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: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
Hello hello, once again it's July and I have read a GREAT BIG STACK OF BOOKS.

Currently reading: Ben Aaronovitch, Foxglove Summer; Meanjin 75.2

Recently read: You know how I said I was going to read Phryne Fisher while travelling? Yeah. I didn't. First I read a stack of magical-realism queer erotica set in London, and it gave me the literary equivalent of the "at once, to Pink Flloyd!" reaction I get from listening to MCR: at once, to Ben Aaronovitch! I almost resisted, but then I was *in* London watching my Dad have the surreal experience you have when you, an antipodean, arrive in London and find that the reality does actually look quite like the version in Neverwhere. I already own a hard copy of Neverwhere, so do not need a kobo copy, but the e-books of the Rivers of London books, they called out to me. So I bought them all.

Reviews, going back to where I last left off:

The Night FairyThe Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Update: gave this as present to Miss Seven for her birthday; re-read it before doing so. All sentiments of previous review still stand.
----
Oh, this was absolutely adorable. Flory, an injured juvenile night fairy, adapts to life in a giantess' garden. Flory's quite a character: she's not nice, nor often kind, but is engaging to read about. Even her acts of generosity don't seem to come as *kindness* so much as determined altruism.

I'm not convinced that the feature of the ending wherein she discovers her wings are growing back was actually necessary. She'd made friends and found several alternative means of mobility - adding 'and also her wings are cured!' doesn't add anything, and does repeat the magically-walking-cripple trope.

The illustratons were wonderful.



The Magpie Lord (A Charm of Magpies, #1)The Magpie Lord by K.J. Charles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Oh now this I liked a *lot*. It had something that the Alpennia romances don't: grit. It's not *sweet*, and it's not really a romance, it's definitely erotica. It was gritty, not just in the sex - there's quite a lot of blood and violence involved in the general plot, too.

The magical realism worldbuilding was good, for the price mark; the detective plot sound, and didn't try to over-reach itself.



The Mystic Marriage (Alpennia, #2)The Mystic Marriage by Heather Rose Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Now this was gripping! Plot solid, world-building solid, and character work really interesting. I love that the book took a difficult-to-like character from the previous book, and while making her *sympathetic* did not necessarily make her *nice*. Some of my quibbles re: the ending of book one were also smoothed over, as Jones has clearly put actual thought now into how you go about constructing a partnership as ladies of independent means in the 17th century.



A Case of Possession (A Charm of Magpies, #2)A Case of Possession by K.J. Charles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Excellent follow-up to the Magpie Lord, in every possible way.



A Case of Spirits (A Charm of Magpies, #2.5)A Case of Spirits by K.J. Charles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Cute, short, and a bit lighter than the others. Good work for a short splice-in story.



Flight of Magpies (A Charm of Magpies, #3)Flight of Magpies by K.J. Charles

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This one I am less happy with, largely because of the ending gambit. Obviously, IRL, if a job is making someone unhappy and their significant other has the money to support them, well, quitting is fair enough.

But I wanted Stephen to be Magical London's Commander Vimes, dammit. And I *don't* count 'rich lover whisks poor clerk off his feet' as a good romantic conclusion.

The gritty, not-sweet aspects of the sex that I liked in the previous two pushes a little further into unhealthy here, too. Not badly written, but a little more difficult to get into (for me, at this time, idek).



(FYI, the Alpennia books are on Amazon and Kobo; the Charm of Magpies ones are at Samhain Publishing's website)

Stacked-up reviews of the Rivers of London series to come when I've finished Foxglove Summer.

Up Next: I got partway into KJ Charles' Jackdaw before buying up the Rivers of London books, so I'll go back to that. I've got a couple of books to read asap for work, and I seem to have bought Gentleman Bastard in a fit of... something.




Music notes:

Fixated on Amy MacDonald at the moment. Picked up the best of Katrina and the Waves, because of a craving for 'Walking on Sunshine'. Not sure if that warranted buying the ENTIRE CD, but anyway.
highlyeccentric: Divide by cucumber error: reinstall universe and reboot (Divide by cucumber)
Bought a hat for Pride Fribourg, after losing the previous in Morocco. Wore it on plane to UK. Left it on train Leeds-London, didn't realise until yesterday.

Got vr burned at Duxford airshow (plaaaanes!). Went and bought a hat in Cambridge today; lost it within five hours. Hopefully I left it in Michaelhouse and can pick it up from there tomorrow before we head to Bath via Oxford.

