cardigan's recent activity

  1. Comment on NENA - 99 Luftballons (1983) in ~music

    cardigan
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    I used to be in a band that covered this song a few times, basically in gibberish. The only line I could remember and sing reliably was "Und fühlten sich gleich angemacht!" because that was my...

    I used to be in a band that covered this song a few times, basically in gibberish. The only line I could remember and sing reliably was "Und fühlten sich gleich angemacht!" because that was my favorite part. I think there was a recording, but it was lost in the great Myspace music tragedy. It wasn't very good, but you can recreate it yourself by imitating a mall goth with a lot of phlegm in their throat and playing barre chords. Thanks for sharing. I haven't heard the original in a long time.

    3 votes
  2. Comment on Hi, how are you? Mental health support and discussion thread (March 2021) in ~talk

    cardigan
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    I feel at the end of my rope. Or at least, that's what I texted someone this morning. The operative word there is feel, so I hope no one worries about me too much. My emotional state is just much...

    I feel at the end of my rope. Or at least, that's what I texted someone this morning. The operative word there is feel, so I hope no one worries about me too much. My emotional state is just much more precarious than it usually is, and my sensitivity is heightened. The fact that I've made great strides on a creative project worries me, as in the past I've only been able to do that in emotional states that are fragile to an extreme. Having a normal workday with these feelings is close to impossible, and the amount I have to leave undone continues to build.

    My roommates' drug habits are beginning to chip away at how comfortable I feel living here. I'm a teetotaler when it comes to drugs or alcohol, but I make it a point to be as tolerant to others' drug use as I can. When it's just them smoking weed and falling asleep in the living room, it's fine, but last night my roommate C. drank a box of wine and had most of a bottle of poppers. He showed up in the living room in his underwear and was tweaking out, screeching obscenities and being grossly but jokingly sexual with me and the two others. He's a good guy at normal times, and I know that he doesn't mean any harm. But in the fragile state I was in, I felt a sense of panic steal over me. I wanted to rush back to my room, but I felt trapped there, fearing that C. would comment on it or come bother me if I did. In general, I stay in my room to the point where I'm sometimes called the "ghost" of the house. That night, I had come downstairs to try and cheer up my roommate L. by watching something with him. I was hesitant at first, as I felt too sensitive to be dealing with people, but I convinced myself to do it to try and improve his mood. The whole spectacle that it turned into pained me. In retrospect, there was a particularly funny moment where C. drunkenly said that I was the "calmest motherfucker" in the house. I had to pride myself for my ability to set my face in a stoic way, as at that moment my chest felt like it was being crushed and I could feel tears just out of reach. It thrills me to think that the totally fake persona I affect in my real life might be believable.

    I don't really know what irony is. But writing this, it seems ironic to me that I got so much unwanted sexual attention from a tweaking roommate on the same night that I was dealing with rejection on a dating site. You can imagine what being on these is like to someone with body dysmorphia, and I do hate it, but the deep sense of isolation I feel forces me to try. Still, it's usually easy to take people's shallowness in stride. But a few days ago, when I saw that I matched with someone that seemed really cool, I had this nagging premonition that it was a mistake on his part. It took a few days, but after I sent a first message, he did unmatch from me. Being proven right hurt, as it makes it easier to believe that the truly unhinged things I think about my body and personality are also true. I keep thinking about this person in particular without knowing why. I guess because we had similar interests but he was out of my league physically (story of my life), or that he's emblematic of things I will never have. But please don't think I'm obsessive or doing anything to track him down on another app. I wouldn't know where to begin, and am not that kind of person. I just cried a little about it that morning, and play music to cover the wound.

    I need to say something else about my roommates. I've been living here for close to a year. I met them on Lex, which is sort of like Craigslist for queer people. In our first few texts and video calls, I mentioned that I never used male pronouns, and they were good about using nonbinary ones for perhaps the first week. Then all three of them seemed to spontaneously forget, and they've used male pronouns to refer to me for close to a year. I never corrected them. I will never correct them. As time has gone on, it's become more difficult to justify doing it. It would just seem weird at this point, especially if I were to show them early texts where they remembered. I have this overwhelming desire not to draw attention to myself or inconvenience anyone, and I feel that would be doing both. I just have to recommit to strengthening myself and hiding my feelings. For some reason, I think that can take the place of my roommates' respect. But it stings worse when my trans roommate will make jokes about how hard it is to live with "cis men." Those moments have given my emotional poker face a lot more practice.

