Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Episode 190: NWA Day 2

Just came back from seeing The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas. Already knew the plot, so this time I was concentrating on other stuff like the soundtrack. That is pretty incredible, in case you're wondering, especially the first sequence when Bruno goes through the woods between his house and the concentration camp. It was just arpeggiated piano chords and strings, but it was wonderfully emotive stuff. New Word Alive has been great so far, although the single beds in the caravan are insanely narrow, while the quilts are still normal-sized, so I keep waking up to find that the quilt's slipped off. I didn't actually attend anything today other than the morning reading, evening celebration and one seminar I hadn't intended to go to but sort of drifted into with my friends. I was going to go to one on medical ethics, but didn't because I ended up at the beach with most of the other guys from my caravan. The weather in the afternoon was brilliant, completely nothing like back on campus, which is somewhat of an irony. Wish I'd brought my camera to the beach though, love taking shots of the water. I think I kind of miss being at the beach now. Anyone want to accompany me to East Coast Park when I get back to Singapore in a couple of months?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Episode 189: NWA Day 1

We're having a really late dinner now because we only started cooking after getting back from the evening celebration. I'm not involved in the cooking, unsurprisingly, hence am typing out this entry in my handphone. Managed to squeeze in a little bit of work for my CM1 portfolio before I left for Wales. Basically, me and any sort of work have this bizarre relationship whereby it only gets done when the pressure of time exceeds the pressure of perfectionism. So that point was temporarily reached in the hours leading up to my departure. So I dashed off a few hundred words for Assignment 3c. Would have done more, but I'm still not quite sure what constitutes a sufficiently reflective piece of writing, so I'm holding off on finishing anything else in the portfolio until I've managed to clear more urgent essays. Will need to be insanely productive for two straight weeks when I get back. I did briefly toy with the idea of taking along books for The Warwick Review essay, but decided to just pack Sir Gawain And The Green Knight instead. Managed to get through two Fitts (the Tolkien translation, not the original) on the way to Wales. The journey itself was very numbing for my bum, but the scenery was lovely. The weather, apparently, was also rather decent, this being Wales and all. We only encountered a slight drizzle along the way, and it's been clear skies ever since. Stuart Townend led worship this evening, and although I've mentioned to Shirley before that I didn't like his CD that she lent me, hearing him live is actually quite good. [I'm being a bit biased because the first song he led tonight was Brenton Brown's 'Hosanna (Praise Is Rising)'.] Haven't quite thought about what seminars I want to attend over the next couple of days. Guess I might just end up drifting along with people, at least for tomorrow.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Episode 188: Checking Out

Watching yet another episode of Doctor Who. Last night, I finally figured out who this Marc Warren is whom Lucy kept mentioning during our Kami Lounge sessions. I must say, not bad, not bad at all. Her mum totally should have stayed with him. Seeing Cybermen duke it out with Daleks is clearly more interesting than writing my radio play though. I've managed to rewrite Scene 1 of it though, bringing it up to around 400+ words, which is what I had in mind to begin with, since from setup to breakdown, I'm planning for five scenes at most. It even has a proper title now! Unfortunately, due to my procrastinating ways, I definitely won't be able to get it done before heading to Wales, although perhaps I could continue it on my handphone, the way I normally compose my poems. Alternatively, I could bulk it up into a single long scene, and round out the portfolio's word count with some performance poetry. I suppose it really depends on whether the rest of the scenes can capture the same level of emotional intensity? We shall see. I seem to procrastinate a lot when it comes to writing, for someone on a creative writing degree, I mean.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Episode 187: Follow Me On Twitter!

Slow progress on the radio play. May have to do a radical rethink of where it's going in order to get any progress. Still hope to have it done before I leave for Wales though. Or at least make significant headway. Compromise is a slippery slope, as you can see. Twitter is a little more addictive now that Vodafone supports mobile updates to UK users, although its equivalent of spam is quite annoying. May need to unsubscribe to updates for particular users soon. I wish more of my friends used Twitter, so that I could receive updates from people I actually know rather than know of. It is kind of unreal to be receiving Twitter updates from the likes of Gareth Emery and Leighton Meester. I've started packing my bag for Wales, mostly just clothes because stuff like toiletries can't go in until Monday. Have mixed feelings about going for New Word Alive. I'm sure it's going to be great, but once it's over, my nose is going to be put to the grind for a solid fortnight. Would have a lot more peace of mind if I could just get this radio play done, but so far, all I've turned out are 200+ words, of which only the first couple of lines are any good. Ah well. Sleep first.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Episode 186: Questionable Musical Tastes?

