i aten't dead

Monday, 31 October 2011 07:07 pm
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... just resting. Very bad week for fatigue, I'm floating around the house in a state of more or less stunned and unable to parry, while feeling as though someone socked me in the left cheekbone. (Had tooth extracted on Friday. Ow.) I have managed to successfully avoid marking, sewing, gardening, paper-writing, learner's licence booking, odd bits of work, and most foods that require chewing, together with pretty much anything else that requires actual energy, since about Thursday. On the upside, the LJ bar has a beautiful Hallowe'en night sky with bats, a whole stash of superhero DVDs arrive tomorrow, and the third upgrade to our ADSL cap in five days means internet is restored, too. (Being at home is hell on the bandwidth, even before the EL screws with my careful self-rationing by downloading the .net framework).

I have various posts planned, including a Cat Valente review, a random analysis of U2 and several other flavours of what have you, but today is not that day. Today is the day I once again veg out in front of a random fluffy movie and go to bed early. Sorry.

Anyone else done anything interesting lately? The whole world cannot possibly be as boring as I am ...
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I am amused by the way in which tweets in my LJ sidebar occasionally become involuntary poetry. Yesterday I was clearly channelling e e cummings, albeit a younger and less accomplished e c cummings who was probably stoned at the time:

right, well, that was a day
during which I achieved
precisely and absolutely

The exigencies of space have happily contrived to give the sentence a descending number of words per line, culminating in the solitary splendour of "nothing", null and isolate as the closer to the piece. As an epitaph to my day, during which I did, in fact, achieve nothing, it's fairly effective. I marked about three dozen essays over the weekend, in a bizarre and concentrated two-day burst which suggests I must have dredged some actual self-discipline out of the sludge with a gaff, and it's left me a bit disinclined. For anything, basically. I am re-reading the Ankh Morpork city watch novels in strict chronological order, and eating malva pudding at intervals. (OK, I lied about achieving nothing yesterday. I made a malva pudding).

On the upside, a brief interchange with my boss this morning reveals that she's expecting me back at the end of November, not the start. This is weird. I may, apparently, be permitted to go back a couple of weeks earlier as long as it's only for half days. Why is it that everyone else seems to be taking this illness/fatigue thing more seriously than I am? I still don't quite believe in it. But I'm inherently obedient. On with the non-working, then.

Apopos of not much, to whom might I have incautiously lent my copy of Iron Man 2? It's unaccountably missing from my shelf, and I'm poised on the brink of ordering a spiffy special edition DVD to replace it.
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My mother has just emailed me reproachfully, saying, somewhat portentously, "You haven't blogged for nearly a week". Oh, dear, she's right, I really am apparently on strike. While the last few days have included lovely socialisings (Jim & Julie's wedding, which was wonderful, and a spa/Mount Nelson tea day on Wednesday in honour of [livejournal.com profile] schedule5 on Wednesday), in fact I am near-homicidally antisocial right now and very much inclined to stagnate in my study in a state of particularly prickly hedgehog, playing computer games and being cynical about the Royal Wedding. (In my role as a pervy long-skirt-fancier, I have to say her dress was pretty, but a bit arb. I actually preferred Julie's. However, the mass outbreak of fancy hats on these occasions makes me deeply happy).

Entertainment in my Prickly Hedgehog Hibernation continues to be provided by Dragon Age. I thought I was emerging from the glorious fog of narrative immersion, but the Evil Landlord wandered into my study yesterday, quietly placed the disks for Dragon Age II on my desk, gave me a meaningful look, and wandered out. I'm doomed.

