Saturday, December 29, 2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
And while you're thinking Potter, you will want to check out this entry - it is where Voldemort and Steve Jobs meet.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
My job, that unpredictable beast, involves some tedium; as does my own time, on a good day. I clean, catalogue, update, download at various times and in various places, and I notice that this time is valuable to me. By the time I get home, or get done, I often have whole posts/letters/stories/issues sorted out in my head, and all I have to do is show them out. While I love adrenaline-filled crazy days, these slow days of catching up are part and parcel of my set of needs. I like myself better on days when I'm creative in some way or other.
It occurs to me that Julia Cameron reminds me of Sybil Trelawny. I know I'm obsessed with HP, but really, wouldn't you agree? The thick fog of new-agey, fuzzy, touchy-feely self-affirmation in Cameron's book almost convinces you that she must be a fraud, but in spite of herself she has flashes of real insight.
Dit echter geheel terzijde. Sorry, had to say that in Dutch. It means something like "however" or "this entirely aside".
"So" in Northern Irish English.
To come back to the issue of creativity, I've been wondering about whether I should write fanfic. Since I'm obsessed anyway, I might as well make a virtue of necessity. Or whatever you might call obsessive compulsion. I'm not sure that I am brave/well-versed/good enough to actually do so, and the prospect is hopelessly intimidating for some reason, and it would require deeper cover on the internets (another alias...but I like mine). Hmmm. I figure that writing fanfic might displace my covert desire to write romances; so much fanfic is romantic anyway - surely the skills are transferable. Rather than writing about muscular sea-captains one can borrow some more interesting folks from Madam Rowley. Hmmm.
The other thing that I was thinking of today is that one of the truly baffling things in my life is people's behaviour towards the Spouse. My husband is the sweetest, sincerest, silliest person I know. He is also incredibly intelligent. For some reason entirely unknown to me this results in people treating him much worse than he deserves. It is infinitely aggravating to me when people are rude, or worse, off-hand, to him for no better reason than that he is too nice to retaliate. You have no idea how many people I would tell off, refuse to talk to, insult, punch, and generally abuse if it were not for the Spouse's insistence that I should not. I really sometimes feel like the dragon at the gate, being much more direct and on the offensive; and because being mean to him is like kicking the proverbial puppy, I am much more aggressive on my behalf than on my own. Oh the people who treat as a dismissable nice guy. They make my hands itch, even when they're my friends. Grrr.
All right, I'll be good; but I will never understand why so few people really see what a great human being he is.
Friday, December 14, 2007
People have lived on a small scale for a long time - family, village, community. It's only recently that we've started seeing the bigger picture. There's this idea out there that more travel, more knowledge makes you a happier, better person (am I just inventing this?) - I disagree. It makes you a more interesting person perhaps; a better one on a good day. I don't believe, however, that the bigger picture makes anyone happy. Maybe I am too influenced by the Simple Living ideas, but I feel like, while there is no reason for me personally to be unhappy, I do feel terribly guilty about all sorts of global things. People wasting resources we're going to miss in ten years time; conflicts abroad; inhuman conditions in sweatshops. Whatever crosses my mind on a given day. Guilt is a wonderful tool, as the protestants always knew, it'll keep you on your best behaviour. It makes me more conscientious, more careful. My guilt is almost like a better self. Only guilt and happiness don't mix so well, and while my being unhappy doesn't serve the planet especially well, it is hard to be both happy and open-eyed in a complex, huge world forever at your door. When I read about the Rwandan genocide, I feel guilty, because as a Belgian I am implicated by proxy, culturally. Driving around I feel guilty, guilty about all the homeless people I drive past, guilty for driving when I could take the bus. But what does it do, this guilt?
