vass: Jon Stewart reading a dictionary (books)

Reading The Book of Margery Kempe. [Norton Edition, Lynn Staley.]

"Hey Margery, what's up?"
"That's great, Margery."
"I MEAN REALLY. I was thinking about martyrdom, and how much I want to die for Our Lord, and I was so scared, but I want it so much, so I decided that I'd just get tied up hand and foot, really tight so I can't struggle no matter how tempted I am, and then THEY would get a really sharp axe and cut my head off in one blow..."
"Who would, Margery? And why are they letting you decide how you die in this scenario?"
"The unbelievers! And the haters! So that my death reforms them and they come to love God like I do! Anyway, I was feeling so guilty about being scared and wanting an easy martyrdom, so I cried some more, but THEN Our Lord came and talked to me, and HE SAID that every time I imagine someone martyring me, I would get the same reward in heaven as if I was ACTUALLY MARTYRED. And that's SO AMAZING, because really, I think about being brutally killed for Our Lord's sake ALL THE TIME, so he's rewarding me SO MUCH. GOD IS SO GOOD, VASS. BUT THEN he said he'll never let me be martyred IRL because he loves me too much and he'd rather come right back down and be crucified again than let anything really happen to me, but I can still get spiritual reward for imagining that I'm being persecuted, ISN'T THAT THE BEST? GOD IS SO GOOD."
"What's wrong?"
"I'm sorry you can't cry the way I can. Crying is TRUE RELIGION. I'm crying for you in the hope that my tears will make God make you cry too so you can be close to God like I am, only not AS close of course."
"Um, thanks, Margery."
"Heeheehee! Heaven is so much fun, wheeeee!"

Still reading Les Mis. Jean Valjean is also martyring himself, but he's not having as much fun with it as Margery Kempe is with hers. Fantine is having considerably less fun, though.


Read Scenes From a Theoretical Night, by an unknown Yuletide author (or at least a Yuletide author who didn't claim their fic when the old Yuletide archive got ported over to AO3.) It's a 1776 fic, set immediately after the movie, about Congress going out and getting extremely drunk together. There are a lot of fandom tropes here that I dislike, but what saves it is a) that the period language is frequently very good, and b) it is really fucking funny. I laughed so loudly at John Adams' tactless drunken FEELINGSSPEECHES, I probably scared the neighbours.

TV and Movies

Watched 1776, which I hadn't seen before, an oversight I'm very happy to correct.

It was all fun and games until:

Dickinson: Mr Jefferson, I have very little interest in your paper, as there's no doubt in my mind that we've all but heard the last of it. But I am curious about one thing. Why do you refer to King George as a tyrant?"
Jefferson: Because he is a tyrant.
Dickinson: I remind you, Mr Jefferson, that this tyrant is still your king.
Jefferson: When a king becomes a tyrant, he thereby breaks the contract binding his subjects to him.
Dickinson: How so?
Jefferson: By taking away their rights.
Dickinson: Rights that came from him in the first place?
Jefferson: All except one. The right to be free comes from nature.
Dickinson: And are we not free, Mr Jefferson?
Jefferson: Homes entered without warrant, citizens arrested without charge, and in many places free assembly itself denied.
Dickinson: No one approves of such things, Mr Jefferson, but these are dangerous times.

And suddenly we're not in Philadelphia any more, we're in #ferguson.


Secret of Mana replay is in its final phase.

His mother: a tree.
His father: legendary knight and treefucker, Serin.


vass: Jon Stewart reading a dictionary (books)

Finished reading Nnedi Okorafor's Who Fears Death. I think I'll have nightmares tonight.

Comics and Manga

Read White Tiger #2-6. It was... pretty bad. D: Maybe I'd have liked it better if I knew more of the context, or could follow the plot better - but probably not. I don't really like mafia plots, whether they're Japanese mafia, Russian mafia, or Italian mafia. And even if I did... damn, that's a lot of stereotypes strung together. Right down to the gratuitious seppuku scene at the end. And if you're going to centre your plot around yakuza, and pepper their dialogue with words in Japanese, it would help if you didn't make mistakes so obvious that I can catch them with my two years of not very diligent middle school Japanese study twenty years ago. "Domo" does not mean "thank you". "Umimasen" does not mean "sorry".