The hibernation may well have been triggered by the weather as much as the 11-day break; we've had the first serious several-day bucketing-rain session of winter, and the heater is perpetually whirring in the direction of my feet. My car has signalled its displeasure with the seasonal damp by emitting an unpleasant whirring noise in default of actually starting, so Tuesday is going to be a bit complicated, what with going back to work and arranging car wossnames and starting my teaching and all. By the immutable workings of Sod's Law, the defunct car has naturally coincided with a sprained ankle (I apparently did something weird to it while bounding around on the dance floor at the wedding), so I shall be hobbling around a bit in pursuit of the necessary Point A to Point B perambulations. These things are sent to try us. I'm currently happily detached from it all to the point where I'm vaguely sure I'll make a plan. Thing. Wossname.

I'm going to bed now. Hedgehoggily.
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The last three weeks have been pretty much a dead loss, productivity-wise: I thought I was going through an epic dose of god-I-hate-this-job, but actually I think it's just stress, or possibly even grief. Stress apparently makes me vague, dissociated and subject to quite unreasonable levels of memory failure, which means that I've sat at my desk frittering away the time on actually I'm not sure what. This is quite apart from disruptions for wrapping up my dad's effects, a dose of sinus infection, the overseeing of various artisans for post-army-of-reconstruction reconstructions, and various doctor's appointments and tests. (The darned breast cyst filled up again and had to be re-syringed: it's currently violently bruised in a highly concentrated area, as though I've been punched smartly in the left boob by something very small, very focused and very intensely angry - I'm thinking an Oompa-Loompa version of the Hulk). This week has been further disrupted by panic and the visiting of my sister in hospital, but she's much better, visibly improving - thank you to everyone for their good wishes and reassuring anecdotes.

Memory loss can, however, work in your favour. Today I had to take Golux back to the vet for her second nose-freezing appointment. (Me to vet, wearily: "Have a box of complaint.") I am wise to Golux now: I grabbed her first go without having to chase her round the house, by dint of completely forgetting about the appointment until I tried to open the door to the cat-food cupboard and found the notice reading "DON'T FEED THE CATS!" which I cunningly left there for the Evil Landlord last night, and then promptly forgot about. Since there was about a nanosecond between me remembering and me grabbing her, with a concomitant lack of time for body language changes, it was all fairly painless, if more than somewhat Zen. I am also amused to note that she spends the trip to the vet lying peaceably on the floor of the catbox with her paws curled in, looking perfectly calm except for the ongoing yowling, which I am thus forced to conclude is more for my benefit than being about genuine distress.

Today's happy serendipity: an entertaining 20-minute discussion with my Masters student, who is writing on Frankenstein but hesitantly confessed in passing a geeky and shamefaced love for both Supernatural and Fringe. Foolish woman! An explosion of mutual fangirling later, we'd done a fairly solid deconstruction of Fringe's mad-scientist archetypes, and explored my off-the-cuff thesis that Walter is both Frankenstein (narcissistic genius unable to deal with consequences of his transgressive science) and monster (fragmented, damaged and trying to construct himself). Sadly, she reveals herself as a Dean girl, which means I shall have to scrutinise her writing extra-narrowly for flaws of insight. (I still skew Sam, although you could probably also describe me as Dean-curious). We were also able to subject Supernatural's Christian mythology to a searching analysis which found parallels with Shelley's critique of Milton, but I doubt you want to go there.

It's possibly the case that academics shouldn't also be fangirls. Under the spur of enthusiasm the verbiage gets particularly dense.
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I don't know if it's the weather (which continued hot until about five minutes ago, when it started raining, yay!) or the various levels of Unfortunate Event in my immediate vicinity, but dagnabbit, I'm sleeping badly at the moment. Stress always goes straight to my sleep patterns, which burgeon forth into weird dreams, hypnagogic hallucinations, sleepwalking and my current infliction, insomnia. Tried to sleep last night from 10pm onwards. Couldn't, other than snatches of a light and uneasy doze punctuated by the cat climbing on me, and perambulation. Got up four times: (1) arose with sudden conviction I had to be somewhere and do something important; donned dressing gown upside-down, got to door before realising the urgency was entirely delusional; (2) car alarm went off randomly and for no reason, got up to check house wasn't being carried away bodily by burglars (apparently not); (3) repeat of sleepwalking episode, but with other dressing gown on inside-out; (4) random rain started, got up to close windows, whereupon the rain stopped. I think I finally drifted off somewhere around 2.30am, waking up just before 6 for no reason known to science. I am inutterably frayed today. Therefore, I shall console myself by talking about random interesting books.

