freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Apparently you can take the girl out of the SCA, but... If you don't read Mallory Ortberg, on The Toast or on Twitter, you should, she offers an extremely high class of batshit lateral. The latest of hers to do the rounds, Two Medieval Monks Invent Bestiaries, is a particularly fine specimen. The traditional Earl Grey was snorted through the traditional nasal appendage.

I am still at home with bronchitis and a lovely, hacking cough which causes Hobbit to dash terrified from the room at frequent intervals. My nice doctor has torn her hair slightly, prescribed an asthma pump, and booked me off for the whole week. I am playing an awful lot of Inquisition. Random investigation (occasioned by a weird game corruption which Teh Internets seem to think is the result of having too many different saved games) suggests that I am not, in fact, powering my way through a fourth playthrough (Qunari mage, female, romancing Josie), it's actually my seventh1. I appear have spent a certain proportion of the last few months playing Inquisition in a fugue state. Also, I am now good enough at the damned thing that I'm wandering through on an elevated difficulty visiting areas in the wrong order so I fight things a good 6 or 7 levels higher than I am, and I'm still cremating them with some efficiency.

Finally, this blew my mind. Metallica cover, plunging me straight back into my Honours year, aargh nostalgia. All-girl band. Aged 9 to 14. Watch the drummer in particular, she's bloody good and she rocks.

1 Human rogue (dual wield), female, Cullen; Elven mage (rift mage), female, Solas; Human mage (knight enchanter), famale, Cullen; Elven warrior (sword/shield), male, Dorian; Elven rogue (archer), female, Cullen; Human mage (knight enchanter), male, Dorian. I am not, apparently, compelled to monogamy as much as I am in other iterations of Bioware games, although there's a certain Cullen and Dorian theme emerging. This is because Inquisition is beautifully written, far more so than earlier DAs, and I genuinely like and respect a much higher proportion of these people. (Dorian is entirely endearing, and Cullen's character arc over three games is very nicely drawn; both achieve the balance of damaged/conflicted with likeable which earlier DAs have largely flubbed). Next up, Dwarven rogue, female, (dual wield, still my favourite class), probably Sera. Blackwall annoys me and Iron Bull is frankly terrifying.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I went to an SCA event on Saturday for the first time in... ooh, count them, nearly five years. (The break-up post was here). Saturday's event was not actually me Getting Back Together With The SCA, it was a once-off, prompted by the serious award-collecting of three dear friends. Since some of you who read this are SCAdians, I shall take a paragraph to dance happily around, gloating, cheering and throwing flowers. Mairi Jean, Garsiyya and Katherine are now all Companions of the Order of the Pelican, generating a sudden and spontaneous mini-Pelican Circle in the midst of the Southern Tors. (Which is the new way that's emerged of talking about the Joburg and Cape Town groups, respectively Griffin's Tor and Adamastor, and is curiously catchy). The current Queen of Drachenwald came down for the event, but brought no feathered folk with her, so I was the only extant Pelican in a radius of approximately five thousand miles. Under these circumstances it was absolutely unthinkable for me not to be present for all the pomp and circumstance and heraldry and court invocations and also the hugging and crying and passing of tissues, which definitely happened.

I am so glad I was there, and so unbelievably happy that this incredibly well-deserved honour has been awarded my dear and hard-working friends. But it was so, so odd to be back in garb again, and speaking the language, and feeling the status, and taking onto myself all the weight of participation and organisation which was the cause, ultimately, of me leaving in the first place. The event ran from 10am until 5pm, with a picnic lunch and two courts; for the entire day I was pretty much in there with the organising, helping to put up tents, acting as lady-in-waiting to her Majesty, arranging court, arranging vigils, participating in the court ritual, and then getting stuck into clean-up afterwards. It was as if I'd never been away.

Several people asked, rather wistfully, if this meant that I'd be back for events in the future, and I fell over my own tongue trying to respond. Because, here's the thing. However good a day it was - and it was - and however much I still value the things the SCA stands for, it still messes with my head. I woke up on Sunday after a restless and insomniac night, and lay in bed aching in every muscle and with heavy-headed consciousness of bone-deep exhaustion, and thought, "Oh, right. That's why I gave this up." Honestly, I felt as thought I'd been binge drinking for twelve hours straight, despite the fact that no more than half a goblet of perry passed my lips the whole day. (And, thanks, Ameline, the perry was lovely!). I'm still considerably below par today, and my feet and ankles are a mess.

The problem is, I think, that events tire me way beyond the physical: they represent continual interaction, continual demands on my energy and input, at a level which exceeds several times over my actual capacity. Looking back at the time I decided to stop playing, it's pretty much at the time when I was realising that I was fighting chronic fatigue from the damned glandular fever. It's only become worse after last year's little medical contremps. And, simultaneously, it happened at the time when I accepted a full-time job which entails a large chunk of time interacting with people in various intense and demanding ways. If the SCA is about anything, it's about people. I ain't got no more people time in me, or mental energy for trying to reconcile the highly complicated constellation of enjoyment and input and obligations and work and pleasure and guilt and friends which makes up my possibly co-dependent relationship with the SCA.

