freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
I allowed Christmas to gently drift on past this year, largely unmarked and definitely unmourned. My personal combination of rampant atheism and psychotically anti-capitalist loathing of merry Yuletide marketing makes Christmas something to be pointedly avoided, and I left it as a kind of island of non-event in the middle of "Christmas eve" dinner with jo&stv and Pixie (slow-roasted lamb, also Eton mess and a sort of chocolate pear custard thing achieved by leaving the crust off my usual chocolate pear tart in deference to Pixie's gluten intolerance, also little or no mention of actual Christmas) and Boxing Day lunch with my sister and niece later today. My sole festive nods were in cooking myself a pork fillet stuffed with mushrooms, and in indulging my fast-becoming Christmas day tradition of reading the annual Drarry advent fanfic by saras_girl, who has a lovely archive of them on AO3, with the 2018 one on her lj starting here. They are lovely, gentle, slow-moving Christmas fics which usually feature snow and pining, and a Harry Potter resolutely doing anything else with his life but fight dark wizards, which I have always found a compellingly logical response to having no choice but to be a Boy Hero.

I usually post an entertaining Christmas song of some sort. This year it's not really Christmassy, but it's kinda atmospheric and also made me both unabashedly geek out, and snort-laugh repeatedly. "Hall of the Mountain King" performed by tuned Tesla coils.

And, because Ursula Vernon no longer produces her annual Christmas-wishing cute creature, this seems to be a reasonable substitute. Merry Christmas Hawaaian Monk Seal. With an eel stuck up its nose. (The article is deliriously wonderful.)

I hope everyone had exactly the kind of Christmas they wanted and enjoyed.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Right, well, that was a crash. Finished the exam season hell on Wednesday, have been on leave since Thursday, and did the classic exhaustion wheels-off where I basically slumped on the sofa for about three days. Board schedule checking was an unmitigated bitch, and the faculty administrative melt-down is beyond nuclear. I have to get out, she says, channelling bad horror movies.

In all the collapse I have, however, managed to see Last Jedi, which was stupendous, and on which more anon, because it did some very precise subversive things I really need to tease out in detail. But today I have managed to arrange early Christmas lunch with my sister and niece (feat. Skyping my mum), and Christmas dinner with jo&stv&claire, so I'll be dashing off to a merry festive day of socialising. It's more Christmassing than I usually do, but I'm sufficiently rested by my three-day crash that I'm rather looking forward to it. Odd. Perhaps the mere intention to quit my job is restoring my ability to interact with fellow humans.

In the usual Department of Lateral Christmas Wishes, have Straight No Chaser doing a cappella nonsense versions of the 12 Days. And all the relevant festive whatevers to you and yours, as appropriate.

freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Ooh. Weird, weird dream last night: looking at self in mirror, while talking, and having my reflection's lips move completely and disconcertingly out of sync with what I was saying. Then I stepped away, and right behind me, perfectly hidden until I moved, was a man in middle-easternish robes and headscarf and sunglasses, looking menacing. Then I turned around, and I was on a huge, futuristic stage in the middle of a dark stadium full of people, all watching. At which point, fortunately, the cat landed on my stomach on her way out the window and I woke up. Somewhat freaked, to be honest.

I didn't do a Christmas post yesterday because the Internets had not vouchsafed me their usual benevolence in the form of a chirpy/irreverent Christmas doodle. But they did this morning, so have a retroactive Merry Festive Wossname! I hope it was a Good Day within the meaning of your personal Christmas act. I carefully arranged it so I didn't have to leave the house, and I noodled around cooking and prodding the garden and Skyping my mother and patting the cat, and it was lovely. And almost completely unlike Christmas, which is kinda the point. We did Polish Jo-consolatory Christmas Eve, with barszcz (for which I still have an unseemly affection) and dumplings, and I'll do a gesture at the Christmas stuff today, having Boxing Day lunch with my sister and niece. About the only thing which reconciles me to the heaving, fixated desperation of Christmas shopping crowds is the smug knowledge that I don't have to participate. Both sets of my Christmas gifts were bought online, heh.