It should disturb me how I will listen to songs with inane lyrics as long as the beat is appealing. It doesn't though. Latest example: Thor Gudjonsson's 'The Wiggle Wiggle Song'. The lyrics are completely pointless, the singing isn't all that great, but the beat is trashily perfect and that's all that matters to me. Måns Zelmerlöw released his second album two days ago, and initially, I didn't think much of it, apart from the opening track, 'Hope & Glory'. Having had a chance to give the album a couple of spins though, including while I was travelling to and from London yesterday, I think it's a step forward, musically, edging the sound closer to say, M. Pokora's MP3. Unfortunately though, it also means the music is completely disposable and is unlikely to achieve any sort of widespread international success, given how the market is already saturated by the likes of Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, The Pussycat Dolls, etc. What is it with these Europeans and their cheesy music though? Gudjonsson's Icelandic, Zelmerlöw's Swedish. Oh well. Went up to Coventry with Bella to grab lunch and buy a backpack for Wales next week. Bought something for £29.99 on Shen Ting's recommendation. Shall watch a couple of episodes of The Bedford Diaries and then continue with my radio play...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Episode 185: There And Back Again

Am zooming along highways in the dark, listening to Chris Tomlin and rediscovering why he's my favourite Christian artiste. Good times. A lot of his appeal, I suspect, has to do with Ed Cash's production, which creates a very unified sound across his three most recent studio albums, effectively creating a musical triptych that is tailored for Christian radio success. Not criticising the music though, just pointing out there's a very good reason why it's so popular. Anyway, was in London with a couple of the other creative writers at the Poetry Cafe. We didn't actually write anything, right until just before we were going to leave, and then we did that exercise where you count backwards from 100 and just write whatever comes to mind. I might actually be able to edit bits of what I came up with into something for the final 4000-word portfolio. Or it could just end up as one of those fragments I publish on my other blog and then leave to gather dust. We wandered over to the Tate Modern after that. Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster's TH.2058, currently on exhibit in the Turbine Hall, was interesting, and at least made more sense than most modern art that I've seen. You could actually become part of the artwork, as David pointed out that the flyer shows people walking around the exhibit, as well as lying on the bunk beds and reading the books. We should totally have done that, I think. We ended the day at The Hole In The Wall in Waterloo, with trains rumbling over the ceiling. Like I was telling Jemma on Facebook, the next time we're in London, we should totally follow Nick's original suggestion of getting on the Tube and getting off at a random station! Could prove to be pretty interesting...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Episode 184: Playwright Blues

Progress on the work front has been slow, although it is still pretty early in the night, and I may get my writing act together yet. Have been surfing around looking for new music, but so far, only Frankmusik sounds interesting. The charity single from The Saturdays is pretty nice though, especially The Wideboys' remix. I'm suddenly very sleepy, which may or may not be a consequence of squinting at my laptop with my glasses off. My attention span is completely shot to hell, so I'm hoping that hopping down to London tomorrow to be around fellow creative writers will help to jumpstart my mental processes again. I really, really want to start on the radio play tonight, otherwise I know I'll just put it off until I get back from Wales, which is not ideal at all! I have a few basic ideas in my head at the moment, including a killer ending for the first scene, but I'm sort of hung up about getting the opening right, and I can't decide on an opening. Argh. I hate this part, the whole trying to get stuff right from the beginning. The problem is that I can't abide the concept of drafting, at least not in any substantial form. It's stupid, and I should really reconcile myself to the idea, but the fact is that most of my writing is done in fits and bursts without much editing, so whatever's in my head just gets batted around until it feels right, and then it gets typed out and pretty much stays that way. It explains why I require a long time to get started on any written work, but once I'm on a roll, it usually doesn't take too long for the final product to emerge. I need someone to lock me up in a room with no Internet connection, just pen and paper. Drastic measures may be called for after I get back from Wales. Any volunteers to lock me up and throw away the key? Metaphorically or literally as you please...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Episode 183: I Need The Pressure Of A Deadline