I had fun on Saturday, and it was deeply satisfying both to be present for the awards and to see all these people again. (And, score! I actually still fit into most of my garb! Even if the rabbit-fur trim on that surcoat had Gone Evil and exploded into clouds of hair when looked at sternly, necessitating its summary removal). But I don't think I'll be back barring similar circumstances. Saturday was interesting because it demonstrated fairly ineluctably that leaving was the right decision. This makes me sad.
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Ghent is rather pleasingly prone to outbreaks of dogs and bicycles. I'm not sure what prompts the dogs, invariably cute and well-conducted specimens on leads, but they're entirely consonant with the pleasant, polite, slightly reserved demeanour of the Ghentians I've met. Bicycles are a key mode of transport; little flocks of them toddle past at all times, and pedestrians seem highly trained to avoid both cyclists and trams. The city doesn't seem to be laid out with cars in mind, they're forever piling up behind trams and stopping patiently for pedestrians in a generally subdued and reassuring way. The trams are cute, although it was a miracle I managed not to step on a rail and turn my ankle. I did witness a young lady run her bicycle wheel into a tram rail groove and come a spectacular cropper. Salutary.

I spent yesterday morning sight-seeing, including pottering around the Gravensteen, alias the Castle of the Counts, which is a rather touristy reconstruction of the original 12th-century castle.

It boasts rather a nice collection of medieval armour and weapons, which I spent unconscionable amounts of time with given that I'm no longer in the SCA. Possibly my roots are showing. But sixteenth-century crossbows are simply cool. It also has a rather lovely view of Ghent from the battlements:

I spent a happy hour or so wandering around Saint Bavo's Cathedral, drawn thither by the organist apparently practising. Medieval ecclesiastical architecture sets out to awe and overwhelm, and by gum it does its job. I didn't see the Van Eyck or Reubens, being not so much an art geek, but I love the soaring spaces and the mantle of hushed calm a cathedral wears. Also, several of its bishops park off on their tombs in an attitude of relaxed marble indolence, which always amuses me.

As is obligatory, I accompanied my Earl Grey (in a rather fairy-tale iron teapot) with a Belgian waffle with cream, partaken of at a café on the edge of the square. Belgian waffles have a curiously chewy surface to them, I suspect they're sugared, but they're substantial and very good. Memo to self: try to achieve soggy waffles for Jo by making giant fat ones.

I am now ensconced in a hotel in Brussels preparatory to flying to Manchester tomorrow morning, and then the Lake District. Achievement Unlocked: Ghent. I liked it.

beating up

Friday, 5 November 2010 01:18 pm
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So, I was grovelling around at [ profile] wolverine_nun's feet yesterday evening1, and she mentioned that my blog posts have been more upbeat in the last week or so, yay, but what's with that? Which, I have to admit, caused me to think in a vague, confused sort of way, "gosh, upbeat, is it? tell that to this week's long line of reproachful student zombies with the bite marks in their throats". But, as usual, she's right. I'm still not enamoured of this job, but it does go through a graceful sine wave of "aarghIhateit" in the troughs and "actuallyit'snottoobad"in the crests, and right now I'm cresting.

(In completely unrelated news, Wikipedia defines a sine wave as a "smooth repetitive oscillation", which is a groovy little phrase that for some reason makes me think of jazz, or possibly belly-dancing. Also, sine waves are sinusoidal, giving me a curious sense of affinity for them owing to the depredations of Sid).

I'm particularly up today. This is unlikely, because I finally woke up this morning having hit the snooze button three times in a row and gone straight back to being dead, and that usually means trouble of the bodysheisscratched variety (and, yup. An hour into the morning it was very obvious that someone socked me in the neck again, probably an annoyed student zombie on a revenge spree; I feel as though I haven't actually slept, and Sid is all rampageous). But, you know, this chronic glandular/sinusoid thing? It's very boring, but as a result of it being old hat, I'm also getting very good at managing it. It's like continually running into the same boring old school associate, with whom you have nothing in common, but whom politeness dictates you cannot get rid of until they've fully explored their designated fifteen minutes of narcissistic, irrelevant guff. You learn the topics to avoid, and the best techniques for slithering off early. This weekend I shall avoid heavy lifting, digging in the garden and going to bed too late, and shall attempt to be moderate on the alcohol front2.

