freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Spam is the new surrealist poetry. I still cherish with some fondness the email I received a few months back from the nice Jewish gentleman with the recently dead wife and the fixation on Kabbalah, "post-Auschwitz Spiritists" and Jewish goddess figures, whose ramblings encompassed pre-Christian gender politics, medieval sex magic, Borges, Bacon, Conan Doyle and game theory before even faintly approaching a point, which turned out to be an interest in one of my fairy-tale papers he deemed may be relevant. (Short answer: hell no). Shenanigans with font size suggest that this was a cut-and-paste approach comprising lumps of reference inserted into a hail-fellow-scholar-well-met sort of template, possibly distributed wholesale to swathes of randomly-selected paper-writing populace. The whole left me with the faint, irrational suspicion that some sort of money was going to be demanded about three exchanges in if I in any way responded. Which I didn't. Is this a new scholarly spam? I am curiously tickled to be singled out by it.

Today's was even more surreal, which is rather entertaining and has distracted me very nicely from my current state of hellweek frantic. I reproduce its initial lines wholesale, because wtf, and also because its particular confluence of high-class drivel - mystical conspiracy theory, apocalyptic religion, random header kipple and second-language grammatical and idiomatic solecism - is so deeply entertaining.

Urgent and Immediate Attention - Invitation of Chosen ONE-See “ATTENTION”

I am Saviour of Earth.
This Message is prepared from far away, beyond every Universe.
Thank you for your immediate attention.
Read “Before Print” on the below, before print email.
This email have previously sent email.
During the time of email sending, some of nation government leaders or
ministers, such as Russia, China or other nation government, maybe changed.
People should consider of it.
This email have previously sent email.
To improve understanding of email, it would better, read from early days email.

With attached Message document “MASTER_OF_ALL.pdf”.

Readers should consider of it.

There are, in fact, attachments labelled, among other things, MASTER_OF_ALL.pdf, but I have not clicked thereon, on account of basic hygiene and generalised fear of surrealist rabbit-holes.

The perpetrator is addicted to the third-person and admits, apparently with some pride, that "Although Chosen ONE have study background of economy, but during the time when he was lived in western nation, Chosen ONE also studied several years of IT [Information Technology] subject, including, “internet” and “website development”, but never experienced some of sent email, seen on receiving email account, but some of sent email, not seen on same receiving email account, even with correct email address, by not typing email address, but selecting email address from its list." However, "Chosen ONE don’t want spend more of time to solve such problem, or to make discussion with “Gmail” from “Google” internet company, about it. Because Chosen ONE already observed it several months of time, also, importantly, Chosen ONE have to keep focus his attention to element of Earth along with element of Moon. Focusing on element of Earth & element of Moon is important to him."

I now have a mental image of some sort of wild-eyed bearded figure crouched over a green-screen monitor in a shack somewhere, clumsily channelling his element of moon fixation through this strange "internet" thing he only faintly grasps.

This actually requires some sort of medical diagnosis, I think. Schizophrenia?
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)

Today I was in a student progression code review meeting from 9am to 4pm, which, if I do, in fact, have enough brain to count correctly, is seven hours. It was filled with disastrous student records and low-quality food supplies, and was deeply depressing. Then I staggered home to discover that the electricity line outside our front gate was shorting out spectacularly, causing our lights to flicker while it spat great fat sparks and produced sound effects akin to muffled gunshots. The high winds on Sunday brought down a massive branch from one of the eucalyptus trees across the road, which made all our lights go out momentarily (and caused the Evil Landlord to leap into civic-minded action with a saw in order to clear the road), but the lights have been fine for two days. Clearly the cabling has hidden its evident damage like a rake in the grass until the moment when I'm most exhausted and least likely to make sense when I phone the nice electricity people to report The Attack Of The Mutant Electrical Supervillain. ("Please hurry up, the noises are scary.") Also, I am possibly unduly superhero-conscious after fears of switching on my computer and subjecting it to power surges forced me to instead read Hawkeye comics for two hours, at which point the nice electricity people arrived with their cheerful orange cherry-picker and brung the electrical wossname low in short order. Thank heavens. I'm feeling very frayed and heavily inclined towards Skyrim and soothing fanfic.