    6 votes
  3. Comment on What's something you're into that you wish you could share with someone? in ~talk

    cardigan
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    I guess the jury will always be out on whether or not I'm neurotypical. I was an unusual, damaged child and spent the early part of my life being carted around to different psychiatrists and...

    I guess the jury will always be out on whether or not I'm neurotypical. I was an unusual, damaged child and spent the early part of my life being carted around to different psychiatrists and diagnosticians. I was never diagnosed with anything developmental, but what you wrote resonated with me. It's comforting to hear that there's someone else out there, but more importantly, comforting to hear how you've embraced your ability to feel. Thank you.

    5 votes
  4. Comment on What's something you're into that you wish you could share with someone? in ~talk

    cardigan
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    Thank you for your comment and sharing your experience. It meant a lot to me to hear.

    Thank you for your comment and sharing your experience. It meant a lot to me to hear.

    2 votes
  5. Comment on Dave Rawlings & Gillian Welch - Method Acting + Cortez the Killer in ~music

    cardigan
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    I don't know what inspired them to make a medley of a Conor Oberst song and a Neil Young song, but they've really channeled something special here.

    I don't know what inspired them to make a medley of a Conor Oberst song and a Neil Young song, but they've really channeled something special here.

    1 vote
  6. Comment on What's something you're into that you wish you could share with someone? in ~talk

    cardigan
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    I wish that I knew people who were as sentimental as me, or who were overly emotional in the same way. I am reporting on this as dispassionately as possible, and still I have to say that I'm...

    I wish that I knew people who were as sentimental as me, or who were overly emotional in the same way. I am reporting on this as dispassionately as possible, and still I have to say that I'm constantly on the verge of complete hysteria. While I wouldn't wish this life on anyone, I feel like I'm close to the heart of things in a way that's difficult to describe. It seems that I can approach things without any guile whatsoever and take them in sincerely, allowing myself to be deeply impacted in a way that everyone with my life experience should be too jaded to be. I remember once drawing a picture of myself as John Keats. I don't remember the reason, but maybe he mentioned somewhere in his poetry or letters that he's nearly bowled over by every emotion he feels. In the picture, little emotional darts were flying through the air to hit me, and they forced me down into a prostrate position on a couch. In a similar way, there's a moment in Tarkovsky's Sacrifice where a character steps away from a larger group and into a room. He turns, thinking he hears some small sound, and then startlingly collapses to the floor. They rush to help him, and ask if they should call a doctor. But he says no, that he's fine, and it was nothing but "an evil angel flying through the room, who saw fit to touch me." That's the way I'm forced to live my whole life: in a dissociative state, like I'm straining to hear a sound, and then falling to the floor with the slightest touch. Over years I've adapted, but it still feels the same inside.

    By way of illustration, it was only a few years ago and well into my twenties that I saw the 1941 Dumbo for the first time. From nearly the first moment -- when his family and even his own mother laugh at him -- I spent the film in tears. I had to call a friend of mine when it was over to calm down. On the call, I said in total earnest that I thought I had seen what The Passion of the Christ was supposed to be. Every step of the way, my heart was breaking for him. I'm telling the truth: it was simply agonizing to watch as he was not only ridiculed by everyone, but made into a literal clown for their enjoyment. There's a particularly painful moment where this poor creature looks to the sky and cries because he feels he will never leave the circus and go to the stars. I knew at that moment that I had never related more to a fictional character. When I told this to another friend of mine a few months ago, he just laughed at me. Maybe I'm the snowflake Internet Nazis complain about accelerated to some nth degree. Maybe I have a pure heart. But it's such a lonely feeling. Sometimes I have to hate it.

    10 votes
  7. Comment on What are you reading these days? in ~books

    cardigan
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    I'm reading Les Liaisons dangereuses by Laclos, which is thoroughly engrossing. There once was a time where I could have attempted this in French, but I'm far from it now. I'm irritatingly...

