nc_panorama

We’re on holiday in America. Flew to Michigan, then drove to North Carolina. The first night in the RV, we stayed at one of those RV campground type places that feature heavily in horror movies. Obviously we survived, but Ted and I kind of went O.O at each other. Also I flooded the back of the RV by over-flushing the toilet! Go me!

But fireflies! I’ve finally seen fireflies! They’re goddamn magical, OMG. Wow. Wow. SO COOL! Also cardinals and bluebirds! I’d never seen them before! (My high school was the Kenai Kardinals. I honestly thought ‘cardinal’ was spelled with a K until I was about 20, and spent a fair number of years wondering why the cardinals in Pamela Dean’s Secret Country books were mis-spelled. #blush)

Thunderstorm along with the first fireflies, too. Lightning in the background, flashing purple against the clouds, with golden lightning bugs scattered thru the trees in the foreground. So beautiful. I wish I had the photographic skills to have captured the imagery.

Driving through MI, there are all these great little red-winged blackbirds all over the place. Very crisp coloring. “They look like little fascists!” said Ted.

“Well-dressed ones,” I said.

“Aren’t they all?” Ted asked.

Me: JESUS CHRIST GAS IS 2.49 A LITRE WHAT THE HELoh that’s a gallon JESUS CHRIST GAS IS 2.49 A GALLON WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS COUNTRY

Also me: oh 57km to Madison oh that’s not ba–oh wait that’s miles i really don’t belong to this country anymore

Northern Tennessee, I guess. Driving thru soft misty green rolling hills. Strikes me that maybe I’m sposd to see them as mountains & that we’ve reached the Appalachians. (TBF, they were probably the Appalachian foothills, as the Appalachians proper are somewhat more mountain-like. Wee soft things, but still, pretty definitely mountains.)

Americans are so…American. So friendly. Much smiles. I’d forgotten how when you’re on a walk most of the drivers will wave at you as you go by.

And the food. Weird goddamn flavorless anemic American butter. Weird goddamn cloying corn syrup American Pepsi. O blessed American root beer. O god, the land of 40oz “medium” drinks, wth, America.

Everybody in NC: OMG YOU SO PINK YOU BURNING
Me: I’m fine, I’m sunscreened, I just turn hot pink in the heat.
(I am tanning, though. For my value of tanning.)

I don’t want to live in the hills of North Carolina myself, but I can understand why people do. None of it’s anything like Alaska, not really, but it reminds me of home in its way, and it’s beautiful. I’d be really happy to come out here for a month or so to write and let Indy run around in the sunshine.

nc_panorama

appleparty06

Almost four hours into his Deep Brain Stimulation app calibration Dad texted us:

Almost done. Exhausted but elated. Am texting this with steady hands.

We all got a little emotional, to tell the truth. Dad’s DBS surgery was just over a month ago, and he’s been healing ridiculously well. Every single wound site is essentially invisible, with no obvious scarring or trauma, and we’ve all been kind of trying to imagine just how different life was going to be for him when he returned home from his calibrations.

When he arrived home, he said, sort of bemused, “All I did was sit there for four hours saying, “Mary had a little lamb,” and bringing a cup or a biscuit to my mouth over and over again, but it was really intense!” But then, four hours of repetitive motion is pretty damn intense even if nobody is running itty bitty electrical currents through your brain to see how they affect your motion, and that, of course, is exactly what the team was doing with him for all those hours.

Although apparently pretty well the entire surgical team stopped by to admire their handiwork, there was a smaller team on hand for the calibration process: the doctor, the nurse who held Dad’s hand through the surgery, and the software representative for the company that developed this particular DBS app—remember that Dad is only the second person in the world to have had this specific surgery, which makes him an exceptionally interesting test subject.

It also means there’s no template at all for these calibrations, and while he imagines that everyone goes through an equally intense and careful process for DBS calibration, we expect the work they’re doing with him will become part of their template, which is pretty amazing.

(more…)

Oxford_RadcliffeSquare

I don’t have anything wildly brilliant to say about my Early Morning Oxford Photography Expedition, except that I was very, very glad I’d gotten up so early because the day was absolutely glorious, and the next morning, which would have been my only other chance to take pictures, was heavily misty, which wouldn’ta been so […]

pr_uncle

I feel that that’s a provocative subject line, but it’s the root question being posed here, so…

I’m reading a book. It’s a decent book. Written by a guy, four or so main characters, one of whom is a woman, and she’s beautiful, which is fine. Viewpoint Bad Guy Character creeps on her, which is creepy but okay fine he’s the bad guy. He creeps on all the other (attractive) women he encounters too. It’s gross but certainly recognizeable.

