skew_whiff: (consider the pineapple)
Oh god, how long has it been since I've posted in this journal (not counting my Dear Yuletide Author post)? Heck, how long has it been since I've posted in any journals at all?

I do still regularly read my DW and LJ feeds, for what it's worth, and check Tumblr - but between journaling communities no longer being the main base for fannish activity and various factors in my own life, I just haven't been interacting much. Which is a shame, since there's a whole bunch of friends I've made via LJ/DW/Tumblr to a lesser extent which I would like to stay talking to and kind of haven't, mostly, out of pure laziness. Anyway, yes - I'm still here! Just quiet, that's all.

Anyway, in the meantime...

Fandomwise - uh, same old, same old. I still get ideas but my writing ability seems to have taken a hike. Yuletide is screwing me over, but that's traditional; I'll get it finished, most likely at the last minute. I've been reading and watching TV a lot, but can't think of anything that's truly grabbed me. Oh - I've finally jumped on the Welcome To Night Vale bandwagon, about a year too late. Definitely recommended for fans of conspiracy theory, creepypasta and small-town weirdness, and a great use of podcasting to do something different.

The other great love of my life right now is, somewhat unexpectedly, rugby league. I watched the opening match of the Rugby League World Cup on TV a few weeks ago just because it was a slow afternoon and nothing else was on, but to my surprise I was completely transfixed. It's easy for a newbie to understand, very entertaining, and satisfies the same appreciation for a combination of athletic brilliance and hilarious violence that ice hockey does. Several weeks later I'm now a bit obsessed, have my favourites in various teams, and am rueing the fact that after six years living in the very heartland of English rugby league country, near enough to the stadium to walk on foot, it's taken me until now to discover it - and I'm going to leave before the new season starts.

...because that's the big news - I've been accepted for grad school in Australia! Not in Melbourne (the course I wanted to do wasn't being offered this year, which is a bugger), but in Canberra. Hardly a party town, but the course looks amazing, and FUCK IT WHAT DOES IT MATTER I'M GOING TO AUSTRALIA. I will confess right now I do keep waking up in the middle of the night fretting about getting my affairs in order and how I'm going to afford it all (I have enough savings to pay for tuition, but not anything else; considering my grandpa once outright demanded I take his money to go and do postgraduate studies, I think my family will help out, but I'd feel bad asking for too much) - but I'm also really excited! Will keep you posted on sightings of kangaroos/didgeridoos/shirtless singing blokes, obviously.
skew_whiff: (keep calm and carry on)
Hello there, Yuletide writer!

Firstly, as always, thank you. You're clearly a person with excellent taste, and chances are I'll be thrilled with whatever you write. Still, if you're looking for more details to help you get started, here's a few pointers I hope that'll help.

Read more... )
skew_whiff: (dear dad)
I'm still here!

I just, er, haven't been doing much, thanks to work and Tumblr and general apathy. But for those of us still stubbornly keeping this journal thing going, here's what's been occurring:

- Work still good, if occasionally intense; busy days go faster, though, and I'm on top of things. Summer appears to have been and gone already, but I can live with that, as my wardrobe isn't well-suited to hot weather and sun seems to bring out all the noisy people (as per being woken up at midnight by the remaining stragglers from next door's barbecue having a bizarre argument about the merits of putting mayonnaise on burgers). Absolutely bloody burned out on the fic front, which is annoying as anything - I still have the ideas, it's just nothing's coming out. I wrote a pinch-hit for Fic For Victory and it was both hard to write and personally unsatisfying when done, and that was with characters I really like, too. Probably just means it's rewatch time again.

- Talking of which, started rewatching Generation Kill, for the first time since I originally watched it back in... 2009, I think? Anyway, as I thought, immeasurably improved both by having read the book and also by putting on subtitles, which makes everything a lot easier to follow. It might also be having grown older and more cynical, or just inured to Marines and their ways, but I'm warming to the characters more this time round. Ray and Brad's old-married-couple bromance is still the best, but I also have boundless respect for Doc Bryan and I've never got why Garza doesn't get more love from the fandom; admittedly I've only ever puttered around the edges of GK fandom, but still, I never see him getting talked about, and that sucks, because he's great. Oh, and Trombley is still the prettiest, even if he does give me the shudders.