I liked Natasha and Luke and Danny, and the bits with Angela's family, and the security job.

Started reading Fullmetal Alchemist #7.


Reread a bunch of old Nero Wolfe fanfic. Realised two things. One, Nero/Archie occupies the same category in my fanfic reading as Finch/Reese. The major differences being that Wolfe and Finch are fucked up in different ways, and Archie Goodwin is several stdevs less fucked up than John Reese (but put him through what Reese has been through, and see if he's that much better off.) And two, that I have a Nero Wolfe is autistic! headcanon now. I'm sorry! But I do! I am more serious about this than I am comfortable admitting.

TV and Movies

Watched POI 2.06, 'The High Road'. Also watched, at [personal profile] fasangel's house, the season 4 trailer. Such serious. Very walking. Much intense. Wow. (This is unfair use of doge speech, since the actual doge was the only main character not to be shown Walking Seriously. Which is a pity - a clip of Bear doing the Serious Walking thing would be perfect. He could hold a tennis ball in his mouth, intensely.)

Watched the episode of My Cat From Hell about Lux, the cat whose people called 911 on him. I watched it with Beatrice in my lap. She looked up at me with happy slitted eyes while I rubbed behind her ears. Then she chomped my arm. Over the flannel shirt I was wearing, so it didn't hurt at all. But still. Way to bite me while MCFH is on, Beatrice!

Also at [personal profile] fasangel's, we watched Kitchen Nightmares 7.02, 'Pantaleone's' (the one with "the best pizza in Colorado".) When Gordon Ramsay was trying out the food, there was another guy in the dining room who said "this tastes like cat food!" and Ramsay gave him a weird look like "you've eaten cat food?" and the guy said "Long story." And I really thought (at least until I looked it up) that Cat Food Guy was Jackson Galaxy. It wasn't, but until I googled it, I was free to imagine that Jackson Galaxy had a cameo in Kitchen Nightmares, comparing the restaurant's food unfavourably to cat food. Sometimes faceblindness makes TV better, not worse.


Continuing my Secret of Mana playthrough. Spoilers, with screencaps, follow:

spoilers )
vass: cover of album "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas" (Yuletide Hippopotamus)
Excerpt from a comment I made to one of [personal profile] brownbetty's posts:

"As things are, I'm requesting Ancillary Justice for Yuletide, and am slightly ashamed of how much I want awkward clientage-of-convenience romantic comedy where Breq becomes Seivarden's patron. Possibly with dance numbers. Because this book is so much more than that, and there's so much other interesting and important stuff to explore, and all of it would be good too... but the (possibly entirely nonsexual) union of Agender Failboat Draco Malfoy and the LITERAL SPACETOASTER that is Breq would be loldorable, and how much agender romance fiction even is there?"

[For reference, TFV's definition of a spacetoaster.]
vass: Jon Stewart reading a dictionary (books)

Read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Most of the way through it made me expostulate "SCIENCE!" every few pages, in the same tone Cordelia Vorkosigan would use to say "Barrayarans!" Then I reached the finishing stretch, and it was just one gut punch after another. One of two best medical histories I've ever read - the other is Siddhartha Mukherjee's The Emperor of All Maladies. Comprehensively researched, excellent prose, intelligent, but above all extremely humane and respectful, strongly grounded in an understanding of systematic injustice and wrong. Trigger warnings: basically all of the standard ones.


Exactly how obnoxiously I can shoehorn my current fandom into everything. Harold Rubber Duck! Bad Code!

Amazing vid of the week: Watershed, by [personal profile] chaila. Wonder Woman, various sources, music by Vienna Teng.


Bought the iOS version of Secret of Mana, a game I was totally obsessed with when I was 13. It was the only SNES game I was all that into (I was a huge NES fan, though.) I had so many feelings. "But time flows like a river... and history repeats." The soundtrack definitely stands up to the test of time. And the graphics look DAMN good on my phone. Sadly, the navigation is more difficult with a touchscreen, and it was difficult enough already. "Have you ever seen an enormous tree called the Mana Tree? Well, I haven't."


