freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
For some reason the recent Garden XKCD won't load on my work computer, probably because complicated campus firewalls or something - you go to the page and all it gives you is a revolving tree silhouette with the word "LOADING" and a flashing ellipsis, with the mouseover "Relax." I thought that was the whole strip, and it was perfect - that's exactly what you do with a garden, relax and wait for everything to load.

Currently I am delighting in a random corner of my real-life container garden which is slowly and carefully loading three butternut squash plants, the result of me, in a fit of pique at having an entire tray of baby marrow seedlings eaten off at ground level by cutworm, madly planting 6 seeds from a butternut I happened to have for dinner one evening. I'm fairly useless at seeds, a 50% germination rate is bloody good by my standards, but as long as I can keep the neighbourhood tomcat from jumping on them in the course of his flee-the-garden escape route when I shout at him for stealing my cats' food and/or spraying in the passage, they seem to be doing well. In the meanwhile, the XKCD comic is growing things under lights on my home computer, although I cannot as yet persuade it to produce anything other than a row of identical boring trees. I love the way Randall Munroe's mind works, the controls for the lights are elegantly simple.

In a tangentially related note (technological replications of biological processes?), I give you Holotypic Occlupanid Research Group, because delightful. They solemnly and meticulously catalogue the taxonomical classifications of the little plastic widgets used to close bread bags.

In other news also not unentirely related to the unduly artificial mechanical replication of actual life processes, last night Machete Order brought us to re-watch Attack of the Clones. I had honestly forgotten (a) most of the movie, I clearly blanked it in sheer self-defence, and (b) how utterly terrible a film it is. Seriously: the plot sucks, the script blows, the dialogue is beyond lame and unnatural, the greenscreen is ungodly clunky, the "romance" "plot" is the unconvincing bumping together of two wooden effigies, one of them loutish, and the whole represents the utter triumph of overbudgeted CGI over reason, taste or the faintest replication of actual life. Unsurprisingly, given that it focuses on the CGI clashes of droids and clones rather than actual people, the whole thing can be summed up with "Newsflash: I don't care." Honestly, George, it takes a special level of anti-skill to make giant battles between droids, clones and Jedi knights actually boring.

We still have to endure Revenge of the Sith, although probably only when Jo gets back from AfricaBurns. Anyone know any good drinking games? I have time to train my liver up a bit...

cold tired fingers

Monday, 4 April 2016 03:11 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Gawsh, this blog thing, I'd forgotten. It has been a Somewhat Medical couple of weeks, with the minor op for the Weird Finger Bump followed by a lurgi and a doozy of a glandular resurgence, which means I've been flattened and faintly choked for about ten days. Seriously, minor sinus/throat infection thingy and it feels as though a horde of inept vampires have been chewing on my neck, enthusiastically but without much actual skill. They are too fumbling to break the skin, but my current levels of flattenedness suggest they're draining blood by some sort of vampiric osmosis. I'm still somewhat exhausted, despite two full weeks featuring exactly two days of work. It really hasn't been an easy six months on campus, I think we're all feeling the tension.

On the upside, the Weird Finger Bump turns out to be a cartilage tumour, which is a benign/non-invasive thingy known technically as an enchondroma, which is a lovely word that bears repetition just for the monk-like chanting effect. Also, I'm associating it vaguely with camels, or possibly the inner wibbly bits of plant cells. I have a neat 3cm slash in my finger, which meekly dissolved its four stitches in a week and is otherwise inoffensive, although it was bloody and rather painful for the first week and large tracts of it were blue and yellow from bruising from the local. The hand, it transpires, is unduly full of nerve endings. On the upside this kind of tumour has a very low chance of recurrence. It has also been headed off at the pass from its purportedly characteristic party trick, which is to grow gently into the bone until it's exerting enough pressure to fracture it. Foiled! Foiled, I say!

