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Things That Have Amused Me About The Last Three Days:
  1. Realising at 3pm, after a total of 4.5 hours speaking to a lecture theatre full of 550 first-years, that I forgot to brush my hair this morning. Fortunately this hairstyle, or possibly more accurately this "hairstyle", is apparently sleep-and-go as much as wash-and-go. In related news, I have slept like a log for two nights courtesy of my amazing doctor, who faxed through a new prescription for the necessary sleep meds at half an hour's notice. Death to insomnia! and other revolutionary slogans.
  2. My orientation leaders, sitting on the Jammie steps, breaking out into a spontaneous cheerleading routine featuring my name, at the tops of their voices, with dance moves, as I randomly walked past.
  3. Students whose first names begin with the very common Xhosa sufprefix "Nom" (Nomfundo, Nombeko, Nombulelo, etc). They make me wander around vaguely thinking "nom nom nom" for hours.
  4. A totally random postgrad wandering into my office to tell me, at length, for 15 minutes, how my "Disney is the Antichrist!" lectures in his first year eight years ago made him realise that texts need to be questioned suspiciously, and helped him end up where he is now. I didn't have the time for it, but it was worth it. You can tell a cultural studies teacher no more heartwarming and validating thing.
  5. The merry piece of "you have won the lottery!" spam in my inbox this morning which included as its subject line the simple, nakedly honest inscription "SPAM:". (With the colon. No idea about the colon. It seems fraught with implication).
Things That Have Not Amused Me About The Last Three Days:
  1. The giant catfight that woke me up at 5.45 this morning. I hope it was the Hobbit seeing off the Evil Spraying Ginger Tom of Doom, but I doubt it. Wimp.
  2. The unpleasant discovery that one of our main orientation buildings, in which we have a total of about 12 venues booked over five days, is full of builders, ripped-up floors, wet paint, dust, rubble, more builders, the personal stuff of the builders left all over the lecture venues, five giant fans in the main venue drying paint noisily, and a regular refrain of splintering crashes as they throw old roof tiles merrily off the roof down giant plastic chutes. Orientation is a logistical bitch of the more evil-goddess sort, and a sort of private low-grade apocalypse in the venues really doesn't help.
  3. My inbox, which is full of random queries a full 60% of which shouldn't be coming to me at all. It is absolutely fatal to develop a reputation for efficiency and knowing the answer to Absolutely Everything. Because I mostly do, but I really don't have the time to tell you the surname of the lecturer in a particular department when you only remember his first name and the issue you discussed with him. Also, I don't have time to laboriously spell it over the phone, particularly when you persist as hearing my Fs as Ses and my Ps as Ds. Which is not my problem, but yours. Go away.
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How much do I loathe Russell T. Davies? Well, actually, I don't, he's always come across as a rather sweet and inoffensive man in interviews, and we of the fangirly persuasion owe him oodles for his resuscitation of the Doctor Who franchise. But, ye gods and little poodles, he does the most horrible things to narrative. I finally dug up the gumption to watch the Tenth Doctor's exit last night, and I'm still picking bits of it out of my teeth. I adore the Tenth Doctor. He's a doll. He's also a damned fine actor, and deserves infinitely better than the illogical pap served up to him in the name of plot. Further fulminations cut in the interests of spoilerage. )

Anyway. Thanks, Russell T. Davies. On balance we were probably lucky to have you and I hope you go on to even better things, but I do not grok your personal narrative beliefs, nor wish them well. Above all, stay away from time travel. You don't get it.

null, void

Monday, 1 June 2009 03:11 pm
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I was going to review Wolverine, honestly I was. But, other than a slight disposition to babble helplessly about how incredibly cool Gambit was, I can't really summon up an opinion. It was... a movie. Of the superhero persuasion. After an admittedly very nice credit sequence of Wolverine-at-war flashback, stuff happened. The general watchability of Hugh Jackman, appeal of Taylor Kitsch and reasonably well-staged assault on a Nigerian diamond facility was almost perfectly balanced by the flat, bland, cardboard lifelessness of the script, which no amount of entirely gratuitous violence and random death could overcome. The result was a no-event. I can't even say I hated it enough to work up a good snark.

The faint stirrings of interest occasioned by the multiple-hero attack on the Nigerian headquarters made me realise, though, that one of the keen pleasures of the superhero genre for me is actually its dramatisation of teamwork - it's not unlike the satisfaction of a perfectly-balanced role-playing party, abilities and specialisations dovetailing neatly for elegant functionality. I liked the assault because it was cool, it put superhero abilities on display in a series of nicely-matched interactions of problem and skill, and it allowed them to assume the classic superhero team pose which is ultimately appealing, abs aside, because it radiates self-contained confidence. It also explains why I love X-Men and have a sneaking fondness for Fantastic 4 despite the unalloyed cheese of the films - they push a button that all the Bat-brooding and Iron-manic flamboyance don't, because the latter feature solo superheroes. The prospect of Iron Man going all Avenger makes me a happy, happy bunny.

