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Hooray, Friday! and, after a four-hour meeting yesterday (I exaggerate only slightly, it started at 12.00 and finished at 3.45pm) I have absolutely no brain at all and will quiver slightly and show the whites of my eyes if you mention the phrase "teaching and learning" in any context other than that of hearty cussing. Fortunately there are memes for that. Given the high concentration of maddened cooks and foodies in my immediate vicinity, I thought this one particularly appropriate - please adopt it if the mood takes you, in the comments or elsewhere. Also, food gadget pr0n! And, possibly, culinary one-upmanship, and/or fiercely chauvinistic gadget-hatred.

This is the Kitchen Cupboard Meme, wot I nicked off [ profile] matociquala, in that way that seems a bit rude when it's an author-blogger you read but who doesn't know you from a bar of soap. Bold the gadgets you have and use at least once a year, italicize the ones you have and don't use, strike through the ones you had but got rid of. I have also underlined the ones I don't have and would like to own, and urge you to do likewise in the spirit of future birthday lists and general wishful thinking.

"I wonder how many pasta machines, breadmakers, juicers, blenders, deep fat fryers, egg boilers, melon ballers, sandwich makers, pastry brushes, cheese boards, cheese knives, electric woks, salad spinners, griddle pans, jam funnels, meat thermometers, filleting knives, egg poachers, cake stands, garlic crushers, martini glasses, tea strainers, bamboo steamers, pizza stones, coffee grinders, milk frothers, piping bags, banana stands, fluted pastry wheels, tagine dishes, conical strainers, rice cookers, steam cookers, pressure cookers, slow cookers, spaetzle makers, cookie presses, gravy strainers, double boilers, sukiyaki stoves, ice cream makers, fondue sets, healthy-grills, home smokers, tempura sets, tortilla presses, electric whisks, cherry stoners, sugar thermometers, food processors,bacon presses, bacon slicers, mouli mills, cake testers, pestle-and-mortars, and sets of kebab skewers languish dustily at the back of the nation's cupboards."

I add to this, in the spirit of joyous and highly specialised excess, mezzalunas, egg separators, nutmeg graters, egg timers, pizza slicers, cookbook holders, onion graters, fat separators, potato mashers and mandolins.

Caveat: I've counted the things in our kitchen rather than the things that I actually own: the fondue sets, kebab skewers and pizza stone are property of the Evil Landlord. Further caveat: I have interpreted "juicers" as the non-electrical variety, ymmv. I also record for posterity my unnatural fondness for a sort of mandolin thingy my mother used to own, which had a set of harp-like cheese-wire thingies in a row, and a depression you lowered them onto: it was for slicing eggs, and was probably categorisable as some sort of mandolin. She never used it, but I loved playing the wires like a harp.

Also, what the hell is a bacon press? Confused.
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Hee. There's a meme. Memes are usually lame, but this one made me laugh. Gacked off [ profile] matociquala:

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

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

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

The subject line, by the way, is from Goats. As have been the last three, and as they will be for the foreseeable future. Read Goats to avert the apocalypse. (And to foster particularly trippy dreams. Last night I dreamed a giant, boiling stormcloud over central Cape Town, turning the sky black except for a heavy, thunderous green on the horizon. I stood in the garden and watched as the cloud front advanced on Rondebosch with brutal speed, trailing tentacular cloud tendrils amid which giants stalked. It was fairly epic. I woke up vaguely trying to put up magical shields.)
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It has become traditional to do that thing where you mark the end of the year by running together the first sentence of your first post from every month, resulting in pleasingly surreal and surprisingly representative dadaist gibberish. Thusly:

I have to report quite the nicest new year wish I've had so far. Hello, February, who the hell let you in? Oo, er. Arrived safely in France. I love the bit where I tell a room full of anxious first-years that it's actually significantly difficult to get thrown out of the faculty, they're fine if they pass three courses in their first year. I was going to review Wolverine, honestly I was. Back at work, alas. Hooray, my dreams are back! Wheee! new words! Good grief, it's October. Gawsh. Oh, happy day!
Doing my mystic gypsy bit, I divine the following about 2009:
  1. I still habitually start months with surprised exclamations.
  2. France loomed large in the year.
  3. I still enjoy the bit where I make students' lives better.
  4. Other than that I hate my job.
  5. Disappointing year for Hollywood popcorn movies. (Yes, I didn't like Star Trek either.)
  6. Still get high on words.
  7. For a year which really presented hitherto-unsuspected magnitudes of suck, I actually sound quite determinedly upbeat. That, or extremely sarcastic.
Today, in wanton retreat from all the orientation material I've been updating, I played Zelda in short, compensatory bursts in between packing up the booze cabinet so the Evil Landlord's sister could spirit it away. This necessitated rearranging (and incidentally New Year-cleaning) the kitchen to fit in all the cabinet contents, and thereafter constructing a map so the Evil Landlord could find it all again, although I admit it might have been more amusing to let him bumble around for ever before discovering that all the tall booze is now stashed in with the catfood.

