Sleeves

Today I’m wearing a dress that my Mum made for me a few years ago. She made two dresses at the time but it’s only occurred to me now, that that’s when she really understood the trouble I have with getting shirts and dresses that fit properly across my shoulders and allow me to still move my arms.

The dresses don’t have sleeves because she had such trouble having to alter them away from their original patterns to make them fit that she decided to cut her losses. LOL.

Something broken about this

Yeah, I used the Hozier fanfic title generator for this post, what of it.

Anyway, overdoing it with online gaming coupled with a busy period at work has done a number on my RSI, so obviously here I am writing about it, using the very instrument of my downfall. It’s kind of a pain because (other than the obvious actual physical pain etc) I want to support what’s left of my alliance even though we’re kind of a bit scuppered by everyone getting kind of burnt out and there not being anyone who really wants to lead ops. Probably doesn’t help that when you do try to do some leader-stuff, no one really follows instructions.

So, no gaming. Watching stuff or reading stuff only. Got an appointment with the doctor, who’s probably just going to tell me the same as before. Wondering if I need to do something to make the muscles in my forearms stronger and then maybe this would happen less?

It’s kind of a downer since I socialise a lot online and this makes it difficult. The discomfort in my arms is kind of a downer on its own.

Maybe I should get arm-warmers.

Gigs without phones

The Simple Joy of “No Phones Allowed”

A few nights ago I saw Jack White in concert. It was a wonderful night, and a big part of that was due to a new rule he has imposed on all his tour dates: no phones.

When you arrive, you have to put your phone into a neoprene pouch, supplied by a company called Yondr, which they lock and give back to you. If you want to use your phone during the show, you can go into the concourse and unlock it by touching it to one of several unlocking bases. The concert area itself remains screen-free.

The effect was immediately noticeable upon entering the concert bowl. Aside from the time-travel-like strangeness of seeing a crowd devoid of blue screens, there was a palpable sense of engagement, as though—and it sounds so strange to say it—everyone came just so they could be there.

People were visibly enjoying the opening band, at least in part because that band no longer compete with the entire internet for the crowd’s attention. Even the crowd’s milling around and chatting between acts was so much more lively. People were either talking to their neighbors, or taking in the room. And everyone taking in the room was taking in the same room. It felt great.

This is an interesting article but, for me at least, a weird one. I don’t have a smartphone. My phone is about 15 years old and the reason I keep it is because I have 4 days battery life and really…what do I need a phone for? The odd text message. The odd phone call. That’s it.

Need directions to a place? I look them up beforehand, or ask someone nearby or just like… do what I’ve done on occasion and just… look around and pick the direction that seems right. That last one I did in Paris because I don’t speak French but at the same time I just didn’t want to talk to anyone anyway. Did I get where I wanted to go? Actually yes. Did it take a long time? No, because somehow I picked the right direction.

But back to gigs.

The article says “everyone came just so they could be there” – which I think would have been true even if everyone could have kept their smartphones. I’ve been to the odd gig where the artist performing has been pretty hyped in the press and you can see the subset of the crowd who is there so that they can say that they were there (you can kind of tell who they are, because they tend to be standing in circles talking to each other at the tops of their voices all the way through and it would probably have been cheaper to hang with their friends in a pub or something).

I can’t say that I’ve personally felt the black hole of disengagement from the smartphone using crowd around me. Perhaps it’s the fans that the artists I go to see attract? Anyone who shows up for the support acts is always there to actually see the support act that their ticket money is going towards. Sure, people use their phones between acts – but that doesn’t prevent the crowd doing an impromptu sing-a-long to the Queen song that drifts out of the speakers while we wait.

But yeah. I don’t have a smartphone. I go to gigs on my own. Sometimes I’ll talk to the people around me (nearly all of whom have smartphones in their pockets). Mostly, I like being there and hearing the people chatting around me but I don’t necessarily have anything to say to them. I’m content to sit or stand and just wait – I don’t need the constant entertainment of a phone or conversation with another person. So maybe the change that the author of the article experiences wasn’t because everyone around them didn’t have a phone, but primarily because they personally didn’t have a phone. All of the things they talk about people doing at the gig without their phones, they have been doing at all the gigs where they had their phones – the author just didn’t notice.

Hoarding

What’s Causing the Rise of Hoarding Disorder?