Traveling with parentals is tiring (they are inexperienced in the big wide world, but also now old enough that they are slow to intuit things or recognise patterns). Travelling with Brooke is very tiring. Not just the usual over-tired kid thing, although that's bad enough (the sun gets up early and so does miss six! Even if she didn't get to bed until eleven!). I have never met a child so paranoid. I spoke to her loudly today- "Brooke, you're walking INTO PEOPLE" - when she skittered across the pavement, and that bought us five minutes of hiding her face in mum's and my legs, and big crocodile tears. Absolutely convinced she's going to be In Trouble and, i dunno, banished forever? This happens 2-3 times a day.

She's also having difficulty with the idea that I am, in fact, travelling with them. "Amy, can you eat with us today?" Where else do you think I'm gonna eat, kid? We're in the same car! On the same holiday! Being paid for by the same parents!

In addition to the hat crisis, I accidentally bought tickets for Duxford Flying Legends 'Meet the Fighters' in September instead of regular Flying Legends. [personal profile] liv, if you see this, please enquire of your people if three adult and one child ticket for the 10th of Sept would be of use to them. I think young B would be into it.
highlyeccentric: Manly cooking: Bradley James wielding a stick-mixer (Manly cooking)
I said in the locked post that I made an amazing pasta. It is amazing and I would encourage you to try it.

Diet and accessibility notes )

What you need and what you do with it )
highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
Currently reading: For work, still La Belle Hélène de Constantinople. For funsies, alternating between Ken Liu's 'The Paper Menagerie and other Stories' and Heather Rose Jones' 'The Mystic Marriage'. I'm also working on a recording of 'The Night Fairy' for little sis' birthday.

Recently finished:

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I loved this. I wasn't sure what it would have to offer that Oranges hadn't already covered - much of what I liked about the first half was the same as stuff I liked about Oranges. Not the narrative but the ways of phrasing and framing things. And that carried through into the second half - Winterson's ways of talking about literature, madness, family, and so on. I have highlighted many bits for savouring later.



Dealing with Dragons (Enchanted Forest Chronicles, #1)Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This was the most adorable thing I have read for quite some time. I shall purchase more asap.



Daughter of Mystery (Alpennia, #1)Daughter of Mystery by Heather Rose Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


WELL.

What I expected: a decent pulp romance in a typically melodramatic pseudo-medieval setting, held together but juuuuust enough world-building to float the romantic drama.

What I got: a coherent, well-built 17th-century setting (identifiable as 17th c by dress, weaponry, and references to the 'French Wars'), a neatly plotted family drama, surprisingly complex legal sub-plots, and a reasonably well-structured magical-realist take on saint's cults, all laced together in an engaging and compelling fashion.

It's not dense - it's not a masterpiece of high fantasy or a historical fiction epic. But it's GOOD.

Peculiarly, the element I was most disappointed with was the romance plot. I simply wasn't convinced by one half of the pairing - I could see that one of them had fallen in love with the other, but it felt like steps were missing on the other side. I was also super disappointed with the 'rides into the sunset' ending, which... no. Everything previously established in this 'verse says you can't just DO that - neither pick up an heiress and ride into the sunset with her, nor in fact live out of 'one purse' as two unmarried persons! I'm also not convinced by the character work leading to the notion that either party would *want* to do that. Newsflash, universe: you can in fact have a lifelong partnership without complete financial interdependence! And in until very recently many if not all same-sex partnerships would have done just that - either because one of them depended primarily on the other (woman and 'companion'), or because from a more stable footing there simply was no legal capacity or need to effect such merger. If you aren't being married, then neither of you is property of the other, so *you do not need to utterly merge your financial and legal persons*, and you quite likely can't do so if you wish to!



Up Next: Hmm, well, I have another Phryne Fisher book for the UK trip - I probably need to make a few more kobo purchases before the card it's attached to expires (parents are bringing me the replacement, but it'll take some faffing around to activate the card).

Music notes:

I am suddenly and drastically obsessed with Amy MacDonald. Have purchased the 'This is the life' double album; have my eye on the orchestral collab as well.
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Currently Reading: For work, 'La Belle Hélène de Constantinople', which might possibly be the most disturbing of the Constance narratives. For dubious values of 'fun', 'Epistemology of the Closet'. For Literachur, Stead's 'For Love Alone' (finally hit pt 3). For actual fun, Lady Caroline Lamb's 'Glenarvon', which is melodramatic and hilarious.

Recently Finished:

The Portrait of a LadyThe Portrait of a Lady by Henry James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I think this was my second complete re-read, and I did not expect to devour the last seven chapters in a single sitting and cry my eyes out.

On first reading I *hated* the second half, but this time around I am impressed and chilled by the accuracy in the depiction of an emotionally abusive relationship. (I think I recognised it as accurate, on first reading, but found it difficult to engage with.)



Budget Bytes: Over 100 Easy, Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in HalfBudget Bytes: Over 100 Easy, Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half by Beth Moncel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I love the blog, but the cookbook is a little disappointing. Both the dishes I've tried so far turned out poorly, and the book doesn't seem to offer much that the blog doesn't.



