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About this journal

Hi there. I'm Clare, and I like writing. A lot. I also like playing games and reading books and comics and manga and watching films and tv shows and anime and consuming as many media products as I have time for. A lot. And I especially like writing about them. A lot.

I'm a perpetual student, currently reading for a PhD in media studies (media convergence and transmedia storytelling specifically), with a background in English lit and a handful of other academic loves that I left by the wayside (French, Spanish, Old English, Maths). And I'm an incurable fan, unreasonably passionate about fandom and fan practices even when they make me facepalm, for whom fannish activity (esp. fic and meta) = default brain setting. I overanalyse everything; I get shamelessly enthusiastic about things I like, and colourfully ranty about things I don't; and I'm incapable of shutting up once you've got me on a topic I'm interested in.

I use this journal mostly for fic, meta, and reviews of things I'm currently overinvested in, and the occasional non-fandom post about my thesis or my family or other random personal and RL crap. I don't have much of a friending policy; I always welcome new friends, and will add back 99.99% of the time, and conversely there's always a defriending amnesty on this journal (although if you're someone I've had more than a couple of conversations with I'd appreciate a note as to why). I read everything on my flist, and do my best to get past my social awkwardness enough to comment whenever possible.

Still interested? Then go ahead and enable me :) It doesn't take much.

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last updated: May 30th, 2009

my writingCollapse )

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resurrection

Oh lj, how I have neglected you. Except not, because I've been on here just as much as ever, lurking and reading and getting mired in linkspam and wank. In other words, indulging all my obsessive and neurotic tendencies. Which I don't need, given that my brain already so often feels dull and heavy from constantly gnawing on and fretting over this Damned Thesis. SO I'm going to start trying to turn this journal back into something fun and sort-of productive, and break myself out of some of my cycles of meh.

I'm actually stupidly excited about pw_bigbang getting going, even though I'm only signed up as a beta. I've replayed Justice for All and Trials and Tribulations recently, and the fandom love has most definitely been rekindled - I'd almost forgotten, how much Nick and Edgeworth are the OTP TO END ALL OTPs, how sweet and smart and interesting Adrian is, how adorable Pearls is, how badass Mia is, how damn GOOD the final cases on both games are. I'm still struggling with my own creative energy, but I'm really looking forward to getting matched up with a big bang author and getting to bounce ideas around about their fic and different takes on the characters.

I've been doing rather a lot of gaming since my last post ¬_¬ I finished Last Window (KYLE <3), Golden Sun: Dark Dawn (story and character were a little thin for me, and the endless piling on of fetch quests got a bit ridiculous after a while, but the battle system and dungeon design I found deeply, deeply satisfying and absorbing), and most recently Ghost Trick.

GHOST TRICK. MY HEART.

possibly spoileryCollapse )

So yes. Awesome game, cannot recommend it enough, and I will definitely be dabbling my toes in its fandom.

I am now going to continue my Experiments in Vital Wheat Gluten (so far, moderately successful - I made a vegan chorizo sausage that fried up pretty good, but then tried a recipe book's suggestion of shredding homemade seitan into chilli, and...yeah. Pretty wrong), and possibly settle down for an evening of Ouran (rewatching, because Hazel hasn't seen it) or Azumanga Daioh (the theme song, it WILL NOT LEAVE MY HEAD) and Masterchef.

Speaking of Masterchef, I found Gregg/John slash the other day. Yup. It upsets me, and yet I understand it.

So how are you guys?

Deathly Hallows reaction post

This is not going to be a proper review, primarily because my love for Harry Potter has softened into a kind of simple, warm, nostalgic fangirl pleasure that I just slip happily into whenever I revisit the series. I loved Deathly Hallows as a film; I think it's the best one they've made so far - beautiful art direction, good pacing, much better acting - but tbh, in the end the experience just boiled down to fannish delight, at seeing new characters cast, favourite bits of the book played out, at having an opportunity to get excited about Harry Potter again.

So, a reaction post instead. spoilers galore withinCollapse )

Work continues, slowly but surely. I am also making an effort to start Applying for Things, i.e. jobs, so that I don't fall off the end of this PhD into unemployment. I've been trying to think of things I might want to and be able to do that aren't higher education teaching, given that I suspect Bad Things are going to happen to the HE job market under this government. The BBC is currently top of my list; they're doing a big recruitment drive for the new MediaCityUK at Salford. I emailed them a CV last week, asking to be considered for jobs in the Content Making sector; I got through the initial "let's make sure you're not taking the piss" screening, and did some online assessments for them yesterday. I was trying not to second-guess them too much, but I couldn't shake the feeling that everything I answered was screaming RESEARCHER RESEARCHER I AM A RESEARCHER WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO COME AND RESEARCH FOR YOU. Anyway, apparently now I just wait, and if a job comes up that they think I'd be suited for based on those tests, then they'll email and ask if I'd like to be considered for interview. Not sure if anything will come of it, but I figured it was worth a shot.