Even if they want to downsize (which is rare), there’s the overwhelming difficulty of sorting through the mess. People with severe hoarding disorder tend to be easily distracted and have a hard time focusing and concentrating. Paradoxically, they also tend to be perfectionists, so they’ll put off making decisions rather than risk being wrong. And when it comes to their own stuff, they don’t categorize by type. Rather than see an object as a member of a large group (say, one of 42 black T-shirts), they see it as singular, unique, special. Each black T-shirt is perceived apart from the others and carries its own history, significance, and worth. It’s not even categorized for storage (folded with other black T-shirts in a T-shirt drawer), but rather placed on a pile and retrieved spatially (that particular black T-shirt lives about four inches from the bottom of the corner stack). This leads to a deep aversion to someone touching the piles or sifting through them, unwittingly destroying the invisible ordering system.

It me.

Well, I’m somewhere between untidy and hoarder because when I do actually tidy, there’s a lot less “stuff” but yeah, that’s basically my filing system. Whenever a well-intentioned person attempts to tidy for me, without my knowledge, I always end up losing stuff and… having to buy replacements because I can’t find the thing – which I feel is the opposite of what the ideal outcome would be. :/

So far some of the things lost when tidied include: a boxed copy of Evil Genius (which I’ve just re-bought in the Steam sale as a download), a mobile phone and most recently the cable to connect my camera to my laptop (and also to charge my Mum’s Kobo – so yeah I’ve had to re-buy that one).

And there’s no way of knowing if the lost things are just…here somewhere or if they’ve accidentally gone in the bin.

The 42 black t-shirts is also me. However,  I have a “black t-shirt shelf” to go with my “not-black t-shirt” shelf.

2018 Films, mostly.

It’s not quite the end of the year just yet1, but I have decided that it is highly unlikely I am going to leave the house and make the five minute journey to my local multiplex. My film logging widget tells me that I saw fewer films in total this year than I did last year and from looking at last year’s films in review blog and my letterboxd list of 2018 films, I also saw fewer new films. Was it just that there were fewer films that took my fancy released? Could I just not be bothered to go out and see them? I know there were a few that I thought “well, I’ll just wait for them to be on TV” that I can’t even remember the titles of now.

I nearly said that there wasn’t a Star Wars film out in 2018 but I guess Solo counts as one of those, so it’s not even that. I could really do with a new Star Trek film – although Discovery is coming back in the new year and I am p excited for that.

Anyway, onward – from least liked to most liked. Once again, “least liked” doesn’t necessarily mean it was bad but I think I did watch more films I felt kind of indifferent about this year:

