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:

In fair Verona, where we lay our scene

Romeo & Juliet at the Union Chapel
On Saturday, I went to see Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet at the Union Chapel, with a live choir. Basically that meant that there was about half an hour’s performance of some of the songs from a choir before the film along with some dude saying various quotes from throughout the play. Then they did a song at the end and some guy in the audience then proposed to his girlfriend, she said yes, we all clapped and the choir did another song, dedicated to the couple.
I don’t really get why someone would pick Romeo + Juliet as a prelude to popping the question, as so many people die and namely the “happy couple.” I am sure it was probably a nice evening for them so that must add context.
Romeo + Juliet was great though. I first saw it when I was about 12 and I didn’t really get probably about half of the language used, but it’s like watching Chinese historical dramas – you don’t know what anyone is really saying, but they are doing the right faces. I guess it probably helped that I studied the play at school afterwards and I’ve learnt a bit more about Shakespeare and that since then. Watching now, over 20 years after the film was released, and looking at 20 years ago Leonardo Dicaprio and Claire Danes was kind of weird. I guess when I first saw it, the actors were like 5-10 years older than me and I was just watching stuff happening to people. Watching now, looking at 21 year old Leonardo and 17 year old Claire Danes, from the viewpoint of someone now in their thirties and like… they are really dramatic children. I know in Zeffirelli’s version, Romeo and Juliet are played by even younger actors – but they’re not in a relatable modern setting. I’m sure I must have written an essay about this in school, but man those kids needed some responsible adults in their lives who didn’t enable their nonsense.

It wouldn’t be quite so entertaining a play though.

What else? I think that’s all I have.

102

Today my Granddad would have been 102 years old, had he not died 14 years ago. He missed his birthday that year by a few days. We went out to the local carvery and had roast dinner in his honour. Inevitably we will always go out to eat roast dinner, because the right variety of bits for a roast dinner is tricky when you’ve only got two people to eat the thing.

On Wednesday night, I went to see Larry & His Flask at the Islington Academy. Weirdly I don’t think I had really listened to any of their music, since the last time I saw them live, bought an album and played it in the car on the way home. All I knew was that I enjoyed the last time I had seen them and it felt like ages since I had seen them and that I should see them again.

Which, of course, was the right decision.

Sam Russo, whose music I also like, and Crazy Arm, whose music I’d never heard but I think Emma likes, supported and were good. The last time I saw Sam Russo, he was supporting Dave Hause and he’d done his leg in but remained charming. He’s still charming and his music is still great but seems to admit to a lot of crime? He says he didn’t murder anyone, which is good.

Larry & His Flask though. I was thinking as I stood there listening, that my Dad would have really enjoyed their music. Being an only child, my parents were always fairly protective (maybe overprotective as I’ve always been cautious anyway) so my Dad used to come to gigs with me. He took me to my first gig – AFI’s Nightmare After Christmas gig at the London Astoria back in like 2002. We went to festivals and gigs and I never minded that I always “had” to go with my Dad because we had a great time and he was always up for going. I suppose maybe I was lucky that my Dad would listen to the music I liked – it always seemed more difficult for other people I knew whose folks weren’t keen on them going out late on a school-night and there was the tension between having to hurry home after and not wanting to hurry back. No such problem for me and my Dad, because since he didn’t like public transport, he would always drive us there and back and we didn’t have to contend with the thought of missing the train.

Plus like, he would buy the tickets and the drinks and the merch because he was my Dad and I was the child. I’ve still got the hoodie he bought for me at that first gig – he popped out during the encore to buy me something, have a smoke and bring the car round and miss all the crowds going for their cars and that.

Now, I don’t think my Dad loved AFI, even though he saw them probably 6 or 7 times over the years, but I think he would really have enjoyed seeing Larry & His Flask. This was the thought I had on Wednesday night, along with the thought that everyone there seemed to be really joyful and happy that Larry & His Flask were back on tour and were playing for us all that night.

I really want to seem them again.

Other things:

  • I am hoping that Anthropocene will be at the London Film Festival this year and at a time I can make. Last year, I got lucky that all the various extra religious holidays that my work gives us off overlapped with LFF but this year it’s all a month early so maybe I’m going to have to take actual time off to see films. We’ll see.
  • Our Attitude Toward Aliens Proves We Still Think We’re Special – I guess I just figured that aliens have a Prime Directive, like there is in Star Trek.
  • An idea that really resonated with me:

    “A multipotentialite is someone with many interests and creative pursuits.

    Multipotentialites have no “one true calling” the way specialists do. Being a multipotentialite is our destiny. We have many paths and we pursue all of them, either sequentially or simultaneously (or both).

    Multipotentialites thrive on learning, exploring, and mastering new skills. We are excellent at bringing disparate ideas together in creative ways. This makes us incredible innovators and problem solvers.

    When it comes to new interests that emerge, our insatiable curiosity leads us to absorb everything we can get our hands on. As a result, we pick up new skills fast and tend to be a wealth of information.”
    — Emilie Wapnick, Puttylike (found here)

  • The Story We Don’t Talk About: On Irishness, Immigration, and Race
  • I like to think that this ice cream was made from Old ones.
  • About my favourite food in the whole world.

