05 May 2017

Constructed Action

by Cecily
Here's a video I like watching:



Besides watching it, I also like thinking about it. Almost enough to make me want to write a Discourse Analysis paper about it. But not quite. I'll totally write a Discourse Rambling Observations blog post, though.

There's a lot going on in this song, discourse-wise, even before you get to the ASL version. Multiple times and places and Mental Spaces! It's a complex setup that is very elegantly conveyed with minimal overt description or explanation- both in the song's English lyrics and also in this ASL rendition.

The main, current-tense event is Bridesmaid-Angelica leading some toasts at Eliza and Alexander's wedding. That's "now" in the musical; the grounding framework for the song. Within that, Narrator-Angelica steps out of time to reminisce about the night she, Eliza, and Alexander all met (at a revel, on a hot night). Narrator-Angelica has some comments to make about this night, but also allows Revel-Night-Angelica to tell her own story and also comment on the (current-to-her) procedings.

Container-story: Bridesmaid-Angelica is asked to give a toast, and does so. Mid-toast, she allows Narrator-Angelica to reflect on a previous occasion.
Narrative/Commentary: Narrator-Angelica is aware of (maybe becomes aware of?) the significance of the night in the past when the Schuylers met Hamilton for the first time, leading to the current container-story wedding and toast.
Revel-Night-Angelica describes meeting Hamilton, falling for him, gauging his suitability, noticing her sister's infatuation, and introducing Alexander to Eliza. She steps in and out of the action here, sometimes participating (Revel-Night-Angelica) and sometimes commenting (Revel-Night-Narrator-Angelica).
But it's not just the four phases of Angelica being depicted in this song- Revel-Night-Eliza and Revel-Night-Hamilton also appear, in first person. So in both the English and the ASL versions of the song, the performers (Renée Elise Goldsberry and Josh Castille) are, from within the role of current-time-wedding-Angelica, taking on a number of additional roles. However, in the English rendition, the actors portraying Eliza and Hamilton use their own voices to play themselves in the past-Revel-Night sequence. In the ASL version, the lone performer manages to portray not just the various Angelicas but also Eliza and Hamilton, with no costume changes or anything.

Josh Castille has some chops! The translation is excellent, and his performance is excellent, and also this dude has like the most expressive face the universe has ever known. Here are my favorite moments:
  • 3:03 Angelica being a snot-head to Alexander. Her refusal to look at him (and obvious concern that someone else might be watching) is a very convincing addition to the song's content.
  • 4:00-4:10 Angelica noticing Eliza being in love. In particular I am very fond of the heart-shaped-eyes at 4:08.
  • Alexander at 5:02. I laughed out loud the first time I watched this- it's dead-on Generic Straight Dude Showing Off signing for about 3 seconds. (The rest of the time, Alexander is much more of a real, individual person.)
There are lots of other nice moments and translation decisions and facial expressions, too, but I think the most impressive aspect overall is the clarity of the (frequent, very fast-paced) switches between characters. Camerawork helps with some of that, but it's mostly very well-thought-out decisions about posture and eye gaze, plus the thing about the most expressive face in the universe. And he probably practiced a few times.

28 April 2017

Sportsball

by Cecily
I've started co-managing a local Special Olympics team*. We just finished up the Area Spring Games, and the State Summer Games are in two weeks.** The org chart for the Special Olympics program in general cracks me up, as do many group-specific rules about what to call different things and people and roles. It works great once you get it figured out! But I have a lot of conversations that stumble around for several minutes because we're using the word "team" in very different senses.

A Special Olympics team is not a group of people who play games of a particular type of sport together. A Special Olympics team is basically just a group of people. People who have intellectual disabilities, but otherwise that's about it. Some teams are related to schools, so the people on those teams have that in common, but the Platonic Ideal Special Olympics team has no such affiliation. My own personal team has members ages 18-70 who live all over the Greater Missoula Metropolitan Area. (I hope that's not really a thing people call it.) And officially it's not actually a team, it's a Local Program. Colloquially a team, though.

The people who participate in Special Olympics are not called Special Olympians. This was included in my training. They are called "athletes" (or "runners" or "swimmers" or whatever). Not Special Olympians. Do not use the term "Special Olympian" on any flier or newsletter or banner or anything else that you make.

Huh. Okay. That's an... interesting rule to emphasize so much. What's up?

