vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)
For the past fortnight.


Read Anne Bishop's Daughter of the Blood. From Twitter:

@vassl: Now to attempt to finish reading the GOH's first novel before I arrive in the convention city. It was published in '98, I'm a little slow.

@vassl: Anne Bishop's Daughter of the Blood: surprisingly good airport reading. It's set in Hell, so relevant to my current location.

@vassl: Tullamarine Airport has fewer magic cockrings and sparkly jewels than Anne Bishop's Hell, and different decor choices, but otherwise similar

@vassl: Finished Daughter of the Blood. Started out all lolzy idfic magic cockrings, suddenly became not at all lolzy child trafficking rings.

Can see where JR Ward got her inspiration for what to name people in the Black Dagger books. There is a character in this novel whose name is surreal. I mean she is named Surreal. I mean both. [personal profile] snarp and [personal profile] rachelmanija were both right about it (except that I enjoyed it more than Rachel did, and will definitely be reading at least the second book.)

Reading Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. Got through a few more pages in the last week. Hate Henry SO MUCH. Hate Dorian too. Indifferent to Painter Dude. Want to read a novel about Henry's aunt, written by Anne Bronte not Oscar Wilde.

Reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Everything. Got from pg 129 to pg 288 during Swancon weekend. Volcanoes and meteorites are scary. :( Some more Twitter commentary, because I like to recycle my jokes:

@vassl: Reading Bill Bryson on M-theory and have suddenly and regrettably turned into a zombie. Braaaaaaanes. #physics #holidayreading

Reread Komarr and 'Winterfair Gifts'.

Read Loki: Agent of Asgard #1 and #2. Basically giggled the whole way through. Yes, it was pure bubblegum, but I was in the mood for bubblegum. And Al Ewing's author's note on the last page, quoting Thor #353 (Odin: "For Asgard!" Thor: "For Midgard!" Loki: "For myself!") really rang true to me, both as a principle (standing up for yourself is not selfish/bad!) and also as an interpretation of Loki's character (not a nice person, but also frequently the only person on Team Himself.)

Read [personal profile] dira's Vorkosigan refugee AU and reread one of her Jole series while waiting for the plane. Some stories are worth going over your mobile data plan for.

TV and Movies
Watched 'Lake Laogai' from ATLA. Can we leave Ba Sing Se now? It is a terrible place.

Watched Spirited Away at [personal profile] bookgirlwa's house. It was made in 2001, but it's still very definitely in the tradition of 80s/90s kids' films that will destroy your infant mind with terror, while being instant classics for their meaningful script/use of myth and their beautiful cinematography/hand-drawn animation/puppetry/David Bowie's crotch.

Discovered Cut The Rope. Obsessed.

Watched the music video to Total Eclipse of the Heart for the first time, and have some preliminary conclusions: 1. I want whatever drugs they were on. 2. At least part of this is set in the Black Jewels universe. 3. The rest of it is set in Smallville. 4. I want the I'm Not Okay crossover. It would be epic. More epic, I mean.

Listened to Lydia Lunch's Queen of Siam. Liked.


Apr. 22nd, 2014 01:10 am
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)
I'm back in Melbourne. I got in at about 7pm. I'm picking up Beatrice from the cattery tomorrow. They told me they tried to take a picture of her and post it on their Facebook page for me, but every time they came near her she was so excited all they got was a blur. (This is not what B is like when she's at home. I wonder if she was excited about all the people, or just lonely, or anxious. I need to stop psychoanalysing my cat.)

So, Swancon. traveller's tales, con report, etc )
vass: A sepia-toned line-drawing of a man in naval uniform dancing a hornpipe, his crotch prominent (Default)
Hi all. I'm in Perth, at Swancon. And typing on my tablet is such a nuisance that I'm going to leave it at that until I get home. Having a great time going to panels, hanging out [personal profile] bookgirlwa and also hiding in my room with a book.

[personal profile] snarp and [personal profile] rachelmanija were so very hilariously right about Anne Bishop. I will say more when I have a damn keyboard.
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)
Tonight I realised that one of the places my psych and I are falling down is that when he sends me SYN-ACK, I do not send back ACK. I didn't realise I was supposed to until I broke it down and thought about where we were failing to communicate. [[personal profile] thedeadparrot is partly to blame for this, but only partly.]

