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: Manly cooking: Bradley James wielding a stick-mixer (Manly cooking)
I made this last night and it was an Experience.

Dietary and accessibility notes )

What you need and what you do with it )

Makes 3-4 servings
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
I think we should admit I will never actually do this on a Wednesday

What are you currently reading: Hirade, 'The Guest Cat'; Jordan L Hawk, 'Hexslayer'; a truly weird assortment of stuff for work.

What have you recently finished reading:

Griffith Review 56: Millennials Strike BackGriffith Review 56: Millennials Strike Back by Julianne Schultz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I'm kind of late to the party on this one - I actually saw a preview article from Griffith Review 57, went to order that, and saw this existed. Ordered both, then by the time they arrived I was Too Damn Busy.

Having said that: this was a really good read. My copy is filled with little flaggies. Particular highlights:

Omar Sakr's poem Ordinary Things.
Ashely Kalagian Blunt, Today is already yesterday
Sophie Allan, Under the skin: home, history and love in patriarchy

Other outstanding pieces by Timmah Ball, Fiona Wright, too many more to name.

An Unsuitable Heir (Sins of the Cities, #3)An Unsuitable Heir by K.J. Charles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I liked a lot of things about this! The brother-sister dynamic between Pen and Greta is particularly great. The final love scene is very Relevant to My Interests (TM). The showdown with the revealed murderer is A+, go Greta. The dynastic solution is quite nifty.

My only qualm is I picked the villain all wrong (which is... good, for a number of characters) and I still kind of feel like I should've been right.

The Ruin of a Rake (The Turner Series, #3)The Ruin of a Rake by Cat Sebastian

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I liked this better than the first in the series, at least. Sebastian's work always reads a bit flat, the historical world-building a bit thin, after KJ Charles, though.


Of Mice and Men: The PlayOf Mice and Men: The Play by John Steinbeck

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


UGH. I don't LIKE Steinbeck, and I fundamentally don't like this narrative. But the production I worked on was *phenomenal*. A number of characters who would otherwise have been cringey stereotypes (notably the nameless wife and Crooks) fill with life when there's an actual human on the stage, who has clearly *thought* about them and why they act as they do.

And you can't deny Steinbeck has a knack for dialogue, for exactly the right words, for setting up parallels in one speech and another. The bit where Whit and Slim are reading the letter-to-the-editor while Carlson is talking Candy into shooting his dog is a particularly good example.

On the other hand: what a lot of racism, sexism, ableism, et bloody cetera.

-

Aaand that's it! For once, I have finally caught up reviews to cover my most recent reading. See you in a fortnight or when I've finished three things, I guess!

Up Next: Too Many Things




Music notes: bought 'Beautiful Garbage', which I couldn't afford to buy when it was first released (I had a single from it, though). Listening to P!nk's greatest hits a fair bit, especially 'Raise Your Glass'
highlyeccentric: Teacup - text: while there's tea there's hope (while there's tea there's hope)
Currently Reading: 'The Guest Cat'; 'Gone to Earth'; a weird collection of psych and sociology stuff on love, for work; Steinbeck's play Of Mice and Men, over and over every night for a week. Aaargh. Theatre.

Recently Finished:

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, #1)The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I *loved* this. I loved everything about it: the setting, the metaleptic narrative style with its wry asides to the reader, the many references to classic fantasy... And most of all I loved the Marquess. The Marques is every problem I have with the fate of the Pevensie children, wrapped in a hideous bow.

My biggest problem with this book is I really, really want to share it with my little sister and she's probably not the right age yet.

Founding Friendships: Friendships Between Men and Women in the Early American RepublicFounding Friendships: Friendships Between Men and Women in the Early American Republic by Cassandra A. Good

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This was both very useful to me and kind of annoying as a book. It got my back up with 'working class and black people just don't leave records so that's why my book is about rich elites'. Well, yes, that is a strategic problem, but just because YOU don't have the skills to work with the kind of records that do exist doesn't mean no one does. (Seriously, you can't tell me the underground railroad didn't involve a whole range of cross-sex collaborations that might usefully be described as friendship)

On the other hand: the stuff about not having a precise vocabulary to describe the thing: YEP. THAT.

