Then again, every single goddamn website except Google maps is blocked at work, so I don't have time to post to the VC comm except of a night/weekend, check newspapers and all that general faffing about I do online. I'm sorry for the protracted absence, you guys. It's especially bad when I feel like our beloved LJ needs all the support it can get right now, with people flitting off to Tumblr (great for photos, not so great for blogging) and *spit* Facebook. I hope to get a phone that allows proper web browsing soon.
I spent the weekend in London with squishypeanut, who is always a delight to be around and who always takes the opportunity to educate me in music. (I tend towards the most generic stuff if not pushed.) We saw lots of live music, visited the awesome Camden markets, ate good food and watched lots and lots of nerdy science videos.
An honest-to-goodness, real live shark, Brighton
She also insisted I read Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!, a really good book of anecdotes from Richard Feynman. I'm getting really interested in all this ~sciencey stuff, though I don't hold with his assertion that there's little to be found in humanities. I love my literature and poetry and all that, so sorry. But he's very funny and interesting. I'll review the book soon.
I just really feel like I need a few days to wind down and write up stuff for my LJ, write fic and continue with my original stuff, maybe draw a little. This month's very busy for me with birthdays, social stuff and work, but when the arsey long nights draw in come November, I'm sitting down with some green tea and writing, so help me God.
Anyway, what are the haps, my friends?
It was amazing and lovely and tasty and I was very pleased because totally having it with some crusty bread and taking it into work tomorrow.
I gave it one more taste, thought, 'hmm. This could do with just a little salt.'
So I bring the salt over, shake it once -- and the entire -- THE ENTIRE CELLAR OF SALT -- has just collapsed into mah lovely soup. I flapped and tried to scoop it out, but it's saltier than the goddamn Mediterranean.
I AM DEVASTATED RIGHT NOW ;_;
I have to be in work at 8am.
I have to make my way to Manchester airport straight after work.
And I'm just... staring with hatred at my suitcase. I haaaaate packing. I should just get it done. And then I can go to bed and stop sitting here, thinking about how tired I am.
If I just continue staring at it, perplexed, it may right itself.
I love this band so, so much. Queen are definitely one of my favourite bands evah and so... it's hard to pick my favourite song.
I think their best song is Innuendo but for all its lyrical genius and the intensity of that Spanish guitar, it frightens me!
Radio Gaga was my favourite song as a child and still makes me happy when I hear it.
Days of our Lives is so sad that I cannot.
Somebody to Love makes me intensely happy. Even at Glee, I was all 'raaaargh! It's Somebody to Love!' and super super happy.
However. My favourite is probably Who Wants to Live Forever. I love the gentle quality of Brian May's voice at the beginning, the sad lyrics, that it was used in one of my favourite films growing up and that it's beautiful and sad and profound and Queen at their very best.
Rest in peace, Freddie. There'll never be another like you.
I'm not saying I'm bored at my job, but I do seem to be spending an inordinate amount of work time* recreating propaganda posters in MS Paint. I have the Lissitzky poster as my desktop background in one last stab at being a rebel and only Costs Guy (oh, Costs Guy, my hidden crush!) gets it.
I still haven't decided whether to take that teaching job, but I have been approached by a company in Spain (been there, done that) and one in Liverpool, so I could always move into the city centre.
Ho hum, we'll see.
I'm getting really dispirited with my body betraying me. I have been eating an unprecedented amount of sickeningly healthy stuff, plenty of fibre, following a low-calorie diet, cycling 14 miles to work every day -- uphill, may I add (okay, so coming home is a bit easier) -- and I have lost the grand total of 1lb a week.
And then I had a weekend where I drank some wine, had a takeaway and a roast. And I'm 3lbs heavier today.
AARGH I HATE IT. Yes, yes. Sodium/water weight/a brief glitch. It's still highly dispiriting that I can push myself to the limit for most of the week and see nothing for it, then have this. Grr.
Okay, so here's some more negativity for you: cycling has made me hate the world.
Car drivers: from conversations with my car-loving colleagues, cyclists appear to be the devil's spawn in your world, there to mess you up. The best thing is that I'm currently working for solicitors dealing with personal injury claims. The amount of times a driver self-righteously proclaims that the pedestrian or cyclist (sometimes dead) is completely at fault boggles me.
