Thursday, December 31, 2009

And now for something completely different

So now that I’ve had the little self-pity fest, let me prove that I am like that dog in Up who goes “squirrel!” mid-conversation, and let me tell you a secret. Actually, it’s kind of a two-part secret, so here’s secret, part a)

I have a circle of imaginary friends that are famous people. Ok, maybe you knew that. But I get really excited about famous people who are really cool and good at being people, too. Like Stephen Fry, even if he does come to New York at inconvenient times. Because he is smart and funny and nice too, and because he tries so hard. Or like Whil Wheaton, who seems really hell-bent on being a decent human being with a heart and lots of enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is the most loveable trait in anyone. Or even Zachary Quinto, for the way he sings the Fraggle Rock song and how he got the part of Spock.


Secret, part b)

I am scared of famous people. No matter how much any given person is my imaginary friend, I will probably have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the booksigning stand. Really. I’m sorry. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you, I do, honestly I do, but what would I say? Partly I hate to bother people, so I would be very unlikely to approach anyone famous just being out and about, in fact I have been known to ignore the hell out of famous people, but the truth is that even when the famous person is clearly there for display purposes, I don’t do very well.

Case in point: it is a few years ago, and I’ve just seen a positively spectacular performance of The Master and Margarita. With Sam West. I am standing outside with a couple of friends, and we walk past Samivel, engaged in polite conversation with a little old lady. One of my friends, with a keen understanding of my fascination with Sam West, says “shall I dispose of the old bag so you can ask Sam West to elope with you?” (Ross, if you’re listening, and you’re almost certainly not, that was awesome). I could have. Instead I shush said friend, and make everyone walk on. What would I say to Sam West, after all?

I know, I should follow Stephen Fry’s advice: don’t worry about being original, and keep it to the point. For example “Hi. It’s great to meet you in person. You are a wonderful actor and I just wanted to thank you for an inspiring performance.”


“Sam, elope with me. Please.”

Of course next time, I still won’t say anything, even in spite of Stephen Fry. You see, I know because there actually is a next time: years later I walk into the theatre right behind Sam West. I try to point him out to the Spouse (who blithely misses the whole moment) but do not say anything, nor even make so much as eye contact with the Slurpee-drinking celebrity. Sigh.

Celebrity conversation will never be mine. Well, not unless said Spouse, blissfully free of such inhibitions, accidentally or purposely accosts the Famous Person and strikes up a perfectly interesting conversation as I desperately struggle to run away. No wonder my favourite heroes are all dead.

All out

In so many ways this has been a good year, a year of some progress, some good things, some good breaks, some good friends. If it doesn’t feel like it, that is because these last few months are like a vast pool of helplessness. It is the hardest thing, not being able to do anything, not being able to change anything. Tomorrow is the last day of the year and I can’t find any optimism for it, I’m just too scared right now, too frustrated, too wary of false promises. A few of the people closest to me right now are struggling. So I whip out my most supportive face, do what I can, and brace for impact. That wouldn’t be so bad, except that there is nothing I can do, and all I can do is watch all this warp their lives, and mine too.

I can’t write. You’ve seen it – I’m barely here, absentminded&bodied. Because what can I say? The story’s not mine, and all the rest seems so irrelevant. Yet I think it would help to write, to talk (though maybe not here, this being a public place; and not necessarily about the problems). I talk some, I suppose. I’ve had some really great support (you find it in the strangest places). It’s been such a crazy time; it reminds me of the Bad Time in Hungary when I was going from one hospital to the next and no one explained anything, because it reminds me of a person’s capability to live by the Kafka-esque rules of crises. It also reminds me that the hardest part is not the crisis, but the bit that comes after it.

So here’s my plan for tomorrow: I will lock myself in, get some good food (sushi&pizza&Indian!) and some hot comforting thing (hot chocolate?) and a cold comforting thing (champagne!) and I will watch In the Bleak Midwinter. Then I’ll watch The Fast Show and Star Trek TNG. Then The Muppets Christmas Carol. And then I’m watching In the Bleak Midwinter again. And to hell with the stupid celebration.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Yes, my dears, my darlings, you are of course right – there has been not so much as a Christmas wish out of me, though they have perfectly good interwebs in the homeland where I spent the last ten days. Merry Christmas? I’m sorry I was too busy eating and boozing to tell you so at the time. I ate so much in fact that not only am I larger than I was before I left, but I am also hungry all the time. And I have chocolate on my desk; in theory for my colleagues, but it’s quiet at work, so it’s hard to keep my paws from the delicious, delicious Belgian chocolate.

So what entertainment do I bring you today? Well, I am all boringness my darlings. I am happy just to be home, and curled up on a nearby couch with the Fast Show or Star Trek TNG (note to self: watch Whil Wheaton in The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary of Big Bang Theory; also, it is good to come home to three new episodes of Radio Free Burrito!)

Anyway, how did I get lost in the geek subcontinent? I am not all that good with computers, I don’t like computer games, I suck at science (though I like it!) and I am not a hardcore Trekkie. True, I hang out with technology a fair amount. True, I have seen the new Star Trek movie twelve times and yes, I have seen most of Star Trek TNG and original series. Yes, I love Patrick Stewart. But no, I am not quite there. And I like Harry Potter, and that is altogether the wrong subculture. Hell, I’ve even read Twilight – all of it – and sort of enjoyed it. Yes, I make no apology. Yes, the writing is…welll, let’s just leave it alone. Anyway, hello geek subcontinent, thanks for showing me around.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Well, of all the…

Allow the TDEC to digress for a moment, if you please.

When the TDEC was just a little girl, she secretly loved Jason Donovan. She was a sentimental little nerd, she was. Jason Donovan and his golden hair just captured her unwavering attention (apart from such times as it was captured by Patrick Swayze in North and South).

Time flies, the TDEC moved on to other embarrassing musical loves (Take That, anyone?) and eventually learned about and watched the glorious wonder that is Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. And she loved it. What is not to love about ABBA, transvestites and Australia all in one movie?

Now, years later, the TDEC finds out that somewhere in London Jason Donovan is playing Mitzi in a stage adaptation of the aforementioned Queen of the Desert. Many are the times when the TDEC has wished – oh how she wished! – that she could be in London to see Patrick Stewart/Sam West perform in such or such a play. My friends, all this was nothing. The TDEC would give her last iPod to be able to see her wholesome pre-teen idol all dolled up. Really, she would. Yet it is more than that – it makes her happy to think of it, and somewhere in the back of her mind, a little voice whispers “What a glorious sequel to a sentimental career…”

A list

So I was thinking of this year, and all that happened in it, and decided that you could probably summarise it very adequately by making a list of my obsessions/fascinations/passing fads. Here they are, in no particular order. Or are they?

- Snape (*hums to the tune of The Mysterious Ticking noise* Snape, Snape, Severus Snape)

- House (Robert Sean Leonard. Actual acting. Need I say more?)

- Twilight (Bad taste can be wonderful!)

