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|Sunday, December 8th, 2013|
|Cut straight to the hot makeouts
Back in October, when I was depressed, I made a post and then felt whiny and went back and made it private. I hate it when other people do that, so my belated apologies.
The post, I remember, would have said, "I feel like the protagonist in a massive hurt/comfort fic which is brilliant and imaginative with the h but never quite gets around to the /c." I don't feel like that anymore. I do get in a funk sometimes, but far more often I feel like I'm in a novel-length original work where the author bogged down. The protagonist isn't in pain or anything, she just runs in circles and never seems to get anywhere or learn from her mistakes. That's what I can't help envisioning when I'm down.
What genre do you live in? Sound off in the comments.
Posted via m.livejournal.com.
|Thursday, December 5th, 2013|
|The exposition must flow
I finished reading Dune
today. I've never been sorrier I committed time to a book. Holy smokes, that was the most boring novel I've ever made myself sit through. I had such high hopes! So many people whose opinions I respect love Dune
. All I can think is that the movie is more entertaining than the book, and they've merged the two in their imaginations. What the hell do people see in Dune
that's made it a classic? Many a time before, I'd started to read it and bogged down near the end of Part 1 because the only interesting things (the gom jabbar, the death of Duke Leto) were over, and now it was all a bunch of stuffy people spouting exposition about what-all had happened and might happen later. This time around, I plowed on in hopes it would get better, but it's. all. like. that. Everybody speculates and rambles a lot, and Paul Atreides is smug.
Serious question, I will listen if anyone wants to tell me the answer: what makes people enjoy Dune
? I thought, if nothing else, I'd like the villains, but Baron Harkonnen is wasted on the plot. He sits around and twirls his mustaches and essentially goes, "Hee hee, ain't I rotten?" through 300+ pages. In the denouement, there were a few moments I liked. Creepy child Alia spends two pages onstage and is the most memorable character in the book. But it wasn't enough to justify a big thick book.
|Wednesday, November 20th, 2013|
|"Sometimes I become angry when people hit me on the head." [strongly agree/agree/neutral/disagree]
More job applications. I got a holiday job as a retail drone in Big New England Department Store (tm), but I need something lasting and at least slightly fulfilling, so I'm using this respite to fill in more damn apps.
In the meantime, I will be in Women's Accessories through Christmas. Well, I say "accessories," but in fact there's only one. It's a handbag. There's this one ten-foot-tall imitation calfskin handbag and I'm in charge of it. When customers come by, I'm planning to hide in the handbag until they go away. The actual weirdness of my real life constrains me to point out that the preceding four sentences were a joke. I really am working at Big Dept. Store, though, apparently in an effort to hit up every New England cliche in my working life. Next step will probably be moving to Cape Ann and catching lobsters, or translating books of vile magic in the hills of Western Massachusetts, or working in a denim mill wearing a giant hoopskirt (or marching through the streets singing "Bread and Roses").
Someone posted to a thread on Making Light recently about wanting to take on the task of job-seeking as a discipline, in the way that yoga or a musical instrument are daily disciplines, instead of as a Band-Aid or as pressure on a stab wound. I liked that notion. Given that I'm trying not to make a panic-based move into a shitty job situation, I think job-seeking as a calm daily effort is a great idea. Of course, I'm bad at making ongoing steady efforts like playing an instrument every day--I'm much better at a huge burst of activity, then nothing, then rallying, refreshing my ideals, and making another burst of activity. But I hope to improve.
Is anyone sick of good-employee questionnaires like this?
