freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
I was driving up Klipper Rd to campus yesterday morning, and there was a dude stopped on the side of the road with his car on fire. Literally on fire. The bonnet was aflame in a more or less circular patch across most of it. I have no idea what would cause that degree of catastrophic failure, but it was beyond catastrophic. Someone actually photographed it, which must have been a few minutes after I passed it, viz:

When I drove down in the evening it was a burned-out shell. No paint left at all. Gutted. It may have actually exploded. It was weirdly post-apocalyptic, and vaguely associated in my mind with student protesters burning buses. Maybe the car self-destructed in solidarity? But I can't actually get my head around how bad the engine problem actually has to be for that to happen so suddenly and completely.

Something else I can't get my head around: student narcissism. I was stopped ten minutes before the end of the day by a student, who wanted advice, from me, now, and would not accept that I wasn't available, wasn't the right person, and the advice she needed could be given tomorrow by other advisors who were there expressly for that purpose. Followed me to my office. Sat in the chair asking questions about course choices, and every time I told her "no, please sort this out tomorrow", seemed not to comprehend. Argued more, tried to slide in more course questions, talked about her medical condition and the difficulties she was having, which seemed to be largely imaginary. I eventually invented an appointment, twenty minutes later, and threw her out, still trying to con me into giving her detailed advice for which I had consistently told her I was not available. Who does that? what the hell is going on in her head that she cannot compute that I have other pressing commitments which make me unavailable to her, and to address which there is an elaborate system to ensure she receives the advice she needs? I accept that students are largely just post-adolescent and have not yet experienced the Total Perspective Vortex, but seriously, I think that was pathological.

adventures in retail

Saturday, 29 August 2015 11:00 am
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
One of the side-effects of chronic fatigue is, it seems, its tendency to rot the memory. I have now honed to a fine and perfect point my ability to forget someone's name within approximately a second and a half of being introduced to them, which adds a particular dimension of terror to my teaching and curriculum advice activities. I also do not undertake to remember the details of complex administrative scenarios from longer ago than a week or two, which has led to a recurring motif in my interactions with faculty colleagues, in which I chase a vague impression of event along the lines of "did that actually happen, or did I hallucinate it?" Sometimes I have, in fact, hallucinated it. This cannot, I confess, attest to any particular professionalism on my part, and does lead colleagues to look at me a bit oddly, but on the other hand, I cherish a profound indifference to the notion of advancement within my career qua career, and am damned if I'm going to give up harmless idiosyncrasies1 in the pursuit of it.

All that being the case, it's something of a relief to discover that I am not alone in hallucinating things. This morning's usual Saturday grocery shop was enlivened by the discovery that the computer had somehow added, out of nowhere, a R14.99 item to my bill that was identified as "PAPRIKA/PWD SHAKR". I assume this is powdered paprika, but (a) I hadn't added any to my basket, (b) I hadn't even been in the spice aisle, (c)I never buy paprika from Checkers anyway as I prefer the smoked stuff, and (d) there wasn't any left on the counter by a previous shopper. Also, (e) the random addition came in the middle of the list, between the butter and the astonishingly cheap pecan nuts (what's with that? They've dropped from nearly R50 per packed to R23, presumably the pecan farmers have found the Entwives or something), so it wasn't left over from another bill. And (f) the nice checkout lady whose eagle eye had spotted the addition, re-scanned everything and it wasn't actually a wrong bar code on another product entirely. The system basically hallucinated it. Either that, or it's making sarky comments on my culinary tendencies, or has some sort of frustrated virtual affection for me and is trying to give me gifts. Odd, random and pointless gifts, but who am I to judge?

I am slightly more horrified to discover, perusing the list, that I seem to have accidentally bought gherkins, under the entirely erroneous impression that they were baby marrows. Gherkins in the pickled form are An Abomination Unto Nuggan, and I have always avoided the raw version on the grounds that they can only lead to evil. What does one do with raw gherkins, anyway? My current inclination is to bury them in the garden in a lead-lined box under an Elder Sign, but I may be over-reacting.

