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|Wednesday, May 1st, 2013|
THE HORROR has come to Chicago.
It showed up really suddenly. Yesterday I mentioned to someone that APRIL WAS OVER, and just to prove April could still screw me, I walked outside in my wool trousers and leather jacket (because it was like, forty yesterday morning when I left home) and it was about seventy degrees.
I am not comfortable at anything over sixty or so. Indoors. Outside I want it to be below fifty at all times. Because fuck you I'm of Irish-Nordic extraction, that's why.
Anyway, I didn't want to walk to the train so I caught the 151 bus, and I know better, because the 151 is capricious and evil. A few blocks shy of Belmont, not even at a bus stop, my bus just stopped and the driver declared the bus was done. Fortunately there was another 151 behind him, so we all piled out of one and got on the other, and when I got home I stripped down and installed my air conditioner.
That air conditioner, I swear to god, the best $150 I have ever spent. I know it does terrible things to the environment but at least it's EnergyStar compliant, so not...as horrible? And let's face it, if I didn't have it, I would do horrible things. Someone would die by week's end, someone who probably didn't deserve it.
And I didn't even write this up yesterday because I was so cranky, and also because work is being hellacious. I keep getting assigned work that usually we get three days on, but because things are so busy I'm on same-day turnaround and of course because of THAT I'm screwing it all up.
And now it's summer. GOD DAMN IT.
|Tuesday, April 30th, 2013|
In all the madness lately I did manage to READ BOOKS.
Well, okay, BOOK, but it was a long one!
"...does the Alexandria Quartet qualify as eastern literature?"
"There is a very simple test," said Vikram. "Is it about bored, tired people having sex?"
"Yes," said the convert, surprised.
"Then it's western."
Alif the Unseen is definitely not about bored, tired people having sex. I was trying to figure out how I would "elevator pitch" such a large, dense novel, and I decided the best description is that it's about the place where technology and mythology intersect, particularly non-western mythology.
There were millions of people in rooms like his, reaching toward each other in the same ways he did. Now that feeling of intimacy seemed fraudulent. He lived in an invented space, easily violated. He lived in his own mind. --p.51
I really enjoyed Alif The Unseen on a number of levels, not least of which was the sheer amount of stuff in the book which managed to coexist with all the other stuff and not get boring. The basic story is that Alif, a "grey hat" compsci whiz in a never-named Islamic country where tensions are rising due to the recent Arab Spring, receives a gift from an ex-lover: the Alf Yeom, a series of stories supposedly dictated to a wizard by a captive djinn. The Hand, a shadowy figure from the restrictive conservative government, wants the Alf Yeom for reasons which aren't at first clear. With the help of some djinns, a religious leader, a convert, and his best friend since childhood, Alif goes on the run as he attempts to figure out why the Alf Yeom is so valuable and how he can, well, get his life back.
Alif felt his shoulders relax. All problems are simply interruptions in the transmission and preservation of data, he reminded himself. --p. 144
There's a lot of meat in the book about religious culture in general and Islamic culture in particular, as well as censorship and human rights, slacktivism, and the rights that people now have to lose before they begin to agitate. Plus there's some great discussion of magic and faith.
"My dear sir," said the sheikh. "God likes catching His servants unprepared. The boy has set down what is obviously the first plate of food he has seen in a long while in order to thank his Creator. There are few acts of piety more honest than that." --p. 294
"Belief is dying out. To most of your people the jinn are paranoid fantasies who run around causing epilepsy and mental illness. Find me someone to whom the hidden folk are simply real, as described in the Books. You'll be searching a long time. Wonder and awe have gone out of your religions. You are prepared to accept the irrational, but not the transcendent." --p. 303
It's strange, but I find it harder to talk about books I like than books I don't like, and in this case it's a really big book jammed really full of awesome stuff. The quotes I'm sharing with you here are culled from all the quotes I bookmarked, which used every little brass bookdart I had.
