Saturday, February 28, 2009

Episode 159: Don John & Twelfth Night

With Don John, Kneehigh Theatre offers up a riotous visual spectacle, billed by artistic director, Emma Rice, as a female reclaiming of Mozart's Don Giovanni's. The production delivered on the former promise, with plenty of balloons, bangs and confetti to accent the cast's physically robust performance. The set was also elaborately constructed, allowing for a dynamic use of space, especially by Cscape's dancers. Set changes were incorporated into the performance, creating seamless transitions that helped to keep the story moving as it switched between its three main threads. However, the production didn't quite achieve the latter aim. Amy Marston's Elvira, Nína Dögg Filippusdóttir's Anna, and Patrycja Kujawska's Zerlina weren't fully fleshed out as women, although the latter two were more believably sympathetic as an alcoholic vicar's wife and a foreign cleaner respectively. Within the narrative of the production, the women weren't exactly empowered, except for one scene in which Mike Shepherd's Nobby was tied up by all the female members of the cast.

Of the male characters, Craig Johnson's Derek deserved particular mention as the comic reverend who preaches to an empty church, rails against God, and is ultimately incapable of action. The titular character of Don John was played by Tristan Sturrock, replacing Gísli Örn Gardarsson, touring overseas with another production for a short period. While Sturrock turns in a solid performance as Don John, this is an instance, I think, where what the actor looks like is absolutely crucial. Whereas Gardarsson is conventionally athletically handsome, which would make for a more convincingly seductive rake, Sturrock's demeanour is more suggestive of the conman's oily smile. It is, to some extent as I see it, a question of emphasising one aspect of the character's personality over another, so it would be churlish to criticise really. I guess I just find Sturrock's Don John not terrible attractive and unlikely to inspire the sort of wanton lust that he is supposed to in the story. Casting kind of matters in this case, that's what I think, so a more conventionally good-looking guy would have helped.

I must say I really liked the live musical accompaniment though, and how it blended together with the pre-recorded soundtrack. I thought Dom Lawton's voice was easy on the ear, and how the rest of the cast joined in here and there to layer harmonies, that was cool. His paperboy character also helped to frame the narrative by insinuating himself as part of the audience, peering in on the goings-on in this town. At the very end, the cast came down into the audience to get people to dance with them onstage during the epilogue. Was sitting along the aisle, so I got pulled up obviously. It wasn't so bad. Danced with Cscape's Emily Dobson, made some small talk and it was over in a couple of seconds. I can't do dancing that involves actual coordinated footwork, however vague. It makes me feel clumsy. Overall, I would say that for Don John, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, so if you haven't seen it, it's actually too late to catch it at the Warwick Arts Centre, but the production's still touring, so go here to see if it's coming to a place near you.

Went back to my room for an hour, before heading out again to catch a bus to All Saints Church in Leamington Spa for the Shakespeare Society's performance of Twelfth Night. Managed to grab a bite at Vialli's! The church's architecture is very beautiful, although at times it turned into a bit of a distraction from the actual play, particularly since it was initially hard to see and hear the actors. Things got better after the interval though, so at least I didn't leave feeling like I'd wasted my £5. Never actually read Twelfth Night before though, but now that I've seen it performed, I find the central premise of the plot a bit hard to swallow. The whole mistaken identity thing? Don't buy it. It's just a bit too implausible. I suppose though, the whole point of theatre is that the audience engages in what Coleridge calls a 'willing suspension of disbelief', and it's churlish to complain about what is otherwise a perfectly fine play. I think Feste is my favourite character in the whole play. I just don't really find any of them particular sympathetic, which is a bit strange for a Shakespearean play.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Episode 158: The Ugly Cousins' Long Lost Relative Re-Reunion

This has ended with me bringing an almost-full bottle of rum back to my room. It was a fun night though, and I'm glad I decided to go instead of hiding in my room and wasting a few hours of my life away, watching TV on my laptop. Plenty of time for that some other day anyway! Ate a very late dinner of very soggy fish and chips. Was a bit disturbed to see that it had to be wrapped in at least three layers of paper, all of which the oil still soaked through anyway. So much for healthy living. Watching people slam is interesting, although I don't know if I'd be able to do it myself. At some point in the future, I think, but not now. Now I am keen to see what else The Ugly Cousins are up to though, so I'll probably be headed down to The Writers' Room on Monday evening. Have bummed the entire afternoon away, so I will need to make an effort to do the McGann reading for next Tuesday's seminar between Don John and Twelfth Night. It seems like I'm incapable of staying on top of my work for more than a couple of days. Oh well...