I woke up this morning to an inch or so of snow. I have to say, it's somewhat less magical in the middle of a city.
I was eyeing pw_bigbang, wondering if I'd be able to pull my finger out and finally write that not-cracky-honest Franziska/Kay story that's been knocking around in my head since AA:I came out, but decided my writing energy's just too unpredictable at the moment. So I signed up as a beta instead :D I don't know why I don't offer beta-ing more often, tbh - all the fun of close engagement with the canon, less battling with my own writing mojo. Really looking forward to that getting going, anyway.

I'm realising that one of the reasons I enjoy these Hotel Dusk games so much, and Kyle as a protagonist, is because of how quiet and everyday they are at heart. I love how underneath the complicated plot and backstory, the rhythm of the game is so gentle and mundane: mooching around your flat, falling asleep in front of the television, wandering downstairs for a good cup of coffee, lingering for a chat with your neighbours. I love that the game takes the time to show you the simple pleasures and routines that keep Kyle going: his old jazz records, the liquor bottles on his coffee table, the fact that his favourite place to eat is the cafe on the ground floor of his apartment building and he sits in the same seat every time. Not many of the games I've ever played have given the impression that their characters are actually living with and around their plots, and the Hotel Dusk games make a nice change.

I saw The Kids Are Alright the other day, which was much better than I'd expected it to be. review, not really spoileryCollapse )

Speaking of lesbians...BBC3's Lip Service is still appalling; Detective Sam is still hot and occasionally taking her clothes off, and therefore we are still watching it. Perhaps I should stop being so shallow in my media consumption; otoh, perhaps the BBC should start producing lesbian programming that revolves around something more than sub-fanfic fucking and relationship drama.

relocation, relocation

Wirral -> Manchester, at last. Moving has not been particularly fun, to put it mildly. Sheer volume of stuff + having to get it all down from a 2nd floor flat + unloading at top speed on a tiny city centre road + CLEANING AND CLEANING AND CLEANING OH GOD WHY DID OUR LAST FLAT HAVE TO BE SO BIG = bad times; I have been in an absolutely foul temper for the last week, and have developed an odd hot stabbing pain in my upper back. But we're here now, and everything is sorted and put away and arranged and tidy (well, as much as it's ever going to be; the flat is small, our stuff is voluminous, it is never going to look anything but cluttered).

The flat is clean, recently redecorated, and robust, and unexpectedly liveable and cosy. It has only two bad points, really: a) it doesn't get a lot of natural light, although we will at least be saving on the electricity bill elsewhere because b) it is ridiculously warm. I seriously can't see us needing the heating on until the real depths of winter; it must have almighty insulation. Both of those are more than compensated for, though, by it being right right right in the middle of Manchester omg. Every time I go out, I'm amazed by how much STUFF there is on our doorstep. I am totally overstimulated at the moment, just constantly walking around like 8D.

I'm a little anxious about having moved - it's the first time I've moved permanently further away than just round the corner from my family; I'm not a city girl at heart. But it's a pretty easy journey home, and I do at least know the centre of Manchester reasonably well already, so hopefully I'll settle in soon. I've got to say, I already miss the Wirral's coasts and open spaces, though (and it isn't helping that the weather in Manchester right now is UNREMITTINGLY GRIM).

I went on a lot of walks and picnics in the fortnight before we moved, trying to make the most both of the last of the summer weather and the last days on the Wirral, and took some pics to remember it by:

out with the oldCollapse )

And here's a couple of the flat. It also has a decent-sized bathroom that was impossible to take a photo of, and a hall that is currently filled with empty crates and boxes.

in with the newCollapse )

news-y things and holiday snaps

1. Today, I reached the halfway word count mark on the first draft of my thesis. I would feel pleased with myself, if it weren't for the fact that I'm finding it pretty much impossible to feel pleased with anything I do on this thesis at the moment. I am entirely burnt out on it, to the point where I know I'm consistently producing work way below the standard I'm capable of; as a result, every minute I spend working on it, I am miserable, bored, tired, anxious, and angry with myself. The only thing that's motivating me is the fact that I love teaching, I love presenting at conferences, I love writing papers and articles and editing things up to scratch for publication - in other words, I know being a lecturer/professor is the job I want, and I can't follow that path without a PhD. But lengthy research, lonely research, research that gets pitifully little feedback and encouragement, research to produce 100,000 words of writing that only 4 people in the entire world other than me are ever going to read and that is almost certainly never going to get used by anyone - I can't say that's feeling particularly rewarding or enjoyable right now.

But I am, at least, 50,000 words closer to the end than I was when I started.