Special Topics in Calamity PhysicsSpecial Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I have absolutely no idea what to make of this book.

Things I liked about it: the narrative voice, the parenthetical citations and peculiar historical/ornithological/literary references used to describe setting and characters. The artifice of it all. I liked the artifice of 'highly literate overwrought narrator', with the current of humour running through it. The timeline - a murder mystery ought to open with the death, but instead it opened long after the death, and skipped back, so you knew someone WOULD die, and the narrative invited the reader to begin sleuthing before the protag did.

Things I disliked about it: Nothing in particular. Well. Hannah's conduct vis-a-vis students made me uncomfortable; the fact the POV character went along with the whole drinking-and-depravity-high-school facade was annoying (but there would be no story if she hadn't). But I'm not sure the plot was actually *good*. The final 1/4 seemed rushed. I'm not sure the fact that her dad was *actually abusive* was sufficiently engaged with.



Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I loved this. I wasn't sure what it would have to offer that Oranges hadn't already covered - much of what I liked about the first half was the same as stuff I liked about Oranges. Not the narrative but the ways of phrasing and framing things. And that carried through into the second half - Winterson's ways of talking about literature, madness, family, and so on. I have highlighted many bits for savouring later.



Up Next: I just got copies of 'Dealing with Dragons' (Wrede) and 'Lavinia' (LeGuin), so one of those, probably!

Current/Recent Music notes:

Haven't purchased any new ones, but got K to send me a back-catalogue of MP3s from old SUMS concerts. The Motzart Requiem was particularly soothing last week, so I thought I should acquire more like that. Still very much in love with Gillian Welch, and developed a brief fixation on 90s Tina Arena over the weekend. Might need more like that.
highlyeccentric: French vintage postcard - a woman in feminised army uniform of the period (General de l'avenir)
Made as a post to Facebook, because... I suspect many of my friends and relations are unaware how prevalent it is, as a background hum, even in my relatively non-threatening-to-straight-people life.

Earlier today, a friend remarked: “I don’t understand. The way you are reacting, it’s almost like you knew someone in the club.”

Here’s the thing you need to understand about every LGBT person in your family, your work, and your circle of friends:

We’ve spent most of our lives being aware that we are at risk.

When you hear interviewers talking to LGBT folks and they say “It could have been here. It could have been me,” they aren’t exaggerating. I don’t care how long you’ve been out, how far down your road to self acceptance and love you’ve traveled, we are always aware that we are at some level of risk.


From this longer post by [tumblr.com profile] alexdarke.

Look, I don't talk much about homophobic harassment, because to be honest I get so little of it. (I get erasure and the unfun experience of having to explain that bisexuality is not "only half gay", instead.) Unlike this guy, I haven't spent most of my life at risk: I catapulted suddenly into those risks at twenty-one, and figured that's the price I pay for the safe refuge of the queer community and the infinitely promising, hopeful, joyful ways of building a self and a life that offered me. Queerness has been overwhelmingly positive, to me. I came out but more importantly came *in*.

And yet: it happens. I cut my hair and gained so much in terms of self-presentation, the way people read me - and I gained guys swearing "fuck off, dyke" at me on buses if they thought I was looking in the direction of their girlfriend.

When I was dating a woman, we'd be drunk and making out at bus stops - which was tacky, sure, but we didn't just get disgusted looks. We got groups of guys stopping to wolf-whistle, harass us, make jokes about "joining in". (We thought this was hilarious at the time: we were <25 and drunk and thought we were invincible)

Hell, when I was straight, I used to walk down King St hand-in-hand or arm-in-arm with my college friends without batting an eyelid. And as far as I recall, no one ever batted an eyelid at us. Pairs of young femme presumably-straight girls giggling arm in arm. Perfectly normal. I remember distinctly that in 2010, I was doing that again - walking with [personal profile] kayloulee in Surry Hills, not that far from Oxford St, and I was holding her hand for some reason (we weren't dating. We aren't dating. She likes to make sure I don't walk into traffic, though), and realised: we were getting Looks. We didn't look like a pair of straight undergrads, we looked like a baby butch and her girlfriend. I'd accepted Looks as just something *I* had to deal with, but the realisation that I, by being visibly queer, was putting my best friend in danger? That was pretty sobering.

I don't go to nightclubs that much. But every city I move to, I find the gay bar. I know where the gay bar is in Geneva, and the lesbian cafe-bar. I don't go to parties or dance nights, but when I'm lonely I end up there on my own, comforted somehow by the knowledge that these are *my people*, even if I know none of them by name or face.