Final Verdict: I generally don't enjoy super-long novels, especially ones which throw this much at their hero, but I loved this book. I can't recommend it highly enough; it's definitely one of the best fiction books I've read in the last few years.
"I was afraid you'd turn into one of those literary types who say 'books can change the world' when they're feeling good about themselves and 'it's only a book' when anybody challenges them. It wasn't about the books themselves -- it was about hypocrisy. You can speak casually about burning the Alf Yeom for the same reason you'd be horrified if I suggested burning The Satanic Verses -- because you have reactions, not convictions." --p. 354
|Monday, April 29th, 2013|
I am home!
*collapses in bed*
Interview: Accomplished! I am not really all that much further along the road to a decision but at least, thank god, they didn't offer it on the spot. Though their relocation package, I must say, is comprehensive.
At any rate, it's done and I am in the airport in Philadelphia, at the only table in the entire food court with a power outlet, MWAHAHAHA.
I am going to sleep a lot on the plane, at least I hope. I have work tomorrow. My schedule is ALL KINDS of screwed up.
But I do have ice cream.
Good morning all, and welcome to a hasty but totally assembled Radio Free Monday! I only had three items this week that I am aware of, but apologies if I forgot anyone -- please email me again, this weekend was a little nuts. :) has had some illnesses lately that have prevented her from working, and thus getting paid. She would like to sell some of her jewelry in the next week to help make ends meet. You can check out her offerings at her Live Journal jewelry pages and she has an Etsy shop where some pieces are exclusive to Etsy. If you're looking for yourself, a special occasion, or a gift, stop by to see if anything tickles your fancy.
has a post up about the firing of Carla Hale, a gym teacher who lost her job at a Catholic high school for acknowledging her female partner in her mother's obituary. You can read more about the protest petition and other coverage efforts at the post.
TarasGreen on Devart has a younger sister who is raising money to fund a three-week dance intensive at Gelsey Kirkland this summer. Her Indiegogo campaign is here and her family is offering various rewards for donation; TarasGreen is offering prints and portraits, and you can view examples here.
is trying to raise interest in a DIY Fanzine; she's looking for peopleinterested in making short zines containing mostly meta and fanart, trying something a little more experimental than traditional bound fic fanzines. You can read more and get involved at .
And this has been Radio Free Monday! Oh god you guys think of me fondly today.
|Sunday, April 28th, 2013|
I AM ON U
I ravaged a hamburger (I was hungry, okay) and met two very nice French women -- don't ask -- and now I am resting in my hotel room before I either go out on the town or totally collapse in a heap of nerves.
I feel like I owe it to this massive, horrifying decision to actually explore a bit and get a sense of ambience, but I am also really tired and there are movies on the giant television and I have google streetview.
Updates as the situation warrants.
Me: *hands over boarding pass*
Boarding Pass Machine: *TERRIBLE BLEAT OF DOOM*
Me: What happened?
Flight Attendant: We're printing you a new boarding pass.
Me: Wait, why?
Chorus of Angels: *descends*
Flight Attendant: You're being upgraded to an exit row. Are you willing and able to perform the duties of an exit-row passenger in the event of an emergency?
My inner voice: You bet your beautiful face I am.
My adult self: Yes, I am, thank you!
Chorus of Angels: *gentle song as I walk down the boarding ramp*
|Friday, April 26th, 2013|
I am home from C2E2, the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo! I may no longer have feet, I haven't checked.
Last year I did all three days, but this year I only bought a Friday pass, which was wise and somewhat precognitive in retrospect, given that I didn't know then I would be traveling on the 28th. Friday's the best day to go, in terms of crowds, but even so it was pretty jammed by the time I left.
I got home covered in old-comic-book dust, con funk, and train grime. IT WAS PRETTY AWESOME.
One of the motivations for going, this year, was that I have all these 80s and 90s comic book trading cards to unload, and I was hoping to source someone who would tell me their worth (likely minimal) and maybe help get them off my hands.