I am, however, curiously consoled by contemplating a wol who is (a) able to so aptly embody my current desire to hide in a drainpipe, and (b) apparently called Eggnog. Eggnog is, for no adequately defined reason, a particularly fine name for a wol. Also, thanks, Thak. The link seriously made a day that seriously needed uplift.
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I blush to admit my slight obsession with the TomKat meltdown, which is really no more than the continuation of my obsession with TomKat, and before that with Tom Cruise himself. This is not, I hasten to clarify, any sort of fangirl he's-so-attractive sort of thing: I can't stand the man, and my interest is more of a sort of horrified fascination with the spectacle he presents. Twiddling my thumbs in traffic this morning, I came to an interesting realisation: like really quite ridiculous amounts of things in my life, this particular urge is also a manifestation of purely academic interests. (Case in point, David Bowie, who's about self-conscious genre play. At least partially. Shut up.)

I do a lot of work with metafiction. Metafiction is characterised, in the words of highly useful critic Patricia Waugh, as fiction "which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artefact in order to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality." It's one of the favoured techniques of postmodernists, that sort of "ha ha this is a book not the real world" with which they step outside their own text to comment on it. Tom Cruise doesn't quite do that, but the fervour and intensity with which he constructs himself as an icon at any given moment borders on parody, creating an artefact - a "star" - whose self-evident falsity is intrinsic to its function. That is - he doesn't present "star" and try to naturalise the identity, he tries to naturalise the performance. Tom Cruise is never not performing Tom Cruise, and the non-existence of a genuine Tom Cruise is so taken for granted that its absence permeates the performance. And the performativity of Tom Cruise takes for granted that we acquiesce in the performance - we relate to it as performance, a text, not as a reality. He's also a simulacrum: he is a performance of a self which goes beyond simply obscuring or replacing a reality to the point where it is not related to a reality at all. Dear Baudrillard, how we miss him.

At any rate, the gossip-column coverage of the TomKat breakdown has been affording me much innocent joy: Katie Holmes seems to have blindsided him utterly with the divorce, leaving him groping for an appropriate response to perform. Even better, it's been such a kick in the teeth to the whole Scientology schtick - she has escaped! because she fears your weird cult! because of what it'll do to her daughter! and she's being superbly tactical about the whole thing. Scientology evokes in me a sort of combination of fear and derision, so it's nice to see the creepy-control-freak-omniscience undercut.

The whole thing has also given me absolutely my favourite quote about Scientology of all time ever:
This is what I find hilarious about Scientology even though it’s obviously scary as sh-t: the entire operation sounds like a game you would have invented in your parents’ basement playing with friends back in grade school where the object - to get to Level Supremeness of The Power Destiny - was to hop up the stairs on one foot, blindfolded, with one hand doing the Spock sign and the other holding an egg, while reciting Twas The Night Before Christmas because Miss Green made us memorise it for the holiday revue.
Courtesy of Lainey Gossip.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)

Oh, dear, I've discovered Fringe. I'm beginning to think that a misspent youth dallying with Sayers, Allingham and Marsh has actually imprinted me heavily on the investigative genre: give me detectives, private eyes, FBI agents, I'm happy. (Memo to self, break out Castle). From quite another angle, also give me grandiose paranormal paranoid conspiracy theories and I'm ecstatic. This means that I intersect with J J Abrams far more than is probably healthy, insofar as I have a completely unrepentant addiction to Alias, although mercifully I never bought into Lost. So far Fringe isn't throwing aliens around, but otherwise it's an unashamed X-Files rip-off; my happy triumvirate of pseudo-scientific paranormal investigation is now (a) X-Files, (b) Fringe, and (c) Shadow Unit. (Supernatural, Buffy/Angel and The Middleman, of course, fill the equal and opposite mystical paranormal investigation slots).

Fringe isn't brilliant, and it certainly isn't original, but it's kinda cute. Points in its favour: Joshua Jackson (endearing), Denethor (John Noble does a good mad), nice line in mystic mumbo-jumbo ("the Pattern"). Points not in its favour: predictable, done, occasionally icky (I'm not big on exploding heads) and six episodes in the bad guys seem prone to repetition. I'm also not madly taking to the slightly brittle female lead, although I'm willing to concede she has pretty hair. Bonus points: cow in the basement lab, tendency to one-liners, occasional outbreaks of piano-playing. Also, the bogus science is entertainingly bogus, but actually pays slightly more lip-service to rational logic than poor old Spooky ever did.

