Politically isolated

Jul. 25th, 2017 05:25 pm
liv: cast iron sign showing etiolated couple drinking tea together (argument)
[personal profile] liv
I feel completely out of step with most of my friends politically. UK politics, very gloomy )

Music meme: day 15 of 30

Jul. 24th, 2017 03:31 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
A song that is a cover by another artist. I think this has to be Tori Amos' cover of I don't like Mondays, originally by the Boomtown Rats.

Tori Amos was I think the first musician I really got intensely into, beyond just enjoying the sound of somebody's music. The single Cornflake girl was on the radio a lot in the mid 90s, and I quite liked it but didn't have any context. Then I met MK when we were both up for Oxford interview, and became instant friends. He put a lot of effort into supporting me through a somewhat bumpy transition from sheltered child to independent person, including dealing with a bereavement that hit me really hard when I was 19. He's also responsible for introducing me to digital socializing (email, instant messenger, Usenet to an extent, and the wonderful world of peer-to-peer file sharing). And he played lots of Tori songs for me when I was sitting in the dark crying about letting go of childhood naive optimism. I bought Little earthquakes on CD, and had access to a lot of Tori's oeuvre for all of the 90s via not entirely licit digital copies. Not only Tori Amos, there was a lot of alt stuff especially goth that I picked up from [personal profile] doseybat, but Tori Amos was pretty much the soundtrack of inventing myself as an adult.

I don't like Mondays was almost a novelty thing in a way, recorded with a bunch of much less successful covers, of things like Smells like teen spirit which really doesn't work for Amos' musical style, most of which were never commercially released. This one did make it to Strange little girls, the concept album of gender-bent cover songs, which I was never fully convinced by. I haven't been strongly into Tori Amos' music since 2000, not that I think it's bad but it isn't part of my psyche in the way that the 90s material is. But anyway, it's a remix of a song written in response to a school shooting in the late 70s. The original is meant to be ironic, but it comes across as so inappropriately jolly that it often gets played on the radio as a joke song, here's one to cheer you up from your Monday commuting blues... Tori Amos' cover is a total reworking, without any irony at all, just sadness about a teenaged girl turning a gun on her schoolmates.

So it kind of epitomizes why Tori Amos meant a lot to me at that time in my life; she wrote and performed beautiful songs (she's a classically trained musician) about serious subjects which she took seriously. But that seriousness isn't about glorying in the violence and ugliness, it's about challenging it. video embed, audio only )

As a bonus, have kd lang's cover of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. It's a song that gets covered way too often, nearly always as a kind of soppy lovesong that really fails to do justice to the extremely powerful original. So basically I hate Hallelujah covers, except this one. Again, it's very different from Cohen's original, but it's an emotionally serious interpretation in its own right which doesn't cheapen its source material.

Amsterdam trip - day one

Jul. 22nd, 2017 10:58 pm
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
We had an early start, but not horrifically so. It was my first time travelling on the Eurostar, and it was lovely, with comfy seats and tasty food, but even more pleasant was the Thalys train from Brussels to Amsterdam. On arrival at the station we picked up an iamsterdam card which gets us travel and free/reduced entry into lots of museums and such, then took the tram to our hotel. The room is perhaps a little on the small side, but pleasant, and the bed is comfortable, which is the important thing.

We deliberately didn’t plan anything but unpacking and decompressing for this afternoon, which was the right call, as after all that travelling we were both feeling rather in need of a nap. We woke up around dinner time, and then went out for sushi (possibly an odd choice, but our first meal on our first holiday together in Prague was also sushi, so it seemed auspicious). It certainly wasn’t a bad choice - the sashimi was beautifully presented and very fresh, and the rice texture was spot on. My high point was either the scallop sashimi with tobiko, or the raw beef, avocado and cucumber roll, which was subtle and gorgeous.

