jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
CDC Media Statement on Newly Discovered Smallpox Specimens: "[E]mployees discovered vials labeled 'variola,' commonly known as smallpox, in an unused portion of a storage room in a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) laboratory located on the NIH Bethesda campus."

Paging Severian cosplayers: Blackest is the new black: Scientists develop a material so dark that you can't see it. "It is so dark that the human eye cannot understand what it is seeing. Shapes and contours are lost, leaving nothing but an apparent abyss." (Also, insert your own Nigel Tufnel quote here.)

Adding volume markings to your kettle using a 9volt battery, a Q-tip, and vinegar and salt. (where 'kettle' appears to mean 'large metal pot.') Useful.

Breaking Out the Broken English: "The 'Asian accent' tells the story of Chinese-American assimilation in a nutshell. Our parents have the accent that white Americans perceive as the most foreign out of all the possible alternatives, so our choice is to have no accent at all."

These Are the Brave and Fluffy Cats Who Served in World War I: "An estimated 500,000 cats were dispatched to the trenches, where they killed rats and mice."

Every housing ad in Vancouver ever: "Second bedroom is actually a patio, and third bedroom is very small, tiled, and has a toilet and sink in it."

Butter and the Before Time: "Memories of Butter ... is an acceptable name for something only if dairy cows have been obliterated by whichever flavor of apocalypse comes home to roost." The comments are pretty good too: "'Our operative theory was that it was badly mistranslated from French': À la recherche du beurre perdu."
jazzfish: Randall Munroe, xkcd180 ("If you die in Canada, you die in Real Life!") (Canada)
It will have been raining in Harvard Square for only half an hour when you give up hope.

On Monday I got laid off. I spent the next couple of days lazily rounding up personal documents and potential writing samples from the work laptop.

Today I transferred those to my home machine, cleared all personal touches from the work laptop, and shut it down for the last time. Then I went out and stood on the porch for a little while.

The Fraser River was mostly empty. In the distance, a barge full of dirt passed out of view behind Annacis Island.

You cannot know what will happen next.
jazzfish: Stormtrooper making an L on his forehead (Soy un perridor)
Telus failed to show up on Monday to connect the internet, which led to grumpiness and irritable calls to the DSL people Monday evening and Tuesday morning. The Tuesday call consisted of "Our system says that your service was activated... have you tried plugging in the modem and seeing if it works?" Well, no, I hadn't, because I was told that I had to be home all day so the Telus guy could come and flip a couple of switches, and that hadn't happened. So I plugged in the DSL modem and wonder of wonders, I had hot and cold running internet.

There followed some confusion and irritation with getting the wireless router to play nicely with the new service, but as of this morning I believe everything is in place and functional.

In conclusion: Telus has terrible customer service and should not be trusted to run two tin cans and a string, much less a national telecommunications network. I went with DSL over cable for internet because it was slightly cheaper and because the phone company seems marginally less evil than the cable company, but this may be an error in judgement.



I have an office now. The last apartment had an office nook, narrow enough that if I stretched my arms out I could touch the opposite walls but with an outside window. This one is ... about the size of a king bed, I think, maybe a foot larger in each direction. It's also got a window. ONTO THE HALLWAY. I really don't know what to make of that.

I've wedged in my desk, a short filing cabinet, a narrow bookcase, and a six-foot couch, the last because there wasn't anyplace else to put the couch. Now pretty much every day the little cat comes and yells at me for awhile because I'm not sitting down where she can sit with me, and then goes to sulk on the couch behind me.

... there's more to say about the office, and the apartment in general. Maybe later.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Many things about this apartment are exactly the wrong size. The bedroom is just too narrow to fit bed + desired bedside tables, and has a weird narrow wall that's too narrow to put a dresser in front of. The dining room doesn't really leave enough space to sit comfortably at the table with the leaf in. We can't fit the litterbox under a bathroom sink because the vanities are stupidly designed. The fridge has useless shelves that don't move. Etc.