I'm finding myself wondering, though. These paranoid-conspiracy-pandering TV shows seem to generate enough of an audience to engender new variations every few years. Do you think this is because people actually want to believe this stuff? Because, eeeuw. As a Sturdy Rationalist I classify both detective fiction and paranormal-conspiracy firmly under "fantasy", the former because of its narrative structure, the latter because of its content. I like fantasy. I like it because it's fantastic. The world doesn't work like that, but it's fun to imagine what it would be like if it did. I'm hoping the audience for these shows enjoys them as hokum in the same way that I do, rather than leaping up to shout "I knew it!" every ten minutes. However, I look at the human tendency to latch onto the pure hokum disseminated by the religious right, tabloid reporting, advertising, corporate spin doctors and random passers-by, and I'm not sanguine.

Further fascinating thought for the day: do you think that if we strapped J J Abrams and Russell Davies down in a basement lab somewhere and scientifically crossed each of them individually with stolen DNA from Stephen Moffat, we'd get interesting stories that actually held together instead of falling apart at the moment of narrative crux? I can't help thinking it might be worth a try.


Friday, 20 November 2009 11:49 am
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Right, own up. Who's got my Buffy Season 4^H^H^H 7? and, more importantly, what's the deep-seated human foible which leads me to believe, every single time I lend something out, that of course I'll remember who borrowed it and therefore won't have to write it down? Because I never do remember. Never. Because my memory transcends all metaphors of fluff and swiss cheese and goldfish to wander, vaguely and hopelessly, around whole new elevated planes of confusion, absence and loss.

Further to the above: also missing copies of Twin Peaks, Iron Council, several Bujolds and a bunch of other things which, naturally, I can't remember but which are causing suspicious gaps in my shelves. Please interrogate your stashes severely and report back posthaste.

Edited to add: further dispatches from the Elevated Plane of Confusion and Doubt: no, wait, not Buffy Season 4, I actually still have that (which means you can collect it this evening, w-n); it's Season 7 I'm missing. Also Doctor Who season 3. Also, my brain.
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Good lord, this job has its weird moments. I've just spent 45 minutes digging through a university handbook from 1970, trying to work out whether the Anatomy class taken by Fine Arts diploma students in 1970 is the Med school one, or their own art-based version. The 1970 handbook is... quaint. And somehow far more Oxbridge than the current snappy, market-oriented one. Also, layout not so much. As an encore, I shall now go to a meeting in order to squabble about venues for orientation, since there aren't actually enough large ones to go round. Expanding the university with ever-larger hordes of students is all very well, but the infrastructure is straining at the seams.

By way of distraction from the oddities of university admin, I stumbled today across the delirious and unlikely existence of the planet Nibiru and its apocalyptic intentions for the Earth in December 2012 when it disengages its apparently extremely efficient cloaking devices as it bumbles portentously through our skies. I have every intention of going to see Roland Emmerich's 2012 as soon as it opens, secure in the knowledge that it will be an entirely loud, dreadful, pointless, anti-scientific and badly-scripted collection of nonsense which will nonetheless make me extremely happy with images of large-scale cataclysm. It is a revelation to me, however, as well as a solid dose of fuel for my beliefs about the fundamental stupidity of the human race, that there are apparently vast seething masses of people out there who actually believe this shit. It's not only their touching faith in the infallibility of the ancient Mayan calendar that floors me, it's their unmatched ability to create conspiracy theories about cover-ups as an antidote to all this inconvenient science debunking the myths. Oh, and their worrying tendency to accept viral marketing campaigns for clearly stupidly OTT Hollywood blockbusters as the gospel truth.

The paranoid delusion is at such levels that NASA has a FAQ page about Nibiru and 2010. The Bad Astronomy page is also interesting for its pithy deconstruction of kooky spiritualists and pervy alien-fanciers. Charm these voices of reason never so patiently and rationally, however, that particular deaf adder has its tail in its ears and its head buried under a significantly-carved Sumerian rock, and is moreover shouting "LA LA LA CAN'T HEAR YOU!" at the top of its voice. I think I like disaster movies so much because the general apocalyptic devastation seems to me to be no more than we deserve.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Vignette from yesterday's party: distressed four-year-old comes dashing through the house to find me, because something in my bedroom (where three of them have been perpetrating unspecified small-girl evil) is ringing. I wander through and switch off my bedside alarm clock, which has mysteriously set itself.