Somebody I know used to say that rabbits prefer hutches to the open field - because the hutch is safe. I think today in the west it is hard not to try to build a hutch for yourself, barricade yourself from the world behind a world of TV, yoga retreats, stress management training and new kitchen appliances. Maybe I should rephrase: I don't mind the idea of enclosing your section of the world; but it is not as simple as it was. Knowledge brings responsibility, and requires judgement. So before anyone builds and enclosure, it is good to make sure that you're not building it on someone else's land, that you do not damage what does not belong to you. Living simply comes into focus again...and the choices that come with it.
This is not easy. Maybe my sense of impending doom is too strong; but it is hard to feel like I - any of us - deserve happiness these days. The truth is that a good hutch is hard to find these days, and that every moment of happiness has to be disentagled from the darkness around it, though some of like to pretend that it's not dark out there. No wonder Harry Potter is so popular. I'm sure we'd all like to believe that if only we could defeat this one force, everything would be ok - but even Harry Potter isn't that simple. No wonder Snape is so popular. We know broken things too well (though not all of them are so wonderfully snide about it)
I woke up with that most guilty song of all - George Michael's "Praying for Time":
... The rich declare themselves poor
And most of us are not sure
If we have too much
But we'll take our chances
'Cause God's stopped keeping score
I guess somewhere along the way
He must have let us all out to play
Turned his back and all God's children
Crept out the back door
And it's hard to love, there's so much to hate
Hanging on to hope
When there is no hope to speak of
And the wounded skies above say it's much, much too late
Well maybe we should all be praying for time
... So you scream from behind your door
Say what's mine is mine and not yours
I may have too much but I'll take my chances
'Cause God's stopped keeping score
And you cling to the things they sold you
Did you cover your eyes when they told you
That he can't come back '
Cause he has no children to come back for...
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Mooi is een kooitje
Met een kanarie erin
Heel mooi ook een kooitje
Met een parkiet erin
Met een merel erin, met een kolibri erin,
Een slavink erin, een bos wortelen erin,
Blokjes marmer erin, een glas water erin
Maar het mooiste is eigenlijk
Een kooitje met niets erin
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I'm also listening to Snapecast, the episode before the last, final (regularly scheduled) episode. It is fabulous. Have I mentioned that Snapecast is splendid to the point of magnificence? Intelligent, funny, and much more openly emotional than the man himself, which suits me just fine, and I am still sad that they are stopping their regular broadcasts.
So there is a lot of Snape today. Moreover, there is a rather good piece about him over on Sigune's blog. All of it is making me feel rather obsessive and sad. Or maybe I'm just sad because the Spouse is leaving tomorrow, and I'm being escapist about it. Who knows. Maybe I'm sad because I really want to go to Snapefest but really can't afford the Portus registration - frankly I can't afford anything just now. It's ok. I'll live.
I have to say that after some time of being immersed in fandom, I am still gobsmacked by its depth. I know I keep saying this, but truly it is amazing to see how the portion of it that I am familiar with really does have its wits about it. I feel kind of sad that I am not actually part of it; after a lifetime of being too proud to be a herd animal, I find myself rather fond of this herd of individualists. A troupe of dark, silly, wildly unlikely folk. You see, I love the Harry Potter series, but it's hardly the best or more compelling thing I've ever read. Pretty compelling, yes, but no more so than Lord of the Rings which I also adore; not as well-written as Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea trilogy. No, I have no illusions about it: my fixation with Snape is as much about the fandom as about the books. The fandom writes so well, you see, it saves me the time of making these things up myself.
The truth is I always thought fandom was kind of sad. All the dressing up and fawning over Take That/Patrick Stewart/Alan Rickman...it's just a little sad. I'm not saying I wouldn't happily throw bouquets of roses at Patrick Stewart or Alan Rickman on any given day, but I just feel too old for drooling groupie behaviour. It took me longer than it should have to realise that Alan Rickman is a mere lovely incidental when it comes to Snape fandom, and that while candle-light vigils still make me cringe, I respect all its manifold creative ways of expressing itself. Even if that includes candle-light vigils.