    I'm reading Les Liaisons dangereuses by Laclos, which is thoroughly engrossing. There once was a time where I could have attempted this in French, but I'm far from it now. I'm irritatingly pretentious, but I don't mean to show it here by writing it out that way. "Dangerous Liaisons" just doesn't have the right feel, although I like "Dangerous Connections," the title of an older translation. I'm reading the Oxford version and haven't bothered to compare it to another, but I will say that the notes in this edition are a little tiresome. The editor (and not "the editor," Laclos) intervenes too often to foist his sense of the character's motivations on you. The split between these and the needed notes, explaining certain references particular to the ancien régime, is about 70:30. But it's a minor complaint, as the difference in tone between each character's letters seems perfectly preserved. I couldn't sleep anyway, but stayed up until well after four in the morning last night reading it. The machinations are great, but it's those subtle turns of one feeling to another that are handled with the most inimitable expertise. Valmont's love in particular. It's a shame Laclos never wrote another novel, especially that lost draft I learned about in the introduction, where he aimed to show that there was "no possible happiness outside of the family."

    I picked it up after reminiscing about Cruel Intentions, the Sarah Michelle Gellar and Ryan Phillippe teen masterpiece that takes it as its source material. It's long been a favorite of mine, as the totally unnatural but affecting way its characters minutely describe how they're feeling is utterly mesmerizing to me. I wouldn't care if it were six hours long. The only filmmaker I really know about who does it as well is Hal Hartley, and his movies provide a totally different vibe. I'm pleased to see it's something cribbed from the original book, as it's crucial to making an epistolary novel work. The ways the filmmakers were able to mirror certain plot points, like the harp case sequence, are very clever. I'd be so proud to have written that film. And the book is just as good, and probably better.

    1 vote
  8. Comment on What games have you been playing, and what's your opinion on them? in ~games

    cardigan
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    I've been playing Dragon Quest X, the Japan-only MMO. Believe it or not, I was hesitant to go on at such length about this, but I thought that someone, somewhere might find it interesting, because...

    I've been playing Dragon Quest X, the Japan-only MMO. Believe it or not, I was hesitant to go on at such length about this, but I thought that someone, somewhere might find it interesting, because the game really isn't all that accessible. I hope that I'm right.

    All told, Dragon Quest is most likely my favorite game series, and so I'm happy to finally be able to play this one. Similar to Final Fantasy XIV, Square Enix has a generous free trial that leads through Version 2, the second of its four expansions. I've slowly been plodding through that since I got a Switch last year. For a game that was originally released on the Wii, DQX's performance on the Switch isn't great, and there's a noticeable amount of lag when more than three or four players get onto the screen, even when the Switch is docked. But it degrades gracefully in handheld mode, although I don't often use it. It's worth noting that the game's 3DS version is still supported, although I'm not sure how large its player base is. The experience just sounds like a drag.

    Until relatively recently, Square Enix used an IP block to prevent anyone from playing outside of Japan. The amount of fans who had the tenacity to both use a VPN and wade through reams of Japanese text was fairly small, and even now that the restriction's been lifted, it doesn't seem as though the English-speaking community has grown very much. Before getting a Switch I thought periodically about trying to play the game, but my computer isn't anything special, and as far as I know, Wine doesn't support Japanese input. That's the same reason I stopped playing Final Fantasy XI.

    In general, it's been interesting to see how the game straddles two paradigms of MMO design, in addition to its approach to the traditional Dragon Quest mechanics. Like Final Fantasy XI and its shameless model, EverQuest, I imagine some of the field areas are much too large for contemporary players. They're on a scale that might have induced awe in 2002, but which were outdated by the time DQX released in 2012. The travel system in particular seems to be at a middle stage in development between FFXI and FFXIV 2.0. Like FFXI, there's a way to take a "slow," realtime form of transportation to reach a major hub town. FFXI has the boat to Mhaura, and DQX has a train to Glen. But almost no one uses this in favor of the Ruler Stone system, which functions much like the FFXIV aetheryte. Such a system was later shoehorned awkwardly into FFXI as part of that game's final expansion. Understanding the relationship the different, partially autonomous Square Enix Business Divisions have with each other is like untangling the inner workings of the Sephirot, but I wonder if FFXIV 1.0's failure impacted how they approached certain systems in Dragon Quest X. It certainly seems to take as many cues from World of Warcraft as it does from EQ. The combat is in a somewhat awkward approximation of real-time, consisting of an ATB-like system that lets you input commands at certain intervals. It's not a natural fit for Dragon Quest, but works alright. This, too, seems halfway between FFXI and FFXIV 2.0.