Moral Panic 101: Equality, Acceptance and the Safe Schools Scandal (Quarterly Essay #67)Moral Panic 101: Equality, Acceptance and the Safe Schools Scandal by Benjamin Law

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


YES THIS.

Damn, this is an incredibly well-researched and /useful/ essay. Aside from a fascinating history of the media beat-up around Safe Schools*, it's got all sorts of useful subsections. The section on school-age gender transition is particularly interesting, and useful if (like me) you're the sort of person whose friends expect you to explain this stuff at parties.

*An interesting comparison point: the Meanjin long essay by Dennis Muller on how journalism got Australia the Royal Commission. Funny that the clerical abuse exposé was driven by a relatively tabloid-y paper, the Newcastle Herald, while the Safe Schools beat-up came from the august pages of The Australian. But also, I wonder if the latter would have been *possible* if the former hadn't succeeded. If The Australian saw in the clerical abuse exposé not an ethical imperative but a method of driving up sales, and have been shopping around for something sufficiently scandalous ever since.

Blue Eyed Stranger (Trowchester Blues, #2)Blue Eyed Stranger by Alex Beecroft

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Oh gosh, this was a weird experience for me. As a romance: it's VERY GOOD. A++ I approve wholeheartedly.

As a study of historical re-creationism, I'm not sure if it's IRRITATING or SPOT ON. This guy's Viking re-enactment group are called Bretwaelda. An Old English word for an *English* war-band. The characters throughout keep consistently mixing up Saxon and Norse culture *without ever referencing the Danelaw as a justification*.

The spiel on the Victorian origins of blacking up in Morris Dancing completely ignores the probable, much older (as in, pre-dating the blacking up) links between Morris dance itself and appropriation/bad imitation of Moorish culture, and the much firmer links between early 20th c Morris Dance and American minstrelsy.

And the thing about the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance completely ignores the fact that the reindeer horns in use, which have indeed been radiocarbon dated to the 11th century, nevertheless *postdate the extinction of reindeer in England*. They were BROUGHT to Abbotts Bromley at some point between falling off the reindeer and their first appearance in the written record in the 17th c.

This is all very infuriating, but also, exactly how historical re-enactors work.



View all my reviews

Also finished: Griffith Review 56, and two m/m romances (KJ Charles and Cat Sebastian's respective latests).

Up next: I have a Lot of Books right now. My enthusiastic purchasing of all the lit mags ever is catching up with me, it seems. But also Jordan L Hawk's latest was released yesterday - I haven't bought it yet but it's only a matter of time.




Music notes: I haven't made any useful progress with the habit tracker of late, so no reward purchases. I did buy the Thirty Days of Yes mixtake, because I'm in favour of marriage equality themed things with profit to Twenty10 and the GLCS.

As of yesterday I have remembered that the 90s/early 2000s band Garbage existed, and hooo boy. I had forgotten how *fascinated* I was by Androgyny and Cherry Lips - and by Shirley Manson. I guess I was not such a straight child after all. Hooo boy.
highlyeccentric: Bill Bailey holding board with magnetic letters reading 'Frodo lap shame' (Frodo lap shame)
Last night I dreamed that I got up out of the tech booth during Act 3 sc 2 (the dramatic finale), snuck down the side of the auditorium and found an empty chair and fell asleep in it.

In this dream I woke up when the final gunshot went off, and the lighting hadn't been adjusted (because I was asleep) and no one turned the lights down at all at the end, and things were Bad.

So I pretended to still be asleep, to avoid talking to Director Chris, but it didn't work - I was afraid I'd get locked in the theatre, so I got up to get my stuff and then i ran into people and I was in TROUBLE.

The worst dream.
highlyeccentric: Sheer Geekiness, unfortunately - I just think this stuff is really cool (phd comics) (Sheer Geekiness)
Yay someone on The Conversation did a philosophy-for-dummies piece on tolerance that properly scaffolds the ethical frameworks beyond that one Karl Popper quote!