Oh and Take That? I'll throw roses at them too, if they want.
America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.
I can't stand my own mind.
, who though he is in England, I think, is still remotely reassuring: he exists, I draw comfort from that fact. Maybe someday he will do a gig here; that would be good. The point is, even though I may never see another show - and I hope I do - the possibility always exists. Not so with Allen, who is so irrevocably dead that call him Allen, like I call Oscar.
in the flesh, being small, not particularly attractive, female, and generally unexeptional. Still, I'd take my chances.
, whom I read, and forgot in spite of greatness. Did you know, Allen, that
Well, take care.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
It is evening, and I am snuggled up with the Spouse on the couch. There is food in the oven, we're watching a Marx brothers movie, and it's snowing hard outside. I drove home in the snow, which is my accomplishment for the day. I will spend the rest of my evening, and energy, on eating and possibly reading.
I'm not keen on doing anything else.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Instead, I give you this strangely current piece of Thatcher-era puppet comedy.
Actually, to that I will add that I am reading Philip Gourevitch's We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families. It has lived on my bedside table for a month or two, and I finally convinced myself to read it last weekend. It's a book onto which much praise has been heaped. The praise is all justified; let me leave it at that. When all is said and done, it is likely to be the most depressing thing I will read all year. I think people must be relieved when they read a book like this, relieved that someone has captured some of the story, that someone has done something with the unspeakable trauma, relieving others of that duty. Genocide in 256 pages, discreet, closeable. Finite. Like a holocaust museum, with its reassuring implicit message that it houses and confines atrocity which is not found in the world outside it. Like a Greek tragedy, it'll bring the reader emotion, maybe guilt*; you cry, it ends, you go home.
Maybe you even tell yourself that some people got saved, or liberated, or whatever you choose to call it. I respect Gourevitch for not letting the reader feel like this is a closed chapter. Yeah, even now.
*"The Belgians issued racial identification cards to every Rwandan, giving preferential treatment to Tutsis for positions in education, politics and business." see Wikipedia on the subject
Saturday, December 01, 2007
There's been too much death this year, so much loss. Maybe that is what growing up means: realising what a gaping hole a death leaves, like a crater, affecting everything around it. Mortality is a nasty beast.
I am taking refuge in superficiality, by which I mean I am getting a haircut tonight. I got the recommendation from my personal equivalent of Bike Helmet Girl, so I have high hopes.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Thomas Paine's Common Sense (small, red book) and Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods on tape.
Thomas Paine annoys me for the most part. He is terrible overstated. I guess it served the purpose at the time. Something to balance the British rhetoric and the colonies' doubt. Sure.
Bill Bryson on the other hand is surprisingly agreeable. I appreciate his normalcy. I like hearing about his trip, and with the audiobooks it is like listening to a compelling friend talk. Yes; very friendly. Very Good America, without being uncritical. He is the literary equivalent of muesli. The fact that it is on tape, rather than CD, is somehow comforting.
It looks like I am taking a course in Classic United States stuff. I'll be reading Thoreau next if I don't watch out.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Barring major career changes, the TDEC will be working very hard next (early) July. She will be doing so in the gigantic expanse of Texas, as state 2500 times the size of her native land. This is perhaps good for her career, maybe even somewhat fun, but not...exciting as such.
She just found out that, not only is there going to be a Snape conference, but it is in July. In Dallas.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
So, there's this famous epic poem that I sort of read many years ago, and now someone - including Famous Neil Gaiman - has made a movie of it. So when one of my friends asked if I wanted to go see it I said sure and off we went.
I didn't know that the movie was going to be this weird real/CGI combo. with Anthony Hopkins not quite as himself, and Angelina Jolie as herself, only covered in gold paint... I didn't like the crossover. It just weirded me out; kind of like watching a video game.