- Been to the movies a bit. Star Trek was great, even if I can personally take or leave Benedict Cumberbatch; really want to go and watch some of the TOS-based movies for comparison now. Behind the Candelabra also great for entirely different reasons. Haven't made my mind up about whether I'll see Man of Steel - I'm not a big Superman fan in general, but there are comics about him I've enjoyed (the original Siegel and Shuster stuff, Red Son, All-Star Superman); I've heard both positive and negative reviews.

- Oh, and last week I went on a date with a guy I'd been talking to on OkCupid. I've never been on a date before, but somehow I'm pretty sure I managed to not fuck it up! At least, it was successful enough that we're going out for dinner tomorrow. Early days yet, but this is an interesting and novel experience, and while I'm not entirely sure what he sees in me, I ain't gonna question it.
skew_whiff: (come into the factories)
Last Friday was my 24th birthday. Which means I am now undeniably in my mid-twenties - although also, mercifully, just about used enough to the concept of being a twentysomething that I'm no longer thrown into mild panic just by the thought of it. (God knows why it bothered me so much, given that I hated my teens, but it did. No doubt this is going to keep repeating itself every decade or so until I either mature enough to stop caring, or become senile enough to stop noticing.)

Anyway, over the past few years I've established the habit of celebrating my birthday by going off on a trip somewhere, and this time round I went to Manchester. Which I've visited before, but never for long enough to really appreciate it, and usually I've either ended up lost or quite drunk or both. It's a big, sprawly sort of city - not quite so much as London, but certainly enough to easily overwhelm a visitor who hasn't got a map handy. Luckily, this time I did have a map, and I had a thoroughly good time of it.

More specific details under the cut, including a few recommendations, a brief film review, and things that caught my eye. )


Apr. 2nd, 2013 06:41 pm
skew_whiff: (consider the pineapple)
I have now officially heard back from all three colleges that I applied to grad school at.

I have had my application rejected by all three colleges that I applied to grad school at.

Oddly enough I'm not as shocked or upset by this as I thought I might be - after getting the denial from Amherst, I could somehow feel it in my bones that NYU weren't going to go for it either, so had already psyched myself up for the blow. Obviously I'm a little ticked-off considering the time and money I invested into my applications, but not especially bothered.

Particularly since I always had a Plan B, that being, "well, sod it, I'll go to Australia."

I haven't sent off any applications yet, but Aussie term times being different, I have lots of time and far less documentation to get together. I've got enough time left on my current lease to have plenty of time to find a new place to rent for a few more months, and extra time in this country gives me extra time to save up (plus, Australian universities are cheaper than American ones; I've already got enough to cover tuition fees at most places, whereas it'd have been very tight in the US even with my savings and what wages I could hypothetically earn as a TA). I may be overly optimistic, but I get the distinct impression that if I have a good BA and can speak English - which, what d'you know, I do - I'm almost certain to get in at the places I'd like to apply.

So, a bit annoying, and I probably shouldn't talk like it's all in the bag just yet, but still. I don't believe in fate or destiny but I do reckon things have a way of working out. Land of half-naked singing blokes, here I come!
skew_whiff: (come into the factories)
1. I've got a new job!

The timing's been a little odd, in that it's all entirely by coincidence come together on the very last day of my contract running out, but I'm really pleased to finally have something different to do.

As is so often the case with office jobs, it takes an annoyingly long time to completely explain, but the short version is that I'm still working for the NHS, but now I'm writing replies to Freedom of Information requests and complaints and other correspondence sent in to the Commissioning Board, which is one of the various managing bodies in the vague levels between the government and the people who do the actual healthcare. It was a rather drawn-out process in which I had to do a load of tests to make sure I was reasonably literate, and then they took forever to come back to me with a start date, but it's pretty much all sorted now. It pays much better than the old job, it'll probably be a little more exciting (or at least not feel quite as degrading as carrying around boxes and finding bits of paper for people who are too important to look around their own damn offices) - and seeing as it's a new office being set up and a lot of people have been recruited all at once, by complete chance, one of my best friends has also got a job there. So even if it's awful at least I'll have somebody to endure it with.

