much better. Feels slightly like cheating, but I think it’s more like understanding the game. More like playing. I’m trying to create something I am proud of - or am I deluding myself?? Is this just the seduction of rhythm, of lined-up tasks? Is it a problem if it is? I’ve been playing The Sims on my lunch breaks. Finally got a difficult promotion.

Wednesday, 16th February 2022

Okay, the promotion got to my head and I moved Lulu into some crazy party house that cost all her money. House Party is one of the most iconic and worst expansions of the original game. It is virtually impossible to throw a party without the Mime showing up, let alone with actual funds, i.e. no cheating. You have to buy so many expensive items, and dedicate an entire house to fit them in, and it still doesn’t work. Screw it, I’m moving Lulu out, into the nice farm house that comes with a vegetable garden. I’m making this happen. Making friends is the fourth bridge, of course - I need eleven now, by the time I get to ten I lose four. THIS GAME

Sunday, 27th February 2022

It’s been a weird couple of weeks. Made it to the top of the Journalist profession. Was it worth it? The Sims does have some notable inbuilt mechanisms to make you question the value of material wealth and consumption. Anyway this all feels like distant past now. Cris has moved in with her dog Luna. We live in a beautiful red house with a vegetable garden and a shed in the back where Cris makes garden gnomes she sells for 50 simoleons a pop, not bad. Lulu still has some savings from her former life as a big-time talk show host, but she has quit all that and is trying to make it in Studio Town. Some say she has “lost it”. Sometimes, she disappears down a big hole in her backyard. She sleeps weird hours. Frankly, she is so much happier now.

My Fart Diary by Jack, aged 29 1/2

[2022 update: I’m not sure if I was inspired by Adrian Mole but this fart diary holds a special place in my heart. It makes me laugh and I’m surprised at how crazily varied my diet was at this time. Now that I know I’m lactose intolerant – I think as much as someone can be without having an allergy – it flummoxes me how I was able to imbibe so much dairy and still function as a member of society. Things I would eat almost daily such as scrambled eggs were loaded with butter and milk. Ah well, you live and you learn. I’m pleased to report that now, at age 32 and with a diet that consists of almost zero lactose, my farts are the exception and no longer the rule. I also want to thank Talita for putting up with such a turbulent aspect of my life.]

Fart Diary – day 1 – 9/11/19

I’m starting a fart diary to see if I can find out what causes my farts to stink. Today, farts were abundant & stinky. Yesterday I ate Batpingsu for breakfast, a Korean dish of frozen milk & condensed milk (lactose).* For lunch I had steak & chips & a mate [South American iced tea] to drink (meat) & for dinner I had old pasta with tuna & tomatoes (pasta) with a glass or two of red wine (alcohol).

FD – day 2 - 12/11/19

So far (2pm) no farts. A smelly explosive shit in the morning, but now all is calm. Yesterday I ate Elvis Presley sandwich** for breakfast (bread), chicken & chips for lunch with coke (chicken) & for dinner I had a light platter of snacks such as black olives, cherry toms & cheese on toast (cheese & bread) with a couple of glasses of red wine (alcohol). I also ate a banana before bed. Maybe that helps settle the tum? The research continues.

FD – day 3 – 13/11/19

No farts today, & a surprisingly heavy drinking session yesterday. I had a Presley sandwich for brek, coffee, then pão de queijo [bread and cheese balls] for a snack, scrambled eggs for dinner, then two caips & about eight beers. And today I’ve done some squitty shits but no farts, which kind of rules out the beers. I’m thinking now that there may be a connection between the time I eat & how farty I am the next day i.e. that if I eat early I fart less. But now I’ve just remembered that I came home drunk & cooked a texas burger,*** which should have sent my intestinal tract to the seventh circle of hell. Hmmmm… The banana, maybe? Could it be the humble bedtime banana? The study continues.