And Wolverine still has silly hair.

with cat-like thump

Tuesday, 8 July 2008 12:46 pm
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Gah. Likewise, phooey. Had another Great South African Experience yesterday, wandered home after work to find the house ransacked and mysterious thumping noises in the Evil Landlord's bedroom. Stood on the patio for approximately three hours, although in hindsight it might actually only have been ten minutes, feebly pressing my handy-dandy key-ring panic button and hoping the intruders were as cowardly as I was. Fortunately they were, and presumably made good their escape through bedroom window (they levered off the cast-iron burglar bars) while I was still waiting for the armed response. At any rate, when the nice gun-toting security guys arrived the house was empty of burglars. Also, of computers, monitors, stv's DS console, jo's leather jacket and my nice little Grundic CD player that was a communal gift from friendly friends lo these many years ago, plus various sundries. Even as I write the sweet constable lady is sitting in my office re-taking my statement, on the grounds that the one the cops took last night made no sense. (I think this may have been them rather than me, although I wasn't at my best owing to the wibbling).

We got off lightly, actually - all our data is more or less backed up, and supposing insurance pays out, I was due for an upgrade anyway. The thieves, clearly lacking all taste and discernment, either spurned my CD, DVD and jewellery collections or were interrupted before they could grab them. (They did, oddly enough, steal three bars of soap and a pair of my socks, which they subsequently dumped by the rubbish bin. The modern burglar appears to lack all coherence as well as taste). It would have really burned if they'd taken the discs and jewellery, those collections are highly personal, selective and amassed over a process of years and continents.

The whole thing was probably the EL's fault, since his early-morning fog caused him to wander off to work without setting the alarm, under the vague delusion that jo&stv were still in the house. In revenge, he gets to deal with the insurance. Heh. Also, I now have absolutely the best grounds in the world for seriously nagging him about fixing the bloody front gate.
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Gaah! This accursed and thrice-spat-upon campus so-called internet (hah!) is joyously swooping between no connectivity because the main server is faulty and keeps choking and dropping the connection, or no connectivity because there's malware on the system so the bandwidth is choked and keeps dropping the connection. Since any connection-droppage causes the web browser to frantically look for login confirmations, repeatedly, with increasing paranoid desperation, basically one may as well not bother. It's just taken me fifteen minutes to load this LJ post page. Pshaw. Likewise, Tchah! and Phooey!

So, the Billboard Poet of the Daily Voice is back:
VROT LIVES OF THE POTATO PEOPLE!
In my ongoing spirit of random analysis I draw your attention to the nifty correlation between "vrot" and "potato", "vrot" being a term equally applied to rotten vegetables and to a more general and abstracted sense of ickness. "Potato people" likewise invokes the classic tabloid interest in mutants, aliens, monstrosities and other weird humanoids. The whole gives a pleasingly fantastic spin to the underlying story, presumably one of straightforward poverty and poor working conditions.

I seem to have been very bad with blogging lately, and have not much to plead in mitigation other than above connectivity joys, and an entire weekend spent reading J.D. Robb and going to bed ridiculously early. Other than the bit where I spent the better part of eight hours lounging in a jaccuzzi drinking gin and tonics and eating Lindt chocolates, while appropriately 80s hits played rather loudly. (There's something terribly 80s about a jaccuzzi. What's with that?). Same house-sit place in Sea Point as last weekend, only more decadent. Apparently lounging in jaccuzzi, or possibly the bit where you jump into the pool at intervals to cool down, works all your muscles almost as much as a gym workout. Who knew?

Incidentally, in the Department of Subject Lines Not From A David Bowie Lyric, this one's from Order of the Stick. Meta orcs make me very, very happy.

Last Night I Dreamed: maddened fantasy politics, with me as a junior member of cabinet for a strong-minded female ruler who caused fluttering in dovecots by appointing her admittedly brilliant twenty-something daughter as Minister of Finance. Much hanging out around long wooden tables in mansions and castles, and using secret passages and concealment behind wall hangings to overhear conversations.
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It's the perfect metaphor in which to describe my research endeavours at the moment, applying equally to my stupid chapter and the stupid amounts of stupid theory I'm reading. Actually, though, it's essay marking as text adventure! Anyone who's ever marked an essay needs to read this. Rogue badly-indented long quotations! Plurals flying around on apostrophe wings! My favourite bit:
>search for commas around subordinate clauses
Surely you jest.