What about the story? The story is roughly the original story, kind of over the top. Lots of blood and singing. Sure; I can deal with that. Then Beowulf arrives, and takes off all his clothes, and does naked fighting. I am not sure, but I hope that the objects-conveniently-covering-genitalia thing is intentionally funny; because it is quite funny. I ended up feeling rather sorry for Grendel, really, who comes off as very blood-thirsty sensitive bloke.
Angelina Jolie. Covered in gold paint. With feet shaped like heels. What can I say? You either like that kind of thing or you don't. Seeing Anthony Hopkins' bottom, however, CGI or not, is definitely not on the list of things I want. Oh well - you pays your money...
So? It's a hoot, and the dragon is splendid, but not a very good movie. Oh and I impressed the Spouse by understanding Anglo-Saxon. Muhaha.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Growing up in Belgium, the World Wars and the Holocaust are closer to us than they are to most people in the US. We are better off for the collective trauma, for the school and personal tours of work and concentration camps, for walking through Flanders Fields, for reading and visiting the past imprinted on my small country and our small continent. When I walk across the Civil War battlefields - they're all around us, here - I learn to understand more about the US as it is now than I would in perhaps any other way. The World Wars matter to all of us, every day; it not a bad idea to do some hands-on learning.
And I said you mean 'figure'
And she said no 'figment' because she could never imagine it happening
But it did"
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I have the Smiths' song of the above lyrics -This Charming Man- in my head and that in turn reminds me of Lilo & Stitch. In fact I have gone out tonight, sort of anyway, in a mild way.
And really, the most apt thing for my mood is the one below -
Keats and Yeats are on your side
While Wilde is on mine.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
I am not going to think beyond bad fashion. It's just not possible. Maybe good fashion. Maybe, if I am feeling especially inspired, I will think about Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada. But only if I'm feeling inspired.
This has been a long day. I am going to find a snorgle.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
And your music to soothe the senses today is Roby Lakatos, who is so long out of Hungary that he can perhaps be forgiven.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
I am blogging on the go. It is turning out to be rather a miserable Friday, but I am holding out for a drink and the dearly paid company of the Spouse. While I wait for those, in the sad sad absence of Snapecast, there is only one cure for my ills: silly cat pictures. I wish I had wizard sleeves.
I am listening to The Princess Bride. My mind is on Elvis and Cary Elwes.
"Now, a cartwheel would be something"*
In Spanish, it is called La princesa prometida, I think, and I saw it in in Spanish first, when I was twelve, on New Year, with an older girl. It is a long time ago, and she is no longer there, only that memory.
A good fairytale, a good story, and plenty of silliness. What's not to like?
Princesses are not quite my bag, though somewhere I have a pink princess dress that hasn't fit me since I was twelve. I admit, gladly, with relief, that I am just like everyone else.
*Yes, I know that the actual quote is something to the effect of "Now, a wheelbarrow would be something", but I like my version better.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Sunday, November 04, 2007
The lovely KT Tunstall to express the flipside of perpetual insecurity:
Because the past is past, and in the present I have better shoes, better looks and better luck.
Oh, and Stakka Bo. Yeah, I'm feeling cheery, and tipsy, as well as dumb.
Friday, November 02, 2007
My home country, my heimat has no history of national patriotism.
America has a lot of it. Flags. Eagles. At first, you think it's odd. Then you decide it's a little over the top. Then you think it's mildly strange (spraypainted on the the back of trucks, next to Jesus). Then you see an NSA powerpoint with a giant picture of an eagle, wrapped in a flag.
You try not to giggle; because if you've learned anything, it is that in the US, the security and secret services have no sense of humour. They have signs in the airport to remind you of it.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Halloween. I drove home in the dark through the pretty, leafy neighbourhoods, where kids were trick or treating. It was so idyllic that I couldn't feel any cynicism about it. It was just sweet.