The most famous of all books written in political philosophy over the century, John Rawls’ A Theory of Justice, drew related conclusions. A society that values freedom should try to tolerate the intolerant, Rawls said. But if the intolerant start to endanger the free society itself, then we do not have to tolerate them.

For both philosophers, the message seems to be that tolerance is good, but perhaps in moderation.

We think the whole idea of tolerance needs to be thought about differently, in a way that distinguishes levels of tolerance.

First, there is tolerance versus intolerance of ordinary or “base-level” behaviours. We call this first-order tolerance. If a person is first-order tolerant or intolerant, this will show in how they behave. If they are intolerant, they might threaten or abuse others.

That creates a new choice about tolerance – do you tolerate those behaviours? If so, this would be second-order tolerance. There can also be third-order and fourth-order tolerance, but most of the time it is the first and second orders that matter.

There is a sort of ladder here, with tolerance (and intolerance) at higher and lower levels. But what is the difference between the “base-level” behaviours and the others? We’ll look at two examples.

First, think about behaviours that are private, such as who you have sex with. You might choose to have heterosexual sex, homosexual sex, sex involving a non-binary individual, or some other kind. (Assume all these behaviours are between consenting adults.)

Liberal democracies have become much more tolerant about sex and other private behaviours over recent decades. Gay male sex was illegal in New South Wales until 1984, for example. Decriminalising gay sex is an example of first-order tolerance.

Many countries and states also now have anti-discrimination laws, aimed at preventing intolerance of homosexuality, among other things. That is second-order intolerance.

Our society is now intolerant of those who are intolerant of homosexuality; they can be legally penalised. Is that a failure of tolerance? Would complete tolerance involve being tolerant of their intolerance? Not really.

There is a sensible goal here – the goal of first-order tolerance – and that is not a compromise. Societies like ours have decided that tolerance of private sexual choices is valuable and important. To protect tolerance of those private behaviours, we have to be second-order intolerant. A combination of first-order tolerance and second-order intolerance makes sense in a case like this.


I have been struggling to articulate this, to myself and to others, of late.
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Currently Reading: pre-print proofs for a book I need for my thesis, that the author has kindly sent me; Alex Beecroft 'Blue Eyed Stranger'. I've got a few more things ostensibly currently-reading that I need to get back to, including 'Medievalism: Key Critical Terms', Mary Webb's 'Gone to Earth', and a book of Joyce Carol Oates' poetry.

I'm a chapter and a bit into the second Gentleman Bastards book, and having trouble getting into it - not because it's not interesting, but it keeps filling me with nebulous dread. The prologue scene is set later in the timeline than the first few chapters so I KNOW things are going to go QUITE WRONG. Or maybe the apparent wrongness is a cunning trick and our hero-bros will be fine! But first, long detailed scenes involving gambling scams! It's very good writing, and it's giving me anxiety.

Recently Finished: This is the third weekly post in a row (normally I aim for every 2-3 weeks) and STILL these reviews are four books behind my actual recently-finished list. Welp.

Vegetarian India: A Journey Through the Best of Indian Home CookingVegetarian India: A Journey Through the Best of Indian Home Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is a delight to read, and a logistical pain in the ass to cook from, unless you live somewhere with access to really good Indian grocers. Asfoetida, where do you even BUY that?

Still, I'm getting there. My cupboard is now home to four different kinds of daal. I've even put my coffee grinder to work grinding spices, because that's the kind of person I have become.

Brothers and Sisters in Medieval European LiteratureBrothers and Sisters in Medieval European Literature by Carolyne Larrington

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


YES GOOD VERY USEFUL MUCH WOW


The Course of HonourThe Course of Honour by Avoliot

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Well this was an absolute delight of trope-tastic proportions. I particularly enjoyed the unexpected detour into 'plot devices we loved in Inception fandom circa 2011' toward the end.

It's also very skillful writing, esp in terms of examining without over-explaining one character's experience of relationship abuse. And it doesn't fall into lazy racist tropes, either! In this it leaves Captive Prince dead in the water.

