a suffusion of yellow

Wednesday, 11 January 2017 08:43 am
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
For some bizarre reason my morning Earl Grey tastes faintly of coffee. This seems both unlikely and a little unfair. I don't think there is actually any coffee in the house.

Today is my last day of leave, which I propose to spend doing entirely self-indulgent things which probably include comfort-replaying something hack-and-slashy. It's been a lovely three weeks of leave, which have been characterised by a nice balance of achievement and goofing off.
  • I examined a PhD thesis, for the first time ever, which was pretty terrifying going in but actually doable, and I think I've done a reasonably fair and conscientious job despite large tracts of it being in an unfamiliar critical field.
  • I should have written a paper, but three days in I examined my conscience and state of energy, thought "Hell no" and withdrew from the collection, which made me feel guilty for about three seconds, and then enormously relieved; the editor was nice about it and the world did not end. (I also have to say that if there's a silver lining to the student protest cloud, it makes a magnificent excuse for not being able to do stuff).
  • I finished Portal, Portal 2 and Firewatch, all three of which were highly enjoyable.
  • I've managed over the holiday period to get back into exercising, which means I've been walking for about 40 mins daily, and am feeling much better for it.
  • And, notwithstanding water restrictions, I have madly grown a batch of gem squash plants and a mango seedling from seed, by virtue of randomly planting the remnants of various meals, watering them at erratic intervals, standing back and let the currently rather fierce African sun and my predilection for compost do their stuff.

By way of some faint point to this slightly vague and wandering post, have some random linkery.

  • This is an obituary for Leia Organa, rather nicely done.
  • This is an Ursula Vernon YA portal fantasy, evincing her characteristic combination of whimsy and down-to-earthness, and featuring a particularly virulent toxic mother figure. I loved it.
  • This, on the other hand, is an entirely adult, very dark, very freaky, very good Ursula Vernon horror story, finishing which made me go "Holy fuck!" out loud. There's feminist fairy-tale rewrites, and then there's ... this.


My subject line is a random Dirk Gently quote for no reason other than a vague association with multiplicity, and the fact that Tumblr has a current sideline in gifs from the new Dirk Gently tv series. It sounds completely off the wall, has anyone seen it?
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I am loving the slow, whimsical randomness of the XKCD garden, which is still sitting in a tab on my Chrome, gently accreting to no fixed rhythm or timetable. Mine has had a cat on a goat for a while, and a rather pleasing shark-fin in the birdbath, not to mention platform octopi. Today it grew a wol. Every now and then I fiddle with its lighting in a desultory sort of fashion, but it's such slow-motion cause and effect, it hardly feels instrumental. I am still inexpressibly charmed by the whole thing.



My subject line is breaking the David Bowie resolution, because {Weekday} Wol has its own inexorable logic. Not even David Bowie is that surreal. Does it count that I was playing his cover of the Pixies' "Cactus" in the car this morning?
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I have emerged, mostly unscathed and presumably de-polyped, from the slightly haphazard embrace of the medical establishment. (Five hours of waiting for theatre, during which the nurses utterly failed to restore the missing curtains from my cubicle, rendering changing clothes somewhat of an exposed experience, and I read four-fifths of The Name of the Wind, which is interesting, if slightly gender-unenlightened grimdark fantasy whose protagonist is something of an oblivious dick for most of it). Most noticeable side-effect of the whole procedure: two days of random bursting into tears for no apparent reason, which I'd forgotten is the usual result of anaesthetic on my hapless form. I await with alert interest to see if the polyp-removal does have any actual effect on my currently completely randomised menstrual cycle, which has not been operating as a cycle so much as a sort of wayward and slightly amnesiac wavy line.

I feel the need to share for posterity some rather soothing web-widgets which have whiled away my slightly lachrymose recovery.
  • This is beautifully random: it consists solely of a web page which reflects the time (hour/minute/second) as the colour of the hexadecimal colour code represented by the numbers. You can sit and watch it slowly, gradually shade as the seconds tick by. It's weirdly soothing.
  • This is also colour-related - you choose a colour from the palette and randomly spread it across the black screen, and it builds you galaxies. They're beautiful and ethereal.
  • This is meditative and exploratory and gently primitive, and the music is a lot of its effect, but I also like the strange, spidery creature you grow. Also, not actually two-dimensional, although you may think so at first.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Hooray, I appear to have mostly kicked this ridiculous bug, although it had some slightly excessive death throes yesterday, in that I spent the day with a thundering sinus headache and nausea. Felt like a hangover, actually, although I don't think I drank enough at dinner on Saturday night to merit an actual requires-hair-of-dog scenario. (Dinner on Saturday night was lovely, usual excellent food at Frere's, and Claire's New Man has been duly met and subjected to rigorous scrutiny. She's allowed to keep him, although we reserve the right to suppression in the Carrollian sense if he keeps on inspiring stv to new depths of awful pun.)

