Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Episode 100: Wing Wah Redux

Just came back from a New Year Eve's dinner with some of the other Singaporean (and one Bruneian) freshers in Warwick. I love the buffet! Was feeling sleepy though, so didn't really stuff myself. Now we're about to start watching The Matrix on my laptop, while we wait for 2009 to arrive. The flight was okay, I guess. Between Singapore and Colombo, I managed to watch The Oxford Murders (now I know what John Hurt who voices the Dragon in Merlin looks like) and The Happening. I quite enjoyed the former, although the final twist was a bit too much to take. The latter is rubbish. Not total rubbish, but still bad enough to make you wonder what the heck is wrong with M. Night Shyamalan these days. Unless it was all intentionally bad, as the Wikipedia article on the film suggests. Still, that's a bit rich, isn't it? From Colombo to Dubai, I spent a good deal of time reading Faith Hunter's Bloodring. On the final Dubai-Birmingham leg, I started by catching four episodes of Doctor Who. I find it somewhat amusing that I really like watching Doctor Who, but I only ever seem to watch it while I'm in an aeroplane! Then I caught Wild Child, and can I say that Emma Roberts is hot? So's the song that plays while she and her friends are getting ready to party. Replayed that scene several times just to get the lyrics so that I can search for the song. Rounded off the flight by catching The Duchess, which was a little boring. Much preferred The Other Boleyn Girl for historical intrigue. It's bloody colder than when I left, which is just awful. Now I really do need gloves...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Episode 99: Going Home...

Am about to board the flight home. Yeah, I do think of Warwick as "home", in the sort of way that you think of school as a second home. I'm actually looking forward to heading back! It means I can finally get some work done, instead of constantly being tempted to just stone in front of the TV. Am going to miss the final week of Little Nonya, but I'm probably going to get a MobTV subscription. The plot summary Shirley provided via SMS would normally have been good enough to satisfy my curiosity, but I'd really like to see for myself how the plot plays out in detail. Spent my last couple of hours in Singapore cramming things into my luggage, which is now overweight by about 7 kg. Thankfully, the staff at Changi aren't as strict as their Birmingham counterparts, and let us check in our baggage that turned out to be 10 kg over our combined allowance. I had thought about what I'd take out if they kicked up a fuss, but I'm glad things worked out! Was at Swissôtel The Stamford for lunch because my dad wanted to go out, it being my last day in Singapore and all. We ate at Kopi Tiam, but I wasn't very impressed. My laksa wasn't spicy enough, even after I added belacan, and that was supposed to be one of their signature dishes. Basically, it was overpriced food that tastes better in a hawker centre anyway. Haha...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Episode 98: Just Over 24 Hours...

Till I'm back on an aeroplane to the UK. I'm going to say something that will make me sound like a totally horrible person, but I don't care and I'm going to put it down here anyway: I'm actually very glad to be going back. Whining about packing aside, I do miss the quietness of my Westwood room, where I can hide from the whole world if I feel like it, with just me and the latest episode of Fringe, Gossip Girl, House or Privileged for company. Even eating rubbish most days of the week feels good in a way, and doesn't seem to have done much harm, since I didn't gain any weight over Autumn Term. I can't explain it properly, but I think it boils down to the whole hassle of having to pack, unpack, repack my life every time I move between Singapore and the UK. I've only done it twice so far, but I really, really hate having to do it. This is the part of me that enjoys the routine of waking up in the morning, already knowing exactly how the rest of the day is going to turn out, the part that needs to be in control and self-consciously map each moment out in advance, so that it happens exactly the way I want it to. I seldom get it perfectly right, but that doesn't keep me from trying. I suppose what I'm really trying to say, in my messy, disorganised way, is that being alone in the UK isn't difficult, not for me at least. Even leaving isn't difficult, that brief instant when you perhaps turn and wave to the people who've come to send you off. It's the period leading up to the goodbye that is trying. Not because it reminds you of what you're leaving behind, but because it reminds you of what you have to lose again and again, before you can finally regain it, and even then it won't be the same anymore because you won't be the same anymore. If you've read this far, I applaud you, I guess, for enduring my ramblings. I played mahjong today with Ben Woon, Ka Tsai and Ming Yong. For a brief couple of hours, it felt like contentment.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Episode 97: Packing...

Led worship for the last time in the coming six months and I thought it went okay. Am presently beginning to rip my DVDs to my external hard drive. I wanted to find a way that lets me preserve the menus in the original DVD, so I'm using DVD Decrypter to copy the entire contents of each DVD, then DVD Shrink to create an ISO file that I can then mount in a virtual drive with DAEMON Tools Lite. Yeah, it's a lot of trouble just to be able to watch a DVD, but I can't waste space in my luggage carrying the DVDs back to Warwick! Am still agonising over which books I'm going to bring back. I'm quite set on bringing at least some of my Italo Calvino and Russell Hoban books back, so whatever I don't bring this time, I'll most likely just get my parents to send it to me as a package. Am trying to be sensible about how much I can conceivably store in the UK, so have decided not to bring any author who can be found in the library in reasonable quantities. Hence no Bret Easton Ellis, I guess. Orhan Pamuk, whose books I originally wanted to bring, is also out, for the simple reason that reading his books requires too much thinking to appreciate their beauty, and I doubt I'd be able to get through all his books within six months anyway. I am bringing a lot of local poetry over though, simply because I want to re-read all of it again and reconsider my prejudices towards it. (I tend to be quite dismissive of local poetry, although there are of course notable exceptions.) Ah well. I guess I just have to make up my mind once and for all by tomorrow...

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Episode 96: Jaunting Down To VivoCity

While heading to VivoCity on 855, I finished reading Jeff Noon's Automated Alice, a quirky hypothetical sequel to Lewis Carroll's own two books about Alice. The language of the novel reads like a modern update of Carroll, although the ideas it presents feel a little dated, to me anyway. I did enjoy the read though, although I'm trying to decide if the ending constitutes an instance of deus ex machina, as it wraps everything up implausibly tidily and conveniently, at the last possible moment. The very last few paragraphs do feel like they're trying a little too hard to inject ambiguity into the matter as to whether it was the real Alice, or her automated 'twin twister', Celia, who made it back to the past. Ah well, it was a small quibble. I had lunch with Shaun and Yi Hua, both of whom I haven't seen since the latter's birthday barbecue. (I just realised that while typing this post.) It was nice, just being able to see old friends again. Not that there's anything wrong with the new ones, but the old ones anchor me to the past, and then only as much as I want to be. I sometimes wonder how all my friendships will be like, when everyone's started working, and I wonder which ones will survive and which ones will fade into the pleasant rosiness of the past. Then I met Ben Chan for a drink and some browsing through the shops. Ended up not buying anything today other than some books from PageOne that I haven't been able to find at Borders or Kinokuniya and another 1 TB hard drive. No more worries about not being able to store all my TV shows! Was supposed to meet my cell for dinner, but we ended up cancelling. Ah well...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Episode 95: Double Disappointment

Went to Sinema Old School with Ben Woon to watch The Art Of Flirting, which I'm so glad we didn't have to pay for. I guess I'm just a bit disappointed because I'd expected the film to be sexier and wittier, and while it was pretty much a dialogue-driven vehicle, the dialogue was more intimate than witty. The jerky filming was also really irritating after a while. Then again, this film has been critically acclaimed, so what the heck do I know about what makes a good film? Went to Borders after the screening, as there's a 40% discount if you buy four or more books, until January 8. Managed to find some stuff, although as a general rule, Borders is frankly not the place to head to if you're looking for variety. I took it as a chance to just buy stuff at a really steep discount that I wouldn't otherwise pay for. Anyway, like I told my mum, it beats spending a few hundred dollars at the Comme des Garçons Guerilla store, which I visited for the first (and only) time on its opening day. Have to save money anyway, in case there's stuff at VivoCity tomorrow that I want to get. Am going to be there for the entire day! Should probably bring some of the materials for my essay, just to read and get some fresh ideas of what the essay's going to be about. As for why the title of this entry is 'Double Disappointment', it's because Greg Egan's latest novel, Incandescence, promised so much but didn't deliver in the end. I put down the book feeling cheated, like there was an entire second half to the novel that somehow didn't make it into my copy of the book. I didn't really like how the double-stranded plot couldn't make up its mind whether to merge into one storyline, or continue spinning two separate webs. That was the worst bit of the ending for me, as both halves of the plot worked brilliantly standing alone, and could have come together quite spectacularly, but somehow that doesn't happen. Or it does, but in a fashion so oblique as to be unsatisfying as a denouement. Ah well. No author's perfect, and I recall being bored by one of his earlier novels, so disappointed is still better than bored!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Episode 94: Joyeux Noël!

