How to be interesting

December 16, 2009

Solid advice from Megan of Rhubarb Pie, whose friend asked her how he could become more interesting. She suggests that he attend more events, and proposes three questions to consider after each event:

First: what was your favorite part?
I think consciously deciding on a favorite part of the evening is helpful for a few reasons.

First, I think it will make him like the evening better in retrospect. Maybe the café was dingy and the open mic was largely embarrassing and the whole thing reminds him of the emptiness of our disconnected urban lives. Fine. But searching through the evening for a favorite part will emphasize that piece in his memory, and he’ll look back on the evening just a little more fondly. Since going to a bunch of those things can be work, he might as well remember the best aspects of it.

Second, people enjoy enthusiastic people. It is a good practice to notice the best parts of things and be able to recount them. Calling out the bad parts is not-interesting. It is easy and predictable and brings negativity to the party and sounds like a jaded teenager. To be interesting, note your favorite parts.

The other two questions are here.

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Overheard in Toronto: “My Acting”

May 29, 2009

Overheard the following conversation tonight, on the subway. I was on my way home, from, ironically, an acting class.

FACT: The more times you use the word “acting” when you’re talking about your acting, the less likely it is that you’re a good actor. That’s just how it is.

“MY ACTING” a short play
transcribed from reality by Nicole Stamp

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
Two middle-aged people who are obviously not professional actors.
HIM: A very tall man in a jean jacket. Sort of oafish, scruffy, and loud.
HER: A fading Blanche Dubois-type blonde in overly dramatic clothing. Her hair is oddly askew.

HER: When I’m acting I sometimes feel self-conscious but it gets in the way of my acting so I try to just let it go.

HIM: Yeah, I really think that’s not a good way to feel when you’re acting.

HER: It really isn’t. It gets in the way of my acting. I have to just not think about it so I can act.

HIM: Yeah, I get that. I really need to, like, let loose and just be myself when I act.

HER: Yeah. So that scene you were acting in tonight, how was it?

HIM: I have to say, it was weird. It was weird. To be acting with her, acting like I’m her husband, I’m like, “but she’s married”. That makes it weird to act like I’m her husband.

HER: But you’re acting.

HIM: I know, but I’m acting like I’m her husband, right? If I’m her husband, listen, as a heterosexual male, acting or no acting, I’m gonna be doing SOMETHING, right?

HER: You mean kissing her?

HIM: Not exactly, more like–

HER: Lovemaking? Making love to her?

HIM: I mean like holding her hand or something!

HER: Well that’s OK!  You’re acting!

HIM: No! I mean she has a husband! And I’m acting like–

HER: But you’re acting!

HIM: I know I’m acting! That’s the point, my acting can make me get carried away when I’m acting!

HER: I think that’s ok.  When you’re acting.

HIM: Listen, you know Tim Allen?

HER: Uh-

HIM: From Tool Time?

HER: Well I know there is someone named Tim Allen. He does Santa.

HIM: Yeah, him. Well he acted in Tool Time, and on Tool Time, his wife was hot! I thought she was hot! That brunette who acted the role of his wife–

HER: Whose wife, yours? You’re married?

HIM: No. I mean Tim Allen’s wife on Tool Time.

HER: Oh, Tim Allen, yeah. Santa.

HIM: Well when he was acting on that show–

HER: On what show?

HIM: Tool Time.

And then I had to leave the subway and I almost cried, I was so sad to miss the magic. AMAZING.

tim-toolman-taylor

UPDATE: “My Acting” has received its first off-off-off-off-off-off-off-off-off-Broadway performance, in my friend Shannon’s living room. Click here to watch Shannon and Shannon acting “My Acting”.


Email punversation.

May 1, 2009

Viktor: Here’s a good article on Hamas [link]
Gord: I thought you said hummus. Really.
Viktor: I said it was a good article by Bobbie Ganoush
Hanna: /Groan
Me: Oh peas.
Lily: Merguez is you guyz could be at this all night.
Viktor: I’m tzatzinking you’re right.
Rob: This thread is so funny I almost falafel my chair.
Lily: Olive punning with you guys. Does Hummus practice Is-lamb?
Hanna: Wow. This is really pita-full.
Me: Not funny guys. There’s a schwarma going on right now.

My friends are going to hell. Or possibly hel.
It was an interesting article, though.