"Someone must have switched it on," I say thoughtfully. "I certainly didn't. Who was playing with it?"
A ring of innocent faces gazes at me raptly. They exchange conspiratorial looks.
"The cat did it!" volunteers someone.

This morning I was rudely awakened at 7am by the ringing of my alarm clock, at the extremely loud and intrusive end of its graduated scale, which is audible even three rooms away behind a closed door. Staggering, dazed and semi-nude, through the house, I eventually tracked the bloody thing down tucked in a corner of the bookshelf in the guestroom, beeping its little head off.

I knew we'd be in trouble when the cats developed opposable thumbs. I struck a blow for an unsubjugated humanity by wantonly not feeding them breakfast before I staggered back to bed.

also, two-headed dog

Thursday, 14 August 2008 10:59 am
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Department of Academic Gloating: the approved cover design for my book arrived today. It's stunning - as per my suggestion they've used Ursula Vernon's art deco nouveau "Beauty and the Beast", and done the whole thing with a corresponding art deco nouveau feel and exceptionally beautiful fontage. I am a very, very happy proto-author. I'm also a chapter away from finishing the edit review, which is a good feeling. Current peeve: the copy-editor has taken out all my uses of inverted commas as distance quotes and added "so-called" instead. This annoys me, and there has been much throwing about of stettage. I am also somewhat miffed by her refusal to accept "formulae" as a plural. "Formulas" just looks all wrong to me. Still, she has managed to remove a positively ridiculous, if not indecent, incidence of the completely spurious word "itself", so it possibly all comes out in the wash.

Fired with near-completion, not to mention hopeless fangirliness, I took myself off to see X-Files: I Want To Believe last night. I have heard, from various sources, differing things about this film:
  1. It's just like an X-Files episode, and therefore dull and disappointing. (Half of Teh Internets).
  2. It's just like an X-Files episode, and therefore wow, squeee! (The other half of Teh Internets).
  3. OMG Mulder and Scully are old and ugly! (Different half of Teh Internets).
  4. OMG Mulder and Scully are still hot! (Other different half of Teh Internets).
  5. It's really dark and depressing. (jo&stv).
The upshot of all of this was that I didn't have very high expectations, as a possibly direct result of which I thoroughly enjoyed the film. I think Chris Carter actually went seriously out of his way to provide an antidote to the (equally enjoyable) giant!underground!arctic!alien!spaceship!-vibe of the first movie - this was low budget, gritty and real, with the focus away from special effects and towards the psychological and philosophical interactions which were always the strength of the series, anyway. The games the writers play with self-conscious use of the series clichés are particularly entertaining; I loved the classic X-Filesy driving-a-country-road-at-night opening.

Overall I found it a surprisingly adult and thoughtful film, although really I shouldn't be surprised, the series always had the capacity to deliver that, however interspersed with goofy humour, weird science and grandiose paranoid conspiracy. I'm also revolving some kind of theory as to the symbolic function of snow for Chris Carter; apart from its obvious provision of freeze/thaw motifs for both meaning and emotion, it's visually very effective, and the film was beautifully shot. (The end credits were particularly lovely).

Overall, I think I fall into category 2, with a side helping of category 4, except that, while it's well presented, goofily endearing and eccentrically realistic, Mulder/Scully is just weird.

fall on today

Monday, 25 February 2008 05:16 pm
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Aaargh! Day of annoyance, filled with annoyance and annoying things, all annoying me. Apart from a long string of students (the last one driving me to near madness by her terminal vagueness) I had a lovely response planned to a BoingBoing item about global warning, but Cory Doctorow (gasp!) slipped up and reposted something from 2004, and they've subsequently taken it down. I feel saddened at the realisation that BoingBoing is not, in fact, godlike in its inscrutable wisdom. I also can't remember the pithy comments I was going to make, but it's probably a safe bet that they involved orang-utans.

In the Department of Oh Gosh I'm Still An Awful Klutz: slipped on the steps on my way down to my office this morning, and came down hard on my posterior (fortunately off centre, thus saving my poor coccyx another beating, which is just as well). I have an enormous blue and purple bruise on my left buttock, and grazes on my right hand. I thought I'd given up on this all-too-obsessive embracing of gravity at odd and inappropriate moments. Possibly the Cosmic Wossnames are punishing me for not having gone to the gym for a week, in which case I blow a raspberry in their general direction. I haven't had time to go to the gym, and have been too darned exhausted to boot. I plan to be better this week, although that's got off to a great start with my projected 4.15 escape being sabotaged by annoying students until about a minute ago. Sigh. Now I'll have to fight great droves of the sweating for access to the machines.

