I'm about a day late in seeing 2010 off properly, but I'm always keen on keeping up recent traditions. As such, I give you the yearly...

...Random List of 2010 )
Somehow life has just completely eaten me over the past couple of weeks. (I suspect it was the whole holiday thing, plus work has attained a whole different level of nutty, complete with a client that wants my head on a plate but hey, what are you going to do?)

I will eventually come up with a year-in-review post (possibly tomorrow?). But, for now, in case you were looking for something to do between now and midnight, I have some Yuletide recs. I actually had these ones ready a couple of days ago, but I kept figuring I'd get farther in the archives... then I didn't.

So, since we're all capable of going to the archive and sorting by fandom (that is why this ends on a lot of Doctor Who-related recs), I'm going to try to start with the more unusual stuff that people may not have sought out on their own, as well as a few I wouldn't have found if I hadn't stumbled across recs for them myself.

I must rec before reveals! )

And, of course, HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! ♥
evilhippo: hippo (11 [surreal])
( Dec. 25th, 2010 01:59 pm)
Merry Christmas/Happy Saturday, everyone! (Happy Birthday, [livejournal.com profile] look_alive!)

Things are still bustling around here, so this will be brief: Yuletide! My amazing anon actually filled my alternate-universe NPR prompt and it's wonderful. A Terribly Ghastly Silence is what it's called, and it's... it's This American Hitchhiker's Excellent Adventure is what it is but really why are you reading my silly attempt at summarization when you could be reading the story itself? Go!

I still need to delve into the archive itself and poke around, but that can wait until after turkey and all its friends. And until after everyone else has stopped beating the server to death. So much fic... so, so much fic.
Ladies and gents, you are probably all tired of me talking about music but this one is [livejournal.com profile] apple_pathways' fault so you can all blame her instead. She challenged me, and I just cannot leave a challenge unanswered, especially when it comes in the mail:

This inadvertent cam-whoring brought to you by my camera batteries being dead.

Unfortunately, asking me for holiday songs is a bit like asking normal people what their favorite polka is (probably something by Mucca Pazza) or what the best sort of long-neck lute is (the bouzouki).

I had to do some real soul-searching on this one, guys... )

...but here are my answers. )

[livejournal.com profile] apple_pathways actually did this properly, and came up with a a lovely little list, plus it's totally worth it for the bonus video. And if any of the rest of you want to take up the challenge, feel free!
My mom came to visit two weekends ago, and it has just now occurred to me why there was a bit of suspicion regarding my bathroom.

As I realized just moments ago, my bathroom has some very strong Secret Boyfriend connotations. I have two toothbrushes. One is blue (my current toothbrush) and the other (my old toothbrush) is pink. But the reason I have two toothbrushes is that I'm absentminded and a klutz and, since my old toothbrush is still functional, it's still there in case I leave my proper toothbrush somewhere or drop it in the toilet. (The reason I have a pink toothbrush is because my old roommate replaced my old, old one after she dropped it in the toilet.)

Then there's the fact that there were two tubes of toothpaste on my sink. But one was new and the other was old and almost gone, so that's not suspicious, right? It just shows that, in a rare moment of preparedness, I managed to buy new toothpaste before I ran out completely. ...It probably didn't help my case that they were two different flavors.

Possibly the most incriminating evidence against me, however (because that wasn't enough?), is my soap situation. I have a habit of buying up random interesting soaps from soap-makers on Etsy, so there are always a few different soaps lying around that I use depending on my mood. Right now I have two sitting on the edge of my shower. One is green and innocent and kind of citrus-y. But the other is black, menacing and is... very clearly meant for men. It's bergamot and sweet tobacco and it smells like, well, Earl Grey and unsmoked pipes. I think of it as a Victorian Gentleman soap but I mean, seriously, no one smells me between when I take a shower and when I go to work the next morning, so as far as I'm concerned it doesn't matter if I smell a little bit like I stumbled through a room full of outdated manliness. I like the smell (take that gender normativity). It also mixes nicely with my sandalwood-and-necco-wafer (that's the impression it gives, at least) perfume, which is girly, even if it is on the earthy end of the spectrum.