Rewatched two episodes of Drunk Geek Crafts on YouTube, while doing sleep-deprived, overcaffeinated knitting of my own. I think I may have to go buy lots of red, white, blue, and purple duct tape, and make my own Captain America shield and Magneto helmet.


tfln macro )

Smelled Guerlain's Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune, as reviewed here.


Knitting. Still doing the mitred square blanket. I have given up on all the mitres pointing the same way, or not having odd bulges from getting the tension wrong or miscounting the stitches, but I'm still holding firm on the joins all being on the same side.

progress pic )


Aug. 6th, 2014 03:37 pm
vass: Icon of Saint Ignatius being eaten by lions (eaten by lions)
At the beginning of this year, I bought a camping tent, with the intention of taking it camping. That hasn't happened yet, but last night I decided to set it up in the spare room, for a nice enclosed space to retreat and nap.

I tried sleeping in there, but, well.

Picture the scene. It's dark. I'm lying on my back inside a grey polyester tent, looking up at the dome. I'm in my sleeping bag with a heat pack, and I've just set my phone to play a nice, soothing podcast about rabies, and the screen hasn't yet turned off, so there's a dim glow.

Scrabblescrabble scritch scritch scritch.

Beatrice is beating the bounds of the tent. Beatrice, as I have described in the past, likes tents. (I've left the corner of the door unzipped in case she wants to come in and join me, but so far she's just doing a perimeter patrol.)

I'm still looking up at the dome. Suddenly there is this shadow on the wall of the tent, climbing rapidly up until finally it's on top of the dome. The shadow is approximately bear-shaped, only rather smaller. The shadow sits there for a minute or so, while I laugh too hard to breathe. Then, having made her point, the shadow climbs down the other side of the tent.

I decide, eventually, that either my bed or the couch would probably be more restful than the tent.
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)
First whiff: sharp citrusy grapefruit, with an unfortunate side of dishwashing liquid and an undertone of urine. The wrong sort of urine, alas. (Yes, there is a right way for a perfume to smell like urine, and that is not this smell.) Also just a tiny bit of honey.

Alas, as the drydown commences, the dishwashing liquid becomes stronger and more floral. There's also a faint plastic note, which normally I'd like, but not in something supposed to be fresh and fruity and sharp.

As it goes on, the plastic and dishwashing notes become stronger, and it's less "grapefruit" and more "grapefruit scented pens for children". Also my brain feels a little foggy. I think there's something I'm sensitive to in this.

It dries down further and I get this sweet middle note. Still fruity, even still grapefruit (although maybe also some other fruit?) but much sweeter. More like the grapefruit lollies my French teacher used to give us. I loved those lollies. The ones with the hard outside that cut the roof of your mouth while you sucked on them, and the soft, chewy centre. And the dishwashing scent and urine have gone right away and left this clean, sweet smell.

The 'aqua' note... I can sort of smell. Not very strong at all, but something like the product my hairdresser used last time I went (which was strong, but mainly because he'd rubbed it all through my hair.) Sort of salty sea, sort of coconut, in a chemical and artificial way.

My skin seems to amp the grapefruit a bit. That or it just has good throw. It's not horrendously strong, but it could have been overwhelming if I hadn't used such a small dab, I think.

I read this as feminine, not masculine or neutral. But it's not a person, it's a place. A sunny place with sweet, fruity drinks, very clean and sanitary and unreal. Maybe a cruise ship. Or maybe the place Alys and Simon went for their holiday.

As it dries further, it gets more 'perfumey' and ladylike. Still in a light, summery way. I'm getting Myer's summer regatta range, all horizontal stripes and $200 price tags. I'm getting 'Oh I do like to be beside the seaside' stuck in my head. "Where the brass band plays, tiddly-om-pom-pom." I'm feeling this faint urge to shout "fuck off, perfume, it's winter." Which maybe means I'm not in the right mood for perfume tonight and should try again another time. But even allowing for that, this is a perfectly good perfume, but Not Me.
vass: XKCD comic: Elaine Roberts plays drums, caption she even for a time took up drumming." (Riot Prrl 2)
How to add permanent volume markings to a kettle using salt, vinegar, and a 9 volt battery: a pictorial guide. Can also be used to decorate steel water bottles.

Breaking Out The Broken English, by Arthur Chu. "When I sound real, I'm fake, and when I sound fake, I'm real. I can only wonder how many of my fellow hyphenated Americans can say the same."