In the Department of Everything Comes Down To My Current Favourite TV: Dyatlov Pass, courtesy of Charlie Stross. It's clearly an X-Files episode, and I hourly expect a sarky Wikipedia edit to reflect the foolish writers' obliviousness to this fact. My wayward imagination is insisting on putting a shivering Mulder into black-and-white snow photographs à la the famous Elijah Wood one. Odd.

In the Department of Thin White Duke Worship: have become suddenly and unaccountably addicted to Outside, the latest Bowie album I've acquired. This is puzzling me no end, since it's (a) a weird concept album in which the actual tracks alternate with potentially pretentious formless segues, and (b) considerably further towards the electronic (and strange avant-garde jazz) end of the spectrum than I'm generally happy with. I have, however, been bopping around the house to it all weekend in a state of high glee, while the cats watch me with suspicion and, I suspect, derision. There's one song in which I swear Bowie channels Ian Curtis - in that classic Bowie fashion, it's actually slightly more like Joy Division than Joy Division is. Since it's called "No Control" it also kinda rubs your nose in the ironic postmodern wossnames. Although not any more so than is usual for Bowie.

Last Night I Dreamed: I was wandering around the palatial skyscraper which housed the giant, glitzy room which was the sort of royal-court-like focus of the political machinations of a whole bunch of noble, or possibly corporate, houses. After a certain amount of being lost and intimidated and surrounded by snooty people in beautiful clothes, I was adopted into one of the houses by its kindly older head, who for some reason looked a bit like Steve Martin. I subsequently had to join a procession of the younger members of said house, who were being uniformly bitchy to me, and was somewhat horrified to discover, halfway round the room, that I wasn't wearing shoes and was being roundly ridiculed for my stockinged feet.

strange visitors

Tuesday, 29 May 2007 05:12 pm
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This afternoon I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies, by way of the necessary sustenance for the epic foot-slog that is watching Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest on DVD this evening1, which is itself a sort of training run for the even more epic slog of watching At World's End in the cinema tomorrow. (In this latest instance, a train of native bearers may be required. Possibly with portable chamber-pots).

My culinary activities were mildly interrupted by an increasingly creepy sense that someone was watching me, and I looked up to see, through the kitchen window, the fixed, slightly manic gaze of the watcher:

The damned evil little rodent sat on the courtyard wall without moving for eight minutes by the kitchen clock, and kept up that horribly I-am-about-to-go-for-your-throat glazed stare throughout. I think it was trying to force me to hand over the pecan nuts by sheer mental coercion. I never did trust squirrels. Lock up your chocolate chip cookies.

1 When I picked up the DVD, the video store clerk earnestly assured me that it was a very good idea to re-familiarise myself with the second film before watching the third. I'm not sure if this says more about the bizarre nature of our popular culture, in which Hollywood blockbusters have to be taken very seriously, or the labyrinthine complexities of the third film's plot.

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Am clearly in full-on retreat from (a) book updates, (b) bunny accessories, (c) my ginormous pile of marking, and (d) my state of health (still feel sick). And what better way to retreat than into TEH INTERNETS? Clearly this internet thingy is a cunning scheme from an interstellar civilisation to completely corrupt all human endeavour and progress by the simple ploy of selecting for literacy, curiosity and lateral thought, and then hopelessly distracting it, causing humanity's intellectual cream to FRITTER AWAY their time uselessly. At current rates, in about 10 years the BEMs will be able to stage a full-on assault on our planet, meeting no resistance whatsoever as everyone will be too busy blogging the experience to actually do anything about it. Baudrillard would be proud.

Ahem. Anyway. Linkery. Things that are not working, apart from actual work: the sitting-room lights, my car alarm (keeps going off randomly), two bars on my heater, and the front gate, whose remote has apparently died.

In other news, today's postmodern internetty experience: wandering onto Facebook in a sort of academic what-are-the-cool-kids-doing finger-on-pulsy sort of way, to find out that, ahem, my dad's there.

Bunny Threat Level: bleah.
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I approve of Easter Sundays, or at least of those Easter Sundays which entail hanging around all day on jo&stv's deck, drinking champagne and orange juice, hunting chocolate in the garden, eating waffles and watching jo leap into the pool repeatedly with all her clothes on. As a result of heat/booze I have another thundering hell-headache, but it was worth it.