99% of drivers are fine and lovely about it. There's always the one idiot who drives extremely close to intimidate me. I can't walk down the street without tripping over my own feet (Bella Swan-esque sigh). I fear this will not end well. :(
MEN ON BIKES: why, why, why are all the men on bikes, save this one sweet man who smiles at me each morning when he passes me on his bike, so horrible? Why do they get really annoyed if I'm ahead of them and have to race past, with their stupid all-over racing kit and helmet and douchey 'outta my way, girly' sneer? Why do they go flying past the cars, taunting the 99% of nice drivers (God, I hope they don't encounter driving-too-closely douche driver). Why are they so mean to pedestrians? Why do they refuse to move to the correct part of the cycle lane when I'm oncoming? Man, no wonder people hate cyclists.
MEN IN CARS: look, man in car. It's 7:21am. I have six miles more to go. I haven't put my make-up on and I'm wearing horrid exercise clothes. I'm sweating. I'm deathly tired. What makes you think this is the perfect time to shout an obscenity at me? I don't get it! I really, really don't get it why men shout at ladies on bikes. I'm fine if I'm walking down the road; you don't shout obscenties at me when I'm in a car. But a bike, well, I'm just asking for it, the slut that I am. Yes, please comment on the size of my breasts. Please do offer me lewd advice. It's totally hot.
The Council: Hey, taxes are pretty high and you're trying to get the people in this community to exercise more to bring down health costs. How about you use some of our taxes to occasionally clean up the debris from car crashes on the bypass so that the cycle lane isn't littered with huge glass shards every few metres? That'd be super.
Tractors: I can't. I'm just a ball of rage right now.
So... between the daily deathtrap, the bypass, the tractors and the glass, coupled with the body refusing to be nice to me, I feel like giving up. But.
I've suffered hypertension the last couple of years (poor lifestyle choices, weight gain and being a bonne vivante). I've lost what feels like a tonne of weight in the last year and my blood pressure is at Life is Beautiful levels. Ah, geez. I'll continue for a bit longer, at least till the darker nights draw in.
So life is plodding along, being consistent and stuff. I'm still looking for change, but in an 'hey, it's autumn soon' way. I swear that I have not seen a clear, sunny day since June. It's been overcast for WEEKS now. I'm going to scream. I need sunlight, I need some gentle summer sun before we're consigned to the depths of winter again. This country, you guys! This tiny stupid island constantly covered in cloud, spat on by rain. I'll end up taking a cheeky break in Bulgaria or something when we get back from Russia because I NEED SUN.
Anyway, here's a reminder of when the UK actually does have sunlight in March-June. It's some snaps of my local church graveyard, which I've been meaning to upload forever. Going on the daffodils, I presume it's March. Anyway, Belfast next!
( More beneath the cut! )
Spanish: I speak this with a strange mix of dialects, unfortunately. I use some Catalan words accidentally, don't use the Castillian 'th' and often use Argentinian/Colombian words by mistake. (I tend to say 'linda' more than 'bonita') though I still use Castillian like coger el metro, to the amusement of some.
French: The language I learned as a child and probably the one I am most fluent in (if by fluent, we mean halfway competent). I don't have to keep studying it as with other languages - it's like my brain is just switched on when it comes to French. I can count in the language faster than Spanish and recall words or guess what a word would be more often. Dammit, this is why it's so important to learn a language when you're a child. I wish the UK would stop teaching people from eleven. We should be taught a foreign language at primary school.
Greek: Very basic. I know enough phrases to have a card game with the woman we often stay with in Zakynthos or to shout angrily at an Athenian restaurant owner ignoring me (ahem). I can read the Greek alphabet and, again, guess at meaning of words I don't know but I'm nowhere near competent in the language yet.
Russian: Basic. I took lessons in Russian back in 2007 as part of an adult learning class. I can ask for a cup of tea without milk, tell someone to stop, say I'm English and give directions. I can read the Russian alphabet. Thankfully, a lot of the words I need in Russian are very similar to French, so if you can read the alphabet, you can guess the word.
Italian: Basic. I have only ever learned holiday!Italian. I can read it relatively well, but that's only because of its similarity to Catalan. This is the language I'd really like to learn more.
Do American films count as 'foreign' for me?
Anyway, favourite films not in English:
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari*
Run Lola Run
House of Flying Daggers
Let the Right One In
ETA: La Reine Margot
Little Otik is one of the craziest, most fun films I've ever seen. You should totally watch it. I'm also going to outmyself as a ~cultural philistine and say I prefer the American dub of Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle. Idek, Christian Bale is a good Howl for me.
This is a story that happened in the chaos surrounding September 2001, which was buried by News International and has recently come to light. Twitter went mad for it yesterday and I still cannot wrap my mind around it, the story is that insane.