... It's either that, or I have a Secret Boyfriend I don't know about. I mean, that extra toothbrush is pretty incriminating. If he likes smelling vaguely Victorian, though, I'd probably like to meet him.

In other news, for a variety of other reasons, it is probably also time for me to clean my apartment.
All right, All Songs Considered have already done their Best of 2010, so I figure it's completely fair of me to start on my list of Best Albums of 2010. (Also, my upstairs neighbors are having a very noisy party so it's not like I'm going to be sleeping anytime soon.) Normally I don't do this because I think it's kind of obnoxious and I always leave something out and I feel like I'm being all Pitchforky Hipster but this is the year I stopped reading Pitchfork (and I didn't even notice--I think my brain just stopped processing their stuff around the time they started retweeting every single thing MIA said, and I've just now visited the site for the first time in months and it's all about the Tron OST and there's a giant Apple ad at the top and I still hate the writing. If this is what indie looks like now, how am I supposed to know what's cool?).

This is also the first year that most of my top albums have also been on the Billboard Charts. Obviously this is because I've stopped reading Pitchfork and am no longer in touch with the obscure things I need to listen to in order to stay cool. (My pet theory, which I much prefer, is that only baby boomers and pretentious indie hipster music nerds spend money on music anymore, so it's much easier for weird things like The Age of Adz to chart.)

So, without further ado, I present to you a list and then a series of the sort of wall-o'text paragraphs you've come to expect from me.

The List of 2010 Albums I Own )

Which brings us to the main event: My Favourites )

The party upstairs still isn't over, so I'm going to go sulk with my headphones on. In the meantime, if there's an album I missed or you want to challenge my opinion on any of these, have at it!
I think this is an appropriate night for me to sit here and post a picture of my dinner.

Like so: )

I now return you to the part of my journal where I don't post pictures of food.
It's not uncommon that I'll come across little warnings in my recipes as to the insurmountable odds of finding exactly what they call for. My gumbo recipe has paragraphs about the impossibility of finding andouille sausage. The key lime pie recipe I need for tomorrow warns me that "The bad news is [key limes are] impossible to find fresh at your local supermarkets."

I remember the days when I used to hate Hyde Park, when I swore that it was awful and boring and there was no point to it. But, if there is a point to Hyde Park, part of it has to be that I can walk across the street to the grocery store and find fresh key limes and andouille sausage. Or squid, or out-of-season obscure fruits, or imported candies, or jerk catfish, or organic cage-free quinoa... without going to a Whole Foods. I can, in fact, accomplish all my shopping, without any gaping recipe holes, without even shopping in any chains that exist outside of Chicago (it used to be that I could do this without hitting any chains that existed outside of Hyde Park, but the Co-op died a few years ago due to its poor management, nonsensical pricing, and lack of a reliable credit card system. Also it rained inside the 55th street store, but that's a problem the Treasure Island hasn't fixed, either). And our produce store has the same supplier as Whole Foods but charges half as much (seriously, I have been in love with Hyde Park Produce since before it even crossed my mind that Hyde Park itself might have some redeeming value).

So, moral of the story: I have a bag of key limes and it turns out my grocery store also carries Hobnobs, so I'm sitting here with a cup of tea, eating biscuits and wondering how I'm going to juice a million tiny limes. And I love my neighborhood for its grocery stores. Is that even proper?

Alternate moral: Happy (Almost) Thanksgiving, everyone! ♥ (Even if you're not engaging in culinary exploits tomorrow.) ♥

Chicago and I still have some things to work out, though, especially in re: it raining on me every time I'm outside for more than three minutes.
First of all, I'm thinking of going into meteorology. There's just no way I could possibly do worse than saying at 7:30 in the morning that the rain wasn't going to start until 9 when it was pouring by 8:05. That's failing to predict the weather thirty five minutes in the future. The forecast I looked at this morning also claimed that it was going to rain a bit around 3:00 but it'd be okay by five. Guess what started at 4:30 and continued well past six? It certainly wasn't anything that made me any dryer.

