Welcome!

Aug. 31st, 2020 11:39 pm
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
Greetings, traveller! Welcome to Highly's House of Batshittery. Here you will find musings, rantings, sniggerings and occasional coherent thoughts on life, friends, medievalism, the Internet, and the oddities of expat existence. Oh, and cleaning. I tend to talk about cooking and cleaning a lot.
highlyeccentric: Sign on Little Queen St - One Way both directions (Default)
Or more like every 10-11 months. Guess who just bought a new computer? It me!

This time I don't think the demise of the old one is my fault - the battery was behaving weirdly on Sunday, and then yesterday at 40% power it went zoooop and wouldn't turn on again. It's still in warranty, so is being shipped back to Lenovo. In the meantime I still have work to do, so bought an itsy-bitsy teeny weenie Lenovo YogaBook, which is proving very difficult to type with (keyless keypad!) but otherwise seems like a Friend.

Naturally I hadn't made a recent file backup on the old computer, but I'm fairly sure the HD will be okay, and all my work stuff is on dropbox.
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Currently Reading: Arundhati Roy, 'The Ministry of Utmost Happiness'; Science of the Discworld II, and a few other bits and pieces.

Recently Finished: Backdated reviews from the UK trip, as follows

The Lawrence Browne Affair (The Turner Series, #2)The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Apparently I was on a roll with 'accidentally reading book two before book one of a series'. I liked this one! Although without the context of book 1 I had some trouble figuring out WHY a slum-born swindler was a competent secretary, I liked it a lot. I liked that the give-and-take came from both directions (Georgie's decision to read up on electricity was a nice touch), and I'm a fan of the cast of supporting characters - Lawrence's female inventions buddy especially.

The Soldier's Scoundrel (The Turner Series, #1)The Soldier's Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I liked this one a lot less than The Lawrence Browne Affair. It just seemed... meh. Meh in world-building, and in character-building. I think there's only so many 'scoundrel goes straight for love' romances one can read in a row, and I was coming to Cat Sebastian off the back of KJ Charles' An Unnatural Vice.

Mother of Souls (Alpennia, #3)Mother of Souls by Heather Rose Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was *interesting*. This book is definitely marking a genre-stamp for the series, moving it more firmly into historical-fantasy and away from romance. Which, given I was getting sick of neatly parcelled romance novels, is a good thing to me. I enjoyed both of the new lead women characters, and the returning ensemble cast. It was particularly rewarding to see Anna the apprentice develop more as a character. The test to Margerit's worldview & philosophy of the mysteries via Serafina was great, as was the increase in ensemble cast diversity.

I'm just a bit surprised - I thought this was 3 in a trilogy, but it's clearly not a final-in-the-series book. This is, overall, a GOOD surprise. I have high hopes! Especially for Margerit's niece - I devoutly hope she's our next heroine.

Frenchman's Creek (VMC Book 2160)Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I've never read any Du Maurier, and I'm told this is atypical - the only one of her works she claimed as a romance at all. It was a bit weird to read, like, say, if you'd read LOTR *after* reading Raymond E Feist. Suddenly I could see all these influences on the queer histrom I've been reading - not only faithfully adapted elements but *deliberately departed from* ones. Like. If this was written by one of the m/m histrom crowd now, there would be a *lot* deeper interrogation of the class issues in the novel. (Class here is used primarily as a _uniting_ factor, something to bring its heroine together with her Manic Pixie Pirate Baron, and not really interrogated at all.) Fisherman's Creek is definitely better literature, but less self-aware.

Good things: it's not in the slightest HEA. Which I liked - I was surfeited on HEA by the time I got to this one, and I can't see how a HEA would have *worked* here (unless you rewrote it as m/m. In which case they run away to sea together).

Also, Our Hero is a Manic Pixie Pirate Baron. That part seemed fairly self-aware: burned out woman gets to meet an inspiring rebel who Changes Her Life and recharges her to go back to her real world, much as has happened to dudes in literature forever.

To review later: Georgette Heyer, Tanya Huff, a book about beds, the latest Archer magazine issue, and LM Montgomery's autobiography.