Still no internet; supposedly Monday. I spent the week going over to the old apartment and working from there, because it may have had no furniture but it did have internet.

The bookcases are almost all in position, though most of them need to be repaired. The living room is more or less set up. We're using only half of the giant blue couch; the other half is going either in the office, or in the entryway. Haven't decided which yet.

The office and the spare bedroom are still disaster zones. My task for today/tomorrow is to set up the office so I can use it to do work once the internet arrives.

Most of the games are on shelves, but the shelves I'd set aside for games aren't enough, so I'll have to figure out something to do about that.

The trains are very loud at four in the morning.

The view is less breathtaking, but more interesting: river traffic has a lot more going on than either the hotel or the yachts in the inlet at the last place. Also, Wednesday morning the fog lay thick enough that I couldn't even see the river, which makes me very happy.

It'll do for awhile, I guess.

warm

Aug. 11th, 2014 10:18 pm
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
Move successful, for limited values of 'successful.' Movers arrived on time at 9 AM. They'd budgeted three hours for getting all the stuff out of the apartment. At 12:30 one of them said "Yeah, this is not all gonna fit on this truck." So they put out a call for another truck and another guy.

We took the cats over to the new place and awaited the arrival of the first truck. It showed up a little after two, with two of the (now four) guys. One of them stayed downstairs taking things off the truck, and the other took things off the elevator at the top. I assume both were putting things on the elevator. [personal profile] uilos and I got to haul things in from the elevator. I mean, the guy at the top moved most of the big heavy stuff, but... yeah.

After about the eighth bookcase I was approaching beat.

Did I mention that it was warm? We had the portable AC running full blast because it was somewhere north of thirty ("ninety") degrees and humid, and a south-facing apartment with lots of windows is prone to become oven-like in the late afternoon.

Around fourish the second truck and two more guys showed up and things picked up speed a little. We were done shoving everything into the apartment by five.

I do mean 'shoving.' The living room is still an undifferentiated mass of furniture. The bookcases are stacked three deep at the end of the hall so they wouldn't block off any of the pathway. We spent the evening sorting the boxes, of which there were somewhere over a hundred, and putting the bedroom more or less together.

The warm and stifling bedroom. A fan or three are required soonest.

Thankfully it has cooled off somewhat, now that it's nearly ten-thirty at night.

Oh, and there's no internet here until next Monday, because Telus (the phone company, who have to be contacted so that the small DSL provider I'm using can provide DSL) are big jerks. This may be awkward for work.

This has been the most stressful move of my life, including the one where only one person showed up to help in the rain. Ugh.

At least it's over. I go collapse now.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Things what I need to do before Monday:
1) REST API documentation for work
2) Finish packing / deconstructing the office
3) Finish 'Blood on her hands' for writing group

#1 is stupid and I hate it. Okay, so actually it's just boring where it's not incomprehensible, but still. Bleh.

#2 is at the part where the last ten percent of the project takes the other ninety percent of the time.

#3 is ... um. I know how it starts and I know how I expect it to end but there's that whole middle part where it goes from A to C both plot-wise and emotional-arc-wise that I don't know how I'm gonna hack. Story of my life.
jazzfish: artist painting a bird, looking at an egg for reference (Clairvoyance)
More and more I've been noticing a disconnect between 'authors whose blogs I like' and 'authors whose books I like.' It's very odd: I'd expected that if I enjoyed an author's blog posts I'd buy her books and get a big kick out of them as well. But many of my favorite authors blog rarely if at all, and some of the most prolific author-bloggers I read are people whose books just don't really connect with me.

No great insight; it's just weird.

I don't play a lot of video games these days either. At some point a few years ago I stumbled on Arcen Games and their flagship title AI War, which is a hyper-complex single-player space RTS. If this had come out ten or fifteen years ago I would have probably lost hundreds if not thousands of hours to it. As it is... I've tried it and I can't get into it. I can't see myself sinking the necessary time and brainpower into learning all the things I'd need to learn to be able to play well, and it is decidedly not a game that rewards casual play.