The title says it all. It was so cold in the afternoon, I ended up crawling back into bed with Women Editing Modernism, and then I fell asleep before I got to the end of the first chapter. Not because it was boring, but with the actual deadline for this still a month away, it was very hard to be self-motivated about reading. I swear that I produce my best work these days under the pressure of a ticking clock, and while I could get away with it previously, there are too many things due within days of each other for me to try this. Technically, only the portfolio for Peter Blegvad and the essay for Michael Hulse are due after this break on Monday. The essay for Sarah Poynting and the portfolio for Mary Sage are due later the same week, on Friday. The essay for Adam is for the following Monday, while the essay for Jim is a distant thing, as well as the final essay and portfolio for EN124. Add miscellaneous short French essays, and that's all the work I've got to cover. Oh, and actually study for the EN121 examination at some point. Sigh. This would be less taxing if I had mastered the art of doing a little work each day, instead of a sleepless night every so often.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Episode 182: I Should Be Reading/Writing (But I'm Not)

I'm watching a Doctor Who special before getting down to work for tonight. It's mostly going to be reading for the essay I've got to do for The Warwick Review. I'm not quite certain what I'm going to be writing about yet, but it'll be something to do with the relation between women editors of literary magazines and modernism, as I managed to find a copy of Jayne Marek's Women Editing Modernism in the Library. Will need to read good-sized chunks of that before I can start writing anything, but I am fairly certain this will be the piece of work I'm going to finish off by the end of this week. Ideally, of course, I would like to at least get started on the EN122 essay before leaving for New Word Alive, perhaps even finish it? It all depends on how disciplined I am, which for the past week, has been practically not at all. Although I did manage to finish the review this morning at 2 am, and was quite pleased with myself for that! Randomly, in the middle of the afternoon, I tidied up my table a little, which escalated into a complete reorganisation of my drawers and tabletop. I messed up the latter a bit to begin with, so that I could do a before and after snapshot for my CM1 portfolio. Goodness. It's really Project Work all over again, this wholesale pretence. Still, I am very pleased with how neat my table looks, for now anyway.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Episode 181: Short People

Got together with Hui Lin, Sarah and Shen Ting to practise the song. Ended up harmonising random songs in the practice room. Worked rather well, especially given the acoustics of an enclosed space. We went back to Hui Lin's place in Tocil to make dinner, which again proves my theory that I eat far better when I'm eating at other people's places. Joanna came over too, and as is usual for Singaporeans, we talked all through dinner and for an hour or so after it. The back door to my hall of residence has had its lock changed, and I have no idea why. I've been spending a fair bit of time since I got back to my room writing my brief review of The Reality Street Book Of Sonnets. I've decided that I like individual poets within the anthology, but as a whole, it doesn't work for me because I'm unconvinced that it's more than 'just another modern sonnet anthology' that 'delves more thoroughly than ever before into the myriad ways poets have stretched, deconstructed and re-composed the venerable form' of the sonnet. So I've cheekily hidden three bastardised sonnets within my review, one each of Petrarchan, Shakespearean and curtal. The last is a form invented by Gerard Manley Hopkins, who only wrote three documented examples of it, one being 'Pied Beauty', which Mr Purvis once showed my class in JC. A curtal sonnet, according to Hopkins, is three-quarters of a Petrarchan sonnet. I'm hoping that my review still reads sensibly as prose, so I'll probably show it to a few people first before sending it off to Michael Hulse.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Episode 180: This Post Is Obviously A Sonnet