The International Olympic Committee is a huge brat, that's what. (A huge bunch of brats? A bunch of huge brats? Let's treat it as a person for simplicity and grammar.) They care a lot about who else uses names that have any Olympic/Olympian in them. I sort of knew this, because when I was 5 or 6 my mom coached an Olympics of the Mind team and then they had to change the name to Odyssey of the Mind because the IOC made them. The IOC does not want any scrappy little smartypants kids or intellectually disabled athletes diluting their brand. If you video part of a local event, and the video includes a banner that says "Welcome Special Olympians!" then that part of the video cannot be made available publicly or used in any promotional materials because we don't want the IOC to find out.***

So. The athletes are on the team. Where do the sports and coaches come in? Pretty haphazardly, that's how! Each Local Program (team) finds out what sports the athletes want to do, and then finds coaches for those sports, and figures out how to work out practice space and equipment and whatnot. How many coaches per athlete depends on availability and which sport it is. (Downhill skiing is generally 1:1; soccer maybe 2 or 3 coaches per 5 or 6 athletes?)

The people who find the coaches and ask the athletes and set up schedules and practice spaces and equipment are the Local Program Coordinator (I will think of a pseudonym for him later) and the Assisstant Local Program Coordinator (me). Typically called the LPC. "Okay, we need all the head coaches and LPCs back here for a meeting at 9."  "Are you a coach?" "No, I'm the LPC."  (Turns out the Special Olympics culture is well toward the 'government' end of the acronym-usage spectrum.)

Then the coaches and athletes for each sport practice together for a couple of months until they go to an area competition and then a state competition, and then the season is over and different sports start up.*****

Anyway I say I'm helping run a Special Olympics team and people keep asking me "what sport does your team play?" and "what the hell are you doing coaching a sportsing team?".  And the answer is surprisingly (and annoyingly!) long and complicated. "Well, the team doesn't actually play a sport, and I'm not actually coaching anything..." Stopping there seems enigmatic to the point of rudeness, and I haven't figured out a place to stop (or way to summarize) that provide sufficient but not excessive information.

The end.



*This is something I tease myself about fairly often. In high school I was very snottily anti-sport. Who would do or watch THOSE? Ugh, jocks. Let's go make a poorly-thought-out (but kind of dumbly hilarious) movie based on American History instead. Also all my ideas related to stuff for the team to do are basically art projects. I keep having to remind myself that the whole point of this undertaking is playing organized sports.

Also, it is really fun and rewarding and I highly recommend getting involved (as a coach or something, managing a team takes quite a bit of time) with your local program.

**It is bizarre/hilarious to me that the State Summer Games are in May. It is to follow the school year (because there are school-based teams), but I still think it's a silly idea. May in Montana is not summer. Spring happens very slowly here, dragging out the process unbearably. April is only tentatively spring. The first whiff of spring. Spring's toe, testing the water.  I mean, I guess it doesn't matter what you call the competition**** ("You could call it Bob instead" as my dissertation adviser was fond of saying about more things than you might imagine) as long as everyone knows which sports are in it and when it's held.

I still think it's funny though.

***The IOC also has strong opinions about when you can use the word "the". That is, basically, you can't use Special Olympics as a noun. You can say "we're going to the Special Olympics state winter games" but not "we're going to the Special Olympics". The training program heavily emphasized these language rules but only lightly touched on which sports are available to pick from or how much the court size is different from standard. Hopefully nobody from the higher-ups reads this blog; if you do, I'm just teasing. Have as many hyperspecific rules about language as you want, my friend.

****Or maybe it does? I mean it doesn't matter what you call it but maybe it matters when it is. Maybe doing sports during actual summer is fundamentally different than doing them during the spring. Does it change how fast you run, or just how hot and sweaty you get? These are things I do not know, being an eschewer of many types of physical activity.

*****There is more to it than that, because there are National and World events, but my understanding of that part of the setup is extremely hazy.

11 April 2017

undo

by Cecily
Because of my unrealistically rare disease, I spend a lot of days in bed. I look at the ceiling a lot. I read a lot. I watch a lot of things on Netflix. I find many, many YouTube videos of people dancing and of Sesame Street covers of songs.

But lately I've also been wasting many hours playing Thimbleweed Park, which is a new point-and-click adventure puzzle game pretending to be an early 90s point-and-click adventure puzzle game, set in 1987. My brother gave it to me for my birthday. I recommend it. It is full of many ridiculous jokes and tasks and references to other video games and pop culture in general.

Whenever I spend a lot of time doing something on a computer, I start expecting real life to be similar. Like, writing a lot of papers and spreadsheets, I kept thinking "control F" when I lost my keys and "control Z" when I spilled coffee.

