Life with Frood

by on Feb.11, 2009, under Miscellany

“There’s a new DVD in the supermarket. Fat aikido boy leads squad of special ops soldiers. Hunting vampires.”

I have no immediate response.

“With a katana,” he adds, mercilessly.

“My mind is having approach that like a hard toffee. Somehow you have to warm it up before you can start chewing and even then you know you’re probably going to lose a filling.”

“And some teeth.”

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And call me Conrad

by on Feb.11, 2009, under Miscellany

Frood and I are not two peas in a pod by any stretch of the imagination. Come March we’ll have been together for 19 years, and the length of my life with him will finally have tipped the scale into being greater than the length of my life without him.

We have different personalities (he’s as laid back as they come, whereas I’m something of a control freak with a tendency to worry) and different interests (he likes reading, I’m an outdoors girl). He likes dressing up and going to busy concerts and I like dressing down and swimming in the sea. I have imaginary friends: sometimes I think he is an imaginary friend. Yet in almost twenty years we have never had a serious argument. We’ve never gone beyond disagreement.

We do have a few precious things in common, besides our sense of humour and penchant for the surreal. One of them is our favourite book, which is odd given that I have no taste for the trashy fantasy with which he covers the shelves. That book is Zelazny’s This Immortal, which I have just finished reading again. I have read this book so many times I couldn’t begin to enumerate them.

This, to me, is great speculative fiction. This is writing of a standard rarely matched, and never bested. While the post-war future setting is intrinsically required for the story, because such a thing could not happen otherwise (unlike a great many stories, in which the setting is no more than a fancy backdrop — I disagree with the premise that all stories should be familiar in some sense), it at no point interferes with or dominates the narrative.

The main character is richly and yet sparsely described. Like a sip of a fine Tokaj, there is great depth and complexity in a bare mouthful. The conflict in which he finds himself is not overplayed, another tendency I find in modern fiction: the conflict can be wound up for the sake of dramatic tension to such a degree that it descends into angst. Angst does not make art.

Zelazny kept this work short, concise and to the point. In doing so he produced a book of lyrical quality that is as brutally fascinating as the cobalt-bomb poisoned Earth he describes.

This, for me, is the gold standard. This is how I would like to be able to write.

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Just for Jed

by on Feb.11, 2009, under Miscellany

Let’s see if we can get comments working again, shall we?

This promises to be easy, but I never believe such things. What I really want to do is shift off the blogger platform, because I was an early adopter and a pro-user and yet I didn’t get anything like the equivalent of the LJ permanent account or even due consideration for my use of SSIs — which, I hasten to add, was one of their suggestions in the first place!

Any recommendations should I decide to install something else?

So we’ll try this, and if it’s not easy it’ll have to wait until I’m better because I do not have sufficient functioning brain cells to do much more than swear at it.

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Not only but also

by on Feb.10, 2009, under Miscellany

I also re-read House of Leaves. This time I read only the bits directly concerned with the Navidson house on Ash Tree Lane and skipped the rest of it. Much better. Taken as a standalone it’s actually more thought-provoking and satisfying. I should observe, for those of you out there who thought nothing like this had been done before, that Alfred Bester had already used unconventional formatting to represent and reinforce narrative structure (as opposed to unconventional formatting put in to annoy the pants off the reader).

Returning to Once, briefly. Mr Herbert (or, indeed, Stewie and Quagmire). If you are going to incorporate current celebrities into your novels, it should serve some purpose. Presumably your intended purpose was an attempt to give the reader some cultural reference point and make him feel more connected to the story’s environment, as if your use of real places were not enough.

Sadly, how it actually read was: “OMFG I think Björk is so cool and crazy she must be like a fairy or something LOLOLOLOLOLZ!!!”

Not good. Not good at all.

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Hey and away we go

by on Feb.09, 2009, under Miscellany

Sorry. Currently listening to the final track on Mike Oldfield’s Ommadawn. Trying to provoke some childhood memories.