Woke up just past noon. Pottered around for a bit on my laptop before I finally made a late lunch, where I used up that can of curry and that packet of gnocchi that've been lying around for ages. Finished reading Small Favor last night, and it was awesome! Between the two wizards named Harry, Dresden could totally take Potter down in a fight. Can't wait for the next book in the series to come out now! Have now moved on to reading The Reality Street Book Of Sonnets, edited by Jeff Hilson, which is the book I'm meant to be reviewing. Having read the introductory essay, I have just one, albeit important, bone to pick, and it will be blindingly obvious to any moderately discerning reader. If this volume is intended to serve as an overview of 'linguistically innovative sonnets', why has no attempt been made, somewhere in all of Hilson's ranting about the deficiencies of other sonnet anthologies, to define what exactly qualifies everything in this anthology to be a sonnet? Some of it is recognisable as such, but at times, Hilson's inclusions call for a suspension of disbelief that I'm reluctant to concede. I really want to like this book, and I'm sure that once I've read it through I will be more forgiving in my actual review, but for now I can't help but feel that by marketing itself as a compendium of 'the myriad ways poets have stretched, deconstructed and re-composed the venerable form', somehow it's trying to have its cake and eat it too. Case in point: What the hell is a 'free-verse sonnet'? To label something as such, surely one must have some sort of standard against which to judge if the poem qualifies as a sonnet. I'm not saying we have to be completely reactionary and define the sonnet as only 14 lines of rhyming iambic pentameter, only that there must be some criteria. Otherwise, what's to stop me singling this post out as one of the 'prose sonnets' that Hilson so clearly approves of in his introduction?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Episode 179: Harry Dresden Is Ridiculously Cool

My feet are still aching from all the walking I've been doing over the past couple of days. Hence I've been in my room all day, except for the occasional trip to the kitchen and the laundrette. I've washed and dried my G-Star RAW stuff, so they've shrunk a little and fit just right now. My summer wardrobe is looking sharp indeed. Am watching my last episode of Doctor Who for the day. A self-imposed limit, as I want to finish reading Small Favor before getting started on The Reality Street Book Of Sonnets, which I'm meant to be reviewing for The Warwick Review. Have decided to start working on that despite it being the least urgent piece of work I've got, simply because I want to get cracking on something small first. If anything, the sense of achievement from finishing my short review should be enough to spur me on to finish another essay by the end of next week. For now though, Harry Dresden and his motley crew will be keeping me company tonight. I swear the series is practically tailor-made for television adaptation and that the people at the Sci Fi Channel were idiots for not continuing beyond one season. Paul Blackthorne looks a bit older than I'd imagined Harry to be, but he still made a fantastic Harry. Oh well...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Episode 178: NatWest, You Suck!

The day started so well, with a lovely breakfast at Chernise's place and a walk around the lake behind Rootes after that. Then I borrowed Keegan's university card, so I have all the books that I need for my essays, at least for now. Haven't got anything for the WSC module yet! My good mood was ruined by NatWest though. I am still futilely trying to understand why my total and available balances don't match up. I've tried to get them to clear it up twice already, but both times, I've received explanations that make sense superficially, but once I look at my transaction history again, they don't hold water anymore. I suspect that I've just used my debit card for something, forgotten about it, and the transaction's just taking a really long time to get through the system. I'm annoyed though! My G-Star RAW stuff has arrived, as well as the last book I need to complete my The History Of Middle-earth series. Have yet to start reading Small Favor, but I will do that once I've caught up with the latest episode of Gossip Girl. I am going to try and have a productive Thursday evening/night for once though, since I won't be hitting Varsity. Perhaps I'll get started on the stuff I need to do for The Warwick Review. Sounds like a plan?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Episode 177: Feasting

Went down this morning to put a hold on our house. Hopefully, everything else on that front continues to go smoothly. Went to Topman to exchange one of my rings, and then we all headed to McDonald's for food. At least that was the original plan. Instead, we got sidetracked and ended up at KFC across the road! I've missed KFC, although here they only do the original version, not crispy, which is what I really love. Got back to Cannon Park just after Dan Leong and his friend arrived. My Amazon purchases did reach him in time after all, which made me very, very happy. Time to settle down with another instalment of The Dresden Files tomorrow! Slightly annoyed that Roc has decided to publish the paperback edition in a different size though, even if it probably means that Jim Butcher is officially one of their more important authors. Chernise and I brought them to Kenilworth, where we did the obligatory visit to Time For Tea. Wandered around for a bit after that, as it was a really nice day, sun shining down and all. We even did a stroll around and inside Kenilworth Castle, although my handphone died about halfway through and so I only have limited pictures. I expect it's going to look really picturesque once the restoration work is complete. Not that it isn't stunning already, of course. I guess castles are pretty cool after all...