I've dabbled in a couple of Arcen's other titles as well, and they've all left me cold to varying degrees: the controls are just a little off for the action-platformer Valley Without Wind, the interface is too busy for Bionic Dues, etc. I keep hoping they'll make a game that really knocks my socks off. Shattered Haven (Zelda-style post-zombieesque-apocalypse) comes closest and even that isn't quite it.

And yet I really respect their design philosophy, and I enjoy the hell out of reading their blog posts, and I get all excited when I see they're working on something new and wild.

Curious.
jazzfish: Randall Munroe, xkcd180 ("If you die in Canada, you die in Real Life!") (Canada)
Permanent resident cards have come in the mail! We are now officially Permanent Residents. The card itself is very strange, incorporating swirly text, two differently-coloured hologram-type things, and a small transparent window that's got a tiny version of the ID photo printed on it, in addition to the large photo. Difficult to forge, I expect, but also rather odd-looking.

In less happy news, I dumped much of a mug of tea onto my awesome keyboard yesterday. For awhile I thought it would survive but some must have splashed into the electronics. Currently the spacebar, back-tick, and right arrow don't, and some of the numbers are flaky at best. So I get to ship it back to Kentucky and have them fix it, for a $30 fee. Yay.

I'm currently using the Alphasmart Neo I bought in Blacksburg as a keyboard. It's... as keyboards go it isn't terrible, but the lack of function keys and Delete key, and the functional lack of an Escape key, are wreaking havoc on my normal computer-usage patterns. Oh well. It's just for a few weeks, and if it's too obnoxious I can either buy a cheap keyboard, or just use it in laptop-mode.

And we move in less than two weeks. I alternate between feeling like we haven't packed ANYTHING and like there isn't really that much more left to pack. I have lost all sense of which of these views is more accurate. It doesn't help that we've almost run out of boxes, either.

ugh thud.

Jul. 24th, 2014 02:14 pm
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
Spent half an hour this morning chasing Chaos around with a spoonful of wet food and a couple of pills.

Yesterday, found out CBS has revised the malaria guidelines as of Monday, and having visited any part of Jalisco (the state containing Guadalajara and Ajijic) puts you under a twelve-month ban on donating blood.

Too many things to pack and not enough boxes to pack them in. Somehow despite offloading an awful lot of books over the past six months to a year, we have almost the same number of boxes of books and we're running low on 703 banker's boxes.

Construction is ongoing in the apartment three floors up, a frequent buzzing/drilling/jackhammering noise.

We move in two and a half weeks. This is simultaneously not soon enough and not nearly enough time.

If you happen to see my focus please return it to this address.
jazzfish: "Do you know the women's movement has no sense of humor?" "No, but hum a few bars and I'll fake it!" (the radical notion that women are people)
At Wiscon last year (2013), Elise Matthesen filed a harassment report against Jim Frenkel, a senior editor at Tor Books.

This official report seems to have triggered a whole slew of additional (mostly unofficial) reports, enough that the end result was for Frenkel and Tor Books to part ways.

Frenkel returned to WisCon this year (2014), and much hubbub was raised. In the process of the hubbub, it came out that the Wiscon concom had 1) "lost" a report of harassment by another individual, and 2) spread false information about Elise's harassment report.

To their credit, Wiscon, having exhausted all other options, started doing what looked like it might be the right thing: they formed a committee to look into l'affaire Frenkel.

The committee released its report today. (Linking to James Nicoll rather than directly to the report as there's some good discussion and interesting backstory in his comments. Summary: Frenkel is definitely banned from Wiscon 2015, and *maybe* for up to three years after.)

This... would seem to be insufficient, and a privileging of the rights of the accused over those of the harassed. It's like, to paraphrase someone ([livejournal.com profile] vschanoes?) in James's comments earlier, they saw the Readercon debacle, and rather than saying "oh, we should do something to make sure that doesn't happen here!" said "thank god we're awesome enough that that will never happen here!"