Reading old newsletters

I’m subscribed to a few newsletters and tend to read them either immediately or months after I received them.

So now I know what an omelette thing stemmed from, that made the rounds on the twitters and other newsletters that I did read when I got them. Months after the fact.

Some things from newsletters:

I don’t think I was ever a blogger. I had a livejournal for a long time and various blogs etc over the years, but I don’t know if I ever had anything in particular to broadcast.

I <3 RSS 5eva

Reading a Wired article on how RSS is apparently coming back and mostly struck by the fact that, for me at least, it never went away.

Still, the lasting appeal of RSS remains the parts that haven’t changed: the unfiltered view of the open web, and the chance to make your own decisions about what you find there.

“The most amazing thing to me about RSS is that no one really went away from it,” says Wolf. “It still exists. Somehow through all of this. It’s crazy, in a way, that when you go away from RSS and then come back to it, it’s all still there.”

I LOVE RSS.

I browse Tumblr by RSS. I BROWSE TUMBLR BY RSS. And boy am I glad that the spooky names for October business died down because now I only have to check who I am following every once in a while to see who just randomly changed their URL (I have never understood the changing your URL stuff, how are people you know supposed to find you?). I get podcasts by RSS. I still follow a few blogs by RSS.

I miss Google Reader, but now I use Feedly and keep a foot in over at Inoreader and maybe I’m gonna see if I still have an Old Reader account because I liked that one. I also use an RSS reader in the Opera Browser which currently is kind of an extension that is replicated in the latest version a thing that used to be in the old version but Opera has brought in some thing called “News” that tries to hijack RSS feeds away from the RSS reader extension I installed. And you can’t turn the news thing off.

WHY REMOVE A THING, ONLY TO PUT IT BACK WORSE AFTER LIKE FIVE YEARS?

RSS may have sometimes delivered the last 20 items that I already read from a blog, but at least they have never been delivered to me out of chronological order.

Very endless implications

Lately I find myself subscribing to more newsletters. Partly I blame Warren Ellis, mostly I think I just miss the stream of longer form wittering that I used to get from my Livejournal friends page. I never stopped being annoyed when a website failed to furnish me with a RSS feed (or get slightly angry when they removed it).

Oh you don’t have RSS, well I guess I don’t need to look at your website at all.

Which maybe is a little counter-intuitive, since RSS tends to just give you the latest thing (and yeah, I don’t enjoy the RSS feeds that only give truncated snippets), but since if the latest thing in my aggregator looks interesting, I open it in a new tab to pay attention to later then…

Newletters. I don’t always get to them as they arrive, but every so often I binge on a few of them (it’s the same with podcasts for me).

Anyway, I’m slowly putting some links to the ones I subscribe to in the sidebar. Enjoy.

Yes, I would like to subscribe to this feeling

In this week’s edition of Sarah Jaffe’s newletter she says:

“I keep those things closer to the vest these days; once upon a time I was as much a feelsblogger as anyone but, well, some combination of adulthood, professionalism, and Literally Everyone Being On The Internet now marked a shift there.”

And isn’t that a great term? Feelsblogger. I’ve never really been one to talk about how I feel about anything – online or offline. Maybe I did right at the beginning of the Livejournal days, but mostly due to a lack of anything to really say? Most of my writing back then was on Usenet, so that’s where all the real substance (such as it was) went.

Now all the feels I have on the internet are about Star Trek or Captain America or Star Wars or some other media I have engaged with. For me, I’m not sure that anything has changed now that I’m a so-called grown-up with a job and anyone could search for my witterings – perhaps I’m more likely to share my feels (limited to scifi, very little to do with life events)? I don’t think I’ve ever put anything online that I wouldn’t want someone to find – I’ve looked back at those early LJ days and there’s nothing embarassing, though it is like looking in a mirror at someone wholly unrecognisable to me now.

Films in 2017 and stuff

I figure it’s time for my annual round up of the new films I saw this year as it’s getting towards the end of the year and, having taken a look at what’s on offer for the next couple of weeks at my local cinema, I don’t think I’ll be adding to the list. You never know though, so maybe I’ll reserve the right to revise this review closer to the end of the year.

I’m going to start with the “and stuff” of the title – my favourite band, AFI, released a new album this year (and once again did not tour in the UK) and, of course, it is awesome. Davey Havok released an album with his sideproject, Dreamcar, and that was pretty good too. The stand-out albums for me aren’t either of these albums (as much as I love them). No, the two albums that have been on repeat in my car all year (pretty much) are Dave Hause’s “Bury Me in Philly” and Maxïmo Park’s “Risk to Exist” – and Maxïmo Park’s album sat in its shrink-wrap for like two weeks before I even opened it (I opened it AS SOON AS I GOT HOME from seeing them live and hearing all the really great new songs). Continue reading “Films in 2017 and stuff”