I've worn out the stones in front of your doorstep.
November 14, 2019 7:49 AM   Subscribe

Mary Steenburgen sings.
posted by Fukiyama at 8:05 AM on November 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

What a story.

Steenburgen's accordion playing was used well in the Last Man on Earth.
posted by BooneTheCowboyToy at 8:11 AM on November 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

MetaFilter: blindsided by “the Mary Steenburgen of it all.”
posted by Flannery Culp at 8:22 AM on November 14, 2019 [13 favorites]

If you think you're pining hard for Mary Steenburgen, check out the audio commentary track for the film Time After Time, one of the key recurring threads of which is her co-star and ex Malcolm McDowell wondering aloud what kind of fool he was that he ever let her go.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:22 AM on November 14, 2019 [9 favorites]

This is cool and kinda terrifying. Both because our personalities seem to be so fragile, and also because I think there is something... deeply fucked up about general anesthesia. I mean, don't get me wrong, it certainly has done more good than harm, but I think it can do really fucked up things to our psyche to essentially get shut down while our body is undergoing extreme pain. I don't think there is a good alternative, but yeah.

Also Mary Steenburgen is the best, and there is no celebrity couple I want to be couple friends with more than her and Ted Danson.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:40 AM on November 14, 2019 [20 favorites]

Me too! So glad to hear life is still going well for my old flame!
posted by Meatbomb at 8:40 AM on November 14, 2019

posted by uberchet at 8:41 AM on November 14, 2019

“Have you tried turning it off and on again?”
posted by clew at 8:46 AM on November 14, 2019 [11 favorites]

I've had that "medical shit happens, wake up, brain on fire with creativity" experience: in my case, literary rather than musical. It happened to me in 2013; I got hit by Bell's palsy, then a month-long course of prednisolone (a steroid) to deal with the inflammation.

The paralysis eventually wore off ... and I woke up at 6 minutes past midnight that night, with words spurting out everywhere like a burst pipe.

I ended up writing this novel in 18 days flat.

TLDR: drugs don't always fuck you up (but being on the inside of that kind of creative ride is scary AF).
posted by cstross at 8:48 AM on November 14, 2019 [93 favorites]

This would make an excellent episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:54 AM on November 14, 2019 [7 favorites]

This is cool and kinda terrifying. Both because our personalities seem to be so fragile, and also because I think there is something... deeply fucked up about general anesthesia.

No kidding. Almost exactly a year ago, my STB ex-husband had a 1-2 punch of a minor traumatic brain injury from a bike wreck, and surgery to replace the shoulder shattered in the same bike wreck. About 9-10 weeks later, his personality flipped like a tossed coin. I started going to support groups around then and, wowza, I thought I'd be one of maybe 5 people in the room... not one of 60. I'm happy for Steenburgen to be able to report that her experience was on the rosier side of this kind of thing. What a world.

Hyperprivileged and conventionally attractive white woman tries adjacent career and is met with wild success. Film at 11.

posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:58 AM on November 14, 2019 [15 favorites]

Steenburgen's accordion playing was used well in the Last Man on Earth.

It was extremely delightful, yes. Boy, that show really sold itself short in all its season one promotional material. The first three or four episodes are kind of a slog, but everything after that was pure genius.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:16 AM on November 14, 2019 [5 favorites]

I know this is impossible to prove, but please just take me at my word here: I'm close to someone who knows Mary and Ted very well, and reports that they are exactly as nice, kind, good, and fun to be around as they seem.
posted by BlahLaLa at 9:22 AM on November 14, 2019 [55 favorites]

Great, now I love Mary Steenburgen even more.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:22 AM on November 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

Steve Wozniak apparently "flipped a switch" in his brain from the effects of a plane crash and subsequent coma. Considerable personality change afterwards. Describes it as:

"Coming out of the semi-coma had been like flipping a reset switch in Woz's brain. It was as if in his thirty-year old body he had regained the mind he'd had at eighteen before all the computer madness had begun. And when that happened, Woz found he had little interest in engineering or design. Rather, in an odd sort of way, he wanted to start over fresh."