  • Long Day’s Journey Into Night – This film was really long and didn’t seem to go anywhere. Sure the 3D 50 minute long single shot take is a technical achievement but like… what was the point. I guess the first section was just too vague and I didn’t care about the main character.
  • In Fabric – Parts of this film were entertaining but then other bits induced too much second-hand embarrassment.
  • The Bill Murray Stories: Life Lessons Learned from a Mythical Man – I don’t know that I’m really that interested in Bill Murray’s hijinks, but it was nice to hear from people who had such good experiences and to its credit, this film is only 70 minutes long and doesn’t try to pad itself out with pointless filler.
  • Aquarela – Ok so this film is about water and only that. Glaciers, frozen lakes, waterfalls, oceans, hurricanes etc. all to an industrial classical soundtrack. The director said that it was supposed to showcase the immensity of water on our planet but it had been a long day and the water noises along with metal-cello accompaniment were really relaxing and I might have drifted off once or twice2.
  • The Quake – I didn’t see The Wave, to which this is a sequel to, but I don’t think I really needed to. Most disaster movies that I’ve seen tend to be all action, which is fine. This film has action, sure, but most of the drama comes from within the characters’ regular lives and their reactions to the disaster of the previous film. Which is a nice change.
  • Ash Is Purest White – I spent 20 minutes trying to remember which of the films on the list had the ballroom dancers in and it was this one. Anyway, Ash Is Purest White kind of starts off as a gangster film, but then actually follows the life of the “gangster’s moll” character who is far more interesting than anyone else.
  • Arctic – I actually had this one just above Aquarela but then I started thinking about it and had to move it up the list a bit. Mads Mikkelsen is exceptional in this.
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story – This was OK. I kind of want to rate it lower but maybe that’s because I kind of expected more from a film about Han Solo and on the whole it was fine. Unnecessary maybe, but fine. I would probably have preferred a Chewie film.
  • A Family Tour – There’s a lot here that I recognise in my own family, although of course, none of us currently live in exile from China or have suffered the kind of injustices that the main character here has. Although saying that, thinking about the race riots in Malaysia in the late 60s, I do wonder if I am wrong about that one.
  • Duplicate – This film is called “Jonathan” in a bunch of places but I guess it must have got renamed to Duplicate. Did not go in the direction I had thought it would at all, mostly because I had no clue where the story would go from the start (but in a good way).
  • The Man Who Killed Don Quixote – This is the only Adam Driver film I saw this year, although in a sense it was like 3 Adam Driver films in one, so I guess I’ve probably equalled last years Adam Driver film total.
  • Happy as Lazzaro – I didn’t really know what to expect from this film and it turned out to be kind of a meditation on sainthood. Also, did not expect the direction the second half took at all, which was great.
  • Outlaw King – I enjoy historical films with loads of violence, what can I say?
  • Deadpool 2 – Also contemporary films with loads of violence. I feel like this wasn’t as enjoyable as the first one.
  • Out of Blue – I guess I would compare this one to last year’s Small Town Crime, only the main character in that was a mess and Patricia Clarkson’s detective is not really.
  • The Hummingbird Project – This was way more heart-warming than I thought a film about putting in a fibre optic cable across America would be and I am glad of it. And SALMA HAYEK plays a great villain.
  • Assassination Nation – I really enjoyed this although I think it was trying to position itself as something more controversial than it was. Also another film with loads of violence. Basically, 80% of films I watch have violence in them I guess.
  • Widows – This was so so good and deeply satisfying. Also, there is a cute dog.
  • A Wrinkle in Time – I saw this so long ago, but I guess it says something that a film from right near the beginning of the year stuck in my memory and maintained its position in my chart – I often find that more recent films chart a bit higher sometimes because I remember them more. I’ve not read the book but I don’t think that’s a problem. This is a really beautiful film but wow Charles Wallace is annoying.
  • Can You Ever Forgive Me? – I picked this film because I really enjoyed seeing Melissa McCarthy in Spy and the title sounded interesting. It turned out to be one of the best films I’ve seen this year – both funny and unexpectedly touching.
  • The Favourite – Rachel Weisz is awesome. Her name is Rachel, so of course. Olivia Coleman and Emma Stone are also excellent, though they are not Rachels. Their performances made the characters seem real – even though they are real people that existed, the distance of time renders them as “just” characters in a story. Anyway, this was great and funny and moving and I really enjoyed it.
  • I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story – I was never a boyband fangirl myself. I just didn’t get the appeal, but I have been a fan of other things and it was a DELIGHT to watch this and feel those feels and see other people feeling those feels. Not only does this documentary tell the stories of a range of different fangirls, but it also follows the changes in their fandom and what their love of their particular boyband has enabled them to achieve. And it takes all of their fangirling and love and out-there antics and takes it all seriously. Everyone should see this.
  • Little Forest – This is a film where a young woman spends a lot of time cooking for herself and for her friends, eating the nice food she has cooked and hanging out with a puppy and I think this is the gentle film that the world needs right now.
  • Pacific Rim: Uprising – In contrast, I don’t think the world needed this particular Pacific Rim film (perhaps del Toro’s version would have been different) and yeah, there is one element of the story that is CLEARLY RIDICULOUS and UNCALLED FOR. That said, I enjoyed the story and the robots and John Boyega is a national treasure.
  • Avengers: Infinity War – I am here for Captain America 5eva. And most of the rest of them too.
  • Ocean’s Eight – This is literally the only Ocean’s film I have seen in a cinema rather than just waiting for it to be on the telly and that was an excellent decision. Sandra Bullock is my perennial fave and she and her team are just so good at all of it. Richard Armitage is there being awful in the best way. The only thing that could have been better would be if they had just put someone else in as the insurance fraud investigator.
  • Black Panther – It feels like Black Panther came out a million years ago but it was literally only like eleven months. Everything about this film was just right and I loved T’Challa and Shuri and her being the genius little sister.

And that’s it for the new films I saw in 2018. I feel like I would have liked to go to more gigs, but sometimes I’m just not interested in the people who are touring here. I visited Norfolk on holiday and that was great. I ate a great many delicious things. 2018 was okay.

1.  Well, I started writing this 3 days ago.
2. It had been a long day.

Common Cyborg – Jillian Weise

The whole essay is here.

To Haraway, the cyborg is a matter of fiction, a struggle over life and death, a modern war orgy, a map, a condensed image, a creature without gender. The manifesto coopts cyborg identity while eliminating reference to disabled people on which the notion of the cyborg is premised. Disabled people who use tech to live are cyborgs. Our lives are not metaphors.

Tuesday

I am languishing in my sickbed, riddled with plague and reading about all this Tumblr stuff.

Maybe not plague. A cold.

I know that the ringing in my ears is louder when I’m sick, but it’s coupled with the sound of the water moving through the radiators and hot water pipes – a similar sound to the one I hear in my ears – which makes it all worse somehow. No amount of earplug-wearing will help when it’s a noise already in my head.

