freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Last night I dreamed what was either an epic fantasy novel or an epic fantasy video game which was effectively a mash-up between current American politics, current student politics at My Cherished Institution, some sort of unspecified contemporary urban fantasy with massively powerful secret female mage figures, and bits of Buffy. The whole overblown thing took place for no adequately defined reason in the endless carpeted corridors of an enormous, luxurious mansion, and was largely retroactive, in that it was shot through with the brooding, hopeless realisation that in the teeth of genre convention we, i.e. the good guys, had actually lost.

The main thing I remember is the huge meeting/negotiation sort of thing between the victorious Bad Guys, represented by Trump and George W Bush sitting smirking together at a corner of the boardroom table, and everyone else, mostly student political activists who were trying to call out the Bad Guys on their ideologically dubious fighting practices. The room was permeated with a sort of helpless horror as we realised how sneakily the Bad Guys had manipulated things to either disempower or destroy or suborn the powerful mage women (Willow Went Bad and betrayed us. Figures). In the background of the dream, various deposed female mage figures were trying desperately to regain the power they'd lost.

I woke up at the point that the werewolf mage lady was attempting a re-activation of her werewolf nature by strangling puppies. A whole row of them. Fuzzy black lab types. It was horrible. I really don't know what the whole thing says about my current state of geo-political despair, except that if Strangling Puppies isn't at least the penultimate level of the Despair Defcon, it really ought to be.

Upside: geo-political despair at least distracts one handily from personal despair, from which you can infer that neither work nor the job search are bringing me much in the way of joys. On the further upside, I haven't actually strangled any students or colleagues, either.

(My subject line is, of course, vamp-Willow).


Saturday, 15 July 2017 09:31 am
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
oh, dear, apparently I haven't posted in a month? good heavens. I attribute that variously to (a) still being bloody exhausted from the bloody start to the year, (b) still being bloody exhausted by relentless student enquiries, particularly the noxious upsurge towards the end of term, (c) being overloaded with human interaction by (b), (d) being bloody exhausted by the rush to finish a bunch of stuff before going on leave, and (e) the natural and inevitable physical and mental shut-down which always happens when I go on leave, as my beleaguered bod realises that it's actually allowed to relax and promptly falls over.

Of course, all the frantic rush to finish a bunch of stuff before I went on leave was utterly futile, I didn't finish everything, which meant I spent a day or so of my leave writing budgets and hand-holding my staff writing their own budgets, and another day of my leave finishing the thrice-dratted report I should have written a month ago and forgot about, because exhaustion riddles my brain with holes like a Swiss cheese someone shot up with a shotgun. I was, shall we say, somewhat narked by this necessity. Those were my leave days, dammit.

But I'm on leave! and my mother is out from the UK, calloo callay! and is currently sitting in the living room cruising the internet and permitting Jyn to climb on her head. I am clearly my mother's daughter in more ways than one.

Also, I am catching up on sleep, and thus dreams. Last night I dreamed that I had authorised the wholesale and epic renovation of the house in which I was living (not my current one, something much larger and with a slightly worrying resemblance to the Red Rocket in Fallout 4). The renovation team were enthusiastic and a bit oblivious, and ended up mostly deconstructing the house, to the extent of knocking down most of the walls, squishing the entire contents of the house into one room inaccessible other than by climbing over rubble and squeezing through a narrow gap, and leaving me nowhere to sleep. I also spent a lot of the dream wandering around futilely protesting as they installed various dubious interior decorating features, mostly dreadful kitschy art-work, instead of reconstructing walls. About halfway through the process I suddenly remembered, with a horrible sinking shock, that I didn't actually own the house, and thus shouldn't actually be reconstructing it. I spent the rest of the dream increasingly frantic, trying to chivvy the renovators into fixing everything quickly before the landlady arrived and saw what I'd done.

It is slightly alarming to contemplate the extent to which the above dreamscape neatly replicates my current difficulties with mentally processing the massive life change of trying to find a new job.

