juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I have tried and failed to give even one shit about Marvel, and my social circle has said only good things re: Captain America and Hydra, so I’ve basically been able to put the whole thing aside as addressed, if not resolved

but then I read Tor.com article (which I won't link) about how this is one of many drastic character changes in comic history, and will be forgotten in time, and exists mostly as an clever, bold bid for attention and money, and that they the writer plan to give Marvel both.

This is the thing about a self-selecting social group! I forget there are other people out there saying harmful, false things with the reasonable tone of a tempered majority opinion!

This is personal, and private, and not particularly reasonable, and all about Nazism. )
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
When I was last down visiting Devon, we made two trips to the local used bookstore because I have a ridiculous amount of credit there that I never manage to spend. On the first trip, I picked up two books: Elizabeth A. Lynn's The Sardonyx Net, because I love everything Lynn and won't turn down a random mass market copy of her books especially since most or all of them are out of print, and Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle which I read last year and fell in love with and thus needed to own. The second trip was made on a whim two days later, when I wouldn't have expected stock to change dramatically, and yet! four books: Elizabeth A. Lynn's The Dancers of Arun; two by CJ Cherryh, including telepathic bond horses Rider at the Gate, which the library doesn't have even in physical form; a new-to-me novel by Elizabeth Bear. The Dancers of Arun was a small miracle to find, because, as mentioned, it's out of print—and it's one of those quintessentially-me novels, far and above my favorite of her work, and I've wanted to own it since before I finished reading it the first time.

Meanwhile, I've been having an ongoing issues with Overdrive and Adobe Digital Editions which means that approximately 1 in 5 licenses doesn't fulfill. I've found reports of this issues online, with no Adobe-side resolution; users recommend either reverting to an older version of ADE (which for me also leads to failed fulfillment, although without the program crash that makes this troubleshooting process so time-consuming) or unverifying and then reverifying the user license (or verifying a new license) for ADE—the later of which doesn't work because 1) it requires a password, and my Adobe account is so old that, whatever password I used 15 years ago, I can't remember it now; 2) I can't do a password recovery process because the account is tied to a 15 year old, defunct email; 3) adding a secondary account to just try from scratch first requires unverifying the current account/license. This problem reoccurs frequently and there is no resolution except to get a different book, even after much troubleshooting; in the Adobe forum threads I saw another user write something along the lines of "I've spent four hours troubleshooting this, and it's so frustrating. I'm computer literate. How do casual users manage at all?" which expresses approximately my level of really, DRM, really?

The golden rule of DRM should be—but isn't—that it must be easier for the average user to legally obtain a product than to pirate it. The library's Overdrive service is in general phenomenal, especially in my area, where there are plenty of licenses and it's easy to request new titles. I read almost everything as ebooks now, because I can obtain digital copies from the comfort of my agoraphobia home, and because the backlight on my ereader allows me to read without the eyestrain caused by even the dimmest of lamps. But this a golden rule violation if I have ever seen one, and seeing the two set against each other recently, these magical perfect purchases against the frustration of yet another DRM snafu, has made me sad.

(The almost-worst of it is that it's not Overdrive's fault, and their tech support is also superb and timely and considerate; and the comments which I've seen by Adobe tech support, while in now ways productive, are also kind and patient. The problems is almost surely ADE side, but the real culprit the truly awful state of electronic publishing. There's no one to blame but that, and they don't have a tech support whom I can send a message that reads "really??????". Nor is there any true recourse.)
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
This is my life: In the midst of some of the worst back pain I've experienced, my hotpad kicks the bucket. This is my darling, beloved wet-heat hotpad of which I have written odes because it is that good—or it was, because what probably killed it is the fact that I've been using it for hours every day on full heat, not because it wasn't performing to spec but because my back has come to require industrial-strength heat.

And today, it won't go more than four degrees above room temperature. (Which is mid 70s through mid 80s, what the fuck, but still.)

I imagine wet-heat hotpads aren't a Fred Meyer sort of thing, and so Devon and I will buy a new one online and if we do it will only be here in a few days, but. This is the icing on the shit cake, such as it were. I had about one spoon left and I used it up being mildly anxious about what I'll do about the pain now, but at this point I can barely care. Honestly it's laughable. I needed my hotpad a lot so I used my hotpad a lot so now I can't use my hotpad at all now that I ... still need it a lot. Universe you so hilarious, yes you are.

(This beautiful beast lasted me seven years, however, and I've been pushing it harder and harder with each one, so don't take this as any kind of negative recommendation. It's an awesome pad and I loved mine and do recommend them. It just turns out they aren't indestructible, and this is a super awesome bad time to figure that out.)
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
On my way down to Corvallis on the 13th (a week ago), I left my shoulder bag (read: purse) on the train at my stop in Albany. By the time we got it back after the next stop, which is the end of the line in Eugene, someone had stolen my Nintendo DSiXL (and copy of Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box), Beats headphones, and Devon's Zune.