Xinran, Chinese interviewer

March 8, 2009

Cool article about “China Wintess” author Xinran, a woman who earned the confidence of hundreds of Chinese women, despite strict censorship laws and cultural taboos against disclosing personal stories.

Friends warned her that Chinese people would not speak frankly about their suffering and would be unwilling to reveal their private, emotional responses to upheavals in China. But Xinran was the interviewer, and that made all the difference. From 1989 to 1997, she had a nightly radio program, Words on the Night Breeze, in which Chinese women phoned in to discuss their lives.

Her unusual manicure – one fingernail painted red, while all others are a transparent pink – is a reminder, she says, of how she got one of her early interviews. Make a mistake in your makeup, and women will come to you and say, “Silly girl, come here, can’t you see…” and before long you are deep in conversation and confidences.

Via my mom.

Reminds me of Canadian journalist & author Jan Wong, who used to pretend she didn’t understand how to work her own tape recorder in interviews. Her seeming incompetence disarmed her subjects, who then disclosed all kinds of intimate information to her. I can’t find a citation for that tidbit, but I vividly remember reading it years ago. Invisible prize to anyone who finds the quote, I guess.


The mallow blow-back: an anthropomorphic study, science lesson, hypothetical situation, and birthday ode to Kelly, all at once.

March 3, 2009

From an online conversation that occurred this morning between a group of people who are all old college chums except me; I only met them last year. Lucky me.

Dr.GregHold:
Happy bday Kelly.
I would like nothing more than than the sweet opportunity to share a mellow mallow blow-back with you on this day, but alas, we shall defer.
May your day be filled with pleasantries.

Me:
What’s a blow-back?
Sounds awesome/gross.

Kelly:
A mallow blow-back is as follows:
Put a fire-toasted marshmallow in yer mouth. Then take a big slug of whiskey. Yum. Dr.GregHold and I did this once with 80 year old scotch.
To the horror of the provider of the scotch.

HilleryHold:
Um, and to the horror of the bystander who was about to lose both her best friend and her fiancé to death by sweet, glutinous throat plug.

Kelly:
Uh, yeah. Turns out if you get the ratio wrong the marshmallow dissolves in the whiskey only partially, and forms a sort of glue that almost stopped up our throats. Still, yum.

Dr.GregHold:
Let me add that when the glutinous plug blocks your throat, the whiskey permeates up through your nasal cavity and then your cribriform plate, directly to the brain. Combine this sensation with the asphyxiation of the plug and you’ve got sweet death by blow-back.

Kelly:
YES YES I totally forgot the cribiform plate thing.
It was like whiskey brain-freeze.

Artist's interpretation of cribiform plate (blue) being totally slammed by miscellaneous vapours (white).  Science, people.

Artist's interpretation of cribiform plate (blue) being totally slammed by miscellaneous vapours (white). Science, people.

Reuben:
HilleryHold, if Kelly (your best friend) and Dr.GregHold (your husband) simultaneously choked on glutinous throat plugs, who gets the first heimlich?

HilleryHold:
*confused silence*

Kelly:
Reuben has asked a compelling question. In the case of the near-fatal blowbacks of yore, there were several peeps on hand to give out heimlichs. But I’d say– HilleryHold, you take care of Dr.GregHold and then (once he’s breathing freely) let the professional take care of me.

HilleryHold:
Of course I could save Dr.GregHold in order that he might save Kel.
Or I might just stand there as they passed away and say, well, now I bet you learned your lesson, you eedjits.

Reuben:
And happy birthday Kel.
May someone heimlich you in the best possible way.

Holy schnarkies these people crack me up.
Happy birthday, Kells.


Tiny Conversation: Who talks about stuff like this?

January 18, 2009

ME: When they eventually film, like, Could and Did: The Barack Obama Story movie?
SCOTT: Yeah,
ME: How old do you think the actor who’s gonna end up playing Barack Obama is right now?
SCOTT: I dunno, how old is Will Smith?
ME: Oh yeah.

And look, other people have already talked about this. Including Will Smith.

will-smith-and-barack-obama

Which brings me to the fact that I look more like Barack Obama than Will Smith does. Admit it.

nicole-stamp-barack-obama21


Tiny conversation

October 19, 2008

HIM: You want some of this?

ME: What is it?

HIM: You tell me.

He offers a spoon with a blob of something white on it.

ME: Where’d you find pumpkin pie flavoured pasta salad?

HIM: That’s a very refined palate you’ve got there. It’s rice pudding.