Trowchester Blues (Trowchester Blues, #1)Trowchester Blues by Alex Beecroft

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I really enjoyed the set-up to this and massively side-eyed the, like, six week transition from 'why hi i have never come out to anyone but you're hot' to 'picket fence cohabitation'. Excellent cast of side characters, though, and if I'm going to be reading sickly HEA it's nice not to have it set in the US, for once.


Also finished: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland; a book about the American founding fathers and their female friends; Ben Law's Quarterly Essay on Safe Schools; Griffith Review 56.

DNF: Clare Hemmings, 'Bisexual Spaces'. The ILL was overdue and I skimmed the intro and decided it was *too dense* for me right now, and despite the title, not actually about space (I was hoping it would be about gender/sexuality and architecture or geography some how - useful for thesis purposes). I've put it back on the to-read list though. Another day.

A recommendation I forgot this when I reviewed the last Meanjin, but Jock Given's essay Enterprise in the Forest weaves together the story of the early development of QLD state parks and the story of the wreck of a Stinson aircraft in the south queensland highlands. I sent the essay to my Dad and he tells me he learned the story very young, because my grandfather knew someone who knew someone who knew the guy who found the aircraft (via the Army, or boxing, or Pop's brothers, Dad isn't sure).

[Site note: my computer just turned itself off and on again without warning. That's... less than ideal]

Up Next: I have a stack of books about semiotics, for work, and Rita Felski's 'The Uses of Literature'. I think my next fun book in hard copy might be The Essex Serpent.




Music notes: I got nowhere near my habit targets for this week, so no new purchases. I have, however, organised a bunch of tango and flamenco music into a spotify playlist for which I blame the entire sport of figure skating.

I also unearthed an old link I'd saved to Sara Bareilles' King of Anything, and from there the soundtrack to the musical Waitress and that's pretty awesome right now.

(I also reached the point in Postal Survey Coping Mechanisms that involved loop-listening to 'Epiphany' from bare: a pop opera, because words alone cannot express the furious feelingswamp this whole bullshit thing induces.)
highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
Currently Reading: Alex Beecroft, 'Blue Eyed Stranger'; Griffith Review 36; misc other... stuff

Recently Finished:

Interpreter of MaladiesInterpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was an *interesting*, if unsettling, book. Some of the stories keep coming back in fragments in my mind: the perspective choice in When Mr Pirzada Came To Dine, to recount the Bangladeshi-Pakistani conflict through the incomplete perceptions of a child, was a particularly arresting one. The Treatment of Bibi Haldar left me with anger I was unable to properly defuse for some time - the girl with her under-treated illness, the it suddenly became clear she was being sexually abused, without the story ever specifying that because none of the characters even seemed to *think* of it. The titular story made me quite uncomfortable, but was intricately composed.

I think my favourite was the last, 'The third and final continent' - its characterisation of the boarding-house owner in particular moved me, for whatever reason.

Courting the CountessCourting the Countess by Jenny Frame

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Mmm, I just don't know how I feel about this one. It was compelling, and it was a nice change to see this rough plot arc played out with women (I see it a lot in m/m romance: career focused commitmentphobe meets some nice chappy who insists on commitment in red letters, angst ensues and we end with matrimony-like arrangements). But I found myself irked by the emphasis on Annie's lack of experience, and by just HOW heavily the 'the right woman will cure all your emotional traumas and then you marry' notes fell.

I found myself shipping the two supporting characters, Bridget the Vicar and Quin the Farmer, much more strongly than the main pairing. Apparently there's a sequel about Bridget the Vicar but it's not matching her with Quin the Farmer, so. I may or may not.

Spindle's EndSpindle's End by Robin McKinley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was a delightful fairy tale, but like... inexplicable heterosexuality? I mean. The two girls were running around BREATHING THE SAME BREATH and there was TRUE LOVE'S KISS and everything. Narl was sweet, but note Our Heroine only fell in love with him when she suddenly thought he was in love with her best friend? And when her best friend suddenly and obviously fell in love with another dude?