Addenda from the FB comments:

All of these things are on a continuum with the cocktail of awfulness that apparently lead Omar Maseen to shoot 100-odd people in a nightclub in Florida last weekend. Even if he was, as seems increasingly likely, acting in part out of self-hatred and internal conflict over his sexuality. Perhaps especially if: a man who is chill about his heterosexuality and masculinity is not a man who needs to abuse dykes on buses, or shoot queers in bars.
highlyeccentric: Demon's Covenant - Kitchen!fail - I saw you put rice in the toaster (Demon's Covenant - kitchen!fail)
Adapted, with what I call success, from Anna Jones' A Modern Way To Eat:

Dietary and accessibility notes )

What you need and what you do with it )

This makes about 5 servings. It's sort of like vegetarian harira, which means I'm going to be disappointed in the way the frozen portions turn out, I suspect.

ED: NOW WITH ACTUALLY MENTIONING THE LEMONS.
highlyeccentric: Ravenclaw: how do you spell "unfuckable" in Latin? (Ravenclaw - unfuckable in latin)
[personal profile] monksandbones, any other stray Latinists, halp? (13th c hagiography)

Semel aut secundo vel tertio flagitatus a vobis, ac si non esset Propheta in Israël, ut [Col. 0479F] ad ædificationem Virginum & generationis venturæ devotionem augendam, Matris vestræ, videlicet S. Dympnæ Virginis & Martyris, passionis historiam, quæ per eorum desidiam, qui tunc erant, nondum sacræ litterarum memoriæ commendata, sub modio silentii latuerat nimis diu; de vulgari eloquio in Latinum redigerem idioma; crebro mecum deliberans acquiescere formidavi.

What I'm getting from this

Once, or a second indeed a third time it has been demanded by you, that [for the edification of virgins and the augmentation of the devotion of generations to come], the story of the passion of your mother, that is St Dympna Virgin and Martyr [SUBORDINATE CLAUSES*], I should render from the vulgar tongue into Latin idiom; [SOMETHING ABOUT AGREEMENTS**].

That's my main clause, right?

* Subordinate clauses: I want this to say "which, through their laziness, which they were [doing, practicing], not yet committed to the sacred memory of literature, had lain under a bushel very much for a long time in silence" . Does that... work? I assume the laziness is being done or practiced by the people of the monastery or something?

** "often deliberating with me i was afraid to agree"??? Wtf?? Or is that deliberating with MYSELF I was afraid to agree (to this request)? That might work, the next line goes on about being presumptuous etc.
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
It's been nearly a month since I put one of these up, because it's been nearly a month since I finished a book that wasn't for work!

What are you reading: I'm actually reading Portrait of a Lady in larger chunks instead of a few pages a week, at the moment. I'm finding the second half more interesting than I did last time I read it. For work, I'm between major books at the moment; and for my own peculiar purposes I'm reading Sedgwick's Epistemology of the Closest.

Oh, and I'm gritting my teeth and ploughing through Stead's For Love Alone. Annoying love interest man has just left Sydney, so maybe the going will get easier. I just. I'm torn between wanting to SLAP him, wanting to SLAP the protagonist for wanting to shag him, and knowing exactly why she does because. Well. It's like Stead reached forward in time, extracted my terrible taste in men, and put it in a novel.

Recently finished:

The Essential Vegetarian CookbookThe Essential Vegetarian Cookbook by Bay Books

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Picked up from the work shelf - I don't think much of the Asian section; the pies and roasts look good, but overall, the collections not ideal for cooking-for-one. It might go BACK to the work shelf.



The Best Australian Poems 2014The Best Australian Poems 2014 by Geoff Page

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Very interesting, as usual! This was a gift from clavicularity, who accepted my peculiar request without question.

I'm posting some selections to speculumannorum.tumblr.com over the next few weeks. I particularly liked Victoria McGrath's The Last Say.


Something Special, Something Rare: Outstanding short stories by Australian womenSomething Special, Something Rare: Outstanding short stories by Australian women by Black Inc.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


It took me a while to get into this, but in May I started reading the collection in earnest and really enjoyed it. The collection did okay, I think, at representing 15 or so years of writing, a range of ethnicities (both authors and protags) and a couple of queer protags (I do not know about authors). I was a bit uncomfortable with Gillian Mears' 'La Moustiquiare', a story about an indigenous female lackey and the dying stockman who kept her as servant. It didn't strike me as *racist*, it was perfectly aware the girl was being exploited and so on, but I'm still not sure that was a white woman's story to tell. (Compare it to Tara Jean Mears' 'Cloud Busting' - that left Mears' work in the dust. Surely there are other short stories by indigenous women and about indigenous women that could better complement it than Mears' work.)