1Am I alone in always hearing that word said as "idio-idio-idiosyncrasy" by the goose in Charlotte's Web? A book which, may I add, is responsible for many of the long-word addictions I have had from childhood.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Things you do not expect to see on a respectable campus while trotting off to the library for your important pile of Girly Swot books (subset: crash course in African cinema): live horses. Six of them. Tethered in the shade against the columns of the old Student's Union, peaceably chomping. There's something fairly major filming on campus at the moment, the place has been a madhouse: the stairs have sprouted fake extra columns and exotic greenery and weird screens positioned with arcane precision. I parked my car next to and partially under a giant cherry-picker boom sort of thing this morning, and there are approximately three million acres of random, presumably desperately important cabling snaking down the avenue, tended by skinny grip types in Bauhaus t-shirts. Actual African film, in fact. Curiously appropriate.

It's too bloody hot for serious thought (what's with February heatwaves before Christmas? Not Cricket), so have a random linkery round-up, I need to clear these tabs.
  • If you go to the UK Vogue page and type the Konami code, extremely entertaining things happen when you keep on hitting A. Random internet easter eggs ftw.
  • For some demented reason this ridiculous Boba Fett love story really amuses me, possibly because of the way the sarlacc is drawn. The rancor BFF one is also cute.
  • Sherlock fandom is in a tizzy because of the Caitlin Moran faux pas (I never liked the wretched woman, her book is actively irritating) - she had the inexpressibly tone-deaf bad taste to pressure/trick the lead actors into reading erotic fanfic aloud at a screening. Daily Dot has a good summary. It really isn't safe these days to try and taunt subcultures you perceive as geeky and pitiable, they end up having way more power and self-awareness than you expect. I cannot help but be amused, though, at the cosmic inevitability of Moran attempting to sabotage Sherlock and failing dismally. It is, after all, simply an enactment of the Doyle plot. (Sebastian Moran is Moriarty's sniper sidekick in canon, if your Sherlock geekery is a bit rusty).
  • Random fanfic recc! I am currently actually re-reading The Least of All Possible Mistakes, which is a rather well-written and often laugh-out-loud funny Sherlock fic featuring a Sherlock given to entertaining tantrums and a Mycroft/gender-swapped-Lestrade relationship which is both amusing and real. The fandom fascination with Mycroft fascinates me. I blame Mark Gatiss entirely.

I finally sent out the Boxing Day braai email last night, after more than average levels of procrastination and forgettory. If you weren't on the list but usually are it's probably because of my cheese-brain, please drop me a reproachful line.

The subject line is the Konami Code, which as a concept and a catch-phrase as well as a random bit of esoterica has always amused the hell out of me.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Several Things!

  1. I spent the weekend holed up in my study marking Honours and second-year essays, with the net result that when the EL bounded into the kitchen on Sunday morning with a cheery greeting he was the first person I'd actually spoken to since 9pm on Friday night. 36 hours in my own head, particularly my own head colonised by student effusions, is really rather a lot. You end up forgetting how to actually form sentences. Or was that the effect of all the student writing? Discuss.
  2. On Friday the sound system in my car had a psychotic episode and for some reason started playing through the albums on the MP3 player in reverse alphabetical order by artist, which means I unaccountably jumped from Arcade Fire to Velvet Underground. (Have become very addicted to The Suburbs, possibly in preparation for Reflektor, which is released today. New Arcade Fire! Score!). I haven't aired my Velvet Underground collection for a couple of years, so it was quite fun to play through Loaded and the one with Nico, which is my favourite. Then my Twitter feed exploded last night with the news of Lou Reed's death. It seems like an appropriate fortuity to an extent which is potentially slightly sinister. I am unable to escape the faint suspicion that in fact I was afflicted with a sort of anticipatory musical ghost. It seems like Lou Reed's style. Of which he had rather a lot. RIP on one hell of a life. (Lovely Neil Gaiman interview here, if you're into that sort of thing).
  3. On the subject of the Circle of Life and what have you, congrats to [ profile] dicedcaret and his nice lady wife on their acquisition of sudden offspring of the female persuasion. Her name is Eva, she arrived safely on Friday via caesarian, all apparently well.
  4. A random text message arrived this morning purporting to be from the City of Cape Town's weather advisory service, and warning of "Severe storms with large hail" today. Insofar as (a) today is cloudless and hot and has quickly burned off the morning fog, and (b) I'm not actually subscribed to any weather advisory service, this also seems a bit sinister. I am inclining to the notion that I've somehow received a text from an alternate universe in another leg of the Trousers of Time. Or exceptionally lateral phishing spam.
  5. I could have lived very happily for the rest of my life without having encountered, in a student essay, the term "phallic fluids". She was writing about Dracula, but still. Not even the worst of fanfic does that sort of thing.

