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Effluvium From Sonya's Brain, LiveJournal Edition

DocArzt Post for Lost ep. 5.10 "He's Our You" Went Up Last Night
Clouds, Logo, Head, Shades
sonyalynn
I don't know what's worse, falling prey to predestination, or that blonde wig he wears in the end.I meant to post about it after I woke up, but I had a raging migraine. I still have it, but it's somewhat better. A few hours kibbitzing about time travel with Dana on the phone helped. (Thanks, Dana!)

Anyway, go check it out. And remember...everybody kills Hitler on their first trip.

Free will may have given fate a poke with a pointed stick, but the gears of predestination are going to keep grinding away, just like any good Greek tragedy.

And hey, anytime I get to make a 12 Monkeys reference, I'm a happy girl.

Originally published at Effluvium from Sonya's Brain.

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Better Living Through Fortune Cookie Wisdom?
Clouds, Logo, Head, Shades
sonyalynn
Who knew there was a Boot Camp-themed Chinese restaurant?"Today is the first day of the rest of your life."
—Ancient Chinese After-Dinner Prognostication Slogan

Well, I suppose in my case it would actually be closer to the 116th day of the rest of my life given that it was on November 30, 2008 that I lost most of my job. Like I mentioned in my last post, I've kind of been dragging my feet some in getting serious about building The Rest Of My Life™. I've already bitched in these pages about the steady, inexorable way in which the nice life I'd built by the beginning of 2006 had torn itself apart, so I won't go launching into that laundry list here. I'm going to try to stay more positive.

Much like our old friend the fortune cookie tells me, I'm in a place of flux in my life right now and a new life is going to emerge from the ashes of the old. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by the smoking crater of the past, to be sure, but I'm starting to get a flavor for what the new life is going to be and how I'm going to have to challenge myself to improve to make it work.

I know that January 1st is more traditional for announcing resolutions, but that's only for the new year and I'm talking about the new life. So, on to the resolutions...

  1. I'm going to make myself get up no later than 8AM on the weekdays and 10AM on the weekends. Sleeping away my life, as comfy as my memory-foam mattress is and as cuddly as Pi is, is not a terribly useful thing to do.
  2. Conversely, no more of this "staying awake until 3 and 4AM or even later" stuff on a school night.
  3. I will be on time to things (barring extreme calamity) and stop making my friends, or anyone else, wait for my happy ass. I try to pull that shit with clients and I'll be on the street and starving in no time.
  4. I've invested in and will actually use the organizational software, Things (also available for iPhone so you can stay organized on the go!), in conjunction with my other existing tools (like iCal) to be better organized.
  5. Actually get things done for myself.
Oh yeah...in addition to all those good intentions and starting a new business and other entrepreneurial endeavors (Geek Salon, an iPhone app idea I'm pursuing with a friend...more on that another time, though), I'm also going to have to find shared housing and move at the end of next month. Oy!

But in order to do all this, I'm going to need the help and support of my friends, loved ones, co-workers, and other well-meaning folks.

Living alone has given me a feeling of isolation that really hasn't helped me in trying to get my life jump-started. So, please...if you have my contact info, use it! Call me, IM me, email me. Check in with me, see how I'm doing, ask how things are progressing, maybe invite me out to stuff. The more momentum I can generate during these difficult first steps, the better, so help me not do my counterproductive withdrawing thing I've been doing so much of lately.

I'm going to start living The Rest of My Life™ rather than mourning the passing of what was, but like the man sang, "I get by with a little help from my friends." Thanks, everyone!

 Originally published at Effluvium from Sonya's Brain. 


DocArzt Post re: Lost ep. 5.09 "Namaste" is live!
Clouds, Logo, Head, Shades
sonyalynn
If you ever see this man in an instructional or orientation video in real life, run.Actually it went live in the wee hours...and just in time, too, given that tonight's episode, "He's Our You," is mere hours away.