The Zelda thing has re-started after a two-week hiatus after I had to call in stv as a consultant to get me through the horrible bit of the fire temple where I kept falling off the curving ramp trying to run it before the time limit, which he humiliated me utterly by doing first go, without touching the sides. In revenge I have subsequently kicked the butts of the bosses for both the fire and water temples, first go without touching the sides, and in the last one without even using up my healing potions. Currently hung up on trying to catch sufficiently large fish: got annoyed, watched more Supernatural, which (towards the end of Season 4) is extremely angsty and in which angels are bastards and Sam is being a dingbat. On the upside, meta episode is meta. In-episode slash references make me strangely happy.

I'm going to bed now, I seem to be babbling.
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It's ridiculously hot. I've had to frantically consume my entire chocolate stash on the grounds that it was limp, soggy and in seriously danger of liquefying. A bit like me, actually. Now there are melted chocolate smears on half the papers on my desk, and quite possibly the last three students as well.

I'm stealing back the meme that egadfly nicked from me last year and this egadfly's meme again. The Internets, so promiscuous. You're supposed to go back over the last year and take the first sentence of the first post of each month. I run it into one paragraph; also, I cheat, otherwise far too many of the sentences consist of the word "Hmmm", to which I'm apparently addicted as a post-opener. In honour of the year-end thing I've taken the last sentence of every last post in the month, ignoring footnotes like a proper academic. I also appear to be slightly more randomly surreal at the end of the month than the beginning.

The confusion was indescribable. Fiddle with it for a bit, then paste in the code from Elizabeth Bear's Goth dahlia, and feel inadequate. (I think my subconscious is actually revelling in the possession of money, here). Frilly goth. Memo to self: do not allow the dean to guess that my subconscious clearly finds students less interesting than weebles. To come full circle, it's probably a good thing that three of the four of us are currently working full-time, since something has to break up the otherwise more or less wall-to-wall wallowing in eating, drinking and random badinage. Sigh. I am snuffly, trippy and cross, a situation only partially mitigated by baby moose, and unmitigated in any way by the fact that I have to spend the whole weekend wading through my own deathless prose. I loved the Uglies, though. Jo's full review snarkage at Salty Cracker sometime soon. It's magnificently silly.
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The techno-jinx does its stuff! Not drastically, but this Microsoft wireless mouse is a bugger, it only registers about three clicks out of four, fiddle I never so wisely with the mouse settings. There is a certain amount of re-clicking and swearing involved in the course of weekend browsing. Also, I've spent selected chunks of the weekend trying to get my Skype connection to work, which is all going fine except that I cannot persuade this computer to acknowledge the existence of my spanky new headset. I think they may have installed a nifty power switch just around the corner in a different dimension, from which vantage point it's snickering at my pathetic fiddling with drivers and what have you. Bother.

I need to review Nation, and the Warren Ellis Iron Man series (Extremis, Adi Granov art, extremely beautiful), both of which I've recently read, but I'm trying to catch up on the work I didn't finish last week and reviews will have to wait. So, while I dive back with a despairing squeak into the user-friendification of directions for potential applicants, I leave you with a meme (nicked from Dayle).

If you saw me in a police car, what would you think I got arrested for?

(I don't think I'm actually likely to get arrested, I'm fundamentally Lawful Good, so you may have to be creative. Also, feel free to grab said meme to find out your friends' suspicions about your own criminal tendencies).
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I finished watching the last few episodes of Doctor Who this week, resulting in an unusual degree of turmoil in my attitude to Russell Davies. Still needing to brood about the season finale and its manifest joys and iniquities, though, so shall distract myself by memeage while I ponder the analytic mot juste. I was drawn to this one by its first question. I have interesting uncles. The sentence-completion meme. )
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I woke up this morning with a very vivid memory of the department store in the town in which we lived when I was in lower junior school - I think I must have dreamed about it. It was one of those old-fashioned, faintly larney stores with umpteen floors with clothes and fabric and household goods and what have you, and a lift attendant, and also one of those weird old cash systems where receipts and money were put into little brass capsules and shot away through a complicated series of tubes by air pressure. (The same system I was, in fact, discussing with James only last weekend, in the context of the bizarre note-sending system in a velvet-lined Berlin nightclub frequented by Brian Eno and David Bowie. James was told about it by Brian Eno. Strange but true).