Look Both Ways: Bisexual PoliticsLook Both Ways: Bisexual Politics by Jennifer Baumgardner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This was a frustrating book. I learned a lot of interesting trivia about 90s pop culture, including that there were far more bisexuals in it than I thought. There were some occasionally well-phrased ways of expressing ideas I've seen before, but nothing particularly ground-breaking. Even taking into account that it's over a decade old, 'Closer to Home' is much older and MUCH more insightful.

This was... magazine-y. I've never read Ms magazine, for which the author used to write, but in Australian terms it felt like... Cleo: The Bisexual Special. Only with a weirdly uncritical Thing for second-wave feminist foremothers, without any of their depth. (One of the well-phrased ideas was that second wave feminist criticism did not actually equip the young women of the 90s to fully reshape or realise their relationships with men, but even that point turned into weird bitterness without offering an alternative. I wanted to smack the author upside the head and say READ MORE BELL HOOKS.)

For something subtitled 'bisexual politics' it's actually about 'bisexual female existence in a particular culture bubble', with limited political ANYTHING.


Also finished, to review later: Madhur Jaffrey's 'Vegetarian India'; Carolyn Larrington 'Brothers and Sisters in Medieval European Literature'; Aviolot 'The Course of Honour'; Alex Beecroft 'Trowchester Blues'; Catherynne M Valente, 'The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making'.




Music notes: Saw Back N Black, the Swiss all-girl AC/DC cover band I saw back in 2014. They seem to be going through Drama, and were filling out the ranks with dudes on second guitar, bass and drums, but it was still a pretty good show. I got showered in fake blood courtesy of BB, the lead guitarist. This was unfortunate for my new cream t-shirt, but I think I've go the stains out now.

In celebration I bought myself 'Let There Be Rock'. I actually only owned one accadacca album and a couple of stray MP3s, until now. Clearly an oversight.
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Currently Reading: Mary Webb, Gone to Earth; Griffith Review, Millenials Strike Back; Cassandra A Good, Founding Friendships; Cathryne M Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making; and... more things. Too many things.

Recently finished: reviews still playing catch-up.

The GruffaloThe Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Re-read: small babysitting friend has this in his storybook collection now. Still a great read.

Meanjin Winter 2017 (Vol. 76, Issue 2)Meanjin Winter 2017 by Jonathan Green

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This issue was a mixed experience. I really enjoyed Margaret Simmons' essay on the future(s) of the ABC. Katherine Murphy's piece on work/life balance or lack thereof in politics was likewise great. Charlotte Adderley's memoir piece Ethanol, Eschar was beautifully written. Fiction-wise, AS Patric's Avulsion was creepy-fascinating. Both of Shastra Deo's poetry contributions were striking, but What Followed most of all.

On the other hand, I found Shannon Burns' In Defence of the Bad White Working Class infuriating. I have liked Burns' class-based criticism before, but this one seemed blinkered. He acknowledges that the suburbs he grew up in were never free of crime, but gives the white residents a free pass for feeling more hostile to asian gangs than white ones. That's called RACISM, folks. Also, we know this: we know that demographic change causes stress, we know that economically struggling groups have less access to positive integration experiences than the middle class, we KNOW that part of the solution lies in government and local government resources being poured in to lift *all* residents of an area. NONE OF THIS IS NEW NEWS.

The Science Of Discworld II: The GlobeThe Science Of Discworld II: The Globe by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Oh, a confusing reading experience, this one. On the one hand, I had not realised just how MUCH of my mental framework for thinking about, well, the build-a-human-kit is drawn from, or crystalised in, this book. I read it in late high school, and re-read it a few times during undergrad, and while I can express the concepts about the role and use of stories in much fancier lit-wank language now... here it is.

On the other hand, now I have degrees in premodern history and I want to set their rigid 'no science before newton' framework on FIRE. Oh my glod. Roger Bacon would like to talk to you, you fuckers. I could almost roll with it, except that I know a lot more about science now than I used to (thanks, Trojie), and their definition of science as experiment-driven rather than data-analysis also rules out MOST OF THE PHYSICAL SCIENCES. These authors are totally the kind of physics stans who refer to natural history as 'stamp-collecting'. Nope nope nope so much nope.