After dinner [personal profile] obandsoller was feeling quite tired, so we came back to the hotel, and although my intention was to drop him off and then go for a stroll around the nearby Oosterpark, I ended up getting eaten by the inertia monster until it got dark, so that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Amsterdam trip - day zero

Jul. 22nd, 2017 10:55 pm
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
I decided that since we’d be leaving quite early on Saturday morning and had guests for dinner on Friday that it would be sensible to take an extra day off work so I didn’t have to pack in a frantic hurry. Obviously I then proceeded to plan an unnecessarily ambitious meal and fill the day from start to finish with Events, so had to pack in a rush on Thursday night instead… I got up fairly early and went for a run which finished at church. Somewhat to my surprise I found that the gates were locked, but I wasn’t foiled and managed to scale the wall and get in anyway (once past the wall the rest of the break-in was facilitated by the clever trick of having keys). I dropped off the cheques I needed signatures on, and spent a while trying to get the ancient (running Vista!) laptop working, as I’m hoping to get the people who count the collection to enter the figures directly into a spreadsheet rather than writing them down, to save me some data entry. I didn’t quite manage to get it working, but I did get a bit of organ practice inbetween interminably slow reboots…

I took the bus rather than running home, and picked up a last couple of missing ingredients, then began prepping the beetroot three ways (boiled and diced, roasted with balsamic vinegar, and finely sliced then deep fried, then baked) for the starter, and the venison meatballs for the main course. Naturally that took a little longer than expected, and I was a few minutes late out the door to head to [personal profile] charlie’s for lunch. They’d gotten out of hospital a couple of days ago, and were still a little fragile, but seemed massively happier than the last couple of times I’ve seen them, which was very pleasing to see.

I then had another session with the physio I saw a couple of weeks ago. After the first session I was absolutely amazed by how much difference he made to my back - I’d had a couple of days completely tension-free for the first time in months, and even after it started to creep back in, it was definitely less intrusive than it has been. This time he suggested trying acupuncture, which I’m quite sceptical of, but given his previous results I figured I’d give it a go. I’m still feeling kind of sceptical afterwards, but I’ll give it another couple of days to see how it feels then, and probably ask him to stick with the kinds of treatment he did from my first session in future.

Then home again, and more cooking until Stephani (winodw) and her newish partner Matthew arrived. I started with a failure, as she asked for a repeat of a cocktail I’d made her once before, but although we had all the relevant booze we were lacking apple juice. Oops. Still, we managed to find them something to drink, and I was pretty pleased with how the food came out. The new fella was quiet but charming, and they were adorkably coupley, which brought back fond memories of what Ramesh & I were like when we first got back together.

Music meme: day 14 of 30

Jul. 21st, 2017 01:24 pm
liv: Detail of quirky animals including a sheep, from an illuminated border (marriage)
[personal profile] liv
Here we go, the middle of the list hits A song that you would love played at your wedding.

As you probably know, I'm already married, and I had my wedding five years ago. wedding reminiscences plus video )

I have no intention of having any more weddings to choose music for. I'm already married, as are all my partners. And maybe poly people aren't supposed to say this, but I really think I've found my people and hope not to end or change my current relationships. Friends who have looked into these things in more detail think it's not actually illegal to have weddings, in the sense of ceremonies indicating lifelong romantic commitment, to more than one partner, as long as you don't try to register the relationship as a marriage for legal purposes. But I am not really sure of the details and anyway at the moment we don't have any desire to be married to more people than our existing spouses, even if it is (or became) legally ok.

It is fair to say that I never intended to get married the first time either, so maybe I'm wrong. I suppose we've vaguely talked about the possibility that those of us who are EU citizens may need to marry those who are not for immigration reasons and safety, but I really really really hope it doesn't come to that and if we were in that situation there wouldn't be any singing and dancing, just whatever paperwork we needed for survival. And hypothetically my current relationships might come to an end and then I might find a new person who really wanted to get married to me. But then the song I would choose would depend so much on the person and the circumstances that I can't really speculate what it would be, and I don't really want to because it involves imagining the ends of relationships I really want to keep.

I'm not in general a fan of the wedding tradition of the First Dance to a romantic song. Partly because I'm not much of a dancer, and partly because I think there are better ways to do symbolic consummation. And then finding a song which is lyrically appropriate is surprisingly hard; a lot of songs in the style that's appropriate to slow-dance to are really breakup songs, or at best they're hugely monogamy-assuming and heteronormative. As [personal profile] elf pointed out in this meme, a lot of poly-friendly songs are about casual hey we're just doing this as long as we both like it relationships, which is kind of wrong for a wedding.