Up Next: I need to attack Carolyne Larrington's 'Brothers and Sisters in Medieval Literature'




Music notes: well I saw Midnight Oil, asyouknowBob. And I bought Alan Doyle's first solo album, Boy on Bridge. Today I noticed that the song 'Testify', which sounds like country-gospel, is actually a song about a dude escaping prison by staging a river immersion baptism. This pleases me.

Oh my

Jul. 22nd, 2017 10:21 am
highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
This morning I made pancakes and ate them on the balcony, and started reading Arundhati Roy's The Ministry of Utmost Happiness. I'm only about two chapters in, and am already blown away by her prose and her... I don't know what to call it, exactly, but it's there in God of Small Things and it's there in this one, and I haven't found anything in between that quite tastes like they do.

Other facts:

- yesterday I spent 200 chf on a handbag. It's a very nice, very understated handbag made of good leather, so probably worth it. (There was a Fossil bag I liked, on sale, considerably cheaper, but it had suede panels and was probably more fashion-dependent.) Friend R went shopping with me, and I think I disappointed her: I did not want sparkles, or colour blocks, or quilt effects, or tassels, and most things with gold embellishments I thought were too overdone (for me: underdone for R, I'm sure). I kept gravitating to bags she described as 'my aunt has one like that'. Basically I wanted something considerably smaller than my satchel, that I can wear with a dress, and that won't draw much attention (so I can carry it with ANY dress. Or with a more masc outfit if I so choose).

- We then went prowling through the makeup section. I learned a lot of terrifying things about makeup. Again, a bit weird, because I'm attracted to makeup as a THING, but evidence proves I don't bother wearing it. R kept being like 'this would look good on you'. Well, yes. Except I wouldn't wear it. I bought some single-use face masque sheets from Sephora, though, and that turns out to be quite rewarding. I haven't had a good masque since I stopped buying clinque (the Sukin mud one may or may not have been good for my skin, but it didn't feel like anything on and was therefore a disappointment).

There have been some Girlfriend Situations in the past week that have varied from bloody brilliant (gosh I'm looking forward to seeing her!) to anxiety-hamster to quietly worrying.
highlyeccentric: Me (portrait by Scarlet Bennet) (Not impressed)
1. I deserve points, because I just made a doctor's appointment for a non-urgent matter.

2. Midnight Oil concert was totally worth it. The anxiety I worked myself up into in advance of going to Paléo was not, really. There *were* big crowds coming in by 8, 9 pm - but not at 5pm for the opening gigs! It was super chill when I got there. I ended up leaving at about 8.15 - I'd moved on to a smaller stage featuring tiny british boys known as Temples, but the mix of cigarette smoke and pot in the air was making my eyes stream and my head hurt. I feel a bit... a bit useless because I went to a thing and LEFT as everyone else was arriving. But actually, who cares? I saw what I wanted.
2.i. I have to say though, some of the tracks off Diesel and Dust which if you think about them too hard are Not Cool, well. They are really uncomfortable when you're all standing on European soil. the Dead Heart, particularly: it's pretty close to musical blackface to begin with, and the cultural dislocation just makes it more obvious.
2.ii. Garrett chose to do his contextualising around 'imagine if the French government had got their act together and had made it to the east coast of Aus before the British, I'd be singing all this in French'. Which. Okay. He didn't try to suggest this would be better, or worse, colonialism-wise, but I was still not happy with the way it felt. And at some point he referenced 'our dear first peoples, the indigenous australians', and just. Nope. How patronising can you GET?
3.iii Rob Hirst remains crazy talented oh my goodness. I somehow forget to notice the complexity of the percussion if I'm just listening, but as soon as you see him in action: wow. Also, the percussion kit included an honest-to-goodness rusty corrugated iron water tank, which I can only assume they physically transported from Aus for use during 'Power and the Passion'. Hell yes.

3. I started making a weekly habit tracker thing. Like a sticker chart for kids - you set a number of chores or self-care activities and colour in when they're done. I think I've set 49 possible things over a week, but not all of them are daily so I have targets. If i met every target I'd be at 41 things; so far I'm rewarding myself if I get to 25. And it's... working? The first few weeks I had days with only one or two squares; now normal is 3 or 4.