Book Reviews
Amazon reviewer on Cory Bernardi's The Conservative Revolution: "Poor value, and very rough on the nether regions" (The other reviews are also worth a read, unlike the book itself.)

Window Shopping
Ask MetaFilter: What are the world's most useful dead tree catalogs? Paper mail order catalogues for every profession and hobby. *droooooool*

Understandable, by Meg Evans. A short story. (Content note: murder of child, suicide, ableism.)

Computer Science
Sorting algorithms, explained in language a young child could understand (PDF)

Parody Meets Prosody
Paradelle: more like a sestina than a villanelle; either way, it was intended as a joke. But

xkcd: Magic Words (Oh, hello, sudden inexplicable and embarrassing urge to write Delany/Hacker RPF.) ("Rebecca's cloaca." "Mr Magoo's cyanide pill.")

A Day in the Sundial (Book of Hours): an article by Esther Emery (youngest daughter of Carla "The Encyclopedia of Country Living" Emery) on living in a yurt with her husband and three children.

Things I Wish I'd Read When I Was Thirteen
Letter To A Young Haskell Enthusiast: not actually about Haskell or computer programming in general. About social interaction.
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)

Read some of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot (which is a great Jack Dann title+author combo, btw.)

Read a few grudging pages of Les Mis.

New book acquisitions this week: Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov and Michel de Montaigne's complete essays. Which latter is as thick as Les Mis. I'm not going to start it yet - it's part of the autobiography and memoir category in my List of D00m, and it comes after The Book of Margery Kempe (I'm skipping Augustine's Confessions because I've read it before.)

Some other recent book acquisitions I forgot to mention until now: a pile of big old folio-size art books from my parents, who are downsizing. I got one general art history, one on Asian art, one Renaissance, one pre-historic, and one on Impressionism... oh, and some comics collections. Amphigory, Amphigory Too, and Colonel Pewter In Ironicus. My father also insisted on giving two huge lever arch files of Colonel Pewter newspaper cuttings, but he did say I could get rid of them when I was done with them. I do not have room in my home for two huge lever arch files of anything. I also got to plunder their fiction and nonfiction, but there was surprisingly little there that I wanted but didn't have already.


I love how sometimes you think "wouldn't that make a great Yuletide fandom?" and you search for it in AO3 and discover that someone else was way ahead of you and requested it already in a previous year, and got the story you would have most liked to read, and it's right there waiting for you to read it. It's so convenient, so helpful of them.

Three years ago, [personal profile] st_aurafina requested the music video of 'Total Eclipse of the Heart', and [ profile] Ankaret wrote The Doves And The Ravens, which is as weird and spooky and haunting and tragic and weird as the music video, with beautiful language and deeply strange worldbuilding.

And now I don't have to request 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' for Yuletide this year. (So far on my list of things to request, I have A Stranger in Olondria, A Suitable Boy, and Ancillary Justice.)

Read The Other Miss Bennett, by [ profile] halotolerant, adorable Pride and Prejudice Kitty/Georgiana.

Watched Integral, a POI vid by [ profile] soupdragon. Their first vid, and it showed in that I found harder to follow than most vids, and I'm already pretty bad at following vids. But the song choice was absolutely perfect.

Best fanart I saw this week: [personal profile] sqbr's Our Lady of the Machine. Root from POI in the style of a religious icon. (The moment I realised that wasn't an earring, it was a reference to canon, OMG.)

TV and Movies

POI. 'Risk': I am trying to figure out what Jim Caviezel's acting choices in the tailoring scene were meant to signify, if not that John's turned on. Also, in the scene with Finch and Carter in the cab, I decided that the world needs more Finch/Reese/Carter. So far I've only been able to find one story with that combo.

'Baby Blue': LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL. Oh poor Carter. That double-take. And "She was in imminent danger of kidnapping." And then her second, even more horrified double-take at "Leila's safe. She's with John."

'One Percent': this show. It keeps teetering on the edge of being serious and moving, and then expresses Nathan and Harold's horror at 9/11 with an EXTREME DRAMATIC NOSTRIL CAM. To be fair, Harold's nostrils were very shocked and distressed.