I remember the department store with pleasure, but in fact what I mostly remember were the tills, about which I obsessed as a child. They were those huge, chunky, old-fashioned ones with the numbers which popped up on cards, and the buttons were little metal cylinders with a concave end, ranked with different banks of colour, and they depressed with a satisfying click. I used to lust after those buttons to a quite unreasonable extent - I'd actually have vivid dreams in which I was almost, but not quite, allowed to press them. I have no idea why. Something about the tactile pleasure of that "click", I think. I suspect I was an odd child.

Dept. of Random YouTube: courtesy of sf writer Elizabeth Bear, a new bit of viral wossname, this time directed against Scientology. Spread the word! this is one viral campaign behind which I can, so to speak, get.

Off now to consume vast and unnecessary quantities of food at the Hussar, by way of celebrating My First Paycheck. Possibly it's all worth it.
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[ profile] egadfly sez I have to do the year meme thing: the first line of the first post from every month in 2007. I've run them together into a paragraph for added surreality. It seems to be a nicely representative selection, but I am also forced to admit that, when not going "eep!", I write ridiculously long sentences.

Welcome to 2007. My evenings have become somewhat babylonian in the last little while, but I am nonetheless finding time to rewatch Torchwood, on the grounds that dodgy sexual undercurrents and quasi-realism in contemporary Brit sf TV can only distract me from the dogdy sexual undercurrents and quasi-realism in my thesis. The Army of Reconstruction have evinced a hitherto-unsuspected ability to warp space-time. For someone with all the submarine functionality and aerodynamic grace of a brick in water-wings, I'm bizarrely fond of immersing myself in water. 'Tis the merry month of May, and as usual a new month signals the fact that I've not done half of the things I should have done months ago. I couldn't work out why Todal, feline of the 10-second attention span, should choose Wednesday evening to blitz me with an extended, 20-minute affection session, complete with staring, purring, climbing all over me, putting her whiskers in my ear, and that cute bit where she pats my nose with her paw. Shrek the Third: a loose collection of gags, some amusing, kicked into a semblance of zombie movement by a weak, wandering and featureless plot. Eep! Happy Birthday, dear wolverine_nun, and I am truly sorry that your otherwise pleasant, low-key and extremely well-catered party should have been the venue for the resurgence, after about five years lying doggo, of my Truly Weird Intermittent Food Allergy. I am sorry to report that Fishy, feline companion for nearly thirteen years now, is no more. In the latest installment of the Horrid Revelations Of A Knitting Idiot: success! Progression coded all day.

By way of actual original content, Cautionary sf for American presidential hopefuls. Snarky, entertaining.
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So, Farscape! Why has the universe been keeping this from me all these years? It's space opera! Four episodes in, I'd say that it has the necessary combination of over-the-top and gritty, with a nice line in humour and sufficient sexy spaceships to keep my happy buttons pushed. It's not quite as well-scripted as Firefly, but otherwise functions as a rather happy mix of Lexx with same, with possible occasional moments of Star Trek. And when I find the particular cosmic wossname responsible for delaying this happy addition to my fangirly archive, there will be Words Said, I can tell you.

Did the Career Choice meme, courtesy of [ profile] egadfly. No. 1 choice is "Professor". Am glumly unsurprised. Fortunately "Website Designer" and "Desktop Publisher" came in at 7 and 10 respectively, so perhaps there's extra-academic hope for me. Amused to note that the test apparently agrees with my current dream-tendencies, in mutual defiance of all actual ability and inclination: "Actor" is at number 9. Tchah.

Finally, must pimp the rather fun online fantasy novels of Mayer Allen Brenner, which I found somewhereorother a couple of weeks ago, and of which I have just been reminded by BoingBoing. Entertaining, quite well written, with a nicely irreverent take on magic as an essentially geeky discipline, and a hero called Maximillian the Vaguely Disreputable. Fun.

Last Night I Dreamed: I was shepherding Neil Gaiman (in his trademark black leather jacket) through various public appearances in a large, busy city I suspect was New York. While including a certain amount of hotel-wrangling and airport-taxi-provision, this also entailed standing around protectively while he wrote madly on his laptop, and occasionally rubbing his shoulders. Anyone who tried to interpret this one gets shot. Metaphorically speaking.


Saturday, 7 July 2007 09:30 am
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Clearly the blogsphere, in the shape of Dayle, feels that I am insufficiently random. Hurt! But, bonus, meme! I do like the way this removes the necessity to think up something non-Morrowind-related about which to post.

