dolorosa_12: (sokka)
Day 29: Your opinions on the television show Glee.
I think Glee was a wasted opportunity. The creators had the building blocks to craft a (perhaps not particular creative) story about diversity, representation, discrimination, privilege and families that are found not born, and they threw it away.

For a show that's ostensibly about acceptance and giving voice to everyone, it's a little surprising* that only the voices of white men get heard.

Day 30: Take a picture of yourself right now and post it, or post the most recent picture you can find.
Photobucket

This isn't the most recent photo of me, but it's the most recent one where I'm not sticking my eyes out like a bug, so this is what you're getting. I'm the one in the red hat who isn't looking at the camera. This was taken in December, when my friends and I went to the Christmas market at Nuremberg.

______________
* And by that I mean sadly not a surprise at all.
dolorosa_12: (Default)
Day 28: Your first celebrity crush.
I'm probably showing my age here, but when I was twelve, I had the most epic crush on Zac Hanson from Hanson. (Unlike most of my friends, who liked Taylor, I preferred Zac, who was closer to me in age and appeared to have more of a sense of humour.) I found this intensely embarrassing at the time, despite the fact that basically everyone around me was going mad for Hanson.

To be honest, though, most of my crushes of this type have been on fictional characters. I fell in love with Pagan Kidrouk of the Pagan Chronicles series when I was ten years old, and there's still a part of me that would follow him to the ends of the earth if he showed up on the doorstep. (While Pagan is 16-18 in the first three books of the series, he's in his late 30s in the fourth and dies when he's in his late 50s, so I feel less creepy than if only his adolescence was charted in the books.) I rarely had crushes on celebrities because I was aware from quite early on that whatever personality I could see was to a great degree a construct. In books and other media, I could actually see what a character's personality was.

I'm not sure how weird that makes me.

the other days )

I've been blogging on Wordpress about female lyricists, 'Persephone girls' and apologising for giving voice to my feelings.

I have noticed that when people criticise these lyricists – Kate Bush and Florence Welch in particular – they are often criticised for their insistent introversion, for the way they verbalise their emotions. (I once read a review of Florence’s Ceremonials album that essentially criticised her for not being Bob Dylan.) It’s as if what they sing about, what they’re feeling, is small and personal and irrelevant, whereas when a man – say, Neil Young – sings about his feelings, they’re large and universal and important.

Oddly enough, in light of what I'm talking about in that Wordpress post, this post about the transformation of fairytales from stories of female empowerment to Disneyfied tales of passivity and purity popped up on Twitter just as I was writing. Check it out.
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
Day 27: List your three favorite girl names, three favorite boy names, and your three favorite names for a pet.
My favourite male names are all kind of Old Testmenty. They are:
1. Benjamin
2. Asher
3. Daniel

I also really like the names Oliver and Ragnar.

My favourite female names are a bit more eclectic, and I can't narrow it down to three. They are:

1. Claudia
2. Esther
3. Alba or Alma (Alma was my great-grandmother's name, and it's sort of become a family name, as my youngest cousin has it as her middle name)
4. Signe
5. Leah

I'm not an animal person, so I don't really think about names to give to animals very much.

the other days )
dolorosa_12: (sister finland)
Day 26: Name one place you would love to visit one day.
If I have to name just one, I'm going to be sneaky and say, rather generically, 'the north'. For the past ten years at least, I've had this desire to roam around places so far north that the sun never sets (or, conversely, that the sun never rises). Top on my list are Iceland, Norway and Finland, which all sound like they're really, really beautiful.