Though a life threatening trauma could also do that in just a "re-evaluate your life" kind of way.
posted by aleph at 9:25 AM on November 14, 2019 [3 favorites]

Brains are weird.

A few years ago I was on a streetcar in Toronto when I started seeing everything through a red-tinted filter and things would flash like a tv was changing channels. I lost my ability to talk and couldn't move half of my body. A few minutes later, I ended up in an emergency room where they told me I was having a Transient Ischemic Attack -- basically a small stroke. I was warned that if they didn't get to the bottom of it, I could have a full-blown stroke in 12 to 18 months.

I was let out of the hospital that night, perfectly able to walk and talk.

I started hearing songs in my head constantly. Real songs, most of which I hadn't heard in decades. Songs that were hits when I was a kid, looping over and over again with no logic as to which would be there each day. One day Led Zeppelin, the next day "Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy," and the next day "How much is that doggy in the window." I found it hard to have conversations because music just kept playing.

I'd mostly lost my interest in words -- something I'd had my whole life. I could still read, but had no desire to and found the process confusing. I couldn't read a novel because I couldn't follow things page to page. I used to love movies and for decades watched at least one per day. Now I lost interest within minutes of trying to watch something. I was also able previously to name every b-actor in pretty much everything. Now I couldn't recognize Brad Pitt and other megastars.

I became fascinated with shapes and lines and symmetry -- when previously I had no interest in these things. I started looking at photography, whereas, at age 47, prior to my "incident," I did not have a single photograph in my home (not of friends or family or anything else).

After almost a year of tests with them finding nothing, I panicked, thinking I'd be dead in 6 months. I sold my store and went travelling and started photographing anything without people. Over 3 months in Spain I took 17 thousand photographs of houses, bushes, trees, and walls. And Orange Grove Tool Sheds and Utility Boxes. Over 2 months in Los Angeles I took 9 thousand pictures of houses, sand, piers, and buildings (not archived yet).

I started regularly being briefly/momentarily confused about where I was. Not "lost" in the traditional sense, but positive I was in LA when I was really in Toronto. Or thinking I was in Cuba when I was really in Santa Monica. I'd step out a Spanish door destined for lunch at a restaurant located in Venice, California, and only realize my error 10 minutes into the walk, or when I was standing in front of where the restaurant was supposed to be, wondering when it had closed.

Most of my life I suffered from severe depression and rarely a day passed without thinking of suicide. Now those thoughts were mostly gone.

Every once in a while I'll start to feel a tingle in my head. I've told my doctor "it feels like a snake is sleeping in my head and, every few months, she'll sigh and everything is permanently 3 degrees off from where it was before the snake took that breath."

Oddly, just the other day, I woke up saying, "Oh," and seeing something very clearly. A screenplay I worked on for 22 years and was always unable to finish was now right before me as an 8 part tv show--even though I hadn't thought about it in years. It was all very clear how it fits together. I fully sketched out the first episode and plotted the other 7, all in a day.

The medical tests have found nothing. Doctors have told me to stop coming back. They can't find anything wrong. (Multiple doctors; multiple specialists; countless tests.)

At the end of the month I'm going to take off for Vanuatu for the first time. I need to get away from this Canadian winter. I'm gonna live on the beach until March. Something is going to happen when I'm there -- I have a welcoming, foggy sense of it just ahead of me.
posted by dobbs at 9:44 AM on November 14, 2019 [164 favorites]

Good luck dobbs!
posted by aleph at 10:24 AM on November 14, 2019 [12 favorites]

Hyperprivileged and conventionally attractive white woman tries adjacent career and is met with wild success. Film at 11.

I guess this comes from a comment that got deleted. Mary is from my home town and I have met her. She definitely did not come from a privileged background. She recently did a WTF podcast and has some interesting stories about her early life in Arkansas (and about Malcolm).
posted by Justin Case at 10:45 AM on November 14, 2019 [22 favorites]

cstross: I've never had any kind of outflow like that that was actually constructive..... just the incoherent manic kind. On the whole I don't miss those periods at all; in the particular I do kinda miss feeling like I could taste god though.