Just finished doing my dad's PowerPoint slides for him. Again. Didn't have much of a choice, since after his eye operation, he's in no condition to do them himself, even if I wanted to show him how. Sigh. I wish he were a little more IT-savvy. Oh well, finished it and he's grateful. Now I can go finish reading Incandescence, which is another interesting novel from Greg Egan, in which one of the strands of the plot involves a group of DNA-based lifeforms arriving at an understanding of relativity from what are tantamount to first principles. I've given up trying to follow the scientific reasoning going on, but I recognise it as involving relativity, so not all my science-related general knowledge has forsaken me anyway. Once I've finished reading that, I can take a peek at my last library book, which is a book masquerading as the third volume of Alice's adventures. Yes, Alice of Wonderland fame. It sounds interesting in a really bizarre way, but if I don't get into it after a few pages, I'm chucking it. Have other (more important) things to read! Have decided to try out a song from Chris Tomlin's most recent album when I lead worship next Sunday, 'Jesus Messiah'. Think it should be fine because the chorus is dead easy to catch! I leave you with the chorus and bridge of Brian Bates's meaningful Christmas song, 'Mary Christmas', available for download here:

I wish you more than happiness
More than greetings of good cheer
But a true joy to last the years
I wish your spirit to be filled
With Heaven's perfect gift
I wish you a Mary Christmas
May Christ be born in you this Christmas
May His life grow in you this Christmas
May it change you
Come forth from you
And light the world around you

(c) 2008 Brian Bates/Staci Frenes

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Episode 93: Christmas Eve

In the end, I bought only nine Threadless tees. Am proud of myself for cutting it down from 30+! Met Shirley in town so that I could exchange Natsuo Kirino novel that I told Audrey to buy by mistake, and then help her with her Christmas shopping. That turned out to be a rather protracted process. I'm glad I'm such an efficient Christmas shopper! Then again, I would be, since I follow the principle of asking people what they want and then just getting it for them. I managed to finish reading Neil LaBute's Fat Pig while coming back on the MRT, and I already returned all but two of the other library books when I left for town. Haven't got time to finish reading them, so not much point starting! Shall study instead, which I haven't done at all during this break, and hopefully start writing my essay. At the very least, hammer out the introduction. Then everything else will magically take care of itself, like it always does. Except this time it actually counts for something, so don't start screwing up now. There's still so many things I want to buy, but there's not enough money. I think I should try to find a vacation job during my next break...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Episode 92: Threadless Spree!

I'm going to go mad and buy a huge bunch of Threadless tees! The discounts are just fantastic, and I've got a bit of spare cash, so I can afford the shipping fee to the UK. Was going to ask Dan if I could send the tees over to him and have him bring them over when he comes over the Atlantic, but he hasn't replied, the promotion's ending in less than a day, and I'm certainly ordering far more tees than it'd be fair to ask him to carry over. So I'll just pay for the extra cost then. Now I'm getting Shirley to help me vet my selection of tees, and hopefully, cut down on the number that I'm buying. It's so tempting to just get everything though! I'm becoming quite a fan of Threadless, so if anyone wants to check it out, click here to help me earn some points! I've been reading more of Neil LaBute's plays today. Finished The Shape Of Things, and then went to look for the movie. Now I'm reading The Mercy Seat. I think I've found a new playwright whom I love! Am going to check out David Mamet's work too, once I get back to Warwick, as going just by the Wikipedia article on him and an excerpt from one of his plays, I think I'd like his work very much too. Must resist temptation to start buying scripts too, in addition to poetry. Sigh...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Episode 91: The Mystery Of The Missing Book

Have started reading Sir Gawain And The Green Knight, but have also realised that I've somehow managed to lose the Tolkien translation. I'm pretty certain I brought it back to Singapore because I can't imagine why I'd have attempted to read without the aid of a translation into modern English, but that's going quite decently actually and I really can't be that bothered for a test that doesn't even count for a module I don't even like. Still. Where is the freaking book? If this was a matter of walking 15 minutes back to my room to set my mind at ease, it wouldn't be a big deal. As it is, it's more than a week before I'll be able to check. So all I've got is the vague belief that I brought the book back, and I'm left wondering if I haven't absent-mindedly left it somewhere or returned it to the library by mistake. Sigh. Ah well. I'll just buy a new copy if it's really missing. Have been wanting to replace my entire Tolkien collection with the black cover editions anyway, another of those frivolous notions that explain why money never seems to hang around long in my bank account, although I've resisted admirably last term in terms of buying books online, but obviously not admirably enough! Hopefully, the new term'll find me too busy to even entertain the idea of buying anything! Policy of prudence, here I come. Might have to indulge one last time in a new external hard drive though...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Episode 90: Reading...

Finally finished reading Spin Control a couple of days ago, which I would regard as an improvement over its predecessor. The whole web of deception only begins to unravel close toward the end, and although it is somewhat dissatisfying as a narrative revelation, the ultimate denouement is an excellent way of leaving room open for exploring an intriguing sequel, not to mention bringing in new players into the conflict between humanity and its posthuman descendants. Also managed to finish reading Theatre Of Blood by Lee Simpson and Phelim McDermott, in between the two halves of yesterday's double doublebills. It was a good read, reworking excerpts from a range of Shakespearean plays within the larger framing plot of a theatre actor out for revenge on his critics. Managed to borrow a few of Neil LaBute's plays, whom I originally encountered through his collection of short stories, Seconds Of Pleasure. His acerbic wit certainly comes through in his plays too, so they're making for very satisfying reads. Have finished reading Bash: Latter-Day Plays, which got him disfellowshipped from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's a trio of one-act plays, in which Mormons commit murders that seem to lack sufficient motivation behind them, and the revelation of these murders just drops on the audience without any warning. Should be quite chilling to watch in performance, I should think. Am probably staying at home tomorrow to get some work done, at least before I have to go to rehearsal for the Christmas service at 7 pm.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Episode 89: Do Not Disturb - Late Checkout, Please

I'm afraid Do Not Disturb - Late Checkout, Please turned out to be somewhat disappointing. I'm going to review the four short plays that made up the double doublebills in the order that I saw them, Duet and Real Actors in the afternoon, Brunch and Teacher's Day in the evening:

Duet employed the technique of simultaneous dialogue, which was interesting, but I felt it was carried too far here, to the point where the audience was practically being forced to ignore one character's version of the story, in order not to lose track of the other character's speech. As words on a page, all the sequences of simultaneous dialogue would have worked wonderfully as a literary device. In performance, it felt messy, especially since Serene Chen and Karen Lim had too many moments when their delivery, if not exactly out-of-sync, was mismatched by just half a second, which given that this was the opening scene when they were loudly singing a duet, sounded a note that was a tad too sour. I understand that within half an hour, there isn't as much room to give conflict a neat and tidy resolution, but honestly, the way they reconciled at the end was too pat. It completely failed to address the underlying conflicts in their relationship, although since the final song they sang was 'Tale As Old As Time' from Walt Disney's Beauty And The Beast, perhaps the too-convenient nature of the ending was only to be expected and completely in keeping with the spirit of their relationship, i.e. schmaltzy.

Real Actors was by far the best of the four short plays. For starters, Joanna Dong and Timothy Nga were the only pair who actually had anything worth showing off when they stripped. Lest you think I'm just a skin-deep reviewer though, allow me to note that the acting in this play felt the most natural. Joanna had great comedic timing, and although the relationship being played out here was just as typical as in the previous play, it was handled with a more light-hearted touch and the actors had better chemistry. The fourth wall was subtly nodded at when Joanna made a joke about hoping there were no cameras in the room, which naturally calls to mind the usual reminders about no recording or taking pictures of performances. The only issue I have was with the ending, which had Timothy's wife calling, him not picking up, and Joanna asking why he didn't. You cannot possibly get more clichéd than that, even if you hunt through a Mediacorp Channel 8 drama!

The plot of Brunch is linked with one of the episodes of the original Do Not Disturb TV series, telling the story of what goes on between the other halves of an adulterous pair. Conceptually, interesting. I even liked how the plot unfolded in reverse chronology, which called to mind Pinter's Betrayal. The problem I had with this piece was the lack of chemistry between Dan Jenkins and Janice Koh. Janice's anguish in the final scene, had it not been preceded by a rather stilted argument with Dan, would have been very powerful. As it was, it seemed too calculated and mechanically predictable. This play was okay, but given its premise, it could have been much better. More a case of there being insufficient time to develop its full potential rather than anything fundamentally wrong with it.

Unsurprisingly, Kaylene Tan's Teacher's Day was the most experimental of the four short plays, playing with coloured lights to convey the passage of time as well as interior monologues. K. Rajagopal and Hadri also lack chemistry as a couple, but at least the former's breakdown at the end was more convincing than Janice's. The latter's vindictive condemnation of his teacher, however, was not. It was nice to see Hadri not in drag, for once, and his acting was solid, but I just couldn't buy the character's motivation. Again, possibly an issue of brevity than anything wrong with the actors themselves. Overall though, I felt this piece didn't have anything new to say about the issues it was purporting to confront, i.e. repressed homosexual tendencies and sexual exploitation. Even moments like when Hadri gets dressed in what is obviously a Raffles uniform, complete with the distinctive tie, come to seem somewhat gratuitous, placed there solely for their shock factor.

The greatest highlight of the entire performance, both times, was Victor Tang's music. Accompanying himself on the guitar, his songs were listenable without becoming tiresome. As a whole though, I think Do Not Disturb - Late Checkout, Please was a decidedly uneven directorial debut. The problem, in my humble opinion, lies with the fact that Do Not Disturb began as a TV series first. It's as if the scriptwriters were writing for television rather than the stage, which the spare setting of a single bed didn't help. The three plays that I didn't like could have been turned into perfectly serviceable episodes of the TV series, with the magical tools of TV production. You know, creative camera angles, zoomed shots, that kind of stuff. Unfortunately, the scripts couldn't really stand up to the unblinkered glare of the stage.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Episode 88: Lazing About Again

Depressingly, I've been clicking around the Warwick Accommodation website, and the seven-people off-campus properties sound better than the six-people ones. Ah well. Don't think there'd be anyone left to be the seventh person in our group anyway. Am going to watch both halves of Do Not Disturb - Late Checkout, Please by myself tomorrow, after choir practice. So I'll probably be shuttling between the Esplanade Theatre Studio, library@esplanade, and somewhere where I can get a drink. If anyone is bored and would like to keep me company, I'll be at the Esplanade from around 2 pm onwards. Am currently trying to decide whether I should apply to be part of the student 'shadow panel' for the Warwick Writing Prize. It sounds like it'd be fun, reading and discussing the shortlist, but I don't know if I want to commit to doing it, seeing as how January will already be packed by rehearsals. Sigh. Perhaps I should just stop thinking so much, and just go ahead and do it? It would be so cool if I actually made it. Shall give myself one more day to think about it...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Episode 87: An Amusing Shopping Experience

Bella's sent the script back with some comments, a good deal of which make sense, by which I mean they can feasibly be incorporated into a revised script. Some of them make a little less sense, so tomorrow I will have to ask Bella to explain what she wants. Went shopping in Orchard by myself today. First stop was at Borders, where I managed to find another book in The History Of Middle-earth series, which pleased me greatly. One of my fears is that I won't be able to collect the whole series in the current edition, as it'll be out of print and all the copies will have been sold. Slightly silly, but there you go. My mum gave me a couple of G2000 vouchers when I got back to Singapore, and they expire today, so obviously, I went off to the G2 Black Label store in Ngee Ann City, where I bought a belt and used the $20 voucher. The discounts were really good, and I ended up paying about $30 for something that cost more than twice that. Had to get it altered so that it would actually hold my jeans up because as sexy as the hipster look potentially is on me, it's rather annoying after a while to be constantly tugging your jeans up to avoid a wardrobe malfunction.

