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

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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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Here Are Your Best Picture Nominees [In VICE]

January 10, 2013

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Amour
Two old married people face the fact that even true love won’t save them from death. I think they both die in the end; one from a blood clot, the other from loneliness. I didn’t see it because I’ve seen this movie before. In REAL LIFE. My maternal grandma died before my grandpa. He was with her in the hospital, holding her hand and saying, “Oh, my little Libby. My sweet Libby.” Jesus Christ, it was so miserable. I can’t believe I’m writing this on the internet. Later on, when my grandpa was living in a home, he spent his days flirting with nurses and re-reading the first few pages of the same three James Patterson novels that were in his room. I guess Cher was right: There is life after love.

Continue reading.

 

 

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All in the Family [in VICE]

November 28, 2012

A high school friend of mine used to live in the Syrian Jewish neighborhood of Gravesend, Brooklyn, down near Coney Island. He described it as an insular, conservative, and somewhat bizarre ethnic enclave that included many opulent houses.

As we were putting together this issue, we realized that coordinating a fashion shoot inside Syria would void our insurance. So I got back in touch with my old friend and asked whether he knew of any families who might be willing to be photographed and possibly interviewed. I stressed that it would be a respectful, straightforward fashion spread, and he was kind enough to put out some feelers.

Here’s one of the responses sent to my friend from the father of a Syrian Jewish family (extended ellipses have been left intact): “Definitely not interested….. We do not like articles written about our community…… It is bad press, which causes unwanted attention…. Please discourage your friend from writing this piece….”

Continue reading.

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The Editor of Chihuahua Connection Magazine Doesn’t Understand Me

March 30, 2011

I submitted my third piece to Chihuahua Connection magazine back in October. It was a prose poem that I consider to be my finest work yet. The editor also liked the piece and she said she would publish it in the January/February issue. But she was lying. A few weeks later she wrote me an email saying a couple of things needed to be changed before she could publish it. It needed to be “a little less personal,” she wrote, and she pointed out a few problem areas which I needed to rewrite.

A little less personal? A LITTLE LESS PERSONAL? What sort of editor tells a poet his work needs to be a little less personal?

Like Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton and John Berryman, I’m a confessional poet, OK. Confessional poets write about their demons, OK. Doing so releases their demons, and that shit’s therapeutic. Those famous guys wrote poems about love and madness; I write poems about love and chihuahuas. We’re not too different. But I doubt any of their editors refused to publish a piece because it was too personal. Poets had it easier back then.

At first I wasn’t going to play ball. If Chihuahua Connection didn’t want the piece, fine. I would just publish it on my website. Or, better yet, I’d hide it in a drawer for a relative to discover after I die. But once again, I fell victim to my own vanity. I enjoy few things more than seeing my name printed on glossy paper. Having another byline in print (print!) would surely make up for any lost integrity.

I’m ashamed to admit it, but I gave in and submitted a new version. If you want to waste your time, you can read it below. But first, please enjoy the original piece. (Hey you folks at Norton and any other poetry-anthologizing outfits, please use the original version if you ever want to anthologize this puppy.)

Will I be submitting to Chihuahua Connection in the future? No. Another shame this heavy would be too much to bear.

The Original Version

Chihuahua Sign Language
by Ryan Grim

Like most Chihuahuas, my Cody can’t talk. But he does communicate with me. Over the years he’s created his own language. It’s like sign language, but he uses his whole body, not just his paws. Here are some of the ways he tells me what he’s thinking and feeling:

What he does: Rolls around on the floor.
What it means: He wants to me to roll on the floor with him and act like I’m a huge Chihuahua.

What he does: Extends his paw like he wants to shake hands.
What it means: He’s saying, Cheer up, Ryan. Touch my paw. It’s warm. You’re not alone in this world. I’m here for you to love. Touch my paw.

What he does: Wags his tiny tail.
What it means: He’s saying, Today is gonna be a happy day. We’re not going to lie on the floor and think about the things we’d like to say to Dana. We’re not going to call the retirement home where Dana’s dad lives and tell the manager there that Dana’s dad has figured out how to steal quarters from the soda machine. If they knew that he’s the one who’s been doing that, he would surely be kicked out. He’d have to move in with Dana and that would be a colossal hassle for her. It’s fun to think about the havoc you could wreak on her life. But when I wag my tail it means that we’re not gonna think about that today.