The Abyss Surrounds Us (The Abyss Surrounds Us, #1)The Abyss Surrounds Us by Emily Skrutskie

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


THIS WAS A GOOD. I mean. Captor/Captive scenario where they have a sensible conversation about power imbalances? Sign me the fuck up.

My major problem with this is that the protag's age was given as 17, and she just... isn't. There's a throwaway mention of schooling, but it felt wedged in. Everything else about her character felt post-high-school, maybe around 20: old enough to be in apprenticeship for her career, young enough to be bloody stupid. It felt like her age was lampshaded at 17 to make the books eligible as YA, rather than either a solid part of her characterisation or a book really written to that genre.

I also can't tell for the life of me if they're living on the planet we know, in a post-apocalyptic future, or if they're living on a terraformed replica of it.

In Other LandsIn Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


THIS WAS A RIOT. I loved 'Turn of the Story' and this is that, sewn together with 'Wings in the Morning' (the latter POV-flipped to fit TotS).

As a story: holy shit yes cannot recommend enough. I shrieked with laughter all the way through.

As a work, though? I am disappointed in the editing. There were typos still evident that had been in the online version of TotS. The join between TotS and WitM isn't as smooth as it should be. There are occasional POV hitches, where something should've been written out when flipped to Elliot's POV but hasn't been.

I loved this book very much, but I think the publisher did a lazy job on it - bought the rights to something already popular, and did a rush job on editing it because all its components were already well-loved.


I also re-read Spectred Isle on the plane to Chicago; given I only read it for the first time in late June, it doesn't get a second review/commentary.

Finished, yet to review: Interpreter of Maladies; Courting the Countess; Brothers and Sisters in Medieval European Literature; Spindle's End; Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics; Madhur Jaffery's Vegetarian India; The Course of Honour.

Up Next: Oh my. My to-read is overflowing, it's ridiculous. I need to finish some of the currently-readings. I have a book on bisexual geography on interlibrary loan. Who knows?




Music notes: there was a stretch of not buying anything new, because I've now set up a bribery system wherein I have a habit chart and I only get to buy music if I meet a target number of squares on the chart per week. So late August, after getting back from Chicago, was musically 'listen to stuff you already have', because it was also, habit-observance-wise, a washout.

But I ticked off 30 this week and consequently bought myself the EP 'Ameska' by the Taalbi brothers (best known, apparently, for a song in the Breaking Bad finale). The French competitor at the JGP Salzburg, Julie Froetscher, skated to the lead track, Ameska, in her short program, and I fell in love with it. I'm also really enjoying 'Tafat', which has a great percussion track.

I'm accumulating a list of 'figure skating routine music i like' and an awful lot of it is tango and flamenco. If i end up with a whole new musical generic interest I will blame the ISU. I already blame Shoma Uno for the fact I own an album of tango music played on accordion, of all things.
highlyeccentric: Sign: Be aware of invisibility! (Be aware of invisibility)
I am an incrementalist by nature but not in this case )

I sent some $ to the yes campaign at the start of the month, but not as much as I could have - it seems like sinking money into a bog. It's unlikely that we'll win, and regardless of whether we do or not, between them the yes and no campaigns are fortifying a national discourse wherein the sexuality is legitimised by legal wedlock, and marital bonds elevated above other social bonds. And I just... maybe I'm too much of a coward to face calling my relatives, but I'd rather support the likes of Twenty10 and the GLCS - the networks that are going to be doing the hard caring work for the most vulnerable queers regardless of marriage outcomes.

I have been sending little personalised postcards to first my MP and then working my way through a list of NSW senators urging them to either oppose a 'one man one woman OR two men OR two women' bill (in the case of opposition/green senators) or to advocate for a more inclusively worded bill (liberal/national senators).

And I subscribed to Overland today, because they're the only publication whose marriage articles haven't been making me feel queasy. (Well, Archer have been okay but not as punchy as Overland, and I'm already subscribed to them.)