Okay, so here's where the shopping trip turns into yet another example that I can trot out when I next assert in front of Eugene that I have youthful good looks. To summarise, a salesman indirectly told me today I look too young to be in university and too good not to be attached. The guy who was snipping the belt started making small talk with me. It began with a simple question about the rings that I was wearing, like why was one silver and one black. To which my rather daft reply was that there was no reason. (Although in hindsight, I think why I wear two rings of different colours, one on each index finger, is just another instance of my fixation on symmetry and patterns.) Anyway, when he found out that I was a university student, he exclaimed that I couldn't be that young then, to which my reply was that I'm 21. (Most people will generally agree that I don't look definitely 21. The precise age they would peg me with differs, with the lowest being around 18. 16, if you're my barber.) We chatted a bit more about studying and what I'm going to do for my job in future, and then as he's packing the belt for me and I'm about to head off, he suddenly asks whether I have a girlfriend and if I've thought about when I'm going to get married. (The answer to the former is no, although I have given some thought to the latter and think that 27 would be a good age.) So it's such a completely random question, so I just say no, it's still too early. To which his rejoinder is something to the effect that a handsome fellow like me is bluffing if he says he doesn't have a girlfriend. (So girls, clearly you should all be fighting to get a piece of me. Haha!) Ben Woon, being the wonderful friend that he is, helpfully suggested that he was trying to hit on me. Right.

This isn't the end of the story though! So I went upstairs to Kinokuniya and picked up a few collections of local poetry, including Alfian Sa'at's A History Of Amnesia. (On a side note, I'm thinking of bringing all the local poetry collections I have over with me, which means I've got even more books that I want to bring back to Warwick now. I should probably weigh all of them before making up my mind, since my baggage allowance is severely limited. At one point, I considered bringing all my Murakami books over, but I'm afraid I might have to change my mind about that now.) After that, I figured that I'd go downstairs again to buy a few shirts, hit $120 or more for the bill, and then I'd be able to use the other voucher. Well, it turns out the voucher is only valid for full-priced items, and practically everything in the store was on sale. I did get an additional 10% discount for paying with a DBS credit card, and my parents decided to foot the bill for everything I bought at the store, as a Christmas present, so money isn't the point of this story.

The point of the story is to highlight what a smooth operator that guy was. No, he didn't try to pick me up, but he did manage to double my bill by selling me a pair of trousers that I wouldn't have picked out on my own. What happened was this: I was trying on a shirt, and then he asked if I'd tried a pair of trousers yet. I hadn't, so I told him I'm a size 32, go pick a pair out for me and I'll just try it. At this point, I hadn't seriously considered buying the trousers yet. So after trying everything on, I'm about to change back into my own clothes and head out to pay, when he knocks, asks me how everything looks and tells me not to be shy and come out. So since he's been completely affable all this while, I comply. Like any good salesman, he naturally flatters me and tells me that I look good in the shirt and trousers, and that they suit me much better than whatever I was originally wearing. In case you think I didn't believe him just because it's his job to tell me I look good in whatever he's selling, I actually didn't need him to tell me that. I already know that I look pretty damn fine in formal wear (for someone who doesn't work out at all), ever since I shed a few pounds during BMT. My point here is simply that I'm a bit of a sucker when it comes to sales tactics. I find it incredibly hard to turn people down when they're being unfailingly nice and polite. So I walked out of that store, having spent more than $200, and made up my mind that when I start teaching and actually need to wear a shirt everyday, I know where those shirts are coming from.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Episode 86: Act 3

Finally finished with the script. I predict that I'll have to cut down on the dialogue in Act 2, as well as rewrite Act 3. All that is for another week though! Now I'm going to start reading for my third 'Howl' essay of the year, starting with Jonah Raskin's biography of Ginsberg. After that, I've got to read that other collection of essays I photocopied. At some point, I'll also have to read one or two books for EN123, if only to help me decide what I'm going to write about for my assessed essay. Then there's Sir Gawain And The Green Knight and The Canterbury Tales to contend with before the end of the year. Fun times ahead really. Am thinking of going shopping tomorrow, before choir practice. I've got a couple of G2000 vouchers, and I figure I might as well put them to good use, since I like G2 Black Label shirts so much. Might even pop down to PageOne at VivoCity to check if they have some books that I can't find at Borders or Kinokuniya. I really ought to spend less money while I'm in Singapore, but what the heck, it's the holiday season and I should spoil myself a little.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Episode 85: Act 2

Have started on Act 2, which should go much more quickly, since as I mentioned before, I'll be cribbing a good deal of the dialogue from the videos we took during rehearsal. I'll probably stay up to finish all of Act 2, since it's just a matter of watching the video, making rough notes of the dialogue, and then rewriting and embellishing it. Have already managed to get through the conversation between Jared's parents, so now I've started on the dialogue for Priya's parents. After this, it'll be two scenes of meet-the-parents and this act is finished. I've already outlined the action of Act 3 for Bella, and she's given her approval, so if I can churn out the lines more quickly, I should be able to meet Tiffanie's deadline tomorrow. Haha! I don't think I'm being nearly as funny and witty as I originally intended to be, but I'm trying my best. My greatest fear in coming up with this script is that the cast will find it boring and/or stilted. I'm already trying to guard against the latter by basing my dialogue on what they themselves came up with, but the former is somewhat harder. I'm good at one-liners, a sequence of ripostes at best. Not a whole bloody one-hour script. Oh well. Guess I shouldn't have procrastinated?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Episode 84: Act 1

The rest of the family's away in KL for the week, so I'm fending for myself. It's more convenient than when I'm at Westwood, of course, but it's quite boring. I want to play mahjong, but Ka Tsai doesn't get back until Thursday, so Ben Woon and I can't go find a fourth person anyway. I want to watch Do Not Disturb - Late Checkout, Please on Saturday, but I think I'll be going alone again, unless I miraculously find someone to go with me. Have made progress on Act 1 of the play, although not as much as I would have liked. Have yet to reach a sequence that calls for snappy dialogue, although I'm actually hoping to pull a good deal of the dialogue off what Keegan filmed during the last rehearsal, when we asked them to dramatise conflicts, as some of the lines they came up with were really good and I'd really like to incorporate them into the script. I'm just going to finish off the script until the end of the Facebook news feed scene, then I'm going to sleep! I think this scene could be really funny, but the acting for it would have to be exaggerated, even if it's just one person reading out news feed items, with the rest of the cast dramatising those items. Okay, back to the script!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Episode 83: Spinning Webs

Have finished reading Spin State and started on Spin Control. I've also started on the script for The Culture Project! Not the dialogue per se, but I wrote out some basic descriptions of the characters, enough to provide background for the cast as they explore their characters' motivations. I'm going to work on Act 1 tomorrow, which will cover Jared and Priya's relationship from its Facebook origins to their decision to get married despite parental objections. If I get into the groove of things, I'll probably just move on to write Act 2, which will see the two sets of parents meeting and clashing, at least initially. Act 3 will be a reversal of the cast dynamics, as Jared and Priya's relationship begins to fray, even as their parents begin to get along. I have a slight predilection for patterning, be it in my reading or writing. In typical fashion, I already know what the ending is going to be, and I think it could work very well, but a lot depends on how convincing the dialogue I give the characters is. Note to self: Keep it short, simple, snappy and sweet.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Episode 82: I Confess, I'm A Science Fiction Geek

Seeing as I'm still procrastinating, I spent the past few hours watching the first disc of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever watched the trilogy in its entirety, except maybe for the first film. Shall have to rectify that in the coming week! Bella has approved my idea to set The Culture Project a few decades in the future, which certainly simplifies the initial opening scenes of the play greatly. My idea to set it in the future was definitely influenced by the SF novels I've been somewhat fixated on since I got back to Singapore. Earlier in the week, I browsed through Tony Ballantyne's Watcher trilogy again, and then I went out to the library and borrowed Chris Moriarty's Spin State and Spin Control. Then just yesterday, I was at the National Library, grabbing more SF books. I'm particularly keen on SF that involves advanced bioengineering or artificial intelligence, which I see as more feasible than things like FTL travel, and besides, the idea of posthumanism fascinates me. For what those terms are worth, I'm more into hard SF than its soft counterpart, which explains why Greg Egan is one of my favourite SF authors because his technological innovations are couched in the gritty details of science as we know it (or soon might anyway). Well, I guess I'm probably going to end up not reading many of the books that I brought back to study, yeah? All that weight carried back for nothing...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Episode 81: 18 Grams Of Love

I caught a local film today at Sinema Old School, 18 Grams Of Love. It was actually rather good, sort of like Shakespeare's The Comedy Of Errors refracted through the lens of Mediacorp Channel 8 when local television was still of a decent standard. I enjoyed the symmetry of the film's scene structure, as well as the subtle ways in which the parallel scenes differed, if only because patterning intrigues me deeply. (By right, Sir Gawain And The Green Knight should rank among my favourite literary texts of all time then, since patterning is practically an obsession for the Gawain-poet. Stay tuned for the post in which I declare my undying love for the intricacies of this long poem. Haha!) A pity that I couldn't redeem my free tickets at Sinema though, as 18 Grams Of Love is being screened for the first time, and as such, isn't eligible for the free tickets offer that my membership comes with. Have about a month to use them up because I've been putting it off ever since I got the membership, so if anyone wants to watch anything at Sinema Old School with me this December, let me know! Went to Trumpet Praise to browse around, where we bumped into Shaunald and his mum, and I heard a couple of songs that I'd like to find when I've got nothing better to do. I know one's by David Crowder Band and another's by Switchfoot, neither of whom are exactly on my must-listen list. Well, one can always be pleasantly surprised, I suppose, but I have enough Christian music that I don't have to expressly make the effort to track down those songs.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Episode 80: Food Trail!