In my head I'm writing a letter to that someone, a letter which I may do well to write for real, and print, and put in the mail with no address except That Bastard Who Stole My Shit. I don't want to write an open letter. I've gone through the things that I think everyone goes through when their belongings are stolen: incomprehension, guilt, anger, and that lingering feeling of violation. I'm actually sort of getting over it, which surprises me—getting over emotional things is not my strong point. But there's still something there, something personal and even intimate. My names on the save files. The scratches I left on my DS that time I saw a bug on the top screen and instinctively threw it at a wall. The part of my headphones that I'd just noticed needed servicing. The story of whose Zune that is, and why I have it, and who they really stole it from. I treasure my possessions. Because I have no independent income, most everything I own is something I wanted badly which someone else gave to me; it is rare, precious, and has the emotional connotations of a gift. I love them all. They all have stories.

But I understand stealing perfectly well. I'm the type of person that would have to think twice before returning money found on the floor, because it's only wrong if you get caught: material goods are delicious; morals are ambiguous. I've been known to go through the bags and wallets of friends when they're not looking. I violate privacy all the time, even if my violations are harmless.

And it's such an anonymous act to take something from an abandoned bag.

I get it.

And yet it's so intimate, to know that someone I have fantasized about punching in the face opened my bag, sorted the expensive goods from the $15 cell phone, remembered to grab all the chargers that mattered, took my petty cash but didn't touch my plastic, and left the remnant—and quite right—in the trash where it wouldn't be found until they were pretty much untraceable. They touched me, and yet we are strangers, and the ambiguity makes me want to bridge the gap: Dear stranger, this is who I am and this is the meaning of what you stole, and also—I mean, just while we're on the subject—fuck you.

In a strange way, I find our non-relationship fascinating.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I warn you that all that follows is pretty self-centered, angry, and immature, interspersed with vague gestures in the directions of Deep Thoughts. Also it's more or less about Homestuck. Read at your own risk.

I have a friend that has to blacklist a lot of media because they internalize it, take it personally, get sad over sad stuff and heartsick over romantic stuff. Of course it doesn't make sense to consume media you don't appreciate or enjoy, but I tend to think this is an extreme reaction; to be honest, I think they should get over themselves, and that taking it all so personally shows a certain amount of self-centered immaturity. But I just finished reading what so far exists of Brainbent, a Homestuck AU set in a residental mental health treatment center, and hey would you look at that: there's stuff that I take too personally, and most of it has to do with mental health and illness.

It's not the only thing I take too personally. I hate cats in popular media, because their representations are inaccurate clichés and I would know—and for the same reason that I know, it's a personal issue and I hate to see it butchered, over and over again. It's akin to someone making a mockery of me. Sometimes representations of mental illness trigger the same disgust, as well they should—even it means I'm getting mad over another goddamn saccharine advertisement where depression is symbolized by some sort of cute blob. Fuck you, Abilify, because no it doesn't feel like *sadface* and a cute little animated hole in the ground, and patronizing to me will not convince me to shove that or any other medication down my throat. It's a personal bias—because what medications I tried didn't work for me, and I don't have the faith or energy to find the ones that do—which I shouldn't project onto others—like those with the need of and resources to find effective medication, who should be able to make that search without my judgement or doubt—and so I'll admit to being selfish and short-sighted, but the anger is still pretty righteous.

But that's not what Brainbent does. It leans a little saccharine, or at least feel-good; it has competent doctors and respects patient rights; in short, it's a best possible situation with the best intentions: to provide a heartfelt and helpful story about living with and recovering from mental illness, instead of dwelling in the horrors of lack of recovery or corrupt mental health systems. But on the whole it approaches its characters and their illnesses with knowledge and respect, fetishizing their diversity just a touch but managing to be accessible and hopeful and real.

And you know what, I still don't care.

It's not righteous indignation at this point: it's bitterness. It's me reading it at the wrong time, and taking it too personally; contrasting the resources of St. Lobaf Residential Treatment Center residents against oh wait I have none, contrasting mod's promise of a happy ending or at least that residents won't be left in misery against oh wait I don't have that either, contrasting any sort of it gets better against fuck you. Of course it's a stupid reaction, and two weeks ago I probably wouldn't be such an idiot about it; but one week ago I started a steady descent towards feeling like shit—because there's some minor real world stress going on, because my brain is really damn good at feeling like shit, and for no other reason—and so I don't identify or think it's useful or find it hopeful; I think it's trite, and that anyone who can be helped doesn't have it all that bad, and that anyone with hope is a fool.

And look at me all self-centered, immature, and did I mention an asshole?

No deep thoughts here, no conclusion. This isn't a recommendation for or against Brainbent—I found it compelling enough to read the whole thing (even if I probably shouldn't've), but I just can't pretend any sort of objectivity. Nor is this a condemnation of [livejournal.com profile] junkmail, who recommended the AU—I warned her that I might have this reaction, and that the reaction is all me and says nothing at all about it, and that if there's any fault in my anger it's my own because I just should have put it down until I was feeling better. It's just a realization that I too can have such an arbitrary and selfish reaction, and that in fact I often do, and that to be honest I'm just ... not doing that well right now. This is a roundabout PSA that I'm about one week of anxiety/nightmares/depression/dizzy spells, and a repeat realization that perhaps I'll never be able to find the distance I need in order to not internalize this stuff—because even these years later, I'm still too deep in it.

