December 2006

Listening to: Queen Jane Approximately – Bob Dylan

I did see Marie Antoinette yesterday. It was slow – it went at about the pace of The Virgin Suicides, of which it reminded me a lot – but I liked it. Everything was beautiful, and I sympathised with Marie-Antoinette without actually sympathising with her (vive la revolution!), which was interesting to me. The soundtrack worked really well (especially the use of “Hong Kong Garden”), although I’d expected more of it (given the Never Mind the Bollocks title font, etc.). I gave it 8 stars on the IMDb, although I’d be hesitant to actually recommend it to anyone because of its slowness and Sofia Coppola-ness. But if you like that sort of thing, go and see it.

I just typed out a long and beautiful ode to the amazing weather we had yesterday, but WordPress (or maybe my internet connection) keeps eating things when I try to save them (I typed out my Marie Antoinette review so many times in the last fifteen minutes that I don’t even care anymore whether it’s coherent), so I’m afraid I can now only offer the abridged version: There was a storm. It lasted most of the evening (from about six until well after midnight). It made the sky very pretty, and was cool.


Listening to: Christmas Card From a Hooker in Minneapolis – Tom Waits

Merry Christmas! I hope your day went smashingly. Mine was quite nice – baked cakes and pottered around by myself all day until dinner at T’s parents’ house (they’re caterers, so the food was really good). Played boardgames until late into the evening. My uncle and his partner are staying here, but I haven’t seen much of them (they’re out and about visiting people every day, and I am antisocial). Jiangmin (my uncle’s partner) did teach me to make layered Chinese pancakes yesterday, though – they’re so cool. We made a sweet version, with peanut butter (in lieu of sesame paste) and brown sugar, and a savoury one with spring onions.

It’s all stormy today – I went for a (really good) run last night and kept seeing these flashes in the sky off to my right and thought it must be fireworks or something (because it was so contained in that one area), but was woken up by thunder right over our house at six this morning. It was beautiful, with all that dawn light. And now it’s back again, which is both good (pretty!) and bad (because I was going to cycle into the city to see Marie Antoinette. I still have an hour – maybe the rain will have come and gone by then).

I am finally reading DIY: The Rise of Lo-Fi Culture (I pushed it under a pile of stuff after it arrived so that it wouldn’t distract me from studiousness, and didn’t find it again until yesterday), and it’s really interesting. Or at least I think it is – I’ve read about three pages, and it sent me straight to my diary to sketch out all these embroidery plans. It’s reinvigorated my desire to make stuff.

I should probably turn off the computer and put on some rubber-soled shoes or something.

What exciting gifts did you get? How did you spend your day? Any plans for New Year’s Eve?

P.S. Rad! I did get some Crocs (well, the Target equivalent – my feet are between sizes in real Crocs), and you’re right; they’re really comfortable.

Incidentally, have you guys found your way here yet? I feel like I should do a roll call.

I’m sorry for the current lack of pictures – the camera’s packed away for its impending trip to Malaysia.

Listening to: Cut Your Hair – Pavement (hey, I voted for this in the 1994 Hottest 100 – ah, memories…)


Good reasons to go jogging in the dark: last night I saw an owl. I don’t know if my excitement over this is silly – are owls habitual suburban dwellers? – but holy cow. I went right past it and then had to stop and turn around and stare at it. It was sitting on a fence at my eyeline, and it was brown and compact and very still, except for its swivelling head and eyes, and it was amazing. No tawny frogmouth (which have their place and everything, but are not pretty) – a proper owl (i.e. very Harry Potter). I was giddy. I hope it’s out there again tonight, eating all the big scary cockroaches that are out roaming our pavements in abundance for the summer (they’re the size of mice [oh, how I wish they were mice], and they freak me out).

