Music meme: day 1 of 30

May. 26th, 2017 01:01 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
[personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait and a bunch of other people are doing a 30 day music meme, and it's really interesting to see people's choices! In some ways music isn't a big part of my life, so I might struggle with this one, and anyway I'm not going to commit to posting every day for 30 consecutive days, but I thought I'd give it a go.

The first is A song you like with a colour in the title, so I went for White winter hymnal by Fleet Foxes. I don't always love the kind of very blurry musical style that Fleet Foxes go for, but I got really fond of this song a few years back and it's one that always raises a smile when it comes on shuffle.

People are generally linking to YouTube, and I'd never actually seen the accompanying video for this one before. It's kind of a cool claymation thing, so I'm glad I searched it up.

Embedded video )

Insomniac City

May. 25th, 2017 04:48 pm
raven: subway sign in black and white, text: "Times Square / 42 Street station" (stock - times square)
[personal profile] raven
I'm reading Insomniac City, the Bill Hayes memoir about life in New York with his partner, the neurologist Oliver Sacks. After I reread Awakenings a while ago, [personal profile] happydork directed me to this lovely excerpt in the Observer, and then [personal profile] soupytwist gave me the book with the note that "it's like you would write, only if you were a gay man in New York".

I am not a gay man in New York but I see the resemblance:

"Worse, really, was the L, which I'd take home from Oliver's on the West Side. Not the train itself, which was fast and frequent, but what it represented. In that direction, the L is packed with people on their way to Brooklyn, whether going home or out partying. They always seemed hip and gay (in the original sense of the word) and young, whereas I felt like an old man being taken away from where he really wanted to be.

I feel guilty now that I projected my unhappiness on the subways. The L, and the 4/5? They did right by me, getting me home and to work on time and safely, and each brought its share of discoveries."


Hayes loves cities, the anomie and connection of them, and also the way they hold their own microcosm in mass transit. (He says, mass transit, and I think: golden age SF, that magic gilded modernity. When people say public transport I think of quiet country stations and Yes, I remember Adlestrop. Different, but the same human topology.) And it's a beautiful, beautiful book. Textured by grief, but full of defiance, a willingness to see beautiful things. I think I see queerness in that, the theoretical version? The notion that queerness is some vanguard avant-garde, so we approach it through anti-capitalism and rejecting the sexual status quo, but it advances beyond us, so we are never truly queer. I'm not sure if I could uncritically subscribe to queer theory, or even critically understand it - my mind and/or education never feel like they're up to it - but this I like: that it is queer to reject the mainstream pessimism of the left. You queer the text by daring to find some reason not to give up and die.

And then of course it's a straightforwardly queer book, too. A queer writer, a queer life, a queer city, set out in bitesize vignettes and photography. Everything in it is something Hayes has noticed, something he's chosen to notice, about Sacks and about New York: a smokestack, a fisherman on the subway, a conversation with a stranger waiting for a moving truck, an army of skateboarders on Fourth Avenue. I have been unmedicated for two weeks now and settled to a scratchy, dimmed, distractible baseline. Everyone - GP and therapist and friends - says, one day at a time, rather than rage against the light; which for me doesn't come easily. But I happen to be reading this book as London shifts to summer, which isn't right, because London isn't New York. You don't buy air conditioners in London, or wait until next time for the favourite outfit. I always think it's like a kid playing dress up - look at us, constitutionally raincoated, looking for the window keys, in the dresses we never wear, with the little self-conscious bottles of water on the Tube. It's twenty-six degrees today but it might not be ever again. Some of my colleagues have dug out salwar kameez; a girl I know wore a paisley hijab and tried to put her face in a frappuccino. Meds withdrawal has dialled my hypersensitivity up to eleven but there's something in noticing every small sensory thing: passing perfume, a girl humming, with two different decorated Converse and a Wonder Woman t-shirt; the scent of rotting rubbish (which - I'm sorry - takes me to New York again, the Lower East Side when I lived upstate, and last summer - Hamilton, Pride, and gelato). You may as well notice these things whether or not the world is burning. You might as well live. Also from Insomniac City:

"I once said to someone that one doesn't come to New York for beauty.

I said that's what Paris, or Iceland, is for.

I said one comes to New York to live in New York, with all its noise and trash and rats in the subway and taxicabs stuck in crosstown traffic jams.

I didn't know what the hell I was talking about.

If there could be a chip implemented to track one's vocabulary, as miles logged are counted with those fitness bands people go around wearing, I'm sure
beautiful would be in my top-ten most-used words. I am always saying that that's beautiful or this is beautiful. The thing is, beauty comes in unbeautiful ways here."

Last week in post next week; also, an intake appointment for psychiatric care; and my departmental privilege day. Not sure if I can write on it, or at all. But we shall see.

Reading Wednesday 24/05

May. 24th, 2017 12:37 pm
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
[personal profile] liv
Recently read: The hundred trillion stories in your head, a bio of Ramón y Cajal by Benjamin Ehrlich. (Contains some detail of Ramón y Cajal's rather grim childhood.)

Currently reading: Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. Partly because it's Hugo nominated, and partly because [personal profile] jack was excited to talk about it so I've borrowed his copy. I'm halfway through and enjoying it a lot; it's a bit like a somewhat grimmer version of Leckie's Ancillary books. It has too much gory detail of war and torture for my preferences but it's also a really engaging story.

Up next: Quite possibly Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer, since I'd like to read at least the Hugo novels in time for Worldcon.

I <3 brainy punks

May. 24th, 2017 11:16 am
ceb: (absinthe)
[personal profile] ceb
My favourite Basque horrorpunk band, Los Carniceros del Norte, have made a covers album where all the songs are translated into Spanish. Exhibit A: _Cuchillos de Fuego_ by Johnny Cash: https://loscarniceros.bandcamp.com/track/cuchillos-de-fuego-johnny-cash-cover

Hoping this makes someone else's day as much as it made mine.

(entire album here: https://loscarniceros.bandcamp.com/album/kaskeria )

If you need your day made in Québécois French instead, here's a different brainy punk/psychobilly band (The Brains, appropriately enough, and they can make your day in English and North American Spanish too): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLwin5O6nxc

NB do not try to make your day with French-French punk, it works very poorly.

Jew-ish

May. 23rd, 2017 01:45 pm
liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
[personal profile] liv
This weekend I went to another Jewish-Muslim interfaith event. I was not exactly the main target audience, which was mainly people whose actual job is religious education. I did get to meet some Somali Bravanese Muslims, an ethnic minority from Somalia via Kenya whom I hadn't encountered before.

Anyway we had some very interesting discussions, including around the use of language. Some of the Muslim participants said they didn't like what I had thought of as an otherwise neutral older spelling, Moslem. They said they associate that spelling and pronunciation with people like Donald Trump, and I can see that people who haven't bothered to update their language might well be assumed to be hostile. I don't particularly need to change my own language choices since I have been using the modern spelling anyway, but it's useful to note.

Then of course the conversation turned to the Jewish side, and the somewhat fraught issue of what we should be called. is 'Jew' a slur? )

Blogiversary

May. 22nd, 2017 04:08 pm
liv: Stylised sheep with blue, purple, pink horizontal stripes, and teacup brand, dreams of Dreamwidth (_support)
[personal profile] liv
I note in passing that it's 14 years to the day since I started this blog, 6 years on LJ and 8 years on DW. That's a lot of writing and a lot of conversations. I've made just over 2000 posts in 14 years, and I think the average length is only a little under a thousand words, so somewhere between 1.5 and 2 million words and that's not even counting comments. I was really not expecting either the site or my interest in blogging to last as long as 14 years, but I'm really glad you're all still here.

I still don't have a good way of making an offline archive of DW; the program LJArchive is timing out because, I think, my DW is just too huge, and it doesn't have a way of downloading one bit at a time. Does anyone have any recs?

It's also coming up to the end of my 7th year of working at Keele – I've finished teaching and only have exams to go through before this academic year is over. It's a pretty awesome job in lots of ways. Our senior people like to point out that there have been over a million consultations when patients have been treated by Keele-trained doctors in the ten year history of the medical school, and I've contributed to the education of quite a high proportion of those doctors.

And it's the 20th anniversary, give or take, of my leaving school. I have signed up to attend the reunion next month; I'm not entirely sure that was a good idea, but I am at least somewhat curious to see if I can pick up some gossip from anyone who isn't on Facebook. I don't think anyone is going to be surprised that I'm an academic, that's what everybody was predicting when I was going around convinced I was going into school teaching. But they might well be surprised that I'm married and poly.

Anyway, now I'm going to catch a train from the new exciting local to my house station.

(no subject)

May. 19th, 2017 02:36 pm
synecdochic: torso of a man wearing jeans, hands bound with belt (Default)
[personal profile] synecdochic
Saw the radiation oncologist this morning. (Two hour drive to NoVA, whee.) More info when I get home and have a keyboard instead of phone, but: I adore him, he's given me tons to research, he's willing to schedule me now but also says it's not house on fire urgent since it's not proceeding quickly enough to be an urgent situation (but he didn't downplay it either) and did I mention I adore him?

I feel very much better now that I know I have him, and will feel even better after seeing Mom's guy on the 30th.

Understanding St Paul

May. 19th, 2017 02:06 pm
wildeabandon: crucifix necklace on a purple background (religion)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
I recently read “Paul: The Misunderstood Apostle” by Karen Armstrong on [personal profile] angelofthenorth’s recommendation, followed by a reread of Meeting God in Paul by Rowan Williams for comparison. Both were good, and left me with a deeper understanding of Paul’s writings, as well as of the context which surrounded it. I felt as though I got more out of the Williams, but that was more because the thing that it was doing was of more interest to me personally, than because it was a better book in general. To me the most marked difference between the two books is that the Armstrong felt like a history book with theological implications, whereas the Williams (based, as it was, on three sermons) was a theology book with historical underpinnings.

One thread that was common to both books was the emphasis on how radical Paul’s teachings were. He often gets characterised as a fuddy duddy conservative, misogynist and homophobic, corrupting Jesus’ message and making it more acceptable to the traditionalists at the time, but actually, in the context of the hierarchical worlds of the Roman Empire and the Jewish religious authorities, his proclamation in Galatians that “There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither slave nor freeman, there can be neither male nor female -- for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” would have been ground-breaking. Similarly, in Corinthians, where he says “The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does”, this was just common wisdom at the time, but to follow it as he does with “and in the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” would have been shockingly egalitarian. The whole letter to Philemon, in which he exhorts his friend to take his disgraced runaway slave back into his household, but as an equal, was turning the established order of things on its head. The question of how we square this with some other verses where he seems more sexist or pro-slavery is a difficult one, and Williams notes but doesn’t address it. Armstrong makes an argument that some of the other verses were later additions by another writer, and I don’t have sufficient knowledge to assess its robustness.

Both books are short and engagingly written, and both were improved by reading the other at a similar time.

Calvary

May. 18th, 2017 10:12 pm
emperor: (Default)
[personal profile] emperor
I'm rubbish at films. I read a review or see a trailer or somesuch, and think "Oh, I should go to see that". But then somehow I never quite get round to it, and then the film's no longer on. One such film was Calvary, which I imagine I saw reviewed in the Church Times or similar. This evening, idly browsing iplayer, I saw it was available (for another 11 days at the time of writing), so thought I'd watch it.

It's a very good film, but deals with a number of difficult themes (clerical abuse, guilt, suicide, sin, forgiveness). The main character, Father James, is a priest as real person rather than the stereotypes that priests in fiction often are, and that makes him believable as well as sympathetic. He's trying to live out his vocation and make sense of it in difficult circumstances. It's a very witty film, as well, quite sharply observed in places, with a number of lines that feel like they're commenting on the film itself.

90 minutes feels quite short for a film these days, and you might find yourself wishing there was more of this film. Well worth your time, but not easy watching.

Fun

May. 18th, 2017 09:51 pm
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
[personal profile] liv
Last weekend it was the slightly obscure Jewish festival of Lag b'Omer, mainly celebrated by going out into the woods and having picnics. I was really really pleased when my OSOs and their two younger children, and [livejournal.com profile] fivemack, came up for the weekend to join me!

we crammed a bunch of stuff into two days )

I only have one more day of teaching before the summer. May is always intense, so I'll hope to be a bit more present on DW from next week.

Queer Art

May. 15th, 2017 10:25 am
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
On Saturday I feel as though I managed to get a good couple of months worth of queer art into one day. I met up with [personal profile] hjdoom, and first we went to the Jo Brocklehurst exhibition which was showing at the House of Illustration near Kings Cross. I'd never heard of her until [personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait mentioned the exhibition last week, but a quick look at the website suggested it would be very much my sort of thing, and indeed it was. I particularly enjoyed the thread of genderfuckery which ran through so much of her work, as well as the vivid intensity of the colours, and the evocation of a world that I was just a bit too young to be part of, but always felt I should have inhabited. This was its last weekend, but if it goes on tour then I wholeheartedly recommend it.

We then headed south to the Tate Britain to see Queer British Art, 1861-1967. As you'd expect from a hundred years of different artists, this was more variable in both theme and quality than the Brocklehurst. I found it really interesting seeing how what could be made explicit and what had to be coded changed throughout the years (although unsurprisingly given the times, there was always more of the latter). In particular, I liked that a lot of the 19th century art were very obviously homoerotic to a modern audience, but weren't seen as such at the time. [personal profile] hjdoom made the remark that it was nice to see how much of the art had a quietly domestic focus - this particularly stood out in the work of the Bloomsbury set, and made a pleasing contrast to the stereotypes of their wildly bohemian lifestyles.
devi: (Default)
[personal profile] devi
Hi! Further to the LJ terms of service change thing, I guess I'll take 'try and get back in the habit of posting on LJ' off my to-do list, where it's been for like seven years.

But is anyone still here? Are people going over to Dreamwidth en-semi-masse? Might that wake things up over there a bit? If you're moving over or have already done, come and find me here. I've transferred my whole journal over, which I hadn't realised was possible.

I've never found a place on the internet to replace LJ, and that sucks. Facebook is like those nightmares where you realise you're naked at school and somehow your boss, your mum and your appalling US state trooper cousin are also watching. Sometimes you find some clothes and put them on, but then Mark Zuckerberg sneaks up and takes them off again when you're not paying attention. Twitter is also like that except there's an angry mob on the horizon with guns. Tumblr is like a cosy living-room which looks like it has walls, so people let themselves be messy and vulnerable, but occasionally something you say gets picked out of the conversation and broadcast to thousands over a giant tannoy. Instagram is nice and laid-back but so full of people (very, very not anyone who's likely to read this, mind) saying they're #blessed, or whatever, with rictus grins, that it makes my teeth ache. ('So #grateful to my spirited children who teach me patience every day!' Oh, honey.)

And everywhere people apologise for writing long things. I like writing and reading long things, especially about people's lives, the totality of lives with all their various interests, not the one topic they guess they ought to focus on in order to monetise their blog. Hi, I am an old curmudgeon, and right now I'm kind of revelling in it. Come and join me in my curmudgeon-den. Maybe even come to Dreamwidth.

But for a long time - like, between 2003 and 2009 - LJ was a whole world, and provided the understructure for a whole rich, busy real-world social life. Thanks to LJ my then-partner and I travelled along the US west coast for three weeks in 2005, staying and having awesome times with friendly not-quite-strangers all the way. The LJ poll feature helped me make massive art (I just asked you all what you were thinking, and just like that you all told me, and it became the Collective Consciousness installation). I have so many and different feels about The Ladies' Loos that I can't sum them up, but... that also happened. I got letters from all over the place, via kindly strangers who found them in the street, after posting about my Postwodehouse project in the found-objects community. So much of that decade is bound up with LJ, for better or worse, and most of the time I felt able to speak here more than I've felt that anywhere else. I'm straight-up grateful for that.

OK, I'm out of here. HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME

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