2. After I had a bit of a moment in the pub last Saturday where I got somewhat bitter and maudlin about being perpetually single, I stumbled home and in a fit of beer-fuelled determination, fired up my computer and reactivated my OkCupid account.

It's nice when things I do after a couple of beers still make sense in the cold light of day - uploaded a more recent photo, rewrote the profile, and to my pleasant surprise, I've already received a few messages from some pretty decent chaps.

I'm not going to get ahead of myself, but it's good to be doing something other than just being a grumpy old recluse, and it's always nice to have reassurance that there's nothing inherently off-putting about me. (Which I know I shouldn't need reassuring about, but my deep-seated irrational hang-ups are frustratingly resistant to logic.)

3. And I've actually heard back from one of the universities I applied to, as well!

It was a rejection, mind you, but I'm not too bothered - Brown was always my long-shot choice, and by far the weakest of the applications I sent in. It still feels sort of positive, just knowing if that I've got one response through, I shouldn't have to wait too much longer for the others.
skew_whiff: (bombers overhead)
I've acquired a few new people on my f-list in the past few weeks, so I thought it was probably round about time I actually posted again. Hello there! You are probably already entirely aware of who I am and what I post (or else why would you have added me?), but still - hi, pleased to meet, you, I'm Skew. These days this journal is mostly sporadic updates about my life, what I've been watching/reading/writing lately and the occasional meme, but you never know, I may one day become interesting again.

- It's been snowing a fair bit lately, which I wouldn't mind, particularly, other than this is of course the exact time at which my boots choose to spring a leak. Having to dry one's feet out on an electric heater every evening is a pretty small inconvenience compared to, say, working out childcare plans when the schools are shut or getting to work when the buses can't get through snow, but there's a small paranoid part of me that keeps checking for early signs of trench foot.

- Most of you have probably heard this already, but there's going to be another Spielberg/Hanks WWII miniseries! AND IT'S GOT PLANES. And, er, guys who fly in them, obviously. I'm a little dismayed that they've passed up the chance to focus on a theatre of the war or group of people that doesn't get much attention (eg. North Africa, the Philippines, Burma, and anything other than another bunch of white guys), but I'm still terribly excited and particularly delighted by the fact that after dealing with two branches of the armed forces I previously didn't care much about (and convincing me to love them anyway), they're now going for my beloved flyboys. Although knowing what the casualty rates were like for bomber crews, I'm already despairing in the absolute certainty that yet again, I'm going to fall head over heels for someone who'll die a horrible unjust death. Probably in episode 7.

- Went to see Django Unchained last Friday. Really enjoyed it, although it could do with being half an hour shorter. It doesn't do all that much that he hasn't done before - honestly, Kill Bill and Inglourious Basterds have almost the same plot, although given the film's subject, this is a fair bit more thought-provoking (at least for me; not knowing as much as I should about slavery in 19th-century America, I'd like to go read up and find out what of the movie was true) - but he does do his ridiculous blood-soaked revenge epics pretty darn well, and the cast were great, especially Samuel L Jackson and Christoph Waltz.

- Been job-hunting lately. It hasn't gone well. Two years of working in a shitty entry-level admin job and all my experience qualifies me to do is, well, work in shitty entry-level admin jobs. All employers want is somebody who already knows what to do, which is fine, but how does one ever learn?

At least I'll be getting a change of scene soon - my employers have hired a permanent member of staff to fill my post, so even if I don't get a job some place else, the temp agency'll send me off somewhere new. I don't entirely understand the reasons given for why I couldn't be hired for this permanent post, especially given they all felt I was doing perfectly well, but if there's one thing I've learned from temping, it's that agency workers are considered basically worthless. Fingers crossed I'll be hearing back from grad school soon and none of this will matter much anyway, but in the meantime, I just hope that wherever I go next is nice.

- And finally! The other day someone posted some pictures of RL Harry Welsh I'd never seen before. It's a shame - although absolutely typical of Tumblr - that there's no source given or links to full-size versions of the originals, but still, new pictures! Including one in which he looks more astonishingly like the television version of himself than he does in any other photograph I've seen of him; it can never be said enough just how good a job the casting people did.
skew_whiff: (keep calm and carry on)
thing 1: Happy new year!

