five things

Monday, 25 March 2019 01:37 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
  • I am stealing a format from Scroob, with thanks, because I am finding it difficult to blog at the moment and I think her five things approach may help. It's a pleasing combination of structured and random, and has the potential to address the almost complete absence of mental energy which is currently preventing me from assembling a sustained post. I am, alas, in the usual post-registration doldrums, the semester has quietened right down with precipitous suddenness, catapulting me from "over-extended" to "bored" on the turn, which always has the effect of shutting my brain and energy right down, possibly into recovery mode. Psyches. So weird.
  • I trundled off to see Captain Marvel with my sister yesterday morning, in my favourite 9am Sunday slot because the maximum of about five people in the movie theatre always soothes my misanthropic soul. I wholeheartedly recommend the movie: at last, a female-led Marvel film, whose female direction, scripting (Kelly Sue DeConnick consults) and costume design were palpable throughout. Not just a worthy female lead, nicely cast and played, but an intrinsically female narrative: her fight is against very male forces who manipulate, gaslight and suppress her at every turn, and her eventual triumph is deeply satisfying. Also, great special effects (her powers towards the end are amazing and very shiny), music (90s!) and humour (her interplay with Nick Fury is gold). Also, flerken. I'm just saying.
  • My personal possibly-flerken are doing fine. Jyn has apparently recovered completely from the Mysterious Mouth Abscess of Doom Which Baffled Vets, and has regained her customary swagger. It was a weird place for an infection, right back on the hinge of her jaw, and we can't work out what would have caused it, there's no way it could have been a bite, animal teeth aren't long enough, unless someone has been breeding sabre-toothed moggies locally. Best guess is that she got jabbed with a bit of stick from one of my potplants, and it got infected. Most mysterious.
  • Load shedding has been temporarily suspended, calloo callay, it was getting very tedious. Although apparently it could start again at any moment. This city is feeling more and more dysfunctional, the current school holiday season is making me realise how incredibly horrible the roads are during rush hour when schools are actually in session. Not just because they're overcrowded, but because road manners have deteriorated to the point where people jump robots almost at will. It's very eroding to my sense of safety and belonging, it feels as though the social contract is dissolving - which, given that the city can't currently supply adequate lights or water, it really is.
  • Tumblr has vouchsafed to me Nathan Pyle's Strange Planet, which is a reflective, poignant, happily strange little exercise in unperturbed defamiliarisation. Go read. And imagine pleasant nonsense.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
I allowed Christmas to gently drift on past this year, largely unmarked and definitely unmourned. My personal combination of rampant atheism and psychotically anti-capitalist loathing of merry Yuletide marketing makes Christmas something to be pointedly avoided, and I left it as a kind of island of non-event in the middle of "Christmas eve" dinner with jo&stv and Pixie (slow-roasted lamb, also Eton mess and a sort of chocolate pear custard thing achieved by leaving the crust off my usual chocolate pear tart in deference to Pixie's gluten intolerance, also little or no mention of actual Christmas) and Boxing Day lunch with my sister and niece later today. My sole festive nods were in cooking myself a pork fillet stuffed with mushrooms, and in indulging my fast-becoming Christmas day tradition of reading the annual Drarry advent fanfic by saras_girl, who has a lovely archive of them on AO3, with the 2018 one on her lj starting here. They are lovely, gentle, slow-moving Christmas fics which usually feature snow and pining, and a Harry Potter resolutely doing anything else with his life but fight dark wizards, which I have always found a compellingly logical response to having no choice but to be a Boy Hero.

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



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



I hope everyone had exactly the kind of Christmas they wanted and enjoyed.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Oo, er. The Strange Case of Starship Iris is an extremely good sf podcast to which I have not been listening, but the transcripts of which I have been devouring illegally at work. It's funny and acute and political, something like a more enlightened Firefly with aliens and actual diversity. Recommended. I will probably listen to the actual podcast this weekend, while madly sewing new curtains because Jyn ate mine. (She tries to climb through the light cotton privacy half-curtains I have on the front window, they're in shreds). Podcasts or radio shows while sewing are a Good Thing, TM. Last sewing binge it was Cabin Pressure. Also recommended.

I am illegally devouring podcast transcripts at work because work is very quiet: exams are over, and the last-minute rush of students frantically signing up late for summer term courses has died down. As it bloody should, summer term has been running for four days already. I am very tired, as is traditional for this time of year, and managing to do orientation prep only in a desultory, intermittent and procrastinatory sort of fashion.

