Les Chats du Cimetière du Montmartre

While meandering in the Montmartre cemetery, we came across at least six different cats. One presumes they are at least half feral, and that they are tolerated for being useful in keeping the vermin population in check. There will be a slightly longer post about the trip to Paris in its entirety, but I thought that these lovelies deserved their own entry.

This little beauty being the first one we saw, I was momentarily taken aback — tell me you wouldn't be, suddenly chancing upon a black cat in a graveyard.

This one was perhaps the most shy. None of them appeared exactly social, but neither were the others quite as quick to hide.

It seems that grave stones make good beds.

I suspect that this ball of fluff is more fur and bone than fat.

Glare. This one did not care for us in the least.
Really did not care for us. Human approaches, cat finds another stone to recline upon.

Near the gates, remaining immobile and staring at the entrance as if determinedly waiting for something or someone.

Ropecon 2014

As before, the last weekend of July brought thousands of roleplay and game enthusiasts together in Dipoli, Espoo for the biggest Nordic RP convention. I attended, obviously, and this year was part of the team responsible for card game tournaments. Lots of MtG players. Lots. The experience was different to that of the GM info team, and not entirely in positive ways—but the reason for that can be found in my own social anxiety, not any fault of the team leader's or fellow workers'. Being also in the pool of back-up personnel, I got to handle the videotaping of a lecture. The experience was not horrible.

Cosplays are diversifying, although it's kind of sad to see many of the old favourites (Naruto, Potter, etc.) dwindling. Group cosplays are still going strong; I spotted X-Men, a good number of Disney princesses, and probably some others that I'm now failing to remember. The Slenderman from last year did not seem to make a re-appearance, which I am both glad and disappointed about. Glad because he freaked me out, disappointed because I really wanted a photo. Ah, well.

Here are a few that I managed to snap during the weekend.

You can't see it very well, but there's a pin that says "The Doctor - Here to help" on this Eleven's jacket.

Link playing his ocarina. Zelda OoT, even though I never finished it, is still one of my favourite games.

I may have squeaked when I first spotted this pair. And look, they even have Pascal!

I'm not quite sure what is going on here, but it was fun to follow the set-up.

Now that I'm looking at these pictures, these two are definitely of the Deadpool variety. Damn tricksters.

One of the highlights of the event was definitely the water fight, which they're planning to get into the programme booklet next year. (Photo © Samuli Airaksinen)

Everyone versus everyone, and we continued for as long as we had breath to do so. (Photo © Samuli Airaksinen)


Vignette: Obfuscate

Syllable breaks: ob|fus|cate
Pronunciation: /ˈɒbfʌskeɪt/

verb [with object]
1. Make obscure, unclear, or unintelligible: the spelling changes will deform some familiar words and obfuscate their etymological origins
1.1. Bewilder (someone): the new rule is more likely to obfuscate people than enlighten them

Origin late Middle English: from late Latin obfuscat- 'darkened', from the verb obfuscare, based on Latin fuscus 'dark'.

"Obfuscator, obfuscate, make my brain as flat as a cake," muttered the new girl, tapping her sparkly pen against the page. Her book was most definitely not open to the chapter on European colonialism. Janet shifted on her chair, attempting to stretch her legs while looking at the movement of the new girl's fingers. What was her name? Helen— no, Ellen? Worth a try.

"Ellen," she hissed. No reaction. "Ellen!" she tried again, this time reaching over the gap between their desks just enough to poke the neon-green-clad elbow that jutted out towards her. Grey eyes flashed to Janet, then made an exaggerated roll in their sockets.

"It's Lena, you twit," the girl hissed back. Then she shushed Janet and pointedly turned her attention to Ms Ramsworth.

Lena. Right. Janet glanced at her watch, shrugged, and tuned in.


"Hey! Lena!" A girl's voice pierced through the instrumental solo currently blaring from her headphones. She simultaneously lifted an ear pad and an eyebrow, sweeping a glance over the person currently encroaching on her personal bubble. Her gaze paused briefly at the unicorn pendant dangling just above neckline, then at the lip piercing, before she flicked it up to deep yellow eyes.

Lena blinked, quirking a smile. "Nice contacts...twit," she said. The other girl blew out a short breath through her nose, her forehead scrunching ever so slightly. "You're Janet, right?" Lena steered to the side and sat on the corner of a table covered with leaflets in a hundred screaming colours. Janet the twit perched right next to her.

"Yeah. So what was that word you used just now? In class I mean."

A faint scent of peppermint drifted to Lena's nostrils, and she absently rubbed at the bridge of her nose. Then she grinned. "From what I can tell so far, it's Ms Ramsworth's favourite pastime." Janet blinked at her, and she sighed. "To obfuscate means to deliberately make something confusing."

She pushed off the table and read the direction signs hanging from the ceiling, then plucked a long red hair off her sleeve. Before she let it fall to the floor, she grasped Janet's chin with the fingers of her free hand and planted a lipstick print right at the corner of the girl's mouth.

"See you tomorrow, twit," she said.

"Later, Ellen," said Janet, pulling her hair back into a ponytail.


