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The two Egyptian geese who spend a lot of their time posing on the chimney of the residence opposite my office window are clearly a couple. This morning they've been rootling around in the res garden with a whole outbreak of baby goslings. It's ridiculously cute, although possibly unwarrantedly early. The weather has been unseasonably warm in the last couple of weeks, but you know Cape Town still has hailstorms up her sleeve. Poor fluffy birdies.

While we're on the subject of things variously avian, [ profile] first_fallen, who is a Mad Knitter in spades, gave me a pair of beautiful knitted fingerless gloves for my birthday, with a cable-stitched wol pattern. In purple. I adore them. She wanted to put a photo on her Ravelry project page, so I set out to take one. A spot of fuffling around revealed that they didn't photograph at all well without hands in them, so I was faced with the interesting challenge of trying to work out how to hold the camera and photograph both my own hands at the same time. In the event, this entailed:

  1. Placing camera on top of a pile of books, carefully judged for height, on my desk.
  2. Placing black cloth over monitor and holding hands up in front of it.
  3. Adjusting distance of camera to frame hands correctly.
  4. Slowly and carefully pushing the camera button with my chin while not moving my hands at all.
  5. Repeating ad nauseam with various blurry or out-of-frame results, then giving up and asking stv to take the photos. (This resulted in a 45-minute photo shoot in which my hands in gloves were carefully posed in fifteen different positions against five different artistic backdrops, including Jo's tweed jacketed back).

They're lovely gloves. But I am fighting a desire to sew little black beads onto all their eyes, just because.

Image obviously by stv, aka Max Barners. Closeup of wols here, for all you mad knitters.
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I am coming to Scotland in August! To give a conference paper on Neil Gaiman and Tanith Lee and weird inverted vampire Snow Whites, which I have still to write, but pshaw, details! This is all being paid for by the faculty, who are thus currently high on my list of Favourite People, at least until they dream up another set of horrible jobs for me. But the important thing is, I'm coming through Heathrow and have booked my tickets to stay two nights in London before heading Up North. I'll arrive on the morning of the 9th August, and leave for Glasgow on the morning of the 11th. Far-flung exiled London crowd, who's around then? Can we Gather in a Pub or adequate substitute in the usual ritual fashion? There are too many of you I don't see often enough, or at all ([ profile] bumpycat, I'm looking at you here!). Also, I've had offers of accommodation from [ profile] starmadeshadow and Scroob - whose doorstep will it be most convenient for me to turn up on? do you want to arm-wrestle for it?

Gosh, I'm all excited about this. *fans self*.

I am on leave today and tomorrow, allowing the lingering vestiges of glandular wossname to exit my system by means of determined lounging about. Despite this I have managed to re-watch Iron Man 2 (still grin-inducing second time round), have the car serviced (clutch much smoother! it's like magic, I can take off without ripping involuntary wheelies), and read an awful lot of hot cyber elf-sex (Justina Robson, who is kinda fun and not nearly as schlocky as it sounds, and who I shall probably review in detail sometime). And, of course, entirely ignore the World Cup (other than about 10 mins of amazing Bafana butterfootedness in between episodes last night) in favour of watching large amounts of STNG while knitting, which means I'm onto the stripy bit of this scarf, which is kinda cool.

And which leads me to the next vital question. Do they let you take rosewood knitting needles on planes these days?? Because it's SAA, and the inflight movies are non-personalised and always unbelievably bad, and I have to do something to prevent myself from losing it completely and feasting on the flesh of the living somewhere over Tamanrasset. Last time it was Rush Hour 2 and an earnest, syrupy, American rugby film which I followed with involuntary horror and perfect comprehension despite refusing to wear the headphones. Honestly, we should get danger pay.
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Still a Bear of Very Little Brain, despite - or possibly because of - a week doing effectively nothing, except playing Plants vs. Zombies, watching Doctor Who, reading Iron Man graphic novels, re-reading my Sookie Stackhouse collection (hawt vampire sex! yay!) and reclining on the sofa fulfilling my god-designated role as Warm Cushiony Thing to an array of cats. I still feel short on sleep and as though someone's punched me in the neck repeatedly, but I'm back at work today, and haven't actually bitten anyone yet, so possibly there are cautious grounds for hope that I'll wake up one of these mornings and not actually want to go straight back to sleep for eight hours.

