Deep Cuts from 1991

April 25, 2015

future plans

thinner

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I Took My Girlfriend to a Speech Therapist to Cure Her Vocal Fry

April 1, 2015

Holy shit, I started dating someone, and it’s not going terribly—yet. She’s fun to drink with and likes eating steak and watching Tim and Eric, and what else could you want? She’s little. I can throw her around my apartment like a sack of onions. She doesn’t get too upset when I say she looks like a Senegal bush baby and behaves like Jabba the Hutt’s tiny henchman Salacious Crumb. She’s younger than I am, and I’ve taken to serenading her with Urge Overkill’s “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon,” which she hates so much but I guess tolerates because she hasn’t dumped me. She doesn’t have a gunt whatsoever but puts up with me poking her where a gunt would be and saying, “Mmm, I love that gunt, baby.” These are all good signs!

There’s one problem, though. Sometimes her voice is so annoying I wish I were deaf. Like many young women in the US, she has vocal fry. You’ve probably talked to someone who has vocal fry or read an article about it and how it can hurt young people’s chances of getting a job. It’s a low, croaky, drawn out way of talking that’s often most noticeable at the end of a sentence. Think Kim Kardashian or Ke$ha, or that girl at your office no one likes talking to because she ends every sentence in a question. (For the record, my girlfriend’s very intelligent. She’s a beautiful, smart girl with a dumb basic-bish vocal cords.)

While her vocal fry comes and goes, here’s what she sounds like some of the time.

It’s not always that bad, I swear.

Even when the actual words coming out of her mouth are well chosen and witty, the way in which they’re delivered can be so grating it’s hard to pay attention. Sometimes I can’t take it, so I’ll say, “You’re frying so hard right now,” and she’ll revert to a pleasant cadence. As much as I care for her, I couldn’t imagine listening to herrrrrrrr fryyyyy forrrrr my entire life. I was left two options: I could end things, citing irreconcilable auditory differences; or I could try to change her.

I decided to man up and made an appointment with Marissa Barrera, a leading speech-language pathologist and part owner of the ASPIRE therapy center in Manhattan. She’s taught at Columbia University and Hunter College, and is putting together a speech-pathology program at Yeshiva University. If anyone could fix my bush baby’s shitty voice, it was her. Barrera was bubbly, media-trained, and eager to teach us about vocal fry and how it can be treated. Here’s what she had to say:

Continue reading over at VICE.

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The Virtual Reality Gold Rush

March 20, 2015

the-virtual-reality-gold-rush-0000598-v22n3-body-image-1425427293

A few weeks ago, I found myself in Spike Jonze’s Chinatown home dodging Syrian kids as they played soccer. I was wearing a headset that had me immersed in a 360-degree virtual reality documentary shot at a refugee camp in Jordan. As I turned my head to follow the action on the field, I lost my balance and kicked the leg of the nearby kitchen table. I wasn’t used to watching a convincing virtual reality movie (who is?) and felt bested by technology, like when an old person is listening to a museum’s audio tour on headphones and keeps shouting at people because she can’t hear her own voice.

The film was one of three that Jonze and the director Chris Milk had me experience using the headset. There was also an animation in which you’re standing in the middle of a lake. A train chugs across the lake, right at you, and then through you, exploding into hundreds of birds. The third film is composed of super-close-up footage of protesters demonstrating at an anti-police-brutality march in Manhattan (it was produced in partnership with VICE News, and Jonze is a longtime VICE creative director). The company behind these movies is VRSE, a virtual reality production house founded by Milk and backed by Annapurna Pictures’ Megan Ellison and venture-capital cash. VRSE has impressed the entertainment industry at Sundance and global leaders at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The possible future of VRSE has Jonze and Milk ecstatic, like it’s the early days of filmmaking and they’re Eadweard Muybridge. And while the thrill you get from watching the movies can be hard to describe, it’s safe to say these guys are on to something, even if no one’s quite sure what that is yet.

I interviewed them while Jonze softly strummed an acoustic guitar.

Continue reading over at VICE.

 

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Trumpet Fight

October 15, 2013

A related post: Trumpet.

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Die, My Love

August 15, 2013

 

 

Transcribed from strangers’ conversations on a Long Island Rail Road train on August 2, 2013.

Characters:

Shorts: A young woman wearing shorts whose name was never mentioned, or, if it was, I didn’t hear it.

Thomas: Shorts’ boyfriend who is sitting across the aisle from Shorts.

Mariah: A young woman sitting next to Shorts.

 

*

 

[They are drinking white wine and eating sandwiches.]

 

*

 

Mariah: My sandwich is stale. I can’t believe we have to put up with Peter and Skylar

 

Shorts: Skylar has a dog. A lot of people get in tomorrow.

 

Thomas: Virginia is getting in tomorrow.

 

Mariah: Where is our house?

 

Thomas: Amagansett

 

Mariah: Who knew the Hamptons were such a challenge?

[Read More]

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Boys Are Unconscious

August 14, 2013

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Philip Glass vs. Terry Riley

August 13, 2013

 

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