I will, at least, be able to cross Finland off my list pretty soon. I've been accepted to present a paper at a conference in Helsinki in early June, so I'll be heading off there in the not-too-distant future. I'm not sure if it's going to be 24-hour daylight there at that point, but I look forward to it in any case.

the other days )
dolorosa_12: (ship)
Day 25: Tell us about the last book you read (for leisure or for school).
The last book I read was one I've read multiple times as background for my academic work on medieval Irish literature. It's called The Wisdom of the Outlaw, and is written by Joseph Falaky Nagy. It's about a genre of Irish literature called Fianaigecht, and most particularly the idea that there existed in medieval Irish literature this marginal, semi-supernatural group of people whose power came from their outsider status. It's an absolutely beautiful piece of academic work, and I wish that I had been the one to write it!

the other days )
dolorosa_12: (ship)
Day 24: Tell us about the last movie you saw in the cinema.
The last film I saw in the cinema was The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!, which was a very funny film made by the people who make the Wallace and Grommit films. It had an absolutely stellar cast of British thespie types having a whale of a time doing the voice acting, and told the story of a bunch of pirates who wind up hanging out with Charles Darwin. There is a dodo involved, and Queen Victoria is a pirate-hunting ninja.

That should tell you everything you need to know. I defy anyone to see that film and not leave it feeling better about life.

the other days )

As you can tell, I didn't catch up, and probably won't. I've been feeling mildly ill for the past 24 hours and think I might be coming down with a cold, which leaves me with less energy than I'd like.

Just dance

Apr. 13th, 2012 10:15 am
dolorosa_12: (epic internet)
Day 23: Your opinions on Lady Gaga.
I have lots of thoughts about Lady Gaga, but rather than write an essay, I thought I'd point you to this post of Sady Doyle's, which says it all with an eloquence I don't think I could manage.

In the past, Doyle had written of Lady Gaga 'Like, basically I think she is an undercover performance artist attempting to decode the whole "sexy pop star" thing and its implications re: gender and sexuality and also sort of taking the piss with the whole sexy pop star thing whilst wearing corsets with exploding breast cups and disco ball dresses and what-have-you and singing songs about the disco sticks and the bluffing of muffins and I love her. Embarrassing, but true!'

In a later post, she had changed her tune slightly.

Gaga’s controversies used to be more interesting than this. They used to bring up stuff like, say, trans prison issues, or the politics of depicting human trafficking, or whether femininity and female sexuality were a means by which women were oppressed, or a means of empowerment (answer: Both, provided you can shoot fire out of your nipples). [...]

Next time, come up with something that’s actually offensive. Or, at least, cool-looking. Give me something to talk about. You are the Internet; our fate is in your hands.


Which is basically my thinking too. And her songs are good to dance to.

the other days )

As you may have noticed, I've been away from the internet for a little while, so I'm behind on this meme. I will remedy that by posting three times today!
dolorosa_12: (sister finland)
Day 22: Do you play a sport? Tell us about it. If not, talk about a different hobby you may have.
Well, I don't really play a sport per se, since I don't do it competitively, but I go running for exercise. Sometimes I enjoy it, and sometimes I find it frustrating (mainly because I find my adult body frustratingly lacking in agility and stamina in comparison to my child or adolescent body), but I always feel better after having gone running. It's hard to explain, but it feels as if your muscles and veins and arteries have been washed, somehow. I don't know if that makes sense.

It annoys me that I can't find any sport that I enjoy as much as I enjoyed gymnastics, but I guess that makes sense. How could a sport that makes you feel as if you are flying compare to throwing or kicking a round object around an expanse of grass?

the other days )

My boyfriend's sister is coming to visit for the next three days, so I may be offline quite a lot and probably won't be writing this meme until she's left, so expect silence until Friday.
dolorosa_12: (Default)
Day 21: Your favorite subject to study.
Well, this is a difficult question to answer. Right now, I'm doing a PhD on medieval Irish literature (which involves knowing a bit about medieval history, theology, and other medieval languages and literatures), so I'd say that at the moment, that's my favourite subject to study. I love medieval literature for both its directness and elusiveness. It often explains things in very simple, clear language, but the meaning and intent are hovering somewhere out of reach. I also love medieval literature for the undercurrent of melancholy and regret that tends to run through it. It's very sad, but it's more beautiful for the sadness. People in medieval literature are fragile and flawed, but in such a poetic way.