Particular highlights:
Gillian Essex's 'One of the Girls', a story about a mother feeling out-of-place at her daughter's concert, and about fragile connections between family.
Fiona MacFarlane's 'The Movie People', which performed a delightful transition from realist to absurd.
Karen Hitchcock's 'Forging Friendship', for the anachronous narration and oblique way of dealing with queer realisation.
Alice Pung's 'Letter to A', which is just... arresting, sharp, beautifully worded.
Anna Krien's 'Flicking the Flint', which was tough going - it's a story about domestic violence and it doesn't have a morally satisfying conclusion - but very very well done.



And for work, recently: bits of Denis Flannery, 'On Sibling Love and Queer Attachment in American Writing' (interesting but densely psychoanalytical); bits of Micheline Wandor's edited collection 'On Gender and Writing', personal essays by 80s feminist authors (I wanted the Angela Carter essay, which was good; others also good; whole thing every 80s). Finally finished Rachel Moss 'Fatherhood and its Representations in Middle English Texts': SO GOOD.

Plus I tore through Phillipe de Beaumanoire's romance La Manekine (// OF and Eng text and trans), which was a riot. I have never seen a medieval text go so all out on the 'erotic abstinence' thing with a MARRIED COUPLE. (Adulterous lovers? Sure. Virgin saints? Sure. Married couple reunited after seven years' exile and yet waiting until the end of Lent? That's a new one on me - really well crafted, too)

Up Next: For funsies, I'm not sure: I have a few e-books, but I'm giving myself iPhone RSI, so need to pick up something hard copy. For work, I've found an early modern life of St Dymphna and I am going to have a TIME with it, I tell you. Plus a stack of books on Emaré, and Cinderella topoi, and the like.

Current and recent music notes: Gonna add this in here, because I seem to be more into music than I used to be.

- bought a triple CD set of Bushwhackers songs, great life choice. There are a LOT of songs about masculinity and sheep. When I start a folk band singing queered-up versions of traditional ballads we are also going to sing a folked-up version of ACDC's 'Dirty Deeds' and we're gonna call it Manly Deeds, Done With Sheep.
- really loving Gillian Welch.
- bought some Ian Moss CDs (iTunes) and am enjoying that too: I'm a bit obsessed with 'Tucker's Daughter', which was my favourite song when I was... four or five, I think.
highlyeccentric: Leia/Carrie Fisher with C3PO (Leia and Threepio)
Went on retreat with UNIL english lot again. Saw much snow. Borked ankle. (This was... 1.5.16, I think?)


Behold: more snow than I've seen in one place at a time!

More below )
highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
What am I reading right now? A book on Fatherhood in ME lit; Christina Stead's 'For Love Alone'

Recently finished:

No books, but two volumes of Meanjin.

Meanjin (Vol 75, #1)Meanjin by Jonathan Green

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Enjoyable and interesting read, although I was not impressed with either the poetry or the fiction in this edition.

I particularly recommend:
Gabrielle Chan's memoir-essay Another Country
Michael Slater's essay Real Men Do Hit Women,
and Shannon Burns' The Lumpen Critic, on class anxiety and impostor syndrome in academia.

I also absolutely disrecommend this appalling essay. Which, in addition to being a poorly-veiled rant about the evils of women and minorities in literary discussions, apparently failed to cite its sources.



Meanjin 3 2012Meanjin 3 2012 by Sally Heath

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Moderately interesting. I particularly enjoyed this Rebe Taylor essay on the national memory of Truganini, and the uses and abuses thereof.



Up Next: Got a book on sibling love in modern American lit, for starters.
highlyeccentric: Demon's Covenant - Kitchen!fail - I saw you put rice in the toaster (Demon's Covenant - kitchen!fail)
This is pretty much the recipe from Leanne Brown's Gooxd and Cheap, with a few tweaks according to what I had on hand.

Dietary and accessibility notes )

Serves 2

What you need and what you do with it )
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Currently Reading: Still plodding through Portrait of a Lady a few pages at a time, mostly in the bath. Current e-book is Christina Stead's For Love Alone, because an essay in Meanjin convinced me I should try it.

Recently Read:

Lives of Girls and WomenLives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I really liked this. It had one of the things I value in more or less realist modern fiction: a strong sense of place. It's set somewhere in rural Ontario, in the seventies, and it has... oh, I don't know, it's not as if I've ever been to rural Ontario, but the rural-ness felt *right*, the small town in a big continent thing.

The title is apt: there are men in this book, mostly as objects of annoyance and sexual curiosity, but the book is about girls and women, and the protagonist's measuring herself by and distinguishing herself from the women around her.



Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible ThingsFuriously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I did like this, but perhaps not as much as I liked Let's Pretend This Never Happened. Sometimes Jenny Lawson's humour crosses lines into something that annoys rather than entertains or provides catharsis for me - I don't follow the blog, I like to keep my Blogess doses discrete. But then, it's worth it for the bright moments that shine through - the chapter on antipsychotics, for instance, is glorious.