A little late, but who's counting? Hope everyone had a decent night - I went to a party at a friend's house, which was perfectly reasonable and definitely an improvement on how I saw in 2012 (drinking gin by myself and singing very loudly along to Kylie Minogue songs).

My resolutions are pretty much the same as they always are: work harder, be braver. They're reusable resolutions partially because they're quite open-ended (one can always do more), and partially because my life is basically one long doomed struggle against my own laziness and cowardice. I won't set the bar too outlandishly high, but if I can continue to improve my cooking and my musical skills, and write more than I did last year - and possibly find a hobby which gets me out of the house and socialising? - I will consider that a win.

In 2012 I was beset by a lot of minor incidents of bad luck but was in a better state mentally than I've been for a long time; 2013, I suspect, is going to be very hard work and involve a lot of panicking over paperwork, but it'll all come out good in the end. Probably. Or if it doesn't, at least being deported will make for an interesting anecdote one day.

thing 2: Yuletide reveals!

So, I wrote two things this year.

My assigned fic was The Election (The Clangers), which is both one of the shortest fics I've written, and one of the most difficult. I'm pleased with it, overall, and it was a lovely canon to revisit, but I've learned my lesson - when one's fic tends to be rambling and dialogue-heavy, it is not a good idea to volunteer to write for a canon that has ten-minute episodes and characters that don't speak in actual words.

I also wrote The Land Beyond The Shelves (Black Books), because I read a prompt involving Bernard Black meeting fairies and couldn't help myself. It was written in two days and mostly on public transport, which probably shows, but hell, I had fun.


So after watching The Hobbit I re-read the book while at my parents' for Christmas. Then I managed to dig out my old paperback copy of LOTR. My Tumblr dash is full of screencaps and gifs of the cast being magnificent, and I spent most of the dead days between Christmas and New Year reading the kinkmeme.

And oh god, I'm in love. It's both stirring up lots of nostalgia for my childhood and early teens, and also giving me that lovely shiny new fandom feeling I haven't felt in a long, long time. It's a bit bizarre and daunting, as large fandoms always are, but I'm happy to just lurk around on the edges and dabble here and there. It's befitting that The Hobbit fandom, like the film itself, seems a whole lot sillier and less serious-business than LOTR fandom (though then again, the very first fic I ever read was a copy of The Very Secret Diaries that a friend printed out and passed around our class, and that's about as far from srs bsness as it's possible to get), and I'm rather amused by some of the recurring themes - I can take or leave the inevitable incest and mpreg, but I love all the speculative takes on dwarvish gender politics, and I'm really tickled by how preoccupied with hairstyling the fandom seems to be. For years now I've been joking about people writing fics where guys sit around braiding one another's hair, and now I encounter a fandom where that is not only genuinely the case, it actually makes a fair bit of sense!

I've got a couple of short fics in the works now, and more ideas gathering together into coherent plots - rest assured, I still consider the war miniseries to be my fandom home, but it's nice to have something new(ish) to get fired up about. It's gonna be a long damn wait until part 2.
skew_whiff: (that's why i came to france)
So somehow it's six days into the holidays already (I'm counting weekends), and it's just flown by in a vague haze of relatives and cake. So many relatives. So much cake.

The day itself turned out to be a bit underwhelming, which was entirely my own fault for spending so long getting all hyped up and also for never getting round to telling anyone what I might like, so present-wise all I really got was chocolate and money. Not that I'm complaining about either, mind you. It wasn't unbearably awkward and Christmas dinner was delicious, and that's the main thing. (At least as far as I'm concerned.)

Asides from that...

- Yuletide! I've barely even got started on reading and commenting on the bulk of what was posted, but I got really lucky and received three lovely stories this year - two for the Thin Man, one with zombies and one with Time Lords, both with all the wit and charm and sparky dialogue you'd expect, and also a wonderful, subtle, thought-provoking character piece involving Faiza Hussain, my favourite character from Captain Britain and MI:13 (plus some cameos from the Avengers!). All well worth your time, if you've not seen them yet.