As an undergraduate, I studied four subjects: theoretical linguistics, English literature (which swiftly turned into medieval Irish literature), Jewish history and Arab and Islamic history. After the first year, I dropped linguistics and Arab and Islamic history in favour of the other two subjects, which I enjoyed more, and I ultimately did Honours in literature (writing about the motif of fleeing to Scotland in a selection of medieval Irish texts). I think I liked Jewish history because I've always been drawn to stories of dispossession, and the Jewish story is in many ways about just that - about survival in the face of dispossession, about retaining an identity in exile, about living on the margins and finding a space for yourself. I ultimately dropped it because I didn't have the language skills to continue on in a further degree, but I am looking at some point to combine my background in Jewish history with my medieval literature studies.

At school, my favourite subjects were literature and history. I think I've always liked history because to me it is like a story. I'm not a natural historian (the meaning I want is more ambiguous and fluid than the certainties for which historians seek), but when I think of history as being like a narrative (or a series of narratives), I find it quite beautiful.

But ultimately, I think I am a scholar of literature at heart. The truth we can find in literature is to me more beautiful, because there are multiple truths, and because the writers of literature say things more indirectly and thus, I think, more powerfully.* Literature appeals to my belief in multiplicity and plurality: it says different things to different people, and while we can attempt to work out what its authors really intended to say, we can never be certain that we are right.

the other days )

I've updated my German blog with a post about Easter eggs and nostalgia.

______________
* In my field, however, it's ridiculous to categorise things into 'literary' or other forms of texts, because their authors or compilers understood 'literature' in a very different way to how we do now.
dolorosa_12: (ship)
Day 20: Do you wear glasses? If so, what are they for?
I don't have glasses, but I imagine I will have to get them in about 15 years' time. My mother got glasses in her early 40s due to far-sightedness, and I think this is a problem that most people get when they get older.

In some ways, I won't mind, as I love glasses and think they look really snazzy. At the same time, I find them very uncomfortable and distracting to wear (to the extent that wearing sunglasses gives me a headache because of the effort of trying to stop myself looking outside the frames of the glasses), and the thought of wearing contacts makes my stomach turn. So yeah.

the other days )

#1 Crush

Apr. 7th, 2012 09:44 pm
dolorosa_12: (Default)
Day 19: The initials of your crush(es).
I don't think it counts as a crush when they're your boyfriend.

the other days )
dolorosa_12: (sokka)
Day 18: Do you drink soda more often than milk?
Until I was about 20, I drank massive, pint-glasses of milk every morning at breakfast. The only thing was that it had to be Shape, which is a very specific kind of low-fat milk which, if I recall correctly, can only be bought in New South Wales and the ACT. (Certainly I remember being traumatised on family holidays in Victoria and having to try to drink other kinds of milk.) The thing is, I found full-cream milk to taste too creamy (I find cream, butter, margarine, and occasionally yoghurt to be repulsive. Also bananas and avocados. It's a texture thing). All other low-fat milk I've tasted tastes like full-cream milk to me, but Shape was deliciously watery and almost sweet tasting. Everyone else I know finds it disgusting. I can drink any kind of milk when it's mixed in things, of course.

Anyway, I don't really drink milk at all any more, unless it's in coffee (and even then, not that much, as I drink macchiatos while I'm in Germany because, you guessed it, the way that German baristas make all the other types of coffee is too milky*). The thought of drinking milk actually makes me feel a little queasy, to be honest. (I think this might be somewhat genetic. My father is sickened by milk, yoghurt and even cheese, which is the one dairy product I love. My sister also feels queasy when she drinks milk, especially when it's warm.) I'm glad that I drank milk throughout my childhood, adolescence and early adulthood, as the health benefits are pretty important, but I can't imagine drinking it now. So by virtue of that, I drink more soft drinks than milk as I don't drink milk at all.

the other days )

________________
* This isn't the fault of the German baristas. It's just a style of coffee, one that I don't like much. I prefer my lattes to look and taste like this rather than this.
dolorosa_12: (sister finland)
Day 17: Your thoughts on Ugg boots.
Being Australian, I've been familiar with Ugg boots for a bit longer than most of the rest of the world. We Australians, sensibly, wore Ugg boots for decades, in the house, as slippers, before the rest of the world caught on. The operative words being house and slippers.We all thought it was pretty hilarious when people started wearing them outdoors as a fashion statement.