Rogue One is apparently still colonising my brain. I wish I could attribute this, it's bounding unsourced around Tumblr, it may have originated on Elite Geek's facebook, but who knows? Whatever they teach them in schools these days, it apparently isn't referencing.

And my subject line is Wham!, naturally, because the latest outbreak of 2016 viciousness has been (a) Carrie Fisher in hospital in a critical condition after a heart attack, and (b) George Michael passing away quietly in his sleep. Fuck it.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I am up unseasonably early as my sister and niece are arriving back from the UK at an unseasonal hour and I have undertaken to collect them from the airport. I confidently predict that the driving experience will give me flashbacks to playing Fallout, i.e. apocalyptic wastelands devoid of people. A tinsel tumbleweed may roll by occasionally. I shall thoroughly enjoy it.

I had Christmas Eve dinner with jo&stv last night, which entailed savage Polish barszcz (for which I have an unnatural fondness) in its natural habitat, i.e. filled with mushroom dumplings. Later there were pierogi, controversially with added pancetta (Polish Christmas is traditionally vegetarian). It was, needless to say, excellent, and also excellently subversive. Other than that we eschewed all trappings of actual Christmasness, which was curiously freeing. Today I have brunch with my sister and niece, and then trundle on home to play more Fallout while they recover from an intercontinental plane flight (they've just spent 10 days in the UK with my mother). This strikes me as an excellent Christmas plan, mostly because of its singular lack of a lot of actual Christmas. I may roast a chicken later, in a meditative sort of fashion, and watch Return of the Jedi or something.

By way of further creative deconstruction of Christmas tropes, have the Nutcracker performed by hip hop dancers. This made me absurdly happy.

merry seasonal wossnames of your preferred depth and flavour to all!

I feel the same

Thursday, 25 December 2014 07:35 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Apparently I have opted out of christmas this year. Not that I ever really opt in to any great extent, but I have cancelled my lunch plans owing to low-grade virus and nausea (sorry, Claire!), and have been at home playing Inquisition all day, enjoying the mild rain and coolth, and pretending it's a normal holiday sort of space. This caused me a twinge of guilt for all of about .1 of a nanosecond, and a vague self-pitying gosh-aren't-I-a-sad-thing for about the same amount of time, and then I thought, actually, no, stuff it, this is perfect, and exactly how I want to spend the day, and I'll be buggered if I'll feel ashamed of it. Bah, in fact, humbug. Although without malice and entirely without Scrooge's misanthropic grumpiness. I'm not misanthropically grumpy. I am quietly content. Christmas has my goodwill and best wishes as long as it continues to pass me by.

I think consumerism killed christmas for me, actually. I quite enjoy how kids enjoy christmas, and with the right mix of people giant christmas meals can be fun, but for me the season is poisoned at source by the relentless, jingle-themed, tinsel-encrusted pressure to buy, buy, buy - to expensively furnish the lavish iconage demanded by a social contract I don't think I ever really signed. It destroys any joy I might otherwise take in giving people presents; it makes me feel anxious, threatened, overwhelmed, resentful and slightly homicidal. I need not specify to my habitual readers, I hope, that the season has absolutely no religious significance for me whatsoever, so there's not even that. (As a recovering ex-pagan who still somewhat enjoys the symbolism I might feel impelled to have jolly winter Solstice feasts in a be-loudly-merry-to-make-winter-go-away sort of fashion, except that we're in the wrong hemisphere and it's too bloody hot. Maybe I'll have one in June. Idea.)

At any rate, all of the above notwithstanding, I hope that the seasonal wossnames have been appropriate and splendid for you all, and that any family gatherings have been characterised by good cheer and plenty rather than the stress and tension which can be the Dark Side of many of our traditions. Happy, in fact, Christmas. Or equivalent. To the depth you prefer.

I go kill demons now, and close fade rifts, and romance cute inarticulate Templars, because I can. It's Christmas.