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Episode 157: Twilight

Progress has been made on several fronts, which has brought some measure of satisfaction to me today. The EN122 lecture this morning was ghastly. I'm still not sure if I actually learnt anything in it? I think the only lecturers whose lectures I've enjoyed for EN122 have been Emma Mason's and Pablo Mukherjee's. Grabbed a drink at the Kami Lounge with Lucy before my EN123 seminar, as well as buying my first Warwick hoodie. Black. Didn't realise it was discounted by 20%. Now I feel like collecting them all. Haha! Watched Twilight before drinks at Varsity, and unfortunately, I can't bring myself to say that I liked the film. Perhaps I'm asking too much of my films, but where was the complexity in this? Never having read the original book, I can't comment precisely on what was lost in the translation from book to screen, but I'm certain there must have been something missing. I also hope that the dialogue wasn't lifted wholesale from Stephanie Meyer's book, as some of it was just excruciating. Plus it's always a sign of trouble when you find one of the supporting characters (Ashley Greene's Alice) more interesting than the lead character (Kristin Stewart's Bella). Can I also say that Bella looked more sickly throughout the entire film than the whole family of undead? That was a little weird. So overall, sorry, Lucy, I don't Twilight is going to make it into my list of must-see movies. If I want sexy vampires, I'd still go back to Anne Rice.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Episode 156: Ruth Padel

Just got back from Ruth Padel's reading at the Arts Centre, and I've decided it's far too late to justify having dinner. That and my face feels particularly fat today. I know I should really stop obsessing and start exercising instead. Just let my face put on a few more inches and I'll get down to it! The reading was excellent, as it usually tends to be. I liked how all the poems she read were threaded together by the common theme of Darwin, and I would have liked to have bought the collection they were from, but I'm thinking that I should continue to spend more conservatively this term, as far as possible. That and I just bought Improv For Storytellers: Theatresports And The Art Of Making Things Happen by Keith Johnstone for Peter Blegvad's class. Incidentally, it was a wise decision to hold off buying all that stuff I'm hankering after on Amazon, as every single day, the price of one of the huge number of books I've picked out has fallen! Today's was particularly significant, as it was one of the PostSecret books that got its price reduced. Perhaps I will buy them after all, even though I was actually thinking of asking for them as a birthday present. Have managed to finish reading all the Shakespearean sonnets, as well as the Elizabeth Bishop poems on the handout for tomorrow's seminar with Jim Byatt, so I feel like I've earned the right to slack off for tonight. Unfortunately, I still have to do a bit of research for LL208 tomorrow, on the French President and Prime Minister. Sigh. Once you start being hardworking, you feel like you have to continue all the way...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Episode 155: Pancakes!

Wrote my performance writing piece after Lucy and Sophie left for their seminar. It's somehow become a piece about circuses and an orphanage, although that latter bit doesn't hit the reader/listener until the very end. Shirley complained that I've turned circuses into something depressing, but well, that was kind of the idea, to be honest. Anyway, researching the whole circus thing got me onto Cirque du Soleil. I'm quite sure that I've seen one of their shows that made a stop in Singapore. I've managed to find the soundtracks for all the shows, which is just great. More random music for my iTunes library. Yay! Went down to Leamington Spa for the Good Food Society's pancake social and had my fill, so that cheered me up after I finally got confirmation that the postal system had screwed up and lost the books I sent back for a refund. Not to mention that the company has such awful customer service. Two e-mails through their online form went unanswered, and it was only after I fired off an angry e-mail directly from my account that I managed to get a reply telling me that the books hadn't arrived. Like was it so hard to tell me that in the first place? Consider this a £10 lesson learnt! Sigh...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Episode 154: Reading Done, Writing Undone

I just finished eating what was perhaps the most balanced meal I've made entirely by myself since I've come to Warwick. Pasta, baked potatoes and sausages. Admittedly, the pasta was boiled a few days ago, the baked potatoes were fresh out of the microwave, and the sausages came out of a jar. It was reasonably yummy, I guess. I've managed to finish the required reading for a EN122 seminar, for once. It was pretty interesting, and made me want to read Erich Auerbach's Mimesis: The Representation Of Reality In Western Literature. Intimidating title, but the premise sounds intriguing. Easter vacation reading, perhaps? I've also started charting my use of time this week for the CM1 portfolio. It got off to a rather depressing start, but having managed to finish the Greenblatt chapter, I feel redeemed. Somewhat. Still can't figure out what to write for my EN124 seminar on Wednesday morning though. How does 'And we were afraid, but in a good way' sound as a repeated chant? I'm liking it at the moment, but as is often the case, it's a good idea that I have no idea what to do with.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Episode 153: W.