Because my parents are going off to Taman Negara in a couple of days, and we’ll have various aunts and uncles staying with us from tomorrow, we opened our Christmas presents tonight. I got a whole stack of Virago Modern Classics from Alice’s Bookshop, a biscuit press, some chocolate and Rough Guide’s Off the Beaten Track CD! Everyone else seemed happy with their stuff, too – L and T got a bunch of boardgames, and Mum and Dad got the stuff they requested (wind chimes for Mum, Waterson:Carthy’s new CD for Dad [who would’ve thought my dad’d ever own a Christmas album? But it is really good]). (I also scored Tom Waits’s Orphans today, thanks to my dad – it’s a long, complicated story involving lost CDs in hire cars – and it’s really good [especially Road to Peace, on the first disc].)

As for my new haircut…well. I nearly cried when I first saw it – since when does “I want to keep a bit of the length” translate to “Please give me a pronounced mullet”? – but I pinned up the back when I got home, and blunted the weird jagged fringe, and I’m learning to live with it. Hopefully it will grow out in a more dignified manner than before, at least.

I finished Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell today, and I’d been ploughing through it for so long that I really miss it now. I feel quite sad to be leaving it behind. I’ve started on the second of Anthony Marshall’s books, and I have all those Viragos, but still…I’ve had it on the go for weeks, and I’d become quite attached. Have you read it?

Listening to: Hairdresser on Fire – Morrissey

I played soccer tonight, for T’s team (7-a-side, 40-minute game). I have been so reluctant to in the past, because I assumed I would feel out of my depth and it would end up being a huge blow to my self-esteem, but actually I had a lot of fun. Our team played really well – we didn’t score any goals, and I lost count of the other team’s, but we kept at it. Absurdly, the other team remained aggressively competitive throughout (once it’s 10-0, why not just enjoy yourselves?), and, in the pettiest move ever, offered us the limpest of post-game handshakes (if you’re going to shake hands at all, shake hands – if the most can manage is a snide brush of the fingertips, just don’t bother). Anyway, I really enjoyed myself.

I have an appointment for an expensive haircut tomorrow morning, and I’m nervous about it. I have no idea what I want (which is why I’m not cutting it myself), except that I don’t want anything trendy, I don’t want anything that requires me to style my hair (or use, ahem, “hair product”), and I still want to keep more or less growing my hair out. Is this doable? I don’t think I’ve had a professional haircut since before I got my dreads (and I’ve never had a good haircut).

I borrowed the first eight episodes of the first season of Carnivàle from the library this weekend, and I’m totally hooked. I couldn’t get into it at all when it was on TV (I missed the first few episodes and was lost), but it’s really terrific. That whole Depression/dust bowl thing, carnies, good-versus-evil, an excellent cast – get it, if you can.

I’m feeling very indifferent about Christmas.

Listening to: W’Happy Mama – Zap Mama

Successful cupcakes!:

Slightly blurry (sorry).

They are the Chocolate Mint Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (there are some great examples of cupcakes from the book on this blog). My ganache-drizzling is never artful enough, but I am proud of my piped vegan buttercream frosting. And they taste good.

Have you been following this story? The audio of one of his customer service calls is available here (listen at your own peril – never have I squirmed so much [although it does become sort of hilarious by about the 16-minute mark]), and the follow-up here and here. I’ve just found it fascinating to see the internet in action like that.

Edited to add that there’s a transcript of the audio here, in case you don’t want to wade through all 23 minutes of it.

Listening to: Saint Dominic’s Preview – Van Morrison


Biblioteca De La Real Academia De La Lengua Madrid

There was a brief discussion on SALIN recently about librarians visiting libraries on holiday (although, actually, most people who responded to the original question said that no, they didn’t make a conscious effort to visit libraries on their holidays – SALIN can be really dispiriting sometimes [not a lot of romance there]). I do, not out of professional interest but because I love them.

(Not included in the above collection is the main public library in Prague, which has this amazing display, which looks just as cool from the outside of the tower [made of debited books – I wish our library would do something like that, instead of chucking them in the bin].)

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