Exam committee season, the annual trigger of my annual rant about the flawed and time-consuming stupidities of manual board schedule checking, hits next week. The committees have all been scheduled and members hunted down by me personally, which has seen an above-average incidence of academics reeling, writhing and fainting in coils in an effort to dodge the duty, but I have been inexorable and implacable. It is a continual amazement to me the degree of passive-aggressive chill I am capable of infusing into a two-word email salutation of "Dear colleagues" when it's the fourth re-send and they still aren't answering. It's all in the punctuation.

All I need to do now is survive checking three board schedules in a row, which is one worse than the two I did last year, and shows an inexorable creep in my workload from the one which has hitherto been standard, but at least it's contenting my obsessive-compulsive need for quality control. That's three committees I know will be done properly, two of them because I chair them, and the third because I can browbeat the chair into consistency.

And then I shall go on leave for three weeks. Heh. A student informed me yesterday that I was seen as "the mother of the faculty". Five thousand teenagers to raise is a bit much, is all I can say. I need my vacation. (My subject line is Bowie's "Starman", because descriptive, and let the children lose it, and also I rather wish an alien spaceship would arrive and take me away from all this).
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
I follow on Tumblr a blogger called elodieunderglass, who is wry and funny and has a thing about swans. Today they posted possibly my favourite thing in the history of ever, which is an outsider perspective on cricket which made me snort the traditional Early Grey up the traditional nasal appendage.

The post also, in a demented and lateral sort of fashion, exactly encapsulates not only the stunned bewilderment inevitably arising from the game's deranged terminology, but the tone and feel of Sunday cricket over the radio, which I remember vividly from my dad listening to it over afternoon tea. A mild, drowsy, comfortably arcane sort of space which swings gently between restrained approbation and slightly pained remonstrance, offset by long bouts of immersed and contemplative calm. It conjures a strangely embodied sort of afternoon sunlight punctuated by the distant, characteristic "pock" of bat on ball, and the distinct and otherworldly sensation of British tea-drinking.

I understand just enough about cricket to be obscurely comforted rather than maddened beyond belief by its arcane intricacies, and I find the whole unlikely edifice, particularly in its radio commentary incarnation, nostalgic and soothing in the extreme.

a suffusion of yellow

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

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

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

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


My subject line is a random Dirk Gently quote for no reason other than a vague association with multiplicity, and the fact that Tumblr has a current sideline in gifs from the new Dirk Gently tv series. It sounds completely off the wall, has anyone seen it?
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
For some reason the recent Garden XKCD won't load on my work computer, probably because complicated campus firewalls or something - you go to the page and all it gives you is a revolving tree silhouette with the word "LOADING" and a flashing ellipsis, with the mouseover "Relax." I thought that was the whole strip, and it was perfect - that's exactly what you do with a garden, relax and wait for everything to load.

Currently I am delighting in a random corner of my real-life container garden which is slowly and carefully loading three butternut squash plants, the result of me, in a fit of pique at having an entire tray of baby marrow seedlings eaten off at ground level by cutworm, madly planting 6 seeds from a butternut I happened to have for dinner one evening. I'm fairly useless at seeds, a 50% germination rate is bloody good by my standards, but as long as I can keep the neighbourhood tomcat from jumping on them in the course of his flee-the-garden escape route when I shout at him for stealing my cats' food and/or spraying in the passage, they seem to be doing well. In the meanwhile, the XKCD comic is growing things under lights on my home computer, although I cannot as yet persuade it to produce anything other than a row of identical boring trees. I love the way Randall Munroe's mind works, the controls for the lights are elegantly simple.

In a tangentially related note (technological replications of biological processes?), I give you Holotypic Occlupanid Research Group, because delightful. They solemnly and meticulously catalogue the taxonomical classifications of the little plastic widgets used to close bread bags.

In other news also not unentirely related to the unduly artificial mechanical replication of actual life processes, last night Machete Order brought us to re-watch Attack of the Clones. I had honestly forgotten (a) most of the movie, I clearly blanked it in sheer self-defence, and (b) how utterly terrible a film it is. Seriously: the plot sucks, the script blows, the dialogue is beyond lame and unnatural, the greenscreen is ungodly clunky, the "romance" "plot" is the unconvincing bumping together of two wooden effigies, one of them loutish, and the whole represents the utter triumph of overbudgeted CGI over reason, taste or the faintest replication of actual life. Unsurprisingly, given that it focuses on the CGI clashes of droids and clones rather than actual people, the whole thing can be summed up with "Newsflash: I don't care." Honestly, George, it takes a special level of anti-skill to make giant battles between droids, clones and Jedi knights actually boring.