The adventure game effect is weirder. For one, in Thimbleweed Park one of the ongoing  jokes is picking up specks of dust wherever you see them. Then if you "look at" them, the character says "It's my specks of dust." They're randomly distributed all over, on the floors and streets, little tiny white squares (they're "pixels", from the olden days when you could see pixels.")

Recently I noticed that I've been subconsciously keeping an eye out for specks of dust to pick up, as I go about my daily life. (So far I haven't found any.)

And when I'm about to do something irrevocable with an uncertain outcome (resetting the stereo on my car was a recent example) I have a deep internal urge to save the game, so I can come back and do this part over if everything goes to shit.

I really wish we had saved the game last summer.

28 February 2017

The naming of things

by Cecily
Everyone said I should name the monsters, and put their names on their Etsy listings and make little name tags for them. I said I didn't want to, because half the fun of getting a new stuffed animal is naming it, and it's stupid when they come with names, and then I learned that this is an area in which my preferences are outliers.


Anyway THEN I said, fine, but I need some like 3-year-olds or something to help me think of crazy names. I got some participation from some 3-year-olds and a 6-year-old, but then I made more monsters. So eventually I gave in and made up some names myself. I've been spending a lot of time looking up cryptids on Wikipedia.


And in addition to Zombie Jamboree, singing songs to myself that are about names, and making things, including that very nice Andrew Bird one I just put the video to, but more often and more persistently this one:


Which has many lines that are compatible with monster-making.  "We can make him tall, or we can make him not-so-tall!" "We can name him Bob, or we can name him Beowulf!".

Expect to see some monsters named Bob and Beowulf, is what I'm saying. Also email me if you think of any good monster names.

20 February 2017

drink the koolaid

by Cecily
What with the end times being so nigh and all, I've been reconsidering and revising my old idea about how to rule the world (or whatever is left of it) as the leader of a new and innovative cult.

I learned how to design a cult in college: my year, the Junior Sem for Religion majors was all about cults and sects and evangelicals and schismatic groups, and what makes some of them turn into world-dominating religions and others of them retire to middle chapters of obscure textbooks. It turns out there are several things one needs to consider, when designing a cult. You need some ideology, first of all, and the ideology should be carefully positioned so that it is in a fair amount of tension with the mainstream world, so you can create a strong us-vs.-them atmosphere, but not TOO much tension or you'll never get off the ground. Same thing for some ritual practices and observances; you want some obvious visual and behavioral signals for the cult members to identify each other and be ostracized by everyone else, but they can't be so crazy that no one is willing to do them.

Then you recruit some lonely people who are far away from, or don't have, any strong support networks, and you give them lots of attention and love and tell them a program about how to advance higher and higher through the levels of the cult (did I mention you should have some levels? Your cult needs different levels of power and enlightenment.) and find a house or a compound or something, for everyone to congregate in, and boom. Cult!

Anyway MY cult is gonna be based around diet. I got this idea from two sources: the first was my roommate Alyssa who was eating vegan at the time, and the second is those Manichean Gnostics who contributed to the sorting of matter back into Lightness and Darkness by eating shiny things (like fruit) to absorb (or breathe out) the light and excrete the dark.

So obviously I can't use either of those specifically, because a successful cult needs to be a new and weird idea. So my cult is based on an anti-vegan diet, where you are only allowed to eat things that are animal-based. No plants. I haven't finished working out the ideology behind this, but I think something about consolidating animal energy? Or protecting and venerating plants? Or maybe just separating animal matter from plant matter. Like, when all the animal energy has been concentrated and separated from the plant energy, that's when the work of the physical realm will be complete and our spirits will released back into the garden. Or something. Like I said I haven't finished thinking about this part.

The part I like thinking about is the actual diet. It is so, so gross! The only kind of alcohol you are allowed to drink is mead. Bacon-infused vodka is not allowed, because the animal matter has to be an intrinsic part of the food. No putting a slice of cheese on a slice of apple. Throw that apple away! Instead, you would be allowed to have an apple-flavored, apple-shaped piece of jello, if you like. You can have a hamburger but the buns have to be pieces of fried chicken. (I'm expecting several American-based fast food joints to get on board with me relatively quickly.) No lettuce, though, and no pickles, and the ketchup has to have a beef stock base.

As you move up in the hierarchy of this thrilling new religion, you will gain some privileges related to vegetable consumption. It's mainly the entry-level neophytes who have to do the hard-core digestive work. Later there'd be a point system or something, like when the Pope used to let you buy indulgences.

