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Checking in for the Holidays

I don't post here much anymore, do I? I've mostly moved over to tumblr these days for my online interactions. LJ in general seems pretty dead.

I'm really not feeling the holidays this year. I haven't done much Christmas shopping. There's a tree in my living room only because my parents brought me one and set it up. I haven't bothered to decorate it. I just ... don't want to. Can we not this year? Maybe I'll feel more like it in 12 months.

I haven't worked since October. Theoretically I am still employed, but there just isn't anything going on here. If things don't pick up by January, I'll start looking for something different. Maybe I'll apply for unemployment benefits, depending on how complicated that is. I should be entitled to them. In the meantime, I have my savings to fall back on.

I'm theoretically insured now, or will be soon. The insurance I purchased under the AFA kicks in in January. It will be a relief to be able to visit a doctor without worrying about the cost. I also picked up some dental insurance. I really need to get my teeth looked at. It's been years, and refined sugar really makes my mouth hurt these days.

Don't know what else to day. I'm feeling really listless. Not doing much these days. Just trying to save money and get some writing done. I'm better at the former than the latter. I hope everyone out there in LJ land is doing well this holiday season.

Papo Figurines

Is anyone else here familiar with Papo figurines? They are a French company that makes neat little toys, many of them fantasy- and history-based. I fell in love with them a few years back when I found their female pirate figure at a toystore, and have bought several more since then. Yesterday, I bought the female farmer and the (discontinued) farmer's wife. I think they will make a nice couple.

I like them because they look nice, are durable, and don't cost much. Unfortunately, it seems like their female action figures keep getting discontinued. I went through their current catalogue tonight, out of curiosity, and I was disappointed by what I found. Out of around 200 human or humanoid figurines, 92 are white and male, 60 are white and female (overwhelmingly fairies and/or princesses), and only 6 are people of colour (5 male, 1 female). There are also about 30 more helmeted knights without visible faces who are clearly male, and given the style, would be coded as white as well. Disappointing.

Non-fairy/princessish female figurines:
- 6 equestrian girls
- 4 historical figures (Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Elizabeth I, Marie Antoinette)
- 2 farmers
- 2 pirates (a bit more sexed up than their previous model)
- 1 fantasy warrior (without ridiculously sexy armour! Yay!)
- 1 (fat and ugly) witch

The catalogue also features prehistoric hunters (no women), knights and archers (no women), firefighters and paramedics (no women), and a collection of sci-fi warriors (no women).

I love the Papo figurines I have. I want more and I want to love this company, but I feel like it's failing at diversity in its toy line. I want fun toys for my niece and nephew when they visit, and I want them to have examples of women who are about more than just looking pretty. Is that so much to ask?

Great Big Sea at the Moore Theater

Tonight, I went with my friend Anna to see Great Big Sea at the Moore Theater, and ... I wasn't in the right mood for it. You know how, sometimes, you want to go out and have a beer and dance your ass off, and sometimes you just want to roll yourself up in a down comforter with a cat and a cup of tea? Tonight I felt much more like the latter than the former, even though GBS has been one of my favourite bands for nine years now, and were the only one of my top three musical artists I had never seen live before.

Maybe it was just that I'm only now getting over being ill, but I had a very hard time being "in the moment". Actually, this is not an unusual problem for me. I get all caught up in thinking about how I feel, or getting distracted by other thoughts, and forget to just *be* and enjoy where I am and what I am doing. It's a real mood-killer.

So please take it with a large grain of salt when I say the show had only about 10% of the magic of seeing Jason Webley at the same venue a year and a half ago. Objectively speaking, though, there was only about 10% as much dancing in the aisles as well, which surprised me. Much of their music is very fast and dancey, and I would have expected more of that sort of thing.

The band are currently on their 20th anniversary tour, and I think they played songs from every album, as well as some new stuff that I did not recognise. There was a big screen across the back of the stage which flashed images and played video. The picture quality and the graphics had a very early 90's feel to them, which may have been intentional, but came off as sort of cheesy and distracting. I don't know; when you're a bunch of guys who are looking pretty good for your early 40's, it's probably not a good idea to have big pictures of how good you used to look 15 or 20 years ago right there for comparison.