I think it was [personal profile] ghoti_mhic_uait who pointed out that the most inappropriate possible song for a wedding is She moves through the fair, since it mentions our wedding day but primarily as a euphemism for death. I am very fond of it, mind you. And I have attended a wedding where the big romantic moment Song was Hey, that's no way to say goodbye by Leonard Cohen, which is a gorgeous song but way depressing if you go past the opening lines:
I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm,
Your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm,
Yes, many loved before us, I know that we are not new,
In city and in forest they smiled like me and you


I never daydreamed about my ideal wedding when I was single, so I never had a concept in my mind of what song I would love played. If I happened to be in a relationship where we had a song that was meaningful to us as a couple, then perhaps I'd choose that, but I can't help myself thinking about the detailed interpretation of the words. So, just out of interest, do any of you know any songs which are good for weddings, talking about serious relationships but not about possessiveness? Or songs that are good for non-religious communal singing?

Music meme: day 13 of 30

Jul. 20th, 2017 04:32 pm
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
[personal profile] liv
I'm getting really behind the wave on this, aren't I? Still, there's more than one person still working through the list! Today is One of your favourite 70's songs. I'm not very good at knowing which songs come from which decade, and most of the music on my computer has really inaccurate metadata. But one song which I know is from the 70s, and which is definitely one of my favourites, is Go to Hell by Alice Cooper. I'm not sure if it's actually my favourite 70s song, but I really ought to have something by Alice Cooper in the meme.

I'm really very fond of Alice Cooper goes to Hell; it was my first encounter with the idea of a concept album. I especially love this opening track because it's a bit of (darkly) humorous intro, with the bathos of ridiculously specific examples of depravity:
You'd gift-wrap a leper and mail him to your aunt Jane
You'd even force feed a diabetic a candy cane


I often tell the story of how when I went to university I gained a certain amount of respect among the alternative crowd by explaining that Alice Cooper was in fact a ouijia board chosen stage name for a definitely male singer. Despite not looking like the sort of person who would know rock music trivia. But I love Alice Cooper for being so gloriously terrible, and occasionally coming out with works of sheer genius like Poison (not from the 70s) in among all the McGonagall stuff.

video embed (borderline NSFW) )

Lovely team!

Jul. 20th, 2017 09:34 am
wildeabandon: Champage bottle and flutes (champagne)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
Today is my last day at work before my holiday, and rather unexpectedly my team just came in and gave me an early birthday present (and sang at me). They got me a very goth card, a bread & cakes recipe book, and theatre tokens. Considering that I'm a temp and I've only been here for three months, I'm awfully pleased and surprised that they bothered at all, but especially that they seem to have got the measure of me quite so spot on. Lovely team :)

Recruiting soup kitchen volunteers

Jul. 18th, 2017 09:56 pm
wildeabandon: A London skyline (London)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
My church runs a soup kitchen every Tuesday evening to support the homeless and those in food poverty in the area. We're looking for volunteers to oversee the project about once every six weeks. The church is about 5 minutes walk from Finsbury Park station, so easy to get to from anywhere on the Victoria or Piccadilly lines. More details are here if you're at all interested, and if not but you know people who might be then I'd appreciate you pointing them there or here.

Hugo thoughts

Jul. 18th, 2017 11:49 am
liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
[personal profile] liv
I didn't get very far through Hugo reading. I read all the short stories, and the three novels which were stand-alone or first in a series, skipping the ones that are sequels. I managed two of the six novellas, but didn't feel able to vote when I hadn't looked at the others. And I spent the last day before the voting deadline reading through the novelettes in order to be able to rank them. Plus, I happened to have seen enough of the films I felt I could reasonably vote on that category.

my opinions )

That's brief notes on my voting choices (well, I'm not great at brief)! I'm more than happy to discuss in more detail if anyone's interested, I just wanted to get this posted rather than being intimidated by it.

Busy, busy, busy

Jul. 18th, 2017 11:17 am
wildeabandon: sushi (sushi)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
It's all gone a bit hectic. Definitely in a fun way, but at some point I should probably schedule some quiet nights in...

I mentioned last month ago that I was trying climbing again, and since then I've been going most weeks. So far I'm making fairly measurable progress in terms of each time getting up a route, or at least further up a route, that I got stuck on the previous week. I was particularly pleased because one of those routes hadn't been graded the first time I tried it, and when I came back to it the following week it turned out to be three grades higher than anything I'd successfully climbed before (I still didn't quite make it to the top, but I got past the move I was stuck on, and I'm fairly confident that I'm going to make it to the top tomorrow).

