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Up to now in the romance world

I had a psychology class about relationships yesterday.

There’s a difference between what men and women want, in that traditional dynamic.

Men want someone nurturing.

Someone they can get along with and who’ll help raise their child.

Women want someone with power, who they believe will support the family and help raise their child.

Generally speaking, and we’re all on a bell curve for everything, that’s what the deal is.

Since I’ve been living long term in singledom, cooking, cleaning, paying bills, darning my own clothes, I have a lot of the nurturing, I guess, and I just want someone to support that.

I don’t show a lot of power.

It’s also never been valued, because in my childhood if I ever showed it I’d get the beating down.

But I have to show power to win relationships, not just with women but society.

To start showing more power, and since I have a date tonight, I been thinking about how I should reframe my life.

To highlight if not pre-existing, but new power.

So here it is, my new life narrative where I don’t talk about the jobs I’ve had or the study I’ve undertaken to get out of menial work.

“What do you do?” she’ll ask, because they always do.

“So I wrote comedy as a kid in school but got told it would not amount to anything and not to waste my time. I kept making little things and writing, got published in a few places, but family and friends kept reminding me it was pointless and to never try stand-up. I moved to Bendigo for work and after a few more people said there was no future in writing anything and it’ll fail, I met some people doing stand-up comedy who saw my act and said, Yes. Three years since I’ve had a successful Melbourne International Comedy Festival show, preformed in England and Iceland, I’m helping to produce a Bendigo Comedy Festival, and I have a 100 seat room booked at the Adelaide Fringe. So things are looking up.”

Why it’s Bad to Not Eat Chocolate

(For my psychological sciences study I made this report.)

Chocolate is consumed throughout the world, with 7.5 million tons eaten in 2017 alone (Statista, 2019). While widely available and not age limited, chocolate is also considered an addictive food, with the term ‘chocoholic’ used to describe those with a frequent craving for it (Crichton, Elias, & Alkerwi, 2016). Aside from addiction, chocolate causes physical health problems, as its products can be high in fat, sugar and calories, with excessive eating of these leading to an increase risk in obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease (Zeratsky, 2017). As worrying as this is, there is also a new question of whether chocolate consumers are cognitively impaired, making it as great a mental health risk as it is to physical health.

This report will show that chocolate consumption does directly and indirectly impact the brain’s cognitive performance, specifically with memory and problem solving tasks. However these are positive results, meaning chocolate will be shown to have an improving influence on brain function and general mood, and it is actually of benefit to those with a level of cognitive impairment. In fact results will show that a chocolate diet should be on a prescription list to treat some types of cognitive impairment.

When referring to a cognitive impairment, this is considered a mental state where a person shows limitations in any two of the following cognitive tasks: an ability to form memories, ability to judge and perform complex tasks, in visuospatial awareness, in language processing, or in their stability of mood (McKhann et al., 2011). If two areas are seen to be deteriorated, by failure of the 6 Item Cognitive Impairment Test or other similar test of cognition (Brooke & Bullock, 1999), a person may be considered to have dementia.

To assert that eating chocolate causes dementia type symptoms could seem extreme, and could be implying that there is a similarity between the effects of chocolate and Alzheimer’s disease, as Alzheimer’s disease is a cause of dementia (McKhann et al., 2011). Even if the concern surrounding chocolate’s impact on the brain was lowered to a level of a mild cognitive impairment, defined as the state between normal cognitive aging and actual dementia (Nasreddine et al, 2005), the accusation of chocolate being a cause of cognitive deterioration is still a server concern for chocoholics and confectionery workers world-wide.

Thankfully there is no evidence that chocolate produces any form of cognitive impairment. On the contrary chocolate enhances cognition. To show this, this report will highlight Chocolate’s direct and indirect influences on the cognitive test areas of memory, visuospatial awareness, problem solving, language and mood.

First, there is strong evidence that chocolate has a specific ability to aid memory (Field, Williams & Butler, 2011). Using tasks that required participates to identify objects that had changed between slides, Field, Williams and Butler (2011) found an improvement in visual spatial working memory and choice reaction times in participants who had an intake of the chocolate derived flavonol, cocoa. Similar memory function improvement were found by Crichton, Elias, and Alkerwi (2016), as their study considered long term dietary use of chocolate and saw participants who consumed chocolate in their diet to have an improved ranking for working memory, as well as visual-spatial memory and general organisation. In both studies there was specific reference to the influence on the brain by the cocoa flavanols that are within chocolate.