An example of humour that annoys: most of the Australia chapter. It's not that I don't like jokes about Australia and at Australia's expense, it's just that most of these ones were... surface level. Oooh, kangaroos. And then there was a throw-away line Lawson having heard that Indigenous people used to commit cannibalism, sort of covered over with "can you blame 'em, i'd eat people who turned up on my land too", with *absolutely no consideration* of the racist, imperialist and often outright fabricated context in which these accounts circulate. Not being Australian is no excuse: you live in fucking America, you should have the common sense to think critically about any story that involves "savages" doing stereotypical "savage" things! (Mind you, in some places pre-colonial societies DID practice cannibalism and /or headhunting, and the wholesale banning thereof has been known to lead to social breakdown! It's an interesting topic and not one for throwaway jokes!)



Meanjin Vol 74, #4Meanjin Vol 74, #4 by Jonathan Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Subscribing to Meanjin was an excellent life choice. I particularly recommend the essay Sydney Takes Shape, which spurred me to start on Christina Stead.



For work: Jenkins, Convergence Culture, very good, very interesting; and Sexual Culture in the Literature of Medieval Britain, some good chapters and some good spots in the intro but also some deeply alarming ones. You don't just quote Zizek saying that protest against sexual harrassment is protest against sex itself and not INTERROGATE that, geez.

Up next: I am full of work energy and have borrowed MANY BOOKS out. Stuff on rewriting, translation, movie medievalism, the gentry in middle english romance, all kinds of stuff. I've got the autumn issue of Meanjin to keep me occupied backstage during Chitty Chitty next weekend, too.
highlyeccentric: Four years of college, and plenty of knowledge, have earnt me this USELESS degree! (Four years of college)
Currently Reading: A metric fuckload of fanfiction, mostly. And "Furiously Happy" by Jenny Lawson. It's been a while since I did these updates because I really have read very little since Jan.

Recently Finished:
Well, I gave up on Welcome to Nightvale the novel. Bah. Couldn't hold my attention.

I read The Scarlet Letter for work, and it is more interesting in that context than it was when it was supposedly leisure reading, but I don't want to review it.

Star Wars: The Force AwakensStar Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was... an odd reading experience. There was a lot about Alan Dean Foster's writing that I liked - his take on Rey on Jakku was particularly nuanced in ways I really wouldn't normally expect from a male sci-fi writer. I like his Finn much better than Rukka's, but he shortchanged Leia. I found the reading experience odd in that it was very hard to tell what was a cut scene (eg, the speeder chase on Starkiller) and what was Foster ad-libbing. Some of his ad-libbing, if that's what it was, was *excellent*. Either that or the final cut included lines that weren't as good as the original script.

What surprised me is how long it took me to finish it. I was expecting to binge-read it as I do fanfic, but nope. I read it slowly and critically. Huh.



Then CS Pacat, "Captive Prince", "Prince's Gambit" and "King's Rising".

Kings Rising (Captive Prince, #3)Kings Rising by C.S. Pacat

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Let this stand as a review for the whole series.
I binge read this but I did not love it. Or I loved reading it but I didn't respect it? )
highlyeccentric: I've been searching for a sexual identity, and now you've named it for me: I'm a what. (Sexual what)
For those who haven't heard, one, Australia is apparently going to have a (non-binding!) plebiscite on the topic of equal marriage, and two, the Australian Christian Lobby are requesting that anti-discrimination/hate speech laws be lifted during the campaign. Because they can't argue against our right to marry without arguing against our right to exist, apparently, which really does just make the pro-equality argument for them.

There is a very, very good article on this at the Conversation, by Patrick Stokes of Deakin University. It covers reasons why a plebiscite is a shitty idea, the underlying anxieties about heterosexual "specialness", and reasons why exemption from hate speech laws would be a terrible idea. (Stokes is not uncritical of the marriage equality lobby, either, which is good.)

The impact of homosexual marriages on heterosexual married couples is that their marriages stop being special just because they are heterosexual. It takes away the privilege of being in the ‘right’ sort of marriage, a default, ‘normal,’ and implicitly normative form of relationship.


I also have feelings on this topic. My feelings are different from my political opinions (political opinions, in short: marriage equality would not be as good a fix for the problems it purports to fix as would be a broad programme of legal changes to the way custody, inheritance, kinship and related laws work; but fucking hell if we're coming down to a yes or no vote then fine, I will gear up for this fight). I made this as a Facebook post, but putting it here so it's more easily findable. It's not going under a cut, because it's not meant to stay private.




The fact we do seem to be going to a plebiscite makes me feel ill. I don't want this, I don't want this, I don't want this.