- Christmas TV! Doctor Who was good fun (especially the Sontaran) and I'm intrigued by what's going on with this new companion, though bits of it very much seemed like things we'd seen before. Victorian London, check. Much-loved secular Christmassy thing turns bad, check. Unusually attractive, intelligent and fearless woman leaves Doctor bemused, check. Not that this last one is pre-emptive character bashing, I'm sure Clara/Oswin/whatever her name turns out to be will have facets that distinguish her from Amy, River and, indeed, Irene Adler (there's the souffles, for a start) - it's just Moffat certainly has a type, doesn't he?

Downton was, well, the usual mixture of nostalgia, charm, wry humour and shaking one's fist at the television that it usually is. WHY WILL YOU NEVER LET ANYONE BE HAPPY, FELLOWES. At least there was Thomas's continuing progress towards being a decent human being and Molesley's drunk dancing to make up for things.

And other than that, I don't think I've caught much TV, though I did watch The Nightmare Before Christmas and How To Train Your Dragon. Underwhelmed by the former, I think because I know so many people who love it and so went in with unduly high expectations; really liked the latter, though I was unnecessarily distracted by the fact the kids have American accents and the adults have Scottish accents. And they're meant to be Vikings. Okay, Hollywood...

- Hobbits! So I've seen the Hobbit. Twice, due to different friends wanting to see it with me. And, well... it's not LOTR (and what could be), but despite its silliness and CGI-heaviness and the fact it could really do with being half an hour shorter, I really did love it, and along with the LOTR rewatch I did in the weeks leading up to the release, it's rekindled my love for Tolkien and fantasy fiction in general in a big way. I'll no doubt talk about this more later, because right now I'm mostly still in a 'cheerfully incoherent flailing' sort of mood about the whole thing. (It's also nice that for once my mood appears to be falling pretty much in line with that of fandom, in that I loved Fili and Kili to bits, and Bofur kind of came out of nowhere and stole all the scenes he was in with his snark and ridiculous Derek Smalls-esque facial hair. Loved Thorin, too, although thanks to Robin Hood, I just can't quite ever take Richard Armitage seriously in anything.)

I'd like to write some fic, some time in the nearish future, but nothing's come to mind as yet, other than a faintly ridiculous WWII AU, and a few casual doodles I have of warrior dwarf Harry Welsh and elven bard Hillbilly Jones. But give it time, we'll see how it goes.

...right, that's about it for now, I think. And how have you all been?
skew_whiff: (raising hell)
holiday love meme 2012
my thread is here

Anonymous, not-anonymous, whatever; it's always nice seeing this come around again. And link me your threads, too, if I've missed them.
skew_whiff: (dear dad)
Oh boy, it's here all right. There's ice on the pavements and a chill wind in the air, and I've caught my first cold of the season (luckily, it seems to be of the mild variety easily managed with ibuprofen and lots of strong coffee).

Still stoked about Christmas - the presents are mostly bought and my decorations are already up, not that it took long, seeing as it consists entirely of an advent calendar and a bauble dangled from one of the fronds of my potplant. There's still time to request cards, if you want one! I've got one batch sent off, but I've got enough cards left to do more.

Otherwise, life is okay. Nothing back from the colleges I applied to yet, but the deadline for Fall admissions is in January, so I doubt there'll be anything until some time after then. Work is dull, but unlike the last place, doesn't send me home filled with rage; also, nobody notices if I disappear for long periods of time and hide in a spare room reading articles about the Red Army on Wikipedia, so that's okay. I've been approached to write for an online magazine, completely out of the blue - not paid, mind, and from previous encounters with these 'hey I could totally run the next Jezebel/Awl/Vice from my bedroom with a staff of unpaid strangers' ventures I sincerely doubt it'll still be going in three months' time, but hey, it's at least practice.

Though talking of writing, boy, am I failing hard at producing any fic. So with that procrastination in mind - and maybe a kick up the arse in terms of thinking about what I write - have a meme that's been going round!

Pick a character I've written and I will give and explain the top five ideas/concepts/etc I keep in mind while writing that character that I believe are essential to accurately depicting them.

Preferably one I've written recently/regularly enough that I'm likely to actually have five concepts, or the answer you receive is likely to be disappointing.
skew_whiff: (dear dad)
Normally, I do my very best to completely ignore Christmas until it's actually December time. I grumble when the shops begin selling Christmas pudding and mince pies in late October (they'll be all stale by the time it's appropriate to eat them!) and think 'too soon' when the lights go up in November. I never get round to buying presents until it's too late and find myself standing in long queues on cold, dark Saturday afternoons in shops I'd never usually go in, quietly wishing death on everybody else there.