Don’t ask.

It’s not working in any case. I really need some late 70s/early 80s proto-ambient. Or Roxy Music. Or Neil Diamond.

Anyway. A space came up for the prematurely-filled Tranent today, which I assume means that the big softies looked at the snow outside and realised how damn cold it’s likely to be at the end of March.

Me, I know how cold it can be. It snowed last year. My tri suit froze to my legs on the bike section. I didn’t warm up until the second lap of the run.

So I’ve got my entry in, and for East Fife too. Now I have to decide on a standard distance event for this year. Can’t be Gullane, because we’re on holiday, and also because I’m definitely doing Haddington this year (the run leg is really nice), which is only the week after. The Selkirk standard is on 10th May, which would be tempting if it weren’t a pool swim and not actually very far away in training time — I’ve heard really good things about the Borders series (particularly post-race noms). Can’t help but think that 1500m gets boring in the pool.

That leaves Galway (!) and Strathclyde, which clash. Typical. And they’re only the week after Loch Lomond, which is highly inconsiderate.

Might have to go for Selkirk after all, pool swim or not.

Much as I’d like to do an event outside the UK, I suspect finances and practicality will make Strathclyde the goer this year. Bah.

I’d have quite liked to do more than one standard this year. I still have designs on the Aberfeldy middle distance at some point. Alas and alack the season in Scotland is brutally short and they pack ’em all in during our short summer, so unless I trained my endurance peak to perfection, I suspect I’d end up with near-fatal levels of wipeout.

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Wasn’t that a semi-decent film with a shit sequel?

by on Feb.09, 2009, under Miscellany

My profound thanks to mbftwit for attempting to cheer me up with this particular piece of lunacy.

It has been a long while since I spent any time boggling my brain cells with the crazier side of teh intarwebs, mainly because life’s too short to spend motorboating over the egregious fallacies and plain idiocy that underpin the majority of the contenders. They’re simply not special enough for the entertainment value to be worth the concomitant urge to find a bottle of bleeprin (presumably homoepathic potencies would have the greatest effect).

But this one is special. Let me demonstrate.

Without Financial Support, I May Shut Down.

Obama must resign to save his people from his catastrophe. SUN power will not allow any Black Skin power to rule over its Light Domain.

Have you got that? Sure? Keep going.

Hell cometh to the dumb, ignorant, educated stupid “Worshippers of ONE”, for Creation is of OPPOSITES.
Born Cubed I defy God of ONE, for I have a Yes and No mentality necessary for cubed intelligence – no Clyclopic educator can allow.

If I am reading this correctly, and dear gods help me if I am because it’s already too late for me, our Cloud Cuckoo Lander here, bless his little cotton socks, seems to think that the bipolar paradigm contains some sort of power function whereby 23=8 and there are 8 corners on a cube and…

Oh never mind.

Not sure what “clyclopic” means… Here we go. It’s a case of random spelling made clear further down. Not content with racial abuse he’s casting aspersions about the monocular. Well. I suppose that’s me told.

My handy Chambers says that “cly” means “to steal”. “Clyfaker” means pickpocket.

There’s also “clyster”, which is “a liquid injected into the rectum”. That sounds about right.

I wouldn’t read any further than that. It’s David Icke meets BNP levels of pseudo-newage racial bile and histrionics.

Humans are evil bastards to claim that a god is all-powerful when it is impossible for a male queer god to give birth to a baby or breast-feed it – a power that only a Mother posseses. Humans are Evil bastards to claim that a god is all knowing – when the queer bastard is too stupid to comprehend that 4 simultaneous corner 24 hour days and 4 Earth rotations occur within a single 24 hour rotation of CubedEarth. It is impossible for an academic deified Queer ONE god to give birth to, or breast-feed a Baby.

Homophobic, too. And in need of a bit of a lie down.

This post was brought to you today by the insane ramblings of “Dr. Gene Ray, Cubic and King of Genius.”