The Rules:
* We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
* Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
* People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
* At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
* Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged, and to read your blog.

Fine, then:
  • I once dislocated my left kneecap practicing waltz steps. This took place, may I add, while on a youth camp in the middle of rural Zimbabwe, necessitating being hauled off to the nearest hospital in the back of a truck, over very bumpy roads. Not recommended.
  • While I am addicted to big black boots and the relevant black socks, all my socks have patterns of some sort on them (several sets with owls or cats). This is so that the nice charlady doesn't mix them up with the Evil Landlord's plain black socks. One cannot sufficiently stress the dangers of promiscuous sock-mixing.
  • As a result of a traumatic school film experience in about Standard 2, I spent the next fifteen years of my life with an obsessive and more than somewhat irrational fear of erupting volcanoes, leading to random insecurity and incredible nightmares.
  • My only stage experience was in Standard 5, when I played the lead role in a horrible little medieval play about a witch. I was a witch, and narrowly escaped being burned at the stake. As I recollect, a passing minstrel rescued me. I can still quote great chunks of the dialogue. (Bonus fact: along with all the colours of Joseph's Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, which we put on at the same time).
  • Too many items in my current wardrobe are purple.
  • When roleplaying or computer-gaming I hate playing thieves or assassins. I seem to have a law-abiding gene which kicks in whenever I'm expected to steal, murder or otherwise act in a morally dodgy fashion.
  • Bad habits I have acquired: hyperbole, unmarked quotation in normal conversation or bloggery, the Internet.
  • Bad habits I have never acquired: nail-biting, smoking, watching TV. (Bad habits I have given up: make-up, high-heeled shoes, ShadowMagic).
I'm going to cheat, because one of the (bonus!) random things about me is that I'm a fanatical hater of chain letters. This meme therefore open to anyone who reads this and wants to pick it up. I recommend thinking up the random things just as you're drifting off to sleep, so conscious filters are off. I hadn't remembered the volcano thing in years.

Today's random linkery in the Department of Oh Wow That Explains A Lot: Haruki Murakami explains why he writes the way he does. (NYT article, reg required, I'm afraid). It's because he bases his writing style on jazz. This is actually remarkably illuminating.

various sorts of ugly

Thursday, 14 June 2007 05:11 pm
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Drat. If I had been less slow and shambling, or had left the house at all, I might have noticed the hordes of zombies about yesterday. As it was, since they didn't actually eat the gardener or moan loudly enough to penetrate the dense fog of Disney criticism and Rachmaninov, I remained blissfully oblivious. Suits me, I'm more of a ninja gal. Of course, they might all have been lurching around outside Parliament as part of the strike action, although I'm not sure if it's actually possible to toyi-toyi while chanting "Braaaaaains!"

All that aside, I'm overdue on an actual review of Scott Westerfeld's Uglies, a random copy of which I picked up at a second hand book stall in aid of the Foreign Legion or something. (The same stall which evilly provided the seed of my current Stephanie Plum obsession. Pshaw.) I've been hearing a bit of a buzz around Teh Interwebs about Westerfeld, who is making waves with young adult sf, although it turns out he also writes adult sf and YA fantasy, none of which I've ever encountered. Uglies interested me because it's such a relief to get away from (a) imitation Harry Potter, and (b) vampires and faeries and pixies, oh my, which seem to be the current flavours of choice for YA fiction.

Teen-slanted sf doesn't seem to be as fast-growing a genre as teen fantasy, which I think parallels my memories of childhood - I'm not sure if sf is seen as being too rigorous or serious for younger readers? Certainly the sf books I remember from childhood are a tad heavy - John Christopher's Tripods, for example - which seems inevitable if they're going to do justice to sf's aspect of social enquiry. (Don't let's talk about Heinlein's teen-aimed texts, they just make me grind my teeth). Uglies fits right in here: it's very much about teen angsts and preoccupations, primarily beauty issues and fitting in, but it's also quite a stern social enquiry into totalitarianism. The premise has that power that good fantasy has, to externalise inner issues - here, the notion of plastic surgery as a given at a certain age, with the ostensible purpose of creating an equality of the beautiful and thus eradicating discrimination and marginalisation, those twin bugbears of teen existence. Unlike the simpler magical/symbolic function of something like Buffy, Uglies also is a clear sf extrapolation from current tech and trends, and succeeds in being both logical and rather terrifying as well as punchily representational on a symbolic level. Also, it has kick-butt hoverboards and some nifty ecological sub-themes, both of which get my vote.