The weekend was rendered slightly surreal partly by the need to spend most of Sunday horizontal and not moving much (which the cats loved), and partly because I'm suffering Mass Effect romance angst (ME2, narked all over again by Kaidan dumping me, but can't work out if I want to romance Garrus or Thane in the resulting fit of pique1) but mostly by the fact that I upgraded my home computer to Windows 10 via their spanky and slightly pushy auto-update download thingy, and liked it. I am not generally a Windows fangirl, but the update process was ridiculously smooth and took under an hour to download, reinstall and update, all quietly to itself and with minimal intervention from me. And I really like the look and feel, it's clean and spare in a way that grooves my personal aesthetic ploons no end, and word on the street is that it's less of a resource hog than earlier versions, although admittedly that's not saying much because bloatware. Also, its boot-up chime is way cuter.

There was, of course, the inevitable moment of microhomicidal rage when the install initialised with a range of tickyboxes all defaulting to "send Windows all the deeply personal information all the time including shoe size, favourite brand of tea and fanfic kink preferences as well as everything else ever", but there's a certain vindictive satisfaction in unticking the whole damned lot of them. I do realise that it's probably still reporting on my cat-macro preferences, celebrity crushes and typing speed quietly in the background, but Windows. And the penalty of being an uncharacteristically early adopter (Robbi made me do it) is that Chrome is bugged for Win10, although I have cunningly circumvented its complete refusal to load by accidentally clicking on "open new window", upon which it loads normally like a lamb. *jazz hands* Computers!

In other news, it's Monday, but I have brightened the morning by typing up a beautifully concise, pointed and slightly bitey rebuke to a more than usually flaky student who's been attending courses blithely all semester without actually being registered for them. Apparently she expected the actual admin realities to gradually coalesce out of the air and settle on her, like dandruff. In addition to the administrative satisfaction inherent in booting her off campus, it's calm and quiet and rainy after way too much sun and heat this weekend, and I have Earl Grey and a slice of coffee walnut cake, and a new coat my mother made for me, and I'm almost not snuffling at all any more. Also, this epic Twitterquest was still open in a tab from last week, and it made me laugh all over again. I'll take it.

(My subject line is a more than usually convolutedly related Inquisition reference which I shall leave in beautiful obscurity because I am Mysterious, or possibly too lazy to explain the multiple layered points of tangential semi-logic.)

1I'm very fond of Thane, but have a sneaking suspicion that going for the doomed tragic assassin is possibly a little self-destructive. Although at least it's not Jack. Or Morinth. In other news from The Department Of Computer Gaming As Therapy, I expect to grow as a person any moment now.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
For no adequately defined reason, radio announcer auditions, courtesy Wikipedia. This is enormous fun to read out loud, particularly since the Parade's End Effect has been replaced by the Granada Sherlock Holmes Effect and I'm still enunciating with bell-like British clarity. Go on, try it. The sacred, secret crypts of Egypt and a marked propensity for procrastination and sloth. You roll it around your tongue and spit it out.

One hen
Two ducks
Three squawking geese
Four Limerick oysters
Five corpulent porpoises
Six pairs of Don Alverzo's tweezers
Seven thousand Macedonians dressed in full battle array
Eight brass monkeys from the ancient, sacred secret crypts of Egypt
Nine apathetic, sympathetic, diabetic old men on roller skates with a marked propensity for procrastination and sloth
Ten lyrical, spherical, diabolical denizens of the deep who haul stall around the corner of the quo of the quay of the quivery, all at the same time on Tuesday or Thursday, it really doesn't matter.

My subject line is David Bowie, "Time", one of the great Bowie piano pieces which I will, by gum, teach myself to play sometime very soon because it's awesome. My car music is still cycling through Bowie, currently Tonight by way of The Last Day, which is the new one and curiously pleasing.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Oh, dear. In pursuit of watering the burgeoning and increasingly verdant collection of pots in my back courtyard, I seem to have accidentally watered the Hobbit. He is slinking about the house at half his usual volume and twice his usual density, looking matted and hedgehog-spiky and somewhat cowed. I would be feeling more guilty except he's amusing like this :>.

In the Department of Random Ongoing Fangirling: so it turns out that if you slow the Sherlock theme down it sounds like something from a Tim Burton soundtrack.



I am obscurely charmed by this. Particularly since it beautifully accompanies fanart such as, for example, that by La-Chapeliere-Folle on deviantart, which won't let me link to the image, phooey. The Sherlock/Burton crossover appears to be inevitable. I blame Sherlock's silhouette.

Random fanfic rec! surprisingly, not Sherlock. This is an exceptionally beautifully-written slow-burn Harry/Draco fic which does my favourite thing in Potterfic, which is to explore the manifest iniquities and logical flaws inherent in Rowling's Slytherin/Gryffindor stereotyping. She really doesn't do nuance or sophistication or real human impulse in her moralities. Fortunately many fanfic writers absolutely do. This one is set mostly in pub arguments and is amusing as well as true.