My subject line is, of course, Granny Weatherwax. Possibly what I actually need is a new job as senior witch in a Pratchett coven.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Whoa. Seriously narrative dream, cinematically so. I was the middle-aged schlubby white guy who was selected to be an astronaut, with a particularly large group of fellow selectees who were rife with weird rivalries and social undercurrents. I was poddling innocently around collecting the stuff I absolutely had to take into space with me (e.g. my leatherman) when I happened to look up and see the rocket launch against the sky, taking everyone else into space, because apparently I'd taken too long collecting things and had missed it. So everyone went into space without me, including, for some reason, my lover who was supposed to be accompanying me, although the rest of the team didn't believe we were really together and were nasty to him. (In retrospect, I think he may have been played by Riz Ahmed, so score there, although conversely, not a good tactical move to send him into space without me). Back on Earth, I found that every place I usually went had been rigged with explosives, including the home of my allies, who all died horribly. I have no idea who did it or why. It was a very bewildered dream.

It turns out that one of the triggers to me remembering my dreams is going to bed slightly earlier; if I turn out the light by 10.30 there's a massively increased chance I'll remember my dreams. Must be something to do with sleep cycles.

Entertaining, if bewildering, dreams are a necessary consolation, because work, aka the build-up to orientation and full reg and exam committees, is a series of exhausting micro-crises caused by factors outside my control, each of which I negotiate successfully, but the cumulative effect is horrible. (Examples: university residence opening date stuff-up suddenly landed us with a R400 000 bill. Argued management into paying it. Old link on orientation sign-up page registered droves of students for last year's dates. Hunted it down, emailed students. Several students arrived for orientation a month early. Sent them home. Potential orientation leader narked at not being selected, threatened formal complaint on grounds of discrimination. Talked him down. Etc etc etc. That was just in the last week; each instance requires negotiation and discussion and multiple emails. I'm dead).

Tonight, however, I spend a couple of hours discussing Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for the BBC, which should be fun. Supposing I can find enough energy for coherence. Wish me luck.

(subject line is Talking Heads, because it's been playing in my car.)
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Last night I dreamed I looked out the glass door into the back courtyard, and there was a man (twentysomething, coloured, nearly shaved head) lying motionless on the astroturf in approximately the recovery position. And I was wondering if he was dead, or injured, but he apparently felt me watching and moved, so he was just sleeping. In the dream I was vaguely assuming he'd had a drunken rather than a criminal night, but was nonetheless a bit alarmed about finding him in my garden, and asked him to leave on the grounds of being somewhat scary, and he laughed at me a bit and obligingly did so. Possibly by evaporating, I didn't see him climbing any walls. It was all very odd, but as anxiety-related people-are-getting-into-the-house dreams go, relatively unthreatening. I think all the horrible insults to black bodies coming out of the current American fuckwittery are getting to me, there's a sort of subliminal protectiveness that kicks in.

I take back everything I said about Trump being lost and overwhelmed, incidentally. Trump is having the time of his life implementing fascist autocracy and wholesalely castrating any governmental bodies that could potentially restrain him. Even if his inner circle of batshit insane fascist jerks is leading him around by the piglike snout, the current fuckwittery has his big greasy pawprints all over it. Pundits are reading this as a trial run at an actual coup. We are all so fucked.

On the "fiddling while Rome burns" principle, possibly, jo&stv had a dance party on Saturday. This is a thing they do every couple of months, known as the Minimum Viable Party; they choose a day, send out invites, and if a minimum threshold of people is reached, they clear out the living room and hold it. Dancing starts at 8pm and finishes at 10pm sharp, because we're all old. (Even with the strict 2-hour limit I'm unfit enough that I'm usually achy for days afterwards). There's a theme to the playlist, which stv djs with great deliberation and not a little fiendishness. Saturday's was 80s cheese, unabashedly. He borrowed a chunk of my music collection to assemble it. I have a lot of cheesy compilations.

There's something about 80s pop music that's essentially, I think, innocent, possibly because people of my vintage were young when it hardwired our brains. It's also an iconic enough musical identity that it has familiarity value even to younger people, the ones who weren't in their teens or twenties when the cheese was prevalent, and familiarity with the music is a basic tenet of good dance parties. It was the largest MVP turnout we've ever seen, probably 30 people or so, and it had a lovely, joyous, uninhibited vibe which said we were all regressing like mad and completely unashamed about it. I spent a lot of it bouncing around the dance floor in a fit of giggles, because, honestly, Tiffany, "I think we're alone now". Or "Walk like an Egyptian". And my late 80s experience swung heavily Goth, but stv threw sops to the Gothy remnant of us with "Tainted Love" and "Love will tear us apart", and besides, I was also into Eurythmics and Depeche Mode. And it closed with "Wake me up before you go-go", because it had to, and alas George Michael. It was a lovely evening, I had a blast. In the current state of geo-political ramification one has to take one's pleasures where one can.
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)
Campus has been formally closed until Sunday, while students march on campus and academics march on Parliament and students and academics disagree, generally politely, on why they should be marching and what's actually a realistic demand. It's like a slow-moving, disruptive and unusually verbose dramatisation of the generation gap, with occasional police presence. I am imitating the action of the Harry Potter, which is to stay in my room keeping very quiet and pretending I don't exist.