1. "I am good at working as part of a team." [strongly agree/agree/neutral/disagree/violently disagree]
2. "I am a self-starter." [strongly agree/agree/neutral/disagree/violently disagree]
3. "People should always obey the rules, no matter what." [strongly agree/agree/neutral/disagree/violently disagree]
4. "Loud screaming upsets me." [strongly agree/agree/neutral/disagree/violently disagree]
5. "I am proud of my achievements." [strongly agree/agree/neutral/disagree/violently disagree]
6. "It is OK to steal from the cash register if your manager has been getting on your nerves." [strongly agree/agree/neutral/disagree/violently disagree]
These things make me want to punch the company that uses them. The neutral-sounding questions induce paranoia, the blatantly obvious questions insult my intelligence, and overall they're useless at telling much about a person's employability. I imagine that sociopaths and the more cynical/experienced applicants just learn to game the system and know what tickyboxes the questionnaire wants you to click in order to look good. The rest of us sit there going, "But what if I say I AM a self-starting person, and all the time that was secret code for 'I have a chip on my shoulder and will talk back to managers'? I am proud of my achievements... but what if they think I shouldn't be... but that's good, right?... no, why would they draw attention to it if it wasn't a trap... I can't lie! I can't! I can't! This form selects for good lying abilities! *sniff*sob*whimper*
Kestrell and I had a conversation about this back on Halloween, and at her suggestion I've done a little research. Our guess was right: there are multiple guides
out there, including an entire book
, explaining how to game the system in personality tests. They're generally Myers-Briggs personality tests, for the record. Even this minimal research reassures me about one thing: the occasional obvious question is in there to weed out the people-pleasers. If the statement is "I have never ever been angry about anything," they don't want you to say, "Strongly agree," because you're either a robot or you're lying. That does give me something to cling to. Know thine enemy.
I like this thread
, especially the punchline: "And they ask for this kind of test to work at Target, lol."
If it's possible to give an angry, mirthless lol, that was it, right there.
|Monday, November 18th, 2013|
|Take a sad song and make it better
Rare pairings! Following on the heels of the other day's Maleficent/Darth Vader comic, a couple more cartoons themed round Star Wars. I saw these ages ago and couldn't find them again till now.BFFs
. As I remember reading in a kids' book called If You're Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow
, "If there is no happy ending, make one out of cookie dough." I use that quote a lot.For a Thousand Years
. I also like this one because it took me till recently to realize Boba Fett was a character at all in the original Star Wars
trilogy. What with the crush fandom has on him, you would think Fett was a second-tier protagonist, but I barely recall him. For those of you as oblivious as me, Boba Fett was the faceless suit of armor whose jetpack was accidentally switched on by Han Solo, firing him into the Sarlacc. (And then the above comic happened.)
|Saturday, November 16th, 2013|
|Have a little linkspam, I missed you
It gets harder and harder to start posting again every time I stop, because so much happens that I haven't told you about and I have this feeling of I MUST SUM UP EVERYTHING that would sound silly if I tried to explain it. But the missing-friendslist got stronger than the feeling that I shouldn't skip, just now.
Some things I've enjoyed from far too much time on Tumblr and the internet in general in the last couple of weeks.Mary Sue, what are you?
The blogger explores the ways in which the term "Mary Sue" sucks rocks, and puts it more clearly and acidly than I've ever done.A Dastardly Plot
: a flowchart-style guide to plot basics. Useful for anyone who likes to break storytelling down to its elements, and specially for those of us who know what a plot is but can't create one. People like me like to say, "No one reads Shakespeare for the plot!" and "There are only six stories in the world, they keep getting retold.""A New Fantastic Point Of View."
It's a Disneyverse Sleeping Beauty
one-shot comic that ships Maleficent/not telling.Untitled original comic
. This is one of my favorite story motifs every: the un-thriller, where something dreadful turns out benign.Sonder
. There's a word for that interest or sense of yearning I get from looking up at lighted windows at night or seeing someone peacefully leading their life as I drive past them in a town I'll never revisit.
Go on in the comments and recommend something silly or fun or thoughtful you've been enjoying lately. I suppose this is what the mere whippersnappers use Tumblr for, but I like this format too much to change.
|Thursday, October 10th, 2013|
|Horror movies: I love them but they're bigoted to hell and back
Hey! Here's someone else besides me who is a horror fan and who has noticed that horror as a genre is freakin' transphobic. I've never seen anywhere near as much discussion of this as I would like. A thoughtful article, here
. Fair warning: contains pictures that are probably not safe for work or for your good mood. The author makes very good points: here we are in 2013, but apparently filmmakers still think it's cool to have the final shock of the movie be omg a transgendered person!
