Saturday, September 29, 2007

How I wish it were

Cruising youtube after a crazy day, I find myself wishing that life abroad were really this glamourous, all about good accessories and distinguished accents.

Friday, September 28, 2007


My lingering interest in linguistics causes me to read Language Log; and for this I am grateful. Mark Liberman's post about the misrepresentation of research on gender differences in happiness (whatever that means) in the press is fascinating. Head over if that kind of thing interests you, as it does me.

The loveliest thing

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

The Emblems of Conduct

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

Hum ho

Yes, I know, I am hardly posting. I have noticed that, while it seems to matter whether or not I post, it does not, on the whole, seem to matter what I post about. Or how lengthily I post. So perhaps I should just write two-line posts with cute pictures of moose or something all the time, and be done with it.

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

No more

You would think that it was a wonderful thing: two of my favourite things linked - I am referring, of course, to Fake Steve and Stephen Fry's blog; because Stephen Fry blogged about his affection for the iPhone. I'd almost forgotten - the man is a geek.

Stephen Fry, actor, writer, comedian, wonderful voice for audiobooks, friend to the select stars, and more of that stuff, the man has a place in my heart, as I believe I have mentioned before. I have sort of lost track of him recently because his own website kind of crushed the best website about him, but sadly his own site wasn't all that interesting at the time. So I got bored and wandered off, and then he wasn't writing any books either...anyway, so here he is on Fake Steve, so of course I go over and read the post. Well, some of it anyway, because about a page into the enormous post I get bored, I know, I have the attention span of a goldfish, but Stephen, blogs weren't made for posts this long, really, they weren't. You should write that book instead.

iPhones. He really likes them. Well good for him. Oh, I'm not saying I don't, they're all pretty, and they're so nifty, and oooh icons and all the things it does and youtube (puppetry on your phone!), and maps, and yes, it's just...good. Apple approaches technology as it were jewellery. The are of course downsides as well; but either way it's beside the point. I resent how much of an idle luxury it is, how much of a pointless, overpriced toy. And to hear someone I respect and admire go on and on about how many smartphones he's just disappointing. I don't live such a frugal life, so I'm not one to throw stones. We all perceive different things as luxuries. In my case, travel is my great luxury - it's terrible ecologically speaking, and not something I really want to cut down on. I know I should leave the Galapagos and the Cook islands well alone, but given half a chance, I would go. I am still disappointed though. I could be excited to remember that the man is a geek. Instead I just think it is self-indulgent.

Is it a problem that I am basing this rant on about a third of a Stephen Fry blogpost? Meh, it's a blog, who am I kidding anyway. A sad day in the land of the Beast, especially since I didn't bring any chocolate to work. Instead I am craving the Stephen Fry audiobook of The Half-Blood Prince.
Anyway, I'm still going to add him to my blogroll. Because he's a nice man. Because he's a good writer. Because he's a good actor. But mostly because he's nice.

I guess it all ties in to the no more heroes anymore thing...

Friday, September 21, 2007

No more heroes anymore

Ah, Oscar Wilde.

After long and fruitless waiting, here he is again in my sidebar, and in my gratuitous uncredited quotings. Once upon a time this would have reminded me of sunflowers, Gilbert and Sullivan, and Ruskin. Nowadays, it reminds me, instead of The Smiths' Cemetery Gates -
"Keats and Yeats are on your side/While Wilde is on mine"
More than of the Smiths, it reminds me of one of the best opening lines in pop music:
"What ever happened to Leon Trotsky?"
The song is, of course, the Stranglers No More Heroes*. It is, as songs go, pretty amusing, though hardly inspired; I am comparing it to Billy Bragg's songs. Billy Bragg is my favourite lyricist, and the comparison is a little unfair. My meandering point here is that I wonder what ever happened to Oscar Wilde. Not the actual Oscar, I know in a great amount of detail what happened to him. I mean I used to be so fervent about him, what ever happened to that? I know, that was ten years ago, but while I still listen to Billy Bragg and the Smiths, I don't open Oscar's books anymore. Maybe it's time - except that my mum is visiting and I really won't have time, and my books as 4000 miles from here, but you get my point. I'm sure the internet has De Profundis somewhere.

So, the question to ponder before I am off to the weekend is this - who are your heroes? Why? I'm not looking for stories about how your mother is really your hero. Sorry. I love my mother too, and I think she's pretty cool; but I want to hear about famous people here.

*Although I knew the Stranglers as a teenager, I found out about No More Heroes because the most random of post-post-New-Wave bands, Elastica, who were sued over bringing out a thinly veiled cover and calling it Waking Up. While musically fairly uniteresting, Elastica was important in my teenage universe because I was sort of smitten with Justine Frishmann, their frontperson, who was then dating Blur**'s singer Damon Albarn, having previously dated Brett Anderson, Suede's singer and all round object of my undying love***. What can I say? Surely you have been young and embarassing at some point?
**Co-favourite band of all times when I was seventeen; the other favourite band being Suede.
***Of course there was also - no, I'll spare you all the rest of that. Enough teenage confessions already.