The worm has apparently turned on this bloody chapter update, I wrote a thousand words yesterday, and today the book on folklore theory which has taken three and a half months to travel by airmail from the US, suddenly and unexpectedly arrived. Perhaps the moons of Saturn are in a more favourable conjunction for academic effort. Also on the upside, my mother gets in from the UK at lunchtime today, one aspect of Christmas which I actually do find joyous1, not to mention the fact that she's laden with the DVD and book loot I have been incautiously buying off Amazon every time I get frustrated with writing. This is a bad combination, leading to a faint, panting and exhausted credit card, and in all likelihood a faint, panting and exhausted mother with her arms two feet longer than usual. Also, not much book update progress.

The dreaded jo has been mulling over the City Watch casting problem, and is in favour of Heath Ledger as Carrot. She nominates Edward Burns as back-up, because he has an honest face; I tend to agree. I could see Edward Burns doing a good Carrot. I cannot, alas, agree with her that Billy Bob Thornton could do Vimes. He's too creepy.

I succumbed and watched episodes 3-6 of Torchwood, and am mentally revolving not altogether complimentary commentary. More tomorrow, as I now have to dash off to feed the gardener and collect my mother, in that order.

    1 A nice man laughed at me a lot in the supermarket this morning, having caught me making simulated retching motions in the pasta aisle as a ghastly R&B a capella harmonized version of "Silent Night" erupted out of the speakers in a shower of syrup.
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An hour turning upside-down the EL's study and surrounding environs with aid of a torch has revealed the following:
1. One calculator, a small wooden puzzle piece and a telephone bill down behind the desk.
2. Rolemaster Companion 2 and Creatures and Treasures in the EL's top right-hand desk drawer, which seems an odd place to keep them.
3. His chocolate stash. (Snagged imported German hazelnut thing as my Just Desserts for all this mole-hunting).
4. A small colony of Multicoloured Gerbils of Paradise, one in a state of explosive moult, under the chest.
5. Absolutely no trace of a mole. Curses! this damned thing has warp abilities. Judging by the fact that the cats are totally disinterested in my activities, either the mole is dead, or it's escaped somewhere else in the house. I forget how fast the little buggers can move.

Now I have to go and peer under all the furniture in the living room. News at 11.

awwww...

Friday, 30 December 2005 04:37 pm
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BoingBoing is running a link to this article, which is a very cute story about a hippo and a tortoise. Dammit, I think all these babies are rotting my brain.

fa la la la la

Saturday, 24 December 2005 08:38 am
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Christmas! Bah, Humbug! Actually, I've quite enjoyed buying presents for everyone this year, it's the first time in recorded history I've actually had enough money to buy what I'd like to. Memo to self, get new job. Or career. Preferably as an international jewel thief. On the upside, I do not appear to be alone in my general cynicism about the Merry Commercial Festival we all love; this year's Christmas happy-maker is Ursula Vernon's Merry Mithraic ceremony card, which appeals to me greatly. It's the psychotic gleam in the hamster's eye, I think. If there's anything shopping malls inspire in me two days before Christmas, it's the desire to bathe in the blood of the living.

Today, Mother and I are off up the coast for two days in Arniston with my sister's family and her in-laws. I have mixed feelings about this, including a healthy admixture of fear that my car won't make the trip. However, I'm generally in favour of the theory that a large extended-family Christmas is probably easier if it's someone else's extended family rather than one's own. Detatchment is necessary to retain the fine, careless rapture which is the preferable response to the fine, careless ruptures which large-scale family gatherings, of anyone's family, tend to engender. Ah, Christmas! Comfort and joy!

Merry Dies Natalis Solis Invicti to all! Much joyous loot, unreasonable quantities of food, and may nobody's family bite them in the butt. And see a lot of you on Boxing Day.
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As many of you will know, the Evil Landlord's theme tune for the last few years has been "I need a garage!" Speaking as the Person Most Likely To Cook In This House, I can only agree, since I cannot say that sharing the kitchen with jewellery-making, wax-melting, leather-baking, armour-construction, bead-firing, riveting, soldering, Old Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all, is particulary easy. He's just darned lucky I've never actually managed to serve him Chicken Pewter Surprise for supper.