A number of people have already declared their intention to not return to Wiscon next year. Elise, I believe, is going to Balticon instead.

Well. Balticon is certainly more convenient if I'm already in the DC area in May. And it has the likely advantage of [personal profile] sorcyress, as well as members of my former writing group. And next year is a long way off.

I don't know what I'm doing. But... I didn't expect to say that. I didn't expect to ever say "I don't know if I'll make Wiscon this year."

Grr.
jazzfish: A cartoon guy with his hands in the air saying "Woot." (Woot.)
Important news first: we have a place to live. We're moving out to New Westminster, two towns over. The new place is thirty-one floors up and directly on top of the Skytrain station. It's a little less nice than the current apartment but only a little: electric stove & fireplace instead of gas, no awesome superfast internet, office space will be awkward to figure out. It's got a decent-sized balcony, which is nice, and a view of the Fraser river (and, on clear days, Mt Baker) instead of Stanley Park / North Shore, which is a slight negative. Most importantly it's saving us a grand a month in rent.

In retrospect I'm a little bit sad to be living *directly* on top of the Skytrain; I would have enjoyed a short walk home after events. More importantly, I don't know what living in New West as opposed to downtown will feel like. Most of the people I want to see are out there, but most of the stuff I want to do (shows, the independent/artsy movie theatres, Stanley Park) are towards downtown. Will try it for a year or so, see how it goes. I expect we'll be fine out there.

Lease starts in August so we have a full month of paying double rent (boo) and getting the move sorted out (yay).



Over the weekend my aunt Susan came up from Atlanta to visit. Rather, she came up from Seattle since she was already visiting out there, but close enough. She got roped into games on Satyrday, which she seemed to like pretty well, and then dragged out to Chinatown and Granville Island on Sunday.

I like Susan pretty well. She's... I was going to say 'prickly' but that's not exactly right. I don't know how to describe her. I think it's to do with having lived with a bit of loneliness for so long that you get almost but not completely used to it. Or I might be projecting.

Regardless, we had a really good time. We (well, she) found a store in Chinatown that I've walked past dozens of times and never stopped in, that's full of fascinating stuff. I'd call it a junk shop except that they know what they've got and want real money for it. Example: an old laboratory glass bottle of HCl, where the label is made of raised glass letters on the bottle itself (awesome!), for $35 (yow!). And we poked in shops and galleries and wandered all over the place, and talked about all manner of things, and avoided roasting in the heat.



We'd made plans to go camping this weekend, but the combination of "fire ban" due to weeks of heat and drought, plus "rain saturday through monday" made that look like a less good idea. Stupid weather. Instead, tomorrow we're going off to what appears to be a live-action version of Myst. Will report back.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Let's see.

Chaos

Is doing fine after being nuked. He's gaining weight (anecdotally, he feels more substantial when I pick him up), there's been no cat yuke to clean up, and he just generally looks better than he has in months. I feel a little bad for not having caught it sooner... but it was a pretty gradual drop-off.

Running

Is ... going. My knees (more accurately, between my knees and shins, on the inside of the leg) have started hurting, so I've had to cut back. This is deeply frustrating, in a HOW WILL I GET ANY BETTER IF I DON'T PUSH MYSELF kind of way. There's a good chance I need new shoes; will perhaps go get those this afternoon. My lungs remain terrible; I blame the humidity.

As far as running-related goals go, I'm pretty much guaranteed to miss them. 'Run 10k without stopping to walk' by next fall might be doable. '5k in 25 minutes' is almost certainly not. 'Run or swim [or other acceptable exercise] 3x/wk for six months' relies on not getting sick, hurt, or traveling someplace where it's difficult to get out, which is both unlikely and not entirely within my control. Oh well.

Weather

Bright and sunny and warm enough that I'm noticing the humidity: upper-twenties this week, supposed to break thirty next week. Ugh. I console myself by remembering that the highs here have been the *lows* in the DC area for the last couple of weeks.

Other

Apartment-hunting has been fruitless so far.

