Mnemonics / Dr Mario

If you asked me what I've been up to lately, I'd tell you straight up the honest answer: I've been cleaning my room. It feels like this is all I do lately but it's ok because I love my room, even though it drives me crazy. I have a lot of projects part-assembled, pieces of nascent projects, toys, jums, scraps of paper. Sometimes it's too much, I feel like I can't get started, and I go and play Dr Mario on the couch. Sometimes I just jump into my room and roll around in great ideas like Scrooge McDuck. It's great.

The mechanic of Dr Mario is that you have a huge mess and there's more garbage slowly raining down on you, and you stack the new garbage on the old mess and when four or more similarly-colored garbage/mess items are colinear in a resting state, the timeline freezes for a split second, and the items disappear, or become transmuted into points. When the game is going fast this brief hiccup is very valuable in giving you time to collect your thoughts-- regularly accomplishing small tasks is a good way to avoid burnout. When the original mess is clear, regardless of how much new garbage is onscreen, the level ends, and an evil virus appears onscreen to say congratulations.

It's fun, and I can feel myself getting better at it, which is gratifying. The main way to get better is to remain calm during panicky moments, which is a magnificent skill to cultivate. Also it presents a workable dynamic for cleaning a room, or at least a framework for dopamine release-- I get a drip when I group like items.

A big part of my mess is "materials with potential" (bricolage problems), and I find that Dr Mario provides an interesting classification system for "what is my relationship to this possible piece of a possible project"-- is this the original mess I was trying to clear, or is this just some garbage that fell on me? This doesn't substantially change the workflow-- fallen garbage that rests on original mess still needs to be cleared to get to the important stuff, and it's to your advantage to clear often, if only to put your mind at ease. But it's nice to think that only the good stuff really matters, and if you get to the last of the good stuff and there's still shit everywhere, you don't have to worry about it. You're absolved from care.

In the interest of grouping like objects and clearing them, here's a cull from the archives. It's a pattern I have enough of that it seems like a collection, I'm posting it here and now I've done something with it! The connection to Dr Mario is... uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh............ creating useful structures even if they are stupid or temporary. 🙂

Mnemonic Devices

Periodically over the past couple years on Twitter I put out a call for mnemonic devices. If you had trouble remembering something, I would come up with a way to tie it together in memory. Most of these were made on the fly and by request, I can only hope they helped the person who asked. Some of these I made up for me (which one is Bill Paxton, which one is Bill Pullman). It's fun making these! If you need a mnemonic device for something you're having a hard time remembering, please leave a comment in the guestbook. I would love to keep adding to this list.

  • trick to remembering 6 x 9 = 54 : 6 9 (sexual act) at Studio 54 (disco club)
  • difference between discreet and discrete : when you're being discreet you're sort of being a creep
  • difference between vein and vain (for Caity) : if you're vAIN youre Always looking IN a mirror
  • palate / pallet / pallette (for Robert Beatty) : you look at a PALATE to see what you ATE, you put ALL the boxes on a PALLET, a PALETTE is a painter's little pal (PAL-ETTE)
  • miles to kilometers (for Lizzy) : point six two miles is one kilometer / stick to miles on a US speedometer
  • which one is Don Henly and which one is Don McLean : American pie & McLean both available in McDonalds / hen and eagle are both birds
  • meaning, spelling, and "a reminder that it exists" for the word "poignant" (for Dan S) : "poignant" is the sadness I feel when I behold a po' ignant fool (in the mirror)
  • president order-- its Garfield-Arthur but then is it Cleveland-Harrison -Cleveland--before McKinley? (for 322chris64) : it's a Harrison sandwich on Cleveland bread, shot of McKinley on the side
  • daylight savings, (for Jeff S, who rejects "spring forward fall back" as you could easily spring back or fall forward) : March forgets what November remembers
  • trick to remembering 7 x 8 = 56 : 56 = 7 x 8 (5 6 7 8)
  • effect vs affect (for Lance) : an affect produces an effect-- Ben Affleck produced the hit movie FX
  • movie music-- which is diagetic, which is nondiagetic (for James KF) : a movie is like a diary. music described in the diary is diagetic. music playing while you read is just music.
  • concave vs. convex (for Steven) : a concave surface makes a little cave you can hang out in
  • ontology vs epistemology (for Ian) : ontology is about being, like being ON this planet / epistemology is about knowledge: "is this pistol loaded" being a good example. This is probably too big a topic for a mnemonic device but I tried!
  • (original) definition of "nonplussed" : we were nonplussed by nonpareils- if nonpareils have sprinkles, what do pareils have? Please note that at this point in time the meaning of "nonplussed" has expanded. In addition to the original meaning of "bewildered", it now also means what everyone thinks it means-- "unimpressed". If you're reading it in a book it's probably "bewildered". if you hear someone say it, it's probably "unimpressed".
  • meaning of "gingerly", for Harold, who kept confusing it with its antonym : try saying "a pinch of ginger" instead of "a pinch of salt" to mean "information to be used with caution". Ginger aids digestion so it's a little better for the metaphor anyway.
  • which one is Bill Paxton, which one is Bill Pullman : Bill Pullman's just pulling your leg (Spaceballs). Bill Paxton packs a punch (Aliens)


  • Play Dr Mario online: [link]
  • This "list of mind tricks" is very much in debt to Ulillillia, who maintained a legendary website of dreams, fears, video games, and mind tricks, for many years. And most surprisingly, he made progress on all these things! Archived version of Ulillillia city here: [link]. Video about him here: [link].
  • Always Be Knolling - a video from Tom Sachs and Van Neistat about grouping like objects in studio: [link]. This is an excerpt from a longer video, the whole thing is good and worth looking for.