I've actually been really pleased with the responses people have been giving me to my Lost recaps (even despite their habitual tardiness...such a shocker from me, I know), though I'd love to hear some constructive criticisms so I can improve them.

Also, just like on this blog, you should mouse over all the links and images. I always put little easter eggs in 'em. ;-)

Er, you do know to mouse over the links and images on my blog, right? Right...? Well, er, you should. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle!

Originally published at Effluvium from Sonya's Brain.

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Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll, Too Young to Die
Clouds, Logo, Head, Shades
sonyalynn
Sometime you just feel REALLYY stuck...for a few solid years.My first draft of this was even more emo than this, so just be glad I came to my senses. It was going to be sorta-kinda poetry. Free verse and worth every penny. This is what I get for having thrown out all my bad poetry from when I was 15...I almost subject you, my dear readers (all three of you), to the spectacle of a 37-year-old bleating on about being too this and not enough that and oh, how life is unfair, but even more so when you're a lazy bitch with depression and crap self-esteem.

So, consider yourself lucky.

But the fact remains that, much like my dear friend, Dana, I have no idea here at midlife-ish who I want to be when I grow up.

That I've been dragging my feet on my small business idea (a Mac-based, full-service IT consulting firm, for the record) just reinforces what I already knew, namely that IT isn't What I Want to Do For the Rest of My Life™. Do I have the skillz to pay the billz in that business? Well, on a technical level, you betcha. On a business-admnistration and self-promotion level, I'm not so sure. That I've been dragging my feet on my Geek Salon idea (long story...tell you about it later if you don't already know) tells me just how fearful I am of trying and failing. That I've been dragging my feet on my own writing really fills me with dread because, much as I've always felt I had a few good books or scripts or what-have-you in me going back to when I was a kid, it makes me wonder if I didn't defer that dream a bit too long. To say nothing of being thoroughly cowed by the skill of writers I've been reading lately, like Neal Stephenson, Neil Gaiman, or Alan Moore.

So I finished my transition...so what? What difference does it make that I'm as close to biologically female as medical science can make a male-to-female transsexual when I have no idea just who this woman is supposed to be for the next 40 years or so. Nothing is pulling on my heart and mind the way my transition did, saying, "You have to finish before you die. You can not let yourself give up before then!" I have no purpose...and it's eating me from the inside out.

You know that feeling you get when you want to go out to eat with a bunch of friends, but every single restaurant or cuisine that's suggested feels like a no-go? You don't know what you do want, but you know you don't want anything suggested thus far. That's been my life for the last three years ever since I got back from Scottsdale and the last brief stint of true happiness I've known so far.

Political activism and crusading law certainly inflame my passions...and hell, I'd probably make for a damned fine lawyer given my penchant for arguing minutiae and my obscene memory for endless trivial details. Only trouble is that the quixotic nature of that life, the never-ending compromises, and the inevitable disillusionment with my own alleged allies would drive me to drink in short order.

Creating literature, moviles/TV, and/or music still has an allure to my heart, but feels too risky for me. I'm living on borrowed money, which means borrowed time if the old adage is to be believed. And it's not making me burn the candle at both ends to do it regardless of "success" or "failure," either. *sighs*

And more hardcore science or math would mean going back to school on money I don't have to build skills never gained or long in disuse to do something I'm not sure I'd like anyway. The only part of that scenario that I'm sure I'd like is going back to school, but that would still require a goal. "Life-long student" is not a viable profession, whatever some of my former UCSC classmates might think.

It's really enough to make me wish I could make myself content to be an IT technician and want to do that enough to make myself jump out of bed at a respectable hour.

If anyone has any suggestions for (re-)finding one's bliss, I have to say I'm all ears.

 Originally published at Effluvium from Sonya's Brain. 


New DocArzt Post: Get Your Own DHARMA Jumpsuit!
Clouds, Logo, Head, Shades
sonyalynn
It's me as a DHARMA Technician!Not a recap this time...I'm telling my fellow Lostaholics who really want to geek out and actually engage in cosplay from their favorite TV addiction where to go to get everything they need to be kitted out like they were in the DHARMA Initiative.