And on that note I'd better go and address today's tasks, starting with 'walk to work' (i missed 'get up by 8')
highlyeccentric: Vintage photo: a row of naked women doing calisthenics (Onwards in nudity!)
I am going to a *music festival*. I have a ticket to Paleo (... somewhere. First quest: locate and print ticket), which is not a festival of weird food, but a festival of rock/pop music. Who knew?

Midnight Oil are playing on the main stage at 6. I was SUPER EXCITE when I bought the tickets (obviously, since I bought them) but now, in face of the prospect of travel, crowds, etc, I am less excite. I don't think I'll regret it, though.

Arcade Fire are on the main stage later tonight; I'm not sure that I'll stick around for that, though.
highlyeccentric: Dessert first - pudding in a teacup (Dessert first)
After Leeds I met up with friend L, and we proceeded to Penrith, and then on foot out of town to an outlying mixed rural/industrial area (it was weird. It had sheep and a Local Business Park and a cake factory), where our accommodation was a 'camping pod' in a former orchard. Pretty cool, aside from getting rained on heavily to get there.

Saturday we marched up the road to the Rheged centre (me: oh, this are must have been part of Rheged! L: no, Rheged is a welsh place name, there was this king, Urien Rheged... me: let me tell you a thing about the fifth and sixth centuries) and took a bus down to Keswick, in the Lake District. It was very beautiful, we walked around Derwent Water, many sheep much scenery very wow (photos forthcoming see [tumblr.com profile] speculumannorum).

However, before setting off on the scenic part of the expedition we went to A PENCIL MUSEUM. And learned about the history of pencils. I'm not sure it was quite worth the 5 pound entry (it would've if we'd had kids with us: there was a whole room of colouring-in play space), but it was pretty awesome. Special points to the display on the Cumberland Map and Compass Pencil, produced at the behest of Charles Fraser Smith, the British govt's secret gadgets-commissioner for WWII.

I do so love weirdly specific museums.
highlyeccentric: Graffiti: sometimes i feel (Sometimes I Feel)


Thing I learned: Alan Doyle's current touring band, the Alan Doyle Trio (not the Beautiful Gypsies, good news on the not-having-a-racist-band-name front) were touring with the Barenaked Ladies in April. And my fave track from the 2015 album was co-written with the lead dude from BNL. (Who is also getting round and old lookin' and that hasn't decreased my attraction to him either, sigh.)

Also the attractive lady with the violin is Kendall Carson.

The video for Summer Summer Night was released yesterday and I'm not impressed. They seem to have decided that Alan is too old to front a scene about dreamy summer beach parties, which, OKAY, but I am not interested in desaturated slomo shots of blandly attractive young people dancing. At the expense of shots of Alan and his ridiculous face and/or Kendall Carson and her... everything.

So I'm watching this live video instead.

WELL

Jul. 14th, 2017 08:52 am
highlyeccentric: Divide by cucumber error: reinstall universe and reboot (Divide by cucumber)
I was just thinking yesterday that Auspol had been suspiciously normal, compared to the UK and the US, for at least a week.

NEVER FEAR. Today I woke up to news of:

A: SECRET KIWI IN THE SENATE

and

B: Turnbull's plans to override the laws of mathematics.

I'm not sure what's best about item A: that Scott Ludlam has been an illegitimate senator all this time, or that he DIDN'T REALISE HE WAS A KIWI. He 'didn't realise citizenship followed you like that'. You're a SENATOR, sir.* How many immigration debates have you slept through?

Item B is pure gold and the best motivation I have ever heard for subscribing to a VPN service. Declare your allegiance to the laws of mathematics!

* Wait, no you're not. You've never actually been a Senator. You've just been... in the Senate. A secret Kiwi in the senate.
highlyeccentric: Firefley - Kaylee - text: "shiny" (Shiny)


Single from Alan Doyle's forthcoming album 'A Week at the Warehouse'. I don't know why but I hadn't listened to any of his solo / Beautiful Gypsies stuff*, and I've just discovered it and it MIGHT reconcile me to the break-up of GBS.

*Well. Maybe the TERRIBLE BAND NAME. No points, Alan.
highlyeccentric: Joie du livre - young girl with book (Joie du livre)
My now-habitual consumption of a stack of romance & pulp during conference season stood me in good stead again, and then, my usual resorts exhausted, I turned to du Maurier and Heyer. So far I do not object to this choice.