Admittedly, it's been pointed out to me (by negothick
, among others) that pop culture's understanding of human behavior and psychology tends to lag at least twenty years behind the times. Yet we should be past this by now. Silence of the Lambs
tried to have its cake and eat it too, going to great lengths to establish that Jame Gumb isn't a transsexual (as the then-current terminology would have it). But come on: everything Buffalo Bill does in his private home is framed as horror, specifically because he's acting feminine. There isn't a gory image on the screen at that point. All we see is Gumb frolicking around in women's clothes, and every piece of writing I've ever seen on this film gets excited about how "disturbing" that is. I used to buy into that interpretation, too, but I've learned better since then. And S.o.t.L.
came out in 1991. It's a kick in the head to realize how little the world has changed since then.
Anyway, the article is by Mey, who is evidently a longtime horror watcher, but whose outrage is refreshing. I found it through Diamanda Hagan's twitter account--I'll tell you later who Hagan is and why you should all get into her webseries, but right now I've just come from a four-to-midnight sales shift and I am le tired.
|Thursday, October 3rd, 2013|
|Monday, September 30th, 2013|
|OH MISTER REVERE
For those of you who hoped I would post more about my day job... this may not be what you'd hoped. I am so sorry.
The other day on the Square, I was in street clothes selling tickets. To this I added a brown trilby with the brim mashed down in front to make it into a half-assed fedora and keep the sun out of my eyes. There was a busking drummer with a full set of steel drums, snares, foot pedal bass drum, etc. who had set up shop in the Pit and was painfully loud, and our guides for the day were going crazy. They have to shout our slogans and sell tickets to people outside the subway entrance, and this was even less easy than usual because no one could hear them over the goddamn drummer.
Guides kept crossing the street to hide out behind the ticket booth with me, saying, "I'm sorry, I just need a break from that jackass." Eventually this conversation happened.
Guide 1: [complains about over-used jokes]
Me: Oh, that reminds me of when I worked for the trolley company. There was this one boilerplate joke that everybody had to make when they passed the Granary Burying Ground, because it's across the street from the Beantown Pub, which is a tourist trap. So you say, "This is the only place in the city where you can drink a cold Sam Adams while looking at a cold Sam Adams."
Everybody: Har, har, har. I slap my thigh. 1950 called and they want their joke back. Ba-dum-ptish.
Guide 2: That actually reminds me of something horrible about the Granary Burying Ground. Do you know the thing with Paul Revere's grave?( Cut for jokes in extremely poor taste.Collapse )
|Sunday, September 29th, 2013|
Halfway decent recording achieved. Now bed.
|Saturday, September 28th, 2013|
|pop protector, pop pop protector
Zeroth world problems. I'm sitting here like a dork with a headset on, getting ready to record my poem "Ivy" for Strange Horizons
. SH is apparently starting an audio section, of which I heartily approve. I have here a microphone headset so new that it has that weird-but-good smell of plastic about it. I have a new sound program called Audible. About ten minutes ago I downloaded it and I hope it isn't going to make my poor old laptop explode, because in many ways my computer skills are stuck in like 1999 and I think everything will give my PC a virus and then hack into the White House on my behalf.
I'm not freaking out or anything, but I'm getting very intense. This will start being fun as soon as I get past the initial teething stages of learning how the hell to use this stuff. Voice pops, voice hisses, meaningless gauges on the screen did something irreparable, oh no, what did I change, change it back, voice sounds OK but is annoying from sheer familiarity. It's the old problem with me learning anything: not much persistence, easily discouraged, and the perfect is the enemy of the good to such an extent that I want to shout IT'S NOT RIGHT, WAH and drop the mike.