One of the other things I did manage to read was Holly Black's White Cat, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I know her mostly for her YA faerie series, Tithe et al, which are solid and slightly gritty pieces of YA urban fantasy but which don't really expand the boundaries of an increasingly crowded genre. White Cat is different in that it felt genuinely fresh. The novel assumes that magic is real, but that it's been outlawed; the contemporary setting does an interesting echo of Prohibition in that, logically enough, if magic is illegal then curse workers will, in fact, be controlled by organised crime. Lots of lovely plots, double-bluffs, truly nasty people, and a slightly sketchy but rather fun play with the eponymous fairy tale. Recommended.

In other news, [ profile] first_fallen just lent me all seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which I started watching last night. So far I have concluded the following:
  • It's very slow-paced, which works well for my fledgling knitting skills. Eight rows of Ravenclaw Scarf last night, about to embark on the colour change. However, the Evil Landlord urgently needs to replace the bulb in the light above my sofa, I can't see properly to knit and there's a clear and present danger I'll end up knitting a clockwork train owing to the gloom.
  • Good lord, Wil Wheaton is ickle. And Wesley Crusher is not nearly as annoying as urban legend would have him. Also, about two-thirds of his blog suddenly makes sense.
  • I have absolutely no tolerance for the Portentous Crashing Musical Score, which is all about Flagging! Important! Moments! And! Lots! Which! Aren't! Important! But! Which! Are! Flagged! Anyway!, causing me to mutter a lot and grind my teeth. I may have to acquire a wax doll of the composer, and prod it at vindictive intervals with my rosewood 3.5s.
  • Most of the cast is kinda cute.
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Today's amusing billboard: LEE-ANN SNOGS A BOYTJIE!! I don't know who the hell Lee-Ann is, but I'm very amused by the language choice of the headline. For a start, "snog" is unabashed Brit slang while "boytjie" is very much a South-Africanism; the wide lexical range creates a sort of airy, unresolved bounce between contexts. The use of the diminutive (often an endearment) is playful, denoting an affectionate intimacy with Lee-Ann, but it also diminishes the significance of the partner, clearly a negligible quantity, to allow the focus to remain firmly on Lee-Ann herself (whoever the hell she is). More than this, the language (and multiple exclamation points) contributes to the mere fact of the billboard to suggest, on the "man bites dog" principle, that it's somehow outrageous for Lee-Ann (whoever the hell she is) to snog a boy: I was left with a vague suspicion that she's actually a lesbian. Alternatively, the "boytjie" bit could also imply that she's an older woman shamelessly grabbing a much younger man.

A quick google, of course, absolutely deflates this lovely tension and implication: Lee-Ann is presumably Lee-Ann Liebenberg, a fairly minor South African model/celebrity, and she's found a new boyfriend indecently quickly after a break-up. This is one of those stories where the subject matter is infinitely less interesting than the linguistic play in its headline. Sigh.

In other news, have found the solution to Supernatural freaking me the hell out. Knitting. Another twelve rows on the Ravenclaw scarf while flinching away from ghosts, demons and hellhounds. Still a Sam girl, but Dean is growing on me.
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I'd say the techno-jinx is back, but actually it's Iburst's fault. Their Dashboard, the little utility that connects the wireless modem, does an auto-update when they release a new version. Monday's new version was buggy - it auto-downloaded, auto-installed and promptly crashed, meeping plaintively about missing vital components. So their clients can't connect to the internet in order to download the unbuggy version, which they released very hastily on Tuesday, presumably after a frenetic night spent flogging their engineers with scorpions. I find the whole thing rather amusing, it's one of those beautifully inevitable Catch-22 screw-ups over which some hapless developer has probably committed ritual suicide, and it's reassuring to think that I'm not the only person who achieves those. It also means, of course, that I haven't had internet at home all week, which is strangely restful.

I am very, very, very stressed. Vibrating like an over-tuned guitar string stressed. Flick me with a finger and I go "twanggggggggg!" and then bite your hand off before bursting into tears. This means that I went to book club last night having not read a single one of my book club books, because I've been obsessively-compulsively re-reading my Sookie Stackhouse collection. When under stress I seem to revert to repetitive comfort reading, something deeply undemanding which I know very well. Besides, hawt vampire sex is pleasantly distracting.