I wouldn't say Westerfeld is a stand-out stylist, but the story is well-shaped in workmanlike prose which doesn't, hallelujah, press any of my buttons by throwing around incomplete sentences or similar solecisms. (It's thus a quantum leap ahead of something like the Artemis Fowl stories, which are fun and entertaining but whose editor should be taken out back and shot for cruel and unnecessary discrimination against the verb). Overall, it gives me hope for teen SF, and I'll definitely hunt down the sequels.

It's also, I should add, a fascinating stylistic comparison to the other teen-aimed book I picked up recently, which is Jeanette Winterson's Tanglewreck, a sort of mad, unwieldy, slightly mind-blowing time-travel quest sf story thing. Winterson is a Big Name Serious Gender-Issue Writer, which always makes for dynamite YA fiction; Isabel Allende springs to mind in this context, and Tanglewreck has the same characteristics I associate with Allende's kids' fiction, which is a sort of denial of traditional narrative shape, a tendency to pack more into the story, and to let it wander around less neatly, than do more mainstream children's writers. I wouldn't say it was necessarily more challenging than something like Westerfeld, who is pretty darned challenging in social and psychological terms; rather it's challenging in a different way, on the level of narrative rather than issue. Tanglewreck has stayed with me more vividly, whereas Uglies has stayed with me more coherently. Make of that what you will. But I recommend them both.

Bunny Threat Level: definitely still in the red.

personal demons

Saturday, 5 May 2007 11:26 am
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The publishers' clearances bookshop had a copy of Sergei Lukyanenko's Night Watch (R50 for a new trade paperback, all you locals!), and I have spent the last two days, in between clutching my brow and bemoaning the sinus headache, joyously motoring through it. I haven't seen the film, although a lot of people seem to have loved it: after reading the book, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I forsee a happy dark-fantasy DVD session somewhere in my near future.

This is an amazingly original piece of fantasy literature, even given its situation in the contemporary genre of urban fantasy with non-human beasties all over the show - vampires, werecreatures, magic-users, all terribly Laurel K. Hamilton, but far more intelligently done. There are some stylistic issues related to the translation: the tone is rather flat, and the translator has done that contemporary, journalistic thing which drives me absolutely crazy, which is to break the text up into more or less single-sentence paragraphs. (Aaargh. Hate it. Jonathan Kellerman does it, drives me bats). Paragraphing aside, the flatness of style works very well with the content of the story, which puts a gritty, thrillerish spin on the fantasy elements, with more than a touch of noir. It's a surprisingly compelling mix.

Above all, though, what I really enjoy about the story is its assault on the usual good/evil poles of high fantasy. This is an extremely thoughtful re-assessment of the unquestioned binaries of fantasy, dealing far more in compromise and pragmatism than most fantasy is capable of doing. Not only do the characters continually reflect on the implications of their allegiances, but the thriller component, working out through a series of twists, surprises and double-bluffs, also ends up undercutting the classic moral certainty of the fantasy epic. Oh, yes. Colour me impressed.

Department of Random Linkery: jo points out the extreme beauty of the site for the film version of The Golden Compass, a judgement with which I heartily concur. Since LJ, bless its cotton socks, refuses to embed the Personal Daemon generator thingy, I have stuck it on my other blog, here. I like both the detail of the personality test, and the provision for other people to moderate it. Cute. And I got a snow leopard. Heh.

Also, XKCD's Internet fantasy map. Très cute. I'm trying to think up a way to make my internet culture class analyse it.
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Oh, gods, this has to be done because the results are so cool! (And I know I should be working, all you people with disapproving frowns, this was a very brief break because the particular conceptual knot in which I'd bogged myself down was ferocious enough that I had to back off and consider my mixed metaphors).

On the twelfth day of Christmas, extemporanea sent to me...
Twelve egadflys drumming
Eleven wolverine_nuns piping
Ten bumpycats a-leaping
Nine khoi-bois cooking
Eight rpgs a-larping
Seven joss whedons a-role-playing
Six madrigals a-dressmaking
Five ca-a-a-ats
Four rainy days
Three genre movies
Two hot baths
...and a sf in a fantasy.
Get your own Twelve Days:

Now I shall go back to work. Work worky work work work.
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It's not often that one is privileged to watch the birth of a meme. Patroclus has originated a fascinating exercise in romantic memory, and in certain areas of my version of it, some intense scrutiny for silver linings in rather obnoxious clouds. I am unashamedly leaping on the bandwagon. Herewith "the COMPLETE, UNABRIDGED and ALPHABETICAL list of everything I have learned about" from my serious boyfriends since I was 16.1

alcohol, Ali G, bad sex, Bloodhound Gang, bloody-mindedness, the British army, Bauhaus, depression, emotional fuckwittery, fluffy Cthulhus, good DMing, good roleplaying, good sex, Gor, goth, handbrake turns, Heroes of Might and Magic, infidelity, Linux, manipulativeness, Monty Python, neat cupboards, Pagemaker, Pink Floyd, rally driving, Roxette, Sisters of Mercy, spiritualism, spying for the apartheid government, strip chess, suicide attempts, Swaziland, Talking Heads, trenchcoats, Twin Peaks, wing chun.