I just want to get this damn thing recorded, I want to make it worth spending a little money on a headset, I wanna do something entertaining. Psyching myself up as well as I can. We're going to knock this thing out of the park, and if it still sucks we can go back later and do it right. How do I always manage to start these things at eleven at night when I have to be up early the next morning? MY INNATE CUNNING.
|Wednesday, September 25th, 2013|
|Movie: "Q: The Winged Serpent"
Eat 'em! Eat 'em! Crunch, crunch!
The Hemulen and I finally found time to sit down and watch Q: The Winged Serpent
(1982). I loved it. It's cheese-tastic, both intentionally silly and unintentionally halfwitted, and sometimes brilliant. It flaps back and forth between being a stupid B-movie and a very sharp and well-written B-movie. Most of the actors phone it in most of the time, but there's one really good performance which lifts the film out of being forgettable. I loved pretty much every second of this film. My great and dorky love may bias some of the things I'm about to say. Well, you've been warned.The plot
Quetzalcoatl, the Winged Serpent, is a real prehistoric monster worshiped by a death cult that still persist today. The death cult look like poorly-written Indiana Jones villains and kill people with knives in homage to their big flappy dragon god. Oh, and they also have a mommy Quetzalcoatl in midtown Manhattan, hiding out in the Chrysler Building and raising at least one egg, while venturing out to eat people from time to time. Humans begin to find out. Hijinks ensue.( Cut for discussion of plot elements and weird sexualized violence, plus the death of a poor innocent hellbeast.Collapse )
|Sunday, September 22nd, 2013|
|Here I come creeping, creeping everywhere
Is it a brief rec post for a homebrewed horror movie parody? Why yes. Yes, it is.
Best as I can see, this is what happened:
(1) Several years ago there was some gag or other on the Spoony Experiment about evil grass which I can't be bothered to track down right now.
(2) This inspired Spoony to call on his watchers to make short videos of themselves in epic battles with grass.
(3) Something about grass-related violence called to people's souls and there were many videos made, including this one.
(4) I stumbled across it this evening while dog-tired after work and was delighted.Norwegian Grass
. Silly yet lovable. In Norwegian with English subtitles. The first few minutes of the overall video consist of Spoony talking about the contest, and the movie per se starts at about 5:13. Enjoy!
|Friday, September 20th, 2013|
I need a new laptop sorely. It may be a while before I can get one, but I thought I would throw the question open: what do all of you advise I get?
NB: this is not to discount the advice of those of you I've already asked. I just want to be as ready and rede-y as I can.
Its use will almost solely be for carrying to cafes and writing. Thus I need it to be light, run Word, have OK battery life, and not be too expensive. As alexx_kay advised when we discussed this, I'll probably need to decide my priorities there and pick any two of those qualities.
Secondhand is absolutely fine. Is there any more trustworthy source than C'list for lightly used laptops? My problem is partly that I don't know enough about computers to trust myself to make an informed decision on a used model. I am trying to get beyond being the kind of worried, vulnerable consumer who wanders into Best Buy and believes the staff who try to push all the expensive stuff.
Posted via m.livejournal.com.
|Wednesday, September 18th, 2013|
|My flag flies red at the topmast head, and at my foes I smile
Tomorrow is Talk Like A Pirate Day, and I didn't think to assemble a good costume or memorize any new songs, or even get the zippers fixed in my favorite pair of pirate boots. To quote the Bard, ARGHHHH!
Today at the Schmutter Barn, a series of customers bought giant three-cornered hats or eyepatches or just really loud shirts, and then admired themselves in the mirrors. I will probably content myself with a big hat from home and a lot of pirate jokes. People are always coming in to ask the staff at the cash register for change for the parking meters. I say, I say! Why do pirates get parking tickets? Because they give no quarter.
...hey, they don't all have to be gems. Let me know if you see any unusually grand displays of silliness for TLAPD.
--Bloody Teeny, Scourge of the Dorchester Shore Reservation
|Tuesday, September 10th, 2013|
|Give them blood, blood, gallons of the stuff...