It's been a mad week of socialising, too, in between packing up my dad's flat and moving him out of the hospice and into the frail care place, which my mother and I managed this morning. Tuesday evening was extremely pleasant dinner with [ profile] mac1235, [ profile] tngr_spacecadet and [ profile] strawberryfrog - thanks, guys. ([ profile] tngr_spacecadet, please don't forget to give me the link to that academic blog!) Wednesday was game (we continue to be mean to the DM), last night was book club (until midnight, so I'm a tad frayed this morning). Tonight the Salty Cracker Club hits Masala Dosa for hipster Indian. Saturday night is [ profile] d_hofryn's birthday. Sunday we give jo&stv supper. I figure I may approximately survive next week if I crowbar about an extra three days of doing absolutely nothing into the weekend. Actually, you know what? I'm going to knit. A lot. I still only have about fifty rows of a Ravenclaw scarf, but 2x2-ribbed bamboo is very soothing.

Sudden random thought: I shall attempt to harness the power of Teh Internets for good, not evil. Does anyone in my approximate vicinity happen to have a small/old TV set they're not using? Watching TV is one of the few things my papa can do in his current weakened state, and his room isn't large.

all billered and curled

Wednesday, 22 July 2009 01:14 pm
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Monday's dawn saw a sort of sea-foggy thing rolling in, which from my office window exhibited the most amazing giant, soft, billowy wave effect, which I then almost completely failed to actually catch in this photo. On the upside: bonus geese.


In other news, while not wibbling financially I am managing to distract myself very nicely, thank you, with a combination of reading and knitting. (Ravenclaw scarf in bamboo. 20 rows in and still haven't screwed up the rib. On the downside, am conscious of mild desire for a wand (willow, unicorn hair) and the relevant incantation to make the knitting do its own automatic thing, at least until I get to the interesting bit with the bronze stripe. One of my colleagues in my Late Lamented Department persists in referring to me as "Hermione", I figure I may as well make it work for me).

On the upside, have discovered Ysabeau S. Wilce, courtesy of (a) a recommendation from, IIRC, [ profile] sarahtales, and (b) the book title: Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog. For YA fantasy this is some high quality worldbuilding, characterised not only by a sharp, vivid, economical writing style but by some truly lovely games with gender identity, family obligation and the nature of "evil" (if you think it's evil you probably haven't heard its side of the story). Her giant, animus-inhabited houses are also pleasingly demented, and she has a nice line in capitalisation. I thoroughly enjoyed this: in intelligence, originality and wit it's a cut above the usual YA fantasy fare. And she's written a sequel! So I'm going to cheat like hell, and assume that that's my Ginormous Fantasy Epic for the day, although strictly it probably isn't. But at least you're spared me wittering on about Sheri S. Tepper1.

In a nutshell: Victorian cultural nods, kick-butt female soldiers, giant shapeshifty houses, stupid dogs. Very cool magic, including Strange Symbols to the power of n. Blue supernatural entities with talons and droopy spaniel ears. Huitzl, humming-bird gods, housework, human sacrifice. Rangers, a new and original formula. Effeminate pirates. Couture. Kilts. Confusion. Roman cultural bits.

1 I should generally be prevented from wittering on about Sheri S. Tepper. Feminism results. Also, postmodernism. Also, fangirly drool.

the last nit

Sunday, 7 June 2009 09:52 pm
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Memo to self: must get back to knitting, I stumbled over all that lovely crunchy green-and-gold banana fibre in my stash drawer this morning. Only not on the edge of any cliffs.

In other news, my father is be-computered, ADSL-empowered and email- and web-functional, with only one trip home to collect a fresh keyboard, and two phone calls to the helpline (ADSL needed to be enabled by Telkom, and the smtp address on the documentation was WRONG!). The Imaginet helpline guys are pleasant, concerned and know their stuff. Unlike the bastards at Café Viva, whose latest iniquity was discovered this morning: somehow in the course of their futile investigations they managed to break off a connection in the DIN socket for the keyboard. Now it won't take a DIN plug at all, hence the trip home for my old USB-fitted keyboard. All the DIN/USB adaptors in our house went, alas, in the wrong direction. There's the techno-jinx for you.
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I've had a copy of The Shadow lurking on my DVD shelf for a while, now, having acquired it randomly on the grounds that (a) it's a superhero movie, (b) it was ridiculously cheap, and (c) someone I read once on the internets somewhere said that the set design was brilliant. Other than that, I had every expectation that it would be a dreadful little movie.