What I discovered instead is that the people who deal in what are called "non-sports cards" are UNIVERSALLY CREEPY. I spoke to three of them before I gave up on finding one who was even minimally socially adept and not an asshole. I used to collect baseball cards so I know that card dealers can be on the low end of the "acceptable behaviour towards another human being" scale, and my social awkwardness tolerance is high because hello, very awkward myself. But these guys blew all previous experiences out of the water.
Still, overall I had a great time. The con was in a different building from last year, with an elevated food court at the center and much better cellphone reception.
Plus I got a pair of Captain America socks. They have wings on them.
I might wear them to the interview on Monday.
|Thursday, April 25th, 2013|
FRIDAY PHOTO POST!
ON THURSDAY! :DOh, Chicago. (Really, as this is an ad for Florida tourism, it should be Oh, Ft. Lauderdale.)
A fancy statue for a fancy hotel in Gold Coast.
Sometimes I just goddamn love this town.
BBQ Squab, anyone?
THE SNOW IS ALIVE!
This is a memorial to survivors of childhood abuse outside a church on Michigan Avenue.
I went to the Art Institute's Picasso show, which is just outstanding.
One of my favourite parts, surprisingly, was the illustration work he'd done.
In part, admittedly, because he did little study-doodles in the margins.
There was a fascinating room on the scientific study of his works. In one work, where he painted his wife and young child, they uncovered the original version in which he himself is in the painting, reaching out to touch his wife's cheek. Picasso was a womanizing dick in some respects, but this portrait, both the original and final versions, kills me every time.
Picasso apparently was really into pottery for a while.
The other thing I did at the Art Institute was visit the Londonderry Vase, which someone mentioned to me on the cafe. I wish this photo gave a better sense of scale, but it is by far the biggest, most hideous vase I have ever seen in my life. It's like half my height.
IRON MAN EASTER BASKET IS WATCHING U
Oh look, it's my biography.
A few weeks ago I was summoned to Jury Duty. I took a picture of the really quite impressive building I thought was the courthouse, but it turns out the uglier building on the left of the photo is where I ended up.
This is just outside the courthouse. Chicago court system: Truly the end of the line.
And finally: ENVY MY HOT CROSS BUNZ.
|Wednesday, April 24th, 2013|
AAAAHAHAHAHA the Museum of Hot Mess rescheduled my interview.
SLEEP STUDY: DONE.
REVERSE BIG BANG: SCHEDULED.
PHONE INTERVIEW: PENDING.
Oh god, this week.
I will likely be fairly silent for the next few days, though there's a chance I'll be instagramming like a mofo on Friday, while at C2E2. Depends on whether the reception at McCormick Place has improved at all (unlikely). Hopefully they'll have Captain America stuff on display and I can go eat a hot dog while looking at Captain America's shield; it's my patriotic moment for the year.
I may be a little punchy today; when you do a sleep study, they cover your head and face with electrodes, put a cannula in your nose, wrap two belts around you to measure your breathing, and put more electrodes down your pants on your legs to monitor leg movements. I'm guessing they got a lot from me because it's very hard to sleep on your back with a bunch of wires gelled into your hair.
When she was putting the electrodes on my head, the tech said, "Your hair is so soft! It's like a baby bird's feathers."
Thank you, I grow it that way on purpose.
|Monday, April 22nd, 2013|
...and then a local NFP emailed me today to schedule a phone interview. A phone interview for a job I am in NO WAY qualified for.
Well, okay, that's not true. Going off the description, I could probably do it. But I only applied because it was local and I needed to fill my quota for the day. It's a managerial position, at least according to the title, and I'm not sure they want to hire someone who has never actually worked as an analyst to manage analysts. Also scuttlebutt says that this particular NFP is a HOT MESS.
And yet they called me! Perhaps they sensed a kindred spirit. At any rate, I have a phone interview with them in a few days. So...there's that.