Recent interesting discoveries: student mass action is both a fatigue trigger and a source of more subliminal stress than I was aware of. Last night I actually had a sleep-walking dream, for the first time in years. A very tall man in flowing, fragmented, cream-coloured robes, like a cross between a Grecian statue and Rey from Star Wars, came through the wall above my bed, and I woke up with my heart pounding, trying to hold him back by main force. I don't think he was actively trying to hurt me, but he was very definitely present and invasive and insisting on being heard. I resent that in my bedroom at three in the morning. I'm picky about who occupies that space. Sometimes the cats don't even qualify.

I am, however, particularly delighted to note the pleasantly insane existence of what3words, which purports to identify a 3m square anywhere on the planet in three easy to remember words, and stuff all these postcodes or GPS, anyway. As far as I can work out, at least a portion of my house sits firmly in my subject line. I am somewhat delighted.

well, I'm back

Monday, 28 September 2015 01:05 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I've been on anti-depressants since just after the Great DVT Experience (so nearly four years, in fact, gawsh), and I got lucky: Welbutrin was a good match first off. It kicked my energy up out of its chronically fatigued depths quite handily, and also smoothed out the wild moodiness which was plunging me into fits of homicidal rage or utter despair more or less randomly. (Possibly life-threatening illness after-effects, possibly hormones, possibly my not-career, possibly the residual effects of the unrelieved horribleness of my father's death and associated miseries. Possibly just me and my brain chemistry.) Welbutrin was a tiny chemical god. It made it possible to live something not unlike an actual facsimile of life.

Unfortunately, it turns out that it has long-term side effects. The smoothing effect on jagged emotion spikes settles in for the long haul, and slowly, inexorably disconnects you from actual feeling. I ended up breaking up with my therapist a couple of months back, for various reasons which are a long introspective post in themselves, but partially because therapy was becoming this soul-rotting succession of interactions in which I groped unavailingly for actual feelings with which to connect. Sadness? Nope. Self-hatred? Nope. Anger? Definitely nope, I've never been good at anger at the best of times. I was trying to come to terms with things through a thick glass wall, and getting nowhere. I have a lot of respect for the therapy process, and got a lot of good out of it, but it does need some sort of grist to its analytic mill.

So I consulted my lovely GP, who confirmed that the emotional muffling is a known anti-depressant side-effect, and a month ago I madly downsized my dosage by half. Immediate effects have been to slightly up my shouting-at-the-cats quotient, and materially up my shouting-at-stupid-videogame-AIs quotient, but primarily it's revealed that the Welbutrin, sneaky bastard, has been suppressing my dreams. I'd vaguely attributed the gradual slide into a quotidian dullness of nightly landscape to, I dunno, increasing age, or the humdrum nature of academic admin, but apparently halving the anti-depressant dose unfettered my subconscious from an unsuspected level of hideous chemical thrall. Which is delightful, because I was missing my vivid dream-life something 'orrible.

The moment of realisation came when I woke up on Saturday morning having just dreamed a Baroque pillared mansion in which I was for some reason running a major corporation. The dream-mansion was further enlivened by the presence, sitting on the steps outside, of a judicious mix of several of my male friends with most of the more obscure male cast members of Sherlock, singing exquisite four-part a capella harmonies in serenade to Ashley Williams. Ashley is a Mass Effect squad member who's always annoyed me (she's religious and anti-alien) and who I only managed to retain in my latest game by dint of having played through the trilogy twice in quick succession, which means my residual annoyance at being dumped by Kaidan on the first playthrough was recent enough the second time round that I summoned up the resolution necessary to sacrifice him rather than Ashley on Virmire for the first time ever. (Non ME-players can ignore that bit, it'll make no sense). At any rate, I have no idea why they were serenading Ashley, I've never romanced her and never plan to. But it was a quality rendition; as I rocketed past in heels, bent on unspecified corporate shenanigans and trailed by a phalanx of secretaries, I recollect being highly impressed.