I am completely unashamed to say that I loved every campy, pulpy, badly scripted minute of it - I lay on the sofa sipping rosé and wriggling my toes in girlish glee. It's a direct throwback to the pulp sensibility of its radio and crime magazine roots, having incredibly quantities of period feel1, glamorous women (her wardrobe is stunning), absent-minded scientists, hypnotic powers, secret networks, giant bombs threatening Manhattan and inscrutable evil orientals in full-on Mongol outfits. The special effects are unlikely but charming - the Shadow bounces around with smoke dissolves, glowing eyes and a rather cool morph from suave Alec Baldwin to a hook-nosed, piercing-eyed face behind a muffler and a hat. There's lots of the classic wavering shadow of the Shadow, and lingering manic laughter over portentous reference to the evil that lurks in the hearts of men. And the sets are, indeed, stunning, a sort of love poem to Art Deco, with meticulous attention to detail and some truly beautiful façades.

It also has a cast way, way in excess of its script - not just Alec Baldwin, but Tim Curry and Ian bloody McKellan, hopelessly underused as a hypnotised scientist. The disconnect between the quality of the cast and the quality of the script is a mite disorienting, but it's rather fun to watch them ham it up. If nothing else there's a slightly sadistic satisfaction in Alec Baldwin with long greasy hair living it up as a Tibetan warlord with a harem.

In other news, this weekend I will damned well start knitting again. Knitting acquaintances, please stand by the phones to rescue me when I've once more tied myself to the piano.

1 It is my contention that human civilisation would be immeasurably improved if everyone still wore hats all the time.

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It seems subtly unfair that I should growl my way through Monday's student stupidities with a pounding headache when we didn't, for once, undergo the usual jo&stv food-and-drinkfest last night, owing to their unaccountable commitment to large-scale musical frivolities. I went goodly to bed at 9pm entirely sober, and dreamed strange and fabulous dreams not entirely unconnected to Albion, balverine-bashing and my current happy gay relationship in Oakvale. The game is narking me off no end by insisting on referring to my dweeby little blonde boy partner as my "wife". Pshaw. On the upside, I've persuaded it to to allow me to have sex, twice. The secret is apparently to creatively mix up gifts and flirting in the immediate vicinity of a bed, and not to give the same gift twice in a short period. I am left a little staggered at the paucity of the game designers' romantic imagination. On the other hand it is a sad truth that my avatar is getting rather more action than I am at the moment, so what the hell do I know.

The Khoi-wife's very pleasant birthday thingy on Saturday put me in the immediate vicinity of [ profile] first_fallen, among other good company, yet again reminding me of my current utter failure on the knitting front. I've been thinking wistfully of getting back to it for several months (I will knit lace! I will!), but am in that unpleasant beginner stage where it takes actual brain, concentration and energy to get a project going, and I am significantly lacking in all three just at the moment. The work hell should start improving from here on out, though, so I may yet prevail. In the interim, Wondermark does knitting cartoons, which I reproduce with respectful awe, having reached nowhere near this level of obsession yet:

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Gawsh. I sent the edit commentary back to my Nice Proof-reader on Thursday, and am consequently drifting around at a bit of a loss. You mean there's no actual desperately important project which should be requiring all my attention right now this instant? Radical!

One of the upshots of this has been to make me recollect the existence of Purl-Handled Revolver, the blog wherein I indulge my bizarre knitting outbreaks in decent privacy. Fellow knitters may want to wander over there, I have a whole series of posts planned. She says seductively, and not at all in a self-pimping manner, oh no!