I did the math today and I have submitted eighteen job applications since March 1st, which is less than I thought I had. Of those, I've had four bites:
1. Prestigious East Coast NFP
2. Comic Sans University
3. Semi-Prestigious Midwestern NFP Which Won't Pay Me Enough
4. The Museum Of Hot Mess
Apparently I appeal to a number of different demographics. Good to know.
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday! Ways To Give: linked to a fundraiser for temporary housing for a friend of hers who is currently homeless with her boyfriend and young son.
Anon linked to eldritch-elegy on Tumblr, who is in a tight financial spot and about to be evicted. The rebloggable post is here, and she has a Donate button on her Tumblr page.
's parents' basement flooded this week, and insurance isn't covering repairs; is trying to earn some extra cash to pitch in with the repair. They have an etsy store and are taking commissions (gallery link here).
Leslie linked to a fundraising post for 's very sick kitty and their vet bills.
linked to Sports-Social, a social skills/sports facility for kids with autism. Last week, someone tried to burn it down and now they are closed until further notice. They need donations for repairs. You can view video of the damage and there's a donate button at their facebook page.
linked to a 50th Anniversary Doctor Who Virtual Fun Run/Walk. It's a really interesting idea and seems like a great way to help raise money for victims of the Boston bombings.
I also found a great list of ways to help show your support and give aid to the Boston survivors here.
Help For Free:
Bleizunge linked to Slashersivi on Tumblr, who is looking for advice on how to handle a situation with a neglected horse on an adjacent property.
Anon is moving to Chicago as an MA student at UChicago in September, and would like advice on living in a city, especially as someone with anxiety issues. They left a comment here to which you can reply.
Just For Fun:
Bit of a personal brag this week -- has just finished a number of podfics for my fics. You can find podfics for my serial killer NCIS AUs "Style" and "Good Boy" here, Torchwood crossovers Handler and Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodies here, and my comics crossover Transfer Students here.
And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can always post items for my attention in comments here (or on any post) or email me at copperbadge at gmail dot com. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!).
|Sunday, April 21st, 2013|
This is my schedule for the next week and a half.
Okay a moment first about my VERY IMPORTANT PROBLEM, which is that because my building laundry room is horrifying I pay to have my laundry picked up and done by a service. It's not super-expensive even, but it's so lazy I cannot even believe I do it. But I do. Normally my laundry is picked up on Saturday and returned on Monday so that I have, you know, clothes for the week, but there was some kind of snafu this past week so they're picking it up late.
Monday: Laundry is picked up.
Tuesday: Laundry is returned BUT I won't be there to unpack it because
Tuesday Night: Go straight from work to doctor's office for an overnight stay (it's not a big deal, I'm part of a study)
Wednesday: Go straight from doctor's office to work
Wednesday Night: Get home and FINALLY stop wearing clothes of dubious style because all my clothing was in the laundry
Friday: Off for C2E2. And at C2E2 all day.
Saturday: Mad errands because
Sunday: Fly to the east coast.
Monday: Job interview, return from east coast.
Tuesday: Return to work. Possibly to turn in my notice, who knows.
*looks at the next ten days*
|Saturday, April 20th, 2013|
So, while Mum was here she introduced me to a show she's been watching on BBC America, "Mr. Selfridge". Which, after viewing, I kind of can't believe I haven't heard anything about from fandom at large. Maybe I'm slipping.Mr. Selfridge is about the founding of Selfridge&Co, a department store which opened in the early 20th century (and is now owned by Sears -- I checked). There is a Mr. Selfridge on the cast...
Selfridge: entrepreneur, showman, douchebag.
...but while you can tell the story was meant to revolve around him, it comes off as an ensemble gig where he might not even be the main character. For example:
Left to right, we have:
Lady Mae: Selfridge's patron, social sponsor, and puppetmaster, a former showgirl turned nobility turned suffragette. Richer (and hotter) than God.
Selfridge: I believe I've already mentioned him.