Last night I dreamed an arrival via horse-drawn carriage at a mansion in the woods; given the unspecified older male companion who was wafting around somewhere, it's remotely possible I was Jane Eyre. I spent most of the dream being alarmed and scurrying for cover as the mad woman with the shotgun crawled up the outside walls to get at the second-floor windows, and eventually woke myself up with my heart pounding, which I haven't done in years. As drawbacks go, I'll take it. Fear of dying horribly means at least you're alive.

my chemical romance

Wednesday, 26 March 2014 12:24 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
The memory-scrambling drugs are very weird. I was in surgery for the better part of an hour, but I recollect it as a sort of muddled series of highlights lasting no more than a couple of minutes, and including a vague sense that at some point having local anaesthetic injected was painful, but no actual memory of the pain. Which is, in fact, exactly what the nice surgeon promised.

Also, the memory-scrambling drugs are apparently stimulating to the dream centres. Last night I dreamed, in vivid detail, that I was running an interactive, semi-LARP performance of The Sound of Music, with frequent pauses for the audience to suggest alternatives to the plot. For some reason Ben Whishaw was playing the illegitimate son of the father-figure, as a mute who communicated entirely by mime. I woke myself up with the realisation that (a) having Sherlock Holmes deducing characters is an incredibly good narrative short-cut for packing in background information (although with absolutely no idea what the hell he was actually doing in The Sound of Music), and (b) that the whole thing was a much more complicated challenge than I'd expected in terms of possible plot complexities, resulting in the inescapable conclusion that the skills of the actors concerned were absolutely not up to the improvisation needed.

"Minor surgery" is apparently not as minor as all that. The surgeon's nice nurse lady laughed gently at the idea that I might go back to work today, and put me off until Monday. The prime selection of stitches down the back of my thigh isn't actually painful, although they pull a little when I move, and necessitate some odd sitting positions. Mostly, though, I'm realising that she's right - I went out to the chemist briefly this morning, and I'm suddenly dead on my feet. Right, yes, they cut chunks out of me. Small chunks, but I think my body is entitled to object a bit.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I went back to work yesterday, after three weeks of holiday1, and more or less as a last desperate splurge before going back to work I gave myself a slightly mad Tuesday during which I saw two movies in actual cinemas and everything. The first was by cunning plan, viz. braving the holiday crowds for a morning show at the mall to see The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, which I have unaccountably missed seeing earlier. The second was a random last-minute invitation from Pam & Lloyd to see Gravity with them, which was a splendid idea.


I have a sort of sneaking feeling that I shouldn't really have enjoyed Desolation of Smaug as much as I did. I didn't adore the film utterly, but it was fun, and full of hot dwarves and beautiful landscapes and Martin Freeman being endearing. Even so I'm faintly surprised that its adaptation choices didn't nark me off more than they did. There's some odd stuff going on there, a weird Jacksonesque abandonment of perfectly cinematic bits of the book (the staggered introduction to Beorn, for example. I was looking forward to that. They didn't do it. Phooey. And Beorn himself was simply lame.) in favour of brand new sequences which don't seem to serve any particular purpose (like Thorin and the lads scurrying frantically around dwarven forges for no other reason than because the director wanted an action bit right there.) And the spider battle was frankly pedestrian. I loved Smaug, visually and particularly his voice, although it's effects-ridden enough that it doesn't really sound like the actor (a pity because Benedict Cumberbatch's voice). The dwarven halls of the Lonely Mountain are spectacular. I really didn't have a problem with the introduction of Legolas, it gives a face to all the anonymous wood elves. Nor did I balk at the, hooray!, actual female character such as Tolkien didn't include at all in the novel. Tauriel was pleasingly kick-butt and it's just a pity that her potentially gender-corrective presence was utterly undercut by her immediately being slapped into a love triangle. Because clearly female characters can efficiently kill orcs all they like, they are nonetheless incomplete without a sexual function. Jackson and Stephen bloody Moffat are of the same casually sexist ilk. (Also, is it just me, or are Elven/dwarven relationships simply weird?)