But for some reason this year I started getting totally stoked about Christmas round about early November and it hasn't worn off year. I've done most of the present-buying already, I've got my chocolate advent calendar ready for a few days' time, and I can't wait for the big day. Maybe it's because I'm on better terms with my family than I was a few years ago, or because I'm growing more sentimental as I get older, or maybe it's just because I've got nothing better to do.

Which is all a very roundabout way of saying, it's that time of year again, so here's the annual post to ask if anybody'd like a card from me this year. You know how it goes - if you'd like me to send you a Christmas card, leave your name and address in the comments. They're screened for privacy's sake, of course. Any particular requests? Feel free to make them! (Within reason, obviously. No Faberge eggs or gift-wrapped Damian Lewises, etc.)


Nov. 19th, 2012 07:14 pm
skew_whiff: (raising hell)
So, this weekend, I went to my first ever comic convention!


More detail under the cut )
skew_whiff: (keep calm and carry on)
So, this morning I finally sent off the last of my applications to grad school.


Now I just have to sit and wait patiently and try my best to maintain the confidence I had in what I submitted when I sent all the damn stuff off. I'm doing a pretty good job of it at the moment, but it's gonna be a long damn wait until January (or whenever the heck it is they get back to me).
skew_whiff: (Default)
Hello, Yuletide author!

How's it going? I hope my requests haven't left you too baffled or daunted - at any rate, you are clearly a person of excellent taste, and I'm really looking forward to seeing whatever it is you come up with. Here's some extra details and hints which I hope'll be useful. Read more... )
skew_whiff: (fresh peaches)
'Sup, LJ/DW/whatever? Now I've got access back, I really ought to get into the habit of posting regularly again. Not that I really was before, but it's this or actually get round to working on my personal statement and/or emailing old university tutors who don't remember me asking them for letters of recommendation, and right now, procrastination is winning.

So, have a meme of sorts that I just made up - the following list is the file names of all the incomplete and/or abandoned WIPs I've got saved in my fic folders, organised roughly by fandom ('Australians' is my catch-all shorthand for anything relating to Aussie war fandoms - Changi, Gallipoli, Beneath Hill 60 etc.). Comment with a fic title, and I'll give you an excerpt.


beyond the sea
decline and fall
heard so much
lol threesome
mirrorverse rough
new arrival
penk and spina
romance novelist
scenes from the triumph
the war at home

stress relief

flowers in your hair
hawkeye and haldane

(The Pacific)
bungle in the jungle
crash and burn
impossible things
sea people
shameless filth
there is no excuse for this
through the years
unfinished business

Not that I'm actually working on any of these right now, mind you - my current projects are a follow-up to the Captain America fic I wrote last year, and a modern-day Pacific AU loosely inspired by GK, with Leckie as an embedded reporter in Iraq. I'm quite excited about getting to work on the second one in particular, although also a little daunted, as while I'm perfectly comfortable using historical wars as backdrops, I feel inexplicably uncomfortable doing the same thing with more recent ones. I don't exactly want to just make shit up out of nowhere either, though, and even a small amount of research has given me a few events which would perfectly as background... so, er, those of you who've written stuff in a modern warfare setting, how do you deal with this?


Sep. 7th, 2012 05:56 pm
skew_whiff: (raising hell)

I am so elated I could honestly almost cry.

It is not because the internet service provider I signed up with made with the goods at last, mind you, but because after waiting all morning for a phone engineer that never came, I finally cracked, and have now struck a deal with the guy living next door to me that I'll use his wireless and pay half the share.

I really should've done that a month ago and saved myself the bother, and I don't look forward to the rigmarole of calling TalkTalk's appalling call centre and cancelling the whole shebang, but FUCK IT I AM BACK. GOD, INTERNET, I HAVE MISSED YOU.

Anyway. Amsterdam, for the record, was amazing - rather expensive, much more so than Berlin, so I had to tread carefully - but exactly what I needed, a relaxing stay in a beautiful city in which, for once, nothing went wrong. (Asides from occasionally getting confused by the barriers on the trams and missing my stop.)