(My subject line is a horribly lateral Sherlock quote which relies on hideous amounts of context to appreciate the full and layered signification clashes of the interchange. The preceding sentence is "But it's Christmas!", and the context is blackmail and villainy. Non-Sherlock fans can move right along, although all things considered they've probably abandoned me many moons ago in sheer baffled fury.)
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.


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)
A random Christmas post! happy festive wossnames to you and yours, and have a handful of randomly off-beat semi-Christmassy things.

Ursula Vernon is doing the 12 days of Christmas with things from her garden, but she has posted her usual Christmas image, this one entitled "Fake Christmas tree".

ursula vernon christmas dinosaur

As always with her art, it's the narrative which makes it. "Bob the hamster was pleased with his new Christmas tree. It didn’t drop needles, it wasn’t a fire hazard, and it didn’t look fake like all those cheap plastic ones. It did wander off occasionally, but it always came back when he filled the food dish."

Next year I'm simply putting antlers and Christmas lights on Hobbit.

In a surprise move where it's not actually David Bowie, here's a rather lovely, jazzy rendition of "Little Drummer Boy" off the Charlie Brown Christmas movie. I'm always amazed we never had a family tradition of watching that, my dad was madly into Peanuts. Of course, having an actual TV and video player at any point might have helped.

This was a hot tip off JGL's Twitter.

Finally, things ending in "olly" include "wolly", as in having a lot of wols. [ profile] dancing_crow pointed me to these, which are ceramic versions of all the Doctors as wols. They're ridiculously expensive, which is the only thing preventing me from acquiring Doctors Nine through Eleven posthaste, but beautiful and clearly worth every cent. There's something about the Doctor which visually translates very well to wols, quite apart from the pun on the hooting.


This concludes your scheduled Christmas content. I shall now proceed to have a day as much unlike Christmas as humanly possible by playing Skyrim, mostly because its snowy landscapes make me feel cooler in these damned heatwaves. Bring me another planet, this one is skraaatched.

the day is dreary

Wednesday, 19 September 2012 01:28 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Oh, dear. Apparently returning to work after a lovely three weeks of academic stimulation interspersed with holiday is a rude shock to the system, or at least to my sub-standard and idiosyncratic system. My lack of internet presence over the last week is because it's been a horrible week for fatigue, and I'm stumbling home from work in a more or less zomboid state more or less daily, groaning "braaaaains" to myself in a faintly pleading grr-aargh whisper. One of the nasty knock-on effects of the chronic fatigue has been the way in which, with pin-point accuracy, and whooping with callous glee, it targets my hormonal cycle: I have about four days a month in which I'm not only menstrual, I'm dragging myself around the show feeling as though I've just run the Comrades while being continuously beaten with sticks. I have absolutely no idea what to do about this. Do any of your nice ladies experience the menstrual fatigue thing? Is there anything you can do about it? The words "iron supplements" are floating vaguely around my brain looking for something to attach themselves to. (I decline to apologise to the nice male readers for whom this is Too Much Information, incidentally. Our society needs to get infinitely less precious about talking about this Girly Stuff).

Fortunately social stimulation does have an off-chance of overriding the fatigue, if Sunday night was anything to go by. My ongoing state of "Bah, humbug" means I really don't enjoy Christmas at Christmas time, owing to the horrible weight of socio-religious expectation it wears around its neck like a Juniper Tree millstone. I do, however, bizarrely enjoy the giant-festive-meal aspect of Christmas if you gently detach it from (a) socio-religious expectation, (b) ritualised and unquestioned family obligations and (c) the stinking hot middle of summer, hence our well-developed tendency to do Christmas in July, which tends to become Christmas in July in August in September owing to our general disorganisation.

At any rate, on Sunday night I finally cooked the turducken, with contributions from guests in the way of veggies and dessert and Jo's amazing Polish beet soup, for eight of us. We ate just over half of the damned thing. That's a lot of meat. But it was very good, particularly when pot-roasted, glazed with honey, and accompanied by good company, lots of booze, silly hats, crackers and perfectly ludicrous random presents in large piles. I am now the proud, or possibly stunned, possessor of a gorilla mask, a trio of small plastic aliens and a pair of bat-glasses, which we've established I have to wear when I duck out of a meeting early because the signal projected on the clouds summons me to a student in distress.