I'm also up because yesterday I had one of those potentially annoying job-assessment interviews with my immediate boss (who is a Nice Lady, but it's an annoying process full of managerialspeak), and ended up bending things rather unexpectedly to my will. Part of the chronic illness management thing is not to overload myself. Orientation is the massive overload in my year, particularly because it coincides with my registration duties. Out of a general policy of why the hell not3, I told Ye Boss straightforwardly that it isn't working to have responsibility for both at once, and that ideally my job description should be rewritten to give my orientation subordinate the actual responsibility, with me assisting him in the academic bits. I expected an "interesting, will refer it to the relevant committees", instead of which I got "gosh, yes, makes perfect sense, that job description was a bit of a stab in the dark anyway, make it so." Yesterday I talked to said subordinate, who is quite revved up at the idea of taking over. Just like that, my working life is better, more rational, and more likely to give me the space to do the remaining bits of the job far more efficiently and well. Not to mention less exhaustion and more sanity, which is always good.

Also, it's Friday. Fridayfridayfriday! And Guy Fawkes. I love fireworks, even faintly in the distance.

1 Pinning up a Tudor hem. What?

2 I shall also focus intensely on the relief portion of the complex responses which make up my awareness of the fact that I'm not going to Here Be Dragons this weekend. Because? while I'm sad and miss it and my friends, that way deadness lies.

3 There is an unexpected level of sheer liberation in not being particularly invested in this job. It means I don't worry, beyond everyday politeness, about pissing people off as I go gung-ho after whatever I want to achieve. In the world of university bureaucracy this is a serious plus.

freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Fridays seem to be my Great Space of Extra Brainlessness, the week having tired me out to the point where I'm singularly lacking in inspiration. Particularly this week. Wayward Puppy alert!

  • I'm not entirely sure why it should be so utterly endearing of Joseph Gordon-Levitt to post the "Rainbow Connection" video on his Tumblr site, but it is. Also, everyone's Friday is better for the application of Kermit the Frog. I am now possessed of a desire to spend an hour or so teaching myself to play the song on my sadly-neglected piano, the chord progressions are interesting.

  • I don't participate in the SCA at the moment, and it's looking increasingly likely that I won't actually ever do so again, but most of my much-loved friends still play, and the whole unlikely edifice is still dear to my heart. So the current movement in one of the American kingdoms to change the rules to allow same-sex couples to enter Crown tourneys (and thus, by extension, to reign, although quite as what is unclear - King/Queen and consort? King/Queen and King/Queen?), has piqued my interest. I think it's an excellent idea, whose time has more than come, and they're going about it intelligently, rationally and with a refreshing lack of ideological froth. One bit of their well-argued manifesto completely cracked me up, however. They're responding to the idea that allowing same-sex entry could open a space for dedicated male fighters to game the system: if two straight male fighters pretend a same-sex relationship so both can fight in the tourney, they have a doubled chance at Crown. The manifesto's argument: "if two men are willing to take on the stigma of presenting as a same sex couple, it will likely be a profound learning experience for all involved." Hee. Damn straight. So to speak. I really, really wish some rhino-hide pair of manly fighters would try it, because I'd love to watch the resulting psycho-social repercussions. Fight a mile in someone else's shoes, why don't you.

  • I finished watching Season 5 of STNG last night, and am impressed. There were really some excellent episodes in the season, it's probably the best so far, even with its distressingly lowered levels of Wesley (token disapproving growl). The writers seem to have hit their stride and are doing very, very interesting thematic things - Picard as father and grandfather on a backwater planet, the whole examination of Starfleet and duty in Wesley's screw-up at the academy, the fascinating linguistic games in "Darmok", the mind-rape in "Violations", the implications of an isolated Borg - chewy, thoughtful stuff. There's also a strengthening in narrative shape and innovation - I loved the disaster-movie and time-loop episodes, and the really sneaky alien attack in "Conundrum". Am a happy, happy Trekkie, save for the sad realisation that I have only two seasons left to watch. Sigh.

  • Of course you all know this because you all read boingboing, but the Google instant version of Tom Lehrer's elements is brilliant.

  • Tonight the Salty Cracker Club hits Bizerca. For no adequately defined reason, stv has promised to dress as an Amazon. I can't wait.
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Oh, thank Morpheus, my dreams are back. I've always dreamed very vividly and tended to remember them in the morning, and they usually have a more or less coherent narrative thread (studying fairy tale will do that to your subconscious) and, while not quite in the Ursula Vernon category of surreal, a plethora of bizarre and unlikely elements. But they've been in abeyance over the last couple of years; I'm not sure if this is because I've been working as an administrator full time and it's killing my imagination, or because I've been stressed to hell and back because of my dad, or if it's something as mundane as the fact that I've been waking up earlier with an alarm clock and it's disrupting the cycle so I don't remember them. I'm inclining to the last because for the last couple of months I've given up on going to work really early, owing to sinus and glandular wossnames and a concomitant really crying need for sleep, and the vivid dream life is slowly trickling back. (Then again, I'm also lecturing on vampires and fanfic, so perhaps it's about the imaginative life after all).