The stressful, yet interesting, day consisted of hearing about very new, very nifty things, which a bunch of people (who don't exist) are willing to commercialise (to the right people, with appropriate security clearance). Oh, and there were some physicists there too, I think, and lots of people in suits. Really, I have the strangest job sometimes.
I wore the Star Trek suit for the first time, but didn't talk to enough geeks to enjoy it much.
She notes, also, that her acronym TDEC has taken the route of IBM's - while the acronym remains, the original reference is mostly lost, as in the case of International Business Machines, where only a minute part of the operation is concerned with actual machines. As such, it would be much more appropriate for the outfit to change its acronym to IB, International Business, a suitably vague description of its ambitions for world domination. When one's brand is the third best known in the world, though, it does not pay to change it, and so IBM will be IBM; and for entirely unrelated reasons the TDEC, too, chooses to stick with the status quo.
The status quo is onerous. It is such that the TDEC is seriously considering skipping her Voluntary Simplicity meeting - which is designed, among other things, to aid people in improving their time management. It is such that communication with friends and family, always complicated across timezones, has been compromised. Most distressingly, the status quo involves very little outright fun/relax time, which includes, but is not limited to: reading anything other than the most undemanding and comforting of writing, quality spousal time, drinks with friends, watching Monk, sleeping late, looking up the number of inhabitants of Chagrin Falls, Ohio; pointless calls, making origami, watching puppet videos on youtube, cooking properly.
Well, the TDEC gets frequent flyer miles out of it, and driving practice. She supposes that that must be a good thing. She is also, somehow, still finding time to blog. She supposes it must be lack of silliness in RL.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Scenario for dealing with people you haven't seen in a million years and aren't sure you want to be friends with, in view of modern technology
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
It rained today as well. It was raining this morning at 6.30 am when I started for
While I was driving, I thought of a cool post, which now, a tutoring session later, I am too tired to write. To be honest, I was probably too tired by the time I got home. A man-from-Porlock sort of situation, only with the man from Porlock being DC traffic, and without me being a Romantic genius.
I apologise for any inconvenience caused.
Tomorrow is Friday. I am truly grateful. It will be a long day, but at the end of it there will be the weekend, the entirety of which I will spend sleeping, bathing, reading, and talking to as many people I’ve neglected as possible. If I have time left after that, I will lie on the sofa dreaming of a trip down the west coast.
Don’t let any of this convince you that this was not a good day. Apart from the driving, it was all about learning things I can use and teaching things that matter. Not a bad use of one’s Thursday.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Orwell is an interesting figure. He is so unlike the other writers I admire - homophobic, fanatic. Also: fiercely political, ethical, active. I respect him more than perhaps any writer for writing things that were right, rather than well-written. I respect him for having the courage of his opinions. I respect him for fighting on the best side of the Spanish Civil War (which didn't really have a good side). Reading his work has changed a good many of my attitudes, my ideas, my concept of what matters.
I still like pretty shoes though.
*Desire, enthusiasm, sheer silliness
**The Goldberg Variations, loved ones, good food, dramatic coats, quiet time, a good discussion, a good book or play, autumn leaves, the sound of rain on the window, Snapecast,...
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
Blimey. Dumbledore is gay? Like the whole Harry-is-a-horcrux thing, which seemed like a crackpot idea from overactive minds at first, it has turned out to be canon. I was glad to hear it, really, the series desperately needed some filling in when it comes to the emotional lives of the Hogwarts staff, but I admit this one blindsided me. A previous version of the article mildly states that "explicit scenes with Dumbledore already have appeared in fan fiction". One does wonder who it is who is writing these explicit scenes. I can't say I want to read them, but hey, whatever floats people's proverbial boats.Anyway, it is nice to hear some interesting comments out of JKR; I had rather taken to ignoring her after all the mean/soppy stuff she said about Snape. In line with my getting at real life through blogs, I found the story on Telanu's blog, see dodgy link in sidebar, relevant warnings apply.
