For those of us with pre-existing mental health issues, Rona has laid an extra layer of FUD on us. Reach out. In my region (the Midlands), try TRENT PTS for online counselling. Don’t feel you’re going on or that people are bored of hearing about your mental health, don’t suffer needlessly.
For those of you who were previously okay in terms of mental issues, your current suffering is valid, is important, don’t feel like you can’t share it or also reach out. You may never have done this before, you may be worry about being stigmatised. Please don’t – if you need help, please try and get some.
All around me, my friends are in pain and feel lonely. I phone / Zoom them but that can only do so much. We’re a species that should be sitting around, snacking on berries and grooming each other. The way you punish a human is to put them in solitary.
Things are frayed, I’ve gone a bit asocial and had to apologise for being stilted and weird in convos. And my normal personality is a bloke who goes alone on stage with an acoustic guitar and invites 200 strangers to listen to him sing for forty minutes. I am not shy normally. So, if I’m feeling the effects, I can only imagine what it must be like for the actual shy people out there. I’m sending you hugs in particular.
Be kind to people. Cut them some slack cos we’re all going doolally. Send your friends a card or text or some chocs or whatever. Let people know you love them. Give them a virtual boop on the nose. x
Last night, I dreamt about him. The dreams were calm, it was like he hadn’t died and he was asking how I was while he was reading a paper and smoking his pipe. God, I used to love watching the whole rigmarole of him patiently cleaning, filling and then smoking his pipe. When I was little, I’d always nick his pipe-cleaning penknife and marvel at the assort of prongs and teeny scrapers.
I told him about the girl I’m in love with and showed him pictures. His comments were perfectly him: “Well, she’s very pretty! If she has a brain, too, she may be good for you. Be careful you don’t lose her!”
I’ll try not to, Dad. I’ll try.
When I woke up, I thought, ‘oh, I should give him a ring, have a chat!’ And than I remembered I couldn’t. It was that liminal moment between dream and reality where everything slumps back down on your shoulders and a small storm of despair rises and falls in the space of a second.
So I had a cry and then got on with the morning; the routine of showering, shaving and then trying to remember the good, happy times with him.
“Superheroes are part of your brainless desire to replace true experience with simulation. You don’t talk, you watch talk shows. You don’t play games, you watch game shows. Travel, relationships, risk; every meaningful experience must be packaged and delivered to you to watch at a distance so that you can remain ever-sheltered, ever-passive, ever-ravenous consumers who can’t free themselves to rise from their couches, break a sweat, and participate in life.”
Screenslaver from Incredibles 2 or Marcuse… you decide…
By my standards, this was a pretty ordinary dream. The only thing that makes it stand out is the synthesis part. Well, and my co-inventers but they aren’t really real in the way that an idea can be real although it was dreamt.
Teri Garr is still alive so it’s possible she could have been in my dream through some kind of telepathic link but Robert Vaughn passed away in 2016. While I’ll maybe stretch to telepathy with living people, communicating with the spirit realm is a stretch for a good old fashioned dialectical materialist like me.
In the dream, Vaughn was Napoleon Solo-aged and Garr was pretty much as she appears in the Star Trek episode ‘Assignment Earth.’ But they weren’t their characters, they were just themselves, chatting as actors do about various acting gigs, the perils of local theatre and who was a Method bore.
I was entranced just to be in the same room with them. Thinking back, the room was very TOS-like; grey walls, weird polygonal desk for no reason, the mise-en-scene was very Trek.
On the table in front of us is a tray. It’s about one metre by seventy-five cm. The edge is lipped to contain what appears to be thousands of gems. When I pick one up, it’s about the shape and size of a Pez but with straight sides at the ends, a point instead of a curve. One face is shiny, silver, metallic. The other is a translucent gemstone. There are various colours of gem and, I now notice, various colours on the tray. Between the zones, there are no hard lines, rather gradations and sometimes subtle stripings of colour.
