2019-02-03

sovay: (Default)
[personal profile] spatch took a picture of me on the platform of Sullivan Station. That is the Orange Line behind me. I think I look pretty good for a person who coughed so hard after a movie they ended up sitting on the floor. I feel like Kennedy of the Free Press.



We ate dinner at Ganko Ittetsu Ramen in Coolidge Corner—I had the gankara miso ramen again, Rob the gantetsu shoyu. I am absolutely not out of the stage of illness and/or winter where soup looks like the best food in the world to me. There was a forty-five minute wait, so we visited the basement of the Brookline Booksmith and left with copies of Tom Swift and His Electronic Retroscope (1959) and a tie-in prequel novel to Tomorrowland (2015), which cost the grand total of a buck so if it's as disappointing as its movie, I don't have to feel bad about it. The rest of the fiction I was interested in was out of my price range at present.

I am glad to have seen Stan & Ollie (2018). It is a gentle but not negligible film; it underplays, so that moments that could easily have bellyflopped into sentiment instead feel poignant, or bittersweet, or warm, and it has a good sense of cross-talk and round-robin, which it needs since the combination of Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy and Lucille Hardy and Ida Laurel (Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly and Shirley Henderson and Nina Arianda) is "two double-acts for the price of one" according to the boys' British manager, although I found myself thinking of it more like a sedoretu. It is very funny in all the right places, which include the stairs at a railway station, two different front desks, and dress-circle seats at the Albert Hall. It's nice to watch a narrative ultimately about people being tender with one another. Add to the list of movies I would like to talk more about when I can think again.

We got home afterward on remarkably non-obstreperous public transit, which was nice because I was as previously described coughing my face off. And since I still am, I am going to take some drugs and go to bed.
sovay: (Claude Rains)
I am having a little difficulty taking this cough seriously, not because it isn't wiping me out to the point where I feel like some noodles that accidentally attained sentience, but because there seems to be nothing to do about it but drink a prescription medication that feels metaphysically about a half-step from a bottle of laudanum and tastes like Manischewitz with a grudge. I slept another eleven hours last night and am trying not to feel weird about it. I am generally in a miserable state emotionally and attempting to distract myself from it, except that what I really want to be doing is writing and I don't know the last time you saw a novel written by a heap of spaghetti. My hair has been in the same braid since Friday.

I just discovered that Arisia has posted the video for 2019's "Dramatic Readings from the Ig Nobel Prizes," meaning that you and the rest of the planet can now watch me read selections from Paul G. Becher et al.'s "The scent of the fly" (Journal of Chemical Ecology, 2018) and Lindie H. Liang et al.'s "Righting a wrong: Retaliation on a voodoo doll symbolizing an abusive supervisor restores justice" (The Leadership Quarterly, 2018), plus selections from other equally impressive papers I did not read. I watched the whole event, because I wanted to know how it had come out; this was the third year in a row I'd been asked to participate in the readings and the organizers give every evidence of wanting me back next year, but I'd never actually seen any of the footage until now. It made me feel better.

I know I'm a good speaker. I don't know if I'm naturally good at it. This is not Tiny Wittgenstein speaking: like many people with variable wiring, I am acutely aware of how much of my skill set is learned rather than factory standard. It is difficult for me to get any accurate idea of my original capabilities because so much of my self-assessment over the years has been shaded by various issues of self-esteem and self-expectation, but I know that for decades I thought of my singing voice as an expressive and adaptable instrument and my speaking voice as utterly useless. I hated the sound of it. It felt stiff and shallow and unresonant and slow. And it's not. Whether I really was starting from zero or not, I worked on it; I worked on it the first time around and I worked on it after the braces. There are a lot of factors crushed up into this question, but I think it's less important these days whether my face or my voice ever feel like mine again than whether they do what I need them to, and if I am getting asked if I have ever considered a career in rap based on the speed with which I can spit out a scientific abstract, I think that answers objectively affirmative. I post pictures of myself for similar reasons.

I don't feel any better about not writing, of course, but I do feel better about decades of effort. And that's useful when all I can otherwise think about is not worth writing out.
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