Often I say $thing, he says "I'm hearing you say $thing?" and I think "yes, that's what I said - but okay, I guess he had to check," and out loud I move on to further details about $thing and the surrounding issues, while he presumably keeps waiting for that final ACK until the session times out. I cannot count the number of sessions where he concludes with "We've talked about a number of different things today," and I think confusedly "I thought we were talking about the same thing the whole time." And I probably do this to lots of other people who aren't my psych, as well, and in non-therapy sessions there aren't as many debugging tools so it's harder to work it out.

Someone stop me now before I stay up all night writing a post about OSI model as a metaphor for human communication. No, seriously, stop me now. I have other things I have to do. Like get a nonzero amount of sleep before I leave for the airport early tomorrow morning.

(If you try to talk to me and I don't respond because I'm asleep, that's a layer 1 problem... I think that very often allistics think that their communication problem with 'high-functioning' autistics is located at a higher level than it really is - for instance, assuming layer 6 or 7 when it's really 4, and conversely believe their problem communicating with 'lower-functioning' autistics is lower than it is - for instance, during a meltdown, assuming the physical layer is irreparably broken when really the autistic person is experiencing what feels like the equivalent of a DDOS attack. I use scarequotes here because at different times that could be the same person.)
vass: Icon of Saint Ignatius being eaten by lions (eaten by lions)
I'm going to switch B from crunchyfud to gooshyfud after I get back from Perth and she gets back from kitty jail. Tonight was a, well, not a dry run, but a tester of that. She got a third of a tiny can of 'grilled chicken' Fancy Feast. I thought this might be difficult, as B isn't very food motivated anyway, and there are lots of things she doesn't recognise as food (sometimes, for example, actual cooked meat.)

I opened the tin, and she meowed and came running to the kitchen, I gave her the serving, and she started eating right then, and kept eating until it was all gone. Then she meowed once, like "where's the rest?" and then started washing herself.
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)
Nick Fury is a romance novelist. He writes under a female pseud, and none of his friends and family know how he makes a living, but they all think he's a secret agent. All, that is, except for Phil Coulson, Nick's oldest friend and contract lawyer. But not even Phil knows about Nick's secret feelings for him.

What are you definitely not writing?
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)
Finished reading Petra's novel draft. :D :D :D

Finished J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy. I just read a bunch of literary reviews from when it first came out, and I'm feeling weird about how what stood out to me as the book's biggest flaw, the way Rowling's fat hate distorted her treatment of Howard Mollison, didn't register with them at all as a flaw in the book. I keep wondering "how did this not stand out as a problem to any of those reviewers"? Am I deluded? I don't mean it's a problem that the 'villain' (to the extent that any one character is 'the' villain) is fat. That would not be a problem, necessarily. But it is a problem when it distorts the narrative, the characterisation, and even the prose (in one passage Howard is described as both striding and waddling. Well, which is it?)

One of the climactic scenes (I'm trying not to spoiler and also trying not to run on all night about this) involves the intersection of medical misconduct and fat hate, and a parallel drawn between drug addiction and obesity. Whether or not you think that's an appropriate parallel to draw, it's definitely substantially weakened by not noting that both drug addicts and fat people have greater reason to fear medical misconduct - and thus avoid seeing a doctor! - than people who are neither drug addicts nor fat.

Apart from that, it's a very good book, but the fat hate is so pervasive that that's like saying that apart from Ezra Pound's anti-semitism he's a great poet, or that apart from the eugenicism Jean Webster's Dear Enemy is totally heartwarming, or that apart from the misogyny, any number of artists are the best at what they do: if you care about those things at all, you can't set them apart, they're in every atom. Not a momentary lapse but an essential ingredient. If you still like the works, if you're not prepared to dash the cup from your lips, you have to drink the poison down with the wine and let it hurt you.

Started reading Anne Bishop's Daughter of the Blood in preparation for Swancon, where she's a guest of honour. OMGWTFCBTBBQ. (The CBT stands for what you think. No, not Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.) I already knew roughly what I was in for (yes, 'roughly' is the appropriate modifier) as [personal profile] fasangel likes to make all her friends read the first chapter as a sort of friendship litmus test. Just the part about the rats. And yet I still hadn't gotten my head around quite how idficcy it would be. I guess I'd somehow thought the rat thing would be more part of the author's focus on horror, not part of the author's enduring interest in doing bad things to penises and testicles.

Read a little more each of Les Mis and A Short History of Nearly Everything.

TV and Movies
Watched 'Appa's Lost Days' from ATLA. Feels. ;__;

2048. *tears at hair* I at least have the fleeting satisfaction of having infected [personal profile] fasangel with it. [personal profile] bookgirlwa, you're next. Be warned.

Reading through John Darnielle's zine Last Plane to Jakarta. It's poems about music, such as 'ivories': "and meanwhile / tell your vocalists who think we don't notice little autotune fixes / that I will have words for them / in Hell".

Listened to the Indelicates' Diseases of England. It's kind of weird because their sound reminds me a lot of the Dresden Dolls, and I used to really love the Dresden Dolls before Amanda Palmer... well. They're good, but they're more Romantic than I am right now, temperamentally. More theatrical too. Those are not bad qualities at all, just not things I'm in the mood for.

Got my hair cut again. Spent more money than I have any business spending on haircare, and more sensory/social spoons than I had to spare, but upgraded from "a little scraggy but still manageable" to "really good haircut".

I gave up on watering my tomato plant at least three weeks ago. To my shock, it has since started producing a tomato. Its fourth for the year. We'll see what happens. I nearly killed off the basil plant by not watering, but the rain revived it. The mint is still confined only by the size of its pot. Bought two little baby ferns and have planted them in the Boskke cube planter things I got for Christmas.
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)
Trolling Waiting To Happen
Smiley Face Screws. It is now my headcanon that on at least one occasion, at least one Avenger or associated person (probably Bruce or Darcy, maybe Pepper or Rhodey) surreptitiously replaced the standard screws in one of Tony's projects with these. And then waited.

Terrible Ideas
eBay's Mystery Box category. Enough people had this idea that it has its own category: box up a bunch of stuff you don't want, then charge someone ~$30 plus shipping to take it off your hands without telling them what's in the box. Because if they knew, they wouldn't buy it. Like a Lucky Dip for financially irresponsible hoarder adults! Does it work? Well, I viewed 'Completed Listings', and I'd have to say yes, occasionally. But mostly, no. (Here's one horrifying NSFW mystery box that did not sell.)

Sensible Thoughts About Terrible Ideas
6, 3: Seasteading, by Charlie Lloyd: a short article about the economics, logistics, and ethics of your standard Silicon Valley libertarian seadstead. "See noble glittering towers, think slavery."

Wikipedia page: Dried nasal mucus. I love Wikipedia. ("See also: mucophagy.")

Fatwolves of Tumblr
Scam-mongering dick-scrapings on Facebook steal awesome fat blogger's bikini photos to use for their bullshit diet ads on Facebook; fortunately, she has a posse.

More Bad Behaviour
Businessman caught on helmet cam dooring cyclist in Melbourne CBD. I love how unfailingly polite she is. Article in the Age about it.

Planet Money
74,476 Reasons You Should Always Get The Bigger Pizza, by Quoctrung Bui. Counterpoint: One Reason To Get Whatever Size Pizza You Want, by Jess Jiang. I choose to imagine that these two Planet Money writers share an apartment and argue the economics of pizza through their workplace blog, probably after Jess had to throw out the spoiled remains of Quoctrung's pizza purchases.

Literary Analysis
Sorting 19th-century British novelists into Hogwarts. "Margaret Hale. A character so canon Gryffinfor that I will never again be able to imagine her without eight S.P.E.W. buttons pinned to the front of the pointedly plain frock she’s surely wearing."

Music Reviews
Persephone Magazine on 'Auscultation of the Heart'

Problems with speed-reading apps: in particular, when you go that fast, you can overload your working memory. [relevant to my interests in particular as my working memory is worse than you'd expect from the rest of my scores. In hardware terms, I don't have enough RAM, so I have to keep swapping more than is optimal. And I can get away with it some of the time because I have a lot of swap, but it's still slower and more strenuous.]
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)

Reading [personal profile] petra's original novel draft. Delicious pining! Competence! Smart, kind characters who talk to each other!

Read Ambelin Kwaymullina's The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf. It did interesting things with structure and narrator, and got away with it. It took me longer than it should to associate Ashala's power with Aboriginal Australian mythology. Dreaming, right, of course. I found out that it was published here in Australia back in 2012, I just didn't hear about it until late last year. This is the UK edition, which came out this year. It's the first in a quartet. And I was at Readings on Saturday night, and you'll never guess what I saw on the shelf. (I didn't buy it then, because that was an expensive bookstore visit already, but I'll definitely buy it next fortnight.)

Still listening to Brene Brown, The Power of Vulnerability. I've listened to the first 4 talks so far.

Still reading Les Mis, a few pages at a time. Don't have the stamina for big gulps of it right now. Just finished book 6 of part 1. Javert, have you considered therapy? Or at least listening to some Brene Brown talks?

Still listening to The Casual Vacancy in the car. I'm just past halfway through. The fat hate is getting worse. Andrew's idea on how to get revenge on his father filled me with glee and hope and fear. Krystal... Okay, Rowling got me. I deeply care what happens to Andrew and Krystal and Sukhvinder. The other characters not so much. (And I just checked Wikipedia's character list for the spelling of Sukhvinder's name, and accidentally got spoiled bigtime for what happens to Krystal. FUCK YOU, WIKIPEDIA. May your paperwork have sharp edges that secrete lemon juice into your papercuts.)

Finished volume 5 of Fullmetal Alchemist. Still really confused during the action scenes. And then the arc about Alphonse and Edward's teacher started, and waaaaah.

Dipped into Wisława Szymborska's Poems: New and Collected, of which I bought two copies on Sunday, one as a birthday present for the Sister Outlaw, and one for me because it's been on my to buy list for ages, and it was a really good special. I'm not reading it through right now, just opening it at random and reading a poem or two. She's so good. "the body is and is and is / and has nowhere to go"

TV and Movies

Watched 'Tales of Ba Sing Se' from ALTA. *uncontrollable sobbing* That is all.

Watched Frozen. Definitely one of my favourite Disney movies ever. Feels. I agree with some of the criticism I've seen about it (the racial politics, the body image/art style stuff,) but right now I'd like to talk mainly about squee. How just like Tangled took on the sacred role of motherhood, Frozen took on love at first sight. I would have liked it better if they'd gone deeper into how part of what love means is work, work over time. In fact... huh, I might have just had a fanfic idea. Hold that thought. I also liked the focus on sisterhood.

Watched the pilot to Sleepy Hollow. Okay, yeah, everyone was right. This is awesome. It hits one of the only two time travel plots I like (showing the present time to someone from the past. The other one I like is rescuing someone who couldn't survive where they were, and scooping them safely into the future.)


2048. Over and over and over.


Listened to Tom Waits' Heartattack and Vine for the first time. So fucking good.

Listened to Dar Williams' The Honesty Room again. She reminds me of Laurie Anderson in a lot of ways. Way less experimental, but similar voice and similar ornamentation and phrasing and themes. I have the germ of a vid idea for 'The Great Unknown', a vid about Pepper and Jane and Betty, about being sidelined and resisting it, and how the act of saving the world is framed in those movies.

"And they think I think I am important.
I know I never was, I wasn't.
No, I never, and how could I be?
It's the great unknown.
Now we've built it, now it's ticking,
It's the great unknown."
vass: Icon of Saint Ignatius being eaten by lions (eaten by lions)
Some follow-up work on you know which xkcd.

Me: "Who's a cat?"
Beatrice: *stare*
Me: *holds out my hand*
Beatrice: *regards hand*
Me: "You are."
Beatrice: *approaches hand, rubs her head against it*
Me: "You have many catlike qualities, such as being a cat."

Also, when I go into the kittens' room:

Me: "How are the kittens? Kittenish?"
Kittens: *race toward me, purring and trying to get out the door, get attention, and get food, all at once*
vass: Jon Stewart reading a dictionary (books)

Listening to J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy on audiobook. It's very nasty, and I like it so far. I once described Vikram Seth's attitude to his characters as "generosity without mercy." Rowling, in this book, has neither generosity nor mercy. She does, however, have a sort of rough acceptance of her characters, as if to say: they are what they are. They can't help being like that. You have to take the rough with the smooth. But you don't have to like them.

If you ever read Harry Potter and wondered about the Dursleys, about what motivated them and what their lives would have been like without Harry and magic, if maybe they would have been less cartoonishly, over the top evil in their actions - but still exactly the same in their souls - this is that book. A whole village of them. From their point of view.

Rowling has reason to be nasty: she is writing about a village of locals who are still fighting the existence of the housing projects built there sixty years ago, with their druggies and people of colour and single parents like Rowling herself. Locals who treat the children in those projects, who've lived there all their lives - whose parents have lived there all their lives - as encroaching invaders who shouldn't be allowed into their schools. Kids like Rowling's own children. So she's doing her main characters justice, but if she doesn't like them or want to write them an encomium, she has her reasons. The Casual Vacancy is not just a seat on the council, it's a description of their moral character: casually vacant.

Fat fail note: the way Rowling describes Howard's fatness is quite different from the way she describes other people's bodies and personal features. Not cool.
Some other content notes people might want to know going in: child abuse, child neglect, partner abuse, bullying, self-injury. And also, if you intend to listen to this on audiobook in your car with the windows down, be advised of the risk that passers-by will probably hear "YOU FUCKING CUNT" screaming from your speakers.

Finished Kelly Williams Brown's Adulting. I think I've already said everything I wanted to about that.

Halfway through listening to Brené Brown's The Power of Vulnerability, which is a series of workshops rather than a written book, but it's released as an audiobook, so I'll call it that rather than... I don't actually know what the right classification would be. Lecture series? These are live recordings and she didn't script them in advance because she wanted to be able to engage with her audience, a feat that makes me regard her like that guy who tightroped across the Grand Canyon.

The first hour took a long while to suck me in, because I found it academically unsatisfying: not enough citation, not enough engagement with the history of the field, not enough goddamn psychoanalytic theory (of course that would be my complaint.) Then she got me in a chokehold and started landing blows, one after the other, and after a while I started taking notes. Lots of them. Because there was so much I wanted to remember. The nice thing about how she practises what she preaches in these talks is that at least I don't have to ask "does it hurt being that right?" I can already see that it does. It hurts her too.

[personal profile] thedeadparrot's interactive X-Men fic, 'Ghost in the Shell'. Interactive not as in hypertext and multiple choice, but much more like an old text adventure, or like Gone Home (which I haven't played.) Bittersweet and sad, and reminds me of how much I liked the first X-Men movie. It was a very good thing I wasn't eating or drinking anything when I saw what was in playlist3.m3u. I'll admit, I needed a hint to guess the decryption password. Then I felt silly for not having guessed it. The command line interface was very intuitive for me, and I think is well enough explained that someone who doesn't use a command line regularly would still feel comfortable. BTW, if you might be interested in trying this but are worried (as I was, initially) that it'll be like that time you spent five hours playing Gareth Rees' Christminster and almost didn't make it out alive (which your protagonist did not, because you performed two very minor actions, very early in the game, in the wrong order and didn't find this out until it was too late and you'd run out of turns in the endgame) then don't worry. It's not. It's very short and [personal profile] thedeadparrot is trying to tell a story, not to trick you.

As mentioned under fanfic, [personal profile] thedeadparrot's 'Ghost in the Shell'. Also, I admit it, fucking Bejeweled Poker. I went ahead and bought it. What can I say? I like match three games, and I like this variant nearly as much as my favourite Bejeweled variant, Diamond Mine (which I've played so many times that I need a very long rest from it.)


Re-listened to Linkin Park's Meteora more than once. Because fuck you, that's why.


Went back to Deutsche Welle's 'Deutsch - Warum Nicht?'. Listened to episode 16, in which Andreas writes a letter to his parents, and Ex the invisible elf asks him why he doesn't tell them he has a girlfriend - her - and the whole situation with Ex became 100x creepier. (Creepier still is that the Deutsche Welle website describes her as "his invisible ex".) Learned some subtleties I didn't know about how the word 'wohl' is used, and that Andreas thinks Herr Doktor Thürmann is nice, which either means he's lying to his parents or else he has a very warped concept of what nice is. Seriously, though, Andreas: do you remember your safeword? Your safeword is 'sowieso'. Say that out loud, and Ex will return to creeper elf hell and stop publicly humiliating you and making your coworkers and customers believe you are rude, insane, or both.

Listened to 'Piano Puzzler' and realised I've never actually listened to Messiaen on my own initiative, and my only real referent for him is "sounds like Debussy or Ravel, only not." I might want to correct that at some point.

Listened to two episodes of 'Sawbones' and fell asleep during both of them. I like 'Sawbones' (although they could be more culturally sensitive and also better at sticking to their policy of not taking on things currently believed today) and I wasn't bored, I was just really tired. Same thing happened with the (two months old) episode of 'Galactic Suburbia' I tried to catch up with. I got halfway.
vass: Icon of Saint Ignatius being eaten by lions (eaten by lions)
photo )
vass: A sepia-toned line-drawing of a man in naval uniform dancing a hornpipe, his crotch prominent (Default)
Today's exciting perfume experience:

"Beatrice, why do you smell like perfume? A lot like perfume, like you've been rolling in the stuff?"

She hasn't been rolling in it, but That Bra has been hanging on a drying rack just next to a sunny window. Beatrice, of course, being a cat, has an affinity for sunny windows. She'd been lying on the carpet all day just under where the bra was.

I'm throwing the damn bra out.

Weirdest part: how Beatrice's skin chemistry treats BPAL's Strangler Fig (which is what was spilled on the bra lo these three washes ago.) On my skin, or in a small dab on a tissue, Strangler Fig smells like figs and nuts, very gourmand. Spilled in massive quantity on a bra I haven't been able to wear since, it smells like patchouli, very strong, staggering throw, with something else very sharp, maybe ginger. On Beatrice it smells so much like plain musk and lavender that at first I thought she'd gotten hold of my little vial of Caron Pour Un Homme.

Which is a much better smell than the patchouli ginger bra situation, but still not how I want my cat to smell (I want her to smell like herself! And also I'm slightly concerned about her health, since cats' metabolisms and livers are different from humans' and scented oils can be an issue for them, but she seems fine.) So I am giving up on rehabilitating the bra.
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)
Post, then go to bed.

Finished Speak Daggers to Her. In chapter 10, first two pages: major animal harm warning. Just saying.
In the same chapter, the protagonist describes evil as the autism of the soul. Not impressed with that. >:(

Apart from that, well, it was fun most of the way and interesting the rest of it, and I'll read the other two books in this omnibus. It made me want to read G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown stories, because I think Edghill's Bast novels are an attempt to do the Wiccan equivalent: detective novels with a spiritual and temporal dimension, with a priest detective. But I haven't read Father Brown, so I'd want to do that to be surer, and so I can compare better.

It was entertaining reading the quotation from The Maltese Falcon the week after I read The Maltese Falcon.

Finished Patrick O'Brian's The Mauritius Command. Oh Stephen. D:

Reading Adulting. Really did not like the chapter on faking it until you make it. Lots of "every single person on the planet does ____" statements, and I understand it's hyperbole, but I still find it alienating. Actually that entire chapter is very alienating and victim-blaming (the worst ones would have to be Step 123, 'Don't engage with crazy', and step 126, 'Do not allow yourself to be abused'. With reference to the last one, she has no practical advice at all on how to stop other people from abusing you, and her impractical advice is either to "know in your heart" that you're not a person who will tolerate bad treatment or "don't let it get to you.")

It gave me a sour feeling about the whole book, and indeed the blog. There's a reason Adulting is so popular as a concept. But she's actually pitching it to a very narrow - and privileged - audience and doesn't cop to that. Specifically, she's pitching it at 21-year-old American middle-class recent college graduates whose worst problems involve neglecting to mop up spills when they occur, and coming hungover to work, and then generalising people who don't meet that target audience out of existence altogether. And THEN in step 126 she flags people who aren't the same as her as being potentially "whose perception of the world is so odd and skewed that it is difficult for them to interact with the rest of us." Like, for example, if the name they introduce themselves by is "clearly not their given one." THAT sort of 'red flag'.

Reading Ambelin Kwaymullina's The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf. It's REALLY good. Yes, it is yet another YA dystopia about a ragtag bunch of psychic teens versus an oppressive government in a post-apocalyptic world. But... if you read Obernewtyn and thought "I wish this were better written, smarter, angrier, pointedly a response to 21st-century Australian current events and politics, and that both the author and the heroine were Indigenous Australian," then this is the book you wished for. Oh, and the cover art isn't whitewashed. \o/

The people the dystopian government are oppressing are called 'detainees' and 'Illegals'. Why yes, Ms Kwaymullina, I do see what you did there. Kudos. And so far (bearing in mind that I've only just started) Ashala seems a much more active character than Elspeth from Obernewtyn. Where Elspeth seems to dream along and fall into situations by accident and Fate, and the other characters tell her how Special and Prophesied she is but the text doesn't show it, Ashala by contrast leads and protects her tribe, and makes plans to fight the government. You can see why she's special, and why the government fears her.

Started reading Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. No, I'd never read it before. I always figured that it would lack what I liked about his plays, but eventually the embarrassment of not having read it is eclipsing the reluctance, so. I used Spreeder, since speed reading apps have been in the news a bit lately. I used it before, years ago, to read Stevenson's The Black Arrow a few years ago, and was not a fan, but I thought I'd give it another go. Still not a fan. It hurts my eyes, and makes my working memory work harder.

As to the book, it's 80K words long, and I've read 20K and so far I don't like any of the characters. Which is what I was afraid of. His comedy plays are at least fun.
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)
And yet YouTube still seems to be getting better at giving me recommendations. Their current ten videos they think I might like to watch:

The Phoenix - Fall Out Boy (lyrics)
David Bowie - Starman (1972) HD 0815007
Taking the Hobbits to Isengard - 10 HOURS
The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain - The Good…
S#!T Ignorant People Say To Autistics
My Cat From Hell Season 2 Episode 4 - Pissed Off
Star Wars Imperial March with Floppy and Arduino
Yuja Wang_Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1
My Cat From Hell Season 2 Episode 1 - Terrorizing …
Cats : Documentary on the Widespread Popularity of…

That is... actually not bad. Which means I should clear my browser cookies.

Maybe after I watch that Star Wars one.


Mar. 18th, 2014 10:22 pm
vass: Small turtle with green leef in its mouth (Eat your greens)
meat cooking details )
vass: Small turtle with green leef in its mouth (Eat your greens)
I have in my fridge a whole chicken, bought on special at the supermarket for $6/kg, free range. About 1.2kg of chicken.

I also have a cast iron pot with lid.

I also have a cast iron skillet, but it has a wooden handle, so maybe shouldn't go in the oven (or can you wrap the handle in foil? Would that work?)

I also have various other potentially useful ingredients, such as olive oil, salt, soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, chili, ginger, fresh basil, dried oregano, paprika, cumin, a full jar of vindaloo paste, and so on.

I like my chicken well-done. Very definitely cooked. 'Too dry' does not bother me. Maillard reactions are a bonus. But well-stewed is okay too.

Any ideas?
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)
Got up and out of bed at 11am after 9 hours of sleep, and decided I was too exhausted to march. Fed and played with the kittens, did some internetting, and then (at 12) lay down on the couch for a nap. Woke up again at 5pm and gave the kittens their next feed, fed Beatrice, and tidied up a little. Still tired.

Sorry, country. Next time.
vass: Jon Stewart reading a dictionary (books)
Finished The Maltese Falcon. Didn't like this book as much as The Big Sleep, largely because Sam Spade is that much less likeable as a person than Philip Marlowe. Effie was about the only character I could really care about.

Noticed in chapter 11 that Sam was flagging maroon. According to the internet, this means he likes knifeplay. (According to the internet, the hanky code started WAY later than that, but allow me my artistic license.)

The references to Khaireddin Barbarossa and the Hospitallers are making me want to reread the Lymond Chronicles, which is bad because I don't have time to do any such thing.

Still listening to Patrick O'Brian's The Mauritius Command on audiobook. This week I listened to discs 6 and 7 out of 9, and am still fascinated by Stephen's continuing analysis of Lord Clonfert, who will never measure up to Jack Aubrey in his own eyes or Stephen's, and who has an 'almost feminine delicacy.' Stephen's encrypted diaries keep starting off as summaries of the personalities and changing political situation around him, and then turning into unconscious encomiums of Jack. Which is why I dove headfirst into an Aubrey/Maturin fanfic reading binge on Wednesday.

And then right near the end of disc 6, surprise Stephen angst about his laudanum use and how it's self-medicating for his dysthymia. Is it my birthday?

BTW: I remember from back in, like, 2007, there was this series of hysterically funny recaps of the Aubrey/Maturin books, but I don't remember where or who except that it was on LiveJournal. Can someone hook me up, please?

Still slowly reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything. Someone please write me autistic Henry Cavendish feels in the form of a historical novel right the fuck now, OMG.

Reading Kelly Williams Brown's Adulting. Not very far in. I would like to pick a bone with her contention that the problems you can gain the most useful insight from are the ones that are your fault. True for people who reflexively assign blame away from themselves, much less true for people who try to control things that aren't theirs to control. There's a reason the Serenity Prayer includes the line "and the wisdom to tell the difference." It goes both ways.

Also: Adulting now goes on my list of books not to be read right before going to sleep. I had a nightmare in which I met all my childhood friends and found out about their wonderful careers and how much better than me they are at being adults. /o\

Reading Rosemary Edghill's Speak Daggers To Her, on loan from [personal profile] st_aurafina and [personal profile] lilacsigil. It's a lolzy Wiccan murder mystery for people who were sad that there weren't more Di Tregarde novels. So far it entirely delivers, although every now and then I want to tell the author and/or the protagonist "settle down, you're trying too hard."

