Twitter, Astrology & TED: David Rees Recaps the Originals Series with Robin Sloan & Cassie Ramone

You can watch this latest event in our Originals Series—a semi-regular pairing of an author and a musician for a night of drinks, music, and conversation hosted by David Rees at Studio-X in downtown Manhattan. Or you can just read host and eminent recapper David Rees’s account of the events below.

You can learn more about the series and watch videos from previous events—and find out when the next one’s coming up—on the Originals Series Events page.

And make sure to join us at the next event on Wednesday, November 13th featuring Laura van den Berg (The Isle of Youth), Steve Gunn (of Kurt Vile and the Violators), and guest host Sloane Crosley. RSVP here.

But for now, take it away Mr. Rees!

This was a night of happy coincidences: Turns out Cassie Ramone and I both drive Honda sedans! And Robin Sloan uses twitter, as do I. On the other hand, Cassie believes in astrology, which I do not. And Robin believes in TED talks, which I hold in even lower esteem than astrology. (Although, to be fair, they both seem to recognize that the worth of these cultural phenomena lies more in their entertainment value than their predictive / prescriptive utility.)

I’d actually be interested to see how many people believe in BOTH astrology and TED talks. Whoever they are, I bet they live in the southwest and have really nice jewelry. And I bet they know a ton about wine. I have friends who go to TED talks and give TED talks and the whole thing freaks me out. Am I jealous because I’ve never given a TED talk? Maybe that’s part of it. On the other hand, being around successful people with lots of money is one of my least favorite things, because I always wind up feeling insecure and emasculated—so even if I was invited to give a TED talk, I imagine the whole thing would be an extended nightmare, because after my talk they’d be like, “Now we’ll take you to the reception,” and there’d be all these businesspeople and cultural innovators standing around eating gnocchi (one of the fanciest foods) and drinking cabernet franc (wine), and then I’d have to make chit-chat about investment portfolios, whatever the hell they are, and How to Clean African Water Using Instagram, and compare notes on electric cars, and then everyone would start chanting and they’d tie me to an altar and cut me open and eat all my guts right in front of me because I’m poor.

And the astrology convention would be even worse!

And that’s why the only events I go to are these FSG Originals readings, because they are well-lit and I feel safe.

The most interesting thing that happened at this event isn’t depicted in the video: Cassie administered a psychological test to Robin live onstage! She asked him to describe a room with a box in it, and then, as she added to this imaginary room’s inventory (there was a horse!) he had to describe each additional item. I can’t remember the specifics because psychological tests—even lighthearted ones—make me nervous about failing them, even when they’re not being administered to me. And being nervous compromises my short-term memory. I do remember that there was a horse in the room. Definitely. Because I was surprised about that. But I can’t remember what Robin’s imaginary horse looked like, or even what it was supposed to symbolize. The test was riveting—the best part came at the end, when Cassie was like: “Okay, here’s why I asked you those questions: The room symbolizes your house, the box symbolizes your creativity, the horse symbolizes your friends, the flowers symbolize your money,” or whatever it was. And Robin just had to sit there and take the analysis, whether he agreed with it or not! (My sense is he basically agreed with it.)

And do you know why I mention all this? Because a live, on-stage psychological test is kind of like a hybrid between astrology and a TED talk. Think about it: You’re interpreting a bunch of symbolic objects, which is like astrology (I think?). AND you’re doing it in front of an audience in under ten minutes, which is like a TED talk. And now I’m starting to think that all parlor games are a cross between astrology and TED talks, and I’m a big fan of parlor games (I have literally invented more than two parlor games), which means deep down, somewhere in my private heart, I’m probably a big fan of astrology and TED talks. Jeepers, I just can’t catch a break in this mixed-up world.

I give this event six out of six phantom horses.

—David Rees

Posted 11/06/13 Posted November 6, 2013