- Dr. Who (because it’s good)

- James Mason (as Brutus, because he’s sexy; as Humbert Humbert, because he has perfect pitch in that impossible role; and for being able to carry off both)

- The new Star Trek movie (entirely self-explanatory)

- Whil Wheaton (because he is interesting and also normal, and geeky. And funny. Like Stephen Fry if he had been cast as a child prodigy and was not gay. Well, maybe this is not a good comparison)

After all, what is life without a little distraction…

This time last year

You know, last year, I wrote a lot more. This time, last year, I was just relaxing after all the election stuff and hoping that 2009 would be less insane. Ah, no dice. Instead this has been the year of insane levels of stress, stressful levels of insanity, and endless posts I didn’t finish because frankly, they were all about problems and those just aren’t all that exciting. Speaking of which, it has also been an exciting year of sorts. You know, I planned a big work event for the first time, and that was pretty cool. We went on that cruise, and found out all about the high life. It has also been the year where I tried, yet again, to be Social, and Responsible. Ah, very funny, and quite a lot of work. Fun? Er, sometimes. Maybe? TDEC finds herself in danger of being a pillar of society, something for which she is genetically unfit, and far too fidgety. Halp?

The highs are high and the lows low this year, and all of it has been a completely unreasonably stressful. Well, except the cruise. That was relaxing. If my sister weren’t being more baby-happy this spring I would do another cruise even if we have no available funds. Speaking of which, that is the other feature of this already fully loaded year – the swift depletion of carefully accrued money. Easy come, easy go? Can I get that first part next year then? Because I am due for it. Seriously, I am.

And if you were wondering why I have been alternating between being enigmatic and absent these last months, that is because the last few months have been very thoroughly unpleasant, and were it not for Whil Wheaton, and some very nice people keeping me in place, I might have just gone into hiding indefinitely. So, British Airways, get your act together already. I will have NO strikes on my vacation. And thanks to the nice people. And to Whil Wheaton. No thanks to Stephen Fry for coming to NEW YORK on a MONDAY. Honestly. No more cookies for him.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Things one must share

I love the Muppets. I love the carol of the bells. And then there is this. Glory.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Some days you just want to speak in expletives and inaudible noises

Well. The best thing is to pretend that none of this is happening. Because if you admitted to it, then you'd have to explain, or find some way to make it entertaining or interesting. Instead, let's assume that everything is where you left it, and you are momentarily obsessed with that Modest Mouse song.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


It's Sunday morning and I am sitting here far too early (can't sleep) with a cup of coffee. The cup of coffee in question is freshly ground and made Kona coffee, $24.99 per measly little pack, and the best proof in this house that I am both a snob and a yuppie. This is unfortunate, since I am also quite poor.

There is something ludicrous about saying that you're poor as you whip out the credit card to buy more Christmas presents, as you sit in your well-situated and comfortably equipped apartment having just paid rent and sipping your expensive coffee. It is even more preposterous as I try (with very mixed results) to raise money to help torture survivors get the care and help they need. There is such a discrepancy between my reluctant fundraising and their predicament. You know, there is something both easier and harder about raising money for people whom you can look in the eye. On the one hand, I see, without the shadow of a doubt, that it matters. That it brightens peoples dark, dark lives. On the other hand, it is much harder to tell a sentimental story to win folks over for your cause; the story is not mine, and to make it sentimental and uplifting deprives it of some of its real hard edges. It's America, people tell me, where you don't want to remind people of unpleasant things when you want their money.

I guess.

It also deprives me of some of my excuses, which is how I get to be fundraising in the first place - I hate fundraising, did I mention that? But when you see it up close, you either do what you can or walk away.

Here's what I don't tell people when I ask for their money: part of why I do this is because these folks I try to help pay, the psychologists and social workers, the whole organisation, they are a bright spot in my life too, proof that there are warm-hearted people who work in a spirit of co-operation, and more importantly, that a hug and some compassion will go a long way toward better things.

But now I feel guilty when I buy a $22 best-t-shirt-of-all-times for the Spouse. Because I could be putting it to better use. Guilt is a bad motivation though, and survivors like fun too. Fun, also when you find it unexpectedly on a Friday night in the form of a Jonathan Coulton concert and you realise that not only are you a yuppie and a snob, you are also a geek. Thanks, Whil Wheaton. Maybe I should donate concert tickets instead.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Glorious geeks

You know, that’s the second time I’ve dreamed about Stephen Fry in the last few weeks. It’s not that I mind dreaming about hanging out with him, he is after all my imaginary best friend, but I am beginning to wonder if there is a deeper psychological meaning to this. What is the signified here?

On the subject of geeks I love in the most platonic of ways, one of my esteemed colleagues got me into following Wil Wheaton on Twitter (in my head it will now forever be Whil Wheaton, like in Not all dogs go to heaven, the best episode of Family Guy of all time, at least the Star Trek bit). Anyhoo, so I was following Whil Wheaton in an entirely legal, non-stalker sense, and it sent me to this post. And I know that I shouldn’t need this kind of validation, but the post made me happy in a number of ways. First of all, I find the whole thing deeply endearing, and Whil Wheaton may reconcile me with the fact that Wesley Crusher always annoyed the hell out of me. Secondly, it makes me feel better about being both really interested in science and really bad at math. Thirdly, it reminds me that I am not the only person for whom popular science books are like a light switch in a very dark place.

Thanks man.

And as for Stephen Fry, I think it just means I need a hug.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


After that disjointed midnight post, here's a somewhat tipsy and definitely exhausted one.

The word clusterf*ck comes to mind. I need some sleep. TGIF indeed. I haven't felt this tired in a while. So enjoy the Tom Lehrer, enjoy that weekend, and wake me up when it's time for dinner. Well, ahead of Thanksgiving, here're some things to be thankful for:, because without that there is nothing for me...sanity, because you can't take it for granted...the ability to sometimes be sillier than you have any right to be...small shiny things too...and books...Skype...and love again, because it's all there is...and those we love...and who love us.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Where are those vampires when you need them?

I mean, it's nighttime, I can't sleep, and I could use some non-sleeping company, especially if they have a sense of humour, because I get a little loopy after a certain hour. And like someone sleeping badly, I get all tangled up in sheets and loopy thoughts, and then I wake up needing some serious distractions, and I think if only that guy who wanted to start a puppy channel had been able to sell his idea. But wait! There's Cute Overload. Actually, no...this requires something more heavy duty...

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Yes, I shall now have to use "little box of sadness" in a sentence at least five times before the week is out.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The best thing about this otherwise miserable day with high winds and infinite rain

This is exactly how I feel about Robert Whatsisface and Kristen Whatever. It is also very funny, and perversely makes me want to see New Moose. I mean New Moon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Under the Christmas tree

Amid her small mountain of tasks, the TDEC ponders Christmas; and by Christmas I mean presents of course. Netflix has let me down, you see. It only has the Lame American Version of Queer as Folk. I don’t want the less controversial version. Most of all, I want Aidan Gillen. He is perfect for the part. Don’t mess with a good thing. Anyway, the bottom line is that I still haven’t seen the rest of the series, and I can’t get it here. I could ask for it for Christmas. In theory. In reality, of course, there is absolutely no way in hell I am going to be explaining Queer as Folk to the Chillun? Look, cute children, it’s a series about men, yes, mostly men, excepting the odd lesbian, which do, well, some very…er…

You see my point.