Subject line from Velvet Underground, natch. "Pale Blue Eyes". His lyrics tend to the oddly complex and evocative.
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?

iron manatee!

Sunday, 14 April 2013 12:06 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
Sunday is apparently all about creative and unlikely juxtapositions, or weird genre collaborations, although in the strictest possible terms I don't think you can actually count a manatee as a genre. Nonetheless! Just because, or at the very least just because they poke beautiful fun at superhero body-fetishism and are also incidentally cute, superheroes as manatees!

Captain Amanatee is my favourite, although the name isn't nearly as funny as Batmanatee. Iron Manatee is surprisingly svelte.

On a not entirely unrelated note, at least by processes of bizarre genre-bending theme, have an alt-country cover of the Sisters of Mercy's "This Corrosion". It's oddly laid-back and melodic, and nicely deconstructs the lushly self-indulgent Goth sprawl of the original.

This public service message brought to you by the Movement for Lateral Sundays, or possibly the Moving Very Little For Lateral Sundays, on account of how I had a week full of students with dead parents and drug addictions and bouts of weeping, followed by curriculum talks to the seething hordes at Open Day, and am somewhat dead.


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

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

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

1 Floaty, teetering, and likely to spin off in odd directions. Also, full of eels.
2 I have no idea.

nameless ways

Tuesday, 26 June 2012 04:03 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
I have just rescued from my office postbox, where it was misfiled, a letter returned to the department because of an insufficient address. It was a reply to an applicant; the address would have been auto-generated from the applicant's information given on a form, most likely the online application form. The address reads, in beautiful simplicity,

{name of applicant}
Claremont, Cape Town

I am floored. Of course the busy denizens of the undergrad admin office should have spotted this, and it's probably a database glitch, but I cannot prevent myself from constructing the probable thought processes of someone capable of locating themselves as "B, Claremont". My current theory is that they've accidentally allowed to slip into our mundane world the far more interesting and essentialised identifications of the other, alternate Claremont which co-exists, through secret doors, with our own. In that other city "B" is clearly an instantly recognisable figure, like Father Christmas - possibly some sort of superhero, one of the happy array from A to Z. "B" probably has a bat-signal, or a well-known dead-drop spot.

I'd rather live in that world than the one with the database glitch.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
The bird life in this garden is vaguely increasing, most notably in the case of the hadeda who has spent portions of the weekend sitting on the highest point of the house roof and whooping meditatively to himself in the approximate tones of someone being slightly distractedly murdered by inches. I blame global warming, myself.

Unusually, I can't also blame the cats for the unhappy dove corpse I found on the front doorstep the other day: it had clearly broken its silly neck flying into the big dining room window, and was moreover otherwise intact. If the cats get hold of a dove or pigeon it always explodes into approximately ten cubic metres of feathers all over the house, in an area effect which is in no way in keeping with the small size of the bird. I think it's something to do with quantum.

I am saddened by dead ring-necked doves, they're pretty and inoffensive creatures who are not prone to the slightly lobotomised, avian snickering of pigeons. What I have found, very weirdly, however, is that the dead dove appears to have left an absolutely perfectly bird-shaped impact mark on the window. I have spent all weekend wandering out there at intervals and attempting to photograph it, from a variety of angles and in a variety of lights. This was last night, and seems the most successful: while it's not a great photo, I'm pleased with the detail.