The House that Dripped Blood
One of the discs sent to me and Kestrell earlier in the summer by handful_ofdust
. An anthology horror film with Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Denholm Elliott, Ingrid Pitt, and a bunch of people not as hot as the above. Wildly uneven; I went into it not expecting it to be an anthology of four short films with a framing narrative. That spoiled my enjoyment a little, because I kept waiting for the (very slight) first story to turn into a plot arc for the whole film. Instead of this, the weaksauce protagonist died at the hands of a mad strangler fifteen minutes into the movie--SPOILER ALERT!--, and we started all over with a new set of characters. Once I got over that, I rather liked the movie.
Denholm Elliott was wasted on the first storyline, and it also involved the usual idiot psychiatrist who burbles on about neuroses and tells the protagonist everything is only in his head, while supernatural horror unfolds around him. We have remarked on this before, but mental health counselors in all genre fiction continue to be useless-to-actively-evil in everything I've ever read or watched. I can't think of a single instance where a psychiatrist does anything useful in a horror setting. OK, there's the doctor in John Bellairs' The Curse of the Blue Figurine
, who takes the cursed ring off Johnny's finger just in time to prevent it from killing him, but that's a coincidence and the doctor was mostly there to scoff at ghosts and curses. Why is this such a reliable cliche? Are shrinks just useful as the token smartassed skeptic/rationalist? Or are we all sick of armchair psychoanalysts telling us that we write horror because we weren't hugged enough as kids?
The Cushing Cheekbone Appreciation Society gives its stamp of approval to the second story, with Cushing as the usual gently melancholy older dude. There are evil waxworks, he has a lost love, he has a series of nightmares that made me genuinely uncomfortable to watch. Sadly for me, the ending was standard--I was excited enough to hope for some kind of subversion of the usual "creepy thing that will get you in the end gets you in the end." But in general I prefer when Cushing's characters don't die.
No disrespect to the CCAS, but I liked the third storyline best overall. It was a nice mixture of boilerplate Gothic horror tropes that kept me guessing for a while. Will our story be "Brave young woman becomes a nanny in a home with a Dark Secret and falls for sexy widower with sexy widow's peak"? Will it be "Creepy blonde child is the Bad Seed, and evil is heritable"? Or will we go with "abused child enacts horrible revenge"? Somewhere between the latter two, it turns out: Papa Christopher Lee's deceased wife was a witch who left him with an adorable little girl who can kill people by sticking pins in wax images. She has a grimoire bound in an encyclopedia cover, and she's clever enough to look inside Dad's electric shaver when she needs his hair for a pin-pricking dolly. OK, so it was predictable, but fun-predictable, and it ended in just the right place. kestrell
's favorite was the fourth story, a self-referential vampire story about an egotistical jackass actor who makes vampire films and eventually gets what's coming to him. The character is like a Bizarro World version of Peter Cushing, with the same career but with a witlessly hateful personality, strutting around screaming at the film crew and dating women half his age. OK, that last part isn't essential villain behavior, if only because old guy/young woman is normalized in most societies. Ingrid Pitt is a formidable woman.
Overall: fun/silly horror, well worth watching, probably won't revisit, good use of a house as a character. The linking element is that all the characters live in the same house at different time periods. The house itself doesn't really cause anything unpleasant that the tenants don't bring with them, but damn, it's a good use of Victorian clutter and decaying soft furnishings. Never have I seen bronze animal paperweights and a spiral banister look so sinister. There's one of those giant winged lecterns that looks like Sam the Eagle. The French doors off the study open out onto a stone patio where nothing good ever happens. As Kestrell and I agreed at the time, nothing good ever comes through French doors.
|Monday, September 9th, 2013|
|Many little patchwork pieces
I gotta stop apologizing for my long absences here; the more I promise that they won't happen anymore, the more I drop off the face of the internet. It's all good stuff, real life demanding my attention/eating my brain, but I miss hanging out with people here. Know that I'm still reading even when I don't post.
Does anybody want to read and give me critical feedback on a poem? It's sexualized horror, and as such I don't want to post it, even under a cut, much less try sending it anywhere, before I get some reactions and ask some questions about it.