    As tastes change and the stories of their online games expand, Square Enix tend to make changes to gameplay which are occasionally quite violent. At least on an official server, playing Final Fantasy XI the way it was originally intended is very close to impossible. Movement speed was doubled globally around 2012, smoothing over the tension between awe and boredom I mentioned before. Mounts were added. Three different fast travel systems are haphazardly laid over one another, making the dangerous and remote areas that required players to set hours aside to traverse effectively little more than visual furniture. The biggest change was the addition of Trust (also called "Face"), a way to have superpowered CPU characters escort you through most content, as nowadays no one is reliably playing anything but the sharpest edge of endgame content. Of course, Dragon Quest X has been around a full ten years less than FFXI, but the smoothing the developers have put to it is a little more natural. There's a dramatic experience buff available, but it's optional, and every once in a while a chime will go off which indicates that high-experience mobs in the "metal slime" family have been added to every encounter. A CPU-controlled party is here as well, but it was there from the beginning, as a Dragon Quest without recruitable party members is unthinkable.

    The story of the core game is a little odd, but creative, and seems to take certain themes from DQIX in a slightly different direction. I'll sum up the basics in spoiler text.

    Mild spoilers for DQX: 目覚めし五つの種族

    The game begins with two character creation sequences: one for you, and one for your sibling. You both live in a town protected by a benevolent turtle spirit called the Galapogod. In typical DQ fashion, someone has a prophecy, and you're tasked with retrieving a flower from a nearby cave in order to save your village from destruction. You defeat the demon guarding the cave, but before death he torches almost every flower, cryptically stating that he can't allow anyone who can travel through time from obtaining one. It seems that in the distant past the people of your village could do that, but it's long been forgotten. You return to the village to find that you're too late and your home has been torched. A demon lord named Neigel is about to do the same to your sibling, but in a moment of panic, the player character is able to cast the forgotten spell and send their sibling far into the past. Neigel's fireball hits you instead, and you die. The Galapogod escorts your soul and those of a few others to heaven, where the gods grant you the chance to reincarnate and potentially reunite with your sibling. A third character creation sequence for your new body then follows. It seems you will switch places with someone who has just died. Only highly spiritually aware characters will intuit that you were ever anyone else. The typical JRPG collect-a-thon begins, and you're tasked with getting six "key emblems" that will lead you to a fortress in the sky, which will lead you to a wizard, who will lead you back into the past.

    (: "Galapogod" is an official localization, as this character has a cameo in Dragon Quest XI. I simply must highlight it as a stroke of genius, given that his title is カメーさま in the original.)

    I doubt anyone here plays this game, but if you do, let me know. I can't chat with others until I come off of the free trial, and might consider doing that when I'm close enough.

    5 votes
  9. Comment on The worst song you ever had to experience in ~music

    cardigan
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    It was an earnest release, but the liner notes are something of a joke, being intentionally a little surreal and not accurately describing the process Lou used to record the album. It's...

    It was an earnest release, but the liner notes are something of a joke, being intentionally a little surreal and not accurately describing the process Lou used to record the album. It's unironically one of my favorites and a true inspiration to me. There's a recurring sound like a happy, squawking bird in Part One that causes tears to well up in my eyes. It reliably picks up my mood in the same way Berlin can lower it. The whole thing strikes me as being the sound of liberation and deliverance. The locked groove on the second LP's final side extend its final few notes into infinity. It's a beautiful gesture.

    Something worth investigating is Zeitkratzer's rendition of it. The saxophonist Ulrich Krieger painstakingly transcribed the entire album for classical instruments -- an astonishing feat -- and got Lou to participate in a live recording of it in 2007. A live DVD was also made. Even before Lou died, I thought there was something poignant in how the orchestra performs most of the piece around an empty chair. In the final segment, he comes out and takes his seat, and in the only perceivable deviation from the studio recording, plays an extended guitar solo. I think what he plays likely resembles the "original" state of the Metal Machine recordings, before he put them through all that processing. He raises his hand, and Zeitkratzer join him for the "locked groove" portion. It's been a while since I've watched the interview with Lou and Krieger after the concert, but I distinctly remember Lou getting a little teary when he talked about his amazement when Krieger first presented him with the score. No, it's not for everyone, and being skeptical of people who praise it is wise. But it's emphatically not a joke.

    4 votes
  10. Comment on What have you been watching / reading this week? (Anime/Manga) in ~anime

    cardigan
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    I am reading the first volume of Q.E.D. 証明終了, which I picked up after finishing and enjoying a novel by the mystery writer Edogawa Ranpo. I know so little about manga that I can't even remember...