That's a long list: I'd think I was a mere sponge to random romantic influences, except that quite a lot of my core interests aren't there, which means I'm a mere sponge to all sorts of other influences as well. (Or that I ferret them out for myself). However, the primary lesson I take from this meme is that I'd probably be a lot happier if, rather than simply listing the influences, I'd got involved with the men in strict alphabetical order, and stopped before the end. I don't think I'd have missed much on the learning experience. (Why the hell do half my exes have names that start with A? It seems unnecessarily thematic).

Go on, you try. I tag anyone who's ever learned anything from a relationship. Heh.
    1 Counting on my fingers, I've just realised that slightly under half of my exes read this blog. Good grief. Hasty disclaimer (to the ones I know are reading, at least): none of you count as the obnoxious clouds, and none of the particularly nasty lessons were you. Probably.
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I wasn't going to post today, because really, five days in a row suggests unruly degrees of displacement, or angst, or narcissism, or something. But scroob tagged me with an interesting book meme, and who am I to resist?

"So here's how it is: you grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 123, go down five sentences, type out the next three for our reading pleasure... Then you tag three people."

OK. I'm in my office on campus, so possible books are the ones I'm teaching. In a pile next to my computer are, from the top down, Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber, Storming the Reality Studio: A casebook of cyberpunk and postmodern fiction, and a photocopy of Charles Stross's "Lobsters", which doesn't have a Page 125 so is not much use to man or crustacean.

Page 123 of The Bloody Chamber puts us in the middle of "Wolf-Alice", just before the perfect embodiment of the Lacanian moment.
She rubbed her head against her reflected face, to show that she felt friendly towards it, and felt a cool, solid, immovable surface between herself and she - some kind, possibly of invisible cage? In spite of this barrier, she was lonely enough to ask this creature to try to play with her, baring her teeth and grinning; at once she received a reciprocal invitation. She rejoiced; she began to whirl round on herself, yapping exultantly, but, when she retreated from the mirror, she halted in the midst of her ecstacy, puzzled, to see how her new friend grew less in size.
Just for comparison: page 123 of Reality Studio is a cityscape etching by John Bergin. Page 124 doesn't have five sentences. I shall emulate the exteemed Scroob and go for page 125, which is the start of an extract from Rudy Rucker's Software, and has really short sentences so you get extra.
The digits on his watch winked at him, meaningless little sticks. He had to keep moving or he'd fall through the crust. On his left the traffic flickered past, on his right the ocean was calling through the cracks between buildings. He couldn't face going to his room. Yesterday he'd torn up the mattress.
Hmmm. Surreal. OK, I tag [ profile] wytchfynder, and [ profile] wolverine_nun, and [ profile] tsukikoneko. Just because I can.

you got memed

Tuesday, 4 July 2006 05:59 pm
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[ profile] herne_kzn made me do it. Specifically, his autocratic demands read as follows:

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they're not any good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying now. Post these instructions in your LJ along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they're listening to.

I hear and obey. These are in no particular order; they represent the songs the desire to hear which inspires me to dig out and play the top 7 CDs I am currently playing.

1. Manic Street Preachers, You Stole The Sun From My Heart.
2. Belle & Sebastian, Another Sunny Day.
3. Fleetwood Mac, Songbird. (Because I'm watching Alias and they used it as a bittersweet episode fade-out track, so it's earwormed me good and proper.)
4. The Decemberists, This Sporting Life.
5. The Dandy Warhols, Bohemian Like You
6. The Clash, Should I Stay Or Should I Go.
7. Manic Street Preachers, Out Of Time. (Yup, they cover it).

Now tagging a bunch of people about whose musical taste I don't know enough (which is kinda why I like memes):
[ profile] wytchfynder
[ profile] strawberryfrog
[ profile] short_mort
[ profile] wolverine_nun (when she gets back from Turkey).

meme season

Thursday, 9 February 2006 10:52 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Bugger! I tried to post this entry last night, but my computer was having a hissy fit and clearly did the equivalent of holding the post pouched in her cheeks, and spitting it out when I wasn't looking. Cats, computers, all the same, really. Anyway, I've backdated it to more nearly represent the intention.