Despite all the whinging above, it's weird that I probably enjoy the film because of its departures from the original, not in spite of them. As with the first film, I love the expansion of the story, the filling in of the blanks - the sense that Bilbo's journey fits into a broader tapestry of history and meaning and plot, with Galadriel and the Necromancer and all - not just the whole world, but Jackson's particular vision of it. Middle-Earth is so huge and rich, the kiddied-down version of it we see in The Hobbit is a glimpse in a tiny mirror, and it's lovely to feel the vistas opening up. I applaud Jackson's vision, even as I wish the result had been slightly less ham-fisted and self-indulgent and, even, thoughtless at times. The project deserves a better execution.


I am kicking myself that I left it too late to see Gravity in 3D, which I believe was spectacular. Even on the Labia's smaller screen and with their scratchy sound it's a phenomenal film, a virtuoso manipulation of tension, narrow focus and narrative control - such a simple, stripped-down plot to be so utterly engaging. It manages to be beautiful at the same time as it's gritty and real, with that minimalism of image and character despite the vastness of its backdrop. I loved the absolute absence of the kind of cuts to flashbacks on Earth which a more popular sort of film would infallibly have interspersed with the references made by characters to events in their past. Those actors had a hell of a task, to establish and maintain their characters with so little to play off. But they are amazing actors doing an amazing job of a highly skilled script, with jaw-dropping special effects that enhance rather than replacing the significance of the characters. The conveniently adjacent space stations all in the same orbit were a bit of a stretch, but the film-makers seem to have done their damnedest to actually replicate the physics of movement in space and the contemporary technology of the station and capsules. Science fiction at its best, if you accept the broadest definition of sf as fiction which is intrinsically about humanity's engagement with technological advancement, although of course [ profile] strawberryfrog's point is valid, that from another angle Gravity isn't sf at all, but the purest contemporary realism. Bugger that. This is the sort of story sf should be telling, and I claim it with pride.

Subject line is from the dwarves' song in The Hobbit, of course - book version, not film. Film is the craft of light. I'm not sure Jackson is good at dwarves, actually: they're too bloody rude and slap-stick, even if the theme of greed and corruption is being nicely developed in Thorin. Dwarven dignity should not turn on and off like a tap.

1   In the exact opposite of celebration of my return to work, a random selection of my muscles have seized solid and my sleep patterns have been shot to hell for two nights. Last night I dreamed Moriarty turned me into a deer because of my refusal to assist in his nefarious criminal activities, resulting in my rude awakening at 5am this morning as I fled through the forests with his pack of werewolves at my heels. Hooves. Whatever. I need a new job.

I want a zebra

Tuesday, 22 October 2013 10:22 am
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I am, for no adequately defined reason and after almost a year of absence, remembering my dreams again. This is a profound relief. I like dreaming; mine tend to the vivid and trippy and are always entertaining. I think it also means that I'm probably emerging from the loathsome embrace of depression at least to some extent, to which I say calloo, callay. Although Sunday night's little excursions entailed (a) being locked carefully in a room somewhere by concerned friends so that the giant, unlikely, terrifying cloud of bats couldn't get at me despite much fluttering at windows, and (b) trying desperately to find random objects in the old house which was slowly decaying and filling with water, so possibly a certain subconscious concern about dissolution of the structural coherence of my identity may be implicated. On the other hand, last night I dreamed an extended balloon trip in the company of Sherlock Holmes, which was about wish fulfilment on so many levels I actually woke up giggling. I've always wanted to go up in a balloon, I love flying, and flying dreams are a rare and particular pleasure. Also, BBC's current Sherlock. I have, shall we say, no complaints.

In other news, the EL appears to have achieved a girlfriend, although this is a conclusion drawn solely from observation of particular patterns in pewter-casting, he hasn't said a word about her. What's with that? Oh, wait. EL.

Subject line from the Magnetic Fields's "Zebra", chosen mainly by random association and the fact that it contains the line "We circled the Earth in a hot air balloon, So what?" I can't say I actually want a zebra, which for the purposes of scansion and rhyme in this particular instance is pronounced "zee-bra".
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Last night I dreamed that I was faced with the difficult choice between re-training as a doctor and re-training as a sailor. I went the doctor route (alongside Jo, sorry, Jo, it's probably about your family), and after a few slightly frantic scenes of digs cooking with fellow med students, woke up feeling vaguely terrified about having to learn chemistry again, and wistfully sad that I couldn't have both sets of skills. Something about knots and ropes and setting sails with technical verve. General hatred of my work life notwithstanding, it's not actually as bizarre as it sounds to say that wistful doctor dreams are almost certainly the result of reading really quite an unlikely amount of Sherlock fanfic over the last month or so. The strangely fetishised things that fic writers do to John Watson as a deceptively cuddly BAMF! are ... strangely fetishised, actually.