Friday, the hardest part over with

I just submitted a conference paper. Not a very good paper, but considering how I have a history of getting rejected with good ideas and accepted with mediocre ones, that's probably a good thing. It would be good if I got accepted - it is the biggest conference of its kind. I would garner millions of Professional Goddess Points.

On the personal front, my mum is arriving from the home country tonight, so as mentioned, I may be off the radar for a while so as to spend Quality Time with her. Parents are important.

The dangers of seeming knowledgeable

I am good at bluffing. Really, I am. As a consequence of this I routinely get into trouble because people have unwisely assumed that I can do things which in reality I have no clue about. In technology issues particularly, this happens a fair amount. Today, for example, I am trying to design something for which I have neither the knowledge nor the information. Well, it does make a girl resourceful. So, er, wish me luck. I am on the verge of being self-taught here.

Btw - see how devoted I am? I am putting this up on my tutoring cigarette (his, not mine) break)

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Next few days are going to be crazy, so you may or may not hear from me. The poster is random, I just want to see the movie sometime.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A first time for everything, part deux

A parking ticket, that is. Blasted fire hydrants. We don't even have them; how am I supposed to know about fire hydrants?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

There is a first time for everything

Like driving a car without anyone else in it. Even if it is just to get groceries. Even if you were pretty woozy from the vicodin*. It still counts. Only next time, I need to try it without the painkillers.

Oh, and I am posting Oscar, because he always cheers me up. And because I am thinking of puppets, and puppet theatre. Puppet theatre is cool.

*By no means am I implying that I am dependent on vicodin. This is my second time ever taking it. The first time, it made me sicker than the pain I got it for. Go figure.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Like Elvis, I have somehow earned it.

Mysterious scraping noise

I have my driving test tomorrow. If you hear a scraping noise, that's my bumper against the guardrail.

Friday, September 14, 2007

An impossible task

I'm shy. I know, I don't look the part. I don't even necessarily act the part. Maybe I should rephrase: I am scared. There are many quite insignificant things of which I am positively terrified. Asking questions in a group; speaking to someone for the second time; talking on the phone in a foreign language; offending people; dissenting. It's a random selection. There are other things of which I am unafraid: talking to people for the first time; public speaking; being on stage; making decisions of which I cannot foresee the outcome.

When I was in college, I had a phobia of my (admittedly aloof) professors, though none of them ever so much as cast an unkind glance in my direction. By the way, I just recalled dressing up for oral exams. Do people do that here? I'd forgotten all about that strange ritual. Anyway, so I had this phobia which did have me dodging into corridors when escape was possible, and huddling in chairs, eyes on the floor, when it was not. Foolish, no? I've come a ways since then.

Sometimes I wonder if there is not some easy fix for all this anxiety. I wonder if I am not just trying to kick in the wrong door. Sadly, I don't think so. As for that door, rather than kicking it in, I am actually knocking politely, not sure if the person inside can actually hear me.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Beloved of the sky

I was going to try today - I slept last night, after all. I was going to try to write something a little more substantial. Only I went out over lunch today, went to the park, and it is the first day of autumn.

Perfect blue sky - a bit of a breezy - and the air is just a little more crisp then it has been the last few humid months. The gingko tree's leaves are starting to turn yellow. Gingkos, so awkward normally, are prettiest in the fall, uniformly gold and exuberant.

At least I feel like I am here again (wherever here is). Autumn is a lovely season here; it makes me sentimental. The first time I ever visited was in October, and the first proper day I spent here was a beautiful Indian summer day, pristine. It got colder later that week, but October still means just that to me; an occasion for celebration, a reprieve before the winter. Of course, those blissful memories might have had something to do with the fact that it was the beginning of a whole new thing.

I delete my doubts with 20/20 hindsight.

I read poetry - never much. Poetry is too strong when it is good; but I read Yeats, for the first time in years. It is amazing that that love survived The Lake Isle of Innisfree. Yeats wins me over every time I give up on him, throw in the towel:

"Those masterful images because complete
Grew in pure mind, but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder's gone,
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart."

(W.B. Yeats, "The Circus Animals' Desertion")

A random find on my meanderings across the web. For this we have poetry: to be almost like music, so direct, to reach out and clutch you. The image makes its way out of the words so easily.

Even Larkin, that miserable, graceless creature, has his moments. I come back to the same things though - T.S. Eliot, Garcia Lorca. some sentences from Baudelaire.

"Je suis belle, ô mortels! comme un rêve de pierre"

Even Sylvia Plath (though not for long). Or Shakespeare, because one should never trust someone who can't write sonnets:

"Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove:"

And I knew that was true; sort of anyway. A smattering of basic knowledge of literature's most honest and enigmatic beast.

Lord Alfred Douglas - I remember reading obscure Victorian poetry. He deserved better than to be famous for his face alone, his insane, co-dependent affair with Oscar Wilde; but my facsimile edition of The City of the Soul is 4000 miles away and I can't find anything I like online.

The things we don't have are always the prettiest.