On another note, if the anon who responded to the Louisa Jo Killen post is still out there: I'm sorry I left it for so long, but I've unscreened your comments, and I'd be glad to hear from you. Send me a message via the LJ message-box and tell me where to get back to you.
Ghost tours continue apace, and kestrell
bought me a crystal ball to use in character as Madame Aurelia! It's gorgeous, about the size of a grapefruit. I need to make it a bag worthy of its beauty.
Here is an overview of the State of the Teeny, in one rambling sentence: the job hunt continues and there are no definite offers yet, living history lives, ghost tours are delightful and I'm trying to ramp up my act a little more, the Schmutter Barn is still a good gig, I've taken up blues dancing and love it, I'm considering starting dating again (pray for me), the caroling performance group has its first rehearsal tonight for a series of performances in December, and next month is October and October is Halloween season.
I love Halloween and I intend to make it last all autumn. Horror movies with Kestrell and others, the ghost tour, a Halloween-themed concert with negothick
, and a jackton of playing dress-up, making candy, and partying. What are you all looking forward to this season?
|Saturday, August 17th, 2013|
|Saturday, August 10th, 2013|
|And how sweet were the notes that I heard that small bird sing
Louisa Jo Killen has just died
. Here's an obituary by Heather Wood.
I grew up listening to Killen's singing, because she performed at the Mystic Sea Music Festival almost every year and the Old Songs Festival often. She was one of the three or four best ballad singers I have ever heard. There's John Roberts, Brian Peters, Cindy Kallet, okay, and Martin Carthy and Debra Cowan and Lisa Null, and Louisa Jo Killen. No one did "The Rose in June" better than she did. She was an underappreciated expert on Tyneside coal-miners' songs (one of the obits described her as "the slightly obscure folk musician Louisa Jo Killen", sigh), she played the concertina, she had a deceptively simple, warbling singing style that was a little bit like Irish sean-nos singing. Never afraid to take it slow and give it grandeur. My father was a huge fan and we had all her recordings.
She lived to grow old, she did a ton of cool stuff in her lifetime, but it's always too early to lose someone you admire. With hindsight, I'd say her voice was like one of those single malts that seem like a single experience--one sharp blast of smokiness--but get more complex and give up more detail the more you savor them.
I'm having to remember to say "she" because Louisa Jo Killen transitioned a few years ago, and I haven't seen her since she started using female pronouns. Before that, during all my early life, she presented as a gruff old macho dude. There are people who only accepted her as "Louis Killen" all over Facebook right now, mourning the loss of a great artist while resolutely ignoring the fact that she started using "she." I used to be an ass who did similar things. One of the reasons I know better now is because of the bravery of people like Killen. She had tons of fans who had a lot invested in her identifying as a man, and yet she came out as transgendered at the age of seventy-something. (To the rage, dismay and denial of most of her older audience. My father didn't actually burn his old cassettes, but he and my mother flipped their shit.)
Anyway, I don't want to make this all about her being trans, to the exclusion of her work, but I am intrigued by the things I'll never know about her. Maybe she only ever lived as a man because trans people weren't supposed to exist back in her youth; maybe she identified as male when younger but female when older; maybe she was coming from another direction I don't grasp. I wish people could talk about her transition without being shifty and transphobic. Recall the bandmates of that one character at the end of A Mighty Wind
and you'll know what I mean. Hell, I wish I could sit down with my father and remember her together, because he's the one who got me listening to her performances before I was old enough to know what all the words meant, but there's no way I am going to listen to what he'll want to say now.There's a thread starting on Mudcat in her memory
. Beware people in denial/mis-pronouning, but parts of it are excellent.
In her later years (when I was in my low double digits), she had a reputation for forgetting her oldest, most-demanded song lyrics in the middle of the song. I have always had a good memory--and I'd learned the words from her recordings--so as a kid, it was always a struggle to sit in the live audience listening to her break off in the middle of an impassioned verse, and refrain from being that one a-hole who leaps up and shouts it out. She always found the words again on her own.
I can't find a youtube clip of my favorite song she ever did, "When Fortune Turns Her Wheel
," which she rescued from obscurity, or "Bruton Town," the ballad that first made me see the beauty in tragedy and sadness. (An inferior but still good version by Pentangle is here
.) Instead, have Killen singing Ewan MacColl's "Shoals of Herring
." (Which turns up all over the place anonymized under the heading, "Traditional Irish Song of the Sea." Thus runs the world away.)
Goodbye, lady. You shaped my life for the better.
I'm home sick. Had to miss out on hanging out with friends, a party, and a dance thing, and I'm crabby as hell about it. Runny nose, very low-level cold and sore throat.
Nobody optimizes their sick day better than I do. I applied for three different friggin' jobs and did the paperwork for a fourth to be handed in tomorrow, then I made pancakes, then I wrote a long, difficult e-mail to an old teacher of mine which I'd been putting off for weeks, then I worked on my resume.
Still to do:
--brush and braid hair
--go for a bike ride lest legs lose muscle mass
--work on own writing
Off to do all that. I just wanted to brag about my day first, because damn. Usually I would lie around reading fanfic all day. There's a bug bite on my arm--my superhero name can be Busy Bee (and my power can be making my enemies barf with cutesiness).
|Friday, August 9th, 2013|
|The International Case of the Pronounced Mandible
It's pouring out, and Studly Boss finally conceded that we should cancel tours for the rest of the afternoon. I'm at home, with my feet up and the fan pointed at me, enjoying having nothing to do right this moment. It's my first day off in two weeks. *is virtuous*
I promised asakiyume
that I would start blogging about my worklife more often. She is overseas having an adventure right now, but this may amuse the rest of you too.
Tour Guide; Or, Oh My God I Feel So Sorry For You
Some highlights of my workdays with Historical Hysterical Tours:
--Standing in H. Square, dressed up in my giant red tea-cozy dress and brown silk bonnet, totally failing to sell tour tickets, and vying with my co-worker to see who can come up with worse slogans for our company. (Historical Hysterical Tours: Because Go Fuck Yourself. Historical Hysterical Tours: Better Than A Root Canal. Historical Hysterical Tours: Get That Cameraphone The Hell Out Of My Face. Historical Hysterical Tours: We're Waxworks, You're Delusional, Seek Help. Historical Hysterical Tours: So Good You Will Literally Have A Heart Attack.)
--Finally having an answer for all the idiots who make sadface at us and go, "Aaaaren't you HOT IN THAT?!" Which, sidebar: don't say this to a historical cosplayer of any sort. Everybody says it, it makes you look like a jerkass who wants to tell us our lives suck and then rub our noses in it, of course we are fucking well hot but the job has good points too, and you're not helping. However! Having a joke makes all the difference. Having a joke that turns the pressure back on the first speaker and lets you laugh together is pretty much perfect. This is it:
*eyebrow* "I'm hot in anything
You can add "...baby," but it isn't necessary. Of course, you have to pick your audience for that one. Obviously not for use around kids or anyone who looks like trouble. The perfect audience is the maternal woman who stopped to tell you how sorry she feels for you. They get the joke fastest and they laugh the most.
--A nice strong rainstorm will wash Harvard Square clean for the moment. It will never be entirely clean, but our noses will have a break for the next few days. My memories all seem to link smells with experiences; I can tell that whenever I think about HHT in later life, I will remember friendship, teamwork and the smell of stale piss in all the doorways on the square.
--My ideal audience: a big family on one of my tours, led by a bouncy woman who laughs at all my jokes and whose enthusiasm is contagious. She's like the living example of our target audience, middle-aged women with tasteful jewelry where the earrings match the bracelet, wearing fanny packs and giant Bermuda shorts and carrying guidebooks, with their friends and disaffected husbands in tow. The kind of woman who did a liberal-arts degree twenty years ago and feels the need for Culture. I see this woman all the time with minor variations. The other perfect-target-audience demographic for me is the aged married couple from the UK, where he is a skinny old professor like a British answer to Doc Brown, and she's the witty broad who has to remind him to put his pants on before leaving the house. I must have made friends with this couple a dozen times in the last year, and only the slightly different accents (Scottish-subset-Highland, Scottish-subset-Glasgow, Welsh, Yorkshire, London, West Country) reminded me that they weren't the same two people every time.