We still have to endure Revenge of the Sith, although probably only when Jo gets back from AfricaBurns. Anyone know any good drinking games? I have time to train my liver up a bit...
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
The recent Great Office Migration has come to a temporary halt while various other people play Musical Offices in the background, so I'm half moved back into my old office, with none of my books on the shelves and a noticeboard closing off the spanky new door between me and my colleague, held up by piles of boxes. (Greatest challenge of the whole procedure: trying to impress upon the Powers That Be that a soundproofed office is completely vital to her ability to function as a clinical social worker. They weren't getting it. Eventually we Heath Robinsoned it ourselves).

Having lovingly packed up my computer and carefully boxed all the cables resulting from it, the printer and the fancy Lync-using phone, I have now reassembled everything and persuaded it to work. This took no more than the expected pause for swearing at the telephone set-up help pages (a VoIP phone is fiddly) and at our network protocols, and the worst I had to do was change my campus password, which works with absolutely everything and which had somewhere in the whole labyrinthine process become dissociated so that half of everything didn't recognise it.

However, with everything up and running, and despite my meticulous packing principles, I have one cable left over. It was clearly connected to something when I dismantled it, and everything is running, but there's this cable. One of those fancy new ones with a USB plug at one end and one of those square-cross-section thingies at the other. Probably a printer cable, but I have a printer cable and the printer is working. Where the hell did it come from? Do they spontaneously replicate by binary fission or dodgy entanglements while tangled up in a box? Is one of my students a reverse kleptomaniac? I'm confused.

Failing any insights as to mysterious cabling, have some random linkery. This is a beautifully creepy and poignant Ursula Vernon story that's as much about writing as it is about anything else. And these are Owlvengers, thus neatly encapsulating two of my obsessions.

freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
This is mostly for [livejournal.com profile] wolverine_nun and [livejournal.com profile] noirzette, although any of you witterers with a musical background I wot not of are free to enjoy it as well :>. Musical notation as described by cats. This has just made me giggle for five minutes straight.

In additional to felinious musical notation, the dreary grey cactus desert that is work is currently being enlivened by (a) teaching third-years internet eroticism, with added Powerpoint, Secret Diaries and clips from Avenue Q, (b) the memory of an excellent girls' night at Fork last night with the Jo and the aforementioned [livejournal.com profile] noirzette (tapas and that Black Pearl cabernet/shiraz blend), (c) the joyous contemplation of the metric buttload of public holidays infesting the next few weeks (if I play my cards right I can have a four-day weekend followed by a four-day week followed by a three-day weekend followed by a two-day week followed by a five-day weekend, score!) and (d) the next in the Chocolate Digestive Biscuit saga, which this week is the miniature Woolworths ones. These are generally a pleasing thing, although slightly chewier and less melty in the biscuit region than the larger versions, and surprisingly difficult to eat neatly. Even if you consume the whole thing in one bite you still end up with chocolatey fingers. I'm going to have to extend the experiment to find the optimal eating position. Darn.

Further to the Fork experience (Fork is great! lovely food and only very slightly hipster, as befits a Long Street joint), I note with some alarm that my driving skills have a serious deficiency. I'm significantly bad at driving a social expedition into town, which in hindsight is perfectly logical, since it's not something I've ever done. I've driven small/old cars for long enough that I'm never actually designated driver for social groups, someone else with a larger car always drives. I'm thus really bad at (a) navigating into town from friends' houses, and (b) concentrating on the road while chatting. Given that the Great DVT Debacle and associated Warfarin seems to have permanently shrunken my booze capacity, I end up drinking a lot less than most of my compatriots, which means it's only logical for me to be designated driver a lot of the time, which means I'll get lots of practice in. Score!

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



Subject line from Terry Pratchett, Interesting Times: the answer you receive if you ask Hex (the Discworld's mad computer-analogue) "Why Anything?". More specifically, "Because Everything. ????? Eternal Domain Error. +++++ Redo From Start +++++."

tuned to a dead channel

Wednesday, 7 August 2013 05:11 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I do not appear to feel much like blogging at the moment. Right now that's possibly because I have a Horrible Cold In The Head, courtesy of my mother, who also has a Horrible Cold In The Head which she picked up from my niece. Children are plague pits. Fact. Anyway, we're both dragging ourselves around the house gravitating to heat sources (it's bloody cold, there must be snow on the mountains), her with a pestilential snuffle, me with a head full of cement. I have re-read two-thirds of my Phryne Fisher collection in the last three days. Bohemian flapper detectives may be keeping me sane.