Went to see W. with Laura, Lucy and Sophie at Warwick Student Cinema. There was hardly anyone there though. The film was actually quite entertaining, and it did manage to make Josh Brolin look like a better-looking version of George W. Bush. It isn't really a straightforward political film, which makes it easier to get through. That and it was the first regular film I was seeing with WSC, so it was free. We're thinking of seeing Australia next week! Have heard mixed reviews about it, but I guess I'll go for the company. We were at The Grad after the film, just to grab a drink. Alex came by, and we had a hilarious time. If anyone had been eavesdropping for the Overhead at Warwick Facebook group, they'd have got quite a lot of material. Picked up a load of stuff from Iceland and Tesco after church, including three jars of those sausages that I really liked with mashed potatoes a week or so ago. Am pretty much set for the next week or two in terms of meals and snacks, although the Nandos chips I bought weren't that spicy. This is me being distinctly unimpressed!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Episode 152: I Can't Believe It

I can't believe this. Today, after the CM1 session ended, I was thinking of walking to Costcutter to grab more food. On the way, I passed by the Bookshop, and randomly decided to pop in instead. Guess what was one of the first things to catch my eye? A copy of the B-format Faber & Faber edition of Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness Of Being, which I've been searching for for the last year or so, whether in bookshops or online. (See here for an interesting discussion about the significance of paperback size.) It even comes with the same cover design as the A-format paperback edition I had all along, before I had the means to obsess about things like uniformity of book sizes on my shelves. Finding it kind of made my day. That and watching the latest episode of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse, which everyone should totally start watching now! This new show is pretty awesome. Really. I'm basically a sucker for anything with a science fiction plot, but I think this could be the next big thing for TV. Now that I'm done with CM1, it's time to start working on pulling together the portfolio, which obviously didn't happen tonight. If I don't get at least part of one assignment done by next week though, I'm not going to let myself register for another module this term, even though there's stuff that I want to do. Randomly, am tempted to order the PostSecret books...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Episode 151: Working Well In Advance, For A Change

After I got home from Varsity, I briefly entertained thoughts of reading Shakespeare and Spenser in bed. I even went so far as to take out all the material, before deciding that it just wasn't worth the loss of sleep. So I went through another seminar without saying anything. Thank God for people like Alex and Dan who always volunteer something. Haha! I just came back from a Warwick Skills Certificate session. I'm doing the weekend intensive for CM1 Getting Started On Skills Development, which is interesting, but still not the kind of stuff that I couldn't pick up by reading a few books or surfing a few websites. Bits of the module sound really familiar though, like stuff I've facilitated for when I was working at High Achievers. The assignments look really easy to complete, and I've had good practice with that sort of stuff while doing WITS project reports during NS. I've also started doing my French homework really early this time, as I've got no major looming deadlines and can afford to spend time catching up on work and reading. So I will probably start on the portfolio for CM1 well in advance of the April 24 deadline! Randomly, Walkers Sensations chips have been half-price at Costcutter for really long! I'm so happy because it's letting me stock up on snacks. Especially Thai sweet chilli chips. Yay!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Episode 150: Put Your Boots On, Baby, Get To Work!

Have succeeded in finishing my commentary on the Spenserian sonnet before heading to Varsity! You know how sometimes you don't notice stuff, but then when you do, it becomes all you can think about? I'm like that with pilling on my clothes, so much so that I've decided I should try getting a cheap fabric shaver to see if I can reduce some of the worst pilling. Anyway, today's lecture on The Buddha Of Suburbia was like that. I don't particularly care for the book, and was terribly amused when Adam Putz showed us his ripped up and chewed on copy of Kureishi's novel during Tuesday's seminar. I described it as 'episodically entertaining', which is quite true, given that I read the first two chapters, and felt like it was just a waste of my time. It was funny, but I didn't feel particularly amazed at the language, or at the message of the novel. Today's lecturer didn't do much to improve my impression of the novel, especially since from the way that she put it, it sounded to me like the terrain Kureishi treads has been done before, only in far more capable ways. Didn't help that every other sentence of hers was peppered by 'uh'. It's like once you notice something like that, you can't help but be hopelessly distracted by it. The Waiting For Godot workshop in the afternoon was fun though, and now I really, really want to watch it in London!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Episode 149: Learning Grid Blues