Ellen Love (below Selfridge): A current showgirl with high ambitions and a coke habit, Ellen was hired by Selfridge to do publicity for the store and then had an affair with him.
Rosalie Selfridge: Selfridge's wife, who enjoys sassing Lady May, dabbling with painters, and raising like eight million daughters.
Aggie Towler: A shop assistant with big dreams, special skills, and a fucked-up family, Aggie will be playing the role of Mary Sue tonight. That said, she's so fucking adorable I can't even hold it against her.
YES Aggie. YOU DO DESERVE ALL THAT IS GOOD, TWO DUDES, AND A PROMOTION TO QUEEN OF THE UNIVERSE.
Along with Henri and Victor (we'll get to them in a minute) this is the major cast, though there are plenty of others as well, with various plotlines and intrigues. Plus guest famous-characters like Louis Bleriot and Anna Pavlova.
The Mean Girls in Accessories.
My personal favourite is Henri, the Parisian window-dresser (he likes Aggie too). This is Henri:
Henri: Fabulous, Fashionable, French.
He smokes under smoke detectors, goes big (and never goes home), spends all his time making things look pretty, and, like everyone, enjoys a little light-manipulation-of/sexual-tension-with his boss. Given that I like him and he's a loyal, kind, and good-natured friend of the hero, he will probably die.
Here's what's hilarious: he's not supposed to be the hot one.
He's supposed to be the hot one:
Victor wants you now.
It's not that he's especially hideous but it's difficult to gather why the entire female population of London wants in his pants when Henri is bending over to inspect a window like, ten feet away.
Victor is a waiter in the store restaurant. He has been advised by the head waiter (in the best short scene in the ENTIRE SHOW, I admit) that he is going to be hot fresh meat on the desperate-housewives market and should have himself a time. Victor likes Aggie too.
Mum's favourite is the wealthy society queen Lady Mae.
She will devour you or possibly just serve you tea.
She's the money behind the store, a meddler in the lives of all she meets, and she is viciously, perfectly awesome. And a little evil. Mum I think likes her because of her admittedly magnificent hats. I don't know her thoughts on Aggie but I am sure if they met she would call her "Chaaaming."
Anyway, while it's an obvious and probably overused comparison, the show is a little like Downton Abbey, but it has a broader focus -- instead of one Great Family and the Below Stairs staff there's people from all class levels, each with their own family, so the interactions become a little less static.
It's certainly a drama (wow are there a lot of extramarital affairs in this show) and the writing in terms of dialogue tends to vary a bit. Also, there was this one episode with a CRAZY amount of shakycam for a period piece about 1910. But there's a lot of meat to the plots -- explorations of gender roles and how they're subverted, very pointed scenes about class conflict, and a lot about (my favourite) the intersection between "salesman" and "con artist". Selfridge runs the store a little like a very efficient circus at times, and it's kind of wonderful to see the people of the era stumbling towards a solid understanding of public relations.
I have zero idea how historically accurate it is. That era is not my era for clothing, architecture, or social commentary, and I know zip about the life of the actual Mr. Selfridge. But I think if you get the chance you should give it a shot -- I'm really enjoying it, and it's still in its first season.
WELL. It's been a hell of a week. The bombing and manhunt in eastern Massachusetts, the explosions in Texas -- I've actually been to West; a place we used to get cherry kolaches was converted into a command center for a while, I think. Next to those, the flooding in Chicago seems fairly minor by comparison (uh...except the sinkhole, that was insane).
I was glad Mum was here this week. For all she sometimes makes me a little crazy -- see Operation Talk in Elevators, also she did bring me A TOTE BAG -- I do love her and she raised me like a boss. We got to have a couple of really good conversations about my possible job moves. She is understandably hesitant to support a move to NFP-friendly Boston at the moment, but in general she's been very supportive of choosing the right path for myself, whether or not that means moving to Prestigious East Coast NFP (which is not in Boston) or holding out for something else.
