Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

09 Oct 2018, 12:12 p.m.

Recent Diversions

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2018 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

I went to a civic meeting the other day and sketched while listening, as I've been doing more and more lately. I had to try drawing a folding chair three times before I got the proportions and perspective mostly right. Also, it's surprising how soothing it is to draw super-repetitive shapes, like Venetian window blinds, and to indicate shadow or color with cross-hatching or fill dots.

On Sunday, Leonard and I saw a "Sam the American Eagle" compilation at the Museum of the Moving Image. Sam is amazing, as Leonard and I got to discuss in depth -- he's a minor character, but when you see 50 minutes of Sam in a row, you see interesting patterns. He's Nixon (eyebrows) and he's McCarthy ("I have here a list..."). He loves Wayne and Wanda partly because they're humanoid Muppets, not animals. He knows he's supposed to like classy old songs, education, decency, America, and Great Britain, but he has no capacity for analysis and no factual understanding of history or literature, and never enjoys a joke. He's lawful neutral; he doesn't care who gets hurt or helped, so long as everyone's deferring to authority and following rules. He's separated from his wife, and his kids don't talk to him. I watched The Colbert Report for years so I'm primed to appreciate this kind of character -- Colbert often described his character as a "well-intentioned, poorly informed high-status idiot".

(Watching a bunch of The Muppet Show also reminded me of how the Muppets influenced my basic approach to sketch comedy and acting. I am approximately a Muppet by default in most interpersonal interactions -- big facial expressions and whole-body reactions -- which was sometimes a bit of a trial for my director Aya.)

On Sunday I also got to play the game "Inhuman Conditions", which is crowdfunding on Kickstarter till this Thursday 11 October. I was first an investigator checking whether a suspect was a human or a robot. During this conversation I got to reply to a question with "I'll be the one asking the questions" which was thrilling. (Even though I lost that round - she was a robot after all, crap!) The next round, I was a suspect. How do you prove your humanity to an investigator? Try to be open about your imagination, your private life, your misapprehensions? Or is that exactly what a robot would do, to fool them??? A fun game.