My recap of tonight's episode, "Namaste," will be forthcoming.

Now would be the time to do it, too, with the current season of Lost being so DHARMA-involved. You can also make up DHARMA foodstuffs with a little creative re-labeling. Nice, eh?

If any of you wanna do a DHARMA group for Halloween, let me know. We'll make that happen. ;-)

Food and beverages the DHARMA way!

 Originally published at Effluvium from Sonya's Brain. 


All Hail the Nü Skool: Progituri te Salutant!
Clouds, Logo, Head, Shades
sonyalynn
If someone's doing to a Hammond C-3 what Hendrix did to guitars, it's probably prog...ladies and gents, Keith Emerson of ELP.In case you were wondering, the bastardized Latin above is "We who are about to prog salute you!"

Anyone who knows me knows I love Prog Rock in all its virtuosic, mind-bending, pretentious, bombastic glory. King Crimson, Yes, ELP, Jethro Tull, Rush, Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, Eloy, and so many more. They bestrode the Earth like the precursors to Spinal Tap that they were. A monument to all that was worthy of late-60s/early-70s popular music and half (with The Evil That Was Disco™) of what Punk and New Wave was rebelling against.

At its best, it idolized virtuosity and transcended the previous limitations of rock, folding in classical, jazz, world music, folk, and other elements and breaking free of the tyranny of the 4/4, 3-5 min., verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-key change-verse-chorus-repeat structure. At its most bloated and indulgent, it was 30 people on stage with massive synth pits, lasers, multiphonic sound systems, and sometimes on ice!

Ironic, really, that it took me until college to get into music that was popular around the time I was being born.

Rush was my "gateway band." Before that, my tastes had actually been pretty abysmal with only a couple of exceptions. My first album (on casette tape) was A-Ha's Hunting High and Low. My first concerts were The Hooters, Level 42, and post-"Don't You (Forget About Me)" Simple Minds. I really wish I were kidding about all this. Aside from pre-"Don't You (Forget About Me)" Simple Minds, Swiss electronic pioneers Yello, and the odd bit of Howard Jones, nothing from that time survived my introduction to Prog in college.

The album was Rush's Signals. It was electronic enough to catch my undeveloped ear, complex enough to tease my brain, and just so much better than anything I'd really listened to before. My home was hardly what you would call musical. My Dad wasn't into music at all, and my Mom's idea of good stuff was Englebert Humperdink and Sade. Oy. I had to have more!

I collected Rush's entire back catalog to date, and played the hell out of them to the point where my dorm-neighbors were ready to use my collection for skeet-shooting (I'd moved on to CDs by now). But I didn't know where to go from there. Enter the record store guy. He worked at Streetlight Records on Pacific in Santa Cruz, looked like a biker with a paunch and a scraggly salt-and-pepper beard, and usually a Motörhead t-shirt. His knowledge of rock music was encyclopedic enough to put the characters from High Fidelity to shame. I told him I wanted more like this, please. He turned me on to all the classic prog bands listed above. But I breezed through them and wanted more.

Unfortunately, Prog was extremely out of style at that point. The big prog bands had gone pop or disbanded, and '80s "neo-prog" like Marillion and IQ was dreadful. But one album he turned me on to was the very future of Prog, even if I didn't know it at that point...Porcupine Tree's 1991 debut CD, ...On the Sunday of Life. The '90s wave of prog set the stage for a mini-renaissance of prog in the 2000s. Porcupine Tree is now a pillar of the genre, along with Swedish acts like Anekdoten (a fave) and Änglagård, and throwback stalwarts, Rocket Scientists. though I wouldn't find out more about them until later. I put aside PTree and expanded my musical tastes more toward New Wave and Industrial and the like for a time. Prog-metal flourished in the '90s, but most of them were more metal than prog and did little for me, aside from some Dream Theater.