Currently Reading: Georgette Heyer, 'A Civil Contract'; Tanya Huff, 'The Second Summoning'.

Recently Read:

For work, Utz's 'Medievalism: A Manifesto'

Spectred Isle (Green Men #1)Spectred Isle by K.J. Charles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I LOVED THIS BOOK. (I have an ARC of it, which meant it got to be the first of my conference-season comfort reads.)

It has WWI angst and magic and 12th century ghosts, it's like it was written expressly for meeee. Our Hero ended WWI in disgrace for a crime that he variously implies constitutes sodomy and/or treason (exact details are only slowly doled out, in a careful integration with the plot). He is no longer welcome to excavate with his former mentor Leonard Woolley* and has ended up working for a rich gentleman with dubious ideas about the network of magical sites across London. Unfortunately for all concerned, there IS a network of magical sites across london, and Our Hero keeps stumbling across the man who's tasked with (in the absence of his family and allies, all lost in the war) keeping them under control.

Shenanigans ensue. Folk tales turn unfriendly. Unquiet ghosts from the Anarchy period must be put to rest, et caetera. I am particularly fond of the role which Randolph's deceased fiancé ends up playing - this book doesn't fall into the trap of completely eliding women from its m/m universe.

(*I mentioned this aspect to an archaeologist friend and her response was to suggest he should work with Mortimer Wheeler instead. Apparently Mortimer Wheeler is infamous for sleeping with anything that moved.)



An Unnatural Vice (Sins of the Cities, #2)An Unnatural Vice by K.J. Charles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


It's possible my enjoyment of this book might have been improved by realising it was number two in a series (some key plot points did seem rushed!), but perhaps not. I really, really loved the dynamic between these two, and the resolution re Jonah's career juuuust managed to convince me. (I like that. I like that it was teetering on the edge of something I was going to be pissed with, only to find a way to do it well.) I love how much both of them love the people in their lives. A++



The Secret Casebook of Simon FeximalThe Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by K.J. Charles

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is... odd. It starts as a collection of short stories, grows something resembling a through-plot, and ends as a set-up for the Green Men books. I think I'm glad I read it only AFTER having read Spectred Isle - I liked it as a prequel to that, better than I think I would have on its own. It does showcase KJ Charles' command of folklore and local history, which I particularly like.



An Unseen Attraction (Sins of the Cities, #1)An Unseen Attraction by K.J. Charles

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Plot-wise, this solved some of my problems with 'An Unnatural Vice' (turns out it helps to read things in order, who knew). It has several threads going on, and handles them all well. In terms of characterisation, Clem is a really good piece of writing on Charles' part - it's clear that he is autistic-or-something-like-it, but that's framed in terms that work in his setting. His position as a bastard of mixed race is mixed in with that with finesse, in such a way that you can tell that the two alienating factors are feeding into each other (a brilliant illegitimate son, or a neuroatypical heir, would both have had very different fates). I like that Clem isn't entirely alone in his family, and his cousin Tim is a good egg.

For some reason, I just didn't *click* with this pairing as well as I usually do with Charles' couples. I found them both, and their wants and their working out of the ways they fit together, fascinating, but not compelling.



Also finished: two Cat Sebastian m/m ... not bodice rippers if no-one's wearing bodices. Waistcoat-rippers? Cravat-rippers? Daphne du Maurier's 'Fisherman's Creek', which turned out to be an obvious influence on one of the former. And Renée Adieh's 'The Rose and the Dagger', which I'm still a little bit... dissatisfied with.

Up Next: Work things. I have a whole book on beds to read. Don't you just envy me?




Music notes: didn't listen to much while travelling, but today I coaxed Spotify into revealing to me that Alan Doyle has a new single and an album I didn't know about. My feelings on this matter are YES GOOD.