Friday, October 19, 2007
Anyway, I have to run. Perhaps more later.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Well - a silly note then. This weekend I bought a skirt suit that looks remarkably like a Star Trek uniform. It is at the dry cleaners now, but look forward tremendously to wearing it at work with a glint in my eye. It'll carry me through hours of employment related stress. Especially since I have also acquired a cloak. A green one. Kind of like the elves wear in Lord of the Rings.
*throws back head and laughs demonically*
Yes. I'll wear it with my wizard sleeve-equivalent shoes.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
When I visited the US for the second time, I had random allergies. Someone gave me American allergy stuff and that was the end of the allergies. Rather unfortunately, it was also the end of sleep for the next couple of days, which I spent feeling like I had accidentally taken something rather stronger and less benevolent than an antihistamine. Many more things are available over the counter in the US than in Europe; moreover, different medication is used. I was reminded of this this morning when I realised why I hadn't slept last night, at least not until I had resorted to means usually reserved for the direst emergencies. If you wonder who reads medication monographs, well, I do. All of them. I remembered then that one of the potential side effects of the medication I'd been given yesterday morning was insomnia. By this afternoon it had finally clicked in my head that the last time I felt this jittery and spaced out was that time on holiday in Florida. Pseudoephedrine being the common ingredient. I guess people here build up a tolerance to it, Sudafed-guzzling lot that they are; but my European bod is used to milder things, and pseudoephedrine's chemical resemblance to amphetamine is pretty tangible to me. Jitters, high bloodpressure, loss of appetite, dizziness. Charming. Who needs illegal drugs when there's 24 hour Sudafed?
Monday, October 08, 2007
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Friday, October 05, 2007
The lazy part of me, which is considerable, is appalled. But my sociable, image oriented self is pleased.
Also, can I just mention that this man Yeats isn't half bad?
Thursday, October 04, 2007
one of my usual quotes...
Dancing is a another form of oblivion I indulge in - privately, secretively. It's good to forget yourself and remember your body.
Today I spent my work day in front of a bunch of missiles. Strange, the things one does in the line of duty, really. In my time as a civilian, I listen to Snapecast. It makes things better.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
I would love to have posted a picture of my beaded top in response to s.s. stone. Instead, you will find the latest addition to my list of Shiny, Beautiful Things I Own. They are a little too small, so I have to go back and get another size and cross my fingers that they have it. I love the slight pointiness. I am usually not a wearer of pointy shoes, but the points on these are...the shoe equivalent of wizard sleeves (see also the fake button).
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I am letting Hart Crane talk to you, because I can't verbalise my thoughts.
By a peninsula the wanderer sat and sketched
The uneven valley graves. While the apostle gave
Alms to the meek the volcano burst
With sulphur and aureate rocks...
For joy rides in stupendous coverings
Luring the living into spiritual gates.
Orators follow the universe
And radio the complete laws to the people.
The apostle conveys thought through discipline.
Bowls and cups fill historians with adorations--
Dull lips commemorating spiritual gates.
The wanderer later chose this spot of rest
Where marble clouds support the sea
And where was finally born a hero.
By that time summer and smoke were past.
Dolphins still played, arching the horizons,
But only to build memories of spiritual gates.
"The Emblems of Conduct", Hart Crane
In front of me, I have someone's business card. It says "strategic advisor". I love the vagueness of this title, to the extent that I rather covet it. What strategy? Whose? What is he advising on? On strategy? Or is he strategic to the organisation as an advisor?
You know, on the whole, enjoying the little things in life is a wonderful skill. Sock puppet nudity, for example, is great. Autumn round here, clear and blue, and a little chilly. Reading a really compelling piece of writing. Making food with loved ones. Lolcats. Compliments, given and taken. Severus Snape t-shirts. It's all wonderful; and it doesn't take much of anything.
Monday, September 24, 2007
I guess it all ties in to the no more heroes anymore thing...