Should be able to finish transferring all my TV shows to the external hard drive, although I think I'll have to fork out a couple of hundred dollars for a new one soon, as I'm almost out of space, or I will be by the end of the current television season. Am a little annoyed because some of the discs that supposedly were burned properly have turned out to be corrupted, which has resulted in my having to hunt down the appropriate torrent and grab just one or two episodes. So far, it's worked out, but I'm hoping it won't happen with any of the remaining shows! Will start doing serious work (like reading Sir Gawain And The Green Knight) once I'm done with the TV shows. Then I can feel all accomplished and fired up to start doing proper work! Like writing the script. Have thought of an interesting idea, in which the opening and closing scenes of the play will be one and the same, meaning that the entire play is essentially the equivalent of an extended flashback sequence, in which all the events of said flashback culminate in that single moment that the curtains open on, which is also the one that they close on. Now to write it out. Food trail today was quite short really, since we didn't even make it to dinner. We did hang out at Peng Kun and Wayne's huge homes, so that was fun! We should do all this again before we head back to Warwick. Haha...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Episode 79: The Office Party

Just got back from The Office Party, which I saw with Ben Woon. Like most SRT shows that I've been to, this one was great! While the dialogue occasionally fell flat, most of the time, it sparkled with precisely the kind of comic timing that I hope The Culture Project will have. There was a really funny moment when someone's handphone went off. Twice. So the actors spoke ad lib, making a tiny crack in the fourth wall. I love it when stuff like that happens. I didn't quite like the ending though, as I felt it didn't provide enough in the way of resolution, but I nonetheless had many a good laugh throughout the two or so hours. Office shenanigans make for really compelling viewing, especially since I'll almost certainly never see anything as entertaining in my office in future. Before the play, I also descended on Kinokuniya and bought, among many other things, the complete Dune series. Yeah, all of Frank Herbert's original six novels, plus the various prequels and sequels his son, Brian Herbert, wrote in collaboration with Kevin J. Anderson. I spent more than $250, but it was well worth it, since I bought a lot of stuff that I've always wanted to buy, but never had enough spare cash to get. Am now immensely satisfied!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Episode 78: Waiting To Come Alive

No progress on the script as yet, although I'm wondering if my idea for an opening scene in which the account of how the principal couple met via Facebook should be given to Adriana as an opening monologue instead. Will try writing it out soon and see if there's enough comic potential in that to match what Bella wants. I don't know if anyone else feels the way I do, but being back in Singapore between terms is kind of like being in limbo. I suppose it feels different for the summer break, but this period of less than a month, it really doesn't feel like a proper homecoming at all. It's more like a very, very long Reading Week. Couple that with my perpetual feeling that I'm not making full use of my time, and you can see why in some ways, I'd rather the term hadn't ended. At least then, the timetable, sparsely populated by classes at it is, helps to regulate the days (and the nights). Here, I am free to order my time pretty much as I wish, which generally ends in my not doing things like reading all the texts that I brought back with me for the sole purpose of reading them. Maybe I'm just too laidback for my own good...

Monday, December 08, 2008

Episode 77: As Usual, Doing Stuff Other Than Work

Have begun the time-consuming process of transferring all my TV shows onto my 1 TB external hard drive. Have also found a new show to watch, Sanctuary. I'm hoping to get this done by the end of tomorrow, and then spend the rest of the week focusing on writing the dialogue for The Culture Project, now that Bella has sent me the notes for the discussion we had before the last rehearsal. I think the ideas we have so far are fantastic, but a lot depends on how snappy I can make the dialogue, without sacrificing depth and substance. A task that will tax my wit indeed! Hey, if Oscar Wilde could do it, I don't see why I can't have a go. Have found new Christian music that I enjoy, by Brian Bates. It's something about his voice, I think. His vocal register is just very soothing to listen to, and it kind of reminds me of what I sound like when I record myself singing, on a good day. I've managed to find his second album, Worlds Collide, so I might end up buying his debut, Outside The Limits, off iTunes. It all depends on how rich I'm feeling after I've seen a few plays and bought some shirts and books!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Episode 76: Back!

I'm finally back in Singapore. The books that are not to be brought back have been inserted into their places on my bookshelves. The clothes that have been brought back have been unpacked. The life that was interrupted by 11 weeks in a foreign country has been resumed. It's a little unreal, how it's entirely possible to pretend that I've never left at all, and somehow I feel like I should be feeling more disoriented, more lost in my own skin. Yet I don't. Perhaps I haven't been away long enough? Or am I less given to sentimentality than I thought? I can't say that the thought of being home makes me ecstatic, the way it might for some of my friends. Not that I'm not grateful for the familiarity of home, but sometimes I think part of growing up is learning to be able to let go, to go on functioning despite losing something. I don't think I'm any closer to entertaining the thought of migration than when I first left, but I do know that I handled being away from everyone much better than even I expected. You could of course read that as a statement of how relatively unimportant I am to most of the people I know, but then that would be rather cynical, wouldn't it? After watching Angus, Thongs And Perfect Snogging, which was an entertaining, albeit formulaic, coming-of-age flick, I decided to start reading Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. I think this is perhaps his best work since The Remains Of The Day. An Ishiguro novel always unsettles me as I'm reading it, but this one is particularly chilling because of its subject matter. Think of the movie The Island as a novel, without the fast-paced action sequences and the happy ending. The Guardian has a hilarious take on the book though, right here. Got to love John Crace's digested reads...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Episode 75: Transiting In Dubai...

Am surfing in the airport at Dubai while waiting for my connecting flight to Singapore. I think the whole connecting flight thing with Emirates is just really tedious, even if what I'm paying for the flight is significantly cheaper than the SIA direct flight from London. It was so disorganised when we got to the terminal, with contradictory instructions being issued. The good thing about Emirates though, is that you can fly from Birmingham, where the airport is less of a nightmare than Heathrow. The inflight entertainment for Emirates is okay, but not as fantastic as SIA. I watched Hellboy II: The Golden Army and Babylon A.D. The former is quite decent entertainment, although its central plot element isn't really developed all that much. The latter, however, is quite brainless. It's an example of a movie that has a cool idea at its heart, but the execution completely lets it down. The ending is especially bad, as it leaves you wondering what the heck actually happened! I mean, you get that the events portrayed have taken place, but you simultaneously wonder if there isn't a lot more that somehow got excised from the movie by mistake! That and it's really boring watching Vin Diesel, who is completely incapable of emoting.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Episode 74: Last Day Of Term

I finished the essay around 6.30 am, which left me with just over two hours of sleep. If I didn't have to go to the EN121 seminar to hand it in, I'd have slept in and skipped my second seminar this term. The essay is slightly better than I expected, so perhaps a Second Upper is within reach? We shall see. My tutor isn't teaching us next term, which is a pity really, since she's nice and quite funny. Have just about finished packing my stuff. I'm hideously over the weight limit, but if I do end up having to pay overweight charges, I'll just swipe my Visa and bill my dad, since a significant proportion of the stuff is gifts for people back home. I've brought back a number of books that I bought this term, including all of the Milan Kundera books. Will have to seriously reconsider my decision to cart more books over when I come back for Spring Term. With this experience of packing, I'm more acutely aware of the sheer difficulty of compressing your life into a couple of suitcases. Am quite psyched about going home actually, although I'd have been okay staying here too. It's mainly the thought of Singaporean food that appeals. I feel like telling my parents to buy cereal prawns from the coffee shop opposite our house. That would shock them. Haha...

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Episode 73: Writing At The Eleventh Hour, Literally

Finally got around to photocopying the bits that I needed of the book on 'Howl'. It took me around half an hour, and I ended up photocopying nearly the entire book. Keegan was telling me I should try to crack the administrative password for the machine, then I can get my copying done for free. I think that's just really retarded, even as a way of saving money. Of course, for people like Keegan, the response to that would be, 'No wonder you're doing English,' which is the kind of statement that always seems fairly ridiculous to me. Why do people assume that my mind is only given to certain things just because I read English? It's a reductive line of reasoning that I find somewhat offensive, to be frank. Anyway, tonight's rehearsals were pretty cool, and things are really beginning to fall into place script-wise. Will have to force myself to bang out the script once I'm back in Singapore, as I promised Bella I'd only need just over a week. For now though, I should concentrate on finishing this bloody Gawain essay. I think I'm just going to end up rambling and not making a lot of sense, so will forgive myself if I get like Second Lower for this one. Not that it counts anyway, so there isn't much incentive to get it right!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Episode 72: Shopping

I just got back from Mimi Khalvati's reading at the Arts Centre. This is the first time that I've bought the books of the person who was reading, which proves just how much I like her poetry. I even got her to sign one of the books! I've just gone on Amazon UK and ordered the two collections that weren't on sale during the event, which were, oddly enough, her earliest and latest. The latter might arrive in time for me to pick it up, provided it gets delivered early enough on Friday. The former, I'll definitely have to wait until I get back to collect it. Now I'm on Facebook, joining fan pages in a very successful attempt to avoid working on my EN121 essay. The trouble is that I don't know where to begin with this essay, which is a really bad state to be in, with less than two days till it's due and not a lot of time actually available to do it in! Shall settle for a Second Upper for this essay. I managed to pop down to Coventry after all, with Michelle in the afternoon. I got all the stuff I'd intended to, and then ended up buying about £40 worth of Topman accessories. I know, such wanton spending! I think the rings I bought were nice, although I might end up returning two of them eventually, if I get tired of them. Those are the ones with some sort of design on them; the brushed metal ones are wonderful no matter what. I bought four bunches of those wristbands too, just for fun. Consider it a reward for myself, for writing another good essay. Haha...