Goodness. I'm in the Learning Grid now, and I've totally turned into one of those people who stay up late and actually intend to get work done in this place. Temporarily, of course. I blame all the other Singaporeans, who were the reason I came over anyway. I still hate what I've written of my commentary so far. It's okay when taken in little bits, but together, the whole thing feels like it's meandering, and when I feel that way, it usually means I'm waffling. I need some sort of focusing principle to justify my somewhat facetious analysis of Spenser's sonnet. That said, I can't really be bothered about the quality. I always say that, but this time, I really mean it to a large extent. I'm just trying to get this done because there's no time to procrastinate until tomorrow night and stay up late then. Varsity is, obviously, more important than a Renaissance poem commentary! Seriously though, I'm just trying to get into the habit of finishing work more than 12 hours before it's due, as it can't be healthy to put myself through that kind of stress on a regular basis.

At least Weird Fiction today was fun! It was the last session, and for the workshop, we had a mock session where four of us pitched our ideas for a novel to the rest of the participants, who played the role of publishers of various sizes. China Miéville acted as literary agent for all of us. I got an advance of £8000 for my idea from the smallest but very respected publisher, and I took the offer, which he later agreed was the move he would have advised. In real life, I would probably have acted in a similar fashion anyway. I have very clear ideas about whom I would like to publish my work in future, but I'm not going to be choosy when I'm first starting out. (I will try to avoid turning into one of those writers who annoy me by having their work scattered across multiple publishers. Makes the books look bad on the shelf!) In a twist of events, the biggest publisher walked away with no new authors signed. It was a really fun session, and a sort of primer into how the industry really works. It's scary to think that tonight's decisions were the sort I'd have to make if I want to be a published writer, except real life isn't all fun and games like tonight fundamentally was.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Episode 148: Procrastinating, As Always...

Oh, the irony. I listened to a podcast today by some guy on the importance of isolating sounds from your native language that don't appear in Spanish when learning Spanish pronunciation, so as to achieve a more authentic accent. The irony comes from his own English pronunciation, which fails to make the distinction (that doesn't exist in Spanish) between 'b' and 'v', at least not consistently. At least he acknowledges it himself at the end of the podcast. I find accents and phonology fascinating in passing, although most of it is really just a desire to correct my own accent away from the laziness of a Singaporean tongue. That makes me sound just a tad snooty. I am though, when it comes to things like speaking correctly. I am very aware that my accent changes when I speak to my British friends, although not as drastically as some people I've encountered, which in part is due to the fact that unless I'm slipping into Singlish in conversation, I tend to adopt what Kelly once remarked was a 'educated Singaporean accent', i.e. educated in a certain type of Singaporean school, so it takes very little effort to get myself understood anyway.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Episode 147: Sleepy...

Managed to finish the essay around 7 am, so I went over to the Learning Grid to get it printed, together with the fiction portfolio. Then came back to my room and crashed for about three hours. Woke up just in time before the cleaner came around to collect my rubbish! We went to view four houses in Chapelfields this afternoon, all of which had rooms around the same size. The first one was a complete wreck though, even with only one tenant. I liked the last house we saw, although it was also completely unfinished. The landlord seems okay, if somewhat verbose, and more importantly, the letting agent doesn't feel suspicious. Still, we shall see how things work out. I'm too tired to think about it right now, so I'm just going to sleep soon. I probably should read The Buddha Of Suburbia, but I doubt I could concentrate beyond five pages anyway. Need to start doing the commentary on the Spenser sonnet soon, especially if I plan on keeping the usual Thursday night Varsity appointment. Damn it. Still need to do the final Weird Fiction assignment for the workshop. Sigh...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Episode 146: Another All-Nighter

Submissions meeting in the morning. I thought we did really well, but we didn't get the green light in the end, so that's rather a shame. Was kind of looking forward to it really. So I came back and started researching my Stoppard essay. Didn't really have a thesis in mind this time, since I'd totally put off thinking about it until today. Had to hunt through articles and essays for a while before a coherent plan formed itself for the essay, which I am currently writing while listening to the entire Café Del Mar discography on my laptop. My aim is to finish before I reach the end of the music, which seeing as there are 601 tracks, is entirely possible. I will almost certainly be pulling another all-nighter again, which is just insane. One can only hope the quality of the essay this time suffers only as much as the previous one did! My friends think I'm crazy for forgoing my sleep, but well, I kind of can't help it. The whole perfectionist thing and all. I'm expecting a 2:1 for this essay, although I'm quite hopeful my fiction portfolio will be a First. So the marathon essay-writing session continues...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Episode 145: Kitchen Woes