So yeah. Ugg boots. I own a pair. They don't leave my front door.

the other days )

So, I've had a very productive morning on my first full day back in Heidelberg. After sorting out the last of my admin, I spent my time in the library translating a medieval text about grave mounds (as you do), signed up for the final of my classes and came home for lunch. In about half an hour I'll head back into town to do more work, which will involve reading secondary literature and trying to revise a bit of German grammar.

This productivity is never going to last.
dolorosa_12: (sokka)
Day 16: Your favorite Disney princess movie.
When I was a child, my favourite Disney princess films were The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. I think this is because I had aspirations to be both Ariel and Aladdin. (I spent a long time during my childhood pretending to be both of them. My sister pretended to be Flounder and Jasmine because she's cool like that.) I also think they had the best music of that era of Disney films.

I was in no way a child when Mulan came out, and encountered it through the younger daughter of a family friend, who was obsessed. After watching it, I understood why. Mulan is without a doubt my favourite Disney heroine, and can be described as feminist with much more justification than Belle in Beauty and the Beast. (I hated that film when I saw it as a child, and I hate it now. I realise that's the sort of admission that sees you shunned from certain corners of the internet, and I don't care.) I realise that judging Disney films on the basis of their feminist credentials will only end in tears, but in the end, I have to take the one that has the least damaging message as my favourite.

the other days )

I'm back in Germany for another semester, and have blogged about my initial impressions of returning to Heidelberg here.
dolorosa_12: (sister finland)
Day 15: Tell us your favorite junk food.
My favourite junk food that can be eaten as a meal is pizza. It's pretty much the only fast food I can tolerate. The smell of places like McDonald's or KFC makes me gag, and the cheapness of the food makes me suspicious. But throw some melted cheese on something and I'll eat it forever. Hence, pizza. I like non-fast food-type pizza too, of course.

My favourite snacky junk food is probably various types of sour sweets, like sour coke bottles, Haribo, wine gums, sour strawberries and so on.

the other days )

I also want to relate a rather surreal experience of my Cambridge housemate J2. Her room is on the ground floor of our house, and has a door that opens onto the back yard. She had wandered out one morning to get her laundry off the line, and was standing around sleepily when she noticed a woman, crouched in our driveway, talking to a man who was also standing on our block. Because she was so sleepy, it took her a little while to recognise that this was a little odd. Then she asked them if everything was all right.

Perfectly all right, they replied.

She then said something along the lines of 'why are you on my driveway, then?'

'I'm just putting together this vacuum cleaner,' the woman replied.

J2 stared in stunned silence for a second and then said, 'you do realise this is our driveway, right?'

The woman replied, 'but I left the vacuum cleaner in the vacant lot two weeks ago'. (We have a vacant lot next to our house.)

J2 pointed out that this was no reason to be on our driveway. Finally, in a great huff, the woman moved off into the street, acting as if it were unreasonable to be asked to get out of someone else's garden. Bizarre.

I'd noticed recently that people seemed to be coming up our driveway but never making it as far as the back yard (I'd run to the garden when I saw them, to try and tell them to get out), but just assumed that they were the normal drunks peeing against the wall of the house (we live in a charming neighbourhood, yes). But apparently they were stashing dismantled vacuum cleaners in the vacant lot next door. As you do.
dolorosa_12: (Default)
Day 14: Do you have siblings? Talk about them, or talk about what it's like to be an only child.
As you're all probably well aware, I have three younger sisters. I love them to bits and find it very difficult to live so far away from them, as it's meant that I've either drifted apart a bit from them (as is the case with my first sister) or missed their entire childhoods (as is the case with the other two).