So, I set out this morning cheerfully biking along with the wind at my back, enjoying the nearly 60-degree weather when it started to rain. Not drizzle, but arrhythmic giant gobs of water that seemed aimed specifically at the holes in my helmet. I figured it'd be fine, but by the time I got to about 23rd street it was pouring and even I tried to hide under the eaves of the McCormick center, hoping it'd let up, but the rain was relentless and in the end I showed up to work looking like a drowned rat. Even my spare clothes were soaked through (thankfully they soaked up all the water that would've otherwise soaked poor Hrunting). So I was soggy and uncomfortable all day (and even the quiet partner made a special point to drop by and make fun of me), and then once I'd finally dried off (and worked an extra hour in the hope that the rain would pass since it was supposed to be over before five), I had to walk my umbrella-less self to the bus stop, affix my bike to the bus, try not to drip on anyone, and then bike the four blocks home in rain that was still somehow at torrential downpour level.

And the awful thing is, if I'd just paid attention to my instinct this morning when I left, I would've brought my bike back in, grabbed an umbrella, and been... well, probably still wet since the rain was pretty thorough about its work, but at least I wouldn't have been literally dripping for the first hour of my day.

It's going to start snowing sometime this week, but I think if it's above 32 tomorrow morning I'm going to tough it out and bike one last time, just so Chicago doesn't win by spiting me with a 60-degree day that rains only when I'm on my bike.
It's been about two months since I got my hands on Sufjan Stevens' Age of Adz. It's also about a month before I can conscionably start on my Best Albums of the Year list, which was going to be the pretence for weaving the tale of the ridiculous backstory I have in my head for this album. But then I saw this video of him performing on Jimmy Fallon and I'm not sure whether Sufjan just Jossed my Age of Adz headcanon or if I'm partially right and he has willingly subjected himself to possession by an evil spirit but isn't fighting it.

I should probably back up a bit here, because even as far as pretendy funtimes conspiracy theories go this one is out there (which is probably why I enjoy entertaining the idea). This is the sort of stuff my brain churns up when I'm bored... )

Dear artists of all sorts: this sort of thing is what you get when you cultivate a somewhat elusive and mysterious persona and then have a public existential crisis in plain view of a bored English major who will deconstruct anything. Just saying. Especially if the album you release afterwards is complex and interesting. And creepy, guys, creepy.
evilhippo: hippo (73 [attack])
( Nov. 14th, 2010 03:16 pm)

Aand the end! (You are exiled TO THE MOON.)

It also occurs to me now that I shouldn't have posted this so soon after posting my Yuletide letter because there are more people than usual ending up at my journal and oh gosh, guys, I am not always entirely insane, only when provoked! (Though I do turn reasonable things into treatises on gender a lot lately, so that part is probably true.)
evilhippo: hippo (100 [grin])
( Nov. 14th, 2010 03:13 pm)

This is quiet even though I'm almost shouting, sorry! My phone is not entirely excellent. Also, you can tell the bits I outlined and wrote down because they don't have a million 'ums' between them.

P.S. Randall Munroe also believes that sex and gender are really complicated so that makes it the most complicated thing in the universe, QED.
evilhippo: hippo (31 [awesome])
( Nov. 11th, 2010 09:49 pm)
I had so many grand plans for tonight, involving (in this order) Working Late and Catching up on Service Transferred Files, followed by things involving Word Counts, and probably some Grocery Shopping. I made it fifteen minutes into Working Late when I noticed that it was dark and I'd just spent the last fifteen minutes with my head in my hands wondering why one of our clients was asking me to confirm that their system was correct in listing the property in question as being located in the city of "3 Chicago" and another was shouting at me in CAPS LOCK about how my careless mistake due to not being trained on the software and not being able to get answers from any of the reps was something that just CANNOT BE THIS WAY. Then I got home and the rest of the plans rapidly devolved into Eating Rocky Road Ice Cream for Dinner and Reading the Yuletide Fandom List (Anthropomorphic Academic Institutions? Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)? Entire Andrew Bird albums?). This cheered me a bit, and pretty much cemented my desire to participate this year. Also: next year, I am going to find a way to nominate NPR as a fandom, because... because let's not get into that but it should happen.) But now it's after 9:30 and I've done utterly nothing with the only free evening I've had this week. (I think this means the mental downtime was probably necessary, and so I'm doing my best not to feel useless about it.)