BTW, Logan Pierce, you are a billionaire. I think you can afford to keep an epipen handy in case you're inadvertently exposed to something you know you're allergic to. (We are leaving alone the fact that ANAPHYLAXIS TREATMENT DOES NOT WORK LIKE THAT.)

'Identity Crisis': Finch on E was not as horrible as I feared. They left him more of his dignity than I expected. More than Fusco has unmedicated. Poor Fusco. I was starting to feel sorry for him, and then he handed a computer to Harold Finch right after he set the sirens off. I particularly liked the scene where suddenly everyone onscreen was occluded by a large, loud tortoiseshell cat. She does that so much she should have her own IMDB page.

For convoluted reasons, this is [ profile] leupagus's fault, because of the Violent Amoral Unicorn of Justice thing. It got me thinking about Nethack unicorns and POI characters (from a paragraph of sleep deprived babble I've deleted from this post before posting: "do not sacrifice Root or Shaw or Reese on a cross-aligned altar.") And then:


Finch the Evoker          St:10 Dx:14 Co:15 In:18 Wi:9 Ch:9  Neutral
Dlvl:1  $:0  HP:11(12) Pw:6(6) AC:9  Xp:1/0 T:6

As you can see, his Int is as high as it can be at the start of a game, but his Con, Str, and Dex are only so-so, and his Wis and Cha are really poor. The f is called Reese, because of Reesons.

Finch the Evoker was killed on level 1 by a sewer rat shortly following a magical explosion... or did he fake his death? I hate playing wizards. I think I might play Shaw the Barbarian next.


Papa Wemba, Molokai. I felt like some Congolese rhumba music. Because I've never listened to Congolese rhumba music, and it sounded cheerful. It was cheerful. Would listen again.

Galactic Suburbia in the car. Finished listening to the 9th July episode. Still to listen to: 29th May, 11th June, 26th July. A lot of podcasts I'm subscribed to, I just delete episodes I don't get around to. This one I keep for later because of the recommendations.




Made beef stew again, this time with tomatoes and carrots, less pepper, more garlic. It was heavenly. Made it twice.


Tarot reading. The question I focused on was "what should I do right now?" The cards said I'm feeling uncreative and lack confidence, shouldn't take on too much, am in danger of overload, and (depending on how I interpret the Seven of Cups in this context) either should go ahead and numb out with fanfic so long as I don't overdo it, or should cultivate the art of daydreaming about the future to bolster up my creativity and belief in my own capability and insight into what I want to do next.

Tarot is weird. It can't give you any information or insight that wasn't already in your mind to begin with, but it sure can pull things out of the back of the sock drawer that were there but weren't what you were concentrating on right now. I was not expecting creativity and the power of daydreaming to be a Thing, even though hello, horribly stalled on novel in progress because afraid, and also stalled on job search because no fucking idea what sort of work I want to do or am capable of. I'd actually been expecting the answer to "what should I do right now?" to be whatever card translates to "you should clean the dishes and vacuum the carpet."

Bonus Beatrice picture
photo )
vass: Warning sign of man in water with an octopus (Accidentally)
Last night I spent some time hitting random xkcd comics to calm down before bed. And I discovered that when you hover over xkcd 609 to get the hovertext, the image turns out to be a link. To TVTropes.

And that's how I stayed up until 7:54am on a day when I had to leave for therapy at 2pm.[*]

But at least I learned how to say "Only joking. Not really. Are we still friends?" in Lojban.

[*] Not really. There was also the knitting. And the fanfic. And a POI episode. And planning the week ahead. And the three hours cooking meals for the next two days. And the supermarket trip to buy the groceries for that cooking. And writing in my paper journal. And lurking on IRC and getting my Dreamhack set up again so I can get back to dev. TVTropes is for amateur procrastinators.
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)
Dear DuckDuckGo, sometimes you worry me. Like when I type "blood pressure", and before I can add "cuff", the phrase "blood pressure cooker" pops up.
vass: a man in a bat suit says "I am a model of mental health!" (Bats)
Read Lia Silver's Laura's Wolf. It is very fine winter reading. I loved sitting in a nest of blankets with a heat pack, a cat, and a cup of lapsang souchong, with a stew cooking in the oven, in Melbourne winter weather, reading about the heroine in a hut in Yosemite, snowed in with the electricity out and her only companion an injured werewolf.