TL;DR it's hard being a non-marrying queer in the time of plebiscite-surveys.
highlyeccentric: A seagull lifting into flight, skimming the cascade (Castle Hill, Nice) (Seagull)
Seen on the eastern shore of Derwent Water, July 2017:



More photos from that expedition and others are slowly drip-feeding through to [syndicated profile] speculumannorum_feed
highlyeccentric: Manly cooking: Bradley James wielding a stick-mixer (Manly cooking)
Adapted from a recipe in Madhur Jaffrey's 'Vegetarian India'.

Access and dietary notes )

What you need and what you do with it )

Serves: 3-4 snack portions
highlyeccentric: A photo of myself, around 3, "reading" a Miffy book (Read Miffy!)
Currently Reading: Too many things. Baumgartner's 'Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics', which is turning out a bit meh. Some work stuff. Essays. Etc.

Recently Finished: Still a backlog of these.

Archer: The Spaces Issue (Archer Magazine, #8)Archer: The Spaces Issue by Amy Middleton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


As with the previous, this was a beautiful magazine - the visual quality is really high. The testimonial piece 'gay in detention' from 'They Cannot Take the Sky' was... very moving and very important. The Regan Lynch piece on m/m public sex also fascinated me, and was beautifully illustrated with what look like oil paintings by Ali Franco.



The Alpine Path: The Story of My CareerThe Alpine Path: The Story of My Career by L.M. Montgomery

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This was interesting, and engaging, and it was fun to see LMM's PEI anecdotes sewn together in her ancestral context rather than in her books. It's not a particularly *literary* memoir, and it's also... not about her career. Apparently a women's magazine asked for a piece on her career, and got a memoir series instead: I find the framing very interesting, in that she begins 'her career' with her childhood and her ancestry, and pays very little attention to her actual work throughout. It's as if she needs to disclaim personal ambition, although that she did have a considerable amount of that comes through when she talks about writing poetry and stories while working for a newspaper.



The Ministry of Utmost HappinessThe Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I don't know. I think I'm holding my opinion of this book in abeyance until I can find some reviews of it by Indian trans people, ideally Hijras.

Things that are good about it:
- Roy's writing, her knack for words, is lush and I haven't found anything like it. The critics are right that this one is a little more florid than Small Things (it has what I think of as Order of the Pheonix Syndrome: previous book such a success, editor was unwilling to apply the pruning sheers as needed), but I did really enjoy the cutting between PsOV and the interlaced timelines. It wasn't clear until very late in the book how the various threads were going to tie up, and a couple of the earlier transitions were a bit jagged, but it all held together by the end.
- The description, and the little quirks of characterisation, remain her great strength
- I loved the attention to both positive and fraught cases of religious intersection. I realise that's a fact of life in India, but it seemed more prominent here than even in Small Things.

Thing I had a problem with:
- I just don't know what to make of the language choices around Anjum: the narrative does bring up the gendered language of Urdu and Hindi, factors that aren't that present in English. The text shifts between describing her as woman and not-woman, which, given we're talking about a third-gender group, is possibly appropriate. (Likewise, there's an interesting distinction made between Anjum, a more old-fashioned Hijra, and her junior who ends up leading the household, who defines herself using terms like 'trans'.) Some of the lines about 'making the real women look drab' made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, but I don't know if that's a distinction that is as problematic to the hijra community as it is to western trans communities.
- I do think it really wasn't necessary to specify that the last orgasm Anjum had was before she had SRS. It's possible that that replicates a fact from the life of the cemetery-dwelling Hijra Roy drew on for the character, but... it didn't add anything to the story, except to underline Anjum as 'broken'. I mean. That she's making difficult compromises between her needs and her wants (eg: to become a hijra, versus to maintain her family connections) and that she's serially damaged by various factors in her life is already so many other plot points. That last one just... replicates a voyeuristic interest in deviant genitalia.