Coincidentally, I’m also reading about how places like restaurants are really loud. I’m constantly thinking about how loud places are and how it seems like everywhere has gotten louder but can’t really decided whether they really have become louder or I just notice more now that I try to avoid loud noises. Probably both.

Restaurants are so loud because architects don’t design them to be quiet. Much of this shift in design boils down to changing conceptions of what makes a space seem upscale or luxurious, as well as evolving trends in food service. Right now, high-end surfaces connote luxury, such as the slate and wood of restaurants including The Osprey in Brooklyn or Atomix in Manhattan.

This trend is not limited to New York. According to Architectural Digestmid-century modern and minimalism are both here to stay. That means sparse, modern decor; high, exposed ceilings; and almost no soft goods, such as curtains, upholstery, or carpets. These design features are a feast for the eyes, but a nightmare for the ears. No soft goods and tall ceilings mean nothing is absorbing sound energy, and a room full of hard surfaces serves as a big sonic mirror, reflecting sound around the room.The result is a loud space that renders speech unintelligible. Now that it’s so commonplace, the din of a loud restaurant is unavoidable. That’s bad for your health—and worse for the staff who works there. But it also degrades the thing that eating out is meant to culture: a shared social experience that rejuvenates, rather than harms, its participants.
And the Underground is SO loud. I mostly travel on the Northern line when I use the tube and the TRAINS are SO LOUD. If you want to talk to someone, you’d have to shout (on the other hand what are you doing, breaking the unwritten rule of not speaking on the tube). I always wonder about how loud people must have the volume for whatever they are listening to on their headphones. I think about how that kind of volume from headphones on my own ears would probably be worse for my tinnitus than the sound of the trains the music would be drowning out. At least I can wear earplugs on the train.

On reading

At some point, two different things about reading ended up in my “tabs to read” window – one about skim reading and the other about reading with a pencil.

In the first, Maryanne Wolf (Director of the Center for Dyslexia, Diverse Learners, and Social Justice at UCLA) talks about how our brains’ ability to read is changing as we read on electronic devices more:

My research depicts how the present reading brain enables the development of some of our most important intellectual and affective processes: internalized knowledge, analogical reasoning, and inference; perspective-taking and empathy; critical analysis and the generation of insight. Research surfacing in many parts of the world now cautions that each of these essential “deep reading” processes may be under threat as we move into digital-based modes of reading.

She goes on to talk about we have less “patience to read longer, denser, more difficult texts” and along with that potentially comes less ability to apply higher levels of critical analysis to such texts (or perhaps also in texts we come across in every day life like contracts or wills).

The whole article is worth reading (especially how the change in reading is coming with a change in empathy) but the main thing that interested me was how reading on physically printed media instead of a digital device kind of added “a spatial ‘thereness’ for text” and readers have a better sense of where they are in what they are reading – a place “to go back, to check and evaluate one’s understanding of a text.”

The second tab I’ve had open – the one from Austin Kleon’s blog about reading with a pencil made me really think about how I read. I don’t think I could ever actually write IN a book, which is also interesting to me – there are people who freely write in books they own and then there are people who would never dream of it and is there anyone in between?

Marginalia means to me that I’ve paid attention to the thing that I was reading – for the essays and such that I’ve written in the past, I’ve always had to print out papers (in part to highlight them and make notes) rather than attempt to read them in a digital format. Even though I can’t bring myself to write notes in a book, the books I used for my dissertation were RIDDLED with post-it notes with various scribbles and arrows on them.

I feel like I don’t read as much as I used to – I certainly don’t get through as many books as I once did. However, when I really think about it, I wonder if I am really reading less or is it that reading in a digital format somehow counts less? Instead of zipping through novels, I read fanfic, journal articles, meta, Twitter, newsletters (the satisfaction of reading a blog with the ease of it being right there in my inbox, though I never forsook RSS), the odd Livejournal/Dreamwidth entry… so am I really reading less? Or is it that I don’t have the patience for long things anymore?  I know I don’t understand how anyone can binge-watch a series – I can watch two episodes tops before I have to switch to a different series.

Anyway. It is a thing I have been thinking about.

Other stuff:

A thing that makes me LOL about the Superman news/non-news

I’m not sure that it really makes any difference who plays Superman, since compared to the steady churn of the MCU out put, there are barely any DCEU films. Anyway, I keep seeing articles like this that mention:

With Henry Cavill reportedly parting ways with the DC Universe, there is currently a large cape to fill and no shortage of strapping, symmetrical-faced lads to fill it.

Henry Cavill, the person whose face I enjoy looking at primarily for his partial heterochromia and because I am heartened to see that he still has teeth stereotypically common to my fellow residents of the British Isles.

Of course Clark Kent can’t go down to the orthodontist to get his teeth fixed.