Have finished my portfolio, inclusive of commentary. Am now going to continue reading Travesties after I finished watching the latest episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I also just finished eating a really late lunch. While making it, I discovered to my consternation that people have been using my large pan and they've scratched it really badly. Seriously, what the hell? They've also been stealing my cooking oil and salt. Later, when I go back into the kitchen to microwave some potatoes, I'm going tie everything up in a plastic bag, and if they still open it and take the stuff out to use, I'm bringing it all back into my room. I mean, I don't mind if people borrow stuff occasionally, but at least leave it in the condition that you found it. Is that too much to ask? Am not that upset because I don't really cook that often, but I did pay good money for my kitchen implements, and I don't appreciate having them damaged by people who just can't be bothered. Maybe it's just a different culture here? In which case, it's not a very nice one. I doubt Singaporeans, even strangers, would have behaved in this fashion.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Episode 144: Vote For Us!

Please vote for this video that my friends and I made! You can find it here. Just comment on it with 'YOU HAVE MY VOTE'. Thanks! So I've managed to finish one of my flash fictions, the one that's been stuck in my head for the past few days. I expanded it from a winter setting to all four seasons, in order to sustain the narrative interest (for myself). I think the ending is particularly nice, so I've posted it up on my LJ here. Eugene thinks I should switch from poetry to prose, since he thinks this piece alone is better than all the poetry I've ever posted here. I find it very hard to agree with him, especially having written something like this and getting it published. I freely admit that nothing written before or after it reads quite as effortlessly to my ear (I wrote most of it during a Mathematics lecture in JC), and while there are moments when I've come close to replicating that level of ease, like here, I have this gnawing self-doubt that I will never be a poet who has anything really important to say. Until recently, I've always felt like all my writing was overshadowed, at least in my mind, by that one poem. The experience of writing 'Three's (Not) A Crowd' has taught me that I am pathetically incapable of judging my own creative writing if it has to be longer than say, 200 words. Now I'm just procrastinating by updating my blog and talking to Alex on Facebook chat, although the latter has helped in giving me some ideas throughout this whole arduous process of writing two flash fictions. Once again, I find myself wishing for Monday to arrive, except this time the feeling's hitting about a day earlier than usual. Ah well...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Episode 143: Why Work When You Can Drink Instead?

The title about sums up my attitude, it being Thursday and all. Cheap drinks at Varsity are obviously more important than a flash fiction portfolio, Travesties essay and Renaissance poetry commentary. French wasn't a total waste of time, but increasingly, I don't think it's even remotely challenging, especially not if we're allowed access to a dictionary during examinations. My two weaknesses in French are a lack of oral facility and a grasp of French vocabulary to match my English one. The latter is remedied by a solid dictionary, which allows me to express in French what I'm thinking in English, complete with fairly impressive linguistic constructions. Actually speaking is something that I still have to work on. My accent is no longer as good as it once was, although pronunciation-wise, I am still fairly decent. Anyway, I have managed to bang out about 250 words so far, and I've got some idea of where the remainder is going to come from, at least for this flash fiction. The other one exists only as an idea. An intriguing idea, but still only an idea nonetheless. My head is still pounding slightly, so I've been watching the latest episode of Skins before going to bed. Can I just say that I'm damn impressed that the writers managed to have Effy and Pandora quoting the opening of Larkin's 'This Be The Verse', and without it sounding forced? I mean, I only picked up on it because I've read Larkin's Collected Poems. Otherwise, the reference would have completely slipped past me. Loved the choice of music in this episode! Trashy pop music. I liked seeing Effy fall apart at the end. She and Freddie totally need to get together. Seriously.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Episode 142: The Dot Is Hot!