Mim is 23 years old. After finishing up her undergrad degree in Sydney a couple of years ago, she moved to Melbourne to start a degree in media and communications and work part-time for a small film production company. Last (southern) summer, she got a cadetship working in Canberra for the public service, and at the end of the cadetship, they offered her a full-time, ongoing job there if she wanted. So that is what she is doing now, while finishing off her Master's degree part-time by distance. We were closer as children, but ours is a resilient friendship that seems able to be revived at any minute, and whenever we're both in the same place, we end up chatting away as if we've never been apart. We share similar tastes in music, movies and food, although she is not in any way a geek and isn't so fannish about stuff (for want of a better word). Our childhood was absolutely idyllic. We were not allowed to watch much TV, and in fact had no desire to do so (oh, how things have changed), but instead spent all our spare time playing imaginative games either outside or in the house. We had whole worlds, with ongoing storylines that could be picked up at any time, and dropped whenever we felt like it, only to be picked up, not where we left off, but accounting for any real time that had passed. I am so grateful to her for our childhood.

Kitty is nine years old. She lives in Melbourne with my dad and stepmother. I saw a lot of Kitty in her earlier years, as she lived in Canberra and I lived in Sydney and would visit for a week at every set of holidays. Now, if I'm lucky, I see her once a year. She's a lovely, chatty, clever girl who seems so enthusiastic about everything. Last time I visited, she was learning ice-skating. The time before that she was doing two types of dance. She loves to write things in journals and she is coming to enjoy reading, although she struggled with it initially. She's also obsessed with music of the Miley Cyrus variety.

Nell is four years old, and she is, as you'd imagine, the one I know the least. She lives with my dad and stepmother in Melbourne, of course. Like everyone in my family, she is very, very chatty. It seems to me that she gulps down life, grabbing it with both hands, full of wonder and curiosity. Although I've only stayed with her for relatively short periods, we have the most amazing conversations.

I love having sisters and couldn't imagine being an only child. I'm sure there are some good things about it, but I would feel bereft and lost without my siblings.

the other days )
dolorosa_12: (doctor horrible)
You get two memes today, mainly because I wasn't near a computer for most of yesterday. Aren't you lucky?

Day 12: Your thoughts or opinions about Harry Potter.
My feelings about the Harry Potter series are a complicated mixture of pride and disappointment. I loved the books, and enjoyed reading them, and I felt all the feelings I was presumably supposed to feel, crying, celebrating and growing up with the characters. At the same time, I feel disappointment because they are flawed books and they could've been better.

What I am most grateful for is the fact that for at least 10 years, there was a series of books that I could discuss, agonise over, analyse and whose story I could attempt to predict with my friends, and with my generation more widely. While most of my friends are readers, not all of them read as much or as often as I did, and the Potter books were a unifying force. And I feel a rush of curious pride when I think that my generation's Beatles was not a band but a series of fantasy novels.

Day 13: Your thoughts or opinions about Mean Girls.
I knew about Mean Girls before it was a film. It began its life as a sort of sociological self-help book called Queen Bees and Wannabes aimed at mothers of teenage daughters. The irony is that it was introduced to me by the mother of a friend of my sister. This mother breathlessly pushed the book on our family as a sort of Bible of the interactions of adolescent girls, a sure-fire way to avoid bullying. And her daughter had been bullying my sister for the past two years.

The film is pretty good, too.

the other days )

I'm not sure if you are aware of the minor YA literature kerfuffle that broke out last week when yet another ignorant idiot opined that adults shouldn't be reading YA literature. Kristin Cashore didn't engage, posting the blogging equivalent of 'burn!'

Foz Meadows carried on being awesome, noting a disturbing sexism in the original writer's article:

The bolding is mine; take note of it! Because rather than a critique of the content of YA novels, what this piece actually represents is the following assertion: that it’s fundamentally embarrassing for grown men to share any interests whatever with teenage girls. In fact, according to Joel, it is actually more embarrassing for a man to identify with a teen girl via the medium of literature than if he were publicly demeaning and sexualising her via the medium of pornography!