Turducken! With stuffing in small rissoley things, because if you have a deboned turkey which is stuffed with a deboned duck which is stuffed with a deboned chicken, you can't actually stuff any body cavities, and stuffing birds for roasting is one of my innocent cooking pleasures. Also, pork and apple and peanuts. Photo, of course, by maxbarners. Hands attached to me.

And, finally, in the Department of Random Linkery, I thoroughly recommend Captain Awkward for sensible, earthy, often very funny advice, occasionally with added poetry extremely gratifying to my inner lit-major soul. Writing about Catherynne Valente's poetry for that second conference has reminded me how very much I love poetry, and how little I read it these days. This shall change. Today's discovery: Pablo Neruda.
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By way of dancing upon the aged and recumbent corpse of 2011 in an appropriately upbeat fashion, herewith Joseph Gordon Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, Prince and Princess of Whimsyquirkalicious, being, frankly, adorable.

Surprise! Ms Deschanel has a lovely voice, which seems ideally suited to the vintage of the song. JGL is perfectly competent, but gets by mainly on charm. JGL always gets by on charm.

Tonight we are having a medium to small select dinner with a medium to small and select bunch of people, which has become our annual gesture in defiance of Giant New Year Celebrations. 2011 has been in many ways a complete bugger, and adorable celebrity duets notwithstanding, I shall trample its corpse with righteous satisfaction and the assistance of French 75s. As I go forth to randomly stuff chickens with wild rice, I wish to you witterers all the best for the new year. It can, they say, only get better.
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It's Christmas! This has to be the most enthusiastic I've been about it in years, suggesting that, in fact, my usual state of "Bah! Humbug" is actually a response to overload, which causes me to pull in my horns and retreat into my shell like a bad-tempered festive snail. With fangs. Good lord, now I have a mental image of myself as a giant, grumpy, six-foot-tall fanged snail in light-up reindeer horns. My subconcious has apparently been at the surrealists again.

Last night I had a very odd dream about hosting a very ill and exhausted Neil Gaiman* in a completely chaotic flat in the middle of town somewhere, with a house full of demanding children and domestic crises, including running out of food, money and a working car, and a pervading sense of worry that the wretched man was refusing to rest when he clearly needed it. I woke up a bit bemused and unable to account for the images, but on mature reflection it was, I think, at least partially a Christmas dream. Under the grad student lifestyle, with absolutely no disposable income, Christmas present buying was an annual terror; giant Christmases full of extended family and cast-in-stone ritual requiring enormous effort for incongruent emotional payback, has always been a bit of a terror. In an extended family without religious belief, Christmas nonetheless imposes an inexorable set of social and cultural expectations which roll, juggernaut-like, over the actual desires of anyone concerned. I actually quite like my family, but there's a slightly porcupine part of myself which bristles bad-temperedly when forced to interact with them according to a ritual script. (As it does with a lot of social ritual scripts, incidentally, viz. marriage).

My Christmas this year is a quiet backwater, located in a city whose usual buying frenzy and overstuffed tourist quotient has been severely clobbered by recession, and with vastly reduced family requirements owing to the absence of my mother, and my non-present-buying pact with my sister this year. Festivities have consisted of a very pleasant dinner with my sister on Monday night before her family took off for their usual Arniston jaunt; a random present for my Evil Landlord; and a series of quiet days at home playing Skyrim, baking, and pottering around in the garden. I cannot overstate how perfect this is for me, to the point where, as stated above, I'm bumbling around feeling quietly festive.

I am also looking forward to the incoming hordes at Boxing Day tomorrow with unrestrained glee; apparently all I need to do to content the anti-social-expectation inner porcupine is to displace the interaction onto a non-traditional day with non-rigid format involving non-traditional people. Score!

Happy festive wossname, everyone, and may the holidays (of which South Africans have a rather indecent amount this year) bring you seasonal cheer of a kind precisely tailored to your needs and desires.