The subject line is because it's a beautiful sunny day and my car sound system is onto The Life Pursuit, the Belle & Sebastian album voted most likely to make me randomly happy. It's all catchy, boppy, whimsical tunes, and I am a slut for catchy.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I am Randomly Amused this morning.

  1. My lovely new car is a lovesome thing, god wot, but it has a rather cheap and nasty sound system. As a result, I can't persuade it to play music off my MP3 player in any format other than through individual tracks in one ginormous string. This means that when it randomly resets, as it does occasionally if I don't switch the car off in exactly the right order, it starts at the top and works down, playing my musical collection in strict alphabetical order by (a) artist and (b) album title. The last time it did this I thought, right, clearly the Cosmic Wossnames are trying to tell me something, let's just let it. In the last week it has thus played through Arcade Fire and Bed on Bricks in short order and is currently in the middle of the more than elegant sufficiency of Belle & Sebastian which characterises my music collection. I am thoroughly enjoying the resulting slight whiplash, as well as the chance to rediscover odd corners of my musical taste I'd forgotten about.

    The Rules dictate that I don't skip tracks or otherwise disturb the order, other than the obligatory repeat of "Crown of Love" and "Wake Up", because I'm physically incapable of listening to either track just once. (Other than that I have decided, on mature reflection, that "The Suburbs" is probably my favourite Arcade Fire album, possibly because "Wasted Hours".) I'd forgotten how much fun Bed on Bricks are - they're a local outfit of some maturity and skill, not to mention considerable iconoclastic whimsy ("large Nigerian..."), whose overall style is eclectic but sounds at times like Chilli Peppers circa "Californication". And, for no adequately defined reason I haven't actually listened to any Belle & Sebastian for months. They tend to land me on campus in the morning obscurely soothed regardless of how many actual BMWs have cut me off in traffic. Possibly it's the Scottish accents.

  2. I think I posted the gifset of the cute wol bathing in a previous post, probably accompanied by the horrible moist owlet pun with which it was doing the rounds. Someone in my Tumblr feed unearthed the YouTube video which spawned it, which features not only the full bath experience (bathing birds are ridiculously cute, I love the air of ferocious concentration), but the bit where someone dries the bedraggled wol with a hair dryer. This makes me obscurely happy because I have rather lovely memories of my dad doing the same to his peregrines, when they'd been sitting on their block in the garden during a highveld thunderstorm. They do the same thing the wol does, spreading their wings to dry under them. I do like birds.



  3. Obligatory BC content: the Sherlock fandom is currently all up in arms because Benedict Cumberbatch, in an interview, was somewhat patronisingly dismissive of fanfic. (Not that this is anything new, he's characteristically a bit tone-deaf to fanfic issues and tends to make pronouncements which are clearly based on extremely sketchy knowledge; I suppose the fandom will eventually stop having small volcanic eruptions about it on the grounds that exhausting). What's tickling me no end, though, is the beautifully in-character fan responses: the current meme is to pick up on the rather outrageous interviewer phrasing of fanfiction as something which turns Sherlock into "a lustful cock monster". Current games: strategically place "lustful cock monster" into Sherlock dialogue on the "in bed" principle. (On John's forehead in the drunken Rizla game scene. Replacing SHERLOCK in the opening credits. "William Sherlock Lustful Cock Monster Holmes. If you’re looking for baby names.") Design new and ever more pink and sparkly t-shirts, icons and banners declaring "LUSTFUL COCK MONSTER" in defiant capitals and sprinkle them across the internet. Summarise the fic elements he mentions in the article and write actual fanfic to match, claiming that you're allowed because Benedict did. Etc, etc, etc.

    I love this. Apart from the fact that it's given me the giggles all morning (particularly since I teach a Sherlock seminar on Wednesday afternoons and have spent most of the morning making screencaps and constructing a Powerpoint on "His Last Vow" in between internet noodling), this is the essence of fan production. Take an element in the canon text which is clearly not addressed to you (and this is almost always a female "you") and which is ignorant of your actual desires and interests. Appropriate the hell out of it. Comprehensively reject the version of you it enshrines. Recontextualise, reshape and reimagine it in ways which do authentically reflect you, and which incidentally comment somewhat trenchantly on the limitations of the original text. Share and enjoy.

    I keep saying it: fanfic is a political act. The fact that it's enjoyable is almost incidental.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Warning: if you follow this link you will end up playing 2048 with Chris Evanses until (a) Chris Evans has lost all meaning, (b) life has lost all meaning, and (c) you are curiously soothed and in something approximating a Zen state. I recommend it.