Apparently pimento cheese is a Southern thing. [personal profile] uilos made some and took it somewhere as a snack earlier this week, and it was met with suspicion and confusion. Huh.

Is there a statute of limitations for when semi-unexpectedly encountering certain people makes one start twitching? Asking for a friend.
jazzfish: Owly, reading (Owly)
Been awhile.

What have you recently finished reading?

Hobbit, LotR, Silmarillion. It's been well over a decade since I read Hobbit and LotR (I believe the last time was when The Two Towers was still in theatres), and longer than that for the Silmarillion. They're still quite good. The plot in LotR manages to feel remarkably uncontrived, for something that must have required a great deal of adjusting to get the timing to work out just so. The voice of Gandalf in my head will always be John Huston, and Frodo is Orson Bean to a lesser extent. (I have no mental image of Merry or Pippin, other than Merry as 'the less annoying one.')

The Silmarillion is... well, it's really its own beast. LotR reads for the most part like a twentieth-century novel (appendices aside); the Silmarillion is a lot more like Bullfinch's Mythology. People are idiots and what characterization there is, is drawn in huge bold unsubtle strokes. Ovid at Myths Retold is slowly covering the whole thing. ("Feanor's entire personality, motivation, and story arc can be summed up as GIVE ME BACK MY FUCKING SILMARILS.")

What are you currently reading?

Rereading VP classmate Phoebe North's Jewish generation-ship YA Starglass, since the sequel / second half shipped on Monday. I enjoyed this on first read a year or two ago; I expect it'll hold up. Unlike 20th century generation ships, the passengers are well aware they're on one, which is an interesting twist.

What do you think you'll read next?

Starbreak, in which the generation ship reaches its planet. Looking forward to it!
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Meh. Not up for a real post. Have some links and progress, instead.

Velvet Underground star John Cale to showcase new work in London with drones hovering over audience: "The project will see the drones carrying speakers to project the sound, as well as making mechanical noises as they hover over the audience. ... He has rearranged songs from his extensive back catalogue using different tunings to fit the new format."

Turkmenistan hopes 'Door to Hell' will boost tourism: "Our main task is to create an attractive image of Turkmenistan as a tourism destination."

Why people hate art: "[A]ny pseudo-intellectual can translate for a piece of art that says something. It takes an artist or a poet or a real writer to talk about why looking at a given thing is a pleasurable experience. So the artists that dealers selected as fit to get past the critics in order to enter the arena of Contemporary Art, rather predictably, became easier and easier to describe and harder and harder to look at."



101 in 1001 update )
jazzfish: Randall Munroe, xkcd180 ("If you die in Canada, you die in Real Life!") (Canada)
Supreme Court rules Wal-Mart must compensate workers at closed Quebec store: "The store shut down a few months after the 190 workers became the first Wal-Mart employees in North America to be unionized in 2004."

(You may, if you wish, compare and contrast this decision with almost any recent decision by the US Supreme Court.)

Something I've noticed: there are unions in Canada that will actually go on strike. Since I've been here I've noticed: the Post Office, a month after we got here. (Ended badly: the union staged 'rolling strikes' of roughly one spot per day to make a statement while not inconveniencing anyone too much, management responded by locking out *all* postal workers and then blaming it on 'the strike,' and the gov't signed back-to-work legislation.); truckers at the Port of Vancouver, sick of making no money while sitting around waiting for the Port to unload/load. (An agreement was reached; the Port is dragging its feet on implementing its end, and the truckers are making more strike noises.); and BC teachers, currently ongoing.

American individualism is American exceptionalism taken to ridiculous extremes. The idea that helping everyone else get ahead means that everyone else is dragging us down may be the most pernicious I've ever heard. It's certainly up there with "the rich deserve their money" and "work good, pleasure bad."

There's certainly some of that attitude up here, but there's still some leftover pushback against it too. It's nice to see.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Chaos has returned from being nuked. He spent most of the first day sleeping, and since then he's basically back to normal. It's good to have the right number of cats again. He goes back for a checkup in a month, and again sometime after that, but other than that he's done for awhile.