*The painting is Emily Carr's "Above the Trees". The title of this post refers to another painting of hers, called "Scorned as timber, beloved of the sky", which is awe-inspiring. Carr was from British Columbia, and her paintings somehow manage to visualise, not just the grandeur, but emotion of that landscape.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Life in the trenches or Voldemort is a bad bad man

I am still not sleeping, so don't expect too much of me, folks. Moreover, I have had "The Mysterious Ticking Sound" stuck in my head for two days now. This is vexing. As Snape says in that video "it's quite...catchy". I'll put it up here, so you can all have it stuck in your head too. I'm too old to be so obsessive about fictional things, but at least I am easily entertained - youtube puppets, reading, sleep; and I is a happy puppy.

Your word for today is snowclone.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Monday, delayed

This has been an odd weekend. I felt, and still do, like I am underwater - all the sounds seem muted, all the things I see seem a little distorted. I'm not sleeping well, for no reason I can discern. I am just not. I have been reading lots, which accounts for some of the bell jar feeling...well, calling it a bell jar makes it sound like I am depressed, which I am not.

Just...remote. I feel incapable of properly inhabiting my life. Nothing is wrong.

Maybe I'm just hiding. All I know is that I don't want to talk to anyone, excepting the Spouse. It seems like I am short-tempered - he flinches - but I think I am really only impatient, wrapped up in myself.

I was never good at losing myself - I don't drink much, and even when I do, I have an ironclad baseline of things no amount of alcohol can make me forget. Drugs, for the most part, scare me; I don't like losing control. This is perhaps why I love reading so much, so passionately; because some books can make me forget everything. There's not many, and I hunt those down, hanging onto them with determination: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Dorothy L. Sayers' books, E.M. Forster's Maurice; I've read better books than these, but Ulysses doesn't make me forget my name, Tennesee Williams doesn't keep me up at night, though perhaps T.S. Eliot's poetry does. Those things are a different sort of pleasure.

Sometimes I think I should spend my obsessive energy elsewhere, but I am too attached to the simple pleasure of reading. Lately, I feel free to read anything, like when I was twelve and devoured books. It's ok, I no longer need to read intelligent things, though I do, almost by mistake. I've read Beckett and Poe, I've read Ibsen and Chekov. Yeats, Byron, even some Proust; Dante and Homer. It's ok. There's no obligation, no hurry, nowhere I have to be.
It is John Ruskin, I think, who says that you should keep nothing in your house which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful. I keep it in mind, and try to apply the same principle to my mind. It takes more discipline than I usually have.

Friday, September 07, 2007

What to say

Last night my mother called me. You know the middle of the night call, and you know it must be bad, and in that moment before she tells me who's died I almost want to ask her not to tell me, not to bring the truth to bear. My great-aunt, the last of my grandparents' generation. I remember when she still gardened - she loved gardening. A spirited woman, I guess, is what you would say. A spirited woman, at last overwhelmed by old age. She hated that. I'm not worried about her; she knows the way home. But for us, for my mother, for all of her family, we have lost such a lot. I can't be there - it's too far, too soon (tomorrow morning their time). We all pay for the choices we make, I guess. I wish she could have met the Spouse, but at least I got to see her before I last left home. It's all I can do to remember.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


A very quick post, folks, I am sort of out of time this morning. Some time ago I mentioned something about how amazed I am, how encouraged I am by the wave of literary analysis surrounded Harry Potter. The other half of that amazement is perhaps even more wonderful - the creativity that springs from it. It was with reluctance that I looked at some of the Potter fanfic and art; only then I thought of Wide Sargasso Sea, and of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead, both of which I think are stunning works, both of which are based on characters from famous books - the madwoman in the attic from Jane Eyre and, well, the second is pretty self-evident. So I gave the fanfic a try. Of course, there is a lot of junk, but a lot of what I saw, and especially most of what I read, is in fact pretty good. This is probably because I read the most highly rated things (otherwise I wouldn't know about it, right?), but still, it is great to see that there is nothing slavish or unoriginal about this fiction. It has all the variety of its readers, and a reverent disregard for JK Rowling that is very helpful. More importantly, I finally found out what Snilly and Snarry refer to, though you may not want to find out.

Btw, I actually did do laundry and write. I'm rather proud of myself, if not of the writing.

Can I also mention that I do feel the need for wizard sleeves today?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Things that cheer me up

Anti-racist clowns

Also, let me reference where I found the link.

Wednesday, for sure

Wednesday morning, and I do rather wonder that no one noticed that I titled yesterday's post Monday Monday when in fact it was Tuesday. The confusion ensuing from a three-day-weekend. With the Spouse away, I am glad that there isn't more time till the end of the week, when he gets back. Let's think, what could I do with the time - do laundry, see a movie, finish my book, finish that story I started writing. Sadly, I'll probably do laundry.

Maybe it is time for some more ambitious scheduling. Anyone want to teach me JavaScript or 508-compliant website design?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Monday Monday

Hrmpf. Listening to Snapecast, the best thing about this early morning. The weekend was great, lots of quality time, some baseball, lots of mountains. Some John Denver. I want to sleep. The Spouse is off travelling the rest of the week, and as such the contrast is big. Hmmmm sleepy.