Blue Ribbon Recipes: Prize-Winning Recipes From The Sydney Royal Easter ShowBlue Ribbon Recipes: Prize-Winning Recipes From The Sydney Royal Easter Show by Pam Casellas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I bought this at the show in 2013. It's mostly a LOOKING AT book for me - for old-fashioned cake staples I resort to the Women's Weekly. But as a looking at book, it's rewarding: lovely photography, charming exhibitor bios.



View all my reviews

Also: The Gruffalo (again), Meanjin winter 2017, Science of the Discworld II, The Abyss Surrounds Us, In Other Lands, Spectred Isle (again), Interpreter of Maladies, Courting the Countess, and Spindle's End

Up Next: Possibly the sequel to The Abyss Surrounds Us. Possibly 'The Guest Cat'. Definitely some more work non-fiction reading.




Music Notes: LORDE. HOW ABOUT THAT LORDE, HUH? I bought 'Melodrama'. Trojie also informed me that a Bruce Springsteen live cover of Royals exists. Been listening to a lot of Fleetwood Mac's 'Tusk', and as of today, spotify is providing me with KD Lang.
highlyeccentric: Dessert first - pudding in a teacup (Dessert first)
Like my last PC, I burned out the motherboard in a heatwave. So far so normal, then. My files all seem to be here.

This makes up for the fact that the marriage equality Discourse is hell.
highlyeccentric: A woman in an A-line dress, balancing a book on her head, in front of bookshelves (Make reading sexy)
Getting my mobile data and its wifi hotspot to play nice long enough to fill in some reviews has been A Time. Also, typing on this keyless keypad is a nightmare. Here is an example uncorrected sentence: nothing i type makes any sense a d i have to correct everything painstakingly, it0snwjite ridiuculojs, b this comouter doesn0t have a usb oirt so i can0t use an external keypad.

Currently Reading: Mary Webb, 'Gone to Earth', which is not the rustic romance I was expecting at all! 'The Abyss Surrounds Us', which promises me lesbian space pirates. Madhur Jaffrey's 'Vegetarian India'.

Recently Finished: Reviews are a bit behind - all of these I finished before my last book post.

The Rose & the Dagger (The Wrath & the Dawn, #2)The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I really don't know were I stand on this. It is a good sequel, but it doesn't really lift the series out of the disappointments of the first book. I just fundamentally don't get the main ship - Adieh committed too early to the 'lovers' part of enemies-to-lovers, and meh.

On the other hand, great things about this book: depth development on secondary characters, especially secondary female characters; interesting new characters; reasonable development on the dynastic plot. We've moved away from 1001 nights and that's a good thing in this case.


A Civil ContractA Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This was much, much FUNNIER than I expected! And much more subdued and realistic as a romance than expected, too. My main problem was that, until she fell pregnant, I didn't realise the marriage-of-convenience couple had been sleeping together at all! I feel like, even granting this isn't a book where racy sex scenes are in order, *some* sense of the marriage-bed would've added a lot. Even at the end - say, an indication that kissing his wife might be fun as well as courteous?


The Second Summoning (Keeper Chronicles, #2)The Second Summoning by Tanya Huff

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I forgot how much worse this one was compared to its predecessor. And yet, I laughed a lot, so it fulfills trash reading requirements. I just... the whole Claire/Dean plot is overwrought to the extreme in this one, and Diana is much more interesting.


Beds and Chambers in Late Medieval England: Readings, Representations and RealitiesBeds and Chambers in Late Medieval England: Readings, Representations and Realities by Hollie L S Morgan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I DEVOURED THIS BOOK IN FIVE HOURS. It's great - really clear and engaging writing, and methodologically my favourite kind of interdisciplinary work, pulling all kinds of threads together.


Also finished: isssues of both Archer and Meanjin; the new Arundati Roy; LM Montgomery's autobiography

Up next: I have a lot on the go at the moment, but I also have some light reading for the plane to Chicago - Robin McKinley and Catherine M Valente.




Music notes: I bought Missy Higgins' Oz, and am loving it ('No Secrets' was a sexy song anyway, but three times more so sung by Missy Higgins); I've finally bonded with the new Lorde album via Spotify. Also via Spotify, I'm enjoying the Dixie Chicks.
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.

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