Got back from London and did a bit of shopping at Tesco. The driver had quite the sense of humour. I tried to read a bit, but I was sleepy, so I napped for quite a while instead, which is bad news for my Travesties essay. Trekked down to Benefactors in the middle of the afternoon to meet Michelle and Marc about the video we're making for the Contact Singapore competition. We had a brainwave or two, so Michelle and I went to get the footage we needed. It was quite hilarious in a way, as we had to walk from the multi-storey carpark all the way back to Benefactors without saying anything. Fortunately, we didn't bump into anyone we knew along the way, or we'd probably have had to start all over. In any case, we made it back and she started editing it, while I procrastinated on my laptop. Wanted to go for Twelfth Floor tonight, but I forgot about it until like half an hour before it was starting, so now I'm thinking of going down to catch it in London. Crazy, I know. Am still trying to get started on the portfolio for EN124. Have ideas, but nothing concrete beyond a few hundred words that don't look like they're going to shape up into anything decent, at least not without some radical change of direction. Sigh...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Episode 141: Avenue Q

I was just one bus short of missing my 11.21 am train to London. Should probably pay more attention to the bus schedules in future. Anyway, I finally managed to finish reading Frederick Crews's Postmodern Pooh on the way down. Brilliant satire, which anyone who's ever been frustrated by literary theory and criticism should read. Decided to buy myself an Oyster card, as well as link it my 16-25 Railcard. That didn't go so well initially, as the linking process was screwed up somehow, which meant that the bloody barrier just refused to open for me! Got that fixed, and headed down to Charing Cross from Euston, and then grabbed lunch at the nearby Subway. Texted Eugene, and he told me to stay around the area and walk to his lecture with him, which I ended up crashing. Sat through an hour that was less enlightening than you would suppose, and which also reminded me of just how 'overeducated' Singaporean students are compared to their overseas counterparts. Spotted Wilson in the centre of the room, but didn't have time to say hello because we were going over to the LSE Garrick to meet Claudia, Peter and Tsz San for a late tea. Judith popped by randomly, and so we all sat there for about two hours, engaging in conversation that at times veered into rather bizarre territory!

As we still had loads of time to kill, Eugene and I had a nice three-course dinner. Well, mine was nice. He didn't like his fish. I totally loved my lemon sorbet, even if I do agree that it smells too much like dishwashing liquid. So finally, the main event of the day: Avenue Q was wicked! I loved it. The two of us had only the vaguest ideas of what it would be like, and I like how they've taken something like Sesame Street and sexed it up. The first song would have been really distressing ('What Do You Do With A BA In English/It Sucks To Be Me') if I weren't already bonded. Couple that with the link Eugene Chan posted on my Facebook wall, and it's enough to make you want to switch majors. The actual plot isn't anything to rave about, but it will certainly strike a chord with its target demographic. It really is the kind of production that one must possess a sense of humour in order to view though, otherwise one is just liable to end up being sanctimonious about the whole thing. Am crashing for the night at Shou Jie's place again, which he so kindly offered. No more getting mugged while snoozing on a bench. Yay!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Episode 140: Milk

Went to see Milk at the Arts Centre with Daniel because I saw his Facebook status and decided on a whim to get out of my room rather than do work. Went to the Library to return the John Berryman poetry that I hadn't read (for the second time), and picked up a couple of books on Stoppard in exchange. Shall have to do some serious work on my essay over Friday to Sunday, which means I really need to finish my fiction by Thursday. No luck with ideas so far. Anyway, Milk was excellent. I'd had no idea who Harvey Milk was until I heard about the film, but between seeing it and looking him up on Wikipedia, I'm seriously impressed. The determination it took to do what he did, despite failing multiple times, is incredible. What I found patently ridiculous, on the other hand, was the 'Twinkie defense' coined to get Dan White off the hook. Sure, junk food is bad for you, but claiming it makes you murder people? That's more like something from an episode of Fringe than real life. My only quibble is that there didn't seem to be sufficient motivation for the double murder. Anger perhaps, but killing? I'm not sure. Perhaps I'm just missing something?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Episode 139: Pizazz 2009

So I woke up late and didn't make it to church this morning. No surprises there, considering that I got back to my room past 3 am. So after a shower, I spent the afternoon searching for promo remixes of The Saturdays' singles, 'If This Is Love', 'Up' and 'Issues'. They're one of the few groups whose remixes don't sound like the original songs have been put through a blender, emerging completely unrecognisable. If anything, the remixing actually enhances the songs, making them even more dancefloor-friendly than they already are. Headed over to AV1 because Yong Long said some of them might be going to Pizazz too. Only realised it was snowing when I was about to walk out the door, so everything was white and pretty while I was walking over, but it was horribly cold! Bumped into Sophie on the way to the bus stop, seeing her friends off. The bus to Leamington Spa took ages to arrive, but we still made it to the Royal Spa Centre just a few minutes after the performance had started. Pizazz itself was interesting, if somewhat confusingly eclectic because of the way they just moved from item to item without any sort of explanation. An emcee would have been helpful, I think. We trudged through the slush after that, looking for a place that did takeaways. We found Leamington Fish Bar, but I can't figure out why with a name like that it features things other than fish and chips so heavily on its menu. Not really complaining though, since the guy gave us extra chicken pieces! Chips and mozzarella wasn't that good an idea on my part though...