Ow

Jul. 11th, 2017 09:45 am
highlyeccentric: French vintage postcard - a woman in feminised army uniform of the period (General de l'avenir)
I'm back from the UK! Many things have happened, some good some bad some ???. Instead of any of them I wish to report:

I have a wisdom tooth. It has come through behind my existing molars, instead of underneath them, which is nice. It's not straight (about 20 degrees off upright) but it's not perpendicular or driving straight into my other teefs, so that's better than expected. There's not really enough space for it back there, so it wasn't ever going to come out straight.

However: ow. It's currently not completely out (3/4 corners are free), and the teething pressure/pain is still hangin' around. I realised a while ago that was one source of my frequent 'aargh everything hurts, no, wait if I think about it I don't actually have a headache or an injury?' elusive pain thingies. I'm just so acclimated to jaw pressure (thanks, braces) that it legit doesn't register as a sensation I should pay attention to, until it gets quite severe.

I'm hoping that now the tooth is free it will settle the fuck down; I realise it's much more likely that there's just not enough space in my jaw for it and I will have this pain until I woman up and see a dental surgeon. In the meantime I have baby teething gel.

Also, new tooth means NEW WAYS TO BITE MY MOUTH. It's not fun.
highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
Currently Reading: Captive Prince, *again*, but this time it counts as work. Tanya Huff's The second summoning.

Recently Read: For work, King of Tars and Floris and Blanchflour. Floris gets smuggled into a harem in a CUP. Wtf.

Also for work, don't even ask, started and didn't finish 'Ai No Kusabi' volume one. I was pretty into the premise but the prose of the English translation was SO TERRIBLE I couldn't even.

Missed HerMissed Her by Ivan E. Coyote

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I really enjoyed this book. I had a problem deciding if I should shelve it with short-stories or memoir, but I bought it second hand with a library sticker on it saying FIC, so I trust unto librarians. The same week I read this I read Liz Duck-Chong's profile of Ivan in Kill Your Darlings, and experienced the same dissonance I experienced when I read Halberstam's Female Masculinity alongside a recent Halberstam interview. In both cases some things have shifted in the author's gender presentation, and possibly gender experience, but if it's public knowledge *what* shifted or why, I don't know it. Which is fine, but the dissonance comes in in that something in their old self-presentation, the butch identity that both is and is not woman, speaks to me. I'm not sure what it is, and it feels kind of weird to go looking for it knowing that's no longer how the author thinks of themself.



Selected PoemsSelected Poems by Carol Ann Duffy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was... an interesting tasting plate. I was surprised to find that I don't like all Duffy's work consistently: I particularly liked the poems from Selling Manhattan (1987) and Mean Time (1993), was uncomfortable with the ventriloquising of non-white perspectives in some of the selections from Standing Female Nude (1985), and actively bored by everything from The Other Country (1990). And the final selection confirmed what I already knew, that I am just not that impressed with The World's Wife despite all the reasons I *should* like it.



Archer: The Non-Binary Issue (Archer Magazine #7)Archer: The Non-Binary Issue by Amy Middleton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I bought myself a four-issue subscription to Archer as a Housing Stability Present. I love their blog, and wanted to put more $$ into Australian independent media. At times I find their analysis pieces a little light, but at other times I am impressed by the knack their authors have of breaking down dense academic concepts. (Dion Kagan's Butt Politics from Issue 5 is a great example)

I was disappointed to find that my favourite essay in Issue 7 was one I had already read online, Devon Whipp's Versatile Tricks. Likewise Jonno Revanche's Generation Gaps, which fascinated me with its account of the author's identification with their grandmother. There were several pieces by Latinx authors, and across the three of them I was interested to note that one wrote of English as an imposition and Spanish as the fraught-with-gender 'language in which I learned to love'; the other two recognised the same rigidity of the gendered romance language system, but were also much more hostile to it, speaking of it as a language of colonisation. I suspect that reflects their respective family and class backgrounds - one wrote of indigenous Mexican cultures with sense of belonging, but none of the three went into detail.

The big difference between the magazine and the blog is that the magazine is lush with images - this issue contains two photo-essays and a fashion spread. I found that... a little difficult to access, because while the pictures are striking, I always feel l am missing layers of meaning in visual media.



Up Next: I am expecting new issues of both Archer and Meanjin soon. I have stocked up on romance ebooks for conference travel. Truly I am mighty!