    I am reading the first volume of Q.E.D. 証明終了, which I picked up after finishing and enjoying a novel by the mystery writer Edogawa Ranpo. I know so little about manga that I can't even remember the last time I read one, but I thought checking out a traditional, "locked-room mystery"-type detective series might be fun. I can recall reading a few chapters of Detective Conan in English in the past, and so imported the first volume of that as well, but Q.E.D. arrived first. So far, I'm enjoying the way Touma uses his knowledge of physics to unravel the mystery, and at least so far, there haven't been any chapters where I thought the solution was just too preposterous. I'd be curious to hear recommendations of any other detective or mystery manga, as these two are pretty much the only ones I know about.

    2 votes
  11. Comment on Hi, how are you? Mental health support and discussion thread (February 2021) in ~talk

    cardigan
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    I've been thinking about dreams. In a favorite film of mine, one character urgently says to another: "Listen to me. This is not happening. We're going to wake up. It's a dream." And I have the...

    I've been thinking about dreams. In a favorite film of mine, one character urgently says to another: "Listen to me. This is not happening. We're going to wake up. It's a dream." And I have the same sense: not that I'm living in a waking nightmare, but that I'm in a dream, and that none of the things happening to me are real.

    Last night I dreamt that I was back in high school. The main hall of the school was empty except for myself and two people at either end. I hit it off with someone I'd never seen before, who was laying on a bench, and I had the sense that I'd made a friend. I led the way back to my place, which was for some reason adjoined to the school, but the apartment didn't resemble anywhere I've ever lived before. We talked to a roommate I've never had before, who was writing a letter to her family on an old computer. I took my new friend to my room, a room I've never had before, and we started to play go. My roommate came to watch us, but when she did, I saw myself from the outside. I watched as she discovered that there was really no one there with me at all, and that I was playing go with myself, dropping my "friend's" stones to the side of the board when they were captured without realizing that I was alone.

    The only way that I can read this is as compromised wish fulfillment. I don't have any friends anywhere near where I'm living now, so I make the impossible happen in my sleep. Yet this image still strikes another side of myself as being so unreal that it can't be true, and the vision unravels, but I remain asleep. It flows in both directions in a way that's hard to describe. Whether awake or asleep, things hold their character for only a few moments. In the next, they're covered over in a wave of dissociation, and reach me only in a distant and muted way.

    It's been a struggle to get my current psychiatrist to return my emails, even though it's for refills of the same narcolepsy medication and antidepressant that I've been on for a long time. He finally responded to me the other day, and we're set for an appointment tomorrow, but I've been completely out of the antidepressant for a little over two weeks. I still have some of the other medication, but over the last month my sleeping has veered into an unsustainable pattern. I'm used to it being at least unusual, but if I'm starting to worry about it, as someone who shows so little care for themselves, then it would likely be very worrying to a caring outsider. Writing this out now, I've only just realized that it's probably the lack of the antidepressant, but it feels like it's been getting worse for longer than that. It's hard to say for sure.

    I'm lucky that for the time being, I've felt too dissociative to indulge in my main mental health problem, which is a profound body dysmorphia. Usually these two things inform the other. A constant, low-grade feeling of dissociation will help confirm my sense that the person I'm pathologically transfixed by in the mirror cannot be me. My sense of that is "piqued" thinking about it now, but it hasn't intruded on my daily life in the way that it usually does. I guess I should take these things as they come.

    I know for a fact that there are people out there who care about me, and even care about me a great deal. But I can't imagine why, because I don't see the person that they see. I've spent my whole life thinking that I'm something less than human. In my most positive moments, the way that I think of myself is as a non-presence in the corner of the room, someone inoffensive and forgettable, who was probably at the party that you remember, but who fades so far into the background that they might as well not be there at all. Most of the time, though, I appear to myself as a monster: one who is unforgettable, who repels others first with its body, and then with its poor attempt at human behavior. Because as I've written many times here before, I am convinced that no one who meets me in person can relate to me. Some of this is deeply intrinsic, inseparable from "me," but some has been acquired. The degree to which I'm tediously self-reflective here is proportionate to how mute I am in person. Years of damage have made me polite to a fault: socially aware, laughing at the right moments, but too scared to say anything. And in those rare times when I feel comfortable enough to let down my guard, I find there's nothing to express. As a kid, I used to lie in strange ways in these moments, because I knew that I had to say something, and wanted to say something, but I felt too detached from myself to see what was there. And though I keep quiet now, I still feel that way. Like someone in a dream.