I am now blogging said dreams because [ profile] wolverine_nun says I have to, and wolverine nuns are scary. I shall also cut them, as they run to the slightly epic and not everyone actually enjoys wading through other people's subconscious impulses. (I love it. Does that make me weird?) Dreams To Follow )

In completely unrelated news, I've been doing the last remnants of tidying up after the Renovations Of Doom, and have realised I have probably four or five 14th-century SCA outfits which I am not going to wear any time soon, if at all given that if I ever drift back to the SCA I bet my body shape will have changed completely. Since even hanging on to my two favourite outfits Just In Case takes up a whack of space, I need to get shot of the extras asap. Do any of you SCA hordes want them personally? Several cotton underdresses, several sideless surcoats. If not, who's currently in charge of Gold Key?
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Hmmm. Never let the Cosmic Wossnames think you think they've cut you a break. I was rejoicing in the rain, and thinking that although there is an insane number of things I have to do before Tuesday I could just about fit it all in, and then I suddenly discovered that the guest lecture on The Wizard of Oz I thought I was giving next semester ... is on Tuesday. I have had to bribe the Nicest Ex-Supervisor In The World with gin to let me off the lecture, because? no way. I can't even find time in the next few days to watch the film, let alone think up 45 mins of intelligent things to say about it. Curse you, Cosmic Wossnames! *shakes tiny fist*

On the upside, I am onto the last chapter in these book updates, and [ profile] mac1235, ace demon evil pirate downloader, has found me a totally illegal bootleg copy of Enchanted, which I plan to watch, digest and regurtitate on Sunday, which means I may (and I whisper this behind my hand, so the Cosmic Wossnames don't hear) submit this book to deadline. I hope it has redeeming features as a movie, since my Lawful Good alignment dictates I'll have to go and buy the bloody thing as soon as the DVD is released, on account of the guilt.

Oh, and anyone who isn't yet signed up for Tor's free e-book offer? Do so at once, you dingbat. (Epithet void where prohibited by lack of sf-fandom). The recent offering is Jo Walton's Farthing, which is a totally chilling piece of alternate history - Nazi Germany takes over Europe but makes peace with Britain. Lots of proto-fascism, discrimination against Jews and gays, and period country-house-party shenanigans. Very nicely done, surprisingly enjoyable given that it's the kind of heavily political writing I usually thoroughly despise. The characters leap out and bite you. Next week's download is Tobias Bucknell, who is apparently very good indeed.

Now off to make ginormous shopping list preparatory to achieving provisions necessary for a three-course Elizabethan meal for 35, which I'm cooking tonight and tomorrow as a sort of SCA swan-song. Wish me luck!

across the universe

Thursday, 21 February 2008 07:19 am
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You know, I meant to rant about students and adolescent narcissism and what have you, but in fact I think this is just about people. Why is it that you can spend fifteen minutes patiently explaining to someone that the system does not permit them to have what they want, and have them ask at the end, "But can I have what I want?" Humanity's sense of entitlement boggles my mind. (Not to mention its ability to close its ears to unpalatable truths). I bet you orang-utans wouldn't hanker after an Economics major when they clearly don't have the maths. I am also coming reluctantly to realise that my alignment is probably, despite all attempts to the contrary, Lawful Good.

While on the subject of exactly the opposite, I feel I need to record for posterity the at best Chaotic Neutral attempts of the actors involved to turn my small, rather silly SCA medieval miracle play thingy into an even more bastardised version of itself. To date, apart from the Shylock impersonations, this includes William Shatner impersonations, the suggestion that we wander a clearly lost and confused Captain Kirk across the back of a scene depicting Da Gama's landing in the Cape, and a demand for tribbles. Onna stick. You can see the theme here. I remain firm in the face of this relentless Trekkism, looking at no culprit in particular. ([ profile] first_fallen!)

And, in the Department of Random Linkery Especially For [ profile] librsa: Bookhunter! With SWAT team librarians, mysterious book robberies, forensic binding experts and incredible gun battles in libraries! Pleasingly deadpan.

Last Night I Dreamed: I was in charge of a whole school full of little boys, in a huge, concrete-block sort of building up on the side of a mountain somewhere. Also present were two beautiful little Indian girls who were under some kind of threat from Unspecified Evil Out To Get Them. Fortunately all the little boys were adepts with a weird sort of martial art that involved skimming small, flat stone circles (like mini UFOs) capable of stunning people when they hit. We set up watches to protect the girls through the night. Later I was taking part in a mad fantasy war, assisting my brother, who was a prince over several island cities protected by dragons. There was a volcano, and baths in associated hot springs.
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So, it's been this torrid, ten-year, slightly obsessive romance. It has required enormous amounts of my energy to start a relationship from nothing: woo the other, learn their ways, keep the interest going, make it work. I wouldn't say it's a break-up, precisely, but I'm realising, more and more, that the relationship is not healthy: I'm feeling these interactions as demands on me, and I'm starting to resent them to a quite disturbing extent. I'm not saying it's over between me and the SCA, but it's no longer satisfying for either of us, and at the very least I need a time out.