Garr urges me to move some of the VCO gems around. Then I realise that one of the green piles of gems was the same colour as its base which is labelled ‘VCO 1’. Being a East Coast synthesis sort, I grab a handful of gems and plonk them in an area marked ‘LFO 1.’ Then I touch a the lip of the tray which, somehow, I know is the equivalent of pressing a key on a normal synth.
Woah! Vibrato! But not much… hmmmm… I take some more VCO gems and plonk them in the LFO area. More depth! AHA! But how the hell do I change the frequency of the LFO or the waveform? I notice that both the LFO and VCO areas have waveforms inscribed in certain areas, sawtooth, square, squiggly. I move some of the LFO gems into the sawtooth area… ahhhh… the vibrato changes to a more squarey stridulation. I’m getting well into this – what else can I heap and where?
It’s at this point of the dream that I’m basically pushing gems all over the place, swirling them with my finger and delighting in what comes out. I’ve gone full West Coast now, NO RAGRETS.
And then… seriously… the synth makes the Emergency Phone noise from The Man From UNCLE. Yes, my brain did this to me.
So, I turn to Robert Vaughn and say, “Hey, it’s that sound from the Man From… oh my god… it’s you! You’re Napoleon Solo!” He looks a little embarrassed and Teri giggles.
It’s then that my stupid brain makes me realise I am, in fact, naked in a thin dressing gown and my knackers are on full view of these two fantastic actors. Soooo, inevitably, I wake out of my beautiful synthesis dream.
But what do you think of the interface, eh? It’s doable, isn’t it? We could do it now, virtually, in something like Microsoft’s Hololens. And I’m pretty sure we could do it in real life. If every gem contained an RFID and the table was continuously scanning for their position. I would even add in variables like height-from-table or heat? Anything to give more ways to control the variables. If you weighted them differently, you could sort them quite simply, too, just pour the tray into a sorter.
I was out at Rock City this Saturday and a cool thing happened.
There was a small group of girls out and one of them was taller and so stood out. She had a gorgeous face, flowing hair and looked a little like a young Charlotte Rampling.
As she walked closer on her way to the bar, I realised that she was a he. And then, no, a she. And then, in truth, I realised that they were a they. It’s very rare I see actual, presenting as non-binary people out clubbing so I was surprised and pleased.
Pleased because I go to clubs that would have been called “alternative” in the ‘80s. The nights I go to are mostly pop punk and rock with, very occasionally, a dance night thrown in if I don’t get overwhelmed by the stench of poppers on the way in.
You would think that alt nights have alt people at them. And you would e very, very slightly right; most of the people in the Basement at City would call themselves different based on their music taste or perhaps clothes / style. Y’know – grebs.
Sadly, I know from experience that just because you sing along to RATM or The King Blues, it doesn’t actually mean you’re a revolutionary. Indeed, bands like ADTR often have gangs of lads as fans who, in the US, would be called jocks. These lads are un-reconstructed racists, sexists and homophobes. They are also so pigshit thick that they don’t even realise they are any of these things. You know the kind of bloke I mean ~ Edgelords who think propagating racist memes is somehow challenging some status quo somewhere.
So, it was with a little worry that I watched this very drunk NB kid weave their way across the dance floor, being quite touchy and flirty as they passed people. They were very def on a mission. The reaction they got was, sadly, pretty much what I expected: blokes would do a double take and then, masculinity threatened, have to take the piss and establish that THEY WERE NOT AT ALL GAY as much as possible to any women watching. The lasses weren’t quite as bad but there was still a fair amount of piss-taking. Thankfully, there was no actual physical confrontation.
Well, after doing a couple more trawls round the dance floor in this manner, the baby Rampling did a face of disdain and headed off to another floor. Clearly, the people on this floor didn’t appreciate their brilliance enough. And, to be fair, they didn’t. It was pearls before swine.
I really, really wish I’d got a picture of them so you could see I’m not exaggerating. Maybe next time!