I also blame the fact that I randomly woke up at 3.30am on Monday morning and couldn't get to sleep again, as a result of which I wandered through most of yesterday on four hours of sleep in an exhausted daze which didn't, for some reason, prevent me from giving a really rather good double period tut on Dracula, to which even my cabbage class responded fairly well. Then again, I probably didn't need to demonstrate the fact that I can babble entertainingly about vampires and gender roles and Victorian anxieties literally in my sleep. (In this case with added postcolonialism at no extra charge, on account of dodgy Eastern European reverse invasion of London by degenerate lowlifes). However, it didn't help to be woken up promptly at 3am this morning again by Golux being heartily sick on my bedside rug. I did manage to get back to sleep this time, but the free pass she's currently getting on horrible behaviour on account of her nose cancer is wearing a little thin. Especially since the nose cancer has retreated, for its own inscrutable reasons, to a small black spot rather than a giant black sore, which is either sinister or encouraging, I'm not sure which.

We have set a date for the vetination of Macavity early next week, following a slightly drunkenly uproarious session of dinner and cat-fondling at our place on Sunday night. Currently the major challenge is going to be preventing Carlo from exiting stage left with a two-for-one ginger ex-tom deal, he seems rather taken with Hobbit. Put down the floofy ginger kitty and back away slowly, say I. He's a slut anyway, and doesn't mean it.

Subject line a quote from "Life on the Ocean Wave", which is one of those saccharine little Victorian ditties I blush to say I know entirely through the bastardised versions occasionally perpetrated by the Goon Show. On the other hand, a hasty lyric search suggests that them saccharine Victorians can seriously turn a stirring phrase.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Anyone who's been within an approximate radius or downwind of me recently will know that we currently have a Tomcat Affliction in House Evil Landlord/Lawful Good Tenant, as I tend to rant about it a lot. He's a slinking, stinking, ginger-and-white thing who leads a cryptic life of crime mostly on the roof, but who has developed a truly annoying habit of arriving punctually in the back courtyard at our cats' mealtimes and whinging because we haven't put the food out yet so he can muscle in and steal it. My life as the hapless object of eternal student complaints makes me a wee bit testy with even our own cats getting all demanding, and it's bloody well not cricket from an illegal immigrant. Also, said Slinky/Stinky Tom goes through phases of wandering through the house in our absence and spraying in the EL's bedroom, presumably as a direct challenge for territorial dominance to the house's Alpha Male. (In other news, it's nice to have it unequivocally established that the EL actually is the Alpha Male, as Hobbit clearly labours under the adorable illusion that it's him). Further to Macavity the Mystery Cat's territorial operations, Todal has become all insecure and discombobulated, and has taken to peeing in the EL's bedroom at random intervals. It hasn't been all olfactory joy around our neck of the woods, I can tell you.

The Hidden Paw aspect of Macavity allows him to, among other things, levitate mysteriously onto the roof from a standing start at the food-bowls the instant you think about coming within a sixty-foot radius of the kitchen, so he's near impossible to catch. We are going to have to do something sneaky with traps, and possibly decoy Admiralty papers or a femme fatale Peke with a blackjack in her garter. But it's becoming untenable, and I fear there's a short, sad session with the SPCA in Macavity's criminal mastermind future.

So last night I dreamed that I actually caught the bugger, with my bare hands, and stuffed him into a catbox, where he sat and protested his innocence while pretending to be cute and fluffy. (Even in the dream I wasn't taken in, probably because of excessive training on Hobbit). The dream then precipitated me into an extended argument with no-one in particular as to whether it was better to take the wretched cat to the SPCA to be put down after no-one adopted him, or to take him directly to Graham The Gnomelike Vet, and have him put down without recourse to meaningless illusions of reprieve. At the end of the argument I turned around to discover that the Evil Landlord had snuck behind my back and furnished the catbox with carpets, a tasteful array of expensive sushi in high-end paper boxes, and a miniature television set, on which Macavity was now watching cartoons.