So I suppose I'm at a point in life, in terms of experience and age and the rest, where while I have concerns about the ramifications of some of this week's events, I can also take them as a reminder to tell the people I love that I love them, to enjoy life, and to stop and breathe and put my own problems in perspective. What happened this week, all over the news, was horrible and I'm thinking of my friends (and the roughly million strangers) in Boston-Cambridge-Newtown-etc, not to mention the folks out in West, but the politics can wait for another day. Happy to be alive and on my way to wherever life is going to take me on this sunny and FREEZING COLD Saturday morning.
Everyone be safe, hug your loved ones (literally or metaphorically), and enjoy what you can out of the weekend. I'm going to stay in, clean my kitchen, and read comic books.
|Friday, April 19th, 2013|
Mum and I spent the day nurturing the economy, in the form of shopping.
Mum is fascinated by Chicago's Merchandise Mart, which is mainly a cluster of showrooms that ordinary people can't access without an escort by a professional interior designer. There are two floors that are accessible, however, so we did our level best with what we had. This included buying a set of ceramic knives, some various gifts to take home to Lucky and Emmy, and a soda in the food court, where I then freaked out the entire Merchandise Mart's staff by forgetting my bag and walking off. I came back to find two janitors standing guard over it and a security officer on the way to investigate it as a possible bomb. Well done, young Sam.
Incidentally, hey Boston-Cambridge-And-Suburbs, I hear you're off house-arrest. Everyone be safe, ok?
Today's definitely been an adventur, including the mandatory injury when I conked my head on an over-window handle in a taxicab, hard enough to bleed briefly. I am all class, you guys. On the other hand, neither of us have fallen over, which given the weird sleety-hail mix of weather downtown today is actually pretty impressive.
Mum continues to advance her diplomatic mission of world peace through Operation Talk In Elevators. She has made it a deliberate act to speak to everyone we share an elevator with, which is admittedly kind of hilarious. Mainly because either they treat her like a total weirdo and it's funny to watch them try to figure her out, or they are even crazier than she is and use her verbal form of eye contact as an excuse to POUR OUT that crazy in our direction.
If nothing else, it's an education. And I did get two spectacular ceramic knives out of it...
|Thursday, April 18th, 2013|
Mum and I went to dinner tonight at the Kendall Culinary College, where for $29 each they stuff you with student-cooked food of delicious if occasionally dubious construction. It was a pretty great experience overall, though the highlight was definitely the apple-pear-rhubarb crisp.
The duck was good but I've had better; Mum's steak had some kind of utterly fantastic sauce on it, but she didn't get it done quite as thoroughly as she wanted. I know chefs think it's a sin to ask for a steak above rare, but it's not like she wanted it charred, she just asked for medium. I will say the crab rangoon I got as an appetiser was spectacular.
END RESULT: I AM VERY FULL OF FOOD.
I will have dreams about apple crisp.
Mum and I were discussing mobile gaming over breakfast this morning, like you do, and I took out my phone to show her Katamari Damacy, which she boggled at. In return she showed me her skills at Fruit Ninja, which are considerable.
Me: It's an interesting game. It must be cathartic.
Mum: I do find it soothing.
Mum: I like the bird noises in the background. That's really why I play.
You can't argue with her logic.
|Wednesday, April 17th, 2013|
Mum got into town around 1pm this afternoon, in the middle of a fortunate sun-break, because since about half an hour after she arrived it's been storming. Apparently it's a giant and semi-unexpected weather blitz.
This afternoon, while we were chilling out after lunch, I noticed I had a missed-call-voicemail from an unknown number on my phone.
"Who do you think it is?" Mum asked.
"The way my luck's going, probably Comic Sans University calling."
"Might be another interview offer."
"Hahaha," I said, and then the voicemail kicked in. Hello Sam, I'm calling from Semi-Prestigious Midwestern NFP about a job application you submitted...
I can't figure out whether prospect researchers are just really thin on the ground, or whether I'm overselling myself.
Or maybe I'm magic. It seems kind of plausible right now.