In default of anything more intelligent, I present for your delectation the intelligence of others.

This is an incredibly interesting interview with William Gibson in which he talks about his own influences and writing processes, but even more about the interaction between the world and science fiction. My favourite bit is the ending:

If you’d gone to a publisher in 1981 with a proposal for a science-fiction novel that consisted of a really clear and simple description of the world today, they’d have read your proposal and said, Well, it’s impossible. This is ridiculous. This doesn’t even make any sense. ... Fossil fuels have been discovered to be destabilizing the planet’s climate, with possibly drastic consequences. There’s an epidemic, highly contagious, lethal sexual disease that destroys the human immune system, raging virtually uncontrolled throughout much of Africa. New York has been attacked by Islamist fundamentalists, who have destroyed the two tallest buildings in the city, and the United States in response has invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. ... You haven’t even gotten to the Internet. By the time you were telling about the Internet, they’d be showing you the door. It’s just too much science fiction.

By way of antidote to all this contemporary bleakness, this is a rather lovely graduation address which exhorts graduates to be kinder, and thereby gives me lovely ammunition in some of the recent arguments I've been having with my therapist. My commitment to the therapeutic process has a very well-defined limit beyond which I simply don't buy the idea that it's OK to prioritise yourself above all else. It is an index of the success of the therapeutic process so far that I'm actually capable of arguing with her about it.

I need to go and blow my nose, again. I hope you are all well.

Subject line quote is, of course, from the opening sentence of Gibson's Neuromancer, which he apparently wrote without having any idea of where the novel was going to subsequently go. Writers' differing processes are fascinating.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I am back at work this week, alas. I am rather well rested after two and a half weeks off (and having passed my driver's licence and bought a car and almost finished a paper), and am inclined to be relatively upbeat about returning to the grindstone, but just to reinforce this, have the most ridiculous dose of pure, pointless, ridiculous happy you'll see in years. Warnings for possibly excessive Japanese cutesy twee, but still, cute. Watch out for the mad individualists in the three-cat rows. And the ear-worm.




Subject line from T.S. Eliot's "Jellicle Cats". Reading his Old Possum poetry makes me paradoxically sad that (a) I never saw the musical, and (b) that it exists at all, because Andrew Lloyd Webber.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I am inexpressibly charmed both by the article on useless machines BoingBoing linked today, and by the article's last line. There is absolutely no logical reason to build either a machine that only turns itself off or a remote-controlled duck, and the concept is thus enormously attractive. I disagree with Arthur C. Clarke, who apparently wrote (as per the above article), that "There is something unspeakably sinister about a machine that does nothing — absolutely nothing — except switch itself off." It's not sinister. It's a beautifully concise expression of absolute and bloody-minded dedication to function in the face of all odds - what the article calls "purposeless purity". It's about identity, or at least about something about identity that I instinctively feel is important.

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

I have infected the Jo with this, so let's see if I can snag a few more curious squid. New webcomic! I have discovered Noelle Stevens's Nimona, mostly as a result of pursuing my legitimate dodgy fanfiction concerns via an increasingly obsessive Tumblr feed (she's gingerhaze on Tumblr, if you want more lovely art and pop culture injokes). Nimona is a short, stocky, grumpy, shapechanging, uninhibitedly destructive wannabe-sidekick who has apprenticed herself to the rather restrained villain Ballister Blackheart, who is locked in a slashy-subtexted nemesis relationship with the hair-swishy hero Ambrosius Goldenloin, with whom he was at hero school. The art is deceptively naive and highly accomplished; the world does a deadpan and unlikely mixture of medieval with contemporary; the narrative delights me utterly by taking off in absolutely unexpected directions whenever it can. Look out for visual in-jokes in the crowd scenes. Also, enjoy.

While we're madly trying to infect people: I am currently basking in the warm glow of my annual Wikipedia donation, impelled thither by the discreet banner which popped up at me this morning and made me realise I use Wikipedia pretty much daily and wish it to succeed and grow. They're having their annual donation drive, which is how they fund the non-profit organisation which keeps Wikipedia going. You might consider slinging some small wealth their way. Have you been on Wikipedia today? I bet you have.