Hero Viewpoint Character does not creep on her, which is good! What he does do, though, is constantly, *repeatedly*, every time he looks at her, thinks about her beauty, admires her beauty, says to himself, “Self, I would like to spend more time with this woman,” which okay fine whatever, I find it sort of nauseating, not quite as uncomfortable as the Viewpoint Bad Guy but still pretty much “ugh,” and so my question became:

Is this just bad writing (because it is bad writing, it makes me go “ugh” and I’d like to think if it was well done I wouldn’t go “ugh”) or is it actually decently representative of how men think?

Or I don’t know, maybe how *people* think, except, I mean, I know some very beautiful people, people I like to look at, but I do not actively think of their beauty every time I look at them. Literally the only time in my life I can remember thinking of someone’s beauty every time I saw them was Harry Cavill in The Man From UNCLE, because every time he came on screen I was just like “my GOD he’s beautiful, my GOD he is SO BEAUTIFUL,” and I thought it was *ridiculous* that I couldn’t think of anything except his beauty.

I mean like there’s the opening credits of Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid where there’s this sepia shot of Paul Newman and even in sepia his eyes are just so freaking blue, so clear and so incredible, that it’s a *moment* of sort of falling over sweet jesus what beauty, and there’s like that gif of Marlon Brando rolling his eyes that I could stare and giggle helplessly at for like a week straight, and okay possibly the entirety of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof with Newman and Taylor is pretty nearly like that, but those, to me, are pretty extreme cases. I mean, Ted wandered in the other day to see a picture of George Clooney on the screen and said, correctly, “My God, he’s beautiful,” which is absolutely true, but that’s a passing observation; one swiftly becomes *accustomed* to that beauty, and moves on. That was why Cavill in The Man From UNCLE was so absurd: I could not stop noticing how utterly beautiful he was, and that was completely outside my experience.

But that kind of writing from a male POV isn’t all that *unusual*, and so it leads me to wonder if that really *is* decently representative of the male experience (or indeed, the female experience outside my own).

(If it is in fact representative of the male experience but not, broadly speaking, the female experience, I have a lot of Opinions about society and expectation and objectifying and things like that on the matter, but it’s late here and we’ll leave the unpacking of that for another time. :))

ETA: I should note the Hero Character does not seem badly socialized or at all an ass; I have the impression that if the Female Lead said “nah, not interested” he’d be all “okay, cool” about it, not manboy-crushed-self-esteem or anything, which is actually I think why I’m asking: this isn’t the boy who can’t take a hint or doesn’t know how to talk to girls or whatever, it’s an apparently pretty average decent human being, just with this weird-to-me constant *active* awareness of/fixation on How Lovely This Woman Is, and do men really just do that all the time or is it really just bad writing?

ETA2: I mean I get being aware you’re attracted to someone and even noticing “god damn they’re hot” unexpectedly, perhaps even often, and perhaps it’s just that it’s compressed into a book and therefore really noticeable and stuff in which case it’s emphatically bad writing, but…yeah, I’m going to bed now.

Jon Bon Jovi

I started a new playlist the other night, “Gospel Truth,” which currently contains the following songs:

Alison Krauss: Down By The River To Pray
Kansas: Wayward Son
Rufus Wainwright: Hallelujah
Zulu Tradition: Hallelujah
Cole Porter (Kevin Kline, De-Lovely): Blow Gabriel Blow
Bon Jovi: Keep The Faith, Captain Crash & the Beauty Queen From Mars
Jon Bon Jovi: Bang A Drum
Guys & Dolls: Siddown You’re Rockin The Boat, Luck Be A Lady
Taylor Swift: Wildest Dreams (this may go, not sure yet), Out Of The Woods

Queen: Who Wants To Live Forever, The Show Must Go On
Hozier: Take Me To Church
Guns N Roses: Knocking On Heaven’s Door
Heart: Stairway to Heaven
Amazing Grace (bagpipes)
Meat Loaf: For Crying Out Loud
Bon Jovi: Living On A Prayer
Leonard Cohen: Hallelujah
Take That: Rule The World

I’m looking for other recommendations for the playlist! Favourite covers of Amazing Grace and Hallelujah are particularly welcome, as it’s impossible to have too many versions of those songs (someone’s recommended John Cale’s Hallelujah but I haven’t downloaded it yet). Nor have I gone through the rest of Alison Krauss and/or Union Station to pick up what’s best from them, but as you can see, the vibe here isn’t meant to be so much actual gospel (although that’s obviously good too) as a certain vibe that I think the above songs generally encompass. So I’m looking for songs that speak a truth to your soul, basically. Hit me with your best shot. :)