But Devon is here for the weekend, snoring on my bed while I try to figure out if I'm still boycotting sleep. August is in my lap, napping until I decide same. It's not as bad as my unrighteous indignation would suggest. It's just not awesome, either, sometimes, to be me.

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
A dream about going back to college and going on what was pretty much another endless cruise, together in a single night? Fuck you too, brain. Yes, insurance anxiety, I know. And the cruise was more like a hotel—a hotel that checked you back in for another week whenever you went to check out, which isn't really an improvement even if I did get to take my cat along. (She spent the whole time begging for food, not unlike real life. Unfortunately the hotel only provided dog food—but she ate that happily, of course.) They weren't all-out nightmares, at this point they're too trite for that, but I could still do without and thank you kindly.

Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today! Adopt one today!
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Sympathy for Mr. Vengance + Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror" + sleep apparently = dreams of seemingly endless violence wherein each figure would be corrupted by some ageless unnamable force, and then be murdered by someone motivated by the corrupt death of a predecessor, soon to be corrupted and murdered themselves as next in the long chain. The visuals were very .flow, orange-red flesh and purplish tentacles, viscera pouring out of pale skin, so consider that an inspiration too. It's hard for me to describe a dream like this because it's by nature boring in concept, a long parade of deathly death death; it's not really upsetting for all that, too used am I to violence in my dreams. But there is a lot of violence in my dreams and this was all of it, over the top and with every special effect, continuing on until even the writhing tentacles seemed trite, inexorable and almost too extreme to shock—but not quite. Awesome. Dear brain: I know this lack of and/or shitty sleep thing is mostly California-related nerves, and as such I forgive you, but you can stop it any time now. I don't think Express will turn out to be a tentacle monster. Thanks.

(It's sort of hilarious how many of my dream posts contain Dear Brain letters. Dear Brain: A bit slow on the uptake, aren't we?)
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Nights are a balance, right now, between trying to get plenty of rest while it's still cold enough to sleep, and wanting to be awake to perhaps enjoy a few moments while it's cold enough to live. In other words: I am beyond ready for summer to be over, so ready that I have been dreading the days. We're midway through almost a week of 85 to 90 degree weather. I don't care how moderate that is my your standards: I am from the Pacific Northwest, and I am not made for this. I hate people that bitch about how wet/cold/overcast it is in one time of the year, and how sunny/hot/fucking miserable it is in another, but so help me I am not one of those people—I never complain about the rainy season or want it to be any shorter, and there is no hypocrisy when I say I am finished, I am done. There are hours these days—sometimes entire days—where the ambient temperature and humidity is just so that it feels like my body never ends, like I extend to the size of the house, like the air is my flesh and I'm suffocating myself. It's like the hell version of a float tank.

We're surviving thanks only to foods that can be cooked in half an hour or less, the blessed ice cube tray, and media sufficiently distracting that we may for a while to pretend to be anywhere but here.

Even the cats get hot. August goes and lies down on the linoleum and refuses to move.

But right now, August is nestling herself in my lap, and there is a cool breeze and the start of sunrise, and I'm actually comfortable and—despite the rant—quite happy, so I'm going to go and enjoy the moment.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Don't mind me—I just discovered The Icarus Project so I'll be over here, repeatedly banging my head against the wall.

(And for the record: Yes, my various mental health issues over the years would have been dramatically different if they hadn't been considered diseases and defects that needed to be changed for the good of society, and so that I could be reintegrated into it. At this point I've given up trying to "cure" myself, and am fully content to recognize that my mental health conditions define who I am, and fuck a culture or society that denies that, or denies me as a result. But it's a far leap between self-acceptance and ownership, and celebrating the disease. Because here's the thing, my friends: even if the world around me had been ideal, forgiving, understanding, supportive, and elsewise perfect when I fell sick, I still would have been sick. Half the pain of mental illness is all the social suffering and baggage that comes with, which is why I'm so upfront about this shit now. The rest of the pain? IS THE ILLNESS. That shit doesn't go away, no matter how you relabel and reclaim. Trying to pretend it does does nothing at all to help combat it. It can only hurt.

And yes, this is 110% subjective, and my experiences and mental health issues are not indicative of anyone else's. But caveats aside: go fuck yourself, man, and get off my flist.

And now this magical fucking madman is gonna go make the bed.)
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
So then. More about the cruise. Something deeper than towel animals, in three parts.

First, let us talk of food. Or rather, of a lack. Not that there's ever a lack of food on a cruise ship, but this one had no idea what it was doing about vegetarian options. On the last cruise ship, which was on the Royal Caribbean line, all vegetarian dishes were marked vegetarian and there was a fair variety of them. On this one...