I have, of course, been moving towards this for the last year or so, during which the melt-down in my career has taken a quite inordinate amount of my mental energy: now I have a new job, which is not only demanding but is not quite the job I want, and which still takes ongoing mental negotiation to keep me from hair-tearing and the wringing of hands. I'm still not in a space where I can say I'm where I want to be, or have achieved most of the things I need to achieve. I am serious about keeping up the research and writing on top of an admin job, and that's going to take a lot of energy. I'm also horribly conscious of the fact that the lack of success in my career is at least partly because I've always given so much energy to things like roleplaying and the SCA. They've been truly wonderful experiences, but I should have been more moderate. There is also a truly sad corollary that that kind of hobby does me an active disservice in the eyes of my academic peers: every time I'm in public in garb, I find myself dreading an encounter with a colleague. Insecurity is an awful thing.

The problem with the SCA is that I was a founder member of our Shire, and have only really been absent from officer positions in the last year or so: I relate to it in terms of an ongoing sense of responsibility which leads me to volunteer to do things when I know I don't have the time or energy. (The consciousness of being a gosh-darned Pelican really doesn't help with this). We're a tiny group so the organisational work habitually devolves onto the shoulders of a few energetic people, and I beat myself up with extended guilt trips about the added pressure on everyone else if I opt out. This means it's a no-win situation - either I get involved and feel resentful about it, or I don't, and resent the bad feelings I inflict on myself.

I've stepped back a bit from the SCA lately, but it clearly hasn't been enough: stepping away entirely is, I think, a necessary thing to break these negative patterns, but it's going to be horribly hard. The local SCA crowd are among my closest and most valued friends, responsible for wonderful experiences and memories, and I already feel that my reluctance to involve myself is on some level a betrayal of them. Half of them are cheerily managing careers and young families on top of their SCA activities, and it makes me feel particularly useless and feeble to say "I can't do this." But I honestly can't. I can't seem to stop myself from volunteering, so I need to not be taking part at all, at least for a bit.

We have this big March event with overseas visitors who are particularly dear to me, and I shall do my best to fulfill my obligations for that. After that, I'm packing up and moving out, muttering things about "clean break" and "when I have my head together". It's going to be a horrible scene, probably with me in tears. I hope the SCA doesn't throw things.

Last Night I Dreamed: diverse and confused things. Trying to rent a house from someone's particularly mad and demanding mother. Being at a large partyish thing and carrying around someone's rather cute baby boy, occasionally upside down or in the bottom of my handbag. Rescuing people from a burning skyscraper, in the middle of which I was also trying to help a couple of confused academics interpret mystic Chinese semaphore, and realising that I had to go home to change because I was not formally enough dressed for the wedding. Possibly I shouldn't eat a portion of Bubbling Chocolate Tar-pit Death just before going to bed.


Wednesday, 3 October 2007 07:33 am
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I have to say thank-you to everyone for the expressions of sympathy over Fishie. I've very much appreciated it.

I'm more or less buried in marking at the moment. The latest batch was Lewis Carroll, which has led to an interestingly irreverent comparison. In Looking Glass Alice has to help Tweedledum and Tweedledee prepare for their battle:
...the two brothers ... returned in a moment with their arms full of things - such as bolsters, blankets, hearth-rugs, tablecloths, dish-covers and coal-scuttles. "I hope you're a good hand at pinning and tying things?" Tweedledum remarked. "Every one of these things has to go on, somehow or other."
Alice said afterwards she had never seen such a fuss made about anything in her life - the way those two bustled about - and the quantity of things they put on - and the trouble they gave her in tying strings and fastening buttons - "Really they'll be more like bundles of old clothes than anything else, by the time they're ready!" she said to herself...
I am reminded of nothing so much as SCA heavy fighting.

Department of Random Linkery: Stephen Fry blogs! Recking not the common ways of bloggery, he writes extended essays, beautifully and humanly, a persona both intelligent and empathetic. His latest one on fame is interesting: one has to like a celebrity who's aware of "how much courage it takes for a member of the public to approach a famous person".

Last Night I Dreamed: another of those mad fantasy quests, this time a sort of computer-game scenario in which I was hunting treasure with the aid of a magic sword/torch thingy whose beam revealed enchanted items. I ended up rescuing an imprisoned thunder god from a cellar beneath a shack inhabited by thieves. While I fled with the god my allies blew up the shack, causing a giant fireball that sent tongues of flame to chase us across the countryside. Fortunately the god could summon water, and we survived.

The night before there were huge caverns in a mountain, inhabited by goblins and their slaves, from whom I had to escape. I suspect this may all be about the Horrible Pile of Marking...