It's a rather pleasingly strange and ghostly phenomenon.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Memory is a weird thing. I woke up this morning with a fragment of song on my mind, which, after mulling over it for a bit, I realised was Roger Whittaker's "The Last Farewell". After ten minutes I could, in fact, remember the entire tune. I got up and played it on the piano, more or less without hesitation. I don't think I've actually heard it for nearly thirty years. The mental images I associate with it are of Makoholi, which is the research station in Zimbabwe (near Masvingo) which we lived on until I was in Standard 3, making me nine or ten years old when I left. I mean, who listens to Roger Whittaker any more? He was one of those singers whose popularity is very much about a specific time. I don't even think my parents had any of his records, I must have heard the song on the radio, or (I vaguely think, the memory is very fragmented) at the house of one of my parents' friends.

I couldn't remember much of the lyrics, but enough (mostly the phrase in my subject line, for some reason) that I could identify the song to pull it up on YouTube and play it. It's making me cry. I have no idea what I'm associating it with - that much of memory doesn't survive, so I'm experiencing a sort of isolated gut-punch attached to nothing in particular. Of course, the time it's linked to in my memory is actually in the middle of the Rhodesian war, and has every reason to be a bit fraught. But it's so strange, that the actual event and emotion are lost, but the emblem endures with all its baggage. Music is very powerful.

So, apparently, am I. On an unrelated note, I spoke to a bunch of parents-of-students at parents' orientation yesterday, in a quick reassurance of we-are-looking-after-your-offsprings'-curriculum which seemed to go down very well (lots of laughter and nodding, always a good sign). One of the dads came up to me yesterday and showed me an SMS his daughter had sent him from the middle of orientation last week. "Am in orientation! its cool!!! Jessica is funny!" Given that my unenviable task is to make about four hours total of detailed curriculum overview somehow entertaining, it quite made my day.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
The ladies' toilets in my building on campus are simply weird. There are four stalls, but they appear to have been built, back in the dawn of time when these campus buildings emerged from the primordial ooze, by a numerically-challenged builder with a malfunctioning measuring tape. Two stalls are a normal size, a sort of average width for such things. One of the remaining two is significantly narrower, so your thigh brushes the toilet roll when you sit on the loo; the other is significantly wider, practically palatial in its vast expanse. It's not a wheelchair accommodation, the whole thing is up two flights of stairs and a sharp right angle bend completely inaccessible to any wheelchairs without a Dalek levitation function; nor can I can see any load-bearing wall issue which would dictate an uneven stall distribution. It must be sheer incompetence, one of those moments of horrible post-project realisation of the "Prid of Ankh-Morpork" order.

It drives me crazy every single time I go in there. I am facing the sad fact that at least some small part of me is unnecessarily nit-picky. I'd say anal-retentive, but it seems a bit pointed in the context of toilets.

Today was better than yesterday. We draw a veil over yesterday. I think its malignant Monday-energy became randomly exponentialised by eddies in the space-time continuum and the concentrations of student admissions angst. I also think I've been reading far too much Goats. My apologies to the role-players with whom I was scheduled to role-play; I hope the Scrabble was epic.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Oh, dear, I have fallen in to Goats. I am already a die-hard fan of the writer's other comic strip, Scenes from a Multiverse, but Goats has been going since 1997, and there's a lot of completely surreal archive for me to peruse. I think I'm in around 2004; the artwork is definitely improving. My daily levels of surreal are now pleasingly high, inundated as they are by satanic chickens, kinky aliens, zombie fish, overclocked lemons, and adorable Vulcan bratwursts with nice sweaters.

Also, I like the name Toothgnip. It's fun to say. I may have to acquire another cat simply so I can christen it Toothgnip.

Mostly, however, it's amazingly comforting that I can chalk up the state of mind resulting from another exhausting day in a job I hate to space wizard battles. Explains a lot.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
I'm seeing increasing amounts of spam on this account, several a day at the moment - mostly they're in Russian or, this morning, what appears to be Norwegian. LJ decorously informs me of them, and I delete them from the little dogbox corral of suspicion where it is wont to stash them until their bona fides are proven. In moments of extreme self-doubt, spam on my blog at least makes me feel needed.