Music notes:

Director CB, of the October show I'm doing, played some Zoe Keating he wants to use as background music, and I LOVE IT. Escape Artist is an awesome track.

I'm still listening to and enjoying Adam Lambert's 'For Your Entertainment'. I purchased but haven't yet fully embraced the new Halsey; I've been listening to Lorde's Melodrama on Spotify but am not sure if I want to commit to it.

I bought Fleetwood Mac's 'Tusk' and hoooo boy is that an Experience. I have a lot of feels about Fleetwood Mac, apparently, and some of those tracks are perfectly calculated to tap into them. 'Sara', particularly. I don't know if the reason this is new to me is that Dad didn't *own* Tusk or that he only had it on record so I never got to play it.

(Related: I found out Stevie Nicks had a thing with Mick Fleetwood too? An on-again off-again non-exclusive thing. Everything I learn about Stevie Nicks' love life both doubles my admiration of her and doubles my sense of 'wtf how did this band even survive as a band'.)
highlyeccentric: Teacup - text: while there's tea there's hope (while there's tea there's hope)

I finally got off my backside and made a new Dreamwidth backup via Blogbooker. The last time I did this was Oct 2011 - I have a single file PDF archive for 2005-Oct 2011, but no further.


Blogbooker costs, and I bought myself a subscription worth EITHER 24 PDFS over 1 year OR 4 hours of server time over 1 year.


Discoveries:

- The dreamwidth simplified HTML protocols don't carry over. So anywhere where I haven't HARD CODED the paragraph breaks, it all appears as a single block. (Peculiarly, this is also the case for ifttt crossposts of poetry from tumblr, which I definitely do hard-code)

- Embedded images from goodreads, photbucket, tumblr (unless the URL is borked) all appear, but NOT images that are hosted on Dreamwidth (my ifttt crossposting imports the images to DW's image hosting service).


Have fun with that, future documentary historians!

Since part of the point of this was supposed to be saving the images, I'm now making the service do a separate PDF backup of my photo tumblr, which is probably a nicer way to save the images anyway.

highlyeccentric: Manuscript illumination - courtiers throwing snowballs (medieval - everybody snowball)
Currently Reading: Too many things for work. A selected-poems book of Carol Ann Duffy's work. The Rose & The Dagger, which is the sequel to the YA Sheherazade one called The Wrath and the Dawn.

Recently Finished:

A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet #1)A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This is a reasonably good book. On the other hand, I really didn't need another christian-allegory spec fic in my life. At least Susan Cooper has a good world-built reason for DARKNESS SWALLOWING EVERYTHING MUST BE RESISTED CAN NEVER BE DEFEATED, and also she has Merlin.

Protagonist: a+ grumpy girl child
11-y old heterosexual romance plot: unnecessary and annoying.
Protagonist magical-genius younger brother: great character, but gave me a weird 'oh hai autistic stereotype' feeling.

I appreciate the effort to make the mother an Interesting Career Scientist, too, but ffs, you can't have a physics research lab in your basement.

I feel like this Toast piece on AWIT reflects probably a better reading of the book than I have: http://the-toast.net/2014/11/12/a-wri...



Meanjin Autumn 2017 (Vol. 76, Issue 1)Meanjin Autumn 2017 by Jonathan Green

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This wasn't a great issue, IMHO. I was displeased with it from the outset, where in the opening pages the results of the Dorothy Porter Poetry Prize were announced. The announcement noted the huge disparity between #s of men and women (candidates? Shortlist? Unclear), and then offered absolutely nothing further. They had thoughts on why there were more poems about animals than politics, but not about why more men than women, and gave no indication of any desire to do anything ABOUT that.

I really enjoyed Matthew Fishburn's essay on the collecting of indigenous skulls (by white people) in early NSW.

Andrea Baldwin's memoir-essay Occasionally, A Stranger to Watch the Stars With is worth a read.

John Clarke's Commonplace has some interesting gobbets in it.

Otherwise, I was not hugely impressed by any of this issue - particularly not the poetry.



The Dishonesty of DreamsThe Dishonesty of Dreams by A.J. Odasso

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I loved this. Not, perhaps, as much as I loved Devil's Road Down -I may never love any poetry collection like I love that chapbook - but this is a more mature style of poetry, and contains a number of my favourites, like Carnal Knowledge, and Five Times I Lived By Water.