Interesting Cultural Thingy 1: when I checked our postbox for B5 yesterday, I found in it the following bit of paper - clearly photocopied from a hand-written original, and with absolutely no advertising, contact details or anything bar the message itself.

The issue itself is the paranoid-conspiracy paraben scare about carcinogens in deodorant, which seems to be based on one particular study which has been both misunderstood and blown out of proportion. That aside, it fascinates me that someone should feel so strongly about the issue that they'd go to the lengths of flooding our postboxes with DIY dead-tree spam, with absolutely nothing in it for themselves other than the satisfaction of instruction.

Interesting Cultural Thingy 2:this amazing Washington Post article. I don't know if I'd actually recognise a virtuoso violinist playing in a subway, since I don't much enjoy solo violin, but I'd like to think so. Either way, the response is amazingly telling about cultural construction of value. Nicely written and analysed article, too.

I am now taking my headache off to bed. B5 is at T-4, expectation is high. And the subject-line quote, naturally is from jo&stv, more particularly jo. Also, phone still dead, so don't phone us on the landline until probably Tuesday lunchtimeish.

Bunny Threat Level: um, not currently rising, owing to mad socialising and headache. *guilt*


Tuesday, 16 January 2007 12:09 pm
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Just randomly. Or because I like them showing up in burgundy.

This is insanely addictive. My morning's ritual hunt for the missing Walter Benjamin has been punctuated by gunfire and squeaks of woe. (Courtesy Twentysided.)

This is an amazing discussion of writing, reading and what makes a book really worthwhile. (Courtesy Evil Auntie Peril).

This is a bizarrely fascinating analysis of pitch and inflection in phrases from Martin Luther King.

The alien overlord has struck back. In order to prevent me implementing the suggestions made by various witterers about early phoning, it has infected our phone with random bursts of static, presumably in a significant pattern to assist the brain-liquefying process. If you need to phone me in the next few days, I suggest you do it by e-mail, since the static makes the land line only marginally worse than the cell reception in this house. I await the arrival of Telkom's Alien Infestation Unit.

Dream update: last night was Harry Potter.
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So, my unfortunate father is sitting immured in the wilds of rural southern France1 without a passport. He's eligible for South African citizenship, and has applied for ID and a passport. This took place at the end of May last year. The process is supposed to take two months. The South African embassy in Paris has a "don't call us, we'll call you" policy even in the face of a 7-month delay. So I undertook to try and apply gunpowder and ginger and other galvanants to the process from this end.

I've tried the local Home Affairs number in Cape Town every day this week, at a tasteful array of times: it simply rings endlessly until it cuts out. The government website has a great deal of cheery information about ID and passports, and a whole bunch of contact numbers for the Pretoria head office. I've rung them all. Half of them give the long beep signal which means they no longer exist; the other half simply ring endlessly until they cut out (see above).

Either (a) everyone with any actual ability to answer a phone is still on holiday, or (b) it's a particularly nasty and baroque plot to ensure that the only way of doing anything is to actually physically go to a home affairs office. There they will force you to queue for anything up to six hours for the privilege of being passed from desk to desk staffed with minions with a fine grasp of the nuances of ignorant incompetence. Eventually you will reach an inner sanctum where your brain, cleverly reduced to liquid form by the waiting process, will be sucked out through your ears and used to feed the incomprehensible alien overlord who staffs and runs the rat-maze simulation which is our government bureaucracy. The jelly-form alien parasite with which they replace the lost grey matter will send your empty, mind-wiped shell shuffling zombie-like back into the world, unable to protest at the horror of it all. You'll never find out what happened to the application. My best guess is alien toilet paper.

The current plan is to call the Ghostbusters2 and kick the doors down at 8am sharp on Monday morning. With rocket launchers. I ain't taking no lip from alien overfiends.

1 Tormented by wine, duck, pâté, scenery, la belle langue and the complete inability to visit family. It is a significant point in favour of my family life that he doesn't consider all of the above to be cause for rejoicing. Reason #1784562 why I really want a proper job that will pay me enough to actually travel.
2 Or possibly the dreaded stv, whose uncanny resemblance to Simon Pegg has to make him good for both zombie butt-kicking and a certain amount of expertise with alien overlords.
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The subject line is one of my mother's favourite quotes, and is taken from a particularly sententious announcer on Zim radio who used to follow up reports of practically anything with a head-shaking comment of "It's all part of life's rich pageant". Which is not a patch on the Zim announcer who, clearly bemused, identified the preceding classical piano piece as "Chopping Polonies In A Flat", but is still fairly quotable.