The general cafeteria, the Lido, had a tolerable selection but didn't mark foods one way or the other so every meal was a guessing game. The quality there was mediocre, with unripe ingredients and general inconstancy, but I could usually find something to eat (although it was often bread and cheese). The main restaurant, the Rembrandt, had one vegetarian dinner menu with about four or five selections for each course—and the menu didn't change during the entire week. The quality was hit and miss (the sushi appetizer was decent; the tempura entré was greasy, burned, and had gone mushy), sometimes from night to night (the celery and Stilton soup was delicious and rich on Friday and disgusting and watery on Saturday). To make matters worse, you had to order your vegetarian options the day before, and orders were taken right before the dessert course—precisely when you were no longer hungry. There were a few incidental vegetation options off the main menu, but hidden meat was everywhere and each dish had to be verified vegetarian at the kitchen. The ship also had two specialty restaurants: Tamarind was Asian fusion, it had no vegetarian options for anything but the entré (which was had only one flavor: salt, and lots of it); the other courses had to be prepared on the fly, and included a tasteless broccoli soup which was lacking both Asian influence and, I swear, any ingredient but broccoli (I think they just put one in a blender and heated it up). Canaletto was Italian, with exactly one vegetarian entré—which was actually pretty good, to be fair, but the antipasto was destroyed by low-quality ingredients. As was to be expected, desserts were universally mediocre, dragged down by syrupy fruits, a heavy hand with the sugar, and low quality chocolate, although there was one flourless lava cake which was pretty tasty.

The wait staff was incredible, and whenever I asked to verify if a dish was vegetarian they were happy to oblige—and they were caught entirely unawares by the request. When you push vegetarian dishes off to a second menu, you treat it as this strange rare thing—something that no one actually wants, something that doesn't need to meet the standards of the rest of the menu, something not really worrying about until someone goes "um" and you have to scramble to throw together a meal for that weird picky eater.

And this, while there were five vegetarians in our group. The others I think were either less strict or more trusting—it was cute, actually, when I was seated with the kids (12 and, er ... under ten, I'm shit at estimating ages) and helping them find something to eat, because they had never thought that soups might contain meat stocks (all those not on the vegetarian menus did), that salad dressing might have anchovies (most do, but it's the specific trademark of Caesar dressing), or all the other ways that meat is hidden in or sprinkled on food. But my point is that while it is a minority choice, being a vegetarian isn't all that weird. For that matter, omnivores can eat vegetarian dishes—and maybe they'd like to try the Stilton soup (on its good days, anyhow).

When you treat vegetarians as a strange, rare minority that doesn't really need to be worried over until they're sitting there in front of you, a bizarre exception to the rule of how "normal" people eat, you more or less guarantee that they will eat second-class food.

And I did, for a week. So there's that on that.

Dev and I went out to Thai food at a weird place called The Woodsman yesterday, and it was surprisingly delicious and surprisingly spicy (spice is another thing you're hard-pressed to find on a cruise ship—that dish burned going down, let me tell you, I was so out of practice); we are already making inroads on our journey back to good food. Today I hope to get my hands on a shortbread cookie, because cruise ships have universally blah desserts. If nothing else, this has reminded us how much we do enjoy food which is actually worth eating.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Watching The Sing-Off because I'm having an unapolgetically low key, brain-rotting TV day while I recuperate from a busy weekend, and because I liked the one episode I watched at my parents's house.

Introducing the judges, we have virtuoso singer-songwriter Ben Folds, beautiful pop diva Nicole Scherzinger, and legendary R&B vocalist Shawn Stockman.

And yes, Scherzinger is bloody useless. She's the Paula Abdul of Sing-Off: sweet and congratulatory and rarely a shred of criticism in sight. And I don't care. Perhaps they brought her on the show to, I don't know, contribute something fucking useful—in which case, that should be how they introduce her: by her credentials as someone with meaningful musical experience and skill. (And then I would appreciate it if she did indeed contribute something useful.) Elsewise they brought her on the show to fill that middle seat with someone attractive and female, in which case they're certainly introducing her with complete honesty—but shame on them, I mean, really.

No one would ever dream of announcing a male figure of power as "pretty." Men are "powerful." They're skilled and respected, and are worth more than their appearance alone. And I knew that already, and ranting here ain't gonna do much to change it, but it's fucking disgusting—and seeing it in something which is otherwise not that bad really does make me mad.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Dear Starbucks—

It is November 15th. I know that you've already switched to your winter menu (although I ain't happy about that, either), and that you want us all to buy bags of the Christmas blend and stock up on stocking stuffers, but it is still only November 15th. This makes it about a week too early for Christmas music, even by the most generous allowances, and at least a month too early to start wishing me a goddamned happy New Year.

Quit it.

No love, but thanks for the mocha,

juushika: Photograph of a row of books on a library shelf. (Books Once More)
I'm trying to read this book which has an industrial strength spine. Slim volume, standard mass market paperback, published by HarperCollins, and so I appreciate that they've glued the binding to last but I swear, you damn near need industrial machinery to pry the thing open. All that prying has yet to break the spine, so there's that—but it's wearing on my hands.

The real issue I'm taking with the book is that 75 pages in I'm looking at a rape threat on the naked female protagonist presented to show that the world she lives in is all dark and gritty (because, given that she's a cop, it would be impossible to illustrate that via the crimes and murders which surround her, to say nothing of the murder of her mother which drove her to this line or work) and that she is both strong and vulnerable: she can handle herself, and is a trained and skilled cop, but she is also just a normal human being capable of being scared and threatened (because just building a complex, nuanced, and realistic character would never be enough to illustrate that point). And let's not kid around: she's also capable of being victimized, that's the point here.