Ladies and gentlemen, have News of the World editor Rebekah Brooks at her most insane, power-tripping best:
'So, at that time, [when] we were working on the assumption that up to 50,000 people had been killed, I was required to parade myself around morning conference, dressed as Harry Potter.'
Hell, no. I will not go back to my pre-Japan weight. Besides, if I'm having to jump through so many hoops just to get to Russia, then I'm making sure I'm not tearing up every photograph I'm in.
So it's been back down to the 1300kcal extravangza for me. It was a struggle to eat as many calories as that in Japan. In Europe, it's a struggle to eat anywhere as little as that a day. One stupid little sausage roll: 320kcal. A portion of chips = out, unless I want to eat nothing but an orange for the rest of the day. Hmph. I have miso soup (18kcal!) when I feel peckish between my tiny meals and I'm eating a lot more fresh fruit and vegetables, yay.
Let me tell you, internets. It sucks being 5'2 and small-boned. If I so much look at a piece of cake, I balloon.
On top of that, I've been cycling daily .Sometimes it's as little as two miles, but it's uphill so I'm all cursing and angry by the time I've finished. And the scales are all, 'well done! You've lost 7lbs in the past two weeks!'
1. Ridiculous and ~unsafe~
2. It can't be muscle, right? I'm not starving myself (1300kcal isn't starving) and my legs feel all strong and stuff
3. Water weight, right? But if it is, it's still weight that shouldn't be there and I really do have a problem with water retention. So fuck you, water. I'm claiming my 7lbs. And stay out.
I'm pretty sure we had this question not so long ago (or at least, a variation of it) but I'll play.
I can't decide on an absolute favourite, but those I adore are:
1. Eleanor Rigby, which makes me think of my city's history and my ancestors.
2. Hey Jude, which is so sad and hopeful at the same time (and makes me want to slap John Lennon).
3. Let it Be, which mothergoddamn told me was named after a Liverpool expression. I asked my mother about it and she said her own mother used to say it to her, so I like the whole maternal aspect of the song, the earthly mother and the allusion to the Virgin Mary. I listen to this if I'm far from home and feeling a little homesick. It always makes me feel comforted.
4. In My Life, which I find so beautiful in its deliberately understated way. I like the gentle emotion of it: I've loved many people in my life and known so many good souls, but you -- I love you just that bit more. I think it's one of the most perfect songs and it probably is my favourite Beatles song. On most days.
5. I Want to Hold Your Hand, though I dislike the fast version. I like sad, slow arrangements of this song. It destroys me. And yes, some of you will know to which cover in particular I'm referring.
I also reference Liverpool a couple of times in this post as if in some chest-beating state but... I never used to really like The Beatles. As I get older, they mean more to me. They speak of my family's history and the character of this city, the home to which I always return. They remind me of the older generations, my dad growing up in Wavertree and following this rising band. It's impossible to escape them if you live here, but then... why would you want to?
What is with the British press lately? Why all the stupidity this week alone? I've decided not to buy any papers other than the ace 20p I from now on. And this is why:
1. News International have been dragged through the courts in the last year for hacking the phones of celebrities. It's all very silly and intrusive, etc, etc, etc.
Except this week, it has come to light that they hacked the voicemail of Milly Dowler, a 13-year-old girl who was murdered. Her killer was only sentenced in the last month for the crime, which occurred some years ago. Her family have had to face that awful pain for all that time. Her father, who collected BDSM and alternative lifestyle magazines, was not only questioned by police for being so depraved (BDSM! He must have killed his own daughter) and had the details of his life scrutinised in court, but the press got hold of it and covered every last lewd detail of the private lives of Millie's parents.
And then it came to light this week that, hoping for a story, News International hacked the voicemail of this little girl while she was missing and deleted the messages. Her family lived in agonised hope, telling themselves she must be okay, because she was logging in and listening to her mail.
All this for a scoop for a stupid newspaper that people read for the celebrities, anyway.
Rebekah Wade, the editor of the paper, insists she knows nothing about this and it was the work of a maverick member of staff. Today, it transpires they had 'personal dealings' with each other.
Oh, and they also hacked the phones of the families of the girls killed by the Soham murderer. And victims of the 7/7 bombings. It's so depraved that it's hard to put into words how low it is.
Okay, so I know that finding offence in The Daily Mail is hardly the most difficult thing on the planet, but I'm really annoyed by today's article: a diatribe about how the programme Coronation Street has abandoned its working-class roots to give us 'Wall-to-wall gays, transsexuals, transvestites and teenage lesbians'.
Because working-class people can never be gay, or transgendered. It's so hateful and so inane and stupid that I don't know where to begin. Coronation Street gave Britain its first transgender character and although very problematic from the start with how they depicted that, the programme has opened up an issue that some would rather stay hidden and refuse to understand. What's not to celebrate about that? I also hate that they rant about 'transsexuals and transvestites' - a transvestite character appeared in one episode. It seems to me that they're deliberately trying to paint Hayley Cropper as a transvestite. And look at this:
'Squalor, grime and poverty have been replaced by shoddy, tinsel-edged glamour.'
Well, I'm awfully sorry to tell you, London-centric idiot journalist, but it's not The Road to Wigan Pier up here. Squalor and grime don't tend to be the landscape of 2011. Poverty in some areas, yes. God forbid a programme written by working-class people has working-class people being happy with being gay or eating something other than a bag of chips and running t' coal mine for mam.
The Guardian, meanwhile, is always very, very, quick to report on the failings of other papers. It was this paper which broke the phone-hacking scandal. Everything should be in the light, it says. Everything should be acknowledged. Even if a freelancer for a paper, The Guardian finds the story, investigates it, shows us what's wrong.
So when Kia Abdullah, a columnist for The Guardian itself (as stated on her Twitter bio) decided to openly mock the deaths of three teenagers in a bus crash in Thailand because of the crime of having double-barrelled names (because nobody poor ever has double-barrelled names), the British press picked up on it.
Except The Guardian.
And when the grieving mother of one of those boys finally got an apology from the spiteful clown and people expressed their outrage to The Guardian, they replied that she wasn't a full-time columnist with them, which is excusable. What was inexcusable was them refusing to run a story -- even two lines -- about what happened in their paper or their site, or on the Comment is Free blog. This is in the same week when they have obsessively written about the failings of Johann Hari, who is sometimes inflammatory, sometimes a little harsh... but who doesn't celebrate the deaths of young people.
So I was complaining to mothergoddamn recently that though we live close to one another and in a nice cosmopolitan city (or at least, not too far from one) we don't do many Cultured Things together.
Last week was cultured week! I decided to start the week off with trashy fun with Glee!Live, then slightly higher with Evita (yeahIknow) ending with the Orchestra dell'Arte performing some classical works at the gorgeous old church nearby. Inevitably, it went like this:
It seems half the people from my workplace went and my God, they were full of envy that we were in the pit section (right at the side of the stage) for the show. What can I tell you that you don't know? It was fun, cheesy, silly, exhilarating and fabulous. Naya Rivera continues to be my girl crush, because that woman is gorgeous IRL.mothergoddamn had a moment with her and I wanted to bite her out of jealousy. We also got slushied by Chris Colfer and it was fuuuuun. A guy in work told me with authority that some of it was mimed, but no1curr because Amber Riley has the most amazing voice. Tears in my eyes, tbh.
I don't care that they're people in their 20s and 30s pretending to be highschoolers. It seemed half the audience was older and it was knowing, silly fun.
What the hell is this. I was all happy and excited for this. I knew it would have a slight whiff of queso because Andrew Lloyd Webber, but I was not prepared to be so... offended. I knew it would be bad when Che came on (look, Webber. Don't pretend it's not Guevara because you were proven historically inaccurate. Why would Argentinians label another Argentinian 'Che' after their dialect?) and began to sing as if bored. His posh, posh English accent didn't help, either.
And it was just so hateful! Evita was capricious and silly and manipulative and a woman-hater. The men were victims of her feminine wiles. She was a bitch for trying to get out of the tough barrios and for chasing her dreams. It doesn't matter that O What a Circus has some really good ironic lyrics ('you were supposed to have been immortal/that's all they wanted/not much to ask for') when the whole thing was just so misogynistic.
I also had a problem with how the people of Argentina were depicted. Silly, Romantic fools! Who would go crazy over a pretty figurehead and plunge into hysterical national grieving over someone they had never met? Only those silly Latin types.
At one point, Evita angrily laments the callous people of England refusing to have their head of state meet her. It felt like we, the audience, were supposed to be amused at her pretensions. God forbid an island nation with an unelected head of state pay respect to someone else.
Anyway, did not like. It was very Eurocentric, very Anglo-Saxon, very misogynistic. At one point, mothergoddamn turned and asked me if I was bored, as well. I'd been thinking up drabbles while Evita died on stage, tbh.
Orchestra dell'Arte at Prescot Church
Beautiful and thoughtful and very soothing. Which it had to be, given that they never specified WHICH CHURCH in a town with several churches. We were late to the show, stressed and rained upon. But it was good.
Glee was still the most fun, though.