* My subconscious uses Neil Gaiman as a dream image a lot. In the New Year I shall enlist my therapist to find out why the hell.
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Mental Floss has just given me the word I always knew I needed. "Petrichor: The clean, pleasant smell that accompanies rain falling on dry ground. It’s from the Greek petra (stone) and ichor (the blood of Greek gods and goddesses). The term was coined by two Australian researchers in 1964."

Hooray for Australian researchers. That rain smell is one I associate strongly with highveld thunderstorms and the start of the rains - it's particularly vivid when it's the first rain after the arid heat of the dry season. But even Cape Town rains manage to recreate it, especially at the moment with the alternation of hot and rainy. It's a sharp, keen, vivid, slightly wild smell, rife with generative promise, and I love the way those Australian researchers have constructed the word - petrichor is perfectly believable as the residue of a slightly otherworldly power. Like most instances of precipitation, it makes me very happy.

(And, yes, I'm quoting Toto lyrics. I like that song. So sue me.)

For some reason this year's Christmas seasonal stuff hasn't annoyed me as much as it usually does. It all seems a bit subdued: the city isn't packed with tourists to any unacceptable extent, the shop displays are not generally as in-your-face as usual, and my homicidal mutterings about the inappropriateness of jolly snow-encrusted Santas in African summer are more than somewhat below par. It might be that I'm still too tired to work up a good head of irritation steam, or that I'm working later than usual into the month and am tucked away neatly in an ivory tower away from the shopping frenzy. It's also helping that my sister and I have a no-presents-except-for-the-niece pact this year1, and I am spared the usual harrowings of present-acquisition. This is a surprising sense of release, and caused me to reflexively go off and donate madly to charity instead (Wikipedia, and St. Luke's Hospice - the former because its citation-needed refrain is wildly useful in explaining plagiarism to students, the latter because they were really lovely to my dad).

In a neatly circular conclusion to this wayward-puppy post, Toto have recently re-formed for a benefit tour for one of their members, who is an ALS sufferer. ALS was what my dad had. Everything is connected.

1 Presents for Da Niece are not a problem, because I acquire them off Teh Internets through the year. One of this year's books was Look! A book!, which Cory Doctorow recommended on the basis of its success with his 7-year-old daughter. It's wonderful, detailed artwork with a lovely sense of whimsy; Da Niece seems very taken with it. She's 6 this year, so it's proving a bit of a challenge to hit the right level of either complex enough to interest her when it's read to her, or simple enough that she can start to read it herself. I think this one works quite well in the latter category. In the former, she's about to hit the stage where she's ready for Diana Wynne Jones, and for Ursula Vernon's Dragonbreath series. Heh.

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You know, this planet is fundamentally screwed. It's the middle of December. (And, in related news, how the hell did that happen? I've wandered around for the last two weeks firmly convinced that it was around the 3rd of the month, and here we are with a totally unexpected public holiday to the side of the head on Friday, and Christmas itself leering just around the corner. Also, I forgot [ profile] friendly_shrink's birthday, by dint of not realising the month had progressed that far. Fatigue does the weirdest things to one's perception of time.)

Anyway. It's the middle of December. We have had solid, heavy rain all morning, with a truly marvellous episode of actual hail for about fifteen minutes in the middle of it. We are supposed to be a Mediterranean climate, i.e. all about the winter rain, not the summer (see High Veld Summer Thunderstorms, Lack Of, Tragic, for the use of). If we have stuffed with this climate to the extent of hail on the 14th December, it's pretty bad. Put it together with the merry billboards advertising the US/China hijack of the climate change summit to try and weasel out of emissions accords, and it's perfectly obvious why we're doomed.

This wouldn't happen if we were all orang-utans. I bet orang-utans wouldn't feel the need to get all protective of their bloody oil-based economy.

I should point out that all of the above did not in any way prevent me from spending ten minutes this morning with my third-floor office window flung open all the way while I stuck my head out into the rain, laughing like a loon, and tried to catch the hailstones out of the air. Bits of thing falling from the sky apparently regress me to the joyous age of 8, or thereabouts. My morning was materially improved by having to comb the hailstones out of my hair before I could deal with the next dose of student angst. Strange but true.