On a related note, I also recommend the new Captain America, which is the Winter Soldier one, and which feels considerably more like a darkish political thriller with good character conflict than it does a superhero movie, badass Nick Fury car chases and multiple exploding helicarriers notwithstanding. I think it's a good film, and an interesting take on the mythos. Also, apparently one can go to see the film on the third day after it opens and still have four people in the cinema, if you choose the 9am Sunday show. I love 9am Sunday shows. They're also curiously soothing. The timing also reduces to a minimum the number of people giving me patronising looks for wearing a Shield T-shirt to a Marvel film. Weirdly enough, it happened to be on the top of my t-shirt pile.

The soothed Zen state has materially assisted the trauma of being back at work after a ten-day break, I have to say. I was aggressively nice both to students and to my Troublesome Boss all day, and only pulled my stitches once. If I have to be wandering around in a post-operative stitched-up state, it's also nice to know that the histology for the bits of flesh they nibbled off me is 100% clear, no dodgy precursor melanoma cells. And fifteen stitches. The nice nurse lady counted them for me. They do them all in a giant spiral single thread, it's terribly neat. I feel like a sampler.

The subject line is Magnetic Fields, although (a) you don't get to the Chris Evans in his underwear until right towards the end of the 2048 game, and (b) I think I may have used that particular quote before for another post. However, I figure that if my life causes me to need subject lines about pretty boys in their underwear more than once in a year or so, I'm probably doing OK.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
So, there's this thing about voices. I'm not consciously aware of how important voices actually are to me until (a) I sit through an hour's meeting run by someone with a horrible voice and stagger out feeling as though I've been compulsively running my fingernails across a chalkboard, and (b) I do a quick check of a judicious sample of my various film and TV obsessions over the last few years and realise how many of them are inhabited by actors with beautiful voices. (Also beautiful hands, but that's another post entirely). I'm not sure if this is about musical training and a somewhat musical ear, or if it's about being hyper-linguistic and all about the words - probably a combination of the two.

The admin person with the horrible voice is actually a very sweet and efficient person, but ye gods, her voice. It's nasal, high, weirdly inflected, and cursed with an unpleasantly Souff Effrican accent which flattens and slides the vowels. It makes me think she's probably tone deaf, which is a diagnosis I tend to make about people with that strange flatness of tone, following the excellent example of Lord Peter Wimsey, another of my teen literary detective crushes. (Also ran: Sherlock Holmes, Albert Campion, Archie Goodwin). It doesn't help that she's also given to the exact opposite of incisiveness, and is capable of wandering on for several minutes enthusiastically agreeing, in excruciating detail, with my suggestion that the point under discussion should be taken outside the meeting as being boring and irrelevant to all others present. And it really doesn't help that I was in three different meetings with her today. My teeth are on edge.

Fortunately there are counter-irritants, actual and remembered. Snape. Alan Rickman reading Shakespeare sonnets. Alan Rickman reading my largest and least favourite board schedule, for that matter. Jackson's Tolkien is full of them - Galadriel and Arwen's contraltos, Gandalf, Boromir. Sean Bean has a lovely voice, it's always one of the trip-you-up unremembered pleasures of an Oblivion replay. (Voices are hugely implicated in any gaming choices I make: to be honest, I only ever romance Fenris in Dragon Age because of his voice). Smaug. Ye gods, Smaug. Sherlock, for that matter. What the fanfic does to Sherlock's baritone is quite something to behold. Thor's slightly gravelly dignity. Patrick Stewart doing pretty much any character. Annie Lennox.

There's a theme here, of course. A baritone is a lovesome thing, god wot. Or, if female, a contralto. I will have me some timbre on my ear. It's soothing. As is, apparently, a beautifully-enunciated British accent.

In other, tangentially related news, my Tumblr feed has just presented me with a string of ten different images of Benedict Cumberbatch crinkling his nose. My day has improved materially.

The subject line is Lewis Carroll, just for Scroob. I am in the brief, abated pause between the frenzy of orientation prep and the first programme hitting on Monday. You have baked me too brown, I must sugar my hair.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I've managed, over the last few months, to get back into something of an exercise routine, which is a bit erratic at present owing to potential heat-stroke, but averages out at a brisk walk around the Common every second day and is making me feel exponentially better about life on a number of fronts. Exercise, who knew? It takes about half an hour, striding as fast as I can, which represents a speed at which I frequently overtake other walkers and have been overtaken precisely twice by walkers since I started the whole routine. (I'm overtaken by runners all the time. Given the high prevalence of wildly fit people who belt around the spanky new track around the Common, this is extremely motivating on purely scenic grounds.)

Since it's still heat-wavy and I had a truly appalling night last night, I walked this morning, brisk exercise being extremely good for sleep deprivation, muscle tension and the grumps. This adds a merry layer of smugness to the pleasures of the exercise, since I was the only walker present at all. There were runners and a couple of cyclists, but apparently Christmas raises the exercise-commitment threshold to the point where only a sprinkle of Serious Exercisers bother. And, of course, me. Basking in the temporary and entirely illusory categorisation. Far less grumpy than I was when I started.