Ugh. She's also got a rather brilliant post about default narrative sexism in which she makes the point that there's an awful lot of sexism in fantasy novels, so much so that its existence is unremarkable. But curiously, there's sexism, but no sexists.

We are left with sexism as a background detail: one which is used to justify the plight or origins of particular female characters and the total absence of others, but which is never actually addressed. Which, in instances where the protagonist is male, or where the majority of the cast is male, leaves us instantly with a screaming, red-faced anachronism: where are the actual sexists? Why, if sexism in this society is so deep-seated, are the heroes so unusually enlightened? Here is why; I will tell you the secret. Because we are meant to like them. Funnily enough, most authors have cottoned on to the fact that writing openly sexist heroes is less heroic than it is disgusting; that it’s sort of difficult to hail Weapons McFighty, Trueking Noob and Roamer Nomadson as the exalted Lords of Awesome when they’ve spent the majority of the book acting like entitled jerks.

To which I say a resounding 'YES!'
dolorosa_12: (flight of the conchords)
Day 11: Your top three favorite bands.
I'm going to cheat a little bit because I can't narrow it down to three, but can do so to four.

My favourite band in the history of the universe is Massive Attack. They've been my favourite band since I was 15, and I can't see that changing any time soon. I love them in particular for their clever lyrics, and for their careful blending of diamond-hard sharpness with soft darkness, for their ethereal vocals mixed with deep earthy music that you feel in your stomach.

For example:



I blog about them here.

My second-favourite band is The Knife. I love them again for the lyrics, for Karin Dreijer-Andersson's discordant vocals, for the way their cheerful, poppy sound belies the painful, disturbing nature of their words. See, for example:



Also:



My third-favourite band is a tie between Pendulum and Florence + The Machine. Pendulum indulges my love of bass. I listen to them when I write my thesis, when I clean, when I exercise. For some reason it just makes me want to get stuff done. Their music seems perfectly designed to work with the way I understand and react to music (that is, it tells me stories and shows me images). I blogged about Pendulum here.

Their music is, I think, best represented by this:



I was a latecomer to Florence + The Machine, but when I finally gave them a chance, wow! It wouldn't work without Florence Welch's voice, but I am a lyrics woman at heart, and what really sold it for me was those words. She sings the things I think but don't dare to articulate, even to myself. The truths she sings hurt me, they are so true. I blog about Florence + The Machine here

The songs of hers that mean the most to me personally are:



and:




Well, it looks like I've blogged about all my favourite music save The Knife. I guess that'll have to be remedied at some point.

Sometimes I think it's crazy, how much music means to me, how much I identify with it, but I just feel so much, so deeply, and am so affected by stuff in my life that I need these external things, these sad girls who sing darkly about my life, these heroines of literature and television whose stories I feel as if they are my own, in order to cope with the extremity of emotion. I know that sounds self-centred and adolescent, and it is, but I'm sick of feeling that it's something for which I should apologise. I feel. I am.

the other days )
dolorosa_12: (sokka)
Day 10: Talk about your pet(s), or pets you would like to have.
I have never had a pet in my life, either as a child growing up or as an adult living away from home. This mostly because my mother is not really an animal person, and my sister and I have essentially inherited her attitude. I have nothing against people who own pets and find animals cute - and sometimes I find kittens or puppies cute myself - but for the most part, I have very little interest in owning pets or in animals in general.

This is probably a good thing, considering how much I move around. Moving house is not good for pets.

the other days )
dolorosa_12: (epic internet)
Day 9: Favorite meme at the moment.
I know it's a little old, but I really like the memes floating around that are based on the webcomic Hyperbole and a Half. My favourite of all is the one that I think made the comic famous, This is why I'll never be an adult, it of 'clean all the things!' and 'Internet! Forever!' fame. I also really like Expectations vs reality, for the immortal meme 'I wanted the opposite of this'. I use these phrases in my offline life. I probably need help.

the other days )

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