The inexorable advance of December towards Merry Festive Wossnames reminds me that I did, in fact, send out the Great Boxing Day Braai invite a couple of days ago. If you're in Cape Town and didn't receive it but would like to attend, please leave plaintive meepings in the comments. I probably only left you out owing to cheesebrain, which I have a lot of just at the moment.
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Good lord, I opted out of Christmas this year. My mother's 6-day delay rather put the kibosh on family Christmas dinners of any description, and we ended up having a more or less spontaneous three-generation all-girl Christmas day lounging around the house and garden drinking tea, catching up, and opening a few presents in a desultory sort of way. (My sister gave me pink champagne for Christmas. I utterly approve). Lunch: dug around 'fridge for random smoked chicken, seed loaf, tomatoes, fruit. Nary a whisker of turkey in sight. It was bloody marvellous. I think I may randomly cook a full-on turkey and ham Christmas dinner in July, when it's cold, just for the hell of it, but the lack of it at actual Christmas was completely fine by me. I hope everyone else had a Christmas that was equally and perfectly tailored to their needs and expectations.

I have been motoring through Smallville at speed, occasionally with my long-suffering mother in tow (fortunately she also likes Superman), and am currently approaching the end of the second season. The writing is improving, although there are still moments of complete psychological irrationality in the service of narrative kludge, which is annoying. (Just tell her already! good lord!). I am, however, deriving an unwholesome pleasure from watching Lex and Lionel Luthor exchange all these platitudes about family loyalty with about fifteen layers of irony, sarcasm and manipulative snark beneath the surface cheese.

While on the subject of fangirling, if you didn't follow Neil Gaiman's link to the Year's Best Media Corrections, you darned well should. Scroll down about a third of the page to the long Apology of the Year from it's a deliriously wonderful and deadpan pander to Trekkiedom, done with affection and wit and considerable technical geek-out about Enterprise starship classes. It made me, as is traditional, snerkle like a loon.
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I hope Christmas brings you all that you desire in the way of carousing, troll-nog and drunken Christmas carols.

Image, as usual, by Ursula Vernon. If you don't read Digger, you should. Sarcastic wombats ftw.
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We had a sort of family Christmas tea thingy on Sunday, to swap presents as my sister's away up the coast on Christmas Day itself. I gave Da Niece my latest discovery, which involves two rather entertaining kiddie books by one John Himmelman, Chickens to the Rescue and Katie Loves the Kittens. The Katie one is amusingly rude about dogs, but the chickens one is pleasingly demented, featuring chickens in snorkelling gear, crash helmets and heavens alone knows what else, all with the requisite degree of fuss and feathers. Thusly:

The conversation went something like this:

SISTER: Kids' books these days are really lovely. Also, you always seem to find the subversive ones.
ME (thoughtfully, placing tips of fingers together in approved Patrician pose): Why, yes. Yes, I do.

It is remotely possible that she was also eyeing my Christmas tree, which this year is graced at its apex, inside the giant Christmas star, by a tiny green plush Cthulhu doll I won in a raffle at a CLAW tournament lo these many moons ago. He's very festive.

I feel that my Aunt Dahlia quotient is proceeding apace. Those sproggle-owing individuals among you who don't mind a spot of subversion, now with extra verse, I do heartily recommend John Himmelman.