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Episode 71: The Belousov-Zhabotinsky Reaction

Okay, so I cheated and wrote about something that I actually know a fair bit about, in a sort of general, very vague way at least. I first encountered the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction in Russell Hoban's novel, Fremder, and since then, it's become one of the scientific concepts that have stuck particularly well in my brain, along with things like black holes, particle physics, string theory, and that's just the physics stuff. My brain is a veritable muddle of bits and pieces of knowledge, some more complete and intact than others, regarding very disparate subjects. I suppose you could think of me as a sort of half-baked Renaissance man? Anyway, the point is that I managed to find something on the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction in the Library, for which I intrepidly ventured into parts of the Library hitherto unknown to myself. So now I'm working at a terminal in the Library, for the first time in 10 weeks. This last week is really turning into a week of firsts. Was at Top Banana last night after all, for the first time ever, even if Samantha was sick and didn't attend it with me and Jerrick as we'd originally planned at The Benjamin Satchwell. I had fun, and there was Whitney to accompany back to Westwood, so I didn't have to walk through the freezing cold alone. Now I just need to finish this blasted piece of creative non-fiction, which doesn't feel all that creative actually, and I can finally get some sleep. Oh yeah, I got a First for the 'Howl' essay redux, so am definitely going with the 'Howl' question for the assessed essay too. I discovered a really funny thing when I got it back. I'd printed out the creative non-fiction piece from last week's seminar, and then handed it in too by mistake, stuck behind the bibliography. Adam read it anyway, and he commented that it wasn't so bad, so perhaps my creative non-fiction is not completely hopeless. Getting the essay back was the highlight of my day, I think, sad as it may sound. Acting as a cheating husband during rehearsal came a close second.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Episode 70: Travesties

We had a rehearsed reading of Tom Stoppard's Travesties instead of a regular lecture, which was freaking awesome! Although I haven't read it yet, the verbal pyrotechnics on display in the excerpt that was dramatised were enough to convince me to do so, very soon. It was definitely worth walking through what was an unusually cold evening (even for this time of year). Popped into the Library after the lecture, where I picked up a few more books, for both the EN121 and EN122 essays. Have more or less decided on the 'Howl' question because I've already researched the poem before, so it's just a matter of photocopying the relevant chapters out of the library books, which I will do as soon as I've figured out which are the useful chapters. Made up my mind about the 'Howl' question in the afternoon, just before I took a shower. The alternative questions were mostly pretty dry and not really my kind of stuff, although I probably could do enough research to answer some of them. My only concern is the lack of available material in Singaporean libraries, so I've really got to do all the research by the end of this week! As for the Gawain essay, it'll just have to wait until tomorrow night. I'm thinking if I should go to the last Top Banana of Autumn Term, but Jerrick hasn't replied to me yet if he'll be going, and I don't want to go alone with Samantha and the rest of the girls. So maybe I'll just sit in my room and read. After I finish watching Ghost Whisperer, of course. I nearly teared when Jim died, and unlike most of the fans who seem pissed off at the writers for this latest plot development, but I'm waiting to see how it turns out before passing judgement. I will say though, this is one screen couple who is so perfect that they could only exist in the world of television, which is partly why all the fans are so upset about Jim's death. We'll just have to see how this one pans out...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Episode 69: Combined Service

Attending Westwood Church is like seeing what COGS could be like in a few years. Today's service was held at Westwood School, with the various congregations coming together for combined worship. It's nice to see how a service can be adapted to engage the entire church, from young to old. (Clips from Evan Almighty were interspersed with the message.) That's something that I feel COGS should look into, appealing to different age groups. Wanted to go to Coventry after the service, but nobody seemed to be free, so I'm going on Wednesday instead, to buy stuff for people back home. Am now trying to finish up some of the junk food I've managed to accumulate in my room, since I really don't think it's wise to leave it lying around for a month while I'm gone. I'm also trying to get started on the weekly Chaucer translation. It's the final one! After this, it'll just be anything I choose to practice on my own, the actual tests in Spring and Summer Terms, and the examination in Summer Term. Can't wait to be rid of Middle English! Have zero motivation to start on the Gawain essay, even though I managed to get enough useful books from the Library. Am going to shop for people's Christmas presents on Amazon UK instead! Haha...

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Episode 68: PROJECT: slingSHORT 08/2

Went down to London to catch the second instalment of this year's PROJECT: slingSHORT. These were the Singaporean short films screened:

4 Days 3 Nights by Ming
Zo Hee by Jacen Tan
Wet Season by Michael Tay
Embryo by Loo Zihan
Duck by Rae Lyn Lee
Haze by Anthony Chen
Overhead Clouds by Yeo Lee Nah
Love Through The Ages by Wendy Chee
Unarmed Combat by Han Yew Kwang
Nation Builders by Martyn See

Aside from some technical issues, which were due to the need to switch back and forth between several DVDs, the screening was great. I'd seen Wet Season before, at a screening in Sinema Old School, and it was still as bittersweetly poignant as the last time. Other films I especially enjoyed were Embryo, Overhead Clouds and Nation Builders. Embryo was experimental, but not to the point where it alienated the audience, and you could definitely see a sort of narrative in it, even if it wasn't fleshed out in its entirety. The scene in which the girl was sucking on the plant was undeniably sexual, but the sequence that stood out for me was when she collected the eggs and then dyed them red, a subtle reference to pregnancy. I really enjoyed Overhead Clouds because it was just so whimsical! That animated cloud was too cute for words. As for Nation Builders, it made me uncomfortable, but that was because it made me question the 'official' picture of Singapore that's always painted for us. I found it interesting that the locations filmed seem to be concentrated around the 'older' areas of Singapore, which is perhaps why the full extent of the problem doesn't occur to people like me. The juxtaposition of the final shot was sheer brilliance by the way. The paternal figure on a poster, set beside one of the citizens who've slipped through the cracks that he claims to have kept them from. Not the kind of film you'll be seeing in any genuinely public space in Singapore in the near future.

I actually bumped into a lot of MOE people at Charlotte Street Hotel, which was quite a surprise. The Londoners were so surprised that people like me and Andrea would travel down to London just for the screening. Bella, Michelle and I were in McDonald's after the screening, where I found that McDonald's here sells chicken strips! I was so happy that I ordered a meal. Bella and I ended up missing our coach back to Coventry though, so we had to buy tickets for another one. I spent half of the journey listening to my iPod, but the battery died, so I switched to reading Frederick Crews The Pooh Perplex: A Freshman Casebook. Finished most of it, so I went to the Library to get through the last few pages and pick up some books on Sir Gawain And The Green Knight. Crews's book is a hilarious satirising of literary criticism, and there's a companion volume called Postmodern Pooh, which covers more recent developments in the field. The freaky part is that some of the stuff that's written about A. A. Milne's books sound entirely plausible! In fact, it's the kind of stuff that I might write in an essay, assuming I were doing one on Winnie-the-Pooh, of course. Now I feel like I've been missing out on so much by not having read either of Milne's books. Haha...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Episode 67: A Disgruntled Library User

I'm starting to concur with Adam's opinion of the university's library. I could only find one potentially useful book on Sir Gawain And The Green Knight, which is just appalling. The Library really needs to look into stocking more copies of books that are obviously going to be in high demand! Now I'm starting to worry about how I'm going to research my EN122 assessed essay. As it is, I can't even decide on a question, as I don't particularly care for any of them. I'm currently vacillating between the one on Shklovsky's 'defamiliarisation' and the one on Ginsberg's 'Howl', but examining the social aspect this time. The former is interesting, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to analyse MacInnes's Absolute Beginners sufficiently well, since it's the most obvious choice of text for comparison with 'Howl'. The latter would be a no-brainer, except I'm not sure if I'll be able to do much research in Singapore. Trying to research Ginsberg is hard enough over here! I guess the problem is that I tend shy away from questions that involve what I don't see as particularly literary inquiries, at least not in the conventional sense of critical analysis. After hearing the lecture on Raymond Williams, you would think that I'd have changed my mind and become all fired up about juggling literary, historical and social interpretations at the same time, but no, I think that's just too much work. In a nutshell, I hate reading theoretical texts, which unfortunately, constitute the bulk of the reading list for EN122. Sigh...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Episode 66: Good Results!

Got back several pieces of work today, all with decent results. My French homework came back with good comments again, which doesn't surprise me that much anymore, since my written French, with the aid of a solid dictionary, is leaps and bounds ahead of my spoken French. My accent, however, is still rather good, I must say. The EN123 essay on Eliot was another First, against all my expectations. My EN121 commentary was a Second Upper, which was a little disappointing, but going by Sue Niebrzydowski's comments, it's more an issue of needing to push further than anything wrong with what I'd actually written. Hopefully, I'll be able to repeat the First feat with the essay due on the last day of term! That would certainly be nice, although given that I haven't read any of the texts that I could be writing on, it might prove somewhat tricky. Have more or less decided on doing a question on Sir Gawain And The Green Knight, so I'll be reading that on the coach to London and back. I've even picked out the question and done some preliminary research, but we'll see, I might change my mind about the question. Don't feel particularly stressed about this essay because EN121 is a wholly examined module, and all these assignments are just for practice anyway. Still, I like to do the best that I can!

