freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Annoying day is annoying. Students are disorganised and late and don't read or listen properly, and think they are entitled to whatever they want. There is a certain vindictive satisfaction in forcing them to come to terms with reality (for their own good! because helicopter parents can't shield them indefinitely from the Total Perspective Vortex), but it's exhausting. On the other hand, cute wol is cute.


I feel better now.

diamond dogs

Tuesday, 21 September 2010 08:06 am
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
There's a new OK Go music video. I disseminate it mostly for stv, because it's full of incredibly cute, happy and well-trained dogs. And a goat. Watch out for the goat. (The goat's for [ profile] schedule5).

I love OK Go.

In other news, I am eating strawberries and cream for breakfast. Half of this is to content my mother's desire for me to eat more fruit in the pursuit of not having a body that is scratched more often than not. The other half is sheer decadence.

L-I-O-N .... mole?

Saturday, 11 September 2010 01:30 pm
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It's a beautiful spring day in Cape Town, and the intermittent sneezing which attends this time of year (I think it's the oak trees which fling pollen at me) has backed off a little, hooray. We've just been out to Tokai to the whole-earth market, which is full of excellent food and friendly people. There's a foot-high pile of as-yet-unmarked Frankenstein test scripts reproaching me, but I'm happy, at peace, noodling around on the internet for an hour or so before I stock up on Earl Grey and face my doom.

So I'm sitting at my desk, and I hear a cat yowling somewhere in the house.
"Gosh, someone's caught something," I think vaguely, employing my Universal Cat Translator skills.
I wander into the passage and Ounce streaks past me in his usual oh-god-oh-god-you're-about-to-kill-and-eat-me fashion.
"Hmmm", I think.
I do a quick spot search, but finding no felines in possession of small almost-corpses of the bird or rodent variety, I go back to Echo Bazaar.

I am interrupted by a rhythmic clicking sound. I look around vaguely, but can't place it. It sounds mechanical, like a wind-up toy. A moment later, the furry, rather rectangular form of a perfectly live and unharmed mole comes trundling into my study, its toenails clicking on the floorboards, chuffing along like a clockwork train. Not a big one - probably 10-12 cms long. They do this thing where, being blind, they quarter the house by means of running along the skirting boards, doing a perfect outline of each room in search of holes or soil.

I am adept at this by now, having learned the skills in sheer desperation after That Time That One Mole Went To Ground Under The Piano and we couldn't retrieve it for giggling. I head it off at the pass from a foray under the guest room cupboard, swathe it in a towel very quickly and dump it into an empty wastepaper basket, where it continues to trundle around in a tight circle, slightly hopelessly but with undiminished energy. (I'd grab it in my bare hands, which I do with mice, but you can't with moles, they twist around in your hands with surprising agility and bite like furry little psychotics).

I cannot sufficiently stress how incredibly cute these things are. They're tiny, very solidly built and give an amazing illusion of squareness under the short, fine, silky grey fur - they must be almost entirely composed of muscle, which is probably why the cats never actually seem to injure them or attempt to eat them. Their tiny eyes are invisible, buried under a white blaze of fur over each eye; the little pink nose and paws protrude from the fur with ineffable cuteness. The most endearing thing, though, is the way they move - very quick, businesslike, efficient, with that suggestion of artificial motion. When I released it across the road it vanished almost immediately into a pile of sand like some sort of automatic digging machine, with its little round mole-butt protruding for an instant before it wriggled out of sight.

This is a very bad photo, because it was going round and round and round without actually stopping at any point, and most of the shots I took are a sort of streaky blur thing. Also, it kept trying to climb up the wire mesh of the wastepaper basket, so I had limited time - and hands - for photographs. But you can see the pink nose/feet.

(For the confused, my subject line is, of course, a Goon Show quote.)
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
We've been a scannerless house for a few years, and I finally caved and acquired the cheapest scanner I could find, the better to facilitate various French legal document-providing wossnames as well as my obsessive blogging pursuits. Ceremonially, I have scanned the first photo. Inevitably, it's a wol.