One of the minor joys of the Common route is the City of Cape Town's outbreak of noticeboards, which erupt on all four corners of the Common to instruct the civic-minded exerciser of the Rules. Apparently we aren't allowed to sleep, drive, dump, smoke, sell, dig, pick flowers or chop down trees on the Common. We are also officially mandated to smile at all times. I rather enjoy this. Something about a ridiculous happy face with full civic authority.

Photo0000

I suppose this is a rather long-winded and roundabout way of saying Happy Christmas, all you witterers, I hope it's a good one and pleasingly relaxed, as well as being based in more sleep than I had. By way of Christmas cheer for all those of you with similar fangirl proclivities who haven't yet seen it (and with a tenuous and entirely wayward puppy linkage via smiley faces), the BBC has released a Sherlock teaser for the new episode on 1st January. I'm pretty much in the zone where I don't do Christmas presents these days, but this is a good one.

freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I do love the essential randomness of the internet. It functions like a physical manifestation of the unconscious of an entire civilisation: all our bizarre subconscious impulses, individual obsessions, odd jokes, inappropriate thoughts, whims, daydreams, nightmares, flung into the public view in bewildering multiplicity and connected with strange, wayward, serendipitous linkages. I have no idea whatsoever how I stumbled across Des Hommes et Des Chatons, but somehow it's ended up in my tabs alongside the Alexander McQueen Autumn/Winter collection (dear gods the beautiful lines) and the finalists in this year's Bad Sex Awards (dear gods the horrible language). "Des Hommes et Des Chatons" has caused me to giggle for the last ten minutes, so I wave it at you in the hopes that it brightens your Friday. Dishy men in poses echoes by cute kitties. How can you go wrong? Also, that's the internet for you right there. Not the least of its charms is the way in which, unlike older and more conventional media, it's been colonised in vast tracts by an essentially female voice.



Subject line from Terry Pratchett, Interesting Times: the answer you receive if you ask Hex (the Discworld's mad computer-analogue) "Why Anything?". More specifically, "Because Everything. ????? Eternal Domain Error. +++++ Redo From Start +++++."
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Hobbit has some dashed odd tastes, really. I mean, apart from his low predilection for plotting my death by occupying precisely the spot near my feet where I am least likely to see him and most likely to fall over him, he has recently evinced a tendency to consume, with every evidence of enthusiasm, (1) toothpaste (via drinking water out of my basin when I've just finished cleaning my teeth), and (b) lemongrass. There's a perfectly good catgrass bush planted in the herb garden, sporting that kind of spiky Einstein hairstyle which says the cats frequently graze it down, but Hobbit spurns it in favour of the lemongrass next door. I do not think he has Thai ancestry, and am concerned that the lemongrass leaves may slice his tongue, they're sharp.

I am, thank FSM, in the happy position of having just finished my marking obligations for the year, which means I face the prospect of a weekend absolutely uncolonised by other obligations except the usual research ones, which I have really rather a lot of experience in completely ignoring, but may toy with in a desultory fashion just because. It has also been something of a revelation to have a modicum of teaching and research attached to my actual job, which means I can sit in my office of an afternoon and merrily plot encyclopedia entries on Snow White films as an absolutely legit and integral part of my day. (This entry is only two months overdue, it's making me bizarrely reluctant, for some reason. I blame Kristen Stewart).

Hmmm, I should probably do my taxes. Is it odd that I really enjoy doing my taxes? Apart from the rather nicely designed and intuitive SA system, it tickles my Lawful Good.

Subject line, for no other reason than my MP3 player shuffled to it this morning in the car and made me happy, from "My Big Nurse" on the Brian Eno/David Byrne collaboration album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, which is a marvellous thing and you should have a listen. Also, apologies for the essentially random and inconsequential nature of this post. The moons of Saturn got in my eyes.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Things Which Feel Odd:

  1. Climbing back into your driver's seat after picking the car up from the car wash. Someone else has driven it. The seat and the rear-view mirror are in the wrong place, and it inevitably takes me about three traffic lights to adjust them so they feel right. But the whole car has a strange air of the indefinably alien. Something's different, but you can't tell what it is. It isn't your space any more. (Although it's certainly cleaner).
  2. Spending a happy half hour noodling around on the piano (currently I'm trying to play Arcade Fire, a project doomed to failure owing to their texture fetish, which means you actually need six hands, twelve people and a violin to have any stab at reproducing the sound) and then trying to type. I both type and play with some facility, fast, and without looking at my hands, and apparently cross-wiring happens. My fingers keep trying to do arpeggios instead of QWERTY. I have to consciously rein them in for a bit before all the right circuits click in. Very odd feeling.
  3. Christmas in July. Particularly when we're even more disorganised than usual, and it was actually Christmas in July in August in September in October. That is, last night. Roast chicken and ham and all the trimmings and Jo did barszcz and uszka for starters (garlicky Polish beet soup with mushroom dumplings, for both of which I have an unholy passion) and I made chocolate berry trifle (because Christmas pudding is of the divvil), and we ate and drank too much and pulled crackers and exchanged ridiculous presents in large quantities, and listened to Annie Lennox sing English Christmas carols. It feels odd and wrong, though, because it's all the good bits of Christmas, and none of its socially-mandated unpleasant ones. No enormous awkward obligatory extended family jamborees with added fighting and guilt trips, or expensive present expectations which entail battling the consumerist hordes through acres of tinsel and product-pushing. Although I did go forth and buy myself an actual Blu-Ray home theatre system this morning, to replace our almost-defunct hi-fi, which was a conscious decision to spend my November bonus early and thus was almost Christmas-shoppy. Except for me, not other people. Feels odd.