The other thing I couldn't help noticing was how ... Canadian the audience looked? Seriously. It was a really white crowd, and the style of the evening was very mid-90's casual. It felt rather like I really had been transported back in time 20 years.

Overall, it was a good show. I wish I had been more in the right frame of mind to enjoy it.

Green Wing: Not Impressed

I wasn't planning to write a review of Green Wing, but it seems I am not going to be able to sleep until I do. First, let me start by saying this is a weird show. I have no problem with weird. There were a lot of things I enjoyed -- enough to keep me watching through almost 20 hours of television in the hope of a satisfying resolution -- but there were other things that pretty much ruined the show for me.

I'll put spoilers behind a cut, but there is one warning I want to give to anyone who has not seen this show: There is an episode in which one major character explicitly sexually assaults another, and not only do the writers of the show treat it as a "funny" joke, but the perpetrator never suffers any consequences for their actions. Consider yourself warned. Spoilers follow....

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If any of you are thinking of commenting to defend the rapist's actions, please don't. I would rather you unfriend me and never speak to me again than deal with rape apologism. And now I'm thinking that when (if) I (ever again) date someone, I should make them watch Green Wing, and see how they react to that scene. That should tell me all I need to know about whether the relationship is worth pursuing.


Yay, California Adventure!

I went to Oakland over the weekend and had a fabulous time doing all the sorts of things I don't normally do because I have No Life.

- I got to actually leave the damn state.
- I got to wear springy clothing in warm, sunny weather.
- I got to have an adventure by myself.*
- I got to spend time with a friend. Yay, friendship!
- I got to eat pizza. (Seriously, I never do this anymore.)
- I got to see brand new episodes of TV shows which are currently on the air.
- I got to play fun games, and occasionally even win.
- I got to watch and mock a not-great movie. (Dredd. It's ... yeah, I'll just avoid the obvious pun here.)
- I got to go out to dinner and a movie with an attractive man, which is always pleasant, even when it's not really a date.
- I got to see a movie in the theatre! First time in over two years. (Life of Pi is a very pretty movie. I recommend it.)
- I got to eat Earl Grey ice cream, which is just as good as it sounds.
- I got to go to a piratey store, and a store full of boneses.
- I got a bunch of mops dumped on my head, because spectralbovine is evil.
- I got to spend lots of time in book stores.
- I got to go to a reading by Seanan McGuire.**
- I got to see the delightful Mark of Mark Reads and Mark Watches again.***
- I got to go to what I think was the fourth stage production of As You Like It that I have ever seen (not counting the dramatic reading I participated in with my fellow homeschoolers in 1994). ****
- I got to watch Neverwhere again with someone who had never seen it before.
- I got to go to an Oscar party, and managed to predict 13 of the 24 winners. And drink a mango margarita.

So, yay! Super fun trip. May have to see about doing that again sometime.

* I ended up walking from the SF airport car rental to the Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, which turned out to be about two and a half miles. I did this based on the vague pointing of someone at the airport whom I asked for directions and my own recollections of a map I had looked at briefly about a week before. I knew it wasn't far, and I knew vaguely in which direction I needed to go, and I trusted myself. I didn't have to backtrack a single step.

The weather was lovely, but by the time I reached the cemetery, my feet were getting a bit tired. It was the most I had walked in weeks. The cemetery itself was huge, and it was a military burial ground, which meant all the stones looked the same, stretching in all directions, with no map to guide visitors. But I knew I was looking for Section W, so I guessed a direction, hoped it was the right one, and started walking. There was only one entry gate to the cemetery, and I ended up having to walk a long way back the way I had come, to the very end of the grounds, before I found Section W, but the graves were all neatly numbered, and once I knew I was in the right place, it didn't take me long to find the one I was looking for.