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Gawsh. There are blisters on the soles of my feet, burns on my fingers and a sort of aching exhaustion in every bone of my body. It must have been a major SCA event. Have been cooking, or performing associated heavy lifting, since Thursday lunchtime. Am dead. On the upside, it was a good event, and the Shire evinced a gratifying tendency to enthusiastically inhale the pear cheesecake. On the downside, I got back at lunchtime today and have been marking *7%%^#&%^ essays all afternoon. The deadness is not assisting.

Two random happinesses which have resulted from this particular excursion:

1. In the supermarket on Thursday, while standing meditatively in the vegetable aisle contemplating the theoretical quantity of baby marrow likely to be consumed by 27 people as one fifth of a second course, a little old lady, of the tiny, genteel, birdlike variety, all pearls, immaculate white hair, and high Edwardian necklines, accosted me politely.
"Does that say R19.99 per kilogram?" she asked sweetly, indicating the superbly overpriced tomatoes blushing on an adjacent shelf.
"Indeed it does," I confirmed, switching my attention momentarily away from marrows.
"Well, stuff them!" she chirped. Then she gave this marvellously wicked and conspiratorial giggle, like a well-behaved schoolgirl who's suddenly been offered alcohol and sex by the curate they've been crushing on, and toddled demurely away.
I think I want to be one of those when I grow up. Except the word will be considerably more Anglo-Saxon than "stuff".

2. I'd forgotten how much I loved driving on the open road. I was alone in the car (except for food and cooking paraphernalia), and she went like a bomb. The trip up was in heavyish rain, fog and darkness, which for some bizarre reason I really enjoyed. The trip back was on a beautiful day, through the lovely scenery around Sir Lowry's Pass. I passed three Mercedes, two big gas-guzzling 4x4s, and a truly irritating road-hogging dude in a BMW convertible. It's a fortunate thing my car doesn't go any faster, I suffer from an unregenerate urge to drive like a bat out of hell. But it was one of those fated, magical trips, where speed and scenery coalesce into this little moving bubble of happy being.

My dad has been a maddened falconer since early youth, and exhibits a worrying tendency while driving to crane his neck out the window to look for falcon nests on passing stretches of likely cliff. I have a sort of weird semi-inheritance of this trait, except I crane my neck while driving to look at particularly spectacular displays of clouds. On extreme occasions, I celebrate the freedom of driving alone by stopping the car to randomly photograph them. Then I blog the result.

le weekend

Sunday, 3 June 2007 12:59 pm
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Things achieved this weekend:
  • marking of the last few vampire essays (v. bad);
  • one SCA event including singing (nice event, got bitten on the thumb by a candlestick, making it difficult to hold a pen; singing OK except for me, as this cold has given me a frog in my tonsils and then chased it backwards down my throat like a small dog down a rabbit hole);
  • survival of one day of the random post-glandular exhaustion (yesterday);
  • possibly not unrelated to said exhaustion, the reading of three Stephanie Plum novels (much fun of a guilty nature) and Scott Westerfield's Uglies (good, review to follow).
Things not achieved this weekend:
  • the marking of the medieval romance essays, which I'd planned to have finished by tonight (not even started, although I note with pleasure that the top essay in the pile has chosen to compare Sir Launfal with Han Solo, there's hope for undergrads yet);
  • anything more than a few guilty thoughts towards book updates;
  • any more watching of Heroes, which is annoying as I'm a few episodes from the end and the suspense is killing me;
  • anything much.
Obligatory Random Linkery: "The Life and Work of Godfrey Winton: A Panel Discussion on One of Science Fiction’s Lost Masters." A lovely exercise in deadpan, very similar in tone to my favourite piece of Lovecraftian nonsense, which I blogged about ages ago (and which, I now realise, I should have recalled when posting randomly about squirrels).

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Some Items Of Interest:1
  • The builders arrived this morning, and within 2 minutes of taking possession of my poor denuded bedroom, had placed three heavy scaffolding planks squarely down upon the small, struggling Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow bush I have been carefully nurturing for the last eighteen months. On the upside, they've boarded up the door between my bedroom and study, which means that not only am I insulated from the dust and slightly from the noise, but for the first time ever I have room to put up my giant Aragorn poster.
  • This afternoon's Shire meeting only actually caused me to bite through my pen in homicidal range once (the Usual Suspect doing his usual complete failure to listen to anyone else in favour of the conversation going on inside his own head), although this may be because I'd thoughtfully loaded myself with codeine beforehand, and was thus functioning through a sort of serene fog.
  • It's official: if you're under even a few millimetres of snow at the moment, I hate you. I really hate you. I am staggering zombie-like through 38-degree heat, wishing I could simply curl up and die. The guest room, where I am currently sleeping under a sheet because anything more is too hot, is also stuffy and I can't sleep properly. Meep.
  • [ profile] wytchfynder may hate Belle & Sebastian (hock! shorror!) but I'm still addicted, to the point where I really need to go and acquire a different album, I'm overplaying the three I have.
  • All of the above notwithstanding, this morning I put a stake through the heart of the horrible undead Chapter 1 updates. Go me.
1 Possibly. If you like this kind of thing. Or are having a really dull Saturday.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Right. Having spent most of today wrestling with the undead, shambling horror that is Chapter 1, I have achieved the following:
  • A completely restructured chapter outline which, by means of actually presenting a coherent argument, makes considerably more sense. Now I just have to write the damned thing;
  • A new, hitherto-undiscovered A.S. Byatt article which incidentally makes exactly one of the points I'm trying to make, only more coherently;
  • Eventually, after over an hour of fruitless internet searches and swearing, the grudging acknowledgement that an obscure English journal from the 70s does actually exist, and that at least one South African university possesses the issue with the Italo Calvino article I badly need;
  • a headache.
As a reward for all of the above, I shall now proceed to review Lemony Snicket. Don't read this if you object to lit-babble, genre-fondling or cruelty to children. )