This is Fred Wol, a family pet for most of my high school career and into my university days. She was one of a pair of spotted eagle owl chicks who were dumped in my dad's lap when the parents were stoned to death by the locals (there are huge tribal superstitions among the Shona about owls, they're supposed to be evil). We christened the chicks Fat Fred and Slim Jim, more or less randomly on the basis of size difference - Fred was the female, which in birds of prey are usually larger. They both grew to adulthood and remained hopelessly imprinted on humans and more or less tame. They used to fly around the garden and come in for their supper at night; we moved house at least once with them hooting indignantly in boxes. Jim unfortunately flew into a phone line and killed himself, but Fred stuck around for years, finding a wild mate despite the imprinting, and raising several generations of chicks on the workbench in my dad's shed. I cherish very happy memories of her coming into the house in the mornings when she was broody, stomping down the passage with her rolling sailor gait, going "hoo hoo hoo" to herself, and trying to nest in my mother's cupboard in the remains of a straw hat. The photo shows her sitting on the old wooden chairs on the front patio. Spotted eagle owls are large, substantial-looking birds, and incredibly light to pick up. Fred would usually let you, although she would be rather talkative about it.

Owl chicks are incredibly ugly and very, very cute, with legs like fluffy tree trunks. This is a scan of a very old and faded black and white photo of Fred and Jim I found in my dad's stuff - they're on the shelf on the verandah where they used to live. The indignant look is more or less endemic.

I have been privileged to live with wols; an owl calling at night can still move me to tears. Also, I love my scanner.
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Hmmm. Another addition to the disgracefully long list of Things That Randomly Make Me Cry: baby moose playing in the spray during a heatwave. Apparently.

The Evil Landlord has given me his bloody cold. 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.
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My favourite Xmas moment for 2007: my Evil Landlord gave me a set of kitchen knives, lovely ones in a bamboo stand. The gift tag was two plasters, with "TEH DOC" scrawled across their back in marker pen. I think stv's getting to him. But I went "awwwww".

Also, my niece in a bucket on the patio, circa Xmas day. She's insanely cute, and also at certain angles disturbingly identical to me at that age.

Thanks to all the Boxing Day braai attendees, it was an extremely pleasantly relaxed occasion despite slightly mad quantities of people. You should have stuck around for the aftermath, which was entertaining: me attempting to stop my mother from doing the washing up. This is basically futile, and we ended up in Twin Sink Mayhem, ripping through the debris in short order in a side-by-side mutual attempt to reduce the amount done by the other. Duelling banjos have nothing on us.

Last Night I Dreamed: vividly enough that I woke myself up at 2am replying to the loud statement I damned well heard from the mad old bat next door, although I think it was a particularly vivid dream. She said something like "Aren't you done yet?", implying that I should have been doing something rather than sleeping peacefully. I think I mendaciously shouted something like "Almost finished!" before realising I was dreaming. Then I couldn't get back to sleep for hours. Consequently a bit frayed today. Also sore from Gym, The Return.

slightly sadistic

Monday, 22 October 2007 11:27 am
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
My favourite World Cup1 story: one of the parents of the Toddler Horde2 yesterday was limping rather severely. His wife, in tones of miff, was recounting to all comers the source of the injury. Hubby, plus two friends (also male), allowed themselves to become (predictably) very inebriated during the World Cup. Afterwards, in celebration of our victory, all three of them climbed exuberantly on top of their car and jumped madly to the ground. Result (respectively): one sprained ankle, one dislocated knee, one broken leg. I bet they feel silly.

In other news, Da Niece is cute.

Pics up on Flickr. Readers who are not actually members of my immediate fambly are to feel free to ignore this completely. Instead, courtesy of thakaryn, here's a cute cat cartoon:

1 Nice that we won, but rather a boring game, all thumping pile-ups for two-inch progressions, no running. I do like watching rugby players run.

2 I survived! Even the psychological scarring was minimal.

several things

Sunday, 26 November 2006 03:37 pm
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1. Tokara. Now starring as my favourite Cape Town restaurant, not that it's actually in Cape Town, but hey. Stunning setting and views down the valley from the head of the Helshoogte Pass above Stellenbosch. Incredible food. The red wine sauce on the fillet of beef was possibly the best I've ever tasted. Thanks, Tinnimentum. You can visit any time.

2. Chuzzle. Aaargh! the cute! Little fuzzy things that meep and quiver and make adorable noises when lined up and exploded! The addiction!