Up Next: I've got a short-story collection by Ivan E Coyote near to hand...




Music notes: New Paramore album is excellent (I missed them the first time around but I am enjoying this revival). Under the influence of a fandom chain of suggestion I bought two Adam Lambert albums and am enjoying 'For Your Entertainment' extensively.
highlyeccentric: Manly cooking: Bradley James wielding a stick-mixer (Manly cooking)
If anyone's wondering what kind of day today is, it's the kind of day where I put a pot on to boil for pasta, and come back five minutes later to find the pot's hob cold and the one under the chopping board has melted the chopping board and a plastic container-lid.

Meanwhile, a Good Recipe from last weekend. Adapted from Campion & Curtis' In The Kitchen.

Accessibiltiy and dietary notes )

What you need and what you do with it )
highlyeccentric: An underground street (Rue Obscure, Villefranche), mostly dark. Bright light at the entrance and my silhouette departing (Rue Obscure)
When I came to Europe I said to myself I would move hell and high water to see a production of Notre Dame de Paris if anyone staged it, anywhere that I could reasonably get to. There is currently a Francophone-Europe tour going on! So I did not have to move hell or high water, I merely paid 60 CHF to see it in Geneva.

Things that were great:
- whole thing makes more sense when you can differentiate WHICH DUDE IS SINGING RIGHT NOW by visual cues. There turned out to be five lead dudes, not three or four. Many things make more sense to me now.
- (possibly in addition to that the diction might have been clearer than on the CD? I picked up many more dialogue nuances)
- faaaantastic lighting
- Luc Plamadon, who now lives in Montreux, got called onstage at the end and gave a hearfelt but slightly doddery ramble about his feeeelings about having written this show.

Things that were not so great:
- as far as I could tell they were using piped music rather than live. Unless they had a separate orchestra room and piped the music THROUGH? The website has a list of musicians, but no indication of if they were on tour or just recorded.

I am not sure if I loved it enough to warrant going down to Lyon to see it there in November, but I am very glad I saw it here.
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Currently Reading: A large pile of things for work, because my officemate kindly solved my research block and now I have to madly scramble for ALL THE THINGS. Also, A Wrinkle In Time, and Science of the Discworld II.

Recently Finished:

GlenarvonGlenarvon by Caroline Lamb

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I really have no idea what this book thinks it's doing. About seven different things at once.

Things I liked about it: it is very Extra. It has no chill. It is not concerned with the possibility that its content is too full of Drama and Feelings. Given the context, I appreciate it as Caroline Lamb's great exercise in idfic.

The early encounters between Calantha and Glenarvon also did well at depicting the creepy-fascinating nature of emotional manipulation/abuse, I thought.

Things I did not like about it: it's interminable. Pacing, what pacing? It can't decide if it's a straight-up gothic romp (foundlings! child murder! ruined abbeys!) or a psychological drama or a political novel about Ireland. I'm pretty sure everyone dies at the end because Caroline Lamb couldn't figure out what else to do with them. The portrayal of the Irish rebels is actually pretty racist - especially with how they're all so simplistic they unhesitatingly adore Avondale despite, yanno, being *opposed to everything he is and stands for*.



Summon the Keeper (Keeper Chronicles #1)Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This was silly and enjoyable. First read in... 2010 maybe? 2011? Uncertain. I cast off my hard copies when I left Sydney, because I really could see no reason why I'd want to re-visit this particular trash. Clearly I underestimated my need for low-brow trash! This series isn't currently available on kobo, so I ordered them second-hand for about a dollar each on alibris.

I continue to enjoy Dean, the hot and slightly dim love interest who cooks, cleans, renovates and provides transportation.

These books are also quite interesting in that if they were published ten years later (this is a 1998) book they'd be 'paranormal romance', but in the late 90s they're... urban fantasy? They have strong flavours of Charles de Lindt, as well as obvious influence from the 'romance fantasy' subgenre of Mercedes Lackey et al. The nice thing about these books, which they wouldn't be able to uphold if they were Paranormal Romance, is that the romantic subplot is firmly a SUBPLOT. This is a story about closing portals to hell with the aid of a hot dude, a ghost, and a talking cat.