So, putting all that behind me now... I am stealing a meme from [livejournal.com profile] bluerose16 because it is awesome funtimes and you guys can make fun of how Chicago is creeping into my otherwise-innocent midwestern accent, or make me try to read my awkward prose aloud. Or both. Or, you know, the crux of the thing:

Ask me questions. Something you're curious about, just feeling silly, whatever. I will answer in a voice post in a couple of days, when I can answer them all in one go.

Edit: Oh wait, NPR is a fandom. I love the internet. But there is a sad, sad lack of Lake Wobegon and Garrison Keillor, which is, in fact, what I would write about.
I am absolutely digging this 60-degree weather we're having. Last week (and even this weekend) I thought I was going to have to give up my bike for the winter, and now I've had two absolutely lovely nights of biking home without even needing a jacket. And it's a good thing, too, because otherwise I would be pulling out my hair.

Even the city is giving me advice now:

I spotted that as I was crossing the bridge over the Metra tracks by the Art Institute, and I figured, okay, it's the Blue Cross building, they're probably telling me to quit something. (Yes, despite that seemingly-strategic lamp, it does actually say "QUIT.") Smoking? Eating junk food? But... apparently no. Unless the array of blue lights above it is actually meant to represent a blue Tetris block and it's telling the city to stop playing Tetris?

I'm going to choose to interpret it as a Sign, because today we had two people give their notice, and both of them were of the rare, sane variety, who actually do work. We still haven't replaced people who left in August. I don't think there's a single department in the office that isn't behind right now, and I don't know how they're going to cope with losing two competent, well-adjusted people. (I'm almost certain I'm going to lose all my help, and I would crawl under my desk and cry except there's no room because of all the files at my desk.) I haven't filed something on time in more than a month... and I used to be the only one who was ahead. Now I spend all my time fighting with other legal assistants and attorneys to get their work done and have no time to do anything I'm actually supposed to be doing. Stupid nightmare job.

One positive upshoot of the current situation, though, is that I've been listening to a lot of music lately to drown out Ego Girl, and I recently wore out my crappy old $15 headphones. So today I invested some of my overtime money into a set of actually-good headphones (it actually occurs to me to be embarrassed as to how much I just spent on headphones). But music... guys, music has bass! And dynamics! And... and... I forgot how much I was missing by just listening to things on crappy headphones and crappy laptop speakers. (I thought I wouldn't like in-ear headphones, but it turns out they're not as creepily claustrophobic as noise-cancelling ones and the general effect is that the music is right there and all the outside noises are behind it. I rode past a helicopter on the lakefront tonight and could still hear my music, but I could also hear other cyclists coming up behind me at times when there was no helicopter. Fancy!)
It seems to be about time for me to get off the whole travelly-thinky-talky go-round for a bit. I will try to do this with as little pointless, gripe-y chatter about work as possible.

As such, I wanted to bring Save the Words to everyone's attention, because 1) words! adorable, adoptable words!, 2) it's November and if we're pounding out words we might as well give some a leg up from obscurity, and 3) go to 1, repeat.

I've adopted sinapistic, in part because it sounds kind of foreboding, and also because I like mustard. I mean, really, where can you go wrong with a foreboding-sounding word for "consisting of mustard"? Plus it's going to be a challenge to use to casually. "The Sunparlour Players are champions of pursuits both musical and sinapistic"? I'll have to think about it.

I also recommend "piladex." I had no idea there was a word for "a game in which an inflated bag is hit with hands to be kept aloft". It'd be a shame to lose a word that useful! For now I'm limiting myself to adopting only one word, though. At least until I leverage sinapistic back into common parlance.