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Episode 138: Malaysia Night 2009

I thought the production went well, although being backstage, you can't really see all that much without shoving your head through the curtains. That said, I've already seen it a couple of times during rehearsals anyway. I'm glad most of the props transitions went smoothly! Have decided being a stagehand isn't really my kind of thing though, but at least not I've tried almost every role in a stage production, except for producer and technician, the former because I have no idea what it entails, the latter because I have no talent for it. Clearing the place after the end of the production was more chaotic, so I disappeared with the Singaporean bits of cast and crew after moving some of the props, without seeing how it was all finally sorted out. We were originally going to Lava & Ignite, and we actually walked all the way there from the Belgrade Theatre, but we changed our minds in the end and caught a bus back to Jerrick's place in Lakeside. Not before ordering ourselves some Go Go Fried Chicken though! That stuff is addictive, even if the fries do kind of suck. Some of the Malaysians drove over too, and we all wound up sitting around the table in Jerrick's kitchen, eating, talking and occasionally, bitching. Altogether quite a nice way to round things off, even if it did mean walking home in the freezing cold sometime past 3 am!

Friday, February 06, 2009

Episode 137: New iTunes Candy!

Just got back from another Malaysia Night rehearsal. Am now eating a late dinner and watching The Tudors. Seminar this morning was cancelled, as I predicted to Alex last night, so I spent the morning looking for Sugababes songs, since I realised that 'About You Now', which we were singing and miming actions to last night at Varsity, is one of their songs. Never knew that! That and I've always sort of liked their music, right from when they first started out. They were just one of the groups that I never felt the need to follow with any measure of devotion. In the process of searching for their songs, I also came across an excellent pop album by The Saturdays. Chasing Lights is sheer brilliance from start to finish, the sort that melds the formulaic sounds of the previous decade with the electronic sensibilities of today, to create a perfect pop confection. Definitely going to be on my playlist for a significant period of time to come! If either of my sisters are reading this, they should totally have a listen to The Saturdays. Perhaps we'll finally have another pop group we can all agree that we like?

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Episode 136: More Cancellations

The title about sums up what the entire academic week is shaping up to be. It's somewhat amazing that in a developed country, the infrastructure is so susceptible to the weather. Even if the UK isn't used to experiencing this much snowfall, you'd think they'd have planned for this sort of thing. Like I was discussing with Eugene via SMS, there really are some aspects in which Singapore is vastly superior, which we take completely for granted and only realise once we're overseas. Will spring never arrive? Have booked my tickets to London and back, by train and coach respectively, to see Avenue Q with Eugene on Tuesday. Am hoping the weather clears up by then, otherwise it's going to be a miserable journey back on Wednesday morning, provided I even make it back. Still need to find somewhere to sleep overnight. The station, perhaps? I could find a place to sit down with a drink and get some serious reading done. As for our weekly Varsity outing, you didn't think snowfall would keep us from it, did you? Most of the usual crowd was back, once again with new additions. Have discovered that I quite like VK Tropical, although it's a bad idea to follow that with Jack Daniels and Coke, as the latter winds up tasting a bit too bitter. Nonetheless, fun times to be had. Who'll be around during Reading Week to carry on our tradition, I wonder?

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Episode 135: Dry Run

A notice on the university's website warns us to expect severe weather tomorrow, i.e. heavy snow. Hopefully, that doesn't screw up our weekly Varsity outing. I've just finished writing my French essay, and I can't believe I actually managed to get it done before 11 pm! Had to skip China's lecture and workshop for the Malaysia Night dry run, which was a little annoying. I'd hoped to make it for the workshop at least, but people were late and everything got delayed, so I was basically there to move a few tables and chairs, as not all the props were on hand today. Not that I mind all that much, but I really would have liked to have been around to witness my writing being dissected. Maureen Freely said nice things about the fiction piece I read out this morning, which was reassuring, as I didn't really know if it worked or not. At least now I've got a pretty good idea of what's an appropriate standard of writing to be aiming for. Might very well finish my EN124 assessed work before the EN123 essay on Stoppard's Travesties, which I seriously need to read sometime during Reading Week, now that I've decided to do the essay on it. Have already picked up a couple of books, and the essays in them sound potentially useful, so it's time to do what I apparently do best, i.e. stitch together a patchwork of critical opinion to support a carefully nuanced thesis in less than 24 hours.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Episode 134: Volver