Rather a mad weekend overall, with overseas visitors and an SCA event, and a more than usually off-the-wall Sunday evening with jo&stv. I am pleased to report the wild successes of [ profile] wolverine_nun's Nice Husband, who not only copped an extremely well-deserved award at the event, but also seriously kicked butt in the heavy tourney. It's always pleasing to feel that a Political Point Has Been Made in support of one's own opinions without one having to actually get involved. Heh.

variously social

Sunday, 29 October 2006 03:44 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
My wretched, wretched subconscious is trying to tell me something again. Last night it once more presented me with the image of the Bastard Ex-Boyfriend From Hell in my grandparents' garden, at a wedding. This time I wasn't actually marrying him, praise the gods and little fishes, but was making my way across the garden towards him with the fixed purpose of speaking to him (something I've deliberately avoided for about eight years) and achieving some kind of reconciliation. In the League of Really Bad Ideas this is nowhere near up there with actually marrying the bastard, but it's still a Really Bad Idea. Come on, subconscious, give over! I have no idea what you're trying to get at. Yours, confused.

The much-feared Viking Feast took place yesterday, but fortunately turned out to be a pleasantly informal sort of braai affair, refreshingly free from political incident other than a bracing private half-hour of gossip and hate anger speech with [ profile] wolverine_nun. I am developing a theory of Political Circumnavigation, which entails ignoring, avoiding or carefully removing oneself from the vicinity of political issues. Sticking one's head in the sand is also a valid technique. Or quietly lopping the heads off transgressors.

Now off to the ballet courtesy of [ profile] khoi_boi's nice wife. Since I have a particularly epic instance of pounding headache this morning and am even more doped to the gills than usual on painkillers, I feel I am in absolutely the ideal space to sit gazing blankly at all the pretty moving figures.


Monday, 2 October 2006 12:53 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
OK, I give up. This body is simply defective, and its shortcomings must be addressed. Instead of coughing, sneezing, sniffling, languishing about with a headache, continually prodding the sore glands in my neck in an exploratory fashion, doping all of above all hopefully with random drugs and whinging about the whole shebang on a more or less ongoing basis, I'm going to hunt down a new doctor, and, backing her against the wall, demand a miracle NOW! This very afternoon. As the dreaded [ profile] wytchfynder says, dichotomous possiblity and stern resolve. I will get a doctor's appointment or shut up. Bored now. Also, head hurts. Send chocolate.

The event was fun, featuring a bunch of youngish newbies who all bucketed about the show with indecent amounts of energy and coltish enthusiasm, making me feel old, bad and glad all at once. Tally for the weekend includes the following.
  • Meals cooked by me personally: 2.
  • Meals cooked by me personally and subsequently consumed utterly by hordes: 1.2. (Memo to self, final lunch can consist of a stale crust and two peas, people by that stage are generally too full to move).
  • Additional meals assisted at by me: 4, suggesting you can't keep a compulsive cook down even when she's not technically in charge.
  • Number of weird and hitherto-unknown medieval poetry set-forms imparted to a stunned populace: 5. (Sestinas. Is it just me, or are sestinas fundamentally crazed?).
  • Number of explosive sneezes marking my progress, presumably in place of personal herald with trumpet: approx. 597.
  • Number of consumptive coughing fits: 6.
  • Number of more-or-less alcoholic giggling sessions with some combination of [ profile] wolverine_nun, [ profile] first_fallen and [ profile] khoi_boi: 7.
  • Number of actual third-year essays marked in odd corners: 7 (go me!).
  • Number of cats still present and correct on return: 4 (go the Friendly Psychologist, who was cat-sitting).
It was a good weekend. But I think I'd still rather have been at home. Then again, this may be the headache talking.