We got back to campus in time to catch the screening of Revolutionary Road at the Arts Centre, which was really good. I think Kate Winslet was great, although I'm a little less certain about Leonardo DiCaprio's performance. As a whole though, I thought it was a very convincing portrayal of the cracks that lie beneath suburban bliss and that threaten to undo us. Certainly some ideas to think about in relation to the creative writing I have to do over Easter break. At some points, I found myself thinking that if only I could write some dialogue like that for Peter Blegvad's unit, I would probably get a First. We went over to Tesco afterwards to shop for our late dinner. I bought lots of fruits for myself, which I'm going to savour over the next week or so. Making dinner actually took longer than we realised, so it was pretty late by the time we actually sat down for a sumptuous dinner. I helped to put together the salad and mash the potatoes. Haha! It's quite sad that the only times I eat well are when other people have me over for a meal. I guess I should stick to my plan for summer vacation?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Episode 176: Money Woes

I suspect I might have incurred an overdraft fee by accident. Either that or there's some mysterious payment that has yet to be deducted from my account. Will have to clarify it at the bank sometime tomorrow between settling housing in Coventry and meeting Dan Leong back at Cannon Park. I have done some calculations, and I figure I probably have just enough money to see me through the next 15 weeks until I fly back to Singapore. I freely admit I got a bit carried away the past couple of days with the whole spending thing. Oh well. As my current Facebook status says, I'm going to look great while living on a shoestring budget. From now until Summer Term begins, no more frivolous expenses like junk food I shouldn't be eating, books I won't be reading in the immediate future and clothes I won't be needing any time soon. Kind of doesn't apply to Threadless tees though, I guess, since I'm using my credit card to buy those and paying back my dad out of my POSB account. Went back to Birmingham today with Bella and Sarah, where I bought a Ted Baker vest, which has a green inner lining that I think looks pretty cool, but which people like Eugene will probably consider a sartorial travesty. I didn't find the Zara leather jacket, which is just as well in hindsight, since I'm skating dangerously close to busting my budget. Seriously, no more unnecessary expenditure. Whoever reads this, please remind me about this constantly, in person and/or on Facebook. Thanks!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Episode 175: Library Woes

Can I just say that I love the RapidShare download manager? Anyway, I went to the Library to photocopy some pages from this book that I had to return and then to pick up another one. I'm going to have to repeat this whole cycle over the next few days, until I've collected all my books that are being held for me. I suspect I can pretty much return most of the stuff on Freud and psychoanalysis, as I've got too much material as it is, and it's usually only tangentially related at best. Was going to start writing my essay for The Warwick Review pathway, but I couldn't get the moving shelves to work, so I couldn't get the second book that I need, even though Keegan had kindly agreed to let me use his card (that he has no need for anyway because MORSE students don't write essays). So I'm not sure what I'm going to start writing tonight, probably will end up just reading. Have got to wake up to attend a workshop tomorrow on The Tempest anyway. All I wanted initially was more information on it, but the person I e-mailed seems to have assumed I'm turning up, so I guess I shall. Then it's off to Birmingham again, to see if my leather jacket is still hanging on the rack, waiting for me to come and pick it up. I hope it is. Threadless is having a sale again, and I've picked out 19 t-shirts so far, which I definitely need to whittle down. Will have to ask Shirley for comments when I see her online again...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Episode 174: Gobstopper-ed

As I begin typing this, I am sucking on one of the huge gobstoppers I bought yesterday at Selfridges. It's at least 3 cm across, but because I have a big mouth, I can still shove the sweet to the side to talk to people, if there were people in my room to talk to. I'm quite sure the Science Centre back home used to sell these, but I could be wrong about that. Randomly, a big mouth is also useful for things like wisdom teeth, which I have never had to extract despite the army dentist's blithe suggestion that I have all four of them extracted when they weren't causing me any problems at all. I purchased a three-day premium RapidShare membership last night, and 100 GB of additional download traffic. The servers were down for about an hour earlier, which kind of annoyed me, but everything's back to normal now. On the musical side of things, I have been listening to Måns Zelmerlöw's debut album a fair bit, and I really like 'Cara Mia' and 'Brother Oh Brother', which are now officially on my list of great pop songs. The videos're quite dumb, but the songs themselves sit very comfortably between pop and electronic territory, just the way I like my music. Now I'm going to tear myself away from the laptop to read Wai-chew Sim's Globalization And Dislocation In The Novels Of Kazuo Ishiguro, which I hope to return to the Library by Wednesday at the latest. Have also found another book that may be useful for The Warwick Review essay, so I've got to get that too. Monday beckons, and so does all my work...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Episode 173: Students And The City