I have, regrettably, been a complete and total hermit for the last two weeks, because exhaustion, and my apologies to all the lovely people I haven't seen much of. On the upside, I have played entirely through Knights of the Old Republic and about two thirds of the way through the sequel, which has contented the Star Wars jonesing more than somewhat, and has incidentally revealed the following:
  1. Narrative clearly trumps graphics any day, these are really old games with really clunky visuals, and I'm still absorbed. I have also recently played Bioshock 3 and Dishonoured, both of which are really pretty, and neither of which I have finished because bored and railroaded. Or, in the case of Dishonoured, undue up-front fridging.
  2. I am at a level of expertise with these games where I recognise the actors' voices (because Bioware really has recurring favourites they keep using from game to game) within about half a sentence. Since they have cunningly seeded the love interests with the voices of, respectively, Kaidan and Cullen, my two go-to romances from ME and DA, I'm basically doomed, romancing anyone else feels like infidelity. On the upside: Carth.
  3. Dear sweet whistling Chadra-Fan, but the plot of KOTOR2 is a hot mess. It really has too much plot, insufficiently controlled, and its quest structures bugged way beyond hell and gone. Not a quality construction, although productive of a certain player curiosity which propels one through the high levels of wtf in sheer curiosity as to how this whole insane edifice is ultimately going to shamble, clanking and groaning, to a conclusion. My prediction: bits will fall off.
  4. Lightsabers. LIGHTSABERS!!
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Orientation/registration difficulties over the last week have, courtesy of cosmic wossnames who apparently have it in for me, included the following:
  1. The complete non-arrival of the faculty handbooks. That means I was giving curriculum briefings to first-years and advisors, and running registration, entirely on a cardboard-and-string combination of last year's handbook with the various handouts, supplementary booklets, hotsheets and frantic updates which I produce annually more or less as a nervous twitch just in case this exact thing happens.
  2. A new, fascinating computer error which blanked out the screen of the lectern computer in my orientation venue so I couldn't see anything I was projecting to the data projector screen behind me. (It was projecting fine. I just couldn't see it on the computer). Manipulating powerpoints and swapping between documents was challenging, and involved a lot of craning my neck as the mouse cord wasn't long enough for me to go round the other side of the lectern. In addition, we were filming all my lectures. I haven't dared look at the result. I hope the students can make sense of curriculum briefings which issue from the back of my head. This was a particularly annoying problem because it recurred: Day 1, no screen, logged call, they sorted it out, Day 2 fine, Day 3 spontaneously regenerated the problem. Alas, my techno-jinx.
  3. The orientation leaders, in a fit of excess enthusiasm, blowing the speakers we'd hired for their opening number by cranking the sound up too high, to the tune of several thousand rand for which we are now liable. We've had budget cuts this year.
  4. The coexistence of all of the above orientation/registration hassle with the unique circumstance of the extra marks checking exercise we've had to run this year as a result of last year's exam delays and all the extra deferred exams. I've just worked a seven-day week. I took a board schedule home at 6.30 on Friday, and spent that night and Saturday morning checking it before a three-hour Saturday meeting. I spent four hours yesterday in a marks review meeting and the rest of the day allocating advisors to registration sessions. I am a very particular level of complete shambling zombie.
  5. I've lost 10 out of my advisor squad in the last week, either academics not pitching up to training, or sudden family emergencies or what have you. I am trying to allocate not enough advisors to too many sessions. I mean, I more or less always have to do that, but this year it's an extra-huge deficit.
  6. The continual, subliminal, nebulous fear that we may have protests and disruptions of orientation or reg this week so that a large proportion of all this preparation may be ultimately in vain. Hopefully not, because our VC is sneaky and intelligently political, and has rustled up extra money to address the fees exclusion issues Fees Must Fall are now agitating about, but it may not be enough.
  7. Heatwaves. Last night had an added side order of a mosquito plague, during which both cats joined me under the mosquito net in sheer self-defence. I could hear them twitching and occasionally trying to bite mosquitoes out of the air as they were being eaten alive.
  8. PMT. Apparently the anti-depressants were keeping this down, because oh lord.

Despite all of the above, I am surprisingly cheerful. Completely bloody exhausted, but there's a sort of vindictive relish in making it all work in the teeth of the odds. Also, as a gesture of defiant self-indulgence I have just ordered myself the complete boxed set of the Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series, which for some reason is currently at about half price on Blu-Ray on Takealot. Because fuck it, I have earned some entertaining fluff.