In other news, in the Department of Random Functional Owl Collecting, I think I may want me a silver one of these.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Off for a weekend-long SCA event, almost immediately. Either I'm getting too old for this, or I'm still somewhat post-lurgified, but I find my feet rooting themselves more and more firmly to the floor as I dash around preparing, resulting in a sort of reluctant shuffle. I know it'll be a fun weekend with people of whom I am very fond, but there's a substantial chunk of my psyche that wants to be quietly at home, writing things, planting herbs, running up huge dial-up bills and talking to the cats.*

Help! when did I turn into an eccentric spinister granny? memo to self: next time, just say "no" to the Granny Weatherwax.

See y'all later.

* Oh, yes, and catching up on the huge pile of marking I didn't do last weekend owing to being a temporary plague-pit lacking both energy and brain.

p.s. In my absence, stock up. (This is cute, if curiously pointless).
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
To internet connectivity, that is. CMOS battery failure confirmed, blessings on the head of jo&stv, who, despite lurgification of epic proportions, unearthed and lent me one of their elderly laptops which, after much sweet talking yesterday, I have persuaded to connect to the Internet. I feel less grumpy already. I think, though, that the overall character of this laptop is a bit curmudgeonly - it does stuff, but reluctantly, as though I'm hoiking it out of its rocking chair and forcing it to totter across the porch. It possibly detects that I am not generally a laptop-using lifeform and don't speak the language. Admittedly, the ten-minute search for the "@" sign was a bit of a dead giveaway. (They've swopped the " and @! How counter-intuitive is that?)

I believe that [ profile] wolverine_nun has sent a blow-by-blow account of the Shire Conflict Resolution Meeting, Part 2, to interested parties, and I suspect she'd be more coherent than I was. I achieved an almost zen state of detatchment from the proceedings by doping myself to the gills on muscle relaxants half an hour before, and was able to parse a degree of egotism, wilful misunderstanding, manipulation and power-tripping from certain parties which under other circumstances would have had me incoherent with rage. One of the participants evinced a stunning ability, one I suspect has been honed through a lifetime of boardroom ducking and diving, to simply refuse to take responsibility for anything, mostly by dint of suggesting, with a completely spurious air of wounded innocence, that the really difficult questions were simply not relevant to the current discussion. I have to admit I was taking notes: watch out, English dept.

Cooks' Guild last night, with addition of (a) Bombay Sapphire, thanks to w-n's Nice Man, and (b) a newcomer who bears an uncanny and striking resemblance to [ profile] bumpycat. Military gear, short haircut and general air of sweetness. This is not, may I add, an excuse for bumpy not to come back to CT. Au contraire.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
... you vaguely summarise Tolkien's arguments against visual or dramatic fairy tale in two sentences, from memory, then come all over insecure and check it in the actual text, only to:
(a) open the book randomly at precisely the right page first go, without checking, and
(b) discover that your vague from-memory summary is exact, accurate and succinct.

I want a proper lecturing post now. I'm all growed up, I am. Either that, or I'm channelling Tolkien, in which case I've got it made. LotR: The Sequel. Now with more naked Legolas. And, I would imagine, some seriously interesting side-effects (squinting, grunts) as I wrestle my possessing spirit into submission.

Shire political meltdown update: conflict resolution session yesterday. Results:
  • Lots of things written down, stuck to the walls and reshuffled;
  • a new dismissive catch-phrase among my immediate social circle ("Well, you can just write that down and stick it to the wall");
  • running an hour and a half over time;
  • me leaving the room twice because I was too angry to trust myself to speak or stay silent;
  • a great deal of self-justification, stubborn adherence to personal viewpoints, misunderstanding, refusal to actually listen, and anger;
  • my undying admiration for [ profile] khoi_boi's wife;
  • some slight advances towards honesty and dialogue, but no actual resolution, so we have to do the whole thing again on Friday.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
*sigh* I spoke too soon. The Shire political meltdown has recuscitated. Fur is flying, and the whole thing has taken off into the realm of macho martial muscle-flexing. ([ profile] khoi_boi, I love you dearly but I really don't think you're helping). My headache is back.

On the other hand, I spent a happy and instructive morning reading X-Men comics. They really have a lovely naivety about them - no sex, only clean injury or angst, and no innocent bystanders harmed. The captioning has at times this amazingly over-the-top melodrama to it, which I keep mentally hearing in a sort of fruity announcer's voice: "Can our heroes survive the stupendous force of a thousand suns?!?". Great fun. Plus, costumed superheroes, villains, inter-galactic wossname - how wrong can you go? There's something basically innocent about superheroes, when you get down to it: it's making me look forward even more to Superman Returns next week.

Henry Jenkins, my favourite academic critic in the fan fiction arena, has recently started a personal blog (in sharp contradistinction to all the blog columns he runs for various organisations. This man is not only culturally sussed, he's basically hyperactive). He has an interesting discussion of Joss Whedon's tactical errors in Serenity, here.


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