Our second rehearsal was even more fun than the first! I'm glad that the cast seems quite open to the idea of experimentation and just talking about issues. Well, I was a bit distracted at some points because I was cracking my head over my essay, for which I managed to crank out an interesting bit of close reading while in rehearsal. It's the kind of stuff that makes me go, damn, I'm good, but also makes me wonder, is this really the sort of stuff that I should be writing? I have self-doubt issues sometimes. I'm giving myself till around 2 am with this essay, and after that I'm going to sleep, regardless of whether it's done or not. Will finish it up in the morning, since there's no EN121 seminar tomorrow, which is a blessing in disguise. Had thought I'd have to miss part of rehearsal to attend the replacement seminar in the evening, but it turned out there was one right after our EN123 seminar, for which I obviously hadn't read Henry Green's Living. (I'm such a disgraceful student lately!) So attended that instead, and now I'm doing the usual things, procrastinating and not actually writing much of the essay that's due in about half a day's time. Good job...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Episode 65: First Official Rehearsal

Woke up later than usual, but still got to George's seminar around the same time that I normally do, which seems to suggest that perhaps I actually need less time to get prepared in the morning than I currently allocate for myself. Hadn't managed to print out my written work for today, which is just as well, since after hearing everyone else who read, I'd have been really embarrassed to read mine aloud. I did volunteer to read a piece of writing towards the end, which was a rather interesting piece of scientific writing, if I might say so. Have yet to decide what area of science I'm going to research and write on, since it's difficult to find something that I know nothing about, precisely because it lies outside of my awareness, but also because I happen to know a fair bit about quite a few areas of science that would perplex the average person. Not bragging or anything, it's just the way it is. I mean, there was a point in the past where I seriously considered doing 'A' Level Chemistry, and my first piece of researched work in Primary 4 was on black holes, so you can't blame me for being a bit of a science geek. Shall have to give it some thought once I'm done with my 'Howl' essay.

We also had our first official rehearsal today for The Culture Project, which saw us changing venues several times because we hadn't actually booked a room, through no fault of our own. It was pretty fun, watching the actors interacting. The last thing they did was perform a sketch, portraying a Facebook profile. I thought that was really clever, the way they managed it, especially since towards the end, they were apparently improvising on the fly. I'm glad everyone's getting excited about the play, and I'm starting to have ideas of what the narrative of the play will be, but I probably won't hammer out anything concrete until December. That's because I am now trying to write my essay! Have managed to sort out the introduction, but I don't think I'll get much done by tonight, since my best work seems to be produced only under conditions of great pressure. Then I promise myself not to do it that way the next time, but invariably do. What I need is to fail an assignment and then maybe I'll learn my lesson.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Episode 64: French Society Christmas Dinner

Today was the first time in a long while that I went into a seminar having done the required reading. Or half of it anyway. I thought I'd be bored by the F. R. Leavis reading, but actually it was interesting in its own way once I got started. I do wish though, just sometimes, that I were reading stuff that I actually wanted to read and study. Went back to Le Bistrot Pierre again with the French Society for their soirée gastronomique, which set me back by about £25, including transport and tipping. It was worth it though! I had braised pork belly, which was an interesting experience. I don't think I've ever voluntarily ingested so much fatty meat before. Didn't really talk much to the other people, beyond the usual polite chitchat. The problem's mine, not theirs. Makes me wonder how I actually made any of my friends for the past 21 years! Anyway, we had to wait ages for the bus back to campus though, more than an hour in fact. Standing in the cold wasn't much fun, I can assure you. I had hoped to get started on reworking my introduction for the essay due on Friday, since a good deal of Wednesday and Thursday will be spent in rehearsals for The Culture Project, but between the time of night and feeling nauseous after a swaying bus ride, it seemed much more sensible to just fall asleep, which is exactly what I'm going to do right now...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Episode 63: Merlin

While I was chatting with Alex before the EN123 lecture earlier, he reminded me that we have to finish incorporating our interview into a story for this week's seminar. I haven't written it! So now I'm watching yet another episode of Merlin, while blogging and trying to come up with an idea for the story. I'm thinking of framing the interview as the thoughts of a person suffering from dissociative identity disorder, which definitely gives it that weirdness that George Ttoouli was asking us to find. Now I just need to write two pages before going to bed, as well as rewriting the introduction for my EN122 essay. At least I finished my Chaucer translation this afternoon, or else I'd be really stressed right now. Anyway, I've been watching episodes of Merlin since I woke up. I discovered the series quite by accident, while looking for episodes of other shows that I watch. It's quite interesting because it takes the Arthurian legends and rewrites them afresh, e.g. the primary sexual tension appears to be between Arthur and Morgana, who is not portrayed as antagonistic to the court of Camelot, and incidentally, has Guinevere for a maidservant. Merlin, for that matter, is but a young warlock, just coming into his power. Did I mention he's also Arthur's manservant? It'll be interesting to see how the series plays out, but it has to get renewed first! British television shows always have less episodes than American ones, which is a case of quality over quantity, I guess, but not very satisfying for fans like myself. Oh well. It's back to the writing for me...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Episode 62: Singapore Society Christmas Dinner

Got started on my Chaucer translation, but didn't manage to finish before it was time to go for carolling. I cooked lunch again today, and I was appalled to discover that someone had taken my salt and pepper, right out of the plastic bag in which I keep it in my cupboard. Someone used my large pot too, and didn't even put it back. So I promptly hunted down both salt and pepper, brought everything that didn't have to be in the cupboard back to my room, and made sure there was no way anyone could pretend that they didn't know all my stuff belonged to me by putting my pasta and sauces into the pot. If anyone touches it between now and the next time I cook, I'm going to leave a caustic note on the inside of the cupboard. Carolling went okay, although I suddenly had to sing solo for 'Silent Night' because Rahul was sick. That turned out relatively okay, according to feedback. Caught a bus to Leamington Spa with the other Singaporeans, where we had a Christmas dinner at The Benjamin Satchwell. The food was okay, though it took really long to be served! Less impressive was my vodka lemonade, which didn't really taste much of vodka at all. After much banter and camwhoring, it was finally time to head back out into the frigid night. Thankfully, the bus didn't take too long to arrive. I really, really need to find a pair of gloves soon. I just wish Tesco would stock the black leather ones I want...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Episode 61: Bath, Stonehenge & Lacock

Was in Bath the whole day with Claire Lim, Hui Lin, Shen Ting and Yong Long. Woke up at the most ungodly hour since I've been here because we had to catch an early train to Bath. Must really do something about getting the Railcard when I get back next term, as thinking about it, I spent way too much today, and about half of the money was just on getting to Bath and back. Bath is extremely picturesque! We joined a free walking tour for a while, but soon wandered off by ourselves. We thought of going into the Roman Baths, but entry cost a fair bit. We did go into Bath Abbey though, since that was free. It's not quite as grand as Westminster Abbey, in my opinion, but at least it was free! I like stained glass windows. If I were to become incredibly rich someday, I would fit my house with stained glass windows. Anyway, we had Cornish pasties for lunch, which I liked very much. They were supposed to be quite famous, but I can't remember the name of the place now. I bought some Christmas presents at the abbey's shop, but still have a lot more to go.

Yong Long had booked us on a tour of Stonehenge, so after we took some pictures in the freezing cold, we managed to get ourselves found by the tour guide, who was really friendly. We had about an hour at Stonehenge, where I bought a set of photographic prints, simply because they were the kind of pictures I would never have the opportunity to take, never mind my actual photography skills. I must confess to being somewhat underwhelmed by my first sight of Stonehenge. I'd somehow expected it to be grander in scale. Well, not that it isn't inspiring, but being kept away by ropes, following the prescribed paths while listening to the audio commentary, it detracted a little from the whole experience. I wrote a little poem about it actually, while on the train back to Coventry. I get how if everyone were allowed to go right up to the stones themselves, Stonehenge would probably be gone in a few decades. Still, I wish we were. I admit, I'd probably have chipped a bit of stone for myself, if only I'd been given the chance!

From Stonehenge, we went to Lacock, where scenes from the Harry Potter series, Pride And Prejudice, The Other Boleyn Girl, and an upcoming film, The Wolfman, were filmed. According to the tour guide, film companies pay handsomely, even just to film the exterior of a house. Apparently, everyone in the village received £200 when they filmed a Harry Potter movie there. Lacock is an interesting village, as it is owned almost in its entirety by the National Trust, which in turn rents out properties to the residents there. A rather unusual arrangement, but it allows the village to escape the sort of tacky transformation that other rustic villages tend to experience as the tourists start flocking to them. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, has a house in Lacock, and her daughter was recently married at the church, so there's an album of photographs in there, featuring various royal personages. Not too shabby, for a little village in Wiltshire! Even Singapore probably can't boast of that, surely? (Does Gong Li becoming a Singaporean citizen count?)