In other critter news, at least one of the local seagull nests has hatched and now has tiny fuzzy velociraptors. Also, there's a beaver living on one of the small islands in Lost Lagoon, or at least there was a couple of weeks ago. I haven't seen it since but dawn's been coming well before I get out to run.

What else... reread The Hobbit last week. Also rewatched the Rankin/Bass animated film, which manages to tell just about the entire story in under an hour and a half. It's got some decent voice acting (John Huston as Gandalf! Richard 'Have Gun Will Travel' Boone as Smaug!) and is very pretty. The character designs in particular are basically spot on, with the exception of the oddly green and twisted Wood-Elves. I'd known for ages that Rankin/Bass collaborated with a Japanese animation studio on a number of projects, including Hobbit and Last Unicorn; what I hadn't realised until Misty mentioned it is that that specific studio went on to become Ghibli, of Totoro fame.



It's Cheap, But Is It Overpriced?: "If this car wasn't disappointing, it wouldn't be anything at all."

Bill Watterson returns to the comics page: "The idea I proposed was that instead of having me get hit on the head, I would pretend that Pearls was being drawn by a precocious second grader who thought my art was crap. I named her 'Libby,' which I then shorted to 'Lib.' (Hint, hint: It’s almost 'Bill' backwards.)" See also the Washington Post story, with quotes from Watterson, and Andy Ihnatko on why Watterson was/is such a big deal.

Well, this is awful. National Zoo's Invertebrate Exhibit To Close June 22. I loved the invertebrate exhibit and am very sad to see it go.

In happier zoo-related news, Cat And Lynx Become Inseparable Friends: "According to the local people, the calico was homeless and happened to find food in the lynx's enclosure. ... The zoo adopted the cat so that she and her lynx friend could live together."

Four circles that don't intersect. As advertised. Ow.

The Near-Death of Grand Central Terminal, subtitled And How It Foretold The 2008 Financial Crisis: "Who would have been foolhardy enough to encourage a flailing railroad to buy up everything it could get its hands on and enter a protracted legal battle with the City of New York? Pretty much the entire American banking establishment, as it turned out."

All Our Propagation: A Play for Instruments by John M. Ford.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Chaos went nuclear on Tuesday afternoon. The vet's called us a couple of times since then: he's doing fine, he loves everybody, he's about the most friendly and laid-back cat they've seen in there, etc etc. No real surprises. He's always been a pretty chill beast. Except for the time we moved into a place with a ceiling fan and he hid from it under the bed for two days, or when he got out once and just kind of huddled at the edge of the house because the outside was way too big.

He's likely coming home on Monday, which is all to the good. Kai, being a highly routine-oriented cat, is kind of freaked out by the lack of Chaos. She's been telling me about it most afternoons, and also at one in the morning a couple of nights. I love her dearly but one in the morning is not the time to have long yowly discussions about how she's cold because the big white cat isn't around to look put-upon while she curls up with him.

Anyway, per discussion with the vet it sounds like we'll each get half an hour a day of Chaos-cuddling apiece for a couple of weeks. This is less than he'll want but it should be enough to keep him from getting too irritable. I am very curious to see what his reaction to coming home will be. Probably "oh yes, this place, i will now spend the next twelve hours in my box and then demand that you pet me."

It'll be good to have him back.

(Also and unrelatedly, the problem with getting really good solid critiques back on a story is that it takes time and effort to absorb them, and to figure out what to do with them. There are worse problems to have.)
jazzfish: Randall Munroe, xkcd180 ("If you die in Canada, you die in Real Life!") (Canada)
The weekend started out pretty good, with [personal profile] uilos getting a job she'd really wanted. (Starting mid-August, which will make both moving at the end of August and entertaining her parents in September for a week Interesting, but still very very awesome.) So there was knocking-off-work-early and milkshakes and wandering around in the Vancouver spring, and it was Good.

Satyrday we got up early-ish to go down to the states. After a brief stopover at the border (some asshole is using my name, and it occasionally causes me some delay while the border guards determine that I am not six foot three and do not have a large neck tattoo) we unloaded a mess of books at the used bookstores in Bellingham, and acquired more but not quite as many more. I now have Fred Pohl's autobiography, which I am told is what reading his blog is like. Since I really enjoyed his blog, this works for me.

After spending more time than expected in the bookstores (shocking, I know) we drove down to Seattle to catch [livejournal.com profile] papersky's reading at the University Bookstore. We caught most of the reading (first chapter of My Real Children), and got to say hello to her and commiserate about Aspects, which was pleasant.

And then we had dinner, and trekked back to the border in a second attempt at landing. This was, I believe, the easiest interaction I have ever had with anyone at the border. We were all set to hand over a full stack of documentation, marriage licenses and birth certificates and diplomas and all that, and the officer just looked at the forms and ran through some paperwork and some routine questions, and we were in. Bit anticlimactic, really. He was also nice enough to waive the customs duty on the cider we were bringing back, so there's that.

So now we are officially Permanent Residents, or Landed Immigrants if you prefer the older term. In about three years we can apply for citizenship (I say 'about' because the residency requirement is 'three years out of the last four, time before becoming a permanent resident only counts half'). Meanwhile we'll likely have to renew our Permanent Residency at least once, but that just consists of filling out a form saying that we've been resident in Canada for at least two of the last five years and aren't currently in the process of being kicked out of the country.

And then on Sunday we went down to Commercial Drive with half the rest of the population of Vancouver for an Italian street festival. It was seriously crowded down there; I have not been surrounded by that many people outside in a long time. It was good; lots of neat stuff, including jitterbugging commedia dell'arte clowns. Just... busy.



I haven't mentioned Chaos lately, have I? He used to be a pretty heavyset cat, but over the summer and fall he slimmed down. Eventually it got to the point where it was clearly not "wet food is good for him" but "something is wrong," so back in I guess January we took him to the vet. Turned out his thyroid was going nuts. So we spent a few months pilling him to get the thyroid down and confirm that it wasn't masking any other underlying issues (it wasn't), and now tomorrow [personal profile] uilos takes him to the vet to get his thyroid nuked.

They'll keep him for a week to make sure he's okay and also so we don't have to dispose of radioactive cat poop. I appreciate this but it'll be very strange not having him around. Then for a week or so after that it'll be even stranger: he'll still be mildly radioactive so he's not allowed to sit in anyone's lap. This... will not go well. I am honestly more worried about having to tell him "no you can't come sit on me" for a couple of weeks than I am about the nuking.

After that... I expect we'll get to start giving him an anti-inflammatory for his hips. Joy. At least he'll be happier.
jazzfish: book and quill and keyboard and mouse (Media Log)
Ben Wheatley (dir.), A Field in England

I saw this movie over a month ago. I'm still not entirely sure what it was I saw.

The plot, such as it is: in the midst of a battle in the English Civil War, Whitehead the scholar has been tasked with arresting a man who's stolen some valuable documents from his master. He falls in with two soldiers, one a drunkard and the other a fool. The three of them are accosted by Cutler, who lures them on with promises of an alehouse. Cutler turns out to be an assistant to the alchemist O'Neill, the very man Whitehead is meant to be arresting. O'Neill forces Whitehead to use his psychic gifts to locate a treasure that's been buried somewhere in the field they find themselves in, and the others to dig it up.

From there things get weird. (Ha.) There are hallucinogenic mushrooms, there's a broken scrying-glass, there's what might be a wizard's Certamen or might be simply a bad trip. In the end Whitehead may have grown into an acceptance of who he is and the life he's been born into. Alternately, everyone may be dead. It's hard to say.

The movie's been advertised as a horror movie, which is almost entirely inaccurate but no more so than any other descriptor I can think of. It's less disturbing than, say, Jacob's Ladder. It may be the most sui generis movie I have ever seen. It's funny and visceral and beautifully shot and on rare occasions oddly touching, and sometimes very difficult to watch. The scene of Whitehead and O'Neill in the tent had me wincing-- and all we see is a tent, and all we hear is screaming.

It is an Experience. Had I more film vocabulary and inclination/ability to dissect visual arts, I could have a field day working out what it all implied and suggested-- not meant, nothing so direct, but how it worked and what exactly 'worked' means in this case. As it is, it washed over me like an unexpected ninety-minute ocean wave, leaving me shivering and wide awake and pretty sure I'd just been hit by something I couldn't describe.

I think I'd recommend it but I'm not sure who I'd recommend it to.

(Trailer. Other, more coherent, opinions: Greer Gilman, whose brief review put this on my radar some months back; Sonya Taafe.)



Jim Jarmusch (dir.), Only Lovers Left Alive

I confess, I was sold on this from "Tilda Swinton as a vampire." Indeed, it has that, and Tom 'Loki' Hiddleston as her vampiric lover, and John Hurt as a vampiric Kit Marlowe, and Jeffrey Wright as a human doctor who seems to have wandered in from another type of vampire movie entirely.

This is like no other vampire story I've ever read or seen. Unsurprising; it shouldn't be my kind of thing. The lighting, the camerawork, even the dialog, all feel slow and langorous. Images, ideas, pop up because they fit and then are discarded: the wooden bullet, the mushrooms, even Ian. This is a movie that is very much in love with being a movie, and is taking its sweet time about it. If it were in prose I expect I would find it deathly dull; on screen it's absolutely perfect for what it's doing. (Jeffrey Wright's character seems to think he's in Dracula, or maybe Interview; he doesn't seem to grasp that they just don't care about him. This is, as you might expect, hilarious.)

I think (he said, reflecting on the movie and on [personal profile] rushthatspeaks's review) that this is in part because it's Adam's (Tom Hiddleston) movie, and Adam is overcome by ennui. Tilda Swinton's Eve is clearly still having a lot of fun with her life, but she also cares for Adam, and so she travels from Tangier to Detroit. (Side note: early 21st century Detroit is an amazing, amazing setting for a vampire movie.) And then, for reasons which aren't exactly plot-related because the movie doesn't have a plot as such, only characters and events, the two of them are forced to flee back to Tangier, where perhaps Adam will learn to enjoy unlife again after all.

Visually stunning, very funny, and some amazing acting from everyone involved. Highly recommended.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Awesome things about this Wiscon, in no particular order:
  • The spontaneous writing contest, duh. (Entries now online! Read them all, or at least the first three, which by coincidence (no, really) are the top three.)
  • [livejournal.com profile] blairmacg and [livejournal.com profile] queenoftheskies. Also LaShawn and ckd and a small handful of new people, but I've not seen Blair or Janice in two and a half years and that's quite long enough for that.
  • NK Jemisin's speech, which got the longest standing ovation I've seen at Wiscon. Holy cats that was amazing.
  • Hiromi Goto's speech, also magnificent if quieter than Nora's.
  • Books! Naomi Mitchison's whimsical Travel Light, and A Stranger in Olondria on recommendation from [personal profile] aamcnamara among others, and Eleanor Arnason's Big Mama Stories and the Ursula Le Guin 80th birthday book, and best of all a beautiful limited-run hardback of this year's Tiptree winner, Rupetta by Nike Sulway.
  • The auction, which remained hilarious despite a lack (mostly) of Ellen Klages.
  • Selling 'The True Meaning of Smekday' to Pat Murphy.
  • Finally realising that the proper way to have lunch at Wiscon is to buy bread at the farmers market and cheese remnants at the cheese store.
  • And panels and artshow and people and just a general overwhelming sense that this is what the world should be like: full of interesting conversations among people who agree on the basics and are committed to treating each other like human beings.

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jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
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Adventures in Mamboland

"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

Yeah. That sounds about right.

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