Never mind that it is fabulous, well-written, well-acted drama. The truth is that when you watch it, you are going to see some serious male nudity, and that part is really the least likely to outrage those thusly inclined.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


In the sense that I am reading Jared Diamond's Collapse, being unable to sleep and therefore getting an early breakfast. It is quite good, and fits in neatly with my recent reading of somewhat depressing (hello Imperial San Francisco!) yet fascinating books. Also in the sense that real life seems especially intense lately, thereby interfering with my more virtual activities, including the new blog participation over in the homeland. The other new activity is a course that I am taking online for work. It is my first online course, and I am very absorbed in it. I remain unconvinced that online learning is a good substitute for a classroom, but for continuing education, well, I'll report back. Have any of you done more extended studying online? What do you think of it?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Before I forget

Did I mention that I did finally catch up with House? And that it won me over after much House-like cynicism on my part? And that it made me cry? I mean proper sobs.

Clearly someone has slapped some sense into the scriptwriters at last. Or perhaps it was a cunning plan all along. Hm.

Like Sunday

Trudging slowly over wet sand
Back to the bench where your clothes were stolen
This is the coastal town
That they forgot to close down
Armageddon - come Armageddon!
Come, Armageddon! Come!

Everyday is like Sunday
Everyday is silent and grey

Hide on the promenade
Etch a postcard :
"How I Dearly Wish I Was Not Here"
In the seaside town
...that they forgot to bomb
Come, Come, Come - nuclear bomb

Everyday is like Sunday
Everyday is silent and grey

Clearly, this is the Sunday we all know and love. Only this one was quite nice instead. Most peculiar.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Please the press in Belgium

So in case no one noticed, I have a tendency to overcommit; and because I also believe in living up to one’s commitments, this can be a problem. Oscar Wilde is right, one can resist anything but temptation. When someone says to me “how would you feel about joining such-and-such?” or “there’s this play/show/game, want to go?” I promptly forget everything and say yes.

So I have an outstanding invite to join an Outlander blog for a Belgian paper. I haven’t responded to it, and given how often I blog these days, probably shouldn’t. But hey…

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Not as advertised

If you go to a museum lecture about Elvis, I feel that it is fair to expect one of two things:

- serious scholarly enquiry

- some serious glamour

The talk in question had neither, only a multitude of anecdotes, a lot of pictures and lots of cheap shots. It did have wine and cheese though, so perhaps that makes it better.

So instead I find myself listening to Aloha from Hawai’i and, for some reason, Big Girls Don’t Cry. But perhaps that latter choice has more to do with Dirty Dancing and its wonderful soundtrack than with anything that happened yesterday. The late lustrous Patrick Swayze aside, I do still find the movie better than it has any right to be, and the soundtrack one of the best I know.

Still, there is nothing quite like early, early Elvis. It occurs to me – again – that fifties music is inexpressibly filthy in all of its blatant reference. Baby let’s play house – ah, wonderful, as explicit as possible, and a little violent.

Favourite about moving to the US: the discovery of new music. Through the Spouse – Johnny Cash! Through the first radio station to best my old favourite StuBru back home, WTMD. It perpetually amazes me how much more involved I am with Baltimore than I ever was anywhere else – all the volunteering, shows, theatre, tai chi and general events. At the same time I am less (socially) involved in my work than ever; one wonders why that is, and I suppose I should say that it seems mostly because the organisational tendency towards social control makes me very wary.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Alas, poor Tom

I was listening to Tom Lehrer, my old dear Tom, to whom I have listened with such pleasure since I was quite little. Suddenly I realised that while of course one has to love Oedipus Rex, a lot of his stuff is really quite smug and annoying.


In other news, I saw four bald eagles this weekend. No, really, I did.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Peculiar detai

When a few weeks ago I was lying in a Jacuzzi on the deck of a giant ship, I noticed that the giant screen mostly used for showing sports and Mamma Mia (lord, why didn’t anyone stop Pierce Brosnan from singing?) was showing a Morrissey show. I know, the minor miracle here is that Morrissey actually had a show that he didn’t back out of at the last minute, but the bigger point is: who the hell thinks that exquisitely referential, angst-riddled and irony-filled songs are a good thing to play to rich retirees having drinks by the pool?

The Spouse and I hypothesized that the manically cheerful cruise director, who for the purposes of this post we shall refer to as Celsius Happy*, was secretly nursing a Morrissey-filled dark side, and had sneaked this onto the program without explaining the implications to his angst-ignorant staff.

*No, this pseudonym is not sillier than his real name

This picture would be so much better if Robert Whatsisface had a rose between his teeth. His body language tells me I am fierce and sexy, and this woman is mine. Also, I am emo. Don’t mess with the emo. We get, Robert, all it needs is some…tango. Proper Argentinean tango, the kind that started as fighting way back when.

Will I see New Moon? Meh, perhaps I’ll rent it sometime, or wander over sometime when I’m bored and lonely…

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dear Science,

I love you. I love nothing better than to sit on your lap reading about chaos theory (except –well, let’s not get into that). I can gaze into your eyes for hours on end. Science, don’t let the fact that I frequently confuse Brian Greene with Brian Austin Green distract you; I will pick string theory over Beverly Hills 90210 any day, except perhaps late at night after a few drinks because, science, everybody makes mistakes, and I too was young and foolish once.

Science, it’s too much. I must know you; yet my love for you is platonic, even after our many encounters by way of Star Trek and Nova. When, at parties, late at night and somewhat drunkenly, a scientist sidles up to me and talks about baryon acoustic oscillations I admit, my beloved science, that my love fails. When the drunken scientist tells me all of the science I should know before I understand the enigmatic BAO, I falter. It seems that love falls short – for I will not learn calculus, and I always was abysmal at physics.

My soul, most non-scientific of all, is not at fault. It is the mere matter of my brain that thwarts my love, dearest, for it prefers pretzels to pumpkin soup and Harry Potter to Maxwell’s equations. The will, unquantifiable entity, is there, but the squishy grey mass is uncooperative. Forgive me, science. I would have loved to make lovely music with you. Yet reality dictates most unyieldingly: I will only read popular science.