2. Assuming our tenancy application goes through successfully (touch wood), on September 13th Hazel and I will be relocating to Manchester, so Hazel can start at the uni. The flat we're in the process of applying for is a cosy, quite student-y one right in the city centre, which is both exciting and daunting - I've never actually lived in a proper big city before, but OTOH there's something quite appealing about living somewhere where within a 5-minute walk there is: one fully vegan restaurant, and a basement arts and crafts centre selling vegan sandwiches and soup; an artisan cupcake cafe with a couple of vegan options; an enormous Forbidden Planet and an independent manga and comics retailer; seven billion secondhand vinyl and clothes shops; a small live music venue; Chinatown; Piccadilly Gardens and the main high streets of Manchester.

3. Family holiday this year was a short week with Mum and Rob to Belgium and the edge of Germany, specifically, Brussels, Bruges, and Aachen. Most of it was spent wandering around admiring the really lovely architecture in all three, interspersed with breaks to eat chocolate, waffles (with chocolate, or for Mum and Rob, mit slagroom, which to my utter delight is the word for whipped cream in Flemish), and Haagen Daas, to drink beer, then eat meat cooked in beer, accompanied by lots and lots of frites. I don't think I saw a vegetable the whole time I was there. Mum also managed to get us a few nights in fancy business hotels at hugely discounted rates, so we also had lots of fun bringing the tone (and average salary of the occupants) of some very lovely lounges, pools, and dining rooms very firmly down, not least by unashamedly demolishing vast swathes of the unlimited breakfast buffets. It was a lovely break; the only bad thing (apart from my mother's earth-moving snoring; on the first night we shared a room, I didn't get to sleep until about 4am) about it was how completely at sea I felt in Germany, not being able to speak a shred of the language. I've never been anywhere where I couldn't make a decent stab at one of its languages before, and it surprised me how stressful I found it.

The weather wasn't great, so neither are any of the pictures I took (my little camera Doesn't Do Well with poor light), but here are some of the best/most representative ones:

image-heavy, comme toujoursCollapse )

4. Apart from one WIP on the PWKM which I'm loving, I've been really struggling to find good fic recently, and that makes me sad. If anyone has any recs for fic in any fandom where I've ever expressed any degree of love for the source material, they would be much welcomed. Just nothing hosted on AO3 plz; I'm far from one of the OTW haters, it's just that for some reason the site crashes my computer entirely.

recent reading, highly recommended

1. N. K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms: best new fantasy I've read in a long time. A tale of power and betrayal and inheritance and theomachy, in the epic fantasy mould - except, well, not, because a) it insistently rejects and moves away from the stale eurocentrism of most epic fantasy, b) it exposes and questions the dynamics of dominance, slavery, cultural imperialism and privilege (in both our world and the world of the text) that epic fantasy runs on, and c) it has a female protagonist, Yeine, who is actually coherently developed, strong, self-aware, and in charge of her sexuality, and isn't just a conservative stereotype with a lazy veneer of "feistiness" over the top. The worldbuilding is intelligent, interactions between characters vivid, but the thing I really loved was Jemisin's mythology/theology/cosmogony. The stories she tells of the gods in this world, and the ways they hate and love each other and their creations, are intense and vital, and do a great job of articulating how their emotions, thoughts, existence and relationships aren't fully intelligible through human conceptual categories.

Not perfect, for me - Scimina did nothing for me as an antagonist; I just find villains in the Bellatrix Lestrange mode kind of lazy. The presentation of Yeine and Nahadoth's relationship bothered me from time to time; sometimes I felt that there was too much fear in it, and a bit too much "no no I don't want this except maybe I do", which made me look a bit askance at it. And, I don't even know if this is a criticism or not, but the fact that the matriarchal culture Yeine comes from is so completely an inversion of patriarchal structures, right down to patronising, infantilising, and marginalising men, I found made for uncomfortable reading. It kind of qualified Yeine's strength and power for me, the fact that it was presented as coming out of a situation that privileged her at the expense of others. And maybe that was the point, because it certainly made me think about why that doesn't always occur to me when I see a strong male protagonist in a patriarchal set up, even though the dynamic is exactly the same, i.e. about how naturalised male power is in fantasy worlds and in our worlds. Maybe it's just that all the models of female power that are easily intelligible to me are based in them being in opposition to dominant cultural structures, rather than enabled by them. It was a tricky aspect of the book for me, anyway.

But those are very minor quibbles. Overall, I enjoyed it hugely. A+, would read again, and will be picking up the next one when it comes out.