Sooo..... long way 'round: please don't be sick but there's a piece of my discretionary budget that's permanently earmarked for a little more Bob & Mo. Well let's be honest, Mo; and Bob can come too.
posted by mce at 11:03 AM on November 14, 2019 [5 favorites]

this seems much nicer than waking up gassy and starving, good for her.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:12 AM on November 14, 2019 [17 favorites]

My favorite Mary Steenburgen media was her episode of Finding Your Roots, where Henry Louis Gates told her her ancestor was such a degenerate lout, thief, and drunkard that he almost drove George Washington out of the military before the Revolution because Washington just didn’t want to have to be responsible for him anymore. It was amazing.
posted by sallybrown at 11:45 AM on November 14, 2019 [18 favorites]

Oh my god dobbs that is the most amazing and terrifying thing I have ever read. If my brain suddenly changed that much I do not know if I would have the strength to run with it. Kudos for rolling with it.
posted by cape at 11:54 AM on November 14, 2019 [10 favorites]

What a wild story, and I really appreciate both Mary and the article writer for not glossing over the fact that she had co-writers, and the fact that she had to learn the craft after getting hit with the inspiration. This is a really important aspect to the story, and leaving it out would potentially lead people to say "actually, this story is bullshit" when it isn't at all. Wow wow wow.
posted by queensissy at 12:07 PM on November 14, 2019 [6 favorites]

Wow, "Glasgow" is a gorgeous song too. I was sort of preparing myself to be disappointed because they hype it so much but, nope, the hype matched the impact the song had on me. Really terrific.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:10 PM on November 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

sticking my head in to say Sacks' "Musicophilia" is a fantastic book and you should drop everything and go read it right now, not least to grin at his happy face on the cover with a pair of can phones on grooving out to something.
posted by hearthpig at 2:30 PM on November 14, 2019 [4 favorites]

I was in the hospital this year with pneumonia - I was running a 100+ degree (F) fever for 5 days when I was admitted to the ICU. It wasn't music, but I kept having the same dream over and over and over and over for about 13 or 14 hours. It was driving me crazy. I tried everything I could - stay awake...wound up having the dream, woke up to the same wake up...try to force a different dream? nope - it just kept going over and over again. Eventually, I got really sick and they knocked me out with drugs, but I'll never forget that groundhog day.

Brains are weird.
posted by Chuffy at 6:45 PM on November 14, 2019 [4 favorites]

I empathize, Chuffy. Two weeks ago I was briefly sick with what I suppose was a brief flu (sounds like the opening scene of a medical thriller about a superbug). For 60 hours or so, I was mostly bedridden. I was without appetite, had a vague malaise and headache and a long series of very tedious dreams, the maddening content of which I blame on playing a lot of Wordscapes (a game app where you are filling in a small crossword with as many permutations as you can find of the supplied six or seven letters). Two days and nights of my consciousness producing nothing but REDNESS DEER REED REEDS REDS RED SEER SERE REND RENDS NERDS NERD SEND SENDER ENDS END DENS DEN ENDER...
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:17 PM on November 14, 2019 [6 favorites]

This isn't the same thing in the sense that it's never been a permanent cognitive change, but there are moments of nearly-sleep lucidity in which I hear the most gorgeous, celestial, otherworldly music I've ever heard. It's not tonal, it doesn't sound like any collection of instruments I've ever heard, and it just shimmers like light breaking apart into millions of pieces. If I believed in heaven and thought it had a sound, this would be it. It happens rarely but, when it does, I'm left in awe of what my brain just produced. If I ever get back into making music/sound art, I'm going to everything I can to get as close as possible to making that sound a reality.

The point is, I guess, is that I can see how this could happen under the right circumstances. If a semi-dream state can unlock that level of creativity in me, I can see how a major brain/consciousness event could in a much more profound and lasting way.
posted by treepour at 8:06 PM on November 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

treepour do you know about Exploding Head Syndrome?
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 7:48 AM on November 15, 2019

I got that in college when I was severely sleep-deprived. Specifically, the thing I heard was the wailing of tormented souls in Hell. (I was at the time, and still am, an atheist, but that's the most accurate description of the sound I heard.)
posted by tobascodagama at 8:48 AM on November 15, 2019

ricochet, that is very unusual because most people can't read in their dreams. Perhaps your illness had left your Broca’s area particularly agitated?
posted by sjswitzer at 11:09 AM on November 15, 2019

I read in my dreams all the time. Otherwise I would never get through the stack of books on the to-read list.