Was in Birmingham today with Bella, Chloe, Keegan and Samantha, where I resisted the temptation to buy a sexy leather jacket from Zara. It was pretty expensive, and I figured that I could find stuff like that from Zara if I ever went to Spain for a holiday, where it would logically be cheaper. The jacket was really nice though! I can't help but feel a bit sorry that I haven't bought it. Maybe I'll try looking for similar stuff online, since now I know what my size is for jackets. Or I'll look for something when I'm in Coventry or Leamington Spa, hunting for a backpack to carry my stuff for the Wales trip. We tried to give Keegan a makeover when we were in French Connection at the Bullring, and that worked out quite well, even if he didn't end up buying anything. What a difference some decent clothes can make! I didn't add to my wardrobe, which is just as well, since I've already spent so much on new jeans and trousers, and I don't need new tops at all. Still keep thinking about the leather jacket though. Sigh. I'm wondering if I should ask around to check if anyone wants to go to Birmingham in the next couple of days, and if the jacket's still there (there was only one size M left on the rack), it's meant to be. Haha! I did buy Cast Of Shadows by Kevin Guilfoile, which I think I've seen in Kinokuniya before but never made up my mind to buy. I only got it because it was going at a reduced price in Waterstone's that was even lower than what Amazon UK would have offered. Also bought a lot of gobstoppers from the basement of Selfridges, and a huge box of jelly beans in 50 flavours, which I'm going to save for until I get back to Singapore. So, anyone up for a trip to Birmingham?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Episode 172: Et Les Vacances Commencent...

I had my last chicken caesar salad for lunch today at the Kami Lounge, which is closing down from tomorrow. I'm going to miss that place! Not as much as Lucy though, that I'm sure of. Spent a couple of hours, finishing up the book of Paul Celan's poetry that I've been putting off for so long. I really enjoyed it, in case anyone's wondering. There's something very clearly broken about the language, and it comes across in all the poems, not just 'Todesfuge' ('Death Fugue'). Had to return the book because I needed to collect one of my books that was on hold, but I will definitely be borrowing that volume of poetry again. It's encountering poets like Celan and Rilke that makes me feel like I should learn German, to be able to appreciate the poetry in its original language. Now I've just finished watching the latest episode of Skins, and I think the current series is finally starting to live up to its predecessors. The four-way relationship mess between Cook, Effy, Freddie and Katie is a bit tiresome, so I'm glad that's actually going to be worked out by the end of this series. Have been giving some thought to academic stuff in regard to next year, and I think I might take up an Open Studies Certificate, specifically, studying another language at the Language Centre. At the moment, I'm thinking of Arabic.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Episode 171: What Shall We Do With A Drunken Student?

The lecture on Freud this morning kind of flew over my head. I'm sure it would have been great on paper, but listening to it and trying to make notes was a bit hard. Oh well. Jim had chocolate biscuits during his seminar! Yummy. I did a spot of revision for French before I went to sleep last night, as I had to spend the free hour between the seminar and my French test sorting out the cash refund for the Paris trip. It's the third time the paperwork's had to be done, so this time, Phill and I went about the SU to get it done in person. So I've finally got my £10 back! The test itself went well, I think. It's really a lot easier here than it was in Singapore, e.g. for the listening comprehension section, we can replay the audio track as many times as we like within a certain time limit. Did I mention we can use a dictionary too? Now I just need to get through the oral presentation next term, and the final examination will be a snap. This is me, pretty much making up my mind to do LL209 French 5 next year as one of my option modules.

Got back to my room at about 4.30 pm, but I had to leave pretty soon after to get to Keegan's surprise birthday party. Shen Ting's planning skills are a bit wanting, I'm afraid. Like, no cutlery? Haha! Peng Kun's tiramisu