    6 votes
  12. Comment on What’s an album that’s deeply personal to you? in ~music

    cardigan
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    Morrissey was also my way of getting through a very difficult, very abusive home life. As a teenager, I famously had a Smiths or Moz shirt for every day of the week. Now I'm down to just one or...
    • Exemplary

    Morrissey was also my way of getting through a very difficult, very abusive home life. As a teenager, I famously had a Smiths or Moz shirt for every day of the week. Now I'm down to just one or two. Later, as an adult, I met my best friend working a bookstore. We hit it off eerily well, more so than either of us had with anyone before, and when we found out that the other spent their teenage years as a massive Morrissey fan -- she as a Chicana in California, me as a skinny white kid on a farm -- it just seemed to make sense. Hearing his music or playing it on guitar takes me back to those days; the good and bad feelings come rushing back. Memories of hearing this or that song for the first time; of riding the bus to school listening to his music; of getting beaten up in junior high for wearing a shirt with a shirtless man on it. My high school experience was characterized by everyone around me being on one drug or another, and me having Moz as either my own addiction or my only method of escape. And nothing he himself nor that anyone else does can take away what that meant to me, growing up as a deeply sad gay kid in a town of 80, in the middle of nowhere. I hardly ever listen to him now, but the thought of losing it is like cutting off a limb. He's one of those people whose death I can feel hurting me from the future, even before it has happened. When he goes I know I'll be inconsolable. I was a teenage superfan, but I don't recommend getting into him if you're not already. His behavior is too problematic, and it could never be the same as it is when you're a kid and find him by chance. I've spent a lot of time thinking of artists who could feasibly play the same role for people. Having discussed this with other adjunct professors of Morrissey studies, Mitski seems the only one who could take on the same role. I hope she comes back from hiding soon.

    I've found that people who came to his music as adults have a different relationship to him, one which is much healthier, and where they're more easily able to distance themselves from his persona. It's hard to describe to them exactly what having Moz as your only friend felt like. Sometimes he'd be speaking to you directly ("People see no worth in you. I do."), but most of the time it would be a commiseratory presence that mirrored your feelings of being unwanted. "Sixteen, clumsy, and shy: the story of my life" hits much differently when you're listening to it at sixteen, and also when you're listening to it at twenty-seven remembering when you used to listen to it at sixteen. I've talked about this with my "Morrissey friend" many times before, but as kids we both had this sense that he bore the world's pain like a biblical scapegoat. As a teenager, it seemed clear to me that he did, because he bore the pain of animals. Perhaps it's easy to see where his messianic complex comes from when people look to you like that. But it wasn't just his words. We saw it in the way that he moved. Every Morrissey fan worth their salt knows that there's two moments that occur like clockwork in every one of his shows: during a particularly sad song almost engineered for this purpose, he'll curl up into a little ball beside an amplifier, even now in his sixties. It's at those moments that his persona is the most believable. This man really is that sad, and really in pain, which is to say, he feels just like you do. His other gambit is the polar opposite. Usually after singing the line "But you open your eyes, and you see someone you physically despise," he'll take his shirt off and throw it into the crowd. The narcissistic exhibitionism of that gesture coupled with the lyric's cutting jab at himself sums him up better than I ever could.

    I saw him for the first time on his 2007 tour of the US. I was sixteen years old. I got a ride from the only other queer person I knew at that time. She had just dropped out of high school, and I would soon follow. She brought him flowers. My heart pounded the whole way there, and nothing felt real to me. I don't think "hero worship" accurately describes what being a teenage superfan was like. I might have thought he was perfect, but I didn't want to be him. He already was me. He was the me where it was okay to be gay and have so many feelings. It was like meeting your best friend, long-distance lover, absent father, and therapist at the same time, because he was the only part of your life that was worth anything, and the only person who knew what it was like to be you. It's a feeling of super fandom he himself understands (or understood) well: "I touched you at the soundcheck. You had no real way of knowing. In my heart, I cried: 'Take me with you. I don't care where you're going.'"

    We arrived a few hours early, but there was already a line outside the venue. I was wearing my favorite Morrissey shirt. One thing I've observed on several occasions is that a Morrissey concert is one of the only places you'll see people wearing the merch of the band you're seeing rather than a similarly cool band to gain yourself social capital. It was unseasonably cold and I weighed 115 pounds, so I was shaking by the time I got inside. But I didn't even feel aware of the cold. I was just so nervous.