But a few years back, I rediscovered PTree thanks to their then-current album, In Absentia. Their sound had both matured and hardened and it was bloody amazing. I needed more again. Then I found the prog/glam/hard-rock trio, Muse, and was turned on to the new hard-prog sensation from El Paso that had actually stormed the charts with their debut album (De-loused in the Comatorium), The Mars Volta. Something was up. Prog was charting, even if no one was calling it prog.

And finally, in rapid succession, I found about 6 more bands that I'd never heard of doing some extremely prog music, though I've only had time to listen to about 4 of them. The music does keep progressing, bringing in elements of electronica, alt-rock, and more modern influences into the original prog mélange.

In no particular order...

Pure Reason Revolution. Their debut, The Dark Third, takes its instrumental cues from Eloy (but updated) and its swirling male-and-female vocal harmonies from the very best of Renaissance (but updated) in a full-length concept album about sleep and dreaming. New album, Amor Vincit Omnia, just came out but is only available as an import. I have mine on its way. They're just getting started and they're strong out the gate! Most Prog bands take a longer time to gestate into greatness because of the complexity of the music.

Mew. And the Glass-Handed Kites is nothing short of a masterpiece. Kaleidoscopic harmonies, countertenor vocals, tempo and time-signature shifts galore. Its predecessor, Frengers, hints at the greatness that would succeed it. This is also a young band, with only three full-length albums to their name so far. They have nothing but greatness ahead of them.

Oceansize. Polyrhythms, soundscapes, then some almost-metallic grind. This band is so good they're scary. They also have only three full-length albums under their belt. Their debut, Effloresce, knocked me off my feet. Everyone Into Position kept right up. And Frames, the latest, flat-out blew my mind. They're indescribable...they'll take you on a long and rewarding journey covering ground as large as their name every single time.

Riverside. This Polish band sounds to me like what might have happened if early-model VAST had cross-bred with late-model Tool. They're prog-goth-hard rock/metal. A trifle too close to metal some of the time...but only some. I've heard the second of their three albums, Second Life Syndrome, but I'm so getting the other two.

I haven't had much of a chance to give Mystery Jets or Secret Machines a listen (though wouldn't that be a great double-bill just for the names alone?), but they're often listed in the same breath with the other four. Chuck in upstarts like Fromuz, and stalwarts like PTree, Anekdoten, and The Mars Volta, worldwide chart-toppers like prog-eque Muse and you've got the makings of a worldwide prog renewal. Listen to these bands...all of them. Buy their albums. Keep complex modern music that deviates from 3-chord crunchers and rudimentary structure alive and kicking!

Dibs on the first 1-song album of the new millennium...

Gratuitous album cover art:

Pure Reason Revolution, 'The Dark Third' Mew, 'And the Glass-Handed Kites' Oceansize, 'Effloresce' Riverside, 'Second Life Syndrome'

 Originally published at Effluvium from Sonya's Brain. 

DocArzt Post re: Lost ep. 5.08 "LaFleur" is live!
Clouds, Logo, Head, Shades
sonyalynn
Doesn't he make a great Dread Pirate Sawyer?Stop...Sawyer-time!

That's right, Lostoholics, we finally got a Sawyer-centric episode for the first time since early Season 3, and boy is it ever a doozy. And now you can read all about it over at DocArzt & Friends.

As for the rest of the promised posts, the Creeping Crud's kept me seriously waylaid the last several days, as you may have read in my feverishly-written previous post. It's only now finally just sorta-kinda starting to think about considering receding, so I'm hoping thaht over the next couple of days, I'll start feeling a bit more like my usual self. Gah. All I can say about that is I'm sorry.

Originally published at Effluvium from Sonya's Brain.

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A Week of Decided Ambivalence
Clouds, Logo, Head, Shades
sonyalynn
Pardon me if I ramble. I couldn't let another night go by without putting a post up and so this one might not be polished to my usual standards. I already see way too many parenthetical asides, but I'm just too damned tired and annoyed to be able to fix them right now.