Hyvinkää Revisited (Photo Post)

I just spent a few days with Laura in Hyvinkää, the place where I grew up. My relationship with the place is a tad...strange.

I used to feel angry and bitter towards not only the people, but the town itself, yet still harbour a sort of grudging fondness. These days, it's mostly the latter.

This wasn't the first time I have gone back there, nor will it be the last. I'm already discovering much more hidden charms now that I can see with a more objective eye.

One thing that hasn't changed much is my love for this library. I used to carry stacks and stacks of books home and then in no time go right back for more.

There is an actual mall in the town now, right next to the library. I wasn't too sure what to think of this at first, but I suppose growth is a good thing. The mall itself isn't bad, either, although I'm kind of worried that it will sooner or later completely make redundant Jussintori. It is one of the many scattered little clutters of shops that I used to think of as mini-malls.

Somehow I feel like this cat is not too impressed with its hometown, whatever its improvements in the last decade or so.

Since Laura is taking a Spanish course this month, I got to spend a little quality time with this bugger...

...but mum is always the best human in Oodi's mind, of course.


Helsinki Pride 2014

Saturday. Waiting for the parade to begin.

As usual, I participated in Helsinki Pride. I did end up missing a couple of the events I intended to attend, but the opening ceremony on Monday and the parade on Saturday are the most important in any case. Perhaps next year I'll manage to go to the bubble party.

Pride week is important to me not only because of my values, but also because I can reach that inexplicable sense of belonging. I'm a bisexual oddball who has felt more or less like an outsider for most of her life; this one week in June is one of the things that makes it okay.

What incensed many of us during Pride is the fact that the Legal Affairs Committee — one of the many committees in the Parliament — turned down the bill for gender neutral marriage. Thanks a lot, arseholes. However, the matter will still come in front of the Parliament sometime during the autumn, so not all is lost. We might get there within the next couple of years.

Anyway...want to know something amazing? We were 20,000 strong on Saturday. The people were definitely voting with their feet.

All of the photos are from Saturday, because I was a fail-kitty and sadly neglected to take any during the other events. Well, any worth sharing. I do, however, intend to retrace the route we took on the Rainbow City Walk (touring some of the important places in the LGBT history of Helsinki) and snap away, especially towards the end. And then snap a few (dozen) unrelated shots because Embassies and villas and... I just have an appreciation for architecture, okay.

Photos. Yes.

Beware! A homosexual might treat or perform surgery on you!

Mr. Floral McSassypants. He noticed I was photographing him, so he struck a pose. Then we gave each other a smile and a thumbs-up. wh00t for random short connections.

The parade always ends at a park, where we then sit and listen to performers and see what goodies participating organisations have brought with them. As you can see, there were loads of people.

Artsy picture is artsy.

Book Review: Love in the Balance by Marianne K. Martin

Love in the BalanceLove in the Balance by Marianne K. Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a BookCrossing book I nabbed from a shelf in the Lasipalatsi gallery space in lieu of Pride merch, because most of said merch was already gone. Sadface. In truth, I would like to give this novel 2½ stars. Here is why.

Although the romance itself was quite lovely and, yes, occasionally titillating, there were some aspects of the plot that I simply did not care for — especially in the last third or so.


After our lovers are happily established, a side-plot comes careening out of nowhere in which two of their close friends, a slightly older lesbian couple, are shot to death by their neighbour. A bit of reflection revealed this to be (in my opinion) a poorly executed Chekhov's Gun. The threat to shoot any animals that might wander onto the neighbour's property is mentioned only a couple of pages before. The event might work better if it didn't appear slapped on like a sticker. Honestly, it reads like the author was running out of plot and decided to just tack this on without much to connect it to the rest of the story. Also, Kasey's reaction is unintentionally amusing:

"Nooo!" Kasey screamed. (http://www.nooooooooooooooo.com)

Much social commentary ensues, flavoured with a bit of interpersonal drama. They eventually win the court case, though. Two years later, Connie asks Kasey to marry her. Happily ever after?

In conclusion: It's a nice read, and the development of the relationship between Kasey and Connie is quite lovely, but if you don't care about a hefty dose of (poorly integrated) socio-political commentary with your fluff, you may wish to skip the last third or, you know, the whole book.

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Book Review: The Vesuvius Club by Mark Gatiss

The Vesuvius Club (Lucifer Box, #1)The Vesuvius Club by Mark Gatiss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think I must have spent less than ten hours altogether reading this novel, and that in a single day. It has been a while since I finished a book that quickly. Then again, I do my fastest reading when travelling and today I spent approximately six hours sitting in a car. That accounts for most of the novel.

What to say of the story itself? I liked it a great deal, and although there were some twists I saw coming long beforehand, the form those twists took was unexpected. The narrative is in first person and past tense, which is never the easiest thing to pull off but fits this particular story splendidly. Lucifer Box is conceited as anything — and it is very difficult not to adore him. His relationship with Charlie Jackpot is marvellous, and I hope it remains as wonderful in the sequels. Yes, I will be getting my hands on those sooner or later!

I admit that I expected much from a book written by Mark Gatiss. I was not disappointed.

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