It was dark by then, so we headed back to Bath. After a lot of dithering over where to have dinner, we settled on Wagamama. I had a really nice meal, sort of like laksa, but not as rich. It was good, but the real thing back home still tastes better. Am starting to be excited about getting home and having local food again! In any case, Wagamama was nice, and I would like to try more food from that place again someday. (I always say that about places, but it never happens, at least not as often as I would like.) On the way back, I managed to read more of Simon Armitage's poetry, so I've finished three so far: Kid, Book Of Matches, and The Dead Sea Poems. Will return them on Monday and borrow some other stuff, including that book on 'Howl'. That wasn't the end of the night though, as we had Claire's birthday to celebrate. So trudged through the cold with Shen Ting to Arthur Vick 1. Rather apt, I think, to begin and end the day by trudging in the cold. One can only hope the weather becomes a bit milder for the remainder of the term, unlikely as that might be.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Episode 60: Haircut

Got my haircut! Haven't tried styling my hair yet, so I can't tell if the way the barber cut it, which was certainly different from how I get it cut back home, has made it easier to style. He said that with this haircut I could style it using gel or wax, so here's hoping he's right. Wound up not eating a proper meal all day, so I'm pigging out on junk food. I had intended to cook pasta after I got back from auditions, but I got lazy, so I ended up watching TV on my laptop again instead and snacking on Doritos. I've decided to go for the French Society's Christmas dinner because I figure it's not something that comes along everyday, and I can afford to scrimp some other time. Am going to Bath tomorrow, so am hoping to get some reading done on the train ride there and back. Can't quite decide what to read though. I might read Sir Gawain And The Green Knight to prepare for my EN121 essay, or I could read Henry Green's Living to prepare for next week's EN123 lecture and seminar. What I really want to read though, is stuff from the past few weeks that I never actually read. Stuff like Colin MacInnes's Absolute Beginners and Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse. Especially the latter, as everyone in my seminar group seemed to hate it, but from what I've glimpsed of the novel, I don't quite hate it in the same way. In fact, it occurred to me during the seminar discussion that perhaps writing like Woolf's was an essential step that had to be taken in order for novels like House Of Leaves to be written. So yeah, can't make up my mind...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Episode 59: Pub Crawl!

I got my poetry portfolio back today, and it was a First! David Morley was very generous with his comments too, and he definitely approved of my pantoum, which pleased me immensely. It really is a rather clever piece, and I would consider it, despite the relative simplicity of its language, among one of the best pieces that I've ever written. It's the kind of poem that probably never gets published, then turns up in a New & Collected Poems late in a poet's career as an example of juvenilia that displayed early promise. Haha! Okay, enough bragging. This grade has really encouraged me though, as I always have trouble being certain whether my work is good. I know for sure when it's very good, like the poem that got published in QLRS and the one that won a prize in the NUS competition. I guess deep down, I'm just that little bit insecure about how good I really am, and I feel the pressure to keep repeating the performance. I think that kind of feeling is counterproductive though, so I need to learn to get out of that mentality.

Anyway, tonight was the Warwick TV and STARs social, which was great fun! We started the evening at Mor Bar, where I had a Cosmopolitan and a Bacardi Breezer. I think the only way I can drink vodka comfortably is in a sweet cocktail like the Cosmopolitan. Mor Bar's a really nice place, and I'm looking forward to going back for their fondue sometime soon. Then we headed over to Mumbai Bluu, where we played some drinking games. I can't remember what I had there, but it was sweet too. My newfound friends wanted another drink because they still felt sober, so we stopped by briefly at Tavistock Bar to get just one more drink before heading to Smack. The girls got absinthe, and I had a sip, and it tastes absolutely vile, despite being a rather fetching shade of green. It didn't seem to do them any harm though, as we were all rather sober the whole night. So we ended up getting another drink at Smack, Sambuca with lemonade. I just did a check online, and apparently absinthe and Sambuca are both anise-flavoured, but their derivation differs, which is why when I was sipping my drink in Smack, I thought that it tasted like absinthe, but less overpowering. We stayed at Smack for a couple of hours. The music wasn't really my kind of thing though, but it was still fun to hang out with fellow STARs! I also think it was totally cool how we just got added to the guestlist and walked in, even though most of us weren't originally on it. Having connections is just awesome.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Episode 58: Circus

Attended the reading at the Arts Centre by George Szirtes. I like the man's poetry, even though I've never heard of him before David Morley told us about him. That's the problem with literature today, the proliferation of writers. It's not a bad thing per se, since there are plenty of good writers coming out all the time, and that's the way it should be. It's just that you only get to hear about certain writers because they're heavily promoted, and in Singapore, only the big names tend to get that kind of publicity, and then usually only after they've won some big prize. So as much as I claim to prefer contemporary literature, I know only a fraction of what's out there. I really, really want to make time to read while I'm in university, which doesn't seem possible, given my complete inability to even keep up with my modules' reading lists. Yet I am all too aware that this is possibly the only time in my life when I'll have the leisure to be able to spend time just reading for its own sake! It's a shame, but as long as I have my books, I'll try my darnedest to always keep reading, both classic and contemporary stuff.

For the past few days, the only thing that I've been playing on my iPod is Britney Spears's new album, Circus. Specifically, the tracks 'Womanizer', 'Circus', 'Kill The Lights', 'If U Seek Amy', and 'Phonography'. Having listened to 'Circus' and 'If U Seek Amy', I now think 'Womanizer' is rather overrated in comparison. I suppose it was good enough for a first single, and releasing 'Circus' as the second single can only fuel the success of this second comeback album. In short, Circusis a self-consciously dirty and sexy album, the one that Blackout should have been, but somehow wasn't because it was too robotic. Not that this pop princess has abandoned digital manipulation on her latest album, but there's more humanity behind the vocal delivery this time around. It's rare for me to obsess about an album like this, but Britney's just one of those people whose music I grew up with, and in fact, I liked her music better after she became all skanky (because the virginal act on ...Baby One More Time was just ridiculous anyway). So yeah, welcome back, Britney, glad you could join the party.

It's getting colder here, and I might have to bring out the Ted Baker jacket before long, even though the French Connection one still takes the edge off the cold. I'm also getting annoyed with my hair, so I've made an appointment for Friday at Chaplins in Cannon Park Shopping Centre. It's going to cost me £12.50, but I really can't care less, and I told myself anyway, before I got here, that I would cut my hair in the UK regardless of the cost. It's just one of those things that I won't mind spending on. I am rather conscious of having spent more than I should have this term though, so I'm really looking to cut back in Spring Term. I think I would totally spend less if I started cooking regularly, so I'm definitely going to do that as soon as possible. Am wondering if I should splurge on the French Society's Christmas dinner at Le Bistrot Pierre next week. I know the food's going to be good, and I should get to know more people from the society since I'll be spending a weekend in Paris with them next term, but it's really quite pricey, even going by my liberal spending habits. Sigh...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Episode 57: Spyski!

I'm so behind on my reading, it's not even funny anymore. At least Adam Putz says I'm on the right track for expanding my 'Howl' essay. Auditions today went so much better! More people showed up, including Maria, which was great. Anyway, I'm so out of practice when it comes to drinking alcohol! I had slightly more than two glasses of white wine after Spyski!, and I was totally focusing on walking straight on my way back from the Arts Centre. Am going for a pub crawl on Thursday with the other STARs, so hopefully I don't wind up too wasted. Spyski! was awesome by the way! Everyone should totally go and see it. It helps if you've at least read The Importance Of Being Earnest, since that way you'll see some of the connections, but really, Spyski! is just plain good fun. It's hard to summarise what went on, but really, go catch it. I promise you won't regret it! As my Facebook status says, if you don't laugh, your funny bone's missing! It was great fun chatting with the other STARs after the play too, so I'm really glad I decided to go for the social on Thursday because I think it's going to be great fun. Not that I don't have fun hanging out with Singaporeans, but I think I really need to make a conscious effort to get to know more people outside of my usual comfort zone, and this seems to be one of the best places for it, simply because we all share a common interest in arts stuff. So yeah, I guess I'm just really glad that I'm a STAR because of that, quite aside from the free tickets and drinks.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Episode 56: Layout Day

Today was the layout day for The Warwick Review, which was a really good opportunity to clock up hours for my module. They started at 10 am, but I completely blanked about it until about 12.30 pm, and by the time I got there, it was about 1.30 pm. Managed to read just about everything that was being passed around though, which was good fun. I read some stuff that I really liked, which I would have been glad to have written myself, and there was also stuff that I cringed at because it was the kind of writing that I know is bad because I've written (and still write) stuff like that. There was a piece that had sections that reminded me of House Of Leaves, which was pretty awesome, but overall it didn't quite work, which was a shame. Had auditions for The Culture Project in the evening. Only one girl showed up, which was a bit sad, I guess. Hopefully, more people will turn up tomorrow. I'm thinking of asking Maria if she wants to come, since she did say she might turn up on the Facebook event. Then Bella and I went off to the Arts Centre for Sarah's birthday surprise. It was quite funny because we were just sitting there and collecting more and more people around our table as they showed up. In the end, we managed to find an empty music room, so we all squeezed inside and waited. It all turned out well in the end though, which was pretty cool.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Episode 55: Cooking My First Meal

Am translating Chaucer while watching Les Poupées Russes. The narrative feels more disjointed than L'auberge Espagnole, in fact, I've managed to get through nearly half the movie without actually figuring out what the heck is going on really. In a way, I suppose it's a metanarrative of sorts. I'm watching it because I loved L'auberge Espagnole, which totally made me want to move to Europe and rent an apartment with a bunch of ERASMUS students. The crazy things you do because you've seen it in a movie! Anyway, the extract from 'The Reeve's Tale' is proving a little more resistant to my efforts at translation than the previous extract from 'The Knight's Tale', and generally speaking, I'm starting to be a little worried about my translation tests. Anyway, I cooked my first real meal today, with Shen Ting's help. Like practically everyone I know, I like cooking, but I hate washing up. That about sums up my experience in the kitchen. Pasta isn't that hard to cook really, and I don't bother with making sauces from scratch, and I'd much rather just have olive oil anyway. I do believe I need meat to go with the pasta though, so that's something I'll have to get the next time I'm at Costcutter or Tesco. I'm still trying to decide if I want to go to Bath next Saturday, but I have decided to go to New Word Alive in Wales next April. The only attraction for next Saturday is Stonehenge really, but it's not like Stonehenge is going anywhere, so I'm wondering if I should stay in Warwick and read instead, seeing as I haven't actually read anything this weekend, contrary to my hopes. So now it's back to the second half of the movie and the second half of the translation...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Episode 54: I've Spent Less Than An Hour Outside My Room Today