(Subject line is David Bowie, "Ashes to Ashes". It seemed appropriate. If only because my current work life is enough to make me wistfully wish I actually did drugs.)
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
This is my second favourite thing about Star Wars: The Force Awakens so far. (My favourite thing about Star Wars: The Force Awakens is Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Have you noticed how they mix up and re-allocate gender stereotypes? Rey is geeky, technical, efficient, goal-directed. She drives. Finn is emotional, empathetic, nurturing. He heals. They both fight; they both care; they rescue each other. Also, Tumblr is erupting fairly inevitably into Finn/Poe, which is simply charming, or Finn/Poe/Rey, which is also cute.)

Anyway. Inevitable and beautiful mash-ups R Us. This was, as far as I can work out, perpetrated by Tumblr user starwarsheckyeah.

freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Saw Force Awakens yesterday. Three things. Non-spoilery things.

  1. That was Star Wars. That felt like Star Wars. That was, in fact, so much like Star Wars it was almost comical. It's like JJ took a judicious sampler of the most Star Warsy character archetypes, tropes, plot points, flavours, conflicts, visual cues, scenes and confrontations from the original trilogy (we do not speak of the Prequels of which we do not speak), and simply remixed them. It's like a concentrated essence of three Star Wars movies in one. He must have simmered it for ages. Some of the world-building is a bit perfunctory, I have absolutely no sense of how this political landscape has developed after the fall of the Empire, and I suspect JJ himself doesn't really know, but it's such an intense burst of Star Wars on the palate, it's easy to forgive.
  2. That wasn't just a film, that was a statement of creed. Its ultimate upshot is to ally itself so closely to the original films that it effectively obliterates the Prequels of which we do not speak. Those were, it is delicately suggested, an inexplicable error of taste. JJ has managed, in fact, to give us something resembling an address to the horrible Darth Vader plot of the prequels - a reworking of the teen angst rebellion theme with more actual human content and a far better actor. (I love, incidentally, how few of the main cast are classically Beautiful Hollywood People. Ren possibly qualifies, but she has a bit of a girl-next-door quality; mostly we have fascinatingly craggy or characterful faces, and a non-WASP aesthetic preponderates to a pleasingly large extent. I adore Finn to a slightly unseemly extent, he has that broad-faced, honest, slightly perplexed thing going. I can't help but feel that JJ is infinitely better suited to the swashbuckle of Star Wars than he ever was to Star Trek's more thoughtful spaces, but across both franchises one of his huge strengths is his casting.) This is possibly why it felt a bit like set-up - we have rehashed the originals now, which has cleared the decks, and hopefully the next two films will be able to strike into slightly newer territory.
  3. We have a female lead. We have a self-sufficient, efficient, geeky female lead who consistently and effectively rescues herself, and whose accurate tech-babble has as its direct cinematic ancestor Kaywinnet Lee Frye. We have not only a girl-hero, but random women in the background busy being doctors and techs; we have a female Asian pilot in the Resistance wing. (Although Captain Phasma was criminally underused, I hope she's heavily in the sequel). The partial-Yoda-analogue (who I loved) is female. Carrie Fisher is doing her thing with Leia. And the film is breaking box-office records. Take that, Hollywood patriarchy! Women can too lead a blockbuster action franchise. Which we already knew, but allow us to gleefully rub your nose in it.


In short, if you hadn't already gathered: squee. Slightly qualified squee, in that I slightly wish the film had given us something new in addition to stating its faith, but it's a good faith, and there's lots of space for newness in the sequels. Apparently this generation's Star Wars is no longer Guardians of the Galaxy, it's now Star Wars. Which is as it should be.

By way of celebration, this is one of my current favourite things in the universe ever, neatly conflating my Star Wars fangirliness with my love of a capella harmony. It's a thing of joy.

themes

Saturday, 12 December 2015 09:13 am
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I am incautiously excited for the new Star Wars movies, and open to having my heart, once more, broken if it comes to that, which it very well might given JJ. (Current favourite anecdote: John Boyega being hailed by Samuel L. Jackson at a party, with the salutation "Hey, black Jedi! you my SON!")