I've been swimming a bit as well, both on my own and with [personal profile] sfred. The funny thing about swimming compared to most other forms of exercise that I do is that whilst I'm doing it it feels as though I'm going fairly gently and not working very hard, and then I get out of the pool and all my muscles go "gosh, that was bracing!". I think it's a combination of the water softening the impact of the motion, and feeling as though the only reason ones breathing is constricted is because of being underwater half the time, rather than from the exertion, and as Fred pointed out, not noticing that you're sweating, because it gets washed straight off.

I had my first singing lesson in ages last week, to get in a bit of improvement before choir starts in September. I'd forgotten how physical singing is when you're doing it right - I think my core muscles were getting more of a workout then than from the climbing!

I've also been enjoying various dinners. Last month I went to Morito with [personal profile] borusa and a couple of weeks ago I went with my sister to the Barbary to celebrate her birthday. They both do Middle Eastern/North African small plates on barstools overlooking the kitchen. Both were very good, and in both cases the aubergine thing was the high point of the meal. On that comparison Morito comes out on top, because their deep fried aubergine with date molasses and goat's curd was so delicious that I ordered a second plate of it instead of pudding. The crisp batter/melty soft aubergine texture contrast was heavenly, and the curd was light and fluffy but with a warm richness just made to be cut through by the sweet/sharp molasses.

Last weekend had more delicious food. On the Friday [personal profile] hjdoom was in town, so I had the fun challenge of finding somewhere good for a coeliac vegan to eat. We went for Itadaki Zen, the vegan Japanese place near Kings Cross, which is always fantastic. We had a mixture of small dishes to start, with lots of crunchy textures and umamish seasonings and sauces, then six pieces of sushi, all exquisite. My main was decent, but Oliver's tempura really won the day. I was especially excited by the vine leaf and the seaweed. On Saturday Ramesh & I went out for a very (very!) belated celebration of our anniversary to St Moritz. We ate all the cheese. And then we ate all the chocolate as well, because why not. I didn't think the fondue was quite as good as the late lamented L'art du fromage, but it was still basically giant pile of cheese, so hard to complain too much. On Sunday I'd invited Beryl, one of the St John's grandames, over for lunch, and then delegated the cooking to [personal profile] robert_jones, who did us proud with a lovely summery pea and basil soup, roast lamb that was just perfectly tender, and strawberries in balsamic syrup.

Tonight I'm dining with [personal profile] borusa again at Rok, and planning a dinner on Friday, when I've got the day off work so can pull the stops out a little bit. Then next week Ramesh & I are off to Amsterdam, where cultural and culinary delights various await us.
nou: The word "kake" in a white monospaced font on a black background (Default)
[personal profile] nou

I seem to have got involved in organising Queer Code London. We have a breakfast meet in Central London on Tuesday 1 August Tuesday 8 August, 7:30am-9am, and I’d love to see as many people there as possible.

The breakfast is free and includes vegetarian options, and the building is step-free accessible. You’ll need to join the Meetup group to see the location, but it's in Central London within a couple of minutes’ walk of a zone 1 station. Spaces are limited, so sign up ASAP.

No allies, please – this event is for queer coders only — but please pass this on as widely as you like.

Catching up

Jul. 17th, 2017 10:25 pm
liv: Detail of quirky animals including a sheep, from an illuminated border (marriage)
[personal profile] liv
So I went away for a few days, and also did lots and lots of reading, and now I'm blocked on posting to DW until I've caught up with talking about both those things. That's not sensible, so I'll try for a small postcard-type entry.

Most importantly, congratulations to [livejournal.com profile] illusive_shelle and her newly-minted husband! The wedding which formed the excuse for a small summer holiday for me and [personal profile] jack was absolutely perfect and amazing.

mostly diary )

I have lots of reading I want to talk about, partly because I've been trying to get through at least some of the Hugo material, and partly because of going on a short vacation, and partly because I had a horrendous 11 hour train journey at the start of not quite having time to post. I'll talk more about that hopefully soon, and go back to the music meme and so on. I am reading, as usual, just a bit behind with posting.