In other, equally weird and lateral Christmas news, today I appear to have emerged from the stationers bearing something the tillslip insists is an "XMAS GAL SIN". I wish I could say that this gal plans to sin extra-subversively at Christmas, but I fear it'll be the usual: idolatry (still immersed in Supernatural), sloth, gluttony and taking the Lord's name in vain while I try to beat the (*#$^*^$ Fire Temple in Zelda.
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So, totally buggered at the moment, but in fact surprisingly upbeat despite all the orientation panic, student angst and what have you. An anti-rant-list is apparently called for. Today, the following things are making me happy:

  1. Holidays. Yesterday was a public holiday, for which I thank the saints fasting. I'm in that stage of mental shut-down which says that energy-wise I'm pretty much at the end of my tether - I did sweet bugger-all all day yesterday, it was luvverly. I have two weeks off from Friday, which is a half day owing to the staff party. I figure I'll just about survive, having carefully paced myself to this point.
  2. Chocolate brownies. For my birthday this year sven&tanya gave me this incredible book called Chocolate Chocolate, full of recipes which require untold and unlikely quantities of the eponymous ingredient, and which are uniformly and unashamedly decadent and bad for you. (Eighteen different chocolate brownie recipes! good grief!) As a result of this I've actually learned to make decent brownies, which has mostly been a matter of subtracting 50o from the temperature, fifteen minutes from the cooking time, and flinging into the recipe whatever the hell happens to occur to me in the way of extra chocolate, extra Lindt dark chocolate, extra cocoa, extra chocolate chips, extra vanilla, or extra random nuts or flavourings. The last batch was exceptionally edible, and I have three of them in a tin on my desk. The morning will be somewhat sugar-powered in addition to its usual Earl Grey fuel.
  3. Recession. Yes, really. No-one has any money, everyone is doing the "ooh let's not do big presents this year!" thing, the shops are comparatively empty, and consequently Christmas is not bringing out my inner homicidal misanthrope quite as much as it usually does.
  4. Supernatural. Season three is both darker and goofier (rabbit's-foot physical humour ftw), angsty!boys are angstier, but mostly I'm happy because last night's episode about fairy tale got the fairy tale bit absolutely right. Bonus accurate "Grimms' fairy tales were dark, twisty, violent and sexy" references from Sam, my current favourite geek in the whole wide world. Also, pleasingly perverse Christmas episode featuring caricatured 50s-style cheery suburban couples with a charnel house in the cellar.
  5. My mother. She's in town. Life is better.
  6. Cthulhoid wossnames. My mailing list signup just gave me a totally unexpected early gift of the new Charlie Stross Laundry story, also with additional Cthulhoid Christmas perversion (the Filler of Stockings!). It'll go up on next week, but if anyone really wants to read it earlier, mail me!
  7. First trailer for Iron Man 2. 'Nuff said.
Now I go to herd academics, hand-hold devastated students and wrangle orientation photocopying. I wave a chocolate brownie mystically at them all.
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Summer is here! Lhud sing cuckoo; also, bah, humbug and the usual grumbling. It's early days yet, however, and in fact the sunny days with not too much actual heat are mostly tolerable, what with the recent rain, green growth everywhere and the little birdies going twit. Or, in the case of the mad pair of peregrines who nest on the hospital opposite our house, screaming their avian pea-brain heads off, presumably in some sort of mating frenzy. There's no accounting for taste; I, for one, am profoundly turned off by yelling. (Punk, so not an aphrodisiac). The warmer days also seem to bring the milk of human kindness bubbling to the surface, and there's been a positive orgy of courtesy and goodwill as we all let each other into the rush-hour traffic, beaming like loons. (This is necessary, the traffic has been unusually dire in the last few days). In keeping with this lightened mood (albeit temporarily, watch me growl once the heat-waves start), summer makes me break out the P.G. Wodehouse. Strange but true.

Summer also means I'm into the cotton skirts, along with their associated doom: t-shirts bare to the onlooker's gaze without intervening warmer covering, and, therefore, the dire necessity for a bra, the which I joyously do not wear all the way through autumn, winter and spring. This is one of the things I actually hate about summer, mostly because there's a sort of Seekrit Girl Club to which I do not belong, viz. the one which shares the arcane knowledge about how to stop your bra straps from perpetually slipping off your shoulders. I lack this skill. I am clearly, for the purposes of bra strap wrangling, not a girl at all. I spend most of summer mournfully raising and lowering the length of the straps, in a sad, futile sort of way, like a short-sighted peeping tom at a parlour blind. What's the secret here? string? superglue? complicated contraptions with magnets? nine-inch nails through the shoulders? I swear, I'm seriously considering the latter. I cannot but feel that it redounds negatively to my professionalism to have my eyes glaze over at intervals, usually in the middle of impassioned curriculum advice, while I grope down my sleeve via the neck.