The Good:

The cute couple. Aww. And isn't Amanda's traditional Spanish/Mexican-style veil beautiful?I went to my brother's wedding in Baja,in scenic Rosarito at a wee spa resort called Las Rocas. The natural beauty of the place simply cannot be overstated, the staff were unbelievably friendly and helpful, Todd, Amanda, and her family had thought everything out brilliantly...the logistics of it were tighter than Mussolini's train schedule!

Speaking of the blushing bride's family, I got to meet them finally and they were beyond lovely. Liberal, funny, warm, friendly, supportive, open, and they even have one daughter who managed to marry her partner during the window before the loathsome Prop 8 passed. Even their cats were wonderful. I think I want them to adopt me. ;-)

The folks in the groom's party along with me (myself and a tuxedoed Libby were the lone "inverted" folks in the two parties) were also really great, starting with Todd's Best Man, Brad, and his winemaking partner, Matt, and along down the line. Lovely people all.

The ceremony itself was amazing. It was on the grass in front of the sea, with flowers accenting but not overwhelming the layout of everyone involved, participants and guests. Their personal vows and the readings were beautiful (I got the honor of reading the English translation of a wonderful Neruda sonnet, while Amanda's sister, Libby, read the original Spanish), and they even included a most delightful dedication to Todd's and my recently-passed father and an entreaty of the world toward sanity in the form of allowing any two consenting adults who love one another to marry if they so choose. Did I mention I love everyone involved?

I also had the delightful opportunity to toast my brother at the rehearsal dinner, so I took some time and effort to do it up proper, with a wee bit of roasting (but not too much) thrown in for good measure. I'll put the full the text in a separate post. I was very gratified, if a bit befuddled, to receive lots of compliments both on the toast and the Neruda reading afterward by lots of people, many of whom I'd never previously met.

The food and drink? There was lots of both and it was all bloody amazing, both what we had at Las Rocas and our big dinner out at a restaurant called El Nido. (I had venison and garlic-butter shrimp that was to die for. Mmmmm.)

The transportation of everyone involved was mostly done with buses, which had the delightful benefit of greatly reducing our time coming back over the border to the US.

I got to see my Aunt (on my Dad's side) Harriet, and three of my for cousins, Julie, Ilyse, and Fern. I was so happy to see them all in the same place that I can't even tell you. That there was no major skirmish in the Hatfield & McCoy action between my Mom and Aunt Harriet was a bonus.

And I have to send a great, big shout-out of "THANK YOU!" to my mom, for giving me the travel and resort expenses as a birthday gift. (Oh yeah, it was my birthday on the 23rd, which was also lovely, but that falls outside the Week of Ambivalence.) Ditto to one of my very bestest friends, Dana, for tending to my cat, Pi, while I was away.

Upon my return, despite The Ugly below, I was able to climb and got my belaying pass so I can finally be useful to the climbing group. It's hardly rocket science, but yay.

OK, that brings me to...

The Bad

I've had a non-stop string of personal brain farts, bits of bad luck, and embarrassments all week long. I also have a "The Ugly" section, so don't stop.

I forgot my passport, but was able to get that overnighted at a fairly ludicrous rate by Dana so that it arrived before we left for Mexico, so crisis averted there. I also forgot my bathing suit, which resulted in a multi-day odyssey of being unable to find a single suit of any style or color that would fit my lard-ass. Apparently, while there are large women in Mexico, they must never, ever have to swim to the extent that they would need a bathing suit...either that or there's some kind of critical spandex shortage south of the border.

In further lard-ass/giantess news, with no more than an hour to go before the ceremony, I managed to pop the seam of the zipper (but thankfully not the zipper itself, so thank goodness for small favors) in my sausage-skin...er, I mean "bridesmaid's dress." And, by the way, I swear they cut these very fucking tight for their rated size because everywhere else I buy the exact same size it fits me just fine, thanks! They so know they have you over a barrel with this one-time-only kind of clothing, those greedy-ass motherfuckers. Come back later for the name of the company so you can know to avoid them for your wedding. Thankfully, Amanda's mom, Marianita, was Janey-on-the-spot with a sewing kit and some mad skillz. She had me back in it in all of about five minutes and it was fine until I shed it for more comfy duds before the reception.