What's weirding me out, though, is the posts they choose to spam. Most often it's this one, a generally uninspired little effusion in which I burble about my cats, with pictures. It doesn't seem to contain any commercial trigger words. It has attracted precisely three genuine comments. What is the secret of its apparently incredible allure to spammers? If they're not spamming there, they spam the Thor post, the one with the random bit of [ profile] wolverine_nun-upsetting doggerel in the subject line. Likewise an unexciting piece of prose, unless you have a desperate attraction to superheroes, fangirling or godlike abs, which to be perfectly fair your average spammer might well have.

Nonetheless. In terms of reaching anyone's attention other than mine with a delete key, spamming this journal at large, and those posts in particular, seems curiously pointless. I am clearly infested with dadaist spammers, hell-bent on making a peculiar artistic statement all of their own, one whose parameters embrace obscurity, futility and a masochistic and nihilistic flirtation with unvalidated existence. If spam falls on a year-old low-traffic blog post which no-one reads, does it actually exist? Also, after looking up the Monty Python sketch, the word "spam" has ceased to have any meaning and has become a collection of curiously alien shapes.

I'm back at work. It's frying my brain. Can you tell?

look ma, no hair

Saturday, 6 August 2011 10:10 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
It transpires that one of the side effects of Warfarin is that it renders your hair unfit for human consumption. My hair has taken grave exception to my current regimen, marking its displeasure by becoming straw-like and brittle, and in addition prone to oiling up in about twelve hours flat after being washed. Since I've been patiently growing it out for over a year and it was down to my shoulderblades, that's a fair amount of hair to be lank and unspeakable; it's been driving me bats for weeks.

It was thus strangely cathartic to be able to wander into the hairdresser's on Thursday and wail "it all has to go!" when having, for once, a cast-iron reason for the decision rather than the usual vague and formless angsts which tend to prompt a sudden change of image. My lovely hairdresser has been rescuing me at intervals from said angsts, as well as tangles with henna, a resolute refusal to blowdry, assaults on my own fringe whenever it got into my eyes, and that one time I had a late-night fit of self-loathing and hacked it all off myself, for about eight years now, and he agreed that the hair itself was in worse condition than he's ever seen it. ("That's quite an adult decision, to simply get rid of it like this.")

The weird bit, though, wasn't the sudden acquisition of a jaw-length bob. That was rather fun. The weird bit was having the hairdresser, informed of the whole DVT/pulmonary embolism/10 days in hospital/Warfarin debacle, calmly cap it by telling me all about the parallel experience he's just had in hospital after a heart attack, at approximately the same time. We spent a happy hour playing hospital odious comparisons while straw-like hair drifted in sheaves to the ground. Apart from the odd fact of the synchronicity it does seem a bit unfair, though. He's one of those slightly stereotypical gay hairdressers who's an ex-dancer, and is slim and gym-toned and health-conscious. I can quite firmly blame my own experience at least partially on my own current complete lack of fitness, but he really shouldn't be having heart attacks. It holds out so little hope for the rest of us.

comedy hiccups

Sunday, 9 January 2011 06:58 pm
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
I'm attacked by hiccups fairly often, and when they hit, it's violently, with full-body twitches, and, owing to the correlation between hiccups and booze, and my tendency to verbosity when slightly sloshed, the intrusion of loud and helpless "hics" into my usual babbling. All of the above has caused my loving friends to invent the notion of "comedy hiccups", and to point out their arrival, loudly and with mockery. We will not go into the horrid litany of "you're married to..." which they fling at me in an effort to shock me out of the wretched things. The fact that it frequently works is a testament to their inventiveness.

I hadn't realised for how long the hiccup affliction has been a feature in my life until I stumbled on the scrap of paper reproduced below, which [ profile] egadfly scribbled, I suspect during a late-night role-playing tournament design session, lo these many years ago (as in decades). I feel his essentially minimalist style captures the full-body nature of the phenomenon very well.