Life's rich pageant this morning was supposed to be a simple one-on-one struggle between the sound effects of the Army of Reconstruction, and my construction of merry encyclopedia entries and rapid-fire editorial comments on Young Mike's Commerce Honours project. Instead, I am being investigated by the police, in the shape of a rather sweet and very Afrikaans Captain from Paarl, plus silent side-kick.

Those who hang around Shire Central with any regularity may remember my occasional run-ins with assorted kooks and weirdos who find my name and/or photograph on the web, usually associated with the SCA, and, constructing elaborate personal scenarios around my mere existence, take it upon themselves to contact me. The opening salvo in this campaign was the gentleman of Native American descent known in local SCA circles as "the Foot Fetishist", who sent me a letter from the US, enclosing a photo of him (dubious, in a speedo) and another of his feet (dubious, hairy, sandalled), and wanted to start a correspondence for purposes of obtaining photos of my feet. I have not yet lived this down. However, the Foot Fetishist had a useful purpose, in that he creeped me out enough that I did a quick purge of all websites pertaining to me in any way, and made sure any contact details were box number only. This was fortunate, since the second approach was from a couple of gentlemen residing in the local maximum security prison.

The letters were, in their peculiarly bent way, works of art; hand-written with the painstaking care and regularity that suggests unhealthy obsession, and decorated with interesting pentagrams, drops of blood, weird symbols and general mystic squiggles. They made dark, cryptic mention of the "secret organisation" to which we both, apparently, belonged, and its high-level council of elders, mysterious powers of life and death, and general occultic menace. One gentleman professed himself willing to die in our cause. This was, of course, exceedingly disturbing, given that the secret organisation to which they referred was apparently our beloved local chapter of the SCA, who, while being medieval loons of the first water, are neither secret nor occultic, and are cryptic only in the higher mystic realms of things like heraldry, Elizabethan costuming and stick-jock tactical jargon.

Having made a valiant, public-spirited and unavailing attempt to inform the prison that some of their inmates were several sandwiches short of a picnic (they weren't interested), I promptly forgot about it. Yesterday, however, after various frantic phone calls between me and the local Marshal, it transpired that the intelligence unit were investigating the SCA, on the grounds of recent "allegations" made by one of these absurd gentleman, who, it turns out, is doing a life sentence for taking out a particularly nasty hit on his wife, and who appears to make a hobby out of baroque and implausible conspiracy theories which attempt to exonerate him from his crime. Apparently I figured in the allegations, by name, as the kingpin of this secret organisation - good lord, I'm an Evil Overlord! - and the local Marshal as the top assassin who implements my Evil Overlordian plans.

In the event, the slightly bemused Intelligence officers appear to be quite happy to accept the letters as evidence of inmate criminal lunacy and various printouts, newsletters and websites as evidence of the SCA's fairly harmless medieval lunacy, and we can all go on our way rejoicing. But the episode has left me with two overwhelming impressions: (a) the life of a life-sentence prisoner must be a bleak and horrible thing from which extended fantasy is the only escape, and (b) the Internet has an awful lot to answer for.


Monday, 7 February 2005 05:40 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Good lord, but Cape Town is HORRIBLE at the moment. Temperatures around 35. I am a small, limp, melted puddle of thing. Admittedly, the headache/sore throat side order isn't helping any. Dinner in Primi Piatti last night was pleasant, but hot, unmitigated even by salads and frozen margaritas. Additionally, I have discovered in myself a devastating aversion to iceberg lettuce. It's weak and watery. Cos or butter, or nothing, say I!

My good friend Mich made my horrible heat-stressed day by sending me this. The Zogg are among us! Draining humans of their spinal nectar will build strength! Death to the Little Golden Book About God!

Have not played any ShadowMagic today, yay! Have not done any chapter updating today, boo! Have done DT and arbled around the library looking up stuff on medieval romance for my unsuspecting students. They are so getting Chretien de Troyes. Heh! So, overall score, sort of neutral. Things have been achieved, if not the things I should really have been achieving at the times I should have been achieving them. Story of my life.


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