Not as much snow today, so hopefully the weather's taking a turn for the better. Can't quite picture us shivering outside Varsity on Thursday night, can you? Bought a couple of Keith's pictures from Tiffanie, so even if I never get a copy of Yong Long's video, I still have something to remember The Culture Project by beyond my script. Saw yet another Pedro Almodóvar film this evening, Volver (Return), courtesy of KPMG. It was also my first time attending anything screened by Warwick Student Cinema, even though I've been a member all this time. There were free pizza and drinks after the screening too! I really liked Penélope Cruz in this film. She has that beautifully frayed look throughout it, hinting at the cracks even as she struggles to keep it all together. Went to see it with Annie, Dan, Kathy, Lucy and Sophie. We might have ourselves yet another tradition in the making. Films. Haha! We stood in the freezing cold for quite a while, just talking. It ended with hugs all around, altogether a rather nice way to end a night out with friends. Now though, I'm stuck in my room, trying to finish my work for tomorrow's seminar. I know vaguely what I want to write, and at this point, I'm pretty much willing to settle for second-rate, even third-rate, writing, just to have something to read out tomorrow.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Episode 133: More Drama

More housing drama, which means we've had to change our plans yet again. Sigh. I'm getting tired of this, and I'm pretty close to that point that I didn't want to reach, where I'm ready to just sign on the dotted line for anything, so long as it means I've got somewhere to stay after the summer. Once again, alternative plans have been mapped out, hopefully for the very last time. Even I need my peace of mind at some point! Will attempt to get all of this sorted before Reading Week. Otherwise, I won't be able to do any of my work in peace. I'm now typing out my piece on a numinous object for China's workshop on Wednesday. I've chosen snowflakes! Was going to go with flames and how you can change the colours, as that was one of my favourite chemistry experiments back in RI, but since it started snowing really heavily today, I decided to do snowflakes instead. It was snowing the entire time that I was pasting stickers in the Arts Centre. Was there for a couple of hours, the only STAR who turned up. Chantal came by for a while to help, and I stayed on until all the stickers were used up. Then I got a bit lost trying to get back out, so I had to go back up to the office and ask for help. Goodness. It's like an entire warren behind that door! Keeping a place like the Warwick Arts Centre running must take an enormous amount of work. I would attempt to get an internship there over the summer, if I weren't already heading back to Singapore to do one in some random school.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Episode 132: Singapore Society CNY Dinner

Went to Iceland and Tesco after service to get some microwaveable meals and chips. It started to snow today, heavily enough to be disconcerting. Snowfall is predicted for at least the next couple of days! Decided to cook a batch of pasta large enough to feed me for a few meals. Have kept it in the fridge, so I'll probably eat it on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, together with one of the ready-made meals. Spent the rest of the time before the CNY dinner at Wing Wah just bumming. I know I should be writing my piece for Weird Fiction. Or for Maureen's seminar on Wednesday. Or even that short French essay, which I'm almost certain to end up staying awake till way past midnight just to complete. (I could just pretend I haven't printed it out, I guess.) Shirley got me to try Geo Challenge on Facebook. Admittedly, the application is addictive at first, but I can see the novelty of it wearing off, just like with My Heroes Ability (and every other application I've ever added). Didn't eat that much at Wing Wah this time, even though the buffet's full of ridiculously unhealthy stuff that I like. There was even steamboat, but that wasn't very nice, to be honest. A huge platter of food for a rather small pot of stock, which was replenished by plain water. Now that was a little strange, no? The dinner entertainment was good though, striking just the right note of hilarity. Marc has brilliant comic timing, although the amount of bad karma he must have accumulated after what he did to Wayne. Haha! Chloe, Peng Kun and I played mahjong with Samantha after dinner, but she's so slow! I think I might have to start playing mahjong online again, but that would just be another distraction from reading and writing, which I do precious little of as it is. Walking back to the bus stop in the cold was not fun at all! Can't imagine what it's going to be like tomorrow if it really does start snowing...