Cocoa beans are predominantly made of fat, and hence the negative health influences associated with the chocolate made from them. However they also are a concentrated source of anti-oxidants, most notably for brain function is the cocoa flavanols (Nehlig, 2013). These flavanols stimulate sections of the brain, particularly in the hippocampus which is an area associated with memory and learning (Sokolov et al., 2013). The flavanols stimulation increases blood flow to the brain, produces greater local production of proteins, and encourages an inhibition of cell death in the brain (Nehlig, 2013). These conditions, as propagated by chocolate consumption, led to greater survival of neurons and enables synaptic plasticity (Nehlig, 2013). Rather than causing a cognitive impairment akin to dementia, there is evidence to suggest that chocolate within a diet actually helps to reduce the occurrence or early onset of dementia (Crichton, Elias, & Alkerwi, 2016).

Further to the direct cocoa flavanol benefits to memory and learning via the hippocampus stimulation of chocolate consumption, there is also the benefits gained by chocolate producing a positive mood (Nehlig, 2013). While it has been shown that secret eating of chocolate can produce a negative mood, particularity in those who identify as chocoholics or have a weight problem (Hetherington & MacDiarmid, 1993), there are good cognitive results for people who approach eating chocolate without shame. A study by Meier, Noll and Molokwu (2017), found that people eating chocolate mindfully elicited a positive mood. This mindful eating, and positive mood, enhances chocolate’s benefits to memory as a meta-analysis by Lee and Sternthal (1999) showed brand names are more easily remembered when respondents across four studies were tested in a positive mood. This is because a positive mood encouraged the rehearsal of the names, and therefore made for a more effective retrieval of the information learned (Lee & Sternthal, 1999).

A positive mood also assists problem solving, which in the test for cognition is the ability to judge and perform complex tasks. This improvement was expressed by children approaching mathematical tasks, with results showing that children with a positive mood displayed a higher and faster level of information processing (Bryan & Bryan, 1991). To explain this, it was considered that a happier mood allows for improved learning, as previously discussed, and also a more efficient processing, interpretation and judgement of decisions (Bryan & Bryan, 1991).

It can be considered that happier moods allow the brain to think of new ways to approach problems (Gasper, 2003). Those in sad or negative moods are withdrawn and inattentive (Bryan & Bryan, 1991), restricting their cognitive function and causing them to think about problems in a more ridged way (Gasper, 2003). Effectively a negative mood means that a person operates in a formulised manner, while a person with a positive mindset is able to approach a cognitive task in a fresh way (Gasper, 2003).

The positive mindset from chocolate also improves language use, which is another determinant of cognitive ability. Four studies have shown that with a positive mood participants use more linguistic expressions (Beukeboom & Semin, 2006). This shows flexibility and creativity, heightened by an ability for abstract thought (Beukeboom & Semin, 2006).

Of course the irony of this research is that by chocolate influencing mood, this can be seen as a sign of changing personality, and then it must be determined individually whether a positive outlook by a person is an improvement. Some might say no, as the clinical and ridged appraisal of tasks associated with a negative mood carries benefits (Bryan & Bryan, 1991). Aside from this personal reflection on frame of mind, there are other limitations to the chocolate studies.

The basis of the chocolate mood improvement study was the task of mindful eating (Meier, Noll & Molokwu, 2017). This is the approach of eating with enjoyment, rather than scoffing in haste. However not everyone finds chocolate consumption to be a positive experience. Aside from guilt riddled chocoholics, there are those with lactose intolerance, as most foods carrying the cocoa flavanols are dairy based. For these people chocolate may deteriorate mood.

It must also be highlighted that a positive mood is not a superpower, as dealing with any person with a sunny disposition might point out. While a positive mood inducement can be helpful in some cognitive tests, this might be because of one-sided creative tasks in language and problem solving, and even then creativity is a multifaceted thing (Kaufmann, 2003). Indeed, someone who plays a piano by a metronome and someone who plays by hear are both skilled musicians. There would stand a question on which is better. Certainly the concept that a positive mood produces a definite improved cognitive performance is not guaranteed (Kaufmann, 2003).

Thankfully cocoa is not the only flavanol substance. Wine and tea also have rich antioxidant capabilities, and it has been shown that consumption of these out perform chocolate in some cognitive tasks (Nurk et al., 2009). Also, while findings are consistently positive for chocolates improvements on cognitive performance, they are also appear to be consistency weak (Scholay & Owen, 2013). This leads to a need for further evidence before a final claim of chocolate as a cognitive improver can be made (Crichton, Elias, & Alkerwi, 2016). However, despite the conjecture, there is no evidence that chocolate causes any impairment, or reduces consumers to dementia performance in cognitive tasks. In fact Nurk et al. (2009) recommend chocolate for those with dementia, as it has potential health benefits from mood, and clear benefits from cocoa flavonoids.

