SpecGram Film and Media Club—Manfred M. McManus SpecGram Vol CLXXXVII, No 4 Contents Sonority: A Space Elevator Story—Matthew “MattGyver” Lee


Stephen Politzer-Ahles

I’m telling you, man, back then no one had ever dreamed of waves like that.

We were wanting to try something new, we wanted to “experience strange shores”. Now this shore, it didn’t feel like anything any of us had ever done before. The waves coming out from it didn’t make any sense to us. It wasn’t like when you surf a familiar shore. You know how if you’re at a shore you know well, then you can understand the feel of the waves, and you can tell what’s coming nextlike, certain kinds of waves never come after certain other ones, certain ones always go together, whateverand you pick up on those patterns, right? But a foreign shore like that, you can get wiped out at any moment by a wave coming out of nowhere, or a big, badass burst, something like that.

So my buddies and I, we went riding these unfamiliar waves. We stretched ourselves into nice wide boards and we caught those sweet pressure differentials. The intensity... it was epic, man. We were getting rocked like crazy by sick sibilants you wouldn’t believe. We were gliding over these awesome approximants. We rode out plosives so strong that they could push you off into nowhere if you were careless or unlucky enough to catch one dead-on. And there were so many different kinds of them... man, someone was really pulling out all the stops. There’s no feeling like the first time riding waves that don’t follow any pattern you’ve ever tried before. Man, wherever those waves were coming from, it was tubular.

Like usual, these waves were headed towards a huge auricle. We were paddling upstream against the waves, always making sure to paddle back towards the shore we started from, you know, like you do, making sure not to get blown all the way to those giant, fleshy ridges on the other side. We all know someone who’s gotten smashed to death against one of those meaty mountainsor even worse, blown down into the dark canal in its center. So, always pushing back towards the shore, back towards the gaping maw the waves come fromin those days, that was the only way you ever surfed, it was all we ever knew. Always towards the source of the waves.

Well, this time... the waves changed direction. They pulled us in. Towards the mouth.

I was swept up. I was plummeting into that huge, red hole. I tried like crazy to change direction, to shift my membrane around and get off the wave, or dive under it. But it was too fast and too strong, I couldn’t get out. I was gonna get sucked into that slimy, steamy abyss.

Then at the last moment, something grabbed me. My mate was clutching on to the big pink lip and caught hold of me with a pseudopod. I held on for dear life and they pulled me back from the edge.

That set was what we all know nowadays as an ingressive. A [ɓ], to be exact. Caught unprepared like that smack in the middle of a [ɓ], we were lucky to be alive.

That all happened a long time ago. Most of you didn’t even exist back then, that would’ve been back before your mothers or even your grandmothers had mitosed. But that day is the reason for all the work I’ve done since then. That [ɓ] was what made us realize the importance of studying the waves. We can’t really ride the waves if we don’t understand where they’re coming from, how they’re made, how they go together. And we can’t understand them if we only stick to what we’ve surfed so far. Who knows what kinds of shores are out there. Who knows what kinds of wild wave patterns they make that none of us have ever tried before. If we really call ourselves surfers, we all have a duty to go out there and try them. And to protect them, to make sure our daughters and granddaughters will always have as many different waves to ride as we did.

I am so honored to have been invited to give this speech to open this year’s Speechsurfing Nationals. Good luck to all of you out there. But remember, the waves on this shore aren’t the only ones out there. By all means, have a good time here; but also take time to go somewhere you can kick out a click, duck dive under a diphthong, bodyboard a breathy voiced sonorant. It’s an amazing world ofoh wow, check out that frication! Looks like we’ve got a great low vowel on the way. Come on, let’s get out there!

SpecGram Film and Media ClubManfred M. McManus
Sonority: A Space Elevator StoryMatthew “MattGyver” Lee
SpecGram Vol CLXXXVII, No 4 Contents