Subject line from Arcade Fire's "Wasted Hours", which is for the most part not actually thematically appropriate at all but was on my mind and is a gentle, wistful, beautiful thing. Also, I think googling how to spell "barszcz" has infected me, I keep trying to blockquote this paragraph by typing "blokqvote".
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I am inexpressibly charmed both by the article on useless machines BoingBoing linked today, and by the article's last line. There is absolutely no logical reason to build either a machine that only turns itself off or a remote-controlled duck, and the concept is thus enormously attractive. I disagree with Arthur C. Clarke, who apparently wrote (as per the above article), that "There is something unspeakably sinister about a machine that does nothing — absolutely nothing — except switch itself off." It's not sinister. It's a beautifully concise expression of absolute and bloody-minded dedication to function in the face of all odds - what the article calls "purposeless purity". It's about identity, or at least about something about identity that I instinctively feel is important.

On a slightly less abstract note, these are very beautiful re-imaginings of contemporary films as artefacts of another time. I'd totally adore to watch Peter Sellars in Groundhog Day, and I need this Fritz Lang 2001 poster on my wall.

turn me over I'm done

Wednesday, 30 January 2013 09:05 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Mid-orientation/registration, and I am dead tired like a dead tired thing being tired in a lake of tiredness. Clearly dragging one's way through two intense weeks of organisation and lecturing on top of what appears to have been viral bronchitis is somewhat exhausting. Odd, that. My voice has mostly returned, although it's considerably more of a contralto than my wont. Hopefully the students are at least enjoying the husky seductive bit. Matters may also improve given that I slept properly last night for the first time in a week, the racking coughs having hitherto kept me awake. Health, how I do want you back.

I am dead enough that today's tabloid billboard caused me to giggle for ten minutes straight.

CRIPPLED CONMAN HAD SEX IN MOSQUE!

Perfect tabloid: layer the transgressions until they become completely ridiculous. If we were still doing Microfiction I'd love to see the narratives people might invent to reach that unlikely apotheosis.

Still in the Department of Being Easily Amused, Sarah Rees Brennan's summary of Bujold's Vorkosigan novels is amusingly apt. (Spoilery, if you haven't read them, and if so why not?, but pleasingly acute if you have).

In other random news, I have discovered Everything Everything. Their music is poppy, but complex and quirky. They're more electronic than I usually tolerate, and I also don't usually enjoy falsetto, so I'm a bit weirded that they're demanding my attention as much as they are. (The music video for "Kemosabe" is also interesting). Whether it remains complex and quirky once I've had some sleep is another story entirely.

freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Good lord, my sleep patterns are horrible. Last night I was totally, absolutely and completely uninterested in anything resembling this strange "sleep" of which you speak until about midnight, at which point I forced myself to put down the Avengers slash and back away slowly. Then I spent large tracts of the rest of the night wandering somnambulistically around my bedroom looking for small, random but earth-shakingly vital items on the floor that I could never find, possibly because Hawkeye was hiding them, the sod.

Today I am hallucinating Hobbit in the corridors of the faculty. It's disconcerting. (Alternatively, in this morning's somnambulistic haze I absent-mindedly packed Hobbit and brought him up to campus without noticing. Hmm. Theory. He's probably off somewhere conducting a quiet war with the deputy Dean's fluffy black dogs.) Also, I have spent a lot of today convinced it's Tuesday. Which, apparently, it isn't. Wednesday, yes? It feels more like Tuesday, but my diary begs to differ.

I have also just spent 45 minutes talking down a student who has backed her curriculum into such a corner that even I, with years of creative curriculum finangling behind me, can see no way around her inevitable exclusion. It's depressing to be confronted by a situation in which your curriculum-wrangling superpowers don't function, although conversely given the sleep dep it's not entirely surprising. However, in mitigation of this I appear to be wearing a Girl Genius trilobite pin, which I also have no recollection of putting on this morning. It's cool.

I finally banished "Me and Bobby McGee". Thank FSM.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
There's been a big red ABSA poster up in my corridor for two weeks, advertising some sort of graduate development programme. It has a little mathematical conundrum on it, which reads as follows:

2+3=10
7+2=63
6+5=66
8+4=96
9+7=?

