Writing Switch: How Neanderthals spend a sunny day | AspenTimes.com

Writing Switch: How Neanderthals spend a sunny day

(with no disrespect to Neanderthals)

Benjamin Welch and Sean Beckwith

BW: When I moved out of my airy, ​bright studio and upgraded to a subterranean one-bedroom hermit hole with an obnoxiously creaky bedframe, so too went recognition of the weather outside and quite frankly the motivation to participate in any of it. Bluebird days that were once filled with thoughts of “I’m going on a hike!” or “I’ll read a book on a park bench!” are now consumed by getting day drunk, scrolling incessantly through r/NSFW and ordering shorts on Amazon with increasingly larger waistbands.

With so many “nice” days per year, you can’t possibly be expected to remain active for all of them. Here’s our recommendations for taking advantage of sunny weather wit ya boyz:


SB: Nothing wastes a day off like throwing down virtual alley-oops. Theoretically, one could play actual hoops, but who wants to go 8-for-30 in a game of HORSE when you can go 21-for-30 against the Warriors. At least MVP-in-training Freddy Floater’s growth is measurable. I’ve been getting up shots recently and the only progress I can tangibly track is the erosion of my sneakers.

Planting yourself on the couch next to your roommate’s obese cat with a healthy supply of beer and a freshly made frozen pizza is enough impetus to kill an afternoon, if not longer. Fats needs the company and celebratory belly rubs anyway.

If you really want to up the sun aversion, go to Dave and Busters and lock yourself in there until you forget what natural light feels like. It’s like a casino for people who prefer trinkets to cash. And nothing says “heart disease” quite like dropping $50 to play arcade games, drink domestic draughts and eat generic bar food that makes Applebee’s taste like Ajax Tavern.


SB: Hahaha — yeah right.


SB: Why would you want to read a carefully crafted narrative when you can ingest every impulsive thought from friends and random people online? When someone says, “The author of these tweets,” they might as well call the guy on the other end of the McDonald’s drive-thru “chef” because vomiting up a hot take is to writing what microwaving a beef patty is to cooking.

It’s hard to get caught up in a 200-plus-page book when there are millions of people offering up 200-plus characters on an animal doing something funny, Jordan versus LeBron, a Marvel movie trailer, Donald Trump, Beyonce the queen, etc. Instagram is even easier because it’s the picture book of social media. That looks like fun, let me read the caption: Heart emoji, sun emoji, bathing suit emoji, cocktail emoji, #poollife. People don’t even write out sentences anymore; it’s like we’ve regressed back to hieroglyphics.

After a couple of hours you’ll start to get that “You’re all caught up” checkmark and the tweets will slow to a trickle. Then, maybe, you can click on that article that looked interesting and follow through so the next time you talk about sports you’ll be informed instead of regurgitating the most out-of-context segment the aggregators selected for you. Or perhaps read a book to relieve the strain of six-straight hours of screen time.


SB: Raise your hand if you spend more time looking for something to watch on Netflix than actually watching Netflix. Everyone immediately watches the good movies when they become available. When you really want to embrace your inner pile, hop on Netflix and watch those B action movies. Your “2 Fast, 2 Furious’,” your “Van Helsings” and “Death Race 2s” of the movie world. You could even try original Netflix programming if you get really desperate.

I’m sure this equally applies to certain aspects of flicks for the ladies.

“Hmm … Mindy Kaling … RomCom … actor who I don’t know but he’s cute … and she works a job that I wished I had … OK, I’m in.”

I can see now why network television and studio execs make so much money. They have to sift through a gagillion terrible shows/movies and hope the one they pick is good, as opposed to Netflix, who just blindly fires off programming hoping they hit someone’s niche or a washed actor can still deliver one-liners.

So spend your day with Nicholas Cage while he tries to atone for that dinosaur-bone-related bankruptcy. You might just find something good enough to keep you off your phone.


BW: I like to dedicate at least one of my days off to speaking with no one for 24 hours except the liquor store clerk. These are the days when I tell myself I’ll pay my bills and catch up on chores. I’m big into taxidermy, so a lot of time goes into dusting off my jackalope and polishing the one-eyed gopher.

Maybe I’ll visit the dentist or get a physical, I don’t know. I hate how the nurses interrogate you every time you go in for a check-up: “Do you remember your last drink?” “No, I was blacked out.” “Do you have any allergies?” Answer honestly and they’ll try to stick you in a home or say you’re a candidate for further medical research. Nah, I’d rather fire up the janky online casino app and look for a sit-n-go.

Do you think you’re good at poker? Doesn’t matter. The RNGesus that presides over the smattering of offshore internet gambling options will produce cards in miraculous combinations to either make you rich or desperate enough for money that you’re puking a bottle of Goldschlager through a strainer and sifting for the flakes.

At its core, gambling is all about the endorphins and begindorphins coursing through your body when you flop a straight, go all in, and are defeated by runner-runner 8-4 offsuit full house. Shit that reminds me I need to pay my car insurance.

I have a penchant for multi-tasking but my attention span is wrecked thanks to two televisions and Verizon’s unlimited data plan. So any time I try to relax and read for fun or otherwise, um, putz around on my computer, well, why not also gather over a virtual deck of cards along with what are likely two real players and a handful of bots? By the time I bust out, I’ve sat around in my boxers half the afternoon and have nothing to show for it — that goes for poker and putzing. At least I didn’t drive all the way to Cripple Creek to play at a real casino.

At this exact moment the sun hits that point in the sky where a single ray is able to penetrate the sides of my closed blinds and highlight the dust on my monitor and the gunk in my keyboard — a message from RNGesus himself. I hope my Chevy Cavalier that’s never gotten any scheduled maintenance is ready for another Formula 1 trip up and over Indy Pass and across the plains to The Brass Ass. I should rotate the tires or something; that car is old enough to vote.

If I’m lucky, I’m able to convince myself on the walk to the ATM that my $200 allowance would be better spent on something else, like NBA2K19 loot boxes or six more months of Tinder Premium. I ultimately decide a night of falling asleep to “Dr. Pimple Popper” and swiping seems like the path of least resistance.

After all, what’s the worst that can happen? You match with a girl and date her for four months before she makes you watch her houseplants while she goes on vacation to Central America, meets a surf instructor and ghosts you as they wrangle with the feasibility of tourist visas? Anyone can recover from that, I think. I hope. The plants won’t, that’s for sure.

sbeckwith@aspentimes.com and bwelch@aspentimes.com

Aspen Times Weekly

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