Clearly I am still Deeply Scarred by the Ounce experience. Ounce was also a stray who attempted a similar Macavity-style invasion, which we steadfastly resisted until the point where I went away on holiday for three weeks and came back to discover that the EL had caved and Ounce was now part of the family. (Ounce was himself scarred by the preliminary rejection and still bloody well runs away from me in a pointed fashion if I do anything threatening, like existing). But I'm wise to the EL's ways now. Wise, I say. Macavity has it coming, and at the first hint of sushi or cartoons I will have him into the Liesbeek in a sack with lead weights tied to his feet. Metaphorically speaking. Criminal masterminds and quisling Evil Landlords deserve no mercy.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Last night I dreamed I was in a glitzy haut couture designer's studio, where she had a clock which was actually a life-sized, animated metal model of Captain America. You told the time according to the arcane constellations of how it blinked, or yawned, or wrinkled its nose. It was creepy.

This is clearly a direct and slightly bizarre result of reading Hello Tailor's Avengers costume deconstructions (because, superheroes) interspersed with the Go Fug Yourself fashion show slideshows (because, pretty dresses). It also suggests that last night I slept through the night for the first time in approximately a month, which is the length of time this 'flu, and its tendency to wake me up at all hours with coughing fits, has actually endured.

Words cannot express how much I loathe and detest this time of year. It's perfectly ridiculous to have the kind of job where I cannot take time out to recover from a serious dose of 'flu because my bloody responsibilities won't let me. Also, once it's all calmed down and I'm simply sitting in my office wishing I wasn't, the post-frenzy crash is worse than the actual frenzy. However, it is remotely possible that I may actually be human again sometime in the near future, supposing I can prevent myself from burying myself in the garden in the depressive throes of the post-frenzy crash. News at 11.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
It's apparently the sixth of the month. Not sure how that happened. It's gone past in a blur of meetings and stressed students. I had a very weird dream last night in which I was exploring a derelict haunted house in the woods somewhere, and kept encountering a ghost of a 4-year-old girl in a black dress who ran through the rooms with a fairly cheerful, focused, childlike intent, and looked perfectly substantial except for her tendency to run through people. I think my subconscious thinks I'm not real.

It does mean that I'm unfashionably late to acknowledge my intellectual debts, and the Duchess will have my head off forthwith. Consequently, Words Wot I Have Swiped In November:

  • 2nd: Arcade Fire, "Wake Up", my second favourite song of theirs, and one of the ones I was rhapsodising about in the post.
  • 5th: slightly sadistic Guy Fawkes rhymes. I've always loved the phrase "Gunpower, treason and plot", it's magnificently satisfying. Something about the balance of assonance with the scansion (the 3-2-1 syllable arc is pleasingly rhythmic) and the powerful plosive punch of "plot".
  • 8th: I am quoting stoner-Fran Krantz in Cabin in the Woods. The bit where he arrives driving with a bong.
  • 20th: my contractually obligated David Bowie quote, from "Always Crashing the Same Car", slightly doom-ladenly given that I was talking about taking my driver's test. (Again).
  • 26th: the phrase is, of course, John Scalzi's. And highly characteristic.
  • 27th: "Train in Vain" is a Clash song that I actually know better from the Manic Street Preachers cover. It's one of those weird songs which doesn't actually have the title phrase anywhere in the lyrics.
  • 29th: if you don't recognise "The Hunting of the Snark" I'm saddened and disappointed.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Last night I dreamed I was getting married to one of my curriculum advisors. It was one of those worrying, subtly-wrong marriage dreams: drifting around a giant, elaborate wedding in a rather pleasant woodland, being faintly perturbed by the fact that I didn't want this sort of wedding and didn't really know this person, and that all the guests were his friends, not mine. While I think the actual imagery was sparked by a general discussion of weddings in theory and practice last night (several in the vicinity lately), I also think that it's patently obvious that my subconscious thinks I'm in a bad relationship with all this curriculum advice, and perilously close to an unwise commitment. Today has borne that out. I keep stumbling over these giant omissions and errors that I've made while trying to run two major jobs simultaneously, and I find it deeply upsetting.

Also, I still have bloody Roger Whittaker on the brain. For all that it is, as strawberryfrog pointed out, a horribly schmaltzy tune, it's also ridiculously catchy. Apologies to anyone else such as Pumeza who is of the same vintage as I am, and thus open to this particularly persistent and syrupy earworm.