3. The book. Still have not eradicated the major logic flaws in Chapter 1, on account of how they're buggers. The chapter, however, is now shot through with little yellow comment boxes all saying things like "This is bollocks, rewrite." I suppose it's progress, of a sort.


Monday, 10 April 2006 09:57 am
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Our nice cleaning lady has just wandered in and informed me that there's a strange grey cat sleeping on the Evil Landlord's bed. This is, in fact, Ounce, who has developed neurosis and rapid stealth response to the point that, although said cleaning lady has worked for us for eight years and Ounce has lived with us for about five of them, this is the first time she's seen him. She was worried that perhaps a neighbourhood cat had snuck in. Ounce's default position is to assume that any member of the human race, aside from the Evil Landlord, is about to kill and eat him. Despite the fact that I'm the one who feeds him approximately 50% of the time, he still suspects I might do this anyway. He has "cower and run" down to a fine art. It's very depressing, and tends to make me insecurely worry that I've been accidentally killing and eating him in my sleep on a regular basis.

The LARP on Saturday went surprisingly well, given that we had two last-minute player pull-outs, and one absolute all-time horror of a casting error. A player who I usually blacklist on the grounds of his total incompetence signed up under his e-mail pseudonym, and no-one realised it was him. It was a nasty shock when he turned up, and he played appallingly, but we were able to brief his allies to take up the slack.

I am forced to conclude, however, that the Younger Generation of roleplayers are tragically missing a very essential trait for LARPing, viz. basic nastiness. That has to be the most cute and cuddly version of that LARP I have ever run. People were handing over concessions and making agreements left, right and centre without much thought for their own goals and desires. There was none of the horse-trading, back-stabbing and sneaky manipulation for which the LARP was designed. I am forced to the horrifying conclusion that this damned New South African liberal democracy thing is gradually rotting the brains of the young, to the point where each year is more wishy-washy, non-confrontational and conciliatory than the last*. I forsee a horrible time, ten years down the line, where they're all too feeble to LARP at all, and Old LARP Designers can only sit around, gnashing their evil reactionary teeth and writing scenarios full of labyrinthine villanies which no-one will ever play.**

Also, the Younger Roleplaying Crowd has, somewhere along the line, missed out on the vital piece of brainwashing which says it's important to turn up to a LARP in costume. About a third of them did. Honestly, I despair of the younger generation, she says, rocking away ferociously in her rocking chair.

* Either that, or consumer culture is slowly leaching from them the last vestiges of individuality. I'm sure roleplayers had more personality in my day. *waves walking stick around toothlessly*
** We'll probably have to export them all to America, which seems to be settling nicely into polarised value judgement. Although their rampant consumerism is even worse, so it'll be pale, characterless ghosts savagely espousing bigoted views. Fear.

ickle firsties

Friday, 10 February 2006 09:43 pm
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I have a new hobby: collecting undergrad student T-shirts. I gave curriculum advice (on a particularly tangled curriculum) yesterday to a large, muscular young man wearing a pale pink T-shirt emblazoned "TOKYO LAUNDRY", which, if it's a contemporary pop cultural reference, goes right over my head to the extent where it's completely surreal. The buxom lass with the black-and-white shirt reading "YES, THEY'RE REAL" was somewhat more straightforward. As was the thin, long-haired geeky type (male) whose shirt read, simply, "shaggable", in small, curly letters. (He wasn't).

After the last few days I am in a position to conclude that I still rather like students, even if a lot of them are the stick-thin, wide-eyed, gazelle-type girls, carefully accoutred with skimpy clothing, beautiful tans and a variety of devoted young men, who are most calculated to make me feel old and frumpy. Their tribal dress is getting wilder and more skimpy by the year; if I were digitally camera-enabled I could probably set myself up as a campus rival to Go Fug Yourself, since I suspect that interest value I lost on the lack of celebrities I'd more than make up for in the basic beauty of the subject matter. Youth, as they say, is wasted on the young. Adolescence is, certainly. *considers own wasted adolescence, sighs regretfully*

I am also in a position to conclude that I no longer like Robin McKinley that much. Concentrated into a week of everything she's written in a sort of dizzying high-speed parade, the flaws in her style (memo to self: must work the phrase "emotionally overwrought" into encyclopedia entry) are making me chew the desk and become a misanthrope. Although I suppose re-watching Return of the King didn't help much on the turgid emotion front. Goldarnit, eighth time of watching and the wretched movie still makes me cry.