Obviously the #1 position is taken, by me, but I prefer to work as the power behind the throne, and not necessarily as the object of any adulation myself. I envision myself more like Bannon, you know, less like Trump. So there are a number of high-level bishopric-level slots available, and I really think this is going to go places. In times of turmoil, people turn to leaders who have a reassuring list of What To Do Next for them. You and I, we can be those leaders. I'm almost done with the list, and the times of turmoil are upon us.

06 February 2017

It's not Monster Mash

by Cecily
I've been making a lot more of these ridiculous monsters.
I'm learning a lot of things about which kinds of fake fur are the most annoying to sew with, and which kinds of eyes are the cutest, and how to make teeth. Et cetera. Also I am fiddling around with some different patterns, trying to figure out a few that work consistently and don't make me too crazy.

It took me a while to realize that I have been singing this blast from the past to myself regularly for a few weeks. Pretty much since I started working on the patterns, actually.


Huh. That's weird. I wonder why?


02 February 2017

Metaphorical interpretation is left as an exercise for the reader

by Cecily
Here's what I've learned from having a [mysterious, undiagnosed] debilitating chronic illness: When you have a system that's in failure, and you don't know what's wrong with it, you have to keep going. You have to keep trying to fix it, even though you lose hope, each time, that a new remedy will have any effect. You have to keep making plans for next week even though you might be too sick to show up. You have to pretend, to everyone else and to yourself, that there is a possibility that things will get better. You have to pretend to believe that someday soon somebody is going to identify the source of the problem and they will know how to fix it and your insurance will pay for the fixing and everything will go back to normal. You have to keep behaving like you believe this, even when you're sure it's just going to get worse and worse. You have to say to yourself "if there WERE a possibility that things would get better, what would I need to be doing with my time?" And then you keep going to see more doctors, and you keep trying new cures, and you keep alleviating the symptoms as much as you can, and you keep behaving as though you believe there is a chance  that it will get better soon. You have to, because no matter how doomed and hopeless you think the situation is, what if you're wrong?

13 January 2017

Happy New Year!

by Cecily
I waited two weeks before posting a Happy New Year post because I didn't want MY post to get lost in the ocean of Happy New Year posts I know everyone nearly drowned in. That and also I didn't think of it until just now. Here we are anyway! Good job surviving the holidays, everyone.

New year, new state: Montana. Which isn't actually a new state, or even new to me. Gently used, though. In far better shape than your average state. I'll take it!

I tried to go to Portland this week, but, having neglected to sufficiently appease the weather gods with burnt (or other) offerings, I only made it halfway. I lazed around my aunt and uncle's house in Kennewick and read all their books and drank all their wine, all week, and then finally gave up and drove back to Missoula today. I'll try again in February.

Meanwhile, I arrived home to an even larger pile of fake fur and glitter than I left behind me, so I have some work to do.


08 October 2016

Double gauze baby quilt

by Cecily
I tried really hard to think of a double dactyl to write about quilts, or quilting, or fabric, but it didn't happen. I'm sorry.





21 August 2016

Tiny Circus

by Cecily
The giraffe is about an inch tall.

05 August 2016

I finished making some things.

by Cecily
1. That quilt I just made the fancy gif about:

2. Some ridiculous(ly) fancy soft blocks:

Baby presents!

31 July 2016

More circles

by Cecily
It's not done yet. Also I don't really know how to make gifs.


via GIPHY

13 July 2016

Hearing people are such crybabies

by Cecily
"It's too loud! Tell me later!" Yeah, trying to have a conversation using spoken language when you can barely hear anything is a lot of work. Suck it up, whiners. Pay closer attention! Use more of your energy trying to figure out what words might make sense there! Think harder about cues like facial expressions and prosody! WORK HARDER, you spoiled, lazy brats! Oh, I'm sorry, are you tired? Does the baby need a nap?

I swear I'm a nice person most of the time.

27 June 2016

The cathedrals of our time

by Cecily
Texas is real serious about its highways and interchanges. I knew this, of course, from having studied the very informative documentary David Byrne made about this state years ago. However, as is the case with other sorts of cathedrals from other times, actually visiting the highways in person is a very different experience than just looking at pictures.


Not that the pictures are anything to be sneezed at, either.

I will admit that driving under and/or over them has its own brand of numinosity.


The system of frontage roads is also at a highly advanced level. There's a learning curve. I'm on it.

"Well, I suppose these freeways made this town and a lot of others like it possible.  'They're the cathedrals of our time,' someone said.  Not me."