Now I need to email my mother, who will otherwise be horribly shocked by her cellphone bill, since her phone apparently phoned me off its own bat this morning and spent several minutes leaving a voicemail recording of a rambling conversation between mother and someone rather muffled about leaks in dormitories. Since she's in the UK, this is a rather expensive form of butt call. If you read this first, mother, chastise your phone.

(Subject line Goats, of course. Goats will provide a surreality for all known occasions).
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Hee. There's a meme. Memes are usually lame, but this one made me laugh. Gacked off [ profile] matociquala:

Pick up the nearest book to you.
Turn to page 45.
The first sentence describes your sex life in 2012.

The nearest book to me is a Sookie Stackhouse, Dead in the Family, which is on my desk at work so I can lend it to a student. (Vampire thesis, with digressions into random fun reading). This is already auspicious, but the first sentence on p. 45 is too beautifully fortuitous for words: "You're assuming taking a Were as your date would be offensive...?" I am still chortling. Apparently 2012, while allowing something vaguely resembling action, will not in any way mitigate my frequently catastrophic taste in men. However in general personal terms this actually represents an improvement, so I'm not quibbling.

Today, apart from slightly kinky prognostications, is definitely looking up. A random encounter with my physician this morning on the way back from a blood test has allowed him to formally permit me to both stop the Warfarin, and remove the @^$%@#^$% compression socks which are the bane of my existence in this wretched hot weather. (They are really non-stylish with sandals). My effervescent glee at this release is in no way mitigated by (a) the list of prohibitions and warnings regarding future air travel (pshaw, easy, I can do all that), (b) the prospect of an hour and a half in the dentist's chair this afternoon (implant), (c) the cost of said implant and crown, only partially covered by medical aid (total string of numbers represents fabulous amount with more zeroes than God) or (d) the fact that unspecified builderly dudes of noxious ilk have apparently chosen today as the site of their spirited attempt to undermine the building from beneath, using pneumatic drills. Also, student admission and curriculum angst is on the rise, as is traditional for this time of year. I laugh at all that, and wriggle my toes in ecstatic freedom.

The subject line, by the way, is from Goats. As have been the last three, and as they will be for the foreseeable future. Read Goats to avert the apocalypse. (And to foster particularly trippy dreams. Last night I dreamed a giant, boiling stormcloud over central Cape Town, turning the sky black except for a heavy, thunderous green on the horizon. I stood in the garden and watched as the cloud front advanced on Rondebosch with brutal speed, trailing tentacular cloud tendrils amid which giants stalked. It was fairly epic. I woke up vaguely trying to put up magical shields.)
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
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.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
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.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
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.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Woe! I was reclining peacefully on the sofa last night watching Eureka, and got a sudden yen to discover where I'd seen the geeky café chef before (answer: the Toyman on Smallville, this series seems to be stuffed with Smallville alumni), and when I tried to switch on Winona she imitated the action of the brick and refused to respond in any way at all. Plugging her into the mains makes absolutely no difference. The ON button simply doesn't do anything. Taking the battery out and putting it back in again also doesn't do anything. I have so little experience with laptopoid objects, I have no bloody idea what's going on. Is there a secret handshake or something similar of which I am blissfully unaware? Help!

I should also add that I'm really enjoying Eureka, which I cheerfully admit is not quality television, but which offers sufficient in quirk, zan, mad science and slightly off-the-wall moments and characters to keep me happy. It also, after a discussion with [ profile] maxbarners revealed that he and [ profile] smoczek hated it, vouchsafed me the sizzling insight that tastes in bad/cheesy television or movie are infinitely more personal and individual than those in the good versions. It's wierdly akin to Tolstoy's statement that "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." High-quality cultural product has far more norms in common than low-quality: whether or not you buy into a cheesy series is about the particular and personal buttons that it presses, rather than any objective sense of its worth as an artefact. Which is fine by me. I'm defiantly enjoying Eureka, in pretty much the same way that I enjoy puppies and kittens and chocolate éclairs.

And, while we're mentioning the Russians, however tangentially, last night I dreamed that I was a small boy escaping an oppressive Russian regime with the assistance of friendly townsfolk, who put me on a train with my giant trunk. This turned out to have been filled, behind my back, with young men being smuggled out of the country, which I assisted by carefully covering them with my coat and wiring the trunk shut. Dream-history does not relate whether they escaped or not, but I don't think I was stopped or searched. Also, I'm tending to blame China Miéville.


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