The moons of Saturn, the multitudinous, arbitrary governors of meming, are clearly in a weird astrological conjunction or something. Hopefully this will get all possible meming out of my system for the rest of the year. This one is the Four Things meme, and I have to do it, I promised scroobious.

Four jobs I have done:
Assembling an enormous map of Zimbabwe (scaled to show individual farms) and sticking pins into it to represent the customers of my dad's cattle-breeding company.
Temp secretarial work for a variety of Cape Town companies, including Oracle and Johnson & Johnson.
Processing honours admissions in the Humanities faculty.
Lecturing third-years on vampires and the erotic.

Four movies I can watch over and over:
Any of the Lord of the Rings trilogy (not including, obviously, the one by Ralph Bakshi).
Miyazaki's Spirited Away
Ang Lee's Sense and Sensibility
Pirates of the Carribbean. (This is not, actually, entirely about the Johnny Depp, it's also about the enormous comfort factor in unashamedly swashing that buckler).

Four places I've lived:
The Matopos hills.
An old farm house on top of a hill in Harare, Zimbabwe.
The garage of a friend's mother's house (in undergrad).
The Evil Landlord's garage. (I'm sensing a theme here. What's with me and hills and garages?)

Four TV shows I love:
I'd say anything by Joss Whedon, but in fact this would leave me with far too few filled slots, since actually I don't watch a lot of TV. So I'm listing them separately.
The X Files (but only the ones with Mulder)
Corollary: I have all of Firefly, all but the last season of Buffy, and the first two seasons of Angel on DVD. When I say "love", I mean "desire and want to possess for frequent re-experience." Somewhere in my future is a horribly expensive rendezvous with the first six seasons or so of X-Files.

Four places I have been on holiday:
Lake Malawi.
Mana Pools, in the Zambezi valley.
The island of Bazaruto, off Mozambique.
Helsinki, Finland.

Four of my favourite dishes:
Stv's Thai ground pork with basil.
Tournedos Rossini, but I can't have it any more because I've given up beef. *woe*
Chicken Satay
Deep-fried calamari rings in batter.

Four sites I visit daily:
My Friends page is actually the only one I visit daily. The rest are several times a week, and most often:
Go Fug Yourself (because I'm clearly just superficial, and cannot resist the somewhat hilarious combination of celebrities, clothes and unremitting bitchiness).
Dayle, as her daily word count is actively inspiring.

Four places I would rather be right now
In the South of France, in the cold and occasional snow and unheated house, with my father.
In the South of England, in the damp and mist, with my mother.
In a tenured academic post.
In Middle-Earth.

Four bloggers I am tagging:(unless they've done this already and my wayward memory has simply failed to retain the fact)
[ profile] wytchfynder, because he'll be lateral.
[ profile] bumpycat, because I haven't heard much from him lately.
[ profile] herne_kzn, because he needs something to distract him from nasty academic politics.
[ profile] first_fallen, because I keep not being able to go to movies with her, and feel bad.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Purists insist you're not allowed to call them memes, but here's one anyway, courtesy of everymoment. It's a particularly interesting exercise, actually: the reality versus the fantasy, so to speak, and very revealing about the priorities concerned.

Three things I am willing to spend too much on:

1. Books. Lots and lots of shiny new books from Amazon or Exclusive, or tottering piles of dusty second-hand tomes. If, as frequently happens, I end up with two weeks left of the month and only a hundred rand or so to my name, I am perfectly capable of spending some or all of it on books, recking not the consequences. Books are one of the primary aggressors in the continual war taking place across the embattled expanses of my credit card.

2. Food. In the sense of exciting ingredients for interesting new dishes I really want to try, or weird-looking sauces or spices, or hitherto unknown vegetables. And, of course, chocolate. Although I have to admit the guilt about spending too much money on chocolate is not quite as extreme as the guilt about actually eating it, on grounds of health/weight.

3. Fabric. This is the equivalent of everymoment and scroob's thing for knitting supplies. I have an entire chest full of fabric, mostly bought because it looked like something I might someday use/make into something/wear, and because if you don't buy it, obviously you'll sooner or later wish you had. I have to admit, the SCA has been very bad for this particular vice. Of course, if I had unlimited time I might actually get to make more than a fraction of it into actual clothing, but hey. This is a money-meme.