An upshot of rediscovering the knitblog has been the realisation that I never followed Robynn's link to the Mervyn Peake nonsense poetry, lo these many geological ages ago when I last actually posted. Why have I hitherto been blissfully oblivious to the existence of Mervyn Peake nonsense poetry? It seems a tragic oversight. Fortunately, Amazon UK has a plethora of 1p copies and [ profile] librsa trundles back here in the next week or so, and he's traditionally something of a Peake-courier. *plot, scheme*

In other news: this bloody "breaking news" phishing scam is setting the prevailing spam level ridiculously high. I must be killing fifty a day, which is a huge jump from the usual five. Let's hope to FSM somebody zorches it soon, bored now.

come back my brain

Monday, 16 June 2008 11:17 am
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The mere fact of a three-day weekend seems to have switched my brain off. This is not entirely a bad thing, putting me in exactly the right space for watching Reign of Fire (dreadful, entertaining, topless!sweaty!Christian Bale, cool dragons) and Nightwatch (weird, interesting, good-for-a-given-value-of, strange special effects) last night, while eating pizza. And Sid is all rampagous again, leaving me snuffly and with less room in the inside of my skull for actual thinking, which Does Not Bode Well for the review I have to finish writing this afternoon.

So, random linkery.

  • This idiot was clearly bitten by a knitting needle in early youth and has never recovered. As rants go, this lacks any vestige of quality, intelligence or logic. I immediately thought the same thing that [ profile] strawberryfrog did: hello, handcrafts actually do constitute an act of resistance in an age of mass-production.

  • Henry Jenkins hypothesises, and proceeds to entertainingly demonstrate, that Obama is actually Spock.

  • Kage Baker does actually intelligent things with time travel. Also, Renaissance herbery! In the Garden of Iden is available off the Tor sign-up list, which is a truly worthy thing for which to hand over one's email address. (This service announcement for the benefit of [ profile] librsa, who needs to sign up).

all tomorrow's parties

Tuesday, 3 June 2008 10:36 am
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My Evil Landlord 1 is severely in the dogbox at the moment - not because I'm fulminating domestically against him (although I am led to believe that our exchanges about loading the dishwasher are worthy of an Old Married Couple) - but because he underwent a rare moment of unGermanic inefficiency over the weekend and missed his mother's birthday party. He was convinced it was on Saturday night when it was actually on Friday; various frantic relatives phoned all conceivable friends-of-Evil-Landlord2 with increasing desperation as Friday night wore on, but no-one's cellphone ring was loud enough to overcome the ambient noise at the steak restaurant where we were doing our usual end-of-month payday restaurant celebration with jo&stv. His mother is apparently severely narked.

The problem I have - and I'm surveying this anthropologically, from the point of view of someone with deeply civilised parents who I think would resort to ridicule rather than guilt-trip if I screwed up thusly - is that her level of infuriation seems to indicate that he is in the particular dogbox reserved for Offspring Who Forget Parental Birthdays, with a side-order of Offspring Who Forget Important Family Gatherings. This seems unfair, since he clearly remembered it and planned to attend - in fact, he's guilty of no more than momentary mental aberration, disorganisation and planning snafu, which happens to all of us, be we never so German. I suspect the guilt-trip response is partly because they were seriously worried he'd had an accident or something, and swung to the relieved/annoyed pole when they finally made contact. Which is understandable, but still a tad unfair.

Then again, the victim is my Evil Landlord, who has Shrug And Ignore It down to a fine art.

I have to say: Nelson's Eye? Seriously good steak. They proudly trumpet their basic disinterest in such frou-frou as starters and side-dishes, which they provide in more or less token form, and which are in consequence seriously behind those of the Hussar, my usual steak-house benchmark. This is problematical while you're actually eating the starter, because Nelson's Eye's prices are ... pricey. One and a half times Hussar, on average. You feel gypped for the duration of the starter. Then you wade into the steak, and All Becomes Clear. Those prices? Totally valid.

Last Night I Dreamed: I was trying to knit socks. This was a sad, frantic experience during which I became bogged down in morasses of multiple double-pointed needles in hundreds of sizes, circular needles like coiled springs and art deco representations of Shub Niggurath, and rope-like, writhing yarn in nauseating pastels. I think my subconscious is seriously threatened by my current vague leaning towards trying to knit a woolly hat for my niece. It seems a valid use for a skein of purple wool, but if normal needles warp space-time, imagine what I could do with circulars.

1 Who finally gets his own tag. Words cannot describe how little this would mean to him, given his professed and vindictive ignorance of all things bloggity.

2 If the EL had a blog, or thought about these things, he would presumably be apologising e'en now to all the people who had their Friday nights disturbed by frantic EL relatives, but he doesn't and doesn't, so this is about as good as it's going to get. I'm personally rather interested to see how far they threw the net.