What he does: Sticks out his tongue.
What it means: He’s saying, I’m thirsty. Give me water. And I’ll accept tap water. I’m sorry for being a pill and refusing to drink tap water that one time. It was because last New Year’s Eve you spoiled me with Perrier and since then I’ve been longing to feel those sweet bubbles on my tongue. But I’m trying to get over it. I’ll gladly drink tap water now. Heck, I’ll even drink from the hose if you want to teach me a lesson about being grateful for things.

What he does: Blinks eight times.
What it means: The first blink means: Dana. The second blink means: doesn’t. The third blink means: love. The fourth blink means: you. The fifth blink means: but. The sixth blink means: I. The seventh blink means: always. The eighth blink means: will. So, when Cody blinks eight times he’s saying this: Dana doesn’t love you but I always will.

What he does: Scratches page 35 of the March/April 2010 issue of his favorite magazine, Chihuahua Connection. (His picture was published on that page.)
What it means: He’s saying, What’s going on here? How am I in this magazine and in Ryan’s apartment at the same time? Which Cody is the real Cody, me or the one in the magazine? Am I a real thing?

What he does: Hops up and down.
What it means: He’s saying, Put on my leash and let’s go for a walk in the park and look for women aged 35 to 50 who are also walking a Chihuahua. Once we find one, I’ll sniff her Chihuahua’s genitals and you’ll apologize on my behalf and then you’ll ask the woman if she wants to get coffee sometime. It worked on Dana. It has to work again.

The Bastardized Version That Was Published in the March 2011 Issue

[Back in March 2010, I was annoyed that one of Ross Bunch's comics was published on a better page than my poem. It's a year later now and look, we're on the same page. I like to think it's because my work has improved since March 2010. As for the quality of Bunch's work? Well, I'm not going to outright slam a fellow contributor to Chihuahua Connection, but I will offer this critique: Bunch's comic in the March 2011 issue makes no sense and neither do any of his other comics.]

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I Am Satisfied With the Way the Editor of Chihuahua Connection Magazine Published My Poem

October 5, 2010

After the editor of Chihuahua Connection magazine botched my poem back in March, I said I would never again submit to the publication. But I am a vain man. I enjoy few things more than seeing my name in print. So I submitted another poem and it was accepted for publication in the September/October issue.

My first poem was published in the Brag Book section. Brag Book is where the editor publishes anything readers send her about their dogs, no matter how idiotic it is. Real artistic work is not published in Brag Book. This time my poem ran in the actual magazine alongside a poem by Teri Wilson, author of the column “Chihuahuas Are Better Than Facelifts,” which won the Pet Sitters International Humor Award for best dog-humor writing in 2009. One day I too will win this award.

I will be submitting more work to Chihuahua Connection in the future.

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I Am Dissatisfied With the Way the Editor of Chihuahua Connection Magazine Published My Poem

March 17, 2010

I have two problems with the way the editor of Chihuahua Connection magazine published my poem, “My Chihuahua, Letter By Letter.”

Problem No. 1: My original submission was formatted as an acrostic of the word Chihuahua. Words beginning with the letters C, H, I, H and so on were supposed to be on the left margin. The editor did not publish it this way. In the published version (see below) the word Irrational is capitalized in the middle of the second line and Understand is capitalized in the tenth line. This makes no sense whatsoever.

Problem No. 2: The poem appears in the Brag Book section, which is on the inside of the back cover. Anyone with a chihuahua and an internet connection can get their shit in Brag Book. My poem is a thoughtful piece of work that I ruminated over, executed, and then workshopped with three poet friends. It’s not merely a product of my own vanity (I’m looking at you, Cynthia Regaldo of Hacienda Heights, Calif.).  I was hoping for a half-page spread, ideally in the front of the book with the chihuahua comics.

I will not be submitting to Chihuahua Connection in the future.

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ryanthomasgrim [AT] gmail
Published Work

Page 1: The Fox in the Garage

How I Started a Family

Do We Need Cynar?

Gary 1 and Gary 2

I Work at a Fashionable Hotel Called the Hudson

C.O.D.Y. the Robot Who Hangs Out

Ann and Her Birdhouses

Luke and His Bobber

The Fox in the Garage in 3-D

105 Stories About Ohio

Bits

The Slugman of Herbert Street

Harold and the Purple Women

Video

Dos Factotum

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