Here's some things you probably know about me: once upon a time I was a very earnest Christian. And a very argumentative one. And, as religious people go, a relatively liberal one, albeit armed more with enthusiasm and a sense of justice than a good sense of political analysis, because I was a wee teenager. I was in the Uniting Church for the Resolution 84 kerfuffle of 2003, and just beginning to form a political awareness. The people I looked up to and admired, my peers and mentors from the UYF and our champion ministers Lyn and Nancy were broadly in favour of such notions as being nice to gay people, and permitting them to train in ministry. (Resolution 84 is a wiffle-waffle: it says you won't be explicitly banned, but does not promise that you will be explicitly included. There are reasons for this.) So I was too, and drew on those people and their resources for starting to inform myself.

No, wait, back up. Some time before that- maybe 2002?- I was in a circle of people at school. Mostly students, one teacher. "Nondenominational" for which read fundamentalist Christian school - the kind where Catholics were bullied for being insufficiently Christian. The teacher was asking us all where we went to church, and to discuss our church communities. I said, without expecting any reaction, that I went to the Uniting Church.

"The Uniting Church?" said the teacher. "They're not Christians. Don't they have gay ministers?"

I had some idea what 'gay' meant at that point. (It was a dodgy idea: I'd been reading Anne McCaffrey, where being gay got you either eaten by tigers or late-life reformed heterosexuality with a girl half your age, but I digress.) I had no idea why I was getting this reaction. I considered, for a second or two, saying I didn't know. I considered everything I knew of my church, and of my school.

"Yes, we do," I said. "And I'm proud of it." Then I went home and asked my mother to explain why people thought gay people couldn't be ministers????

From there on, throughout high school and university, I set about being an informed gay-friendly Christian. I armed myself with historical analyses of St Paul's context and the difference between pederasty and an equal relationship between partners of any sex. I read "Uniting Faith and Sexuality" about six times. I argued with more conservative Christians wherever I found them. I actually met some gay people, and they were cool. (They were soooo cooool I envied them a lot. We'll come back to that.) I was also a prat, and made what I now realise were classic intro-level Ally Fails. Once I was talking to a baptist at a UCA student convention, and this baptist said he had never met a gay person before. I said "I can fix that" and hauled Curtis over to be Token Gay. (I'm *so sorry*, Curtis).

And in my fourth year of university, many things changed. One of these was that suddenly there was a giiiiirl and she was pretty and, well, you get the idea. And this time (unlike previous times in high school or early uni days) I had the self-awareness and the vocab (I had never met the word bisexual until my first year of uni!) to realise that duh, I had crush on this GIRL. And that made many things make sense, including the fact that I had sat with the UCA queers feeling both happy (included!) and sad (different??) and envious (???).

And I stopped going to church. Part of that was because I also had an anti-revelation and stopped believing in God. But I'd stopped going to church *before* that. Not because I thought my particular congregation would give me trouble over my sexuality - I'd seen other friends come out, it had been fine. And I knew the UCA was, overall, a pretty welcoming denomination. But not entirely. And there would always be others. And I knew how exhausting those conversations were, because I had been having them since I was fifteen. I had been told I was not a Christian and my church was invalid not because *I* was gay but because I was hypothetically theoretically gay-positive.

I had absolutely no qualms, when I thought it wasn't about me, in throwing myself into that fight (in the particular context I was in).

I could not do it, not when it *was* about me. And I have never, not since I started coming out to people, had to justify the existence of same-sex attraction in general, to anyone. (I have had to justify myself as a bisexual, to both gay and straight people; and to pitch in in defense of other gender or sexual identities.)

I do not want to do this. I am a long way away from Australia right now, but I do not want to do this. I do not want to have to find out that many of my friends or family will not only vote against equal marriage (... I don't want to find that out, either) but will turn out to hold degrading, dehumanising opinions of me and my peers. I don't want my friends and peers to turn on the TV to find ads denouncing our evil influence on society. I don't want to have to have conversations with friends and family about how I do not wish to marry but I will be really, really fucking upset if I think any of them could deliberately vote against my *right* to do so.

I don't want to do this. Stop the ride, I want to get off.
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
What are you currently reading?

Alan Dean Foster's Star Wars: The Force Awakens novelisation, mostly. Plus a book of Australian short stories. And some stuff for work.

Recently read?

Summer's EndSummer's End by Harper Bliss

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Blech. I mentioned to a friend I'd been reading some Riptide romances, and said friend recommended Harper Bliss for f/f romance. This was on kindle, so why not? Many reasons why not, it turns out: white people in an "exotic" location of emotional self-discovery or whatever. White people in S-E Asia who have lived there for many years and yet inexplicably still go swimming at midday (seriously, recipe for DYING OF SUNBURN, much?).

Many of these things I could overlook. I could even, on the basis of genre, overlook "healthy summer romance turns into co-dependent long-distance wtf". But if I wanted Magical Healing Cock (seriously! It was a dildo, but nevertheless, it was a Magical Healing Dildo) I'd go read early 2000s slash fiction.