*goes to bed, miffed*

p.s. today's happy snorts of laughter courtesy of Ursula Vernon's cold-fluffed feathered dinosaurs.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
... but War of the Worlds was a very good film. While I realise that anyone who is anyone, and who doesn't possess my peculiar distaste for crowded cinemas, saw this weeks ago, I don't propose to let that stop me from wittering on about it in my usual style. Skip the bullets if you don't care what I thought.
  • I've done a lot of disaster movies lately. How deeply refreshing it is to finally see one in which the central characters have no scientific knowledge and no access to high-level government decision-making, but have to respond with the disorientation, confusion and helplessness which the average person would, in fact, feel. People actually went into shock. Unheard of.
  • In a daring and hitherto unknown move, the scriptwriter has not only read the HG Wells original, but has allowed it to inspire, illuminate and infuse the movie even while making the changes necessary to the new form. This was an extremely good adaptation, very faithful in spirit, feel and effect; I kept recognising moments which were directly taken from the book, transmuted to a new and more cinematic shape. Crowds rushing a ferry; a tentacle nosing through a ruined kitchen; silhouetted trees in flames. Too cool. I'm not sure what would happen to Hollywood if this weird notion of fidelity in adaptation were to catch on; possibly certain high-profile industry brains would explode, like Martians in an altogether different film, and we'd be able to build a new culture out of the rubble.
  • I didn't like the fact that the alien machines had been buried for thousands of years. So you watch us for centuries, and time your attack neatly for the moment when technology is actually approaching a point where it might give you a run for your money? I detect alien committee bureaucracy. Conversely, it is the single most intelligent move by alien invaders in recent cinema to hit a 21st century Earth first and foremost with a massive EMP attack, neutralising all communications and damning humanity to confusion, chaos and debilitating media withdrawal. It also contributes nicely to the above cinematic agenda of isolation and ignorance. Plus, cool lightning. Bonus.
  • Steven Spielberg. How predictable the man is. Counting down the list: flawed hero redeems self through suffering, check. Family values, check. Cute kids as centrepiece, check. Large-scale destruction without much actual blood or gore, check. Happy ending with survival of central characters, even the adolescently imbecile ones, against all odds, check. (Although admittedly Wells does allow his hero to be reunited with his wife at the end of the book, after apparently completely forgetting about her existence for about two thirds of it, causing me some wry amusement...)
  • I was, despite myself, impressed by Tom Cruise's ability to portray a smarmy, emotionally disfunctional man of little intelligence and giant self-absorption, whose success was largely the result of luck, and the efforts of others. No, wait. No actual acting required, then. Never mind.
  • Favourite image from the film, other than the striding tripods themselves: the level crossing barriers automatically coming down for a train that rushes past entirely in flames. Compressed metaphors for humanity under technology R Us.
As an additional bonus, the film is teamed with the trailers for both Narnia (looks very cool, if self-consciously LotR in effect) and King Kong (looks very cool, and not LotR at all - in fact, very faithful to the original). It remains only for them to start showing the Serenity and Howl's Moving Castle trailers, and my happiness would be materially augmented.

Yesterday's Tolkien paper was only moderately disastrous, i.e. there were considerably more than 3 people there (about 20), and I spoke really badly. I attribute this mostly to the bad insomnia attack of the night before; my brain tends to circle vaguely when short on sleep, and my language simplifies radically, lacking all the pithy jargon which is necessary to persuade academics you're actually serious. I am amazed to find that, actually, my level of disenchantment with the department is currently such that I don't actually care what they thought.

Today's cute story, category Small Fluffy Beasties. My sister apparently has a mouse in her kitchen which has invented a new Mouse Extreme Sport: toaster-diving. It shins down the wall and into the bread slot of the toaster to grab crumbs from the bottom. Currently it appears to choose its moment when the toaster is not actually switched on, although, extreme sports enthusiasts being what they are, it's a matter of time before burn-marks and electric shocks become the new macho.


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