While pretty much all the other Singaporean freshers were off at the Nottingham Games, at which they did really, really well, I've been phenomenally unproductive, despite my declaration yesterday that it would be otherwise. Managed to get some new music for my iPod, Metro Station and Nemesis Rising to be exact. I did do some of my French homework, as well as take in another lesson of Spanish, so I did work, just not the sort of work that would help me in any of my English seminars next week. I also put away some of my Ikea stuff in the kitchen where it belonged, and I felt like such a criminal doing it, like I was an interloper in my own kitchen. Incidentally, my cupboard space has been colonised by one of my neighbours, but I can hardly blame him because the amount of time I've spent in the kitchen in the last two months is probably about 15 minutes in total. So I stuck a polite note on the inside of the cupboard, subtly hinting that it was sort of time he started moving his stuff back to his side. Will discreetly check tomorrow, since I'm hoping to cook either lunch or dinner. Nothing fancy, just pasta, olive oil, and whatever meat I can find at Tesco that's easy to fry. Hope it works out...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Episode 53: Gomorra

Just got back from Gomorra at the Arts Centre. Now that was heavy viewing. As a depiction of the Camorra and its workings, it was interesting, but I can't honestly say that the film made for very compelling viewing overall. Some of the individual story arcs were interesting, but the intercutting between them meant that the impact was somewhat diluted. At the end, I didn't really get a sense of resolution, except perhaps for the tailor's story. Ah well. It was something different from what I'd normally watch. Did see a couple of trailers at the start for some upcoming stuff that looked promising, especially Blindness, which is adapted from a José Saramago novel. Looked him up in Wikipedia, and I must say, he seems like the kind of author that I would read, even if I seem to be doing extremely little reading here. That will all change tomorrow, when I will be one of the few Singaporeans spending my Saturday studying instead of being at the Nottingham Games. All the best to those who're playing though! I also started on my Rosetta Stone Spanish course. Spent half an hour to learn how to say really basic stuff. Am ambivalent so far, but I guess it'll get better as it goes along, and knowing another Romance language already is bound to be useful. Decided to try the Spanish course first instead of the Italian one because a couple of the other freshers are learning Spanish at the Language Centre, so I can test out my Spanish on them. Haha...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Episode 52: A Brief Respite

That's all I'll get before it's time to throw myself back into catching up on reading and writing. I am totally reading Absolute Beginners and To The Lighthouse before next week's seminars. Haha! For now though, I'm watching TV on my laptop again. I've been trying to get some TV episodes myself without using torrents, in order to ease the downloading burden back home. Am limited by the limit on free users at these sites though, so it's been slow, slow work. I also need to get a haircut, I think. I briefly entertained thoughts of doing my laundry for the week, but I'm betting someone else has had the same idea and the machine's in use, so I guess I'll wait until early tomorrow afternoon. What I would really like to do though, is fall asleep for about 10 hours. Alex is quite right. People like me who sacrifice sleep to do work are crazy. I did manage to catch three hours of sleep this time though, which allowed me to survive until around 2 pm before beginning to feel tired. French today was quite fun because we got to mess around with the recording software. I have such an annoying speaking voice...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Episode 51: No Rest For The Lazy

I've had a listen to Enya's Christmas album, And Winter Came..., and it's actually pretty good. Enya albums tend to sound more or less the same, and I didn't really like Amarantine that much compared to A Day Without Rain, but this latest studio album is definitely worth getting. Particularly interesting is the track 'White Is In The Winter Night', which is written in trochaic heptameter. It's pretty obvious, especially since the percussion is there to accent the lines. Oh yeah, Eliot essay is not going well. Introduction is out of the way, but I sense that progress is going to stall soon. I always try to be cleverly ambitious, and it backfires when you don't have the time to do it properly. Like I have all these ideas that I want to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, but the pieces just won't click. It's going to be a typical case of starting strongly and finishing weakly. Need to have a better work ethic when I'm back in Singapore in December. One week of pure slacking, at the very most, and slacking meaning no writing, the reading must go on all the time. Anyway, hopefully I'll be able to get some sleep, which would be infinitely better than the last essay, when I got no sleep at all. To end off this entry, I leave you with an excerpt of the description of me that Alex wrote for today's exercise during the seminar:

Ian's glasses, jeans and shoes all have a style and a brand to them, but in a reserved subtle way that doesn't cloud your judgement of him, just hints at a fun and fashionable side. His appearance, combined with his clothes, suggest intelligence and a bit of class but in a way that you don't hold it against him, there's obviously more than meets the eye.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Episode 50: First Essay Returned

I got my 'Howl' essay back, for which I scored a low First grade range. Am very pleased about that, but now feel pressured to repeat it with my Eliot essay. I'm hoping that my portfolio will get a First too, especially since it's actually assessed, unlike the 'Howl' and Eliot essays. For the next piece of unassessed EN122 work, Adam Putz said we could, on a case by case basis, double the length of our first unassessed essay. I'm seriously considering that, since I quite like what I've written so far and think that there is potential to elaborate further on it, especially in terms of picking out further bits of the poem for close reading. I do need to read some of the other poems that I mention in passing in the introduction though, since it may help to strengthen the case for 'Howl' as a vision of hell. I'm thinking of Rimbaud particularly, since the Blake, Dante and Milton poems are much too long for my purposes, although perhaps dipping into them to pick out stylistic features might help too. Will think about it once I'm done with the Eliot essay, for which I have a vague idea of the thesis statement, but no concrete path from introduction to conclusion as yet. In other news, the Sennheiser earphones are good, and my Amazon UK situation has sorted itself out.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Episode 49: Je L'ai Fini!

I finished my portfolio sometime after midday. I think the poems got sloppy towards the end, but what the heck, I wasn't in any state of mind to care too much. Now it's on to the Eliot essay, about which I have absolutely no idea. I have a stack of books on Eliot and modernism, and somehow, miraculously, a thesis statement is going to implant itself in my mind if I stare at the books for long enough. In other news, I've concluded that it is generally not a good idea to have my Amazon UK purchases delivered in several batches. I should just have everything I buy on a particular day delivered together, even if it means waiting longer. None of my orders are missing, and now I even have a duplicate order that I'm going to have to send back at some point before the end of January, so I'm just a bit annoyed over the whole mess, even if it has somewhat sorted itself out. Sigh. I'm a bit annoyed that the Italo Calvino books aren't the editions that I wanted though. They're Vintage Classics editions, but from a different, and in my opinion, uglier printing. So I'm giving one to Eugene for Christmas because he doesn't mind getting a Calvino book. Anyone else want a present from me?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Episode 48: The Start Of A Very Bad Week

This morning, by Philips earphones died on me. Or to be precise, the left side died. I ended up ordering Sennheiser earphones off Amazon UK, which should arrive together with my books on Tuesday. I won't be able to collect them, unless I walk all the way back after the EN121 lecture and collect them before heading to the EN122 seminar. Either that, or I could wake up extra early on Tuesday. At least service was okay. Tom sang two of my favourite songs, Forever and Blessed Be Your Name! Headed back to my room after service to order the earphones, and then I went to Tesco to grab food. Being the lazy person that I am, I have not bought groceries and thus have absolutely no motivation to cook, despite having all the necessary kitchen implements. Since I got back, I've been stuck here trying to churn out poems for my portfolio, with little success. I did manage a series of haiku, which I think are quite decent, and I (pretentiously) reformatted one of the pieces that I originally didn't want to include because I was getting desperate. (That and I can now claim that reading E. E. Cummings inspired me!) I'm now writing a villanelle, which I'm going to claim is influenced by Philip Larkin. I'm terrible, just throwing out random poets whom I've read before as influences and inspiration. Have not done any reading for Week 7, although there is still time to get through Kafka's stories, assuming I finish the essay. I think I will resort to reading the opening and closing chapters of Absolute Beginners, so that I have something to say during Adam's seminar on Tuesday. As for my French homework, I think I'm just going to say I couldn't print it out and that I'll e-mail it, and then go back and write it out, since by then the EN123 essay will be a thing of the past. Sneaky, but it really can't be helped at this point. Sigh. I need a better work ethic next term...

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Episode 47: A Trip To Ikea

This morning, just as I was about to leave my room to meet Chernise at Ikea, I received a call informing me that a postman was at the Arts Centre, trying to deliver a package to me. Puzzled, I replied that I hadn't asked for anything to be delivered. I had a sneaking suspicion this was going to be one of my Amazon UK packages, but I hadn't expected the delivery service to screw up now, not after having smoothly delivered four separate packages previously. Apparently, my faith was quite, quite misplaced, and my package has now been sent back to Amazon UK. I can only keep my fingers crossed that the refund for this order will go smoothly because I simply will not order those Italo Calvino books again until I've got my refund for a screwup that wasn't even my fault. Someone from the customer service side has replied to my e-mail though, offering to have a replacement order sent as soon as possible, so perhaps things will work out after all. There's still two more packages that should have arrived by now, yet I haven't received any little blue card telling me to pick them up, so am a bit jittery about those too! Oh well, here's hoping for the best...

Managed to get everything I needed from Ikea, so now the next step towards culinary greatness is buying groceries. Won't be doing that until I get at least the EN124 portfolio done though, which I'm hoping to get at least half-finished by tonight. Was initially flirting with the idea of writing a villanelle and something in terza rima, but I've decided to combine the two as a terzanelle instead. I will write the one in terza rima at some point, since I've never done it before, but I might give the villanelle a miss. All this, of course, is only going to happen after the EN123 essay is done, which I've more or less decided will be on T. S. Eliot, since I hear rumours that everyone else is writing about Yeats, whom I don't really like. I also have to produce a pantoum, since I want to include one in my portfolio for David Morley. Not quite sure what the pantoum's going to be about, but yeah, I'm off to hammer out that portfolio. No idea how I'm going to do the commentary though, since I haven't exactly been reading enough stuff to be influenced by it in my writing. Sigh...