Infection being what it is, this accursed 'flu has resurged: am in the hacking, bring-me-a-soprano-and-an-attic stage of stuffy head, cough and concrete sinuses. Spurred on by my nice therapist, I am going home now, and the gazelles and faculty can just damned well survive without me for a few hours.

turn me over I'm done

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

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

CRIPPLED CONMAN HAD SEX IN MOSQUE!

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

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

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

arkle

Thursday, 11 October 2012 12:08 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
I have just spent two days at home with a weird virus thingy which caused me to feel hot/cold, faint, faintly nauseous, slightly hovercraftian1, and as though my arms are around three miles long. It's an odd feeling, watching your hands do things completely independently of yourself. I am now back at work, but am prone to look vaguely at a point just beyond a student's left ear and mutter things about squid2. My hands are still typing this post more or less off their own bat, to which I say hooray. If I can work out how to outsource actual student advice to my hands, perhaps my head will stop aching.

During the course of the last two days I have read multiple volumes of frivolous YA fantasy (still very enamoured of Kristen Cashore and entertained by Tamora Pierce), played short snatches of computer games which have been prevented from being long snatches by the spinning of my head, and imbibed a great deal of fanfic. The list of links at Making Light is a particularly fine selection which has introduced me to Doctor Who/classic lit crossover fic (Austen and Gone with the Wind) and to Avengers fanfic, which tends to the cute. Still not sure about Tony/Captain slash, though. However, delightful to be reminded that Steven Brust wrote a Firefly fanfic novel. Also, memo to self, must watch Leverage, if only because Christian Kane.

My current state of weird finds curious comfort in H P Lovecraft as agony aunt. With, of course, emphasis on the agony.



1 Floaty, teetering, and likely to spin off in odd directions. Also, full of eels.
2 I have no idea.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
I have been marking second-year English essays this weekend, and am pretty much at the stage of ritual suicide. I don't know if it's a particularly bad batch, or if the impending sinus infection is making me unduly pessimistic, or if I've been infected by the Gothic gloom of the topic, but I am genuinely beginning to despair. These are second-year English students. They should, surely, be capable of stringing together a coherent paragraph which presents something vaguely resembling an argument? If I have to deal with another instance of [vague, unsubstantiated and categorical statement] + [unrelated and unexplained quote from the story] presented with a triumphant flourish as though it actually proves something, there is going to be a small, localised space-time explosion and my brain will end up fetchingly festooned around my ears in a manoeuvre not unrelated to Grunthos the Flatulent's lower intestine strangling him in the interests of sanity. Also, these dear children are clearly infecting my sentences. Aargh.

I console myself with Joseph Gordon-Levitt dancing. Adorably. It's very consoling. Right up there with manatees.

freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Why did no-one ever point me at this before? I think there would be significantly smaller piles of savaged student corpses littering the last few years if I'd had ongoing access to a calming manatee. If I strategically deploy this alongside soothing rain sounds (which I don't have to do today given that it's obligingly bucketing down outside), I can probably dispense with all this expensive therapy stuff. Result!

I must cop to blogging today solely in an attempt to distract myself from the pile of essays I have successfully avoided marking for in excess of two weeks, and which are beginning to have that ominous aspect. I shall contemplate a calming manatee for inspiration, and have at them. Excelsior!
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
I seem to be going through a stage of oh-god-I'm-tired-and-I-hate-work. The important thing with this, I've realised, is the focus on "going through a stage". This is a phase. It too shall pass: the brain chemistry or the hormones or the sleep cycle will re-synch, motivation will wake up from its cave, and life will be liveable again. It will probably pass more quickly if I eat chocolate, hit a lot of niskaru very hard with a prismire sword (yup, replaying Amalur), and browse the internet for interesting kipple.

But I've also realised that the nub, the locus, the emblematic pivot of the state is my bloody inbox. The email inbox is the curse of the modern age. It's particularly pernicious, because in the abstract I rather like words, I write with a great deal of facility, I'm murderously fast touch-typing on a computer keyboard, and at base I rather enjoy the sense of achievement that comes from answering all a student's possible questions ever and spreading sweetness and light in three short, pointed sentences and a link. But the damned things keep coming. The end of term is in sight, and I'm seeing probably fifteen or twenty queries a day about admissions, incoming exam angst, course-dropping and the generalised existential panic which is the default state of the student under stress. No matter how torrid my love affair with words and how boundless my sympathy for the common or garden student in its natural habitat, there comes a point where typing another sentence is not something into which I spring with glad cries.