2. China Mieville, The City and the City: THIS, right here, is why I favour sf&f over realist fiction. An awesome sf premise, developed intelligently and coherently to express compelling themes, insight into our present, and reflexive commentary on fictional convention. It's such a simple mechanic - Mieville posits a location in the world where two cities co-exist on the same topographical space (whether they exist in different dimensions of reality, different perceptual fields, or simply inside the minds of their inhabitants, is left unclear), and sets a noir-ish detective story in them - but that single act of sf estrangement does so much work. The corollaries Mieville extrapolates - the fact that relations between the cities are highly fraught, that senses of cultural identity form exaggeratedly and antagonistically, that the discreteness of the cities is both very real and has to be constantly sustained by the act of "unseeing" on the part of the inhabitants, that crossing between the cities is a politically charged act - are just packed with thematic, social, and political resonances. The way introducing the novum of "unseeing" requires him to linguistically overdetermine the concept brings into play complex ideas about wilful social ignorance, collective denial and abdication of responsibility, a more nuanced take on "doublethink" for a world that relies on people knowing and refusing to know so many awful things that go on. Showing how the conventions of the detective novel are transformed by the basic premise rattles and exposes the foundations of popular narratives of truth, justice, and punishment.

This, + great plot + evocative writing, = I loved it, I really really did. Plus, it coined the word "topolganger", and for that I may actually love it forever.

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resurfacing, sort of

I am alive, I've just been going through a difficult and busy patch with my thesis lately. Pretty much everything I do has this undercurrent of "how on earth am I going to finish this degree and what the hell am I going to be able to do with it once I have?" My brain is constantly occupied with thoughts of cv building and publication and conferences and getting the right teaching experience, and I stare despondently at jobs.ac.uk with worrying regularity. It doesn't help that over the last 6 months or so I've done a lot of work and got very little feedback; I find it hard to get motivated without encouragement and validation :/

Beautiful weather, and being able to unwind watching my two favourite sporting competitions unfold, are helping me stay afloat, and I'm doing a lot of cooking and swimming and walking, but essentially I'm in a place where some things are stressing me out more than they normally would, and posting on this lj is one of those things.

So, I'm going to half-heartedly hiatus. I'm still reading my flist regularly, and I'm going to make more of an effort to reach out and comment on people's posts and fic again, but I'm not going to put pressure on myself to update this journal with any regularity for the next while.

In the meantime, though, if anyone fancies a chat about:

- the World Cup
- Doctor Who
- Glee
- pokeymans
- Little King's Story
- Kuroshitsuji
- gay lawyers (I still love them, I do!)
- meta-y academic-y things
- the paper on slash and queer theory I presented at a conference at the weekend

or anything you like, really, then I'll be around to reply to comments on this post as much as possible.

a grand day out

1. Me, Hazel, and an old school friend went on an impromptu mini road trip to Blackpool Pleasure Beach on Wednesday. We drove up with a ridiculously large bag of snacks and a mixtape of tenuously themed songs through miserable thick morning mist, but arrived at Blackpool under clear skies and bright sunshine, where we stayed pretty much until the park kicked us out.

My day was spent mostly sunbathing, trying to win cuddly toys on the stalls and arcades, and gleefully munching my way through trashy funfair food, as, well, I fucking hate rollercoasters. Seriously, there are no words to describe how little I enjoy white-knuckle rides. I don't think my body is set up to derive pleasure from them; when I go on them, I don't get excited and I don't get an adrenaline rush, I just feel panicky and sick and upset and often in physical pain from the g-force. I braved one of Blackpool's big 10 rides, because it didn't break my two fixed rules of "you're not getting me on that in a million years" (going upside down, and long steep drops); I cried the whole way round and was shaking for an embarrassingly long time afterwards. But I had a wonderful time anyway, partly because the weather was scorchingly (literally; I burnt my nose again) beautiful, but mostly because I really love the atmosphere of funfairs and arcades and seaside towns. I am just as happy to spend a day surrounded by tacky oversized toys, totally fixed carnival games, bizarre fibreglass landscapes, chippies, promenades, trams and sandcastles as I would be if I actually enjoyed the rides.

I tried to take some pictures of the Pleasure Beach and the actual beach, although the sun was too glaring for them to come out quite right:

my worst nightmareCollapse )

I so badly wish I lived on a proper beachCollapse )

Mainly, though, I wanted to post about it so I could show Sis these pictures:

this is more exciting than Hugh Grant, I promiseCollapse )

(long story)

2. Book review time again! Fiction, this time: The Demon's Covenant, by Sarah Rees Brennan/sarahtales.

It is UNBELIEVABLY difficult to talk about TDC without spoiling it or the first book in the trilogy, The Demon's Lexicon (reviewed here; be warned there ARE spoilers in that review, but they're contained to one clearly marked section). But I'm going to do my best, so that anyone who hasn't read the books can read this and decide if they want to give them a try.

No spoilers under the cut, then, but if you have read it and want to talk about it, feel free to go spoiler-crazy in the comments: thoughts on The Demon's CovenantCollapse )

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