This lot is all Scroob's fault. One of the huge advantages about bloggery is the way that it acts as a sort of life record: it makes you realise precisely why all those eighteenth-century ladies wrote journals, in case they ever needed to remember the exact day on which they were so rude to the Duchess of Plin at the garden party, and who was listening. I quite often resort to my own deathless prose in order to work out when I was doing what where (although not whom), and in one of those forays recently stumbled over the comment in which Scroob recommended The Spellman Files. I'm not sure why I didn't follow up the suggestion at the time, but I've just finished the first two books in the series and am about to embark on the third. I'm captivated, mostly by horrified fascination mixed with amusement and narrative glee.

Lisa Lutz's The Spellman Files is a sort of demented private investigator/dysfunctional family saga, following the antics of Izzy Spellman, who has been working for her family's private investigation firm since she was a child. The upshot of her less than normal upbringing is a set of bizarre, offbeat yet perfectly logical interactions with the world: the family is basically amoral, or at least otherly moralled, completely bats, absolutely lacking in social inhibition, narcissistic, pragmatic, unscrupulous, manipulative, paranoid, very tightly knit, and hilarious. The genius is in the writing, though: the whole thing is beautifully delivered in a sort of deadpan case-report tone that makes extensive use of flashbacks, interrogations, recordings, evidence analysis, footnotes and Izzy's own OCD tendency to make lists. (The ex-boyfriend list is genius. I really have to admire a girl who can assess new male acquaintances in terms of their ex-boyfriend possibilities.) Bonus in-text fangirling of Get Smart, which I really ought to watch one of these days just in solidarity and because CONTROL and KAOS are so magnificently silly1, and the new Doctor Who. I love these books. Borrow them from me. Get your own.

1 Good lord, I've just realised that Get Smart used to be on TV in Zim when I was a kid - I vividly remember its opening sequence with the long series of doors, which caused me to collapse giggling when watching the opening-glass-doors opening sequence of Hot Fuzz, which is a movie that's too bloody knowing for its own good. Also, Rowling's Ministry of Magic dropping-phone-box entrance is so a rip-off. In Hot Fuzz it's an homage, in Rowling it's a ripoff. Pay attention.


Wednesday, 23 April 2008 08:46 am
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Owing to infection by the above word, 'tis a day for random linkery.

  • Cultural Snow is the source of said happy-making word:

    ...Ivan Goncharov's idle anti-hero Oblomov ... gave the Russian language the glorious abstract noun "halatnost", literally "dressing-gown-ness", a state of intertia, apathy, daydreaming and general blaaah.
    There is an urgent need for this word in quite alarmingly far-ranging elements of my life. Also, in a not entirely unrelated memo to self, I was noting only this morning that I need a new dressing-gown.

  • The other night I dreamed, during the course of an interesting dream-narrative entailing staying at a holiday house on a lake with [livejournal.com profile] wolverine_nun and her family (possibly with extra kids in there), that I was losing my sight. I nearly fell into the lake crossing the long walkway to get to the house, owing to everything being blurry. This new development in bionic sight is thus interesting and apposite.

  • Scary-Go-Round is currently pursuing a particularly demented storyline involving the Easter Bell and the Yak-Wendigo War, in France. I draw your attention to the most recent strip because I rather like the yak-pwned Wendigo in a wheelchair in the bottom left-hand frame.

  • I should probably add, for the record, that to the best of my knowledge the word "halatnost" doesn't actually appear in a David Bowie lyric.

Last Night I Dreamed: a giant redwood tree was falling on me as I lay in bed. I woke up cowering and whimpering.


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