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So, I'm going to go into the garden and eat worms because the universe just hates me [/thakky]. Hellday, solid curriculum advice, came very close to losing it entirely when I got up from my four-hour advice session, having carefully paced myself to last that long, and promptly had to deal with one incredibly complex and urgent query and about another five merely annoying ones that could only be dealt with by me. Wibble. Am staying late to finish the progression coding I didn't have time to do during the day, although my peaceable workspace has variously been sullied by (a) an excluded student in floods of tears, and (b) the absence of sugar in my tea. If there's any day when I need the sugar to sweeten my disposition, it's today. However! Excelsior! I'm sure I'll be a better, higher, nobler person when this is all over. Also, thinner, even more control-freaky, and a lot more snarly.

On the upside, I finished the paper over the weekend. Bits of it possibly aren't bad, although I'm not too sure about the rest. Postcolonial theory gives me the pip. On the further upside, wrestled China Miéville to the mat, Marxism and all! I win! go me! (I may also have hinted that he has an ineradicable political edge over Neil Gaiman, at least in this context, which makes me feel slightly disloyal.) I'm also inspired to re-read (or, more accurately, finish reading) Iron Council, in the light of my new political suss. This may, on mature reflection, be foolish. On the other hand, golems!

I'm rambling, which suggests I'm tired. (Did I mention I'm tired?) I leave you, beloved witterers, with random linkery.

First up, to burn your brain! Incredibly badly-written self-published fantasy vampire elvish werewolf alien psychic urban fighter-pilot fiction! Making Light has all the links you could ever wish you'd never clicked on.

And, because I drunkenly tried to explain this incredibly cute valentine kitty cartoon to the jo&stv, and failed dismally, I reproduce it below. Click through to Franklin's blog, he's way cool. (Fellow knitters will not need to be told this).

Oh, yes, knitblog. I should totally post there, shouldn't I? Sorry. Unravelling tangled student curricula seems to take up all my potential yarn-desnarling energy. Normal cursing of the space-time continuum should resume after this week, particularly after I've gone forth this weekend and bought myself compensatory yarn.
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Invigilated an exam yesterday, what might turn out to be my last invigilation at my Cherished Institution. I feel... fairly neutral about it, actually. Meh. On the other hand, I was impelled to philosophise about the T-shirt slogans students choose to wear to a final exam. One has to give points for lateral decontextualisation to "I LOOK GOOD ON THE DANCE FLOOR", which might also have a certain wistful subtext. Mad props for retro grunge to the Pearl Jam shirt, and to the very gothy shirt which educated the invigilator about the existence of Opeth - heavy metal, it transpires, gothy vibe notwithstanding.

I honestly cannot feel, however, that it constitutes good exam superstition to write an English exam wearing a shirt sporting the slogan "JUNK", or "ZERO", or "GUESS".

The whisper flies around the 'net: TV has spoken! it says, "Come back, Joss Whedon, all is forgiven!" Not only is there the possibility of a new Joss TV series of a sf nature, it's with Eliza Dushku. While I am happy about this, I am also alert to the dangerous precedents of the Joss/Fox combination. Pajiba agrees.

I am grateful to all the maddened knitwitterers who leaped in to point out my probable errors with mysterious stitch-materialisation. Personally I incline to [ profile] tngr_spacecadet's theory that it's all because of quantum, but will investigate the suggested possibilities nonetheless. I have not yet ripped back to restart my four mutant rows, on account of how I've spent the last three days completely avoiding a horrendous pile of marking, and thus haven't had time to knit. I have also, in deference to the prejudices of certain readers, set up an entirely separate blog for purposes of knitwittering, to be found at Purl-Handled Revolver, and would be delighted if knitting-inclined readers would join me there. For the record, it's all scroobius's fault. All of it.

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In the latest installment of the Horrid Revelations Of A Knitting Idiot: success! Have achieved actual purling, and the space-time continuum seems largely unaffected. I'm rather relieved. It transpires that (a) it's really important whether the wool is at the front or back of the needles, and (b) I was holding the needle upside down. (No, really. I get the difference between the pointy end and the blunt end, but it took a while for it to permeate that the knitted bit should be pointing right, not left. It all makes much more sense now. Zen levels are rising). I've managed to knit four rows that, while not things of amazing beauty or uniformity, are lacking in crossed stitches and random snarling, and begin to show vague hints of a possible gesture at a sort of an emerging pattern. All four rows have been marked by a triumphant shriek of glee as I reach the end of the row at the same time as the pattern does. This is achieved only by dint of crossing my eyes and counting stitches aloud. I fear my status of Knitting Idiot is not going to improve any time soon. Still, having fun.