No, it's not the worst-ever example of rape in a cheap little crime thriller. Hardly. But that's just it. It's cheap and dirty and banal, so banal as to be unremarkable. It's just one more rape threat because rape is happens to tough female protagonists, don't'cha know? It builds their character while displaying their humanity! Oh, come on now. I don't pick up a book like this expecting a work of art or even remarkable skill, but I wish it weren't too much to ask that it take the higher road, do actual work, and build setting and character without relying on that amorphous danger of a dark shadowy criminal threatening our brave (but vulnerable!) female protagonist with the big bad of rape.

I'm just tired of this. I'm tired of all of this.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)
I'm trying to watch Torchwood to intersperse with all that Doctor Who, but it's not going to well so far. I know that the first season is a bit rocky, so I'm approaching it with patience—but I'll admit I'm a little tired of audience surrogates. One might be necessary without the background in Doctor Who, but even then this isn't "meet an alien man who happens to be a master of space and time"; this is "meet a pretty normal human cast (give or take one) who is dealing with alien forces." That's not so distant, not so alien (if you'll excuse the repetition), that the audience needs their hand held as they come to understand the concept and grow invested with the cast. Add the knowledge of Doctor Who, and it grows a bit redundant and condescending.

Even with my hand held, I'm not developing investment in the cast. I loved Eve Myles when she appeared in Doctor Who 1.3, but between being yet-another-audience-surrogate (yawn) and her makeup, which irks me for some reason, I have no love for Gwen. Captain Jack is a little unrefined and, as much as I love what many of his character traits are meant to be, that they're handled so heavily makes him grate on my nerves. I like Toshiko Sato and Ianto Jones an awful lot, but they're too undeveloped for now. And Owen: Owen, whose face bugs me for superficial reasons (it's his mouth and jaw, mostly—too wide, overbite, just looks a little off despite that they groom him as such a pretty boy); Owen, whose first character crisis is over a dead woman's rape and murder even though the introduction to his character is rape.

Because that's the thing, Owen, my boy: if you make sexual advances on someone and they say no, and then you drug them until they say yes, you are a rapist. Rape isn't just something that happens in dark dank tunnels under bridges—it is something that happens every time you have sex with someone who has not given their consent. If someone is unable to consent (because, for example, they've been drugged), it doesn't matter how outrageous or sexual-orientation-defying the situation may be: if you have sex with them, you are a rapist.

Owen's crisis over the rape he witnesses doesn't forgive or balance out the rape he's committed. When we see some events (e.g. violent rape) as rape, and other events (e.g. date rape) as circumspect, forgivable, humorous, and otherwise maybe-bad-but-not-rape, we perpetuate rape culture—we allow more rapes to occur. It is never okay to remove someone's ability to consent. It is never okay to rape. There are no lesser varieties of rape, there are no excuses, it is never humorous, and that it's part of this character's introduction and never adequately resolved or condemned makes it hard for me to care what more he does or becomes from there.

ETA: I also find myself increasing discontent with Torchwood as the "grown up" Doctor Who. DW has nuanced, mature relationships, thousands of deaths, and personal and global losses galore. That it doesn't show explicit sex and violence does not mean that those aspects don't exist implicitly. It may be more ratings-friendly but it hardly lacks maturity. Conversely, adding sex and violence doesn't necessarily make for mature media, in the sense of complex, developed, and dark—even if it mature in the sense of rating. Take, for example, DW's Cybermen vs. TW's Cyberwoman: A species created through painful, violent mutilation, which strips away personality and emotion so much so as to essentially equal the death of the converted human, and as such tears families apart; a species designed to propagate itself by continuing these conversions, subjugating humans to intense pain and essential death or murdering them outright if they prove arbitrarily "unfit" for conversion—that is a fucking mature concept, one that proves to be brutal and heartbreaking in DW. A beautiful cyborg woman in a metal bikini is a lot more naked, but not inherently more mature, or adult, or dark and developed. In fact, that teenage glee in naked flesh is immature, not mature. I've yet to see anything from TW that has made me thankful for an after-hours spinoff of DW, because I've yet to see anything from TW that covers something they wouldn't be able to cover in DW with the same maturity, skill, and complexity that DW would turn on the subject if it could.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
A minute and thirty seconds into Kuroshitsuji II and it's all ready like, "Hey, Juu: We made this for you." Bruised naked shota repeating "darkness, darkness, darkness?" It's like it's specially and personally designed—and also, yes, I know I'm easy. (ETA: Excuse me, violent bloodstained shota. Damn you, show, stop pandering to me!) I know I'm also not the only one that this sort of thing appeals to, because that's what Kuro II is, really, right? A "We heard you like" meme in anime form: similar! better! more! To the point of gleeful excess—even more than the original offered, which is saying something. They put the fucking seal on his tongue, I mean seriously. And because of or despite all that, I hear better things about the sequel than I had expected. This sort of setting and these themes and that character design also appeal to my whims of the moment, so the timing is good. All told I am fairly optimistic and whatnot...

But still I begin watching with reluctance. Kuroshitsuji just ended so spectacularly, in my view—and I don't want that tainted. Brief Kuroshitsuji anime ending spoilers under here. ) Continuing the same sort of story at all is a bit unnecessary, because the original ended so completely and so well; that I suspect we see more of Ciel raises my hackles high. I distrust sequels for just this reason. They distort and change prior events and interpretations, and they're also rarely as good as the original work, a combination that spoils everything.

I usually opt against them but, meh, I guess I'll give this one a go. Fingers crossed.

Those wondering what the hell I'm on about or curious as to my further thoughts on the original Kuroshitsuji may be interested in my review here.

It irks me beyond reason that I always have to check the spelling on Ciel's name and I usually get it wrong anyway. (I before E except after C except when it's Ciel fucking Phantomhive, yo.)

Just watch, I'll always be able to remember how to spell it now that I've concocted a brilliant little mnemonic.

Put me on haitus and all the sudden I'm posting to LJ all the damn time.

Yes, these really are the things I spend my time thinking about. I have no life. I'm at peace with this.

ETA the second: Because, seriously, wasn't-actually-dead is probably my least favorite fucking trope. Character deaths are important. They matter. They matter because death is a pretty big damn deal that comes with associations like, I dunno, finality. They matter because big events like that have an impact on those that remain to witness them and experience their fallout. When characters turn out to not be dead, you undermine everything that came out of their supposed death: all the impact, all the character growth, all the drama. It turns the event into a cheap trick, instead, some shameless heartstring tugging. It's miserable. The original Kuro was awesome, absolutely, but the number of things and people coming back in the sequel not because they should come back (because, for example, they're still alive) but because it worked so well last time so we might as well do it again is just fucking ridiculous.

And yet Alois is a dozen types of delightful.

Damn you, show. You have me intrigued, I will continue to watch, but I still wanna smack you with a cluebat.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I am trying to edit a document ([livejournal.com profile] azhure, before you worry, this isn't yours! though I need to hurry and get to that) for someone that doesn't use the Oxford comma. I know that to use or not use it is a personal choice, and that each option is valid, and so on, and so forth—

And it still makes me cringe each and every damn time.

It just sounds wrong, you know? It throws off the pacing, it lacks clarity, it looks bad and it's driving me up the wall.

Speaking of personal choices and valid options: Can't we more or less agree that double spacing sentences is obsolete? My bias is showing here because I was never taught to do so, and so I'm not inclined to cling to the practice with the fervor of some, but really: it's dead, isn't it? Fonts these days render the practice obsolete.

Hell, LJ doesn't even render double spacing.

The real problem with this document I'm slaving over, however, is not the writing conventions—it's the writing. There's two paragraphs, two long paragraphs in the middle of this letter, which are such a right mess that just trying to pick them apart turns my thought into a mess as well. Line edits are useless, because too much needs to be redone—but the text begs for line edits so that the author can see why the paragraphs need redone. Providing a general revision plan is a bit easier, but I still rather feel like I'm confronting the Gordian Knot with a dull pen knife.

Hey, look, a solution! A break or three and some angrier, more upbeat music, and suddenly everything is much easier. But the rant still stands.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
I did not record a daily log (and trust me, given the repetition of my experience you would not want one), but while on the cruise I did record a few thoughts over a few days. I'll post them here, as I find the energy to go back and edit them for public consumption. To begin:

Sunday, Day 1, Boarding
I discovered my own personal hell. The flights down to L.A. were, surprisingly, not that bad—the first plane was old and rickety and exceedingly cramped, but both flights and the layover were short. For the most part, all was unremarkable, and therefore well. It was on the journey to the ship itself that things began to go downhill: it was a bit of a wait for the bus, a bit of a drive, and the entire boarding procedure felt messy—a lack of apparent organization, a dearth of communication, and the crowds, oh, the waiting crowds. It was a long, slow climb to get aboard.

And once we had, I was of course exhausted: Devon and I had stayed up all night to catch our 3a flight, and sleep on the plane had proved futile (I couldn't babysit both my back and neck, which meant I had to sacrifice comfortable, potentially restful head positions in order to keep my back pain under control). I wore an oversized comfy shirt for the plane, which was great for the plane—but made me frumpy and uncomfortable in the heat, the crowds, the almost-a-cruise atmosphere of the ship.

And then it got better.

Because the rooms weren't available until an hour after we boarded, so instead of the necessary privacy, crash time, and change of clothes that I had expected, we were herded to the messhall for what would have been a large and varied buffet had not every item tasted the same: like nothing at all. Chewable air would have been a better offering, I think. The hall was crammed, packed and hot and noisy; there were no free tables so we sat at a bar where I couldn't even reach the footrest, inviting a new wave of back pain. Remixed techno pop played over the loudspeakers which—as a combination of repetitive sound and awful lyrics—is indeed the soundtrack of my personal hell.

And then my grandparents and cousins arrived and—hot, sleep-deprived, pained, frumpy, disappointed, and approaching an almost embarrassing level of discontent—I had to hug about a dozen people and try to act pleasant.

There could be, for me, no situation more fine-crafted to elicit my personal suffering.

Things did get better (in the non-ironic sense, this time) when the rooms opened up. I took a quick shower, and crashed, and napped, and by the time we gathered in a group for drinks and, later, dinner, I was much improved. Sunday actually ended on a pleasant note with a surprisingly enjoyable three-course meal, so while the cruise began in misery and I can still nitpick many more problems, I spent Sunday night in a huge bed with my beloved and woke to 18 miles of pure ocean stretching on outside the window.

And for the record: this is why the cruise was, for me, undesirable.
I know there are people that want to go on cruises. I am not one of them. I know that to speak glibly of this gift from my grandparents (who paid the way for all those that attended) is both to overlook my own luck and privilege, and to undervalue the important familial aspects of the trip. But speaking purely of my own comforts, desires, and preferences: I did not want to go on a cruise. And that first day isn't a bad example of why.

A big cruise ship is a floating, all-inclusive, isolated hotel. Even if it has a rock-climbing wall, it's nothing more or less. So, say: You're a vegetarian and a picky eater with certain standards for food quality (hey, you sound just like me!) Then: There will regularly be nothing for you to eat in the buffet, either because ingredients are unlisted, the only vegetarian option is iceberg salad, or all of the readily-available, self-serve food tastes like shit; not infrequently at the sit-down waited meals you will eat one more bowl of pasta with marinara. Say: You require certain accommodations in order to cope with or prevent chronic pain. Then: You may have difficult, limited, or no access to those accommodations (it took us three hours to get extra pillows for the room; the majority of the public seating was actively bad for my back), especially at the beginning of the trip when you need them most. Say: You are an introvert, or, worse, agoraphobic. Then: Outside of the safety of your stateroom, you will be surrounded by crowds without exception—any time you want to eat, take a walk, or consider engaging in a ship activity, you will be surrounded by large crowds of loud strangers. If you are traveling in a group of 24 family members, you will also encounter people you know, on a fairly regular basis; you will be required to attend family gatherings.

In other words: a cruiseship is, for me, not a plush floating island of amenities. Instead, it may leave me without sustenance, in pain, and traumatized. Of course it's not always a worse case scenario—there were good vegetarian options sometimes, even for me; sharing a room with just Devon gave me plentiful privacy and comfort in order to look after both my physical and mental health, and I am grateful beyond words for that. But there's big drawbacks, and an unending parade of little ones from uncomfortable sheets and towels to edible but unenjoyable food to the very atmosphere of the ship.

I don't know how quite to describe that atmosphere. It's ... it's the dining hall on the first day. People wearing skimpy shorts and bad, fruity perfume; people talking too loud and being too excited to go. It's the worst imaginable music, bland food, the bitter smell of a dirty sea and the edge of a big city. It's not quite the access or comfort you want, wrapped in the allure of an Exotic! Resort! Location! It's smarmy, almost, the very idea of the thing: visit new, exiting areas the in pseudo-comfort of your floating monstrosity of a hotel. I cannot personally think of a less pleasant way either to vacation (why not chose somewhere authentically comfortable, with more variety, with better food, with better amenities—or why not stay home?) or to travel (why not, and this is a crazy idea, actually go visit a place for a week or four?)

Yes, this is a matter of personal taste. It's also because I'm picky, I take my luck for granted, I don't know how to be grateful, and so on. Every time someone mentions how awesome a cruise sounds I feel that discomforting guilt: people want to do this—shouldn't I be glad for the chance?

But no. No, I was not, however awful a person that makes me; this is why. The cruise wasn't all that bad, and I'll get to the rest later. But for a bit of context, this is worth saying first.
juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (I should have been born a cat)
If I'm honest about it—and I've been trying not to be—I've been fighting another wave of depression for the past two, maybe three weeks now. I've been feeling disconnected and deadened—unable to interact with people or with the activities I love. I've still been getting out of the house—quite a lot, actually—but while that may help in the moment it seems to be doing fuck all to improve my overall mood. This is making me scared and short-tempered, lonely and bored (because I enjoy nothing and can focus on less), so that's a lot of fun. I've been trying not to acknowledge it, but denial wasn't doing much in the way of improving things either.

I thought I was done with this go-around with the black beast. I thought I had waded through the depressive episode and I was back to normal old semi-miserable but not-unusual dysthymic me. Not so, it seems.

I've been feeling strangely territorial about depression these days. I know of friends, of strangers going through rough times because of this-or-that world event, this-or-that personal crisis—and I know the issues they're having as a result are valid and real, I do, but somehow I wish they would leave depression for poor fucks like me. I wish there were a word, a better set of words, to separate situational depression from depressive mood disorders. There is something of a difference, in that a major depressive episode does not clinical depression make—but there's still enough overlap that I want to say: No. Mine. These are my moods, my problems; stop treading on my territory with your own moods, problems.

Which is fucking petty. The reasoning behind it is less about others than it is about myself: I don't want to have to justify the why of my own fucked up brain. I don't want to hear "I don't understand why you're upset" or "do you know what's causing it?" There are no explanations, no good reasons. No one did anything horrible, the universe hasn't shat on me in any spectacular way. There is nothing except that this is who I am—this is my brain, you see; this is what it does, and that's all there is to it.

I've often wished that there were something traumatic in my background beyond a troubled relationship with my mother. I've often wished that the world did screw me over. I wish there were something there that I could point to, a root, a problem—something with a hope of solution, but also something simpler—something to blame. But there is no such thing and knowing that, the only recourse I have, the only explanation I have, is that there is none—that this is just something that happens. I stand hissing over my own gray territory, pissing in its corners and threatening those that come near, because perhaps if I can claim it it will be real: miserable, but mine, and there, and seeing it so well protected everyone else will leave it well enough alone.

Here I append as I always do: if I seem needy, moody, quiet, or as if I'm communicating poorly right now, it is once again not you, but me—and now you know why.

Here I also append: if you are one of the people going through issues right now, if you believe my territorial anger could in any way apply to your experience, if you want to argue about how it's not just situational or not just an episode, know again: this is not about you but about me, and while I do not mean to undermine your experience—for which I probably have much empathy—this sad little post is about my anger, irrational and potentially hurtful but not personal nor meaningful. It's stupid. It's selfish. It is how I feel, right now.
juushika: Photograph of a row of books on a library shelf. (Books Once More)
I finished Lost Souls ... yesterday? last night? recently, loving it as much to the end as I did in my passionate accolades halfway through. Nothing was my favorite this time, then Ghost—a change from my passion for Zillah the first go-around.

Picked up a new-to-me book to read and review and had to put it down 35 pages in. London Bridges, Jane Stevenson. Normally I have a rule: to read at least 50, but usually 75 pages of a book before I give up on it. Because it takes me about that long to form an opinion I believe will hold up, and I like to have an opinion before I continue with, or give up on, or even worse give up on and write an "ohgodwhy" review of a book. I just can't make myself do that with this one, because 4 pages in I was groaning and bitching and 30 pages after that was no better. Because this:

"Good evening. Can you fill this prescription, please?"

Jeanene took the piece of paper and studied it conscientiously, nibbling her thumbnail.

"I'll have to check on the computer," she said apologetically. "This is a high dosage, and I'm not sure we keep it in that strength."

"It is very important," said the woman, abruptly.
London Bridges, Jane Stevenson (4) (emphasis added)

This is the type of writing to send me into a rage that begins something like: "The road to hell is paved with adverbs." Stephen King and I agree on little but there, oh there, we can agree.

And on the selfsame page:

"There was something else peculiar about it: the prescribing doctor's address was in Fife; and while Jeanene's education had not been big on British geography, Macbeth, she recalled, was the Thane of Fife. So, surely Fife was in Scotland."

The Thane of Fife had a wife indeed and no matter where she is now her name was Lady Macduff because Macduff was the bloody Thane of Fife, seriously. That may be an intended character error rather than an accidental author error but it still bugged me. A lot.

But more to the point:

"Then the Krauts blew it up?" said Edward inelegently.

"It was destroyed by enemy action on December 14, 1940," confirmed Eugenides. Edward's interest quickened. His memorandum was dated September of the same year: good timing on someone's part.

"It must've meant a hell of a lot of sorting out for you," he observed, considering the old man thoughtfully. Seventy? Seventy-five? How old had he been in 1940?

"I was not personally involved at that time, of course," explained Eugenides.
——London Bridges, Jane Stevenson (28) (emphasis added)

Adverbs again; furthermore do you know why we use he said, she said so often in literature? Because it's clean and pure and motherfucking simple, that's why, instead of sounding like you have a pen in one hand and a beleaguered thesaurus in the other. What always boggles me though that these two things can coincide: unnecessarily strong verbs yet still more adverbs than a high school English essay, and neither aspect has half the impact it's intended to have. It's a mess, is what it is. A ripe old mess.

It's when I get to that point that Devon generally has to take the book away from me because he's sick of hearing my dramatic readings. But this time, I reached that point myself. The plot doesn't hold me, the characters are caricatures, but really it's just that the writing is making my brain hurt so bad that no desire even to review this can make me continue with one more page.

So I picked up Kiernan's Threshold instead. It's a reread for me but I never reviewed it, so that's good enough for my goal to alternate read&reviewed with unread&unreviewed. And I am 12 pages in, and in love. I remember the story as clear as daylight, still—it hasn't been too long since I first read it—but that works. The plot, I can see, will unfold differently knowing where it ends, and Kiernan's writing is still fresh because as much as I remember of it, I cannot remember it all, multilayered, sensitive, artistic as it is.

When I sat down and opened up LJ it was just to type one sentence, so here it is:

And it all washes back over her again, the indisputable reality of it, truth that smells like carnations and a shoveful of red cemetery dirt—that they are dead, gone, all of them, and she's as alone at twenty-three as someone who has outlived an entire lifetime of family and friends and lovers.
Threshold, Caitlín R. Kiernan (12)

It is not the book's most beautiful, most important sentence, but still it is better than the trash I'm leaving behind. But the real reason I wanted to share it:

Carnations and a shoveful of red cemetery dirt—if BPAL made this perfume I could die happy. They should make this perfume. I must have this perfume. It would be my beloved Penny Dreadful but drier, spicier, not as sweet. I can't think of two notes better suited than red loam and carnation, two notes I would better love. This book is amazing but now I am in mourning that I cannot slather on that dream scent this very instant.
juushika: A black and white photo of an ink pen. (Writing)
Stephen King's novels never quite work for me because what others see as detailed, realistic characters and settings I see as a remarkable inability to get to the goddamned point.


juushika: Drawing of a sleeping orange cat. (Default)

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