    Like he always does, he had a giant screen set up in front of the stage that plays a pre-show of old footage of the New York Dolls, Sacha Distel, Cilla Black, and all of the other obscure stars he likes. At a certain moment the screen drops, and a few things happen. The stage backdrop for the night is revealed, which like his album and singles sleeves, are usually sourced from a British kitchen sink film or rare shot of a classic male actor. That night, it was James Dean on the set of East of Eden. The band comes out one by one, usually in a coordinated outfit, and then out comes Morrissey. What struck me then and on other shows afterwards was how deliberately he seemed to move. You can learn a lot about an artist from the way they take the stage.

    My friend and I were pressed against the railing. Either because the venue was short-staffed or it was early in the tour, there wasn't much in the way of security. Something else Morrissey fans and others are familiar with is the tradition of crashing the stage to hug him. That alone could be the material for a sociological study, as I've never seen that happen with such extreme frequency with any other artist. I was so young and passionate then that I knew that I was going to do it. There were a lot of older people around me, and I think they might have empathized with the scrawny, starry-eyed baby gay that I used to be. I don't remember saying anything to them, but there was something unspoken between us. When "You're Gonna Need Someone On Your Side" started, I began scrambling over the bar.

    It's always hard to tell how Morrissey feels about stagedivers. Often they're aggressive, and he's been known to cut shows short because of them. Seeing them in recent shows, I usually cringe and worry about his frailty. But that night wasn't like that. The chorus to that song is a little funny. It goes: "Give yourself a break before you break down. You're gonna need someone on your side. And here I am!" Those last words are sung with a melodramatic, but joking kind of emphasis. Moz had reached the chorus by the time I was struggling with the bar. I was having trouble actually getting up onto the stage, and was thinking I might have to give up and drop into a small, empty orchestra pit. In retrospect, it wasn't the smartest idea, as I'm not tall and the pit was too wide to be easily bridged. He must have seen me struggling, as he came across the stage, and flawlessly holding character, sung "And here I am!" as he swooped an arm down for me to latch onto and finish clambering up there. I remember being surprised at how strong his arm was, and also that he smelled distinctly like a church. It's an upbeat song, but the night and the experience had sent my emotional state into another dimension. I hugged him and just said "Thank you. Thank you," into his shoulder. He gave me a "there there" kind of pat to the back of my neck. I rushed off stage just as a security guy emerged from the back. Some gracious people helped me down, and worrying I was going to be kicked out, I stayed in the back and met up with my friend only after it was all over.

    I'm a person with almost no pleasant memories. There are few things that I remember that I don't immediately try to repress. But that night was really special to me. The pain of my adolescence coalesced and took on a new meaning in that moment, because even though it was in a quintessentially teenage and desperate way, I communicated something to him that I had felt so deep down inside for so long. And that's my deeply personal music story.

    8 votes
  13. Comment on Boris - Korosu (2002) in ~music

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    I wholeheartedly recommend seeing Boris live, when concerts are a thing again. I've seen them multiple times and they put on a great show -- and never seem to stop touring the world, either. I...

    I wholeheartedly recommend seeing Boris live, when concerts are a thing again. I've seen them multiple times and they put on a great show -- and never seem to stop touring the world, either. I think I once saw them twice in the same calendar year.

    1 vote
  14. Comment on Kali Malone - The Sacrificial Code (2019) in ~music

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    The Sacrificial Code is a double album by the drone artist Kali Malone. About 105 minutes of its 106 minute running time consist of an unaccompanied pipe organ. In the remaining minute,...

    The Sacrificial Code is a double album by the drone artist Kali Malone. About 105 minutes of its 106 minute running time consist of an unaccompanied pipe organ. In the remaining minute, intervening between two of its sections, she pauses to let the church bells ring.

    1 vote
  15. Comment on Are you open about your gaming? in ~games

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    Absolutely. It's not something that I morally object to, as I tolerate it in others, but it does get in the way of the consistent, manufactured self-image I go to great pains to project. Yet it...

    Do you feel that you need to hide your gaming from others?