I'd post a pic of my four rows, of which I am inordinately proud, except I promised that this will never be a knitting blog, and stv might growl at me if I renege.

In other news, Sid the Sinus Headache is still present, hanging out in my skull playing poker in the back room with the Mucus Boys. Grumpy. I shall revenge myself on the world in general by wandering around my invigilation this afternoon snuffling unexpectedly at students. That'll teach 'em.

p.s. I knew this knitting stuff broke the laws of physics. Can anyone tell me why, after solemnly casting on 41 stitches, at the end of four rows I have 44? Or is that supposed to happen?

Last Night I Dreamed: a rather interesting Halloween party, with square dancing, held on the premises of Rhieinwen's romance bookshop. (What are you doing popping up so frequently in my dreams lately, Rhieinwen? Not that it isn't nice to see you, but it seems a bit appropos of nothing). Later I was the frantic director of a live, real-time production of The Lord of the Rings, with the actual cast in the actual landscape. There was much running around trying to stop Aragorn and various hobbits from wilfully diverging from the plot.

string theory

Friday, 26 October 2007 01:48 pm
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Bleah. One of those days. All 'fluey, and had annoying interview with nice man from the academics' association, who doesn't think much of my chances of extracting an actual post from my Cherished Institution. Apparently Things May Change next year with defining temporary posts, if I'd only just held on for just one more year. To which I say "Phooey." End of tether. Out of rope. Bridges burned. Metaphors mixed.

So, I have achieved several balls of wool in an attractively sludgy shade of green-grey, plus nice fat needles. By experimentally placing the needles and wool together in various configurations, I have remembered that I actually know how to cast on. Have cast on, knitted several rows, realised they're too tight, undone them, redone them, realised there are holes all over the show, pulled the whole thing undone, re-cast on, knitted several rows. The activity currently seems to be some kind of mobius strip. No amount of consultation of the nifty little pictures in [ profile] wolverine_nun's useful book has permitted me to purl. These diagrams make no sense: they describe motions outside the normal physical universe, anti-motions. Actually recreating them will undoubtedly warp the space-time continuum, and I think the space-time continuum works rather well the way it is.

Alternatively, I shall make a further attempt at purling when I'm not quite so blasted on 'flu meds. I am, however, quite enjoying the actual knitting. It's very zen. Apart from the bits where I drop stitches, and swear.

Last Night I Dreamed: I was a member of an embattled royal family, holed up in our country mansion in the middle of a range of granite kopjes, frantically preparing for the onslaughts of the rising peasant masses. Discussions included angles of fire, setting up lookout posts, and who best to conceal in the priest's hole in the fireplace or the false floor of the gazebo out by the tennis courts. The Queen, a somewhat tremendous lady, was being suitably take-charge, particularly during those bits of the dream when I was actually her.

the end is nigh!

Wednesday, 24 October 2007 07:55 pm
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Oh praise the gods and little fishes, it's the end of term. Tomorrow is the last day on which I have to gouge myself out of bed at 6am for purposes of staggering zombie-like into an 8am class and eliciting actual responses from a zombified class by means of fishhooks, forceps and cardboard-and-string.

I'm also in a slight marking lull, as most of the little buggers have eschewed sense and timing in essay topic selection and are, predictably, all choosing to write the last possible essay at the last possible moment because they're BLOODY DISORGANISED! On the upside, this means that I've forced a good 15 of them to actually read Sheri Tepper, which should enlighten the hell out of them. On the downside, something like 40 essays hit on Monday. On the further upside, my weekend is vaguely free for purposes of learning to knit. (Yarn-expedition tomorrow, under the expert tutelage of [ profile] pumeza. Further dispatches from the front to follow. This is not and never will be a knitting blog, but I feel impelled to record my own bemusement for posterity).