Roena VanHorn was the younger sister of my great-grandfather. She was a beautiful lady who loved fashion and making her own clothes. She married a younger man and moved from the ranch in Montana, where she was raised, to San Francisco. She never had any children. I do wonder if maybe I was the first person to visit her grave in the half a century since she died.

Roena VanHorn, c. 1912

** I had never read any of Seanan's books before, and I thought it was only polite to have read something by the time I got there, so on the plane, I started reading Feed, the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy. I was about 1/4 of the way through it by the time I got to the reading, and I'm a little over halfway done with it now. It is very good. Those of you who are into zombies and/or political intrigue should check it out.

*** Mark is one of my favourite internet celebrities, and I got to meet and hang out with him once before, last May, when he visited Seattle. I can't say enough good things about this man, nor can I express how gratifying it was when he saw me at the reading, and did the most beautiful triple take, because he didn't know I was going to be there. So I got a Mark hugs, and then I had the distinct pleasure of watching him flail over the second half of tammypierce's Immortals quartet, which he has almost finished reading, but the reviews have not yet been posted to his site.

**** It was a modern adaptation with several of the characters' genders swapped, including Celia's, but it definitely worked and was very enjoyable, even if spectralbovine did not believe me about the lion.

Friends Purge

I did a massive friends purge, because I think there are a lot of people who just don't use LJ anymore. If I removed you, and you're still here and paying attention, please drop me a comment.
So there's this song. I don't know where it came from, but I've had the mp3 for about ... 10 years now? When I downloaded it, or got it from someone, it was labeled as "Leonard Cohen Dans Macabre". It was patently neither of those things, but it was a really fucking cool song, so I kept it. But here's the thing. Not only did I not know the name of the artist or the title of the song, I could not even identify what language it was in, so there was no way for me to google the lyrics. All I could tell was that it was vaguely eastern European sounding.

Well, this past spring, it occurred to me that I know someone who knows rather a lot about eastern European music, and has something of a facility with languages in that region. And when I say "I know someone", what I mean is that I have a massive fangirl crush on him. Yeah, I emailed Jason Webley about the song. Because I am just that sad.

So, anyway, he got back to me on it just a few minutes ago.

forgive my slow reply.
this song is interesting. the cadence of the voice on the "ny, ny,
ny" part sounds VERY much like Cohen. and the range is similar to his
when he was younger.

maybe you've already figured this out, but after some digging I found
that it is a song written by an Italian singer named Jaromir Nohavica,
and dedicated to Cohen.
Here's a live video:

Thanks for sending!

Wait, that performance was in Italy. He's Czech. Surprised I've
never heard of him.

Aha! He has recorded with my friend Michal Horacek!ážce_plamene


Where the Heart Is (2000)

I love this movie so much, and I don't even know why. It's such a cheesy chick-flick, which is not my usual at all. But it's total comfort viewing for me, like the visual equivalent of macaroni and cheese or chocolate milk. Sometimes, I just need it.

Everyone in it is just ridiculously adorable. Natalie Portman. James Frain. Stockard Channing. Ashley Judd. It's a cathartic feel-good fest, and I spend the whole thing sniffling and dabbing my eyes. Ugh. Love it so damn much.


Luther, Season Two

Reposting my reviews of the second season of Luther. I am still pretty underwhelmed, though there is some better writing than in the first season. What am I saying? This show is dead to me! INDIRAAAAAAAAA!!!!!

Spoilers abound....

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Episode TwoCollapse )

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Luther, Season One

I've been watching and reviewing the British detective series Luther for the past week (spectralbovine made me do it!), and I thought I should archive my reviews here before they get lost in the shuffle of the interwebz.

Warning: It turns out I do not like this show very much, Indira Varma notwithstanding. There's a lot of graphic violence perpetrated against women, and the writing is not stellar, verging on lazy at times. Many spoilers follow....

Episode OneCollapse )

Episode TwoCollapse )

Episode ThreeCollapse )

Episode FourCollapse )

Episode FiveCollapse )

Episode SixCollapse )

I'll do a separate post for Season Two when I finish it. Just started watching it today.