This is a Microfiction weekend, and owing to a terminal difficulty with this theme ("Silver") I've actually put up two, "Silver" and "Household God". I don't like either of them much. YMMV. I don't like most of what I write, after all.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
Ah, right, December. No wonder mall crowds are apocalyptic, the weather is melting me into a limp puddle of thing, and work has been invaded by phosphorescent hordes of gibbering origami rodents embossed with curriculum rules, and bearing board schedules in their teeth. Faculty Examinations Committees, the new hell. I'm also horribly glandular again, tending to rampant insomnia, and basically dead, which is certainly contributing to the committee hallucinations, but is also making it difficult to get up a good head of steam on my "bah, humbug!" practice. I shall persevere. In the meantime, unleash the wayward puppies!

  • The billboards have been a bit boring of late, but apparently the Daily Voice has finally decided to allow their billboard poet out from the poet-hutch, because there were a couple of fun ones recently. Yesterday:


    I blush to confess that this did a delayed drop on me; I wandered along for a few seconds thinking "but that makes no sense" in a vague sort of way, until I suddenly clicked. Points for creative alliteration and word-play suggesting a classic Darwin Award scenario of the more inflammable sort. Also, in my defence work is year-end hell, see above, no brain.

    Today's was simply fun:


    Preserved for posterity, perhaps? Vacuum sealed to ensure freshness? My mind defaults to Bill for some reason, possibly because he has an essentially plastic quality. The mental image is far more fun than the more probable dodgy conduct of a celebrity health professional.

  • Yesterday I shambled out to my car to be confronted by an elderly, white-haired, white-bearded gent, who emerged from the Engineering building and trotted solemnly past me bearing a very large watermelon. He caught my involuntary grin and gave me a brief, why-yes-I'm-carrying-a-giant-watermelon sort of nod and smile, and trotted off. Now I'm trying to work out if they have a Seekrit Greenhouse down there somewhere, or if they construct them from first principles and random particles down in the engineering labs.

  • Last night I dreamed I was transformed into a small, bright red, plastic robot, promptly self-destructing when I leaped off a tall somethingorother in the mistaken belief that my new form could fly. This is obviously deeply symbolic of somethingorother, probably Iron Man envy and stress.

dark side of the moon

Saturday, 7 August 2010 10:27 am
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
This is so weird. One of my music-acquisition projects lately has been to gradually acquire copies of all the stuff I used to listen to in undergrad, mostly on evil bootleg tapes which have subsequently lost all relevance, technologically speaking. Today, Pink Floyd's Piper at the Gates of Dawn arrived. Listening to it is a very strange experience, because, while I don't think I've heard this album in, gosh, probably fifteen years, it's still utterly familiar to me - more so than music I listen to regularly at the moment. It's as if I heard it yesterday. Something in the sound is hardwired into immediacy rather than nostalgia.

I'm wondering if this is about simply being in your early twenties: the experiences you have then are particularly vivid, they impress themselves on you extra hard because so many of them are new, taking those first steps into adulthood. It's not as if Piper is particularly significant to me, it's a background sound track to a fairly generalised sense of time and place (Honours year, the Twickenham Rd house). Dark Side of the Moon was much more a personal-totem album, it'll be interesting to see if it feels as immediate, once I've actually persuaded Loot to find me a copy.