It's a funny feeling, thinking that this might be the last time EVAH! I have to teach an 8am class at my Cherished Institution. Next year is still a big, beautiful, bewildering blank: whether I am teaching elsewhere, free-lance editing or assaulting my Cherished Institution by a devious alternative route is anyone's guess. I'm surprisingly upbeat about it all, unless you count sudden spontaneous desires to knit as evidence of stress.

I'nm also realising, in this sort of involuntary end-of-term retrospective, how much of this year has been plagued by ill health. Those damned post-glandular days just keep on coming back, giving me periods when it's a huge effort to string words together and I grind to a halt in the middle of a class, completely unable to remember what I just said. And then recurring sinus infections, by way of punctuation. (I have another one at the moment. Oh, joy). I do not want this body, she is skraaaaatched. On the other hand, not very scratched - I have missed only one day of lectures all year, although it's possible my students wish I'd darned well stayed at home instead of routinely standing in the middle of the tut room gaping like a fish.

Last Night I Dreamed: another darned apocalypse, this time by giant, possibly nuclear, explosion. Fortunately I was tucked away in a huge underground complex in the mountains somewhere, a hidden redoubt with incredibly thick walls and a minimal, medieval sort of feel; we barely felt the explosion wash over us. It was very comfortable, thanks to the ministrations of the alien housekeeper, a sort of fussy older male, rather gay, and a good cook. I was also, for some reason, married to another alien, and somewhat testily awaiting his arrival.

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Yesterday was my niece's birthday. She is now two years old. (Today is my sister's birthday: she turns 30mumble. Happy birthday, sis! The mumble is not because she has issues with her age, but because I'm two years older than she is and have just decided to take up knitting. You do the maths).

My birthday gift to Da Niece was this:


It's a CD of tunes for kiddies by a bunch of indie bands, including Franz Ferdinand, Snow Patrol, Rasputina and Belle & Sebastian. It's incredibly good fun, and causes Da Niece to bounce madly around the living room like a small bouncy thing. Most importantly, however, it allows me to perform my auntly duty in inculcating proper indie/alternative music values good and early.

In celebration of this auspicious brace of years, Da Niece is hosting a birthday party on Sunday, featuring the descent of 30 toddlers. We spent yesterday afternoon preparing for the onslaught thusly:

This resulted in several herds of brightly-coloured biscuits in various animal shapes, and a liberal bedewing of kitchen, self, sister and Da Niece with flour, biscuit mix, virulently-coloured icing and rainbow sprinkles. It's fortunate I took a shower before going out that evening, as Da Niece's enthusiastic goodbye kiss left me with bright green stains all over my face.

The assistance of a toddler detracts materially from the efficiency of the culinary process, but adds quite significantly to the fun. The biscuits are quite cool, too.

On the Knitting Front, progress has been made in that I've borrowed a bunch of random needles from [ profile] wolverine_nun; yarn or twine or spaghetti or whatever the hell it is you use will be acquired next week, when my heart isn't pounding quite so hard. I still can't account for this sudden impulse: it's as if there's a switch in my head marked "Knitting", and some random force has flipped it from "Never!" to "Immediately!" I'm tending to suspect a deep-seated psychosis of some sort. Stay tuned for further manifestations. Possibly religion.

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As a result of a random concatenation of circumstances1, I just spent an hour reading through The Panopticon. It's a knitting blog2. It's very well written and very funny, and features Delores Dolores the cabaret sheep. It has also, in a response straight out of left field, and a horror hitherto unknown in my personal life, left me with a serious desire to overthrow the prejudice of a lifetime and take up actual knitting.

I feel an intervention is required here. I would be grateful if the relevant people would perform the following tasks:
(a) Non-knitting friends, please forcibly restrain me from this madness, pointing out its roots in psychological insecurity, life-avoidance and the frivolous desire for pretty clothes, and the unavoidable fact that, whatever I might fondly imagine, it's likely to teach me exactly the opposite of patience.
(b) Knitting friends, of whom I seem to have incredible stonkloads, please advise me as to the most user-friendly, low-grade projects likely to ease me gently into the long, hard process of converting some of my many thumbs to actual fingers while entangling myself in miles of yarn. The ultimate production of genuine articles of clothing would be a bonus.

God, I must be mad.

1 Following links from science fiction sites. Strange but true.
2 Yes, I should be marking. What's your point?


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