Star Wars: Before the AwakeningStar Wars: Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was fun! I wasn't sold on Rucka's Finn story - especially not when Alan Dean Foster's Finn POV snippets in the novelisation are much more plausible, and do more with less - but Rey and Poe's were both great.



Funeral Games: A Novel of Alexander the Great: A Virago Modern Classic (VMC)Funeral Games: A Novel of Alexander the Great: A Virago Modern Classic by Mary Renault

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Hmmm. I'm not sure that I liked the super-wide scope of this one, with so many focalising characters. It was necessary, I suppose, to encompass the full political spectrum, but it felt like it was short-changing most of the possible character work. Bagoas, in particular, had no character development. I felt like I would have rather read a novel solely about Ptolemy, or solely about Euridyce, than one which tried to do all these things at once: but neither of those would necessarily have been a good conclusion to the Alexander trilogy.



Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker: 200 Recipes for Healthy and Hearty One-Pot Meals That Are Ready When You AreFresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker: 200 Recipes for Healthy and Hearty One-Pot Meals That Are Ready When You Are by Robin G. Robertson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Less interesting than I'd hoped.



Up Next:

Well, I bought a compendium of novelisations of the prequel trilogy, which might allow me to revisit Attack of the Clones with less pain than would be induced by having to watch Hayden Christian and remember that I once found him attractive.
highlyeccentric: Angel Coulby's feet in red boots (angel's feet)
you guys, [personal profile] redsnake05 has started posting scans from fashion magazines, amply improved by her telling 100% true and reliable stories about the people pictured therein. Thus far, she has explained the fashion choices of A distractingly sexy railway engineer and two angsty lesbian sirens.
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Currently Reading: "Funeral Games", the last of Renault's Alexander novels; "Something Special, Something Rare", an antho of Australian short stories; and "Welcome to Nightvale", which is still like eating prawn crackers: crunchy, tasty in small doses, but utterly lacking in substance.

Recently Finished:

The Fifth Elephant (Discworld, #24)The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This was a re-read, but for the first time in a long time. I hadn't noticed, when I read Snuff, how much of Snuff was a reprise on themes from this one.

Things that are good about this book: Carrot. Bless his little socks, he's perfectly and earnestly genuine in his praise of Angua's brother, the *prize winning* sheepdog. But he's not actually simplistic: he has a carefully sorted out set of priorities and values that aren't merely adhering to simple rules or regulations. I'd forgotten that he'd resigned his post in this one.

noodling around )

A Modern Way to Eat: Over 200 Satisfying, Everyday Vegetarian Recipes (That Will Make You Feel Amazing)A Modern Way to Eat: Over 200 Satisfying, Everyday Vegetarian Recipes by Anna Jones

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Haven't actually cooked anything yet, but from reading, impressions:

I’m pretty happy with this cookbook. It’s a bit fussier than I usually am (i see no reason to purchase quinoa, or chestnut flour), but more practical than, say, Yottam Ottolenghi.

On the other hand, it got my hackles up right from the introduction, where Jones explains her food choices in terms of “too much healthy food leaves me miserably hungry, but equally I don’t like to rely on a lot of heavy carbs or dairy...”. I just... if it’s leaving you miserably hungry then it is not a healthy diet! OK so you don’t like heavy carbs, fine, but your definition of “healthy” needs rethinking. I’m also not keen on the fetish Jones seems to have for feeling “light” and praising foods as “light”. On the one hand... ok, many people have a personal preference against rich or carb-laden foods, for reasons of digestive comfort or whatever. But fact is fetishising “light” food translates to performing food virtuosity and implied thin-ness.

The Giant, O'BrienThe Giant, O'Brien by Hilary Mantel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I... don't know what to make of this. It was interesting. The characterisation was interesting. The description was interesting. The interlace of 18th c cultural and political issues was interesting.

Problem: there wasn't really a plot. It's a short novel, but such plot as it had would be better suited to a short story.

Close to Spider ManClose to Spider Man by Ivan E. Coyote

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Now this, I really enjoyed. It had two of my most favouritest things: a strong sense of place, and queers.

The only reason I didn't give it five stars was that I found myself *irritated* by the fact that it's short story collection, memoir, and novel all at once. The use of first person means that few of the stories have a named protag, although in all of them she's a gender-nonconforming AFAB person. In one she's named Ivan. It seems logical to read them all as the same person, but in that case, is it fiction or essays?

That confusion is probably part of the Art. But it annoyed me.


Also finished: a short romance novel, and the ST:TFA prequel novella thing.

Up Next: I have the ST:TFA novelisation on my kobo. Tempted to fix my "haven't seen all the prequels" problem via the novelisations.

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