The Hanging Tree (Peter Grant, #6)The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Hmm. On the one hand, this had a lot of things which fascinated me in it. On the other, I managed to entirely forget I was reading/listening to it for a couple of months, so it's evidently not as fascinating as it could have been. (I ended up buying the e-book as well so I could flip back through it to check details I'd forgotten, which you can't easily do with an audiobook)

I'm loving the growing supporting cast. I'm loving the development in Tyburn's character, and Gulleed's. Caroline was awesome and I devoutly hope the details/hints we got re: her and her desire to escape something are seeds for later plots (rather than red herrings).

My usual criticism of these books, that Aaronovitch is just not as good at writing detective stories as he is at worldbuilding, needs tempering: this book is working WITH that limitation. It's really not a detective story about drug crime; it's a magical realist macro-plot that happens to involve a couple of criminal investigations. This is a considerable improvement.

I continue to think that the developments in Leslie May's character are promising. I mean, not promising for her on a personal level, but fascinating and interesting and well-developed. I realise that is not the most commonly held view, but hey.



Started but didn't finish: Penelope Friday, Loving My Lady, a historical f/f romance that was just TERRIBLE. Terribly constructed as a romance plot, as well as dull prose. The basic story outline, 'young woman is left without resources by her father's abrupt death and leftover debts; a fascinating cousin takes her on as Companion, sexytimes ensue' should work, but everything about the execution was WRONG. It moved so quickly from 'death' to 'sexytimes', failed to actually establish why the hell either woman was attracted to the other, gave no weight to the protagonist's grief... also, I really threw it across the room when it said 'during the day, the maids were about and no physical contact could pass between us'. Dude, have you not READ anything about the 18th/19th centuries? AAARGH. Do not read this book. Tumblr let me down in recommending it.

Up Next: Many articles on gender and archaeology! Also, grading!

Music Notes: I'm definitely into the two tracks from the new Paramore album, oh yes. Under the power of suggestion from the Ben Aaronovitch title I've been listening to the Mockingjay movie single 'The Hanging Tree' a fair bit, too. I haven't actually seen the movie, but the song's fascinating and creepy.
highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
Currently Reading: Nothing gripping. A lot of fanfic. The usual.

Recently Finished:

CS Pacat, Captive Prince trilogy. I haven't edited my 2016 review, and my plot-related issues with the series have only exacerbated.

The Summer Palace (Captive Prince Short Stories #2)The Summer Palace by C.S. Pacat

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This solves exactly none of my political-world-building problems with the series, but it's pretty cute.



Meanjin Summer 2016 (vol. 75, no. 4)Meanjin Summer 2016 by Jonathan Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I liked this volume a lot. Alexis Wright's cover article was weighty, and absolutely worth a read.

Other highlights included:

Matthew Sini's The Marx of Queerness, a fascinating survey of the myth of "cultural marxism".

Arnold Zable's biographical essay on Sonia Lizaron, Holocaust survivor and founding member of 'The Concentration Camp Theatre'.

Andrew Ford's God and I, on writing liturgical music as an agnostic.

Fiona Wright's The Everyday Injuries, which. Wow. The woman can write. (CN: eating disorder)



Up Next: I want to get back to the Ben Aaronovitch audiobook I started on the flight back from Aus. Some audiobook time might be goood for my overall levels of chill.

Music notes:

Since last I posted re music, I have discovered that the Internet is right about Harry Styles: his new solo track is awesome. So is the new Paramore track, and I've pre-ordered that album.

I've been listening to a lot of The Black Sorrows lately, and bought the 'Hold Onto Me' album to go with the two I already have. That lead me to looking up Vika and Linda Bull, so I have a 'greatest hits acoustic' album of theirs as well.

Other music acquired:
Electric Six, 'Fire' - a pretty fun album but wow, I am not comfortable with its most successful single, 'Gay Bar'.
Eva Cassidy, 'Songbird' - a good purchase.
Chris de Burgh, 'Spanish Train and other Stories' - also part of the quest to legally acquire music I grew up with. Uncertain if this will turn out to have been worth the effort.

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