I also very much enjoyed having Tracy visit a few weekends back, so that her daughters might variously (a) peruse my graphic novel collection (eldest; made off with Captain America, I'll get her into Digger too, see if I don't) and (b) noodle around on my piano (youngest: is starting lessons soon, accepted guidance on practising scales). It made me realise that I miss playing my piano, and should get back into it.

By way of synthesising paragraphs (1) and (2) above, I love this very, very much.



I shall allow it to sustain me through today, which, while being a Saturday, is also a four-hour review meeting of all the students who've been academically excluded by these exams. It does good and useful work, and is uniformly depressing.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Things you do not expect to see on a respectable campus while trotting off to the library for your important pile of Girly Swot books (subset: crash course in African cinema): live horses. Six of them. Tethered in the shade against the columns of the old Student's Union, peaceably chomping. There's something fairly major filming on campus at the moment, the place has been a madhouse: the stairs have sprouted fake extra columns and exotic greenery and weird screens positioned with arcane precision. I parked my car next to and partially under a giant cherry-picker boom sort of thing this morning, and there are approximately three million acres of random, presumably desperately important cabling snaking down the avenue, tended by skinny grip types in Bauhaus t-shirts. Actual African film, in fact. Curiously appropriate.

It's too bloody hot for serious thought (what's with February heatwaves before Christmas? Not Cricket), so have a random linkery round-up, I need to clear these tabs.
  • If you go to the UK Vogue page and type the Konami code, extremely entertaining things happen when you keep on hitting A. Random internet easter eggs ftw.
  • For some demented reason this ridiculous Boba Fett love story really amuses me, possibly because of the way the sarlacc is drawn. The rancor BFF one is also cute.
  • Sherlock fandom is in a tizzy because of the Caitlin Moran faux pas (I never liked the wretched woman, her book is actively irritating) - she had the inexpressibly tone-deaf bad taste to pressure/trick the lead actors into reading erotic fanfic aloud at a screening. Daily Dot has a good summary. It really isn't safe these days to try and taunt subcultures you perceive as geeky and pitiable, they end up having way more power and self-awareness than you expect. I cannot help but be amused, though, at the cosmic inevitability of Moran attempting to sabotage Sherlock and failing dismally. It is, after all, simply an enactment of the Doyle plot. (Sebastian Moran is Moriarty's sniper sidekick in canon, if your Sherlock geekery is a bit rusty).
  • Random fanfic recc! I am currently actually re-reading The Least of All Possible Mistakes, which is a rather well-written and often laugh-out-loud funny Sherlock fic featuring a Sherlock given to entertaining tantrums and a Mycroft/gender-swapped-Lestrade relationship which is both amusing and real. The fandom fascination with Mycroft fascinates me. I blame Mark Gatiss entirely.

I finally sent out the Boxing Day braai email last night, after more than average levels of procrastination and forgettory. If you weren't on the list but usually are it's probably because of my cheese-brain, please drop me a reproachful line.

The subject line is the Konami Code, which as a concept and a catch-phrase as well as a random bit of esoterica has always amused the hell out of me.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
We are all Deeply Alarmed about the sale of the Star Wars rights to Disney: we don't trust George Lucas any more, anyway, since those horrible prequels he was fortunately prevented by direct deity intervention from ever making in the first place1, and Disney's track record is not good in the preservation of fan-beloved material without corporate sellout. And the internet, in its usual merry way, is rife with rumour about the original cast: will Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford have cameos in the new, JJAbramsified material? (For the record, I dislike JJ's Star Trek reboot slightly less than I did when I first saw it, but it's still an annoyingly brash and confusing narrative despite its rather excellent cast. But he'll probably do less damage than George did in those prequels he was fortunately prevented from making).

All this angst being the case, it's refreshing to see some actual perspective, as provided by this incredibly funny and entertaining clip from a Harrison Ford appearance on Jimmy Kimmel. If you didn't watch it on BoingBoing because it looked lame, please rectify that. It made me snort Earl Grey out my nose in the traditional fashion. It's beautifully acute about the nature of fandom, and gets better as it goes on.





1 This is not denial. All right-thinking people know they didn't exist, which is just as well, because they would have been a horrible betrayal if they did.

Tags

Page generated Wednesday, 20 September 2017 09:22 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit