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.Fanficthedeadparrot
'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 thedeadparrot
is trying to tell a story, not to trick you.Games
As mentioned under fanfic, 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.)Music
Re-listened to Linkin Park's Meteora
more than once. Because fuck you, that's why.Podcasts
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.