    Absolutely. It's not something that I morally object to, as I tolerate it in others, but it does get in the way of the consistent, manufactured self-image I go to great pains to project. Yet it happens in bursts. It's not rare for me to go a year or more without touching a game, but when I am working on one, I will play most days for 10 to 12-hour stretches. I'm like that with everything that I do, but there are activities of mine which are much more socially glamorous than minmaxing every character in a JRPG. As it doesn't even occur to me to try to moderate the time I spend playing them, I curb the habit in other ways. I started picking up Japanese in my sophomore year of college, since I almost exclusively play JRPGs, and swore off translations altogether, even when I was far too unequipped to understand the dialogue. I did this both to deter and encourage myself, to try and turn something merely neurotic into something productively neurotic. Dangerous veers toward asceticism are a fundamental part of my personality. If I'm enjoying something, something must be wrong. Now I can mostly play what I want, which is no compliment to me, given that the plots of most these games are virtually identical, with the specific details passed through a Mad Libs playbook.

    Are you honest with others about the amount of time you spend playing games, the types of games you play, or the importance you ascribe to them?

    If someone finds out that I do play games, I don't feel the need to lie to them about how much I play, or how much particular ones have impacted me. But I try not to let it get to that point. In public, I'll feign ignorance about games and technology entirely until my niche is broached in a way that's too good to pass up, and I see an opportunity for real connection -- say, someone mentioning a minor detail about Persona 3 that resonated with me.

    Do you feel that people judge your gaming habits or status as a gamer negatively?

    I don't fear their judgment: what I'm afraid of is that it will be just one more alienating aspect of my personality, and that it will help confirm my deep-seated fear that people do not and cannot ever relate to me. Being condemned or deemed uncool by people doesn't bother me. What does is not the idea that they view me as an uncool person, but that they view me as something more like an alien, or a creature who could never understand them. Because when you find out that someone plays Fortnite, you at least have a cultural reference point. For most people, the Famicom on my desk would not be one, and contribute to a picture they have of me as a "weird person," which is to say, not a person at all.

    Do you identify yourself as being a part of a broader gaming culture?

    No. Partially because I don't keep tabs with what's popular, and partially because I find defining yourself in terms of the things you like to be reprehensible, and a stand-in for having a self. But there's a tension here, because though I can look inwardly and recognize that I think for myself, and that I am different from those around me, desperately seizing at a perceived common interest is one of my only means of relating to people.

    5 votes
  16. Comment on What's hard about being non-binary? in ~talk

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    Gendered language is acutely painful. Hearing a male pronoun used in reference to me is the worst. And while "they" feels closer, it's not perfect. I'd much prefer to just hear my name and not...

    Gendered language is acutely painful. Hearing a male pronoun used in reference to me is the worst. And while "they" feels closer, it's not perfect. I'd much prefer to just hear my name and not have to think about it. I'm likely too overly sensitive, but I can't shake the hurt I feel when it happens. For a while, I thought about changing the way I dress just to try and hear "they" more frequently. But unless the person you're talking to has a habit of using nonbinary pronouns for everyone they encounter, it's a lost cause, and experimenting with a differently gendered look would just cause me to feel more dissociative than I already do.

    It's possible that I've misunderstood it this whole time, but I resent how "nonbinary" has become a kind of third category instead of describing a state outside categorization. It's like getting a special option for you on a personality test when what you object to is the idea that such a test could ever presume to describe you. In everyday life, it seems that most people think of "nonbinary" as being in some kind of middle ground between masculinity and femininity, but this is not the case for me. I use that word to describe myself because it's more common and sounds less clinical than "agender," but truthfully I don't feel like I'm in between those two poles, or even on the same spectrum. When I think about myself, it just doesn't occur to me. I don't feel masculine or feminine, or somewhere in that spectrum; I'm just myself, feeling more like a spirit, a ghost, or an angel. I only think about it when I'm forced to by others around me. And the feeling of that is like crashing down to earth.

    19 votes
  17. Comment on What are you reading these days? in ~books

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    I'm coincidentally reading the first volume of Journey to the West, another one of the big four classic Chinese novels. Dream of the Red Chamber and Water Margin always struck me as such extremely...

    I'm coincidentally reading the first volume of Journey to the West, another one of the big four classic Chinese novels. Dream of the Red Chamber and Water Margin always struck me as such extremely poetic titles, but I never actually learned what either one was about. The task of translating either of these books, especially unabridged, seems just superhuman to me. My translation is the one done by Anthony C. Yu. The notes and scholarship can be overwhelming at times, but I'm also glad to have them, as I'd be even more lost without them. I'm finding it pretty engaging as well. I can understand why it's so beloved.

    5 votes