I spent a lot of time just wandering around admiring the architecture and being amused by tourists - like the bunch of Germans who startled me on the train by barking 'Fahrkarte bitte' at me as they entered my compartment (I only wish I had enough German to have told them they were reminding me something out of The Great Escape; they were amused that I knew enough just to get all flustered and actually start reaching for my ticket), and the weird American guy who came into the cafe where I was eating breakfast to ask where he could go to buy a joint. I mean, jeez, bro, at least wait until after lunch.

I saw several museums, including the excellent Verzetsmuseum, which is about the experience of the Netherlands and its people during WWII - the stuff about the war in Europe and the Dutch resistance was fascinating, but what I was really impressed by was the little sub-exhibit about Dutch-occupied Indonesia during the Pacific war; it's a subject on which I know precious little, and I was particularly struck by the awkwardness of the situation in which mixed-race Dutch-Indonesians found themselves in after the war, not necessarily welcome in their home country or in the Netherlands.

I also ate exceedingly well, and came home with a bag stuffed full of cakes and Dutch gin. Including a packet of these biscuits, which made me burst out into entirely inappropriate laughter in the shop. It's not the name so much as the name with the exclamation mark afterwards - it just seems so incongruously jolly.

Talking of BoB, Webster was entirely right in that the Dutch do all speak English (and wrong about Van Gogh being born in Nuenen; he lived there, but not as a child), to the point that the signs in Schiphol airport actually have the English words for things first, above the Dutch ones. It's really easy to come by English-language books and newspapers, I passed an event where the University of Amsterdam were holding free outdoor lectures in English, I went to see a film which was in English with Dutch subtitles (and watched Top Gear on BBC2 in my hotel room)... it's a little odd, but certainly convenient.

So, yeah. It was amazing, and I recommend it to anyone. You do have to keep a keen eye out to avoid being run over by bicycles, but asides from that, it's a wonderful city - prettier than Paris, friendlier than London, good food is in abundance and it's easy to get around. I could honestly see myself living there one day.

But in the meantime - it's good to be home. Have I missed much?
skew_whiff: (keep calm and carry on)
So, over the past two months, the following has happened:

- I was delayed by a month from moving into the flat I'd rented because neither letting agent or landlord ever bothered to check the previous tenant's contract dates.

- I was sacked from my job. (It was my own fault, in that I'd kept losing my temper with my co-workers, but I wouldn't have lost my temper with them in the first place if they hadn't been so unbelievably stupid and irritating. It was the culmination of a long, long process of having my patience gradually eroded.) I have another job, because I'm still with the temp agency, but it's an hour's walk each way through a scummy area of town.

- I waited in on a Saturday for a delivery that never arrived. Twice. In the end I cancelled the order and went in and bought the same item from a shop in town and took it home on the bus; not exactly easy, given that it's a bookcase taller than I am.

- The Royal Mail couldn't fit my new router through the letterbox because it was too big. I had to arrange for it to be redelivered; it would've come to my local post office for collection today, but on Saturdays, it only opens in the mornings. Which I only remembered at half past one.

- Not that that matters, because after waiting a whole month for an engineer to be available to install a new phone line in my flat, I get a text telling me I don't need an engineer, they can activate the old phone line in my flat automatically. I am sceptical of this, because my flat is one of several in a large house and I wasn't able to specify which flat it was when I signed up, but they assure me it'll all work out.
Today, despite an email from the internet provider telling me my new line is live, the phone line in my flat is dead. Possibly a line somewhere else in the house is all ready to go, but the one I can actually get to sure ain't. So once again, I'm writing this post in a library.

I realise this is all pretty small stuff, in the grand scheme of things; just little setbacks and inconveniences, not tragedies. Still, I'm feeling pretty ticked off with the world right now, and a little sick of talking to people in call centres.

I'm going to Amsterdam tomorrow (that is, if I can manage to check in online here and be able to access my boarding pass to print it off at home). I am very much hoping that that, at least, goes smoothly; I intend to drink a great deal of beer and eat a great quantity of cheese and pancakes and things, and to generally work off the general sense of fed-up-ness that's built up since July.