I also owe [livejournal.com profile] apple_pathways a meme response:

1. Reply to this post and I will assign you a letter.
2. List/upload five songs you love that begin with that letter.
3. Post them to your journal with these instructions

I was given the letter S for sanity, which is, as always, questionable:

1. Summertime Clothes - Animal Collective
2. Scythian Empires - Andrew Bird
3. Sleeping on the Roof - The Flaming Lips
4. Seven Swans - Sufjan Stevens
5. Shortly Before the End - OK Go

I only changed each of those numbers about three times (I keep finding more I want to include! What of Sax Rohmer #1? Samson? Scenic World? San Francisco! Santa Fe! Starálfur! Some Fantastic! (I'm going to stop looking at my library now, because this is getting bad.) But hey, I managed to do it without including any songs from the Suburbs. That felt like cheating for some reason.

Also, I have an ulterior motive for number five up there. I kind of want an excuse to talk about my odd fascination with Of the Blue Colour of the Sky. Because, all right, OK Go is like, the one big-name band I knew before they were famous. I was stalking They Might be Giants, it was 2002 or so, and they were opening for them, and they always hung out outside the venue, being friendly and liberal with the hugs and so I adored them. Also their music was pretty good. (Hello, My Treacherous Friends was one of the main songs on the soundtrack to my high school existence.) By their second album I was kind of over it, though, and I let the internet have its way with them. I basically wouldn't have ended up with Of the Blue Colour... if I hadn't had a bunch of emusic downloads left at the end of last month. And... and... strangely, even though it is nothing like what I originally liked them for, I think it's actually a better album than either of the previous ones. I don't necessarily want to hard-wire it into my life, but it comes together as an album wonderfully. It's like, after all this time, they've finally hit their stride with making an album, rather than just clever singles and videos. (Am I already working on my Best Albums of 2010 list? Maaaaybe. Is it easier than last year's? Heck yes it is. Darnit, 2010.)
I don't even know where to begin to start. Did I even mention I was going to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear? I probably didn't. It kind of didn't register in the midst of the giant Thing that was the Paris trip, and then the middle of October went pchoooo and suddenly I was on a bus populated by Redditors and hippie liberals. (Now with pictures!)

So maybe I should start there, at the beginning, with the bus. )

tl;dr I hitched a ride with the internet.

A brief interlude at a rest stop McDonalds )

tl;dr Some guy threw my french fries on the ground in an attempt to flirt at me.

But let's get to the important stuff! The rally! )

tl;dr Rally was good! And freaking Generation Y, how do we work? (At least we're fun to watch?) (Are we Generation Y? I kind of forgot to keep track. Interesting side note, though, is that there seemed to be a lot of 20-somethings and a lot of people in their greying years, but not a whole lot in between.)

Also, since I'm here: Happy Halloween, guys!
evilhippo: hippo (101 [devious])
( Oct. 25th, 2010 11:02 pm)
Looks like I won't be biking tomorrow.

Bring it, Chicago!

(Actually, maybe I shouldn't say that. But it'll be an adventure, at least.)

And while I'm nattering on about super-local nonsense: someone is selling a loft with a fireman's pole in the West Loop. And considering how tastelessly the rest of that beautiful space seems to be decorated, no wonder they pointed out the fireman's pole (my personal selling-point for a loft) as the main feature. Someone want to loan me about a million dollars so I can get it and fix it up properly?
evilhippo: hippo (46 [internets])
( Oct. 24th, 2010 06:25 pm)
I realized I never finished up the last days of London, and since I am incredibly bored this afternoon (I've read, I've written, I cleaned and made soup and made bread and I'm still bored) I guess it's time to finish that story.

Hopefully there aren't too many details that have been lost between then and now )

And finally, to bring this whole story arc to a close, since I ran out of space so quickly on Flickr, I've dumped practically every picture I took into a couple of scrapbook galleries: London and Paris. I haven't pared them down to just the pretty ones, nor have I edited any of them, so beware that there are a lot, and not all of them are good. But that's how trips work, so I don't think I'll be editing them anyway.


evilhippo: hippo (Default)


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