--My co-workers are cool. Most of them are recent college graduates five to ten years younger than I am, and this is their first job. It's a good thing that Studly Boss is a responsible person and treats them well, because they're all so damn earnest and energetic that a less scrupulous person could probably make them work for nothing. I like them all and have a protector-complex towards them. Not that I am great at being a knight in shining armor, but I have had more practice at defense against creepers and dangerous nutjobs.
--Hey, I'm actually getting better at shutting down crazy people who approach us while we're selling tickets! First a negative story, then a positive.
When we do ghost tours, it's always in pairs. One person gives the tour, and the other accompanies them to the square half an hour ahead of time to sell tickets and make change. There was this awful encounter a couple of weeks ago on an evening when I was selling tickets for my friend's tour, and a slender young woman with scars all over her arms marched up to us and started telling us about her life and hard times: how she was the only tomboy with three girly-girl sisters and if anyone did anything to hurt them she would fucking cut him... We didn't try to shut her down. I may have actually encouraged her, because it was heartbreaking to hear her and I couldn't stop boggling. I think were were both speechless for a little while there.
Afterwards, I came to my senses and realized I had let her stand there and horrify my friend for ten minutes, while I was supposed to be doing my job and selling tickets. Nobody showed up to buy tickets anyway, so that was OK, and we went and had ice cream together and relaxed. But afterwards I asked Hot Girlfriend of Studly Boss (she needs a better alias) what I should have done to get out of the situation gracefully. She and Boss both said, "Well, there's your problem right there. 'Get out of the situation' and 'gracefully.' You can't do both." HG's usual approach is to interrupt the talky person by going, "AWESOME! Look, we gotta sell tours! Have a good night! Bye," and then walk to the other side of the street if necessary.
Last night, I had a chance to practice. This time, I was giving the tour in character (spiritualist, medium, and seer), and my other friend Pinky was selling tickets for me. Pinky is basically an anime character: humongous blue eyes with sparkles on them, masses of black hair, pale clear skin, high squeaky voice. She's 22, painfully earnest, a romantic, and kindhearted, and she can't bear to hurt anybody's feelings. Unfortunately, scary nutjobs approach her a lot (though it hasn't discouraged her from the job). I had to send a couple of them away. One was a guy who started creeping on her. He ignored me because I was the weirdo in the turban, kimono and sunglasses, so when I saw Pinky looked uncomfortable I came over and got in his face: HI HOW YA DOING? WHAT BRINGS YOU TO TOWN, HUNH? He dried up and blew away, problem solved. I out-weirdoed him.
The other encounter was with two tiny ancient Russian ladies who squeezed our hands and complained about dishonest American political figures. They asked Pinky who her favorite Russian actresses were, and neither she nor I could remember any. (There's that blonde woman from Night Watch
, but otherwise I know zilch about Russian cinema.) Then one of them told me...
..."You have a pronounced mandible."
She looked me right in the eye and said it in a concerned voice, like this was something I should get a doctor to look at, instead of just the fact that I have a big chin. (And I do. I have a righteous chin.) At least, I hope that's all she meant. If I had insect mandibles, you would tell me, wouldn't you? To be honest I don't even know if that was what she meant or if she was failing to find the right word in English. I collapsed on Pinky in fits of laughter, which seemed to surprise the serious old lady, so perhaps it was a misunderstanding. We do not know and may never find out.
Anyway, then I realized that Comrade Petrova and Comrade Svetlana were planning to stand there all evening unless I did something about it, and I used HG's line on them, verbatim. It worked like a charm. They shook our hands again and ambled off into the bookstore, leaving us free to sell tickets (twelve Bible camp students plus their counselors: a good evening's work).
That's all for the moment, as chores beckon. Well, not so much beckon as loom, but I am a responsible buffalo.