No, I was surprised when I first encountered the notion that most people cannot read in their dreams. It's not like it happens all the time with me and mine, but there may as well be a declaration that people cannot swim in their dreams. Really?

What I have heard and am more inclined to believe (pace Coleridge) is that you cannot compose much in your dreams. I recall reading somewhere an account of someone who carried a book of limericks with him at all times. This way, he reasoned, if he were ever in doubt about his wakefulness, he could fish out the book and open to a random limerick; he was certain he could not spontaneously compose a limerick while dreaming.

Brains are weird.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:27 AM on November 15, 2019 [4 favorites]

Wait, what? Reading in dreams is weird?
posted by gusottertrout at 11:40 AM on November 15, 2019

I can occasionally dream lucidly and in some of those cases I am aware of reading and the idea of text, but I can never actually produce text on, say, a sign or a page of a book. At the very best it is a jumble of incomprehensible symbols.

Not to say that nobody can, but it is widely reported to be unusual.
posted by sjswitzer at 11:48 AM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, put me down in the 'love to read in real life, can't read a lick in dreams' category. Even large signs that say anything more complex than STOP just kind of ... aren't ... readable. Like my vision slips off of them before I can decipher the symbols but I don't ever experience in-dream frustration at this happening, it's just how things are.
posted by komara at 12:14 PM on November 15, 2019

Huh. I had no idea. Most of my dreams don't involve reading, but every now and then I have one where I end up reading parts of some book, only to be interrupted before I can finish it. The writing in them admittedly looks more like it comes from children's books, very large and not many words on the page, but still was writing and seemed really impressive in the dreams but I can't quite put it together coherently when I wake up, just some of the words and a vague notion of its meaning. If it wasn't for those dang sleep-people always distracting me, maybe I'd be able to find out what the point of it was.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:06 PM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

hearthpig, I'm sticking MY head in to say that I happened to be in the middle of reading Sacks' Musicophilia when I suddenly lost my ability to read. My vision didn't blur or change; I didn't experience any pain, weakness or dizziness; I had an odd feeling of emotional unease, like something was very wrong, but in hindsight that could have just been a natural reaction to letters and words on a page becoming... it's not like they seemed to be in another language: it's that they stopped being language for me at all. I may as well have tried "reading" the pattern of wear in my carpet. It's hard to describe, but reading is apparently facilitated by a multi-step process in the brain, and for me a stair just up and vanished.

Anyway, I don't have any health insurance and I couldn't dial 911 ("Which one is the nine?" is a question I had never prepped myself for) so I decided that the best thing to do was to go for a walk and see what would happen. ("I can head for the hospital! If I collapse in the street, maybe someone will help me!")

I looked it up once I became literate again and it was probably a mini-stroke. This was years ago, so I'm hoping the fact that I'm long past the 12-to-18 month countdown dobbs mentioned is a good thing! Also, EVERYONE needs to learn how to identify and respond to the symptoms, and... well...
"[T]here’s so much more capability in our brains than we probably realize, and agreeing to diminishment and shutting down doors is a choice that we all make for ourselves. It turns out you don’t really have to do that."
I think we should probably take Mary Steenburgen's positive experience (and those in the thread) with a HUGE grain of (metaphorical) salt: I'm glad for those who came through okay, but her last statement in the article is just ridiculously optimistic. You may as well hope your house gets hit by a tornado because there's an infinitesimal chance that it will get restructured into a new, better house! All I came away with was a sense of my own mortality and a sweat-based exercise regimen, and I'm lucky in that regard. Brain trauma and its aftermath is NOT a personal choice, and it is almost never an asset in any way. Brains are weird.
posted by tyro urge at 5:17 PM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

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