Your humble,


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Important information

Rule number 1: Never get involved in a land war in Asia
Rule number 2: Always remember to bring a book. You will need one.
Rule number 3: Don't read Jody Picoult, apparently
Rule number 4: Don't make things from scratch with pumpkin unless you are willing to spend numerous hours subduing the pumpkin
Rule number 5: If attending a Tragically Hip show, be aware that it is important to know the words to At the hundredth meridian. It helps if you've seen Due South.
Rule number 6: Watch Due South whenever possible

That's all I got for today, folks

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Illustrative of my tendency towards belated posting

Why I am

It’s a cold, rainy Friday and that could be bad, but instead it just seems like an excuse to stay home, have tea and make soup. And watch Dr. Who of course. Not that that is what I have planned – in fact it is a fairly action-packed weekend. Tonight will, at least, be mostly spent indoors; after I run a few errands I just need to spend time preparing for the board retreat tomorrow. Then tomorrow is an earlyish start, pick up a few things, then off to the retreat until lunchtime. Then shopping (after two weeks away and a week with time for only the barest minimum of shopping, the fridge is exceedingly empty) and in the evening, yes, the Tragically Hip are in town! I do like them, and potentially will be happy to brave the Awful Weather for them. Sunday, who knows.

So I kind of feel like an impersonator – individual impersonating an adult, a professional. Someone with a marriage, a job, season tickets, a board to sit on.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Really good

On the list of things that make me happy:
- really good fairytales, with real people and proper plots and frogs
- good TV, with intelligent plots, compelling acting and ending that surprise, not just startle
Thank you, BBC Wales and CBC; thank you Juliet Marillier

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Aren't you glad?

And thusly I resurface, slowly, into reality once more. Vacation is over – and very lovely it was, too, filled with tropical fruit and tropical drinks and people who were really keen on the Spouse (in a platonic, science-related sort of way. I think.) Very nice; so nice, in fact, that returning to base camp I braced myself for impact. It’s ok – it has been fine; fall has set in here and it’s pretty, and cool, and makes me keen on pumpkin soup and hearty dinners. Speaking of which, it’s nice to be cooking for myself again. However, I do have to get up at a ghastly, dark, cold sort of hour, and that has been a little traumatic. No matter. That’s why we have coffee. Or rather, it is why we would have coffee if I could be bothered to get up in time to make real, good coffee so I don’t have to drink the radioactive sludge available in the world at large. What I really need, then, is Costa Rican espresso beans covered in dark chocolate.

No time for a slow start – yesterday was my first development committee meeting, a terrifying prospect if you are, as I am, entirely bereft of leadership qualities and fundraising ideas. Unfortunately/fortunately I am the sort of person who, when asked a question, and without compelling reason to say no, will say yes.

There is much to catch up on, much to do – and really all I want is to make soup, drink tea and read. And watch season two of Dr. Who. Catch up on House.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Quoth she, from San Francisco

Here's on I made earlier:
am resurfacing briefly before disappearing on my travels. It occurs to me that I am Emma put in Anne Elliot’s shoes; a grand, selfish person set in a life full of small gratifications and moderation. It is the sort of life that could make one very happy.


The irony is of course that I detest Emma, character and book, while Persuasion is one of my favourite Austen books.

Anyhoo, enough with the Austen, somebody bring me a cartload of House (yes, thank you, I did miss the season premiere, I was working) and Father Ted. Pills, cynicism and tea have stood me in better stead than romance these last few months.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Berger cookies

They are the best stress management tool available in Maryland, especially when taken with a hug from a friend and some antacid.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

These last days I have occasionally wondered if I was entirely sane. The place my head lives right now is not entirely reality. I find that I have superpowers of productivity; but I lose my temper. I’m cooking a lot, which helps with the sanity, though not necessarily the grasp of reality. If this were a song it would be Arcade Fire’s Keep the Car Running. Which, incidentally, I have been playing obsessively.

I have nightmares, but only barely – I dream of winter cold, of nuts and bolts (literally!) and vague unpleasantness.

Thursday, September 03, 2009


I haven't been writing much and won't. Sorry. I've been busy preparing for the next set of visitors and trips, and have been enjoying the recently returned Spouse. And soon there will be visitors and NY and then more visitors and work stuff and then the Grand Trip, to which I am looking forward with increasing fervour. Perhaps there will be a post about Outlander in there somewhere.

We can't all spend our time looking haplessly glamourous with a cat.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A very small gripe

Scott Joplin's music is wonderful. It's exciting, fun music. Full of joy. Beethoven has nothing on this man. Why then, why does everyone insist on playing it like they are recording it as a substitute of that staticky version of Vivaldi's Four Seasons people insist on using as hold music (speaking of gripes) as if the world had never seen Il Giardino Armonica. Why? Has the technical difficulty drained all the joy from your life? Has it? Also who calls their ragtime orchestra Ophelia? What is it with you people and death? Or perhaps it's the insanity.

Take liberties, brilliantly ruin it with enthusiasm, take it out past curfew, do something. Is there no drunken piano in the house? Yes?

Take this guy - a little bit much caffeine, a little insane, but not one to be drowning himself with flowers in his hair, is he?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

some Mondayor other

One of my friends said “no wonder you aren’t sleeping and are having such an awkward time socialising. Reading intense, depressing prose makes for great conversation, I bet.”

Actually it does, oddly enough, though a little one-sided at times. It also reminds me of a lot of dusty vocabulary I usually keep in a shed outside of Chesapeake City, Maryland, so as not to frighten people.

The word “diaphanous” came up, entirely validly, in conversation with the Spouse. He looked at me suspiciously.


“It means transparent, more or less”

“Why not just use transparent?”

Collocational differences? It’s a good term actually, collocational differences. It means “having different placement” but is usually used more broadly as “words which, while they may not be different in definition, differ in the possible combinations or placement.”

e.g. big = large; but “you are making a big mistake” not “you are making a large mistake”

similarly, “transparent accounting” not “diaphanous accounting”

Words are inexpensive to collect, and one doesn’t have to worry much about storage. Still, explosions are possible; one of my professors in college had worked on the Dutch version of the OED and had clearly suffered some damage.

My current, less lofty reading is a little less pleasurable than it might have been had it not been for Nabokov’s torture (as read by Jeremy Irons – such painful brilliance).

Ira is Latin for fury, and his last name I forget, but the last man to attempt to curb my occasionally baroque style ended up reminding me of a poet* I discovered about the same time –

“I remember the last

of the men I called sir, the last

time I feared poetry -

no hard shove out of Heaven

but a scrawl in green ink, Your analysis

is not brilliant, but will serve

if you avoid these leaps of imagination,

and I tripped away, a mark on my

head full of rhyme.”

I try, but am occasionally sorry to succeed.