Talking about moons and dark sides and things, I had truly bizarre werewolf dreams last night. We gatecrashed, literally, a huge, swanky, eighteenth-century mansion by the simple expedient of driving a limousine straight up the driveway and crashing it in through the front door. The place was full of werewolves, all hairy monster-men in eighteenth-century costume (rather Cocteau feel, in fact, although colour rather than black-and-white - lots of orangey browns). I was with some unspecified quest-partner, male; we were really rather evil, or possibly surrounded by evil and rather desperate. At some point I killed a woman by strangling her, rather inefficiently: I had to do it a couple of times because she kept coming back to life, and eventually we dumped her unconscious form into a giant excavation which was conveniently in the garden, and piled earth on top of her. Later we locked another woman into a sort of giant cage with all the werewolves and waited for them to kill her; it was somehow important that she died in pain. In retrospect, all of the above is probably stuff I shouldn't tell my therapist. Or should tell my therapist. If I had a therapist. Memo to self: don't acquire therapist.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
It's been a weird kind of day. The campus is blissfully quiet in the middle of the vac, haunted only by vague gaggles of students in the middle distance, blowing vuvuzelas contemplatively as they wait for buses to various games. I saw no-one yesterday; today I had an equally empty day except for an odd little surge at around 11.30, when five students arrived for advice at approximately the same time and hung around in a micro-queue outside my door, where they talked and laughed and made rude but supportive comments about Bafana Bafana while I dealt with their various angsts in series. Other than that, I've been reading the back issues of Wil Wheaton's blog: as a sort of side-effect of all this STNG-watching, I've become fascinated with the Wesley Crusher phenomenon and the effect all that hatred had on a teen actor. SF Fandom is apparently lovely and intimate and invested and supportive up until the moment it can't separate text from reality and actually damages you.

At 1.30 I dashed madly into town to submit my visa application for this conference trip. I haven't driven the new intersection at Hospital Bend in that direction before: there's this deeply Zen moment when you leave the freeway only in order to join exactly the same freeway again 100m later from the other side. Apparently you can cross the same freeway twice. Or can't cross it once. Or something. What is the sound of one car not changing lanes?

The British visa application people are efficient like whoa and dammit: they have this whole system of online appointments and form submissions, festooned with shiny jack-booted warnings about arriving ON TIME for your appointment, with EXACTLY THESE DOCUMENTS plus any others you think might help, entirely up to you, and I had to restrain an impulse to include testimonials from my cats and a photograph of my favourite tomato plant, just to be lateral. Their whole system is automated with number-issuing machines and displays when your number is up, in addition to the extremely crisp and perfectly clear announcements over the public address system - it's kind of the Platonic ideal of the Groote Schuur process, only well thought out and not actually clogged by all these inconvenient poor people. (I seem to be all socialist again. I blame China Miéville). It also all seemed a bit futile, since there were precisely three of us there. I arrived five minutes early, went straight through to two counters without waiting, and left ten minutes later, feeling slightly stunned. The visa is granted within four working days. I was worrying that I only have six weeks until I leave. Silly, pilly me.

The drive home after work was even more surreal. There's a SA/France game on, apparently. Apparently this causes nine-tenths of the population of the city to be dragged willy-nilly to their TV sets by magnetic lines of force, there to sit helplessly while rush hour fails to happen without them. The streets were deserted. Under the freeway overpass coming off campus, there was a life-sized cardboard cutout tied to a signpost, depicting a person standing next to an old-fashioned bicycle, beautifully drawn in black and white. The basket was full of logs, in the sense that it was an actual basket filled with actual three-dimensional logs. No poster or inscription in any way explained this phenomenon. Twenty metres later a youngish coloured dude stood by the side of the road, head tilted to the sky, mouth wide open as though screaming, or possibly singing opera, although no actual sound emerged. In my rear-view mirror I saw him stagger out into the road behind me, head still raised, narrowly missing an oncoming car which forced him to dash back to the curb, arms flailing in a sort of scarecrow shamble. The bicycle-image plus the oddness of the man felt uncannily like some kind of inscrutable performance art; it went very well with the empty streets. It's also entirely possible I hallucinated the whole thing.

Plan for tonight: actually sleep through the night, avoiding both the usual 2am wake-up, and the increasingly trippy series of sleep-walking dreams in which I've forgotten to do something terribly important to the incomprehensible grid of squares on my bedside table, and thus wake up repeatedly trying desperately to sort it out before the waves of zombies get me. I think they're zombies. Occasionally they're amorous wood-elves. It's all a bit weird.
freckles_and_doubt: (South Park Self)
God, it's June, how did that happen? Lost, half a year, left lying around somewhere, owner distressed by absence of anything to show for it.