Then, after having done so well for the whole rest of the long weekend, my social anxiety finally kicked in as I felt like the alien as the lone unattached gigantic trans lesbian in the room, seated at the far end of the main table at my Mom's side for maximum isolation, and then confronted with my ages-old nemesis, the #@!%^~*(%ing dance party. If only someone there had a more active cooling mechanism for some of the choice herb I was smelling around the place, I might have been able to smoke some and felt better. But I just plain can't inhale burning plant smoke or vapors without something like that.

So, I went to bed feeling like a great, big, fat alien loser when I should have been able to put it aside and just be there for Todd like I should have been and had managed to be for the rest of the weekend.

My flight was delayed about an hour and a half thanks to SF weather, and then I had to wait around for the Super Shuttle only barely sheltered from said wet and nasty weather...and when it did finally come, it was full to the gills and I had to deal with people in the back complaining that they were smelling exhaust fumes. Either way that really was, it's not good.

And then, in addition to The Ugly below, I managed to have a marathon session of outsourced tech support with my ISP (Earthlink) to fix what should have been a teeny, tiny issue. Now it looks like I need to get a whole new bloody DSL modem. *grrrr*

The Ugly

Somehow, some way, the Tuesday night before I left, I must have rolled a set of critical fails in my sleep (tabletop gamer's reference...just means I flubbed it unbelievably badly) and managed to tweak my upper back all across my shoulders and spine to the degree that, from Wednesday through Friday, the simple act of reaching forward at all (much less bending forward) was screaming agony.

A hot tub (in my sports bra and panties, since I did remember to bring my gym gear, which I ironically couldn't use thanks to the pain) helped a bit on Thursday night and a massage from the spa staff improved things further on Friday afternoon, but I can still feel the faintest echoes of it even now. Like I said before, that hasn't kept me from exercising or climbing and those don't seem to have aggravated anything as I continue to show improvement there.

BUT, starting yesterday, I've managed to be laid low by some kind of really nasty Creeping Crud™ that includes all-over stiffness and pain; sore throat, coughing, and phlegm; fever; dehydration (been taking lots of fluids!); and nasty, garden-variety, non-migraine headache. Oy!

The Just Plain Weird

Giant Robot Statue Jesus constantly overlooking Las Rocas. 'Nuff Said. o.O

 Originally published at Effluvium from Sonya's Brain. 


DocArzt Post Re: Lost ep. 5.07 "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" is Live!
Clouds, Logo, Head, Shades
sonyalynn
Yes, that's Jesus. Yes, it's relevant. No, I haven't gone all religious.I'm back from SoCal and Baja and mostly caught up with obligations, not the least of which was getting out my DocArzt recap of "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" before the next episode of Lost aired.

Consequently, I have a whole raft of posts queued up to regale you with as the week progresses so that my blog does turn exclusively into a place for me to announce my posts on another blog entirely.

Have I mentioned that depression sucks? 'Cause it does. Meantime, enjoy my recap, analysis, and wild speculation about The Passion of the Locke. ;-)

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DocArzt Post Re: Lost ep. 5.06 "316" is Live!
Clouds, Logo, Head, Shades
sonyalynn
How could they do this after they killed Charlotte? Yeesh.Another week, another (late) Lost recap and analysis over at DocArzt & Friends. Unfortunately, with me traveling the latter half of this week and not getting back until Sunday, I'm not going to be able to get to this coming week's Locke-tastic episode until about this time next week, too. *grump*

Ah, well...it's all in a good cause. I'm gaining a sister-in-law as my kid brother (heh...34, lawyer, hardly a kid, I guess!) gets married.

There'll be more posts before I leave, though!

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