References

Beukeboom, C. J., & Semin, G. R. (2006). How mood turns on language. Journal of experimental social psychology, 42(5), 553-566. doi: 10.1016/j.jesp.2005.09.005

Brooke, P., & Bullock, R. (1999). Validation of a 6 item cognitive impairment test with a view to primary care usage. International journal of geriatric psychiatry, 14(11), 936-940. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1099-1166(199911)14:11<936::AID-GPS39>3.0.CO;2-1

Bryan, T., & Bryan, J. (1991). Positive mood and math performance. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 24(8), 490-494. doi: 10.1177/002221949102400808

Crichton, G. E., Elias, M. F., & Alkerwi, A. A. (2016). Chocolate intake is associated with better cognitive function: The Maine-Syracuse Longitudinal Study. Appetite, 100, 126-132. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2016.02.010

Field, D. T., Williams, C. M., & Butler, L. T. (2011). Consumption of cocoa flavanols results in an acute improvement in visual and cognitive functions. Physiology & behavior, 103(3-4), 255-260. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2011.02.013

Gasper, K. (2003). When necessity is the mother of invention: Mood and problem solving. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 39(3), 248-262. doi: 10.1016/S0022-1031(03)00023-4

Hetherington, M. M., & MacDiarmid, J. I. (1993). “Chocolate addiction”: a preliminary study of its description and its relationship to problem eating. Appetite, 21(3), 233-246. doi: 10.1006/appe.1993.1042

Kaufmann, G. (2003). Expanding the mood-creativity equation. Creativity Research Journal, 15(2-3), 131-135. doi: 10.1080/10400419.2003.9651405

Meier, B. P., Noll, S. W., & Molokwu, O. J. (2017). The sweet life: The effect of mindful chocolate consumption on mood. Appetite, 108, 21-27. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2016.09.018

McKhann, G. M., Knopman, D. S., Chertkow, H., Hyman, B. T., Jack, C. R., Kawas, C. H. & Mohs, R. C. (2011). The diagnosis of dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease: Recommendations from the National Institute on Aging-Alzheimer’s Association workgroups on diagnostic guidelines for Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s & dementia: the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, 7(3), 263-269. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2011.03.005

Nasreddine, Z. S., Phillips, N. A., Bédirian, V., Charbonneau, S., Whitehead, V., Collin, I. & Chertkow, H. (2005). The Montreal Cognitive Assessment, MoCA: a brief screening tool for mild cognitive impairment. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 53(4), 695-699. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2005.53221.x

Nehlig, A. (2013). The neuroprotective effects of cocoa flavanol and its influence on cognitive performance. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 75(3), 716-727. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2012.04378.x

Nurk, E., Refsum, H., Drevon, C. A., Tell, G. S., Nygaard, H. A., Engedal, K., & Smith, A. D. (2009). Intake of flavonoid-rich wine, tea, and chocolate by elderly men and women is associated with better cognitive test performance. The Journal of nutrition, 139(1), 120-127. doi: 10.3945/jn.108.095182

Scholey, A., & Owen, L. (2013). Effects of chocolate on cognitive function and mood: a systematic review. Nutrition reviews, 71(10), 665-681. doi: 10.1111/nure.12065

Sokolov, A. N., Pavlova, M. A., Klosterhalfen, S., & Enck, P. (2013). Chocolate and the brain: neurobiological impact of cocoa flavanols on cognition and behavior. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 37(10), 2445-2453. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2013.06.013

Statista. (2019) Retail consumption of chocolate confectionery worldwide from 2012/13 to 2018/19 (in 1,000 metric tons). Retrieved from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/238849/global-chocolate-consumption/

Zeratsky, K. (2017). Can chocolate be good for my health? Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/healthy-chocolate/faq-20058044

Festival Messtival

Excuse me. I intended this to be a diary type entry, such as Mediocre in Reykjavik, about the Comedy Festival experience. Instead these are dot points. I think it’s all you want to know.

The venue from stage, without people in it.

– To have a show, you have to write a show – or pretend this. Submit it to a venue manger or find your own venue, and pay your registration. That’s it.

– The best venues are the hardest to get into. There’s a psychology marketing principle called nudge theory. People do what is easiest for them. You should remove as many obstacles as possible to getting people to do what you want them to do. Make it easy for them. Nudge them towards your preferred outcome. Nudge them towards your venue. If they can easily get to your venue, or already like your venue, then that’s the goal. The best venues aren’t the cheapest, but they are the easiest to get people into.

– You won’t make money. Even if you have a stellar run of gigs, as I was told I did, it is, on average, not better income than working a menial day job. But gosh it is a lot of fun.