This bugged me for a couple of days, as I dashed madly past it in Hellweek flurries, and eventually I stopped and looked at it properly. 9+7 in this context probably equals 144, but I'm curious - is this a strange and random ABSA pattern-recognition game, or some sort of recognised mathematical procedure with a label of its own? I'm thinking the former, mainly because it apparently works with my vaguely organic pattern-recognition brain. Structuralist study of narrative does weird things to the pattern recognition.

Apparently the cosmic reward of being determinedly and successfully nice to students all last week (only one slight slip-up in the last few hours of Friday) is that I'm grumpy as hell this week. Then again, this week they're trying to do stupid, illegal things which show they haven't read the notices. I am becoming progressively more crone-like and codgerish about non-notice-reading gazelles.

And, in other news, it's August! aargh! I still have to finish two papers in less than three weeks, although I do pretty much know what I want to say and how I want to say it, which helps. However, a new month also means the monthly assault on another prevalent vice, namely unmarked quotation.

  • 4th July: I am quoting, of course, "As time goes by", which will now proceed to ear-worm me for a couple of days and give me a random, rootless desire to re-watch Casablanca. Than which, I suppose, there are worse things. I woke up this morning with A-ha's "Take on me" on the brain, for no adequately defined reason, so I should count my blessings. Anyway, it was also an egregious but slightly lateral pun on both the passage of time and fundamental particles, since I was burbling about the Higgs boson at the time. (Absolutely the best and most definitive response to the Higgs boson is, of course, from Scenes from a Multiverse. Of course they're conspiring. With cigarettes dangling out the corners of their mouths.)
  • 9th July. As any fule kno, this is a quote from the Mutant Enemy zombie logo at the end of Joss Whedon productions, and anyone who didn't recognise it should be properly ashamed. Ashamed, I say! *waves unreasonable geeky fangirl flag with unrepentant chauvinism*
  • 13th July. I have no idea what I was doing here, other than conflating Joss Whedon randomly with incense. Why, I can't say. I don't like incense.
  • 15th July. I wish I could say I was quoting Walt Whitman, but in fact I'm quoting Robin Williams in, of course, Dead Poet's Society, and once more I cannot say why, I can't stand the film. While being, of course, one hundred percent behind the idea of captains. Notwithstanding which, there seems to be a certain level of masochism in this month's subject line choices.
  • 18th July. This one was for [livejournal.com profile] wolverine_nun, who knows as well as I do that this comes from Flanders and Swann, "The Gasman Cometh", and I have no doubt that a select but gratifying number of you also recognised it. I couldn't give tuppence for all of the rest.
  • 23rd July. We used to play and sing this in guitar club at school - mountain folk song about the miner's life, which is insanely catchy and which I suspect I've quoted before. Both the Tennessee Ernie Ford and the Johnny Cash versions are jauntier than I remember it being, we tended to sing it a bit more like a dirge. Well, obviously. "Another day older and deeper in debt", after all.
  • 25th July. Oh, dear. I am quoting Bobby McFerrin. I seem to do insane amounts of research for these subject line glosses, and this batch has revealed that the 1988 hit version is actually completely a capella, which I never realised before and which makes me very happy indeed.
  • 26th July. My contractually obligated David Bowie quote. I was ridiculously proud of the thematic fit in this one, given that post was about Tom Cruise and the lyrics are from "I'm Deranged", and at various points insist that not only is it funny how secrets travel, but "It's the angel-man" and "Cruise me babe".
  • 29th July. Omar Khayyám, who has, as evinced by outbreaks of bloggery in November and December 2005, has a quote for absolutely everything.

This week's quotation round-up brought to you courtesy of hopeless inconsequentiality, and a headache. Now I go to fend students off with a crowbar and meet my Deanly-requested teaching and learning report-construction doom.
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Last night I dreamed that Nathan Fillion, who I met accidentally in town, distracted me from preparing properly for my practical Geology exam. When I rushed home just before the exam to pick up pens and glance through my notes, the house had been sealed off by the municipality, who were fumigating by means of chunks of blue glowing stuff. I never found the exam venue, I got lost wandering around a campus that looked more like the Skyrim city of Solitude.

No, I have no idea, either.

The Legendary Boxing Day Braai was lovely! thank you to all the lovely people who attended, and brought ridiculous amounts of food, and held ridiculous conversations, and nobly refrained from laughing at me when I accidentally scattered blueberries all over the kitchen. I had a blast. Unfortunately my Weird Post-DVT Legs had a bit of a hissy fit at all the standing, and are sore and swollen, although to be perfectly fair they used to do that even Pre-DVT. It's official, my feet are simply weird. I trotted them around the Common this morning in revenge. Exercise is supposed to be good for them.