FD – day 4 – 14/11/19

Another day of no farts. The breakfast yesterday was a hungover gobble of a few very cheap & crappy pão de queijo, plus guaravita**** to drink, followed by a few tentative sips of coffee. But no farts. After work I met with Talita at the diplomatic chicken, one of my all-time favourite places in Rio, & we shared a hearty meal of roast beef, beans, rice, farofa & chips, with an acerola juice. After the hearty meal & some confusion over the whereabouts of our leftovers, we paid the bill & went to Largo do Machado to pick up Zé, Maria’s son & Talita’s godson, who is now three. I had a coffee, a pastel de nata & a choppe while waiting for school to end. One more coffee at Talita’s university & then when we returned home I prepared some tortellini filled with meat, with peas & garlic, & had a few glasses of my current favourite drink: ½ vinho verde & ½ sparkling water over ice. An apple & a banana before bed. Is it all down to the banana?

FD – day ? - 17/11/19

The fart diary has lapsed & with so many farts to report. But I can’t even remember what I ate & drank over a three-day period. Thursday I believe was leftover roast beef from Dip Chicken for lunch & sushi for dins. Thursday I had a few farts from that filled pasta I had the night before. Then on Friday, a day off, we had watery lasagna & a ham, tomato & mozzarella salad for lunch from Zona Sul.***** For dinner I cooked beef burgers with cheese & tomato & also had a caipirinha from Bar Barata Ribeiro. On Saturday I had scrambled eggs & then we ate some bolinho de bacalhau [fried cod and potato balls] at Bar Barata Ribeiro again. We also ate some Carne de Sol [sun-dried meat, reportedly horse] & fried aipim at Feira de São Cristóvão [a big village of bars and karaoke booths, very fun]. [Diary trails off into detailing which karaoke songs we all sung, not relevant for current area of study]

FD – ‘F-day’ - 18/11/19

Today is F-day: the ones I’ve been waiting for, the stinkrots. Slightly sweeter than usual, they smell a bit like cupcakes. “They smell like farts.” said Talita. But they’re bad, embarrassingly so, unnaturally so. So what caused ‘em? Yesterday was a hangover day. Breakfast as usual, lunch I believe was very buttery scrambled eggs, then an early dinner of steak at the cowboy place, with chips, rice & two chopp beers. Afterwards I ate snacks of sauerkraut, old yoghurt, apple, banana. I also had some old tortellini with garlic & chilli, which is what I blame. But the choppe, the old yog & the pasta I believe were the unholy trio. Afraid to go to the toilet at work in case of the sweet trumpet. I went. All good, all thunder, no lightning, no shock, just sound effects.

FD - ‘F-day pt.2’ - 19/11/19

F-Day today but only in the morning. Could be the lingerations from the day before. Yesterday all I had was Elvis Presley sandwich, [see footnote ‘**’] some leftover chicken yakisoba for lunch, & chicken nuggets & pão de queijo for dinner. One thing I am having a lot of which may be affecting things is sauerkraut. But I love it so much.

FD - 20/11/19

No farts of note today. Actually, one trumpet but with a garden-variety odour. Yesterday was Elvis Presley sandwich for breakfast, quentinha [hot takeaway lunch] of pernil [roast pork], rice, beans, mashed potato, tomato onion & green pepper, then for dinner Talita cooked a wonderful pumpkin & chicken dish with cheesy pumpkin sauce & rice. I also had two Amstel cans to no ill effect apart from some doziness today.

FD – 22/11/19

Was going to be no fart diary today & then “Boom!” They came with a vengeance. I hate to say it but I think it might be partly attributable to Sauerkraut. My beloved sauerkraut. The culinary tequila shot.

[Fart diary ends here]

* I got into the habit of putting food groups in brackets that I felt could be causing or worsening the problem.

** This is simply a toasted sandwich of jam and peanut butter, which I’ve since been discouraged from dubbing an ‘Elvis Presley’ as it is both misleading and overly grandiose.

***The lowest grade frozen burger available from our local supermarket. I think it is R$8 for 12 patties, which is around 10p a burger. I believe they are made from a combination of chicken and pork.

****Sugary guarana-flavoured soft-drink.

*****Our local supermarket, quite fancy – the equivalent of a Sainsbury’s