I kind of want to read the urban fantasy romance where in order to survive the werecat's bite, the heroine has to find her inner cat and transform. LICK YOUR BUTT. SCRATCH THE FURNITURE. PRODUCE A HAIRBALL. DRAPE YOURSELF DECORATIVELY, TAKING UP THREE QUARTERS OF A BED FIFTY TIMES YOUR SIZE. COME ON, I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT, DON'T GIVE UP NOW.

Picked up Les Miserables again. Am now up to page 210 of 1194 (endnotes not included.) In another 54 pages, I'll reach the end of the first volume. This book is hard work, and I say that as someone who's read A Suitable Boy, Infinite Jest, War and Peace, Middlemarch, and the Bible cover to cover.


Read Carrying Dangerous Goods by [ profile] novembersmith. It's a Gen Kill/Temeraire fusion. Ray/Brad. The pining/miscommunication plot got a little ridiculous by the end, and I like pining, but the details of how the Gen Kill characters fit into Temeraire's world were great.

TV and Movies

More Avengers Assemble: episode 5, 'Blood Feud'. Black Widow, who in Avengers Assemble only exists to be rescued, is bitten by Dracula. The highlight of this episode is of course Hulkula. But I'm not sure how much more sexism I can stand.

More POI. Watched 'Super' and 'Root Cause' and 'Blue Code' (in which the person of interest is Michael Hey It's That Guy Aronov.) So far I don't like canon Nathan as much as fanon Nathan, and I have difficulty understanding why Finch likes Nathan. Have developed a regrettable tendency to refer to Root as w00t. Still not as silly as what she calls herself. Finch clearly agrees with me on this. When she introduces herself on IRC, he makes this little disapproving motion with his mouth.

As far as Finch is concerned, a sensible way to pick your pseudonym would be:
textfile = open('verylonglistofbirds.txt', 'r')
lines = textfile.readlines()
for line in lines:
   chunks = line.split()
   surname = chunks[0]
   print "Hello, my name is Harold " + surname + ". "

See? Much more practical than naming yourself after Australian slang for fucking the Unix superuser and base of filesystem.

(And yeah, I'm sure there's a better way to chomp /n in Python. Give me a break, I don't know any Python at all. I fudged that script from the one in this Python Pals puzzle.)


Played Shisen Sho so much I got Tetris effect from it.


More knitting.


Made beef stew for the first time, using the cast iron casserole dish I got for Christmas. I didn't use a recipe so much as do a quick search for how much liquid, how hot an oven, and for how long, and then wing it. 1.3kg silverside beef, 2tbsp olive oil, 2c water, 1 green capsicum, salt, cracked black pepper, crushed garlic, dried rosemary and oregano. Preheat oven to 160'C, chop beef into ~1in cubes (trimming the silvery bit and giving a little bit to a very appreciative cat), place in cast iron casserole dish with all ingredients except capsicum, stir, cover with lid, cook for 1 hour. Roughly chop capsicum and add (next time I'll add it later.) Cook for another hour, check. It's still not soft enough, and there's too much liquid, so turn the heat up to 180'C and cook for a third hour. Makes five servings. Result was very good, although next time I'll use less pepper, and maybe some wine or stock or tomatoes or something to replace some or all of the water. But as a proof of concept, it worked just fine.

Bought a new cooking knife for the first time in like ten years. Such an improvement.
vass: Icon of Saint Ignatius being eaten by lions (eaten by lions)
Have you sat your cat down and raised the possibility with them that they are a cat? Some cats may lack insight into their condition, and need to be gently brought to an understanding of it. Other cats may have already had their suspicions, and would appreciate affirmation from you on this point. Follow-up is also very important, as many cats will have further questions, and most will need reinforcement on the main concepts.
vass: Icon of Saint Ignatius being eaten by lions (eaten by lions)
The more I know about people, the more I like my cat.

Ironically, she likes people much better than I do. (She does spend less time reading about science fiction conventions and their safety procedures.)
vass: Icon of Saint Ignatius being eaten by lions (eaten by lions)
That it is possible to purr grumpily.
vass: Jon Stewart reading a dictionary (books)
Trying to get back in the rhythm of doing this on Wednesday, not some other day.