*Tanis MacDonald, “To My Milton Professor”

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Second thoughts

Hm. I find myself thinking of something a director I worked with in college once said - that the distinctive quality of a good play is that it makes your audience think. By that definition Lolita is a good movie, though it is not one I would ever want to see again. I woke up with the final scene with in my head. Kubrick and Mason do do something for Humbert; and I realise why that last scene with Humbert and Lolita is so painful - unlike Nabokov's Humbert, the Kubrick version has no distance. The scene is excruciating because it is recognisable; because it leaves the audience no room to back away from empathy.
I've also changed my mind about Sellers; well, he's a great actor of course, but the rewrite of the Clare Quilty part bothers me greatly, and on the whole it seems to be more about showcasing Sellers than about the movie; or perhaps it is a flawed attempt to engage the viewer on Humbert's side by introducing a more wicked (or more successful?) pervert.
Anyway, after all that I had to clean my brain yesterday, so I re-watched some scenes from Julius Caesar. It helped. I think I love James Mason now. I know, he's dead, but that's hardly an issue. I had a crush on the 28-year-old Oscar Wilde when I was seventeen, so clearly I am not deterred by deadness, sexual orientation or knee breeches. Frankly, there is very little practical difference to me between, say, the living Robert Whatsisface and the late James Mason, except that James Mason was rather better at acting. I assume it would matter if I planned to stalk them, in which case Mason or Wilde would be much the easier target, what with staying in one place. Yet I have no such plan, though I have seen Oscar's grave. Anyway, my point is - am I going to ever randomly meet either Mason, Wilde or Whatsisface? No, I am not. Do I care? Not so much. Will I obsess over their actual work? Well, in the case of Mason/Wilde, yes.
Goodness, I really didn't mean to make this into a rant about dead people. What I was actually going to say was that I watched that Brutus/Cassius argument yet again and it is undiminished. It is as beautiful and complex now as it was when I was watching it from the stage in college. So powerful - and I am reminded that the fuss about Shakespeare is not altogether unwarrented.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I have decided that I was exactly right about Lolita. Not even Kubrick, not even Mason, with their Nabokov-and-water version, can make this story less repugnant, and all the more repugnant for being also mesmerising. Even this more sympathetic rendering of Humbert is...painful to watch. Perhaps, actually, that is what is good about this film - the incredible painfulness. It does that very well. And Peter Sellers. He does everything well. And he's very creepy.


Brando-rant aside, I really did love Julius Caesar. I may watch it again later tonight. I also looked through James Mason's list of accomplishments and found old youtube clips of him playing Humbert Humbert in Lolita. I am not sure whether I am fascinated or repulsed. It is Stanley Kubrick, and it is a conspicuous gap in my viewing of Kubrick films; this is not unrelated to my predictably ambiguous feelings about the book. The Jeremy Irons (that other, equally mesmerising Humbert) audio book has lived on my Audible wish list for months; I have not downloaded it yet. Why is it that they keep casting really non-sleazy lovely men to play Humbert? I know, I know, he is not an obvious creep, hence. Still. Perhaps it will ruin Irons/Mason for me forever if I watch these movies. And that would be distressing. Anyway, I didn't mean to go off on a Lolita tangent, I just wanted to say that my Brando tangent implied no criticism of Julius Caesar as a whole.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Not an epilogue

For some time, there was a small note fridgemagneted to our fridge that said "Epilogues are for Tolstoy". The quote is from EM Forster, one of my favourite writers, though for reasons not entirely related to literary merit*. The reference (on my fridge, not in the original) was of course to JK Rowling's Awful Epilogue, but having just finished Crime and Punishment I cannot change my opinion of epilogues - or of Tolstoy - much. That is to say, I do feel that if the content of the epilogue is not intrinsic in the book, it is a bad epilogue, and if it is intrinsic, then the epilogue is unnecessary. So I found myself thinking, upon finishment, "hmm, the redemptive power of love, eh? Why not, I guess." and found myself oddly appeased by what is, most likely, a literary mistake. He pleases me reasonably well, Dostoyevsky does, but I find that I am too frivolous for his writing. The whole thing makes me long for The Master and Margarita, which shows that one can write serious things without utterly jettisoning one's sense of humour; but then I suspect that Dostoyevsky didn't have one to begin with.

There you go then, I have done my bit for world literature and am now off to read Outlander because hopefully it will entertain me without killing any brain cells. That does well enough for me. Actually, perhaps I should hold off on my pile of unread books and re-read The Master and Margarita. It really is one of my life-changing books, on account of being funny, profound, utterly playful, creative, layered and profound. The mix always seemed more lifelike to me than the merely serious or amusing.

*Forster, like Orwell, wins me over with his personal integrity more than his writing; both show me something very personal to me with their writings, something helpful.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Did someone say Oscar?

I caved and rented Julius Caesar, and am watching the famous Mark Anthony speech as done by Marlon Brandon, for which he presumably got that Oscar. BAFTA. Whatever.


Marlon, I love you, and you look fabulous in that Roman mini-skirt, but I have got to be honest with you, that speech is a little more complex than you are making it. Mark Anthony is a strategist, and a clever one, albeit an emotional one too. He has a range. Not just anger. I know, Marlon, I am berating a dead actor for a role everyone thinks he performed admirably. But Marlon, look at Gielgud and Mason. I know, Gielgud is not as goodlooking, we know; and though Mason looks lovely in his army gear, he is no Marlon Brando. Yet Marlon, they do so much more acting. Alas. It seems that I am doomed to wonderful performances of Julius Caesar marred by two-dimensional Mark Anthonys.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


I'm on my second cup of coffee, so if I'm a little hyper, forgive me.

I just saw the tail end of the Marlon Brando/James Mason Julius Caesar. Thoughts -
1) I had forgotten that there really are a number of old movies that are riveting; I couldn't walk away, and my usual goldfish attention span found itself overridden by, of all things, Shakespeare.

2) James Mason, who otherwise mostly exists in the vague periphery of my film knowledge, makes an outstanding Brutus; Marlon Brandon on the other hand, in spite of being the poster boy, is somehow ill-suited to playing Marc Anthony. Brando is (well, was) many things but not Marc Anthony; no. And yes, I know this is a minority opinion.

3) Julius Caesar is really a wonderful play, and it is a kind of epiphany play for me. For a very long time I simply did not see the point of Shakespeare. Hard to understand, convoluted plots, non-funny jokes and really, really long plays. I spent a lot of time trying to understand why Hamlet is supposed to be the greatest play of all time and have come to the following conclusion: perhaps it is; but for the life of me I can't tell because all of the times I've seen it on stage (three times, I think) it has been outright painful (with the exeption of the sexton - you have got to love the gravedigger) and when I saw the Laurence Olivier movie it did nothing for me. I saw Ken Branagh's four hour Hamlet, all four bloody hours, and thought it a waste of some fantastic acting talents. No - as far as I'm concerned, the best Hamlet I have seen is called Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are dead. Anyway, tangent aside, so I kind of tried to understand Shakespeare and didn't. Only then I saw a performance of a pretty obscure play of his, Measure for Measure, at a beautiful old school, while the snow set it; and that changed everything. It was wonderful, funny, charming; I saw the light. Julius Caesar was another of those moments, because while it was not the first Shakespeare play I actually acted in, it was by far the best, and for all its failings, the performance gave the play all of the passion it deserved. Which brings me to

4) Watching Julius Caesar is like meeting an old, beloved friend. I don't always remember the details of our acquiantance, but I remember the spirit of it. I recognise the inner workings of it, I see what it is thinking; and what I thought I had forgotten turns out to still be there.