I am reasonably sure Rosemary Edghill is not a Wiccan, nor indeed a pagan. She's not inaccurate [or no more than narrative license], she's not disrespectful, she's not unaffectionate. She probably knows people who are pagans. I am just getting, leaking through the first person narrative, the sense that the author disagrees philosophically with the character on religious issues. My guess would be Episcopalian, or maybe Uniting or Lutheran. Or was brought up in one of those three, then struck out on her own after reading a whole bunch of theology and thinking it over. This pleases me: I like watching (if I'm correct in my guess) someone from one religious background think their way into writing a sympathetic protagonist from another religious background and make that religion likeable and human.

BTW, I didn't get that sense from Mercedes Lackey's Di Tregarde novels. With those it was more like "was brought up Mormon (or similarly uncongenial American Christian sect) and became some flavour of pagan, but didn't do a whole lot of religious thinking, then or now. And is writing the Cool Stuff version, not a reference work on modern Wicca."

Listened to Dar Williams' The Honesty Room. Cried at 'When I Was A Boy'.

Watched The Maltese Falcon (Bogart version.) I liked it a whole lot. Would watch again. As well as Bogart, I particularly liked Sydney Greenstreet and Lee Patrick. Peter Lorre's acting was good, but I could not get past the 'effeminate, cowardly foreigner' schtick (I understand in later years he make a whole lot of films in yellowface.) There was a moment where various characters were shouting after Wilmer, and I started to flash back to watching the Flintstones as a child, and burst out laughing, but apart from that they had me all the way through.

Humphrey Bogart as Aral Vorkosigan: thoughts? Personally, I don't quite buy it, but he does have the right eyes. And I can definitely picture him declaiming revolution in iambic pentameter while too drunk to stand.

I loved the score. I have a fondness for film music of that period anyway, and this was an excellent example of the genre.
vass: A sepia-toned line-drawing of a man in naval uniform dancing a hornpipe, his crotch prominent (Default)
Strange number comes up on my mobile phone. [It's a local number, there was a short pause but no beeps, and the voice is a young, perky woman with an urban Australian accent.]
Caller: "Hi [oldname], I'm calling from [phone provider], I'm calling to ensure you're getting the maximum value from your account, is that okay?"
Me: "I'm sorry, I don't understand."
Caller: [slower] "I'm calling to ensure you're getting the maximum value from your account."
Me: "Yes, but what does that mean?"
Caller: [tone of voice implying that she both thinks I'm an idiot and is annoyed to have to go off script] "I'm calling to go through your account with you and make sure that you're getting what you need, the payments are on track, and you're not paying for anything you don't have to."
Me: "Um, well, I'm just getting my mobile and data plan from you, and my payments are all up to date, and that's all, so."
Caller: "Alright, that's great. Have a nice day."

I wasn't trying to be mean to her. I just don't do well with phone calls. I wasn't prepared, she had a script and I didn't, I didn't know for sure that she was from my provider (she had my old name and mobile number, but that's hardly definitive) and her initial script had the distinct flavour of "I want to upsell you to another plan while pretending I'm doing you a favour. And I'm in a hurry."

But mainly, just, I was sure that "I'm calling to ensure you're getting the maximum value from your account" meant something specific, but I didn't know what that something was, and it always bothers me when that happens.

I'm sure I could get a better deal on my mobile and data plan. I know that. But there is no fucking way in hell I'm going to do that over the phone. I don't retain auditory information well (the phone conversation above is a reconstruction, not what was said word for word) and I take too long to think, and I like to cross-check everything and also take time.

Also, I doubt I could get a better deal without switching carriers, and I like that my mobile is on a different provider from my landline and ADSL, and that my landline and ADSL's ISP is served upstream by a different group from my mobile. That means that when there's an outage on one, the other might still be up. That's been useful already. And so far I have never had a billing issue with my mobile provider, and I like that. (Nor with the current ISP, actually. Previous ISP were fucking awful in that regard. Previous ISP, by the way, still spams me with unwanted outage updates for their service I haven't used in two years. I can't remove myself from the list because I'm no longer one of their users so I can't log into the interface. And tech support isn't exactly in a hurry to help me with that problem because, again, I'm not one of their users.)


vass: A sepia-toned line-drawing of a man in naval uniform dancing a hornpipe, his crotch prominent (Default)

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