Finished listening to Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers (Blackstone Audio, read by Simon Prebble.) Thing I had not realised until right now, reading the Wikipedia page: this was his first novel, and he was only 25 when he finished it. I'm a little more inclined to forgive some of the sentiment and some of the bad taste jokes now that I know that.

Dickens is one of those authors I have difficulty thinking of as ever having been young. When he sermonises about how old and tired Pickwick is but how much he loves to see the young people being happy and this has always been his greatest pleasure in life (Pickwick never having been young himself, presumably) I had thought this was Dickens writing sentimental glurge contrary to his own experience either because it sells well or because he's buying his own line of tripe. But nope, it sounds like he hadn't had the experience yet himself, and was romanticising about an old age far ahead of him. I feel better knowing that.

(Which is not that he probably didn't feel at least a hundred years old by then - I am not discounting his early life. David Copperfield has more about the workhouse and child labour stuff, but Pickwick has plenty of debtor's prison stuff informed directly by Dickens' father's experiences.)

Read Jo Walton's My Real Children all in one long gulp from start to finish this afternoon. 89-year-old woman with severe dementia keeps switching between two timelines: they diverged when she was 23 and her fiance told her they had to get married now or never. I loved the two narratives of Patricia's life, they were wonderful, I loved the alternate history. I felt the writing was very spare and tell-not-show, but it seemed deliberately so, and it worked as a narrative choice, the more so because there was so much ground to cover (66 years, twice.) But I hated the ending.

Some content notes for My Real Children, because some people might want them: thyroid cancer, dementia (probably Alzheimer's, but that's not stated), partner abuse, child abuse, suicide, a mental illness thing I'll mention under spoiler cut, and some very, very upsetting stuff about end of life and disability and elder rights. (Not necessarily in an "the author fucked it up" way, but definitely in a "potentially really triggering" way.) Spoilers for the ending after the cut:

spoilers, mental illness talk )


Read Anamnesis, by [ profile] linman. Vorkosiverse, the events of Memory from Simon's POV. AMAZING. In particular, Lady Alys was really well written - there was everything I dislike about her and everything that makes her a great character and endearing to the characters who do like her.
vass: Jon Stewart reading a dictionary (books)
Aimee Mann's 'Frankenstein'. Person of Interest. Nathan/Harold. Canon-compliant.

Why yes, I'm aware of the theory that vids should be set to songs that suit the canon aesthetic, or which the characters involved would listen to or like. I just don't subscribe to it.

I'm not sure who this imaginary vid is meaner to, Finch or the Machine.

Here's the first verse:

"I don't know you from Adam, it could make my day
If you leave me a message I'll give it away
'Cause the most perfect strangers that you can talk to
Are the ones who pretend that you're not really you."
vass: Jon Stewart reading a dictionary (books)
Read Cathy Park Hong's Engine Empire. Was reminded how someone or other said that operatic plots are not sensible because when people are feeling sensible they do not burst into song. I think maybe when Cathy Park Hong is not feeling bleak and stark, she does not write poems.

Which is not to say I didn't like it. Sharp and smart and poignant and really skillful with language.

Pickwick Papers: in the home stretch. Which is to say, I have about 5 hours of audio left, out of a total of 30. And it's a week overdue at the library after I already renewed it as many times as I could.

Reread [ profile] lalaietha's your blue-eyed boys (Marvel, Steve/Bucky.)

Re-watched [ profile] isagel's vid Skeleton Key (POI, Root), which captures many of the things I like best about Root, her ruthless self-sufficiency, her refusal to be pitied.

Unexpected WIP I got sucked into reading and then hooked on: Weeds, by [ profile] Dien. POI, AU, Finch/Reese/Fusco, on the premise that Finch and Reese advertised for a houseboy, and Fusco (who never met them and is just out of prison, having taken the fall for HR) didn't know what all the acronyms meant and thought it was just yard work, cleaning, and dog-walking. So yeah, crackfic, but hilarious and surprisingly moving crackfic. As I said, WIP, but it's been updated recently.

TV and Movies
Another three episodes of Person of Interest. Am I supposed to find it hilarious every time Reese does something cartoonishly violent or lawless for the greater public good, or every time Finch tries to explain to a person of interest how they should overcome their trust issues and not hide from people? Because I do.