5) Of course the play should be called Brutus, even if Caesar's ghost hovers over the play. Brutus is a wonderful tragic hero, and while he is not as complex as Hamlet, he is also much easier to identify with. Not that I do, though I could; I identify with

6) Cassius. Cassius is so much more human than Brutus, so much more fallible; there is more pathos in his death on his birthday than in even Brutus's pleas for his friends to kill him. Cassius is passionate and ambitious, and lord, I forgot how incredibly gay this play is. To put it less facetiously, though there are women, all the meaningful relationships are between the men, and none is so openly emotional as that between Brutus and Cassius. And Gielgud as Cassius to Mason's's apt and beautiful.

Thank you, Turner Classic Movies, and thank you, late great Gielgud and Mason. In your honour I have, not one, but two youtube clips.

And as closing credits:

Postscript: Julius Caesar, Shakespeare aside, is another on my list of really fascinating historical characters; a consummate politician whose great virtue and flaw was that he could handle criticism and forgave his enemies, and had a sense of humour. Thank you six years of really boring Latin and really interesting history.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Well, its been an interesting time. I am not quite sure what to say, except that Crime and Punishment is growing on me, after almost 16 hours of listening, as is The Three Musketeers, now that I've almost finished it. Nineteenth century literature, it's been a while, so perhaps this is just the required period of adjustment. The two books make for an interesting contrast - the tortured murdered vs. the joyful, playful musketeers who take all the killing in their stride.

And of course all that matters is not whether you fall down, but whether you get up and dust yourself off for another round. Right now that next round is pretty literal, if not entirely, and I feel pretty disinclined, comtemplating the microwave chocolate cake instead.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

If you ever see this book, pick it up and read the back flap

The back flap is funny. Yet so is the front cover. Who says the cover doesn't matter? I would never have read this book if it weren't for the wonderful, lovely cover.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Things I don’t

It seems like as time passes I am more and more defined by the things I don’t do; for better or for worse. Times when I don’t take it out on other people, when I don’t burst into tears; when I resist the impulse to just say what I think. I don’t pursue some of the dreams. I don’t dare. Sometimes the space I live in seems so small; yet life is full of small victories; conflicts I step away from; unhealthy conversations I finally end; bad habits I no longer have. Confidence I no longer have.

Small comfort: Kona coffee (because all real luxury is small); new songs; a pair of earrings; a new book.

And difficulties require only that you live through them with your equilibrium intact (“balance is the biggest part of movement”, Paula Cunningham the dentist-poet says) and with your self-control at the ready.

Meanwhile, in my head, Billy Idol and Adam Ant are getting bored, and waste time playing dress-up, but you know sometime soon a revolt will break out.

(Cue Cake’s version of I Will Survive)

Less drama, not less purpose.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Scarlet, not Scarlett

I knew him, of course; as played by Richard E. Grant, who is such a wonderful, fun actor; and then as played by Anthony Edwards, who was a little less the fool and a little more the handsome hero. I knew the story, that lovely bit of anti-revolutionary propaganda which first interested me in Robespierre*. The book I picked up for a dollar at a St. Vincent de Paul thrift store somewhere on a whim, because I had too many serious things to read. Of course I should have know – Tolkien warns us that the path at our door may lead us anywhere, and so it is with books; you never know where they will take you. So I am reading The Scarlet Pimpernel, a foolish book, yet as usual giving me a little more than any movie or tv, and find myself unwittingly swept up in yet another frivolous-yet-riveting book. Seriously, my friends, there is a limit to the number of books I can read obsessively during every available minute, though I guess that given the Spouse’s travels and the temporary lull in professional insanity, I may be more available for such things than usual. Swashbuckling. That’s what this book is, and yet it is a little more sophisticated than I would have given it credit for. I am very fond of the triple-decker intrigue – not just the romantic hero posing as ze euld hag to the “Frenchies”, but posing as an indolent fool to the English. A tightly-wound (and don’t we all love a tightly-wound man**), brilliant man pretending to care for nothing but cards and fashion. Yes. On the other hand, the plot contains so much signposting it becomes painful.

Yet again, I find myself on the narrow ledge just above the Harlequin novels***, but I already like the Pimpernel better than the sparkly undead, and frankly it would be hard to beat Robespierre and the French Revolution for a nemesis.

*Robespierre is interesting; a powerful man with no attachment to power, a dictator but not a demagogue, a civil rights advocate turned tyrant on principle.

**See previous entries on such topics as Mr. Darcy, Snape, Mr. Rochester and yes, the blasted vampire

***Sometimes the snob in me gets upset about this. Then the smart, rationalising TDEC reminds her inner snob that stainglass windows are the church’s comic books and that Shakespeare wrote his plays for a picnicking, chatting audience, that clapping between movements in classical music used to be the norm and that the only difference between Jane Austen and that Harlequin romance is the fact that Austen is good. And has a sense of humour.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Sun Also Rises, less fun than a barrel full of monkeys

I think I am supposed to think that the passion at the core of the story is inescapable, that it is inevitable. Yes, I just finished Hemingway’s bullfighting extravaganza, The Sun Also Rises. The good news is that it is better than I expected. The understatement works, to some extent; though it gets a bit much. That said, I can’t sympathise with the bullfight-enthused Jake. Perhaps Brett, the lady at the center of it all, is meant as helpless, a victim to her inability to find what she is looking for (an unharmed, fully manly Jake?) but I cannot fathom such selfishness; such painful promiscuity; and worst of all, the way she hangs on to Jake every way she though she knows it can’t do anything but harm. And of course Jake is an idiot for submitting to it; love makes fools of us all, I know, but surely at some point you get over it, her, yourself.

Back to Dostoyevsy, then. *sigh*

Yesterday was the Spouse’s birthday, which I mostly missed thanks to work. Brilliant.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Oh and I'm reading Hemingway and Dostoyevsky. Perhaps not surprising that my cheer is failing me (I blame Hemingway. He deserves. I'm sure he killed my phone and my email just with his descriptions of bullfighting. He organised DC traffic just to spite me and my dislike of, well, all the bloody bullfights). Which reminds me that perhaps the appropriate reference here is not to They Might Be Giants or to Hemingway, but to Jimmy McNulty:

"What the fuck did I do?"


Just to state what is obvious in my head: it's a crummy week, a busy one. I need a change. And sleep. In my head it looks like that They Might Be Giants song:

They fixed up the corner store like it was a night club
It's permanently disco
Everyone is dressed so oddly I can't recognize them
I can't tell the staff from the customers

You have to carry all your things
You can't misplace them
There's nowhere to place anything

They're all shouting something at us, waving and pointing
They revamped the airport completely now it looks just like a night club
Everyone's excited and confused

Monday, July 27, 2009


What better way to end this weekend, after all, than by watching a classic addict solve murders in the English countryside?

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Forget the video, listen to the song. It fits my current zombie/vampire/werewolf theme. Also, it's funny.