At any rate, several years of the theme song on repeat has finally borne fruit, in that the builders arrived bright and early yesterday morning to start garage-building operations. In truly incomprehensible and Mystic Constructor Fashion, the foreman and sidekick turned the sod, so to speak, by chipping the gutter from the corner of the house with a small instrument resembling an ice-pick. (Sound effect: giant demented woodpecker with a muffled cast-iron bill). While this happened, the builder and architect were crouched around the kitchen table with the Evil Landlord in the approved buccaneers-with-knife-in-table manner, plotting over plans. (I love architect's plans: so beautifully tidy and clear, everything neatly measured and diagrammatised. They appeal on a profound level to my inner jackbooted fascist).

Subsequently, all higher-order management has vanished, and we are down to two minion builder-types who are excavating beautiful holes outside my bedroom window. (Sound effect: giant rubberised pestle dropped repeatedly from a height, interspersed with metallic chinking noises, like a clumsy dungeon thief unlocking a chest around the corner). I note with sorrow the rolling of the construction landfortresses over the pitiful trench-warfare resistance provided by the moles, who have apparently been working desparately over the last week or so to fortify the frontier against the invaders. I swear the last two or three giant mole-hills were proto-machine-gun-nests. They are now small, sad patches of levelled earth. The sapper activity was more positive, at least the undermining from within had some casualties (me, predictably enough, catching the top of the open car door with my chin as the brickwork sagged beneath my incautious feet. Sound effect: screams and agonised swearing).

The moles have presumably tunnelled speedily out of the area, defeated by the superior digging technology that produces a trench twenty foot long and two foot deep in a single day. (At any rate, the cats' mole-corpse-count is not significantly higher). Not content with this silent surrender, however, the Army of Reconstruction have apparently pursued a scorched earth policy; I returned from campus this morning to discover that they'd wantonly and utterly uprooted the flourishing bed of lavendar and jasmine from the corner by my bedroom. In true Ministry of Peace fashion, this gesture is essentially arbitrary, since the building is going nowhere near there. I have been carefully nurturing those pleasant-smelling plants for two years now, and am somewhat miffed at their summary removal. A whole summer's worth of my shower water carted out there, daily, with dedication and resentment! There will be a stiff letter to the Times about this, I can tell you.

I feel impelled to point out that it is, of course, completely inevitable that the next eight weeks of noise, dust, noise, vibration, cheerful builder shouts and noise will coincide with some of the most demanding and intense academic work I have yet to face. The building site is approximately 3.5 m from my study window. It's some sort of natural law.
freckles_and_doubt: (Wizard Howl)
Unfortunately, Ster Kinekor have no plans currently to release Howl's Moving Castle, although they're going to query it with head office. (Response time: 22 minutes. They're getting even better). In retrospect, in fact Spirited Away was released by Nu Metro, not Ster Kinekor, so they may do this one as well. Have mailed them. Their response time is not as fast as Ster-Kinekor, it's been an hour already and no go!

Edited to add: Ster-Kinekor head office has responded - no plans to put Moving Castle on the line-up, but they may release it later. Which I suspect means next year sometime, if we're lucky. Sigh. Help us, Nu Metro, you are our only hope!
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I went to see Bewitched today, being more or less in the mood for something fluffy, and cherishing as I do a great deal of affection for the original series, which we used to see occasionally on TV in Zim.
  • I like Tuesday morning movies: it's cheap, and usually there's only one other person in the cinema, which must be something to do with quantum. I am, however, still faintly stunned at the perspicacity of today's young lady, who arrived in the middle of that Vodacom ad with the barn full of hairy dishevelled rugby and soccer supporters squabbling over a TV, and breathelessly asked me, "Has it started yet?!" I'm not sure quite what she was expecting of Bewitched. Something very different to me. Or the rest of the planet.
  • Postmodernism has a great deal to answer for. (This mantra is trademarked). This wasn't Bewitched, it was the ironic, layered, self-referential, witty, slightly jaded self-absorbed movie industry version, which would have gone down a lot better if the plot had had either intelligence or wit. Which it didn't. Also, the effect of a plot entailing a witch/mortal TV show relationship enthusiastically hammed by actual actors with appropriate ironic world-weariness, is to give their supposedly "real" emotional interactions outside the show-frame all the depth and sincerity of a cardboard collage.
  • Today's exciting discovery: in the Great Divide which characterises my response to movie actors, Will Ferrell turns up firmly in the Tom Cruise camp. He played a self-absorbed asshole devoid of acting talent with suspicious virtuosity.
  • Nicole Kidman was good, and she's cute when she does that nose-wriggle thing, but the script didn't give her much to do.
  • The cat was also cute, and the lead's irritating manager parasite looks like a sawn-off Tom Cruise, which is a mental image rife with sadistic enjoyment.
  • I darkly suspect that this movie would be best viewed when drunk.

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