If I'm lucky, I will have collected my router and sorted out my connection by the end of next week. As it is, though, luck isn't something I appear to have very much of at the moment. So I'll see you whenever.
skew_whiff: (you have confused gregory peck)
So, the good news is, I've finally moved into the actual flat I signed a contract for.

The bad news is, there's no phone connection, and the soonest I could get one installed is at the very end of the month. So my grand return to the internet is to be postponed for a few weeks more. I'm still sort of here, though, even if it's only via short trips to the nearest coffee shop with wifi once or twice a week. I get the feeling that not much has been happening while I've been away (give or take [personal profile] newredshoes watching the BBC Robin Hood, which has been hilarious and I wish I could've experienced those posts as they happened), but I've been missing you guys!

What I've been doing in the meantime:

- catching up on books and DVDs. I raced my way through the whole of Season 1 and about half of Season 2 of Breaking Bad in a week or so - it's been a long time since a drama grabbed me by the scruff and refused to let go like that, but it's just fantastic. A little far-fetched at times, as these high-concept glossy dramas often are, but always gripping, and it does an excellent job of balancing the grim stuff (of which there's plenty, as you'd expect from a show whose main themes are terminal illness and the drugs trade) with humour and occasional explosions. I'm also well into The People's War, by Angus Calder, which is pretty much the best book about Britain in the Second World War that I've ever read. And I've read plenty. It's a huge thick book, but extremely readable, full of details, and I've already learned a heck of a lot I didn't know before.

- baking the occasional cake, with varying success, and compensating for the consumption of said cake with running, with slightly more success. I've been meaning to do Couch to 5k for ages, and finally got round to it - it's a challenge, and I don't think I'd have made it past the first week without the improvements in my fitness I've already made since the start of the year, but it does feel damn good to complete another half hour, and I'm confident of getting through the whole nine weeks. If I don't manage to snap a tendon first.

- writing. Not much to show for it yet, but I will have fic for you when I finally make my proper return. Maybe even with illustrations.
And while that's being beta'd, I'm always up for suggestions for other things! I've been poking a little at various WIPs, but I've not got anything else seriously under way.

- planning another holiday, this time to Amsterdam, for a few days at the start of September. I don't know much about the place and I don't speak a word of Dutch, but heck, that just makes it more of an adventure.

- watching the Olympics. Well, the opening ceremony, at least, which I was thoroughly impressed by. Beijing might have thousands of drummers, but we had live sheep, Kenneth Branagh, Voldemort being defeated by a fleet of Mary Poppinses, lindy-hopping NHS staff, Mr Bean, and JAMES BOND AND THE QUEEN JUMPING OUT OF A HELICOPTER. FUCK YEAH. I was also rather charmed that the crowd I was watching it with (I was at a public screening) were nationalistic enough to stand for the national anthem, but not enough to actually sing along.

Also, I think I've developed a bit of a weird crush on Bradley Wiggins. It's the sideburns. I honestly had no idea what he looked like, until recently, and I really wasn't expecting such magnificent sideburns.

So, yeah. That's pretty much it. I'm still checking in, now and then, so I may drop the occasional comment; but otherwise, see you in a month! (With any luck.)
skew_whiff: (keep calm and carry on)
So, it looks like I'm not going to be around for a while.

You can blame this on the fact that my landlord and letting agents couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery - despite having signed a contract in February, and having emailed my landlord about the moving-in date back in June, only yesterday did I actually find out there'd been some monumental balls-up which meant I'd signed up to rent a flat from July to July... while the previous tenant was in there from August to August.

It's all worked out mostly okay - there was a flat in the same house that was empty, so I'm staying there for a month - but it does mean I won't have a regular internet connection until some time in early August.

I'll still be checking my emails every so often (that is, when I have the time and money to use the wi-fi at a coffee shop, like I'm doing now god I feel like such a hipster douche, sitting with a netbook at Starbucks), but otherwise, I think it'll probably be a good thing to have a break from the internet and from fandom. Maybe I'll go out and explore and reconnect with the outside world. Or maybe I'll just stay in and write fic. Either way, it'll be an opportunity to get things done.

So I'll be back in a few weeks. Hopefully with something good to show for it.

Try not to have too much fun without me, okay?


skew_whiff: (Default)

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