My backlog of unanswered mail goes back three weeks. It'll take a day of intense focus to clear them all. And clearing a backlog is not without its own horrors, mostly due to my dual overabundance of empathy and guilt, as a result of which I read a month-old plaintive plea for help and immediately feel like the Worst Person Evah for not having answered immediately to put this poor fellow creature out of their pain. Because the reality is that, while to me the individual mail is merely one of a shoal of its fellows which circle my hapless form nibbling like goldfish (some of which are piranha because it's All My Fault), to the writer it's a huge chunk of concern and fear which occupies their personal horizon like a stormcloud of doom. I have the power to make it go away. I haven't exercised that power because I'm tired, or busy, or overwhelmed, or cruising the internet, or they asked me to "kindly" answer at once. I am a Bad Person. There will be coal in my stocking.

This is thus, like the majority of blog posts in the history of ever, not a post so much as it's an avoidance, a bizarrely counter-intuitive retreat from text into text as I try to reassert my ownership of, and investment in, the process of writing. In this act I insist that writing is not always about someone else: sometimes it's about me. I wave my tiny flag defiantly. It's been scribbled on extensively. It's distracting me from my bloody inbox.

I also bring you the results of the aforementioned internet-cruising. I stumbled across this old but kick-butt series of posts on The Awl, about women and power in the images of geekdom and sf. Bits that struck me: killer robots are women, or, perhaps, women are killer robots. "They're servants that won't serve, beings that we let into our homes because we thought they'd regard us as their superiors, whose compliance we took for granted until it vanished." It does explain the backlash. Also, a love song to Ripley and Buffy and River Tam, women who fight back. And feminist utopias: "Speculative fiction is sociology's dream journal; nerds want a place to belong; on the Enterprise, nobody cares if you're into space travel." That last statement made me strangely happy.
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Cape Town! currently the locus at regular intervals of storms, heavy rain, hail, high winds, cats puddled around heaters, a soaring electricity bill, and that savage bite in the air that tells you somewhere in the fortunate upcountry there is snow. I am, needless to say, an extremely happy pervy cold-weather-fondler. This last is despite a certain amount of unavoidable angst, given that I leave for a three-week overseas trip on Saturday, and while plane tickets, hotels, visas and various other bits and bobs are duly sorted, I have only written one of the two papers I'm supposed to be giving. (For no adequately defined reason, an entirely unnecessary re-read of Memory, Sorry and Thorn appears to be implicated in this last dereliction of duty). However, deathless insights into feminist re-writes of "Aschenputtle" will buy it over the next few evenings, stat. News at eleven.

In support of this, should there be, as yesterday, a brief and unlikely lull in the atmospherics resulting in a resurgence of the worry-factor, there is always the soothing option of http://www.rainymood.com/. It was clearly designed specifically for me, and I'll probably run it nonstop during the February heatwaves.

And, by way of inspiration, there are always the Bulwer-Lyttons. This year they have caused me unholy glee in the SF section by the perpetration of ungodly puns.

Professor Lemieux had anticipated that his latest paper would be received with skepticism within the small, fractious circle of professional cosmologists, few of whom were prepared to accept his hypothesis that our universe had been created in a marijuana-induced industrial accident by insectoid aliens; nevertheless, he was stung when Hawking airily dismissed it as the Bug Bong Theory.

Hee.

don't worry, be happy

Wednesday, 25 July 2012 10:41 am
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We have reached a completely bizarre state of human evolution. Human ingenuity over centuries has conspired to advance technology to the inevitable pin-point where I can spend an incredibly happy and giggly couple of minutes watching a random video, set somewhere I can't identify (India?), created by no-one I've ever met, of monkeys jumping into water. Which they do like kids, knees tucked into chest in the classic cannonball position for maximum splash, and with the beautiful, unconscious abandon of cheerful dogs. (Do monkeys have knees, within the meaning of the act? I suppose they do). Anyway, please watch. It's waywardly happy-making.



I am pleased to report that, in keeping with the tenor of the above, Day 3 of Operation Do Not Snarl At Students is proceeding according to plan, no deviation from tac-map yet reported. I seem to be acquiring the habit of a deep, calming breath to forestall unleashing the grump-beast, and am consequently feeling much better about myself and life in general. Picture me flitting about the faculty spreading sweetness and light to undeserving students. Students are quite sweet, really, and pathetically grateful for kind words.

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