Happy Summer Sights of the last few days, though: turning in for home past the Common, an elderly man trying to persuade his bull terrier that walkies were, in fact, Over. Man's body angled at 45o away from dog. Dog's legs all at equal and opposite angle as he digs his feet into the ground, mule-like, and refuses to move. Upshot: by considerable straining on man's part, dog dragged along ground, leaving ruts. I laughed all the way home.

Finally, more graphical info-porn for [ profile] smoczek: Best Science Visualisations. My disaster-movie-loving soul is obscurely soothed by California falling into the sea as the San Andreas cocks up its toes.

no more champagne

Thursday, 1 January 2009 10:40 am
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
I have to report quite the nicest new year wish I've had so far. The context is the arrangements for our New Year's Day plans, which entail going over to jo&stv's to watch all three of the original Star Wars movies (I gave them to the EL for Christmas - the original theatrical versions, with the gannet unexpurgated), while consuming the crepes suzette none of us could face last night and cold roast beef leftovers on sandwiches. (Why is it that our plans always revolve around food?) The phone call goes as follows:

JO: So, when are you and the EL coming round?
ME: (still half-asleep and mazed from a 5.30am airport run after lots of champagne last night)... um, round about then... I still need to do the thing, the wossname...
JO: (after brief, confused pause): Good morning, Jessica. May 2009 bring you nouns.

May it indeed. And to the rest of you I hope it brings interesting adjectives, pleasing conjunctions and verbs which are active without being exhausting.

The subject line quote, btw, in honour of the conversation I had yesterday with [ profile] wolverine_nun.

merry chrysanthemum

Wednesday, 24 December 2008 03:27 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
This pictorial evidence of actual Christmas manifestations in my home despite various cynical rantings is for [ profile] schedule5, whose fault it is that I ever go anywhere near anything like a Christmas tree. It's one of those side-of-the-road wire and beadwork trees, decorated with about a third of the Evil Landlord's collection of handmade lampworked beads, which are pleasingly like shiny Christmas-tree baubles in miniature. There's only an angel on the top because my mini plush Cthulhu didn't fit on the star. The silly Christmas hat creature was from [ profile] starmadeshadow, and used to be my sole concession to decorating.

Have a lovely Christmas, all you peoples - may it provide food, family, friends and frivolity in whichever proportions are most pleasing to you. And, of course, loot.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Oooh, this is fun. Visual word links - enter a random word and it springs enthusiastically forth into links to related words, literal and figurative. I've been playing with entering colours. Linguistic interest, yes, but my current level of stress and concomitant lack of brain is such that mostly I like the way the links wibble and bounce when you pull them around. Roget also ran.

Today is my last day at work before two weeks of leave, not a moment too soon, as I am exhausted and stressed beyond belief. It only remains to write fifteen more curriculum reports before I can depart, which means I'm going to have to miss Da Niece's Christmas party this evening. In respect of my recent anti-gift rant, I am also sad to report that two separate co-workers have given me Christmas presents, something I completely didn't expect and which I am thus unable to reciprocate before I go off on holiday. It's very sweet of them, but phooey.

I seem to be heading back into active, memorable, surreal dream territory, which is a relief - the last few months have been, I suspect, characterised by total exhaustion to the point where I don't actually remember my dreams, something which impoverishes my existence more than somewhat. Last night jo&stv argued about whether or not the house they bought was going to be the refurbished barn or the giant structure containing the converted Boeing 747 (which made, I have to say, interesting living space). There was a large gathering for breakfast at the house of the scary goth lady in the lion costume, who was annoyed at being woken up early after the memorable party featured in the newspapers. Later I was an adopted child in the strange, alien world trying desperately to hide from the bad things (either zombies or aliens) in the abandoned playground. (This last one I think is the direct result of too much Roswell).


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