Monday, July 20, 2009


A vexing end to a lovely weekend - a weekend of art and music. Of quality time and Harry Potter. Snape and beer - the latter part of which combo is currently unwise. And the recalcitrant body, of course; and the boy, though perhaps through no fault of his own. Well, I'll take the good weekends as they come, flaws and all.

Friday, July 17, 2009


On another Twilight-related topic, it occurs to me that while supposedly people are reading less and less, these series (specifically Harry Potter and Twilight) sell millions and millions of copies to young(ish) readers. Here’s a thought: when I was in school, I was an avid reader, and my bestest friend and I talked books all the time. We were strange, and books were never a topic of conversation with our (more than averagely motivated) classmates. When did reading anything, never mind reading huge tomes, become sexy? All these ADD kids reading 700-page emo, it is an amazing thing. For that fact alone one can forgive many teenage girls for being perhaps a tad preoccupied with Robert Whatsisface*.

I admit that I am baffled. In a good way. Keep looking – there ain’t no laudator temporis acti here.

*By the way, what the hell? That link creeps me out. It would creep me out if I were Robert Whatsisface. Also, thanks to the Spouse I am now imagining Robert Whatsisface with GPS tracking attached to his ear like a bear in a population study.

If it’s good enough for you, it’s good enough for me

Well, I finally finished Breaking Dawn, and with that, the Twilight series (for now – I’m sure there will be more) and I approve of it. The funny thing is that both the worst criticisms and the highest praise are accurate. No, she’s not a great writer; yes, her characters are two-dimensional. Yes, it is a love story for a new generation; yes, it is impossible to put down.

I came across a story about Obama reading the books with his daughter and I will give up my shame – if it’s good enough for the President (and countless otherwise rational, intelligent persons), then who am I to be embarrassed?

This, then, has been deeply enjoyable, much to my surprise, and slight embarrassment.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Spoiler alert, ye unfortunate readers and viewers of Twilight

So I am back, and w00t for that I guess. I have a choice of addressing my continuing dilemma about my career (what career?) or compulsively reading Twilight; or more accurately, Breaking Dawn or whatever the hell that last part is called that I need to go buy this evening. No surprises on my decision. Anyway, I am increasingly aggravated by the books, and I am starting to wonder if I will never again encounter a writer who can really write a series. Rowling messed it up so terribly that at least Meyer comes off looking pretty good by comparison. Mostly this is because she is less ambitious; no grand schemes here, only threads carried over from one story to the next. It works out ok. Bella is almost too convincing as a teenager; by which I mean that she, like Harry Potter, ends up grating on my adult nerves. The vampire is a little too good; but oh well, makes for a change from all the wicked ones, I guess. No, the writing is not the best, full of clichés, but who am I to complain, given that I still read all of it ravenously. What really bothers me, however, is not that, but the unexpected plethora of conventional morality in Eclipse. The nice vampire boyfriend wants to get married before the heroine fina-bloody-ly becomes a vampire? Really? And then, in case we hadn’t understood the metaphor, he also refuses to sleep with her until they are married.

It is better than the clusterf*ck that is the moral panorama of Harry Potter, in the sense that at least the values in question are…sane, albeit unhelpful. But still, I am resentful at being snuck up on with these things. Never mind the morality of becoming the undead; being married is what matters.

Footnote to avoid confusion: just in case anybody mistakes my criticisms for actual dislike – I think JK Rowling is a great creative mind, and she must be nice enough to be friends with Stephen Fry; some part of me wishes I were Stephenie Meyer (only the writing part! Not the Mormon part) and I love that she has playlists to go with the books; and I very obviously have no complaints about marriage. My criticisms are a measure of my involvement.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Game over

It is over.

I am so incredibly tired, and I need breakfast. Again. I'd say "Expect updates soon" and you should, but first I need to eat and sleep and then it may take a while for my brain to get back to room temperature.

Yes, I missed you too.

Thursday, July 02, 2009


My friends, tomorrow I am off to the annual brouhaha. I am adequately stocked with books, music, granola bars, embarrassment and schedules. The schedules so I don’t forget to do any of my heap of duties; the food because getting meals can be a challenge, books because a girl needs distraction (other than alcohol; there will be alcohol also); music because singing and shaking along work great as stress relief; and embarrassment because I am bringing both Twilight and Fall Out Boy’s Dance Dance and I am not, in fact, thirteen, or to be accurate, thirteen and well behind the times. On the other hand, screw the embarrassment. I’m an adult. I can be thirteen whenever I like. And boo to you.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The spy who came in from the holy cow this man is obnoxious

I just finished Kim Philby’s My Silent War, and the displeasure I felt in reading it seemed to merit special attention.

Introductory glossary for those not familiar with Philby.

Kim Philby: Philby, somehow named Kim in spite of having three first names, none of which even faintly resemble Kim, was the most successful of a group of British Soviet spies known as the Cambridge Four/Five/Spies*. He rose fast in the British secret service during WW II and the Cold War, heading up several departments, including counter-intelligence, before finally defecting to the USSR in ‘62, where he lived out his life as a Soviet hero of a peculiar kind.

Cambridge Five: spy ring, named thusly because all of the said spies were Cambridge graduates who became communists during their stay there. Amazingly, the last of them was not formally identified until 1990. Which accounts for some of the tone of My Silent War.

On to the book then – it is Philby’s 1968 biography, written in response to British press reports. Philby was a good writer, with all the benefits of the education he dismissed so readily. This only makes matters worse though – he combines the worst of British smugness with the worst of callous Soviet dogmatism. The understated irony of the little book is offensive, given the context of the book; a context which is almost entirely unintelligible from his narrative alone. It is, then, also a very heavily censored book, a historical fill in the blanks. The two (Cambridge) agents whose discovery precipitated his own are never mentioned as spies until he tells the story of their discovery; Philby’s own foul play is almost entirely unstated. The implications are heavy, and very soon Philby’s smugness becomes unbearable, and his self-satisfied tone leaves a bitter aftertaste if you know how many people he got killed. It reads as like bowlderised version of a smutty novel.

Philby would have made a good Graham Greene. Greene knew Philby and liked him; he apparently tried repeatedly to convince him to re-defect to the UK. It does no good; Philby chose not to go that path, and while he makes a good character for a Graham Greene novel, he is a repulsive author in spite of his skills and a pretty creepy human being to boot.

*In case any of my readers suspect a real interest in Cold War politics on my part, or for that matter any real seriousness, I will say that my interest in the Cambridge group can be attributed exclusively to the BBC miniseries Cambridge Spies and the presence therein of Sam West (as Anthony Blunt) and Tom Hollander (as Guy Burgess). Historical fiction is a lovely thing, and there is plenty of interest in the fact alone.