Three things I would spend unlimited amounts on if I had unlimited amounts to spend:

1. Property. I want a large, rambling house of my very own in Cape Town, and a cottage in Franschoek, and a villa in France, and a smallish manor house in the south of England somewhere, and then I want enough money to furnish them with duplicates of every book and movie I own, and to commute at whim. If nothing else, this might actually solve the Cape Town heatwave crisis every year.

2. DVDs. Since my movie-watching habit entails a fairly all-or-nothing love-or-hate relationship with films, I spend a lot of time comfort-rewatching old favourites. I want to own the special, preferably extended, edition of every movie I have ever wanted to see again. I'm not much into the consumer mode, but I also darkly suspect that if I had lots of money I'd very soon own a very large home theatre system with a massive plasma screen, surround sound, and a tendency to get updated every year or so with new and shinier bits.

3. Really high quality kitchen knives, and a minion to sharpen them obsessively.

It was a bit of a toss-up, there, what made it into the third slot. If I had unlimited amounts to spend I would be very likely to spend a lot of it on CDs, computer upgrades, world travel, computer games and inordinate amounts of expensive scent and luxurious bath additives, but I think the knives have it in the no-limits stakes. I'm not entirely sure what this says about my character.

playing Doctor

Thursday, 29 December 2005 10:26 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Summer! It's bloody hot, and I have a headache, but the day is bearable because Cape Town is having an outbreak of southeaster, and it's gusting like a bugger out there. I love driving in heavy wind. I have to be preternaturally alert on the highway in my small, light Mermaid-car, to tack appropriately into the buffets. A misspent youth reading Arthur Ransome finally becomes, in the most unlikely way, useful.

I am forced to the conclusion that most of the Usual Suspects are busy lying around groaning after what my family calls Too Much Kissmass; except for [ profile] strawberryfrog and [ profile] pinkthulhu, who are clearly hanging around in my comments pages, whiling away the dead time at work. Ah, them holidays. Mine is still filled with millyuns of social engagements; I've just staggered home, headache-infested, from a truly lovely evening hosted by Mike for [ profile] rumint, at the former's larney penthouse, filled, as usual, with incredible food. This message brought to you courtesy of the twenty-minute gap between arriving home and the painkillers kicking in, at which time I shall describe a graceful ninety-degree arc to the horizontal position, with any luck coinciding it approximately with my bed. This evening also unexpectedly featured the famous James, who, after having been absent from my life for the better part of ten years, is suddenly popping up all over. (Including reading this blog - hi, James!).

The dreaded [ profile] wytchfynder's new challenge: the top 5 things you'd like to be that start with the same letter as your journal name. I'm cursing Dorothy Parker and the bloody E, since mostly what I'd like to be right now is blissfully oblivious. However, here's my list.
  • Eminent.
  • Egregious.
  • Eccentric.
  • Emancipated.
  • Euphonious.
Etcetera. Go on, you try.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
No, it's not another hopeless fangirl moment: it's the result of a somewhat unpleasant hour at the dentist this morning. On the downside, he had to replace a filling and file off bits of cracked teeth. On the upside, he's pretty much the Ideal Dentist: soft-spoken, gentle, very concerned not to cause pain, and tends to keep up a rambling monologue telling you exactly what he's doing at any one moment, which I deeply appreciate in a health professional. On the downside, half of my face is still numb, causing me to drool and dribble tea down my front.

What is it with dentists' equipment? The injection is the least of it - a moment's pain, and then blissful numbness. But, pain aside, the rest of the experience is possibly worse. If I wanted a swarm of giant demented robot bees inside my skull, I could arrange it for myself, thank you very much. The vibration puts my teeth on edge, and I spend a lot of the time trying desperately to make the Basso Profundo Mosquito Whine harmonise with the Mosquito Whine On Nitrous Oxide, which it doesn't. Then there's the Miniature Pavement-Pounder, the Miniature High-suction Vacuum, and the Thing That Buzzes On The Precise Frequency That Puts My Teeth On Edge. Besides, I have a horribly sensitive upper palate, and tend to gag on dentists without provocation. And I have to more or less continuously fight to stop myself from exploring all this weird metallic stuff in my mouth, with my tongue. Dentists. Pshaw.

The ground troops of the Army of Reconstruction have taken to leaving their lunch-time soft drink cans all over the lawn. There Will Be A Reckoning.

And, it occurs to me I'm overdue for a Things You Might Not Have Known About Me, #9. One of my secret vices is playing loud rock piano, often cheesy 80s hits, badly, by ear, when no-one's around to listen. Unless my Evil Landlord has annoyed me, in which case I play at him. Heh.


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