are the stars out tonight?

life and stuff

statistical analysis

  • title: "a different kind of criticism" - music journalism and the weblog phenomenon (online by monday night, honest) viewable on the dissertation blog
  • cost of getting 'phenomenon' printed on frontcover of bound dissertation: £1 (v. poor)
  • word count: 13, 185 (v.g.)
  • pages (double spaced): 62 (v.g.)
  • number of times the word 'blog' appears (in various permutations): 588 (v.v.g.)
  • hours of sleep i have had this week: roughly 12 (completely pants)
  • eternal gratitude owed: a shedload - no rock and roll fun, popjustice, everett true, wherever you are, quin, excuse me for laughing. (v. doesn't quite cover it, but v.v.v.v.v.v.v.v.g.)
  • drunkenness planned: quite a lot. (hic)
  • trips to durham about to embark upon: 1 (yay!)

needles and pins

i had a flu jab this morning. i get to have it because of being asthmatic, which while it doesn't generally bother me very much, tends to rear its ugly, wheezy head if i get sick, meaning that normal coughs and colds linger for months while my pathetic lungs attempt to get back to normal.

i meant to get one last year, and went along to the doctor's surgery at about this time, where i was told that they didn't have the vaccine in yet, and they wouldn't for another month. of course, in that gap, i came down with actual flu, from which i didn't really fully recover until christmas. it was probably my own fault, for attending not one but two freshers' fairs at two different universities. nonetheless, i blame the vaccine producers.

i am completely unsqueamish about needles. i put this down to my being a slightly sickly infant, and having had roughly a gabrillion blood tests (i'm always being told i'm anaemic. i'm not. i'm just a bit pale). as injections are in no way as bad as blood tests, i never have a problem with them.

the flu jab goes into the muscle in your arm, rather than the vein, which surprised me for some reason. it's been quite a long time since my last vaccination (meningitis before i went to uni), so i suppose that was why i wasn't expecting that. it hardly hurt, although my arm is a little bit sore now. apparently i may experience some flu-like symptoms. as long as i don't get the real thing, i'm happy.

god damn! the pirate's life for me

ahoy-hoy. today, of course, it be international talk like a pirate day. yarr. i've been doing my best to talk like a pirate, but there be only so much piratical talk, matey, that i can manage. i did use the captain pugwash theme as my ringtone too, but as no one phoned me...
i have a peculiar fondness for pirates, best attributed to the fact that my dad read treasure island to my brother and i at an impressionable age, ye landlubbers.
indeed, such is my passion for the sweet trade, i have been trying to form a band called the girl pirates for the last year or so. the band has yet to materialise (possibly due to laziness on my part), so instead, here be a link to the stories of mary read and anne bonny, real life versions of my imaginary girl pirate jenny trellawney (herself inspired very vaguely by jenny mctaggerty, girl pirate, the fictional blogger in doonesbury).
right, off to get loaded to the gunwales on grog. or possibly to have a glass of wine in front of the telly. who can say. yaaarr.

watershed down? (part the second)

i drafted this post, and most of the one below yesterday, after reading lisa jardine's guardian article on the subject, and since then i've been thinking hard about what my choice would be. listening to the broadcast on woman's hour this morning, i was thinking about the fact that i never did the classic girl thing of falling in love with darcy or rochester (or y'know lizzy or jane). 'i've never fallen in love with a character in a book', i thought. and then i remembered that i had, in fact, done just that.

i was 14 when i first read lord of the flies. and i became completely obsessed with it. helping this was the fact that shortly after i read it for the first time, we studied it in english, which meant six weeks (i think) of fairly close scrutiny.

the novel is about a planeload of 1950s schoolboys wrecked on a desert island. it begins being all 'boys own' adventure, but the boys' behaviour eventually degenerates into savagery.

and yes, i did fall in love with one of the characters - simon. the only boy who really has any sense of clarity (even in the midst of his fits and his hallucinations), and who ends up being the first death on the island. i probably felt like i was simon: i did feel quite isolated most of the time i was at school.

and of course my world was pretty much mono-gendered: going to a single-sex prep school and single-sex secondary school meant that the only boys i knew were my brother and his friends. lotf demonstrated (to me at least), that actually, boys weren't all that different from girls: they could be just as catty and bitchy.

so ironically for a book which features no female characters at all, lotf changed my life because it really did tell me about who i was, and what my position was. it wasn't a particularly positive message. but i did appreciate it.

i sort of regret that i couldn't have chosen a book by a woman for this, but there just isn't one that did it for me like lord of the flies did.

incidentally, you can vote here - i already have!

watershed down?

there was an interesting feature in the guardian this morning about watershed books: "the novel that changed you or saw you through a crisis". the idea seems mostly to be to do with the novel that changed your life.

it's for women, since it's associated with woman's hour and the orange prize for fiction which seems a shame, since it would be interesting to compare the results. they're asking men to suggest the novel that first explained the female psyche to them!

i've been thinking about what my watershed book would be. although a lot of the books on their longlist are favourites of mine, i'm not sure if i could say that any of them are books that really changed me.

this is my longlist anyway, i've divided it into categories, and the ones in italics also appear on their longlist.

all time favourites
jane eyre, the secret history, pride and prejudice, the amazing adventures of kavalier and clay, slaughterhouse 5, fingersmith.

little women etc, peter pan, chronicles of narnia, the famous five, most pg wodehouse, three men in a boat.

books that i love for reasons other than their content
wuthering heights, watership down, beloved.

books i can read over and over again, and in fact know so well that i no longer read them properly, just dip into the bits i love best (all the novels in the first category also fit in here)
harry potter (sorry), i capture the castle, microserfs, possession, catcher in the rye.

there is of course quite a bit of non-fiction and poetry, not to mention plays that i adore, but that's not what they're looking for.

the trouble is then choosing just one. and also i'm not sure that choosing a novel i love is quite right. it should surely be a novel that really means something to me.

on oysters (among other things)

it was my birthday last week so i'm now officially 23. it doesn't feel so old as i thought it might, but i'm keeping an eye out in case people start standing up for me on the tube or anything. people seem to have strange ideas of how old i am. talking to a chugger a few weeks ago he was astonished that i was over 20, but then last week i was approached and asked if i was interested in taking a credit card for over 23-year-olds.

my favourite birthday tradition, which happens pretty much every year, is going for oysters. they say, you see, that you should only eat oysters in months that contain an 'r', which means no oysters from may to september. thus, my birthday is the first day of the oyster season. i love oysters. i'm not saying that they would be my desert island food (by which i mean if i could only eat one food for the rest of my life), but they make a fantastic treat. my ideal last meal would be half a dozen natives, a bowl of skinny chips and a glass of pouilly fuissé. or actually, if it really was my last meal, a whole bottle of pouilly fuissé.

we pretty much always go en famille to manzi's, off leicester square. my dad has been a patron since the seventies, and time was he'd be greeted with open arms, a bottle of corvo and a hearty cry of "mr spinach!" (incidentally, for those who don't know: spinach is not our surname, although it does share the first four letters). of course many things have changed since then. including manzi's. but as long as they still have natives on the menu, we'll go back every year.