If I ever write fic in this fandom, at least one of my stories will include a really furious argument between Finch and Root on the subject of structural and systematic violence, and how the Machine is programmed only to prevent unexpected deaths, not deaths that are business as usual.

Tracy Grammer, Flower of Avalon. I'm going to have 'Gypsy Rose' stuck in my head for the rest of my fucking LIFE, and it's not anywhere near my favourite song on that album. (My favourite songs on that album are 'Hey Ho' and 'Preston Miller'.)

"In vials of ivory and coloured glass
Unstoppered, lurked her strange synthetic perfumes,
Unguent, powdered, or liquid - troubled, confused
And drowned the sense in odours"
- T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land.

Guerlain's Jicky, reviewed here.
Knize Ten, reviewedhere.

Another few squares of the mitred square blanket, while watching POI and while having dinner with [personal profile] fasangel and [personal profile] mills_23. And then I brought the Pickwick Papers CDs in from the car and knit some more while listening to them with a warm, heavy cat on me.

My desktop upgrade is nearly finished.

cut )

Bonus Beatrice photo: she expresses her opinion on various subjects.

cut )
vass: Champ Bear holding baseball bat, caption "Dyke" (Dyke Bear)
I'm listening to NPR's 'Ask Me Another'.

Jonathan Coulton is playing theme songs for the quiz show contestants to guess. He says "To make it extra climactic, we're gonna have ________ play this one."

I know that the guests that week were They Might Be Giants, so what he said is that he's going to have They Might Be Giants play this one. I KNOW THIS.

But I still hear "To make it extra climactic, we're gonna have my vagina play this one."
vass: Dykes To Watch Out For: Janis, pre-transition, singing Britney Spears (happysingingjanis)
Opening notes: Alcohol! Marzipan! Kerosene!

Drydown commences: DID WE MENTION KEROSENE? Also some blown-out birthday candles. Plus more marzipan, and this sweet, light floral note I can't place. Trashcan fire in springtime. Much kerosene, wow. And just a hint of My Little Pony plastic, my old friend. And cordite? Is that what cordite smells like? I don't think I've ever smelled it, but it's what I imagine cordite to smell like.

It is amazing how very industrial this perfume is WITHOUT fucking me up. My nose and throat do not have a burning sensation, and I don't feel woozy, and I don't have a headache, mild or otherwise. Whatever compounds have those effects on me, this perfume does not contain them.

Further along the drydown process, burned plastic/paint/other things that should not be burned, after the fire went out and it all cooled down. Burning rubber. There is something complicated going on here, a bunch of different but related 'industrial' scents that I can identify as being different from each other but can't tease out and name individually. And the faintest whiff of citrus. And salt, like sweat from the heat of whatever's burning.

And then I started getting vanilla. Really faintly, but sweet. I'm told this is a leather perfume, but if I smell leather at all, it's leather that's buried in cigarette smoke.

I love it. It is very much what I hoped Bulgari Black would be like. I wouldn't want to wear it all the time, but it's definitely nice to meet and spend some time with.

I'm trying to think what character this perfume represents, and I'm actually imagining Jenny Sparks. Or Katina Choovanski. Or Laura Cadman, or Sam Carter. A cheerfully violent woman with a love of explosives, fun to be around. Gleeful. Yes: Cadman. The smoke stings your eyes as you stand beside her, and you notice that her eyes are watering too, and her face is red from the blast, and you can't hear her laughter over the ringing in your ears, but there's no hiding the grin on her face, or her triumph at timing the detonation just right.
vass: Jon Stewart reading a dictionary (books)
Not scandalously filthy on me.

Fresh lavender and dried lavender and a bit of talcum powder and a bit of not totally clean butt, not in a suggestive or shocking way, just someone you're close enough to that you'd help them wipe their butt if that was what they needed. Or it's your own butt. Matter of fact, not ooh la la or ha ha bottoms. Mainly just lavender, though. Smells like your grandma, but not if your grandma is Madame Armfeldt.

Also, my skin eats this. Very little throw, and it wears off very quickly, leaving just a faint hint of lavender and powder, like where your grandma kissed your cheek. On your face.


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

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