Monday, June 29, 2009

It ain't over till it's over

Somewhere in between the lovely fundraiser Friday (how can you fault anything with good people? And crab thingies) the madness yesterday and the churching and baseball today, and the end of Sulu and Kutner go to White Castle, it's been interesting. And that movie is surprisingly funny.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Alright, so I admit to being at least somewhat swept up in Twilight. I’m ok with that. The thing that caught me off guard about it was not the whole sexy vampire thing, which was entirely as one might expect, but the humour, and specifically, my inability to determine whether it was intentional or not. The Spouse and I spent the entirety of the first half hour howling with laughter. After that it was a little less funny and more involving, but still pretty funny. It’s the little things, as much as the larger “I am so tragic that I must radiate seductive emo everywhere I go” theme. For example, Edward, sexy vampire of note, drives a teeny, shiny Volvo. Small Volvos – good for fast getaways, protecting one’s mere mortal girlfriends, warming up one’s lovely ice-cold bottom, and killing the occasional moose for a snack? Safe as houses, that is. Or that there is a random fan (in cold, wet Washington) to sexily Bella’s hair around here face when she encounters the vampire.

So, Miss J., I will argue that it is not quite Dirty Dancing. Rather, it is Ghost, with that same lovely young Swayze, who has at this point internalised the comic relief of Whoopi Goldberg to a flaw. In short, it’s a great way to spend an evening. I may have to watch it again now.

By the way, watching Twilight was also a splendid occasion to have this recurring conversation with the Spouse (actual conversation has been quite wildly paraphrased):

Spouse: I don’t get it. Why would a woman find it attractive when a guy admits that he has been sorely tempted to, er, drink her blood? That’s flattering?
TDEC: He is what every woman wants.
Spouse: I have obviously wasted my time not being emo and violent for the last twenty years. Think of the women who would have thrown themselves at me.
TDEC: Well... seriously, what do you know about women? What are the accepted clichés?
S: Er, that they’re incomprehensible?
TDEC: I guess. What else?
S: They like rebels?
TDEC: Exactly. What else?
S: ?
TDEC: Women, according to popular belief, like nothing so much as a DIY project.
S: Building shelves?
TDEC: Reforming men. Making rebels into protective, caring, yet slightly dangerous marriage material.
S: What’s wrong with nice men?
TDEC: No dramatic tension.

Final final reflection:
Dude, I just realized that Robert Whatsisface is Cedric from Goblet of Fire. I can’t believe I instantly recognized the black vampire (the actor played Big Love on House) but failed to recognize Cedric from a movie which I have seen at least three times. He had such lovely red cheeks in that, but I ignored it because it made me feel like a pervert.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


TDEC has seen Twilight. She approves of it. It is very (unintentionally?) funny, and yet also strangely compelling. So camp. Oh yes, we likes it. More later, perhaps.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Twilight Unvisited

When I was a teenager and first making the acquaintance of the Romantic poets (Hi, er, John, Mr. Keats Sir) I was baffled by such titles as “Yarrow Unvisited” and “Yarrow Revisited”. My profound and well-documented dislike* for the writer both of those, William (can we call him Bill, like the Shatner?) Wordsworth, probably was not helpful.

More than ten years later I understand about this unvisited business. First, I must translate. Never mind Yarrow. “Yarrow Revisited” is the new Star Trek; because seeing Star Trek is all about celebrating the hallowed past, and its glory in the present, and everything being in its right place. “Yarrow Unvisited”, on the other hand, is Twilight, except that this time my Honourable Friend Miss J. is impersonating the Abominable Bill, and arguing that I should go and see Yarrow, and I am saying, it’s just a vampire movie with a cute bloke, surely there are a million of those? And the Bill Wordsworth says, be quiet foolish woman, this is no mere vampire movie, it is Dirty Dancing for a new generation.

So I guess I had better watch Twilight now.

*I realise that the following is actually encouraging you to read said poems from said wordy, self-absorbed late poet so as to better understand my ramblings. Sorry about that.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


You know, my beloved readers, I have to make a confession. I had rather a funny work story; I had it all written up. But then I wimped out, because it was controversial, and I don’t much like trouble. It is a consolation that my comedic writing is a bit dubious anyway. When the revolution comes, I will not be the first against the wall. I’m too cautious. Perhaps when the revolution gets to the paranoid stage.

I know. I made you a cookie but I eated it.

My metaphors, on the other hand, kick ass, as demonstrated by the fact that yesterday, I gracefully compared my marriage to cream-filled pastry. I am also not afraid of quoting poetry at people. I think I might have unintentionally antagonized a colleague with Yeats today. Let’s face it, if you’ve got to antagonize people, wouldn’t you rather do it with Yeats?

The question is not “Am I weird?” (not all that weird, really) but “How do I feel about being weird?” and I am ok with being a little strange. A little more strangeness would not be remiss. Perhaps time to read more comic books about Derrida (can I make that Kant? I really don’t like Derrida). Time draw more bunny ears on things. You know, own (pwn?) the weird. If not the brave so much.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An outing

There is no place like home, but frankly, Montreal is certainly more exciting. Convenient, that, since I rather unexpectedly found myself in Quebec this weekend. The Spouse is really getting rather good at this business of surprises. Canada was lovely, this unfamiliar part as much as the already familiar. It was a little bit like an alternate universe mix of Belgium (the off-brand Frenchness of it, the window sills full of snake plants, the easy and chaotic charm), France (the sincere patriotism, and the frowns at things non-francophone; and the Frencher-than-French plethora of fleurs-de-lis), the US (the skyline, almost like any highrise skyline) and a variety of places.

And yet there is no place like home – the best thing about Quebec, lovely Quebec, was the time spent with the Spouse. It is amazing to what extent one can miss out on really talking to someone one lives with; and so sometimes clicking your heels three times summons an airport taxi, so you can find yourself elsewhere. Besides, who wouldn’t travel so far if only to see the lupines?

Today, then, I get to be exactly as sentimental as I want to be.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


When you start dreaming about Morrissey, you know things have gone too far. This morning when I woke up at 5:43 am because someone was making a racket, I realized that in my dream, not only was Morrissey there for no reason that conformed even to dream logic, he was young and handsome. My friends, while the Moz was undeniably once young, I don’t think he ever laid claim to the Johnny Depp brand of sultry beauty; which is to say that it was something to amuse me over my breakfast cereal after a night of waking up time and time again expecting the Spouse to be there (which he wasn’t). It also reminded me of what is, with Cemetry Gates, my favourite Smiths song – Stop Me (If You Think That You’ve Heard This One Before). Why is it that that brand of upbeat angry song cheers me so? Kate Nash’s Foundations, Lush’s Ladykillers, and then Stop Me. You’d think I have a grudge – but I have no “hell hath no fury” tales.

There is much intelligence around here. Much CIA, FBI, NSA, Ivy League, scientific, articulate, intense and intimidating intelligence. Astronomers, physicists, neurologists and artists, too. There is Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert getting ordered by the President to shave his head, and it is lovely, truly wonderful, all of it (except maybe the NSA. They scare me, with their eagles wrapped in flags). All the same, The Smiths make me homesick for a kind of intelligent humour (wry, blasé, well-read in different books) that just doesn’t grow here, much like the giant trees of the pacific northwest, which I also miss (thank you, John Valliant).