My recent scanner acquisition means it's now possible to scan various weird bits and bobs I've been meaning to inflict on my readership for a while. This one is a leaflet thingy that ended up in my postbox, and I've kept it because it's such a beautiful example of complete, obsessive, off-the-wall fruitloopishness. It merits a scan just to document the particular weirdnesses of the writer's more obscure religious tenets, which apparently hold actual layout, differentiated headings and paragraph breaks to be the work of the Divvil. The obsessive attempt to pack in information (no paragraph breaks, tiny font, headings indicated only by capitals or underlining) is actually weirder than the content, which is pretty good going because the content is weird.

The first page is some kind of oddball attempt to construct a tongue-in-cheek alien-eye view of humanity, in the form of an "ALIEN SPACE DOCUMENT" from "the Commander of the prison planet Alcatrash", which reports on the strange and erroneous beliefs of humanity (evolution, primarily), sprinkled with random unpunctuated Bible references and a sort of chorus refrain of "Makes you think, doesn't it?" This segues into extremely bad doggerel poetry, and then an alien newsflash calling off their invasion at the alarming discovery that the Earth has already been invaded by the Prince of Darkness, whose disembodied demons are the size of mosquitoes and "seek to possess every person on earth", 6 000 to a person. The last two pages are an increasingly incoherent rant about modern society and the manifest ways in which it's entirely given over to Lucifer; the writer inserts occasional Bible references randomly into the flow without integrating them into the sentence, which feels bizarrely like some kind of broken footnote system.

My subject line comes from the insert to the flyer, at half size, offering you a lot of extremely literal readings of Biblical verses under the headings "What the Bible says about ants" (apparently it's terribly significant that they're female), "What the Bible says about Tight Reverends", "What the Bible says about Global Warming" (it's caused by too much blasphemy), and a final rant on how you can't prove the existence of God and shouldn't try.

The whole thing reads like a particularly low-intellect fundamentalist bigot on Tik: intensity, energy, a desperate sense of importance, and a sort of cockroach-skittering failure of focus which makes me imagine the poor writer frothing at the mouth impatiently as s/he tries to cram ABSOLUTELY ALL the VITALLY IMPORTANT RANTINGS! into a very small space. Hence, I suppose, the lack of paragraphing. White space could be filled with divinely-inspired wisdom, and is therefore an Abomination Unto Nuggan if it remains empty.

I find it profoundly scary not only that there are people out there who actually think like that, but that they are so convinced of the burning relevance of their ideas that they have to disseminate them, however amateurishly, through the medium of print. I can't read something like this without involuntarily occupying, even momentarily, the headspace of the writer, and it's a scary, overcrowded, nightmarishly unreal place.
freckles_and_doubt: (Default)
[ profile] smoczek introduced me to this plant, she found a specimen in the rather lovely nursery at Montebello. I don't usually have a lot of time for succulents, being more of a European-foresty sort of person, but this absolutely fascinated me. It's a bryophyllum, a genus of kalanchoe; it's a viviparous plant, i.e. produces fully-formed offspring still attached to the body of the parent, like humans or vipers; and it has this bizarre, wierd, completely alien habit of propogating by growing little rooted baby plants all along the edge of its leaves. You have no idea how odd this looks - it's like suddenly stumbling across a plant from another planet entirely, with its own strange biology. The little rooted babies fall off when they're large enough, and cheerfully root under the mother plant in a sort of carpet.

It's apparently also known as a Mexican Hat Plant, which seems altogether too mundane and jovial a name for something clearly not originating on this planet. Besides, a Mexican hat looks nothing like this, unless I imagine the classic sombrero growing little baby sombreros all around its rim, which is cute but unlikely.

You can see the few remaining plantlets on the leaves here; they grew in rows, but most of them have fallen off and rooted. It also has a very strange habit of morphing its leaf shape: the extra frills on the inner edge of the leaf where it joins the stem are new, and seem to have grown in response to the new shoot forming. If it's from another planet there are definite parallels in the environment, since it's cheerfully growing on the kitchen counter, flanked by my marble rolling pin and a small clutch of wols, in defiance of everything all the books say about it needing full sun.

It may actually be a triffid. I am charmed by the possibility.


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