Also, is it just me or do all the Small Spawn Of Friends in my immediate vicinity have beautiful manners? They charmed the hell out of the Evil Landlord's mother. I'm glad she was there, it was a sort of token gesture at making up for the absence of my own mother, who I missed, as did several other people. It's not the same without her. On the other hand, the legendary mantle of my mother's clean-up ability appears to have descended on me, I have wrought mightily upon the devastation, and the house is spotless.

Right, back to Skyrim! Am playing through a second time, this time with a Nord, and a grim determination not to ever use fast travel. It's amazing how much it changes the feel and logic of the game, and gives one a far more vivid, immediate and detailed sense of the map. Also, horses make a lot more sense. However, while the avowed purpose of this playthrough is to join the Stormcloak Rebellion rather than supporting the Empire, currently I can't bring myself to do it because Ulfric is such a filthy racist sod. I suspect my reluctance may also have a bit to do with (a) Lawful Good, and (b) the high levels of atheism in my make-up. Part of the reason for the rebellion is because the Empire have sold out to the Elves and won't let the Nords worship their elevated god-human Talos. I can't seem to get behind the religio-patriotic rage with any conviction. However, I am experiencing an indecent amount of kick at being an archer.
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Much as I enjoy noodling around on the piano reproducing pop tunes as my wayward fancy takes me, it's all too often that I encounter Actual Pianists who rub my nose inescapably in the fact that it would be extreme hubris to even think of myself as a two-bit hack. This is another Youtube discovery not entirely unrelated to yesterday's Piano Guys. Apart from being a rather fun piano piece all on its lonesome, as a distillation of a full orchestra it's quite something. (It's also reminding me of quite how much of the Skyrim music is ripped off from this, or from LotR). His Harry Potter version is also lovely, but I rather like the ending on this one.



It's also obscurely comforting to discover that the guy's a professional who does this sort of score-creation for Yamaha. I'm able to vaguely think "ah, corporate shill" and go my merry way with the inferiority complex marginally mitigated.

Apropos of nothing at all, a random concatenation of ideas has just reminded me of last night's Salty Cracker (La Boheme in Sea Point, lovely food) at which the usual wayward puppy conversation suddenly reminded me of a dream I had the other night. I dreamed I seduced C.S. Lewis at a garden party, more or less directly as a result of feeling horribly embarrassed. I'd just spent twenty minutes declaiming to this amiable bespectacled gent about fantasy novels, finishing up with a condescending supposition that he'd probably never heard of C.S. Lewis's Ransom trilogy, but they're very interesting books despite their overly heavy Christian bit, at which point I suddenly realised I was talking to the author himself. (I plead in mitigation that he's been dead for a while, I wasn't to know). Shamed and irritated, I seduced him, presumably as a form of distraction (or possibly a subversive attack on the overly heavy Christian bit). Memo to self: do not recount this one to therapist, I'm not entirely sure I want to know what it means.

Words cannot express how grateful I am that it's Friday. My exhaustion levels form an interestingly steeply-pitched graph that starts at "manageable" on Monday and then wantonly climbs to the weekend.
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As New York sort of quails beneath Hurricane Irene, I note for posterity that there were two hadeda ibisis on the lawn this morning. (Ibissis? Ibisisisis? Ibi? It's a word like banana, in that it's difficult to stop spelling it). Hurricanes and hadedas are not, in fact, completely unrelated, at least in the wayward meanderings of what pass for my train of thought. We've had the hadedas go over every evening for a couple of years now, with that characteristic loud, mournful, cacophonous, slightly self-satisfied call which characterises them - not a shriek, really, more a sort of a bellow. (I don't know where they're heading to, although it's towards the mountain: either an unspecified roosting destination, or a night on the town).

The evening chorus didn't used to happen when we moved into this house, which was, gawsh, getting on for thirteen years ago now. Back then the hadedas could be found pottering around on lawns in the leafier, more verdant suburbs like Constantia, but over the last decade they've gradually migrated into the more built-up areas. I think the two who were with us this morning have actually claimed the area as a territory, over the last couple of months I've started to hear them yelling at each other/passers by/neighbourhood cats/other birds at odd intervals during the day.

So, hadeda ranges are changing. Something is happening to make the population expand, or to make hitherto unpalatable areas suddenly desirable. Their food sources must somehow be affected. I blame global warming in a vague, undirected sort of way (hence the link with hurricanes), but I'd love to know what the actual mechanism is.

Right, it must be 6pm. I know this because I've just said to Hobbit, "Your butt is ringing. This is what happens when you sit on my cellphone." He looked horribly offended. It's my daily Warfarin alarm, so I dash off now to imbibe pink pills and blue pills and giant purple capsules, O my. (The latter are various vitamin and herbal remedies to attempt to address the psychotic PMT, which I am amazed to say seems to be working. Also, in the interests of good taste and TMI I shall not talk about the effect of Warfarin, compounded by the absence of contraceptives because they Increase The Chance Of Blood Clots, on the Monthly Girl Troubles, other than to say Ouch).

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