– Scientists are more engaging that alcoholics. Because my show was called The Wine Science Show there was expectation I should sell out nights because of a robust Melbourne wine community. It proved that science communities engaged and even approached me more than wine groups. It seemed that wine groups wanted money. Science groups just wanted to promote science.

Tara Bell’s podcast. I helped a tiny amount with audio.

– Women’s comedy has big hurdles. I had a dick joke in my show, in the form of a bar chart. A dull joke but it got an easy laugh. To entertain myself I followed it with a vagina pie chart. A new thing for the festival. Some people hated the vagina joke, but it was pretty much the same joke as the dick one. Actually better. Most nights all the crowd liked both jokes. Some nights the vagina one was a bigger win. I never failed, only some people hated the vagina joke. Someone told me weeks ago “We are conditioned to accept dick jokes as funny.” Dick jokes are not funny, but society is conditioned to accept them. My vagina joke, while not a Comedy of Errors, had no reason to fail beyond the preconceived idea that some body parts are okay to laugh about but others are not.

– I know it’s odd having a guy talk about the plight of women’s comedy. I agree 100% with comedians who think guys should stop talking about women’s issues. Women can do that themselves. Men who say they are feminists are idiots. Men don’t get to own that world. I just thought this an interesting anecdote.

Flyering with my sign. People stopped to talk to me. Very nice of them.

– I had a dread of flyering before the festival. I found a love of flyering by the end. I had so much fun talking to strangers about comedy and my show. I told a stranger that someone said my “…show is not stand-up. You should just do stand-up.” to which she said, “If comedy wasn’t to evolve, we’d only see rooms full of ugly Dave Greys,” a comedian that jokes about mother-in-laws and women shopping. It is good we progress. It was nice she wanted to see a new type of show.

– My show was called The Wine Science Show partly because people are risk adverse. At this festival nobody knew who I was. A show called The Wine Science Show is pretty clear what people should expect. I’m not an idiot. I made a show people would attend. They did. It was a good show. I liked it.

– I got massive hugs and laughs. It felt so good.

– I still feel an outsider.

– I am not a comedian. I’m a writer. The most enjoyable shows I saw last year were by Michael Williams, Daniel Connell and Sammy J. I remember the opening words to Sammy J’s show. “There was a knock at the door.” I had been told all year in comedy to start with a quick joke. With Sammy J, I saw someone succeeding by engaging the audience.

– In writing, I’ve finally found a medium I can use. Public speaking puts a force on having an economy of words. That is excellent for writing. The audience will let you know if they like something or not. That is excellent for editing. An audience is the best editor.

A flyer I found on the ground. It made me feel like a real comedian.

– Comedy is about being relatable. Aidan Jones told me situation is not the most important thing in being relatable. What’s more important is to have a relatable emotion.

– My favourite show of the festival was Laura Davis’ show Ghost Machine. I think she has been doing parts of it for five years. It is amazing how much fun it was, and engaging. It made me wish I could do a show every night. Just to get better at it. I could write a new show every month, no problem. There’s heaps of comedy and science in the world. Getting people to watch is the hard part.

– During Laura Davis’ show, she asked me what I regret most. I said, “Starting life too late.” She stopped. I think it confused her. Sorry Laura. I meant that I’m only getting happy now. I worry everything good in life. It’s going to be gone before I get to it.

– I also liked Xavier Michelides and Ben Russell show, Restaurant Fuckheads. Aside from the whole thing, the small parts where it seemed they were trying to make each other laugh were terrific.

– Celia Pacquola had the show that will most change how I do comedy. She talked naturally about some personal demons. It was relatable emotion before relatable content. The audience enjoyed it.

– I will make another show. I don’t know when, but it will be worth seeing.

A beer after my last sold out show.

A Thank You Letter

I’ve been trying to think of how to thank everybody for their time during, before and after the Comedy Festival.

Tagging people in a Facebook post isn’t sufficient, plus there were so many who came, couldn’t come, or helped by attending pre-festival shows or just with some words of encouragement that I can’t name or might forget in the naming.

Many are not even on social media, and equally might never read this.

So what can I do but say thank you? For the kind words, advice, presence and thoughts. It really did work to make something happen.

I’m proud to say I never had fear in the show. Only in my ability to connect with the audience.

Hugs, laughter and applause from strangers proved I could pull it off. Your support, yes you, made that possible.

So thank you.

With all my happiness, a thank you for helping make this festival a great experience for me and those you’ll never meet.

It was truly fun. I already miss flyering, and in doing that striking up conversations with strangers, and that was one of my greatest fears. Plus the fear of losing a whole heap of money.

But now I can afford a record player, so if you come visit, I’ll play you a song.

In a week or so I’ll post a full review with anecdotes and true tales of the festival, but for now…

Thank you again, and all the best wishes,

Luke.