Edited to add: I should really stop looking, but this made me splort:

You are stupid and evil about the Earth’s top and bottom, front and
back and it’s 2 sides. Most everything created has these Cube like values.

See, I had soft-boiled eggs and soldiers for breakfast. Cuboid eggs would make for unhappy hens.

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Just plain creepy

by on Feb.08, 2009, under Miscellany

Snarfed from kurreltheraven.

What toy manufacturer thought that this was a fantastic gimmick?


Bloody thing would be more useful if it said: “TIDY THIS HOUSE!”

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Things they don’t tell you when embarking upon triathlon #1

by on Feb.07, 2009, under Miscellany

Today, because I am too lurgified to do any actual training, and also because Frood acquired an eighty litre box for storing his art supplies, thus freeing up the storage box I’d loaned him for the job, I reorganised my gear.

The thing with triathlon is that at first you think it’s just masochism. Then you discover the consequences, such as only being able to have long nails in the off-season (you don’t want to put a hole in your delicate and expensive wetsuit). One of the consequences is the sheer amount of gear you need. Not just for racing, but for training. Running shoes for varying terrains. Cycling shoes for different pedal systems (commuting on Looks isn’t impossible, but stopping at lights wears the cleats). Kickboards, pull-buoys, training goggles, paddles. Packs for carrying your gear when you run to the gym. Hydration systems for long runs. Hats for running in summer; hats for running in winter. Hi viz for running in winter darkness. Sports snacks. I have a box half-full of protein bars and carb gels.

We eat sitting in front of the telly not because we don’t want to eat at table, but because the table (as well as currently storing the stuff that should be in the boiler cupboard, but can’t be because the cold water combination valve is leaking) is storage space for all my kit.



Behind all that is my archery equipment.

Maybe I just like toys.

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So obvious in retrospect

by on Feb.07, 2009, under Miscellany

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It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye

by on Feb.05, 2009, under Miscellany

Last night, for the umpteenth time, my eye fell out in my sleep.

To be fair, what probably happened was that it got stuck open and became irritated and I took it out without waking up. Usually I wake up and take it out and put it somewhere sensible, but not always.

This morning I woke up, got out of bed and put my hand to my face, whereupon I realised that the socket was empty. Thus commenced the search of all the usual places. I hunted under the pillow, in the bed, inside the pillow case, under the bed and between the head of the bed and the wall. Nothing. I searched the usual places again. Still nothing. I searched some more unlikely places, and came up empty.


I have this irrational fear that one night I’m going to take it out and mistakenly swallow the damn thing. It’s not entirely irrational: my artifical eye is made of plastic and the tear duct doesn’t work very well, so in very cold or dry weather it dries out, the eyelids stick in the open position, it collects dust and becomes irritated. When I was younger I had a bad habit of taking it out, licking it and putting it back in again. As disgusting as this sounds, it’s remarkably effective. In fact I have been known to give it to Frood and let him put it in his mouth so he can do a tricyclops impression. It has an excellent squick factor. The socket is far more infection resistant than you might think.

In other words, the idea of me putting it in my mouth while asleep isn’t so very far-fetched.

I’m not above letting an eye pass through and retrieving it for a disinfectant bath, although there’s the tricky issue of finding it once it has been, ahem, expelled; and I did have my other eye for work, so it wasn’t like I couldn’t leave the house. But it was my black one, which was so difficult to get I have no desire to lose it. The NHS will replace my “normal” eye without complaint, but they think that my black one is out of order. It’s apparently their job to “make [me] look normal” and they can’t understand why I want a black one at all.

The short answer is that as far as I’m concerned the “normal” eye exists in the uncanny valley, whereas the black one is so unusual people either ask about it or, bizarrely, don’t see it at all.

I called Frood, we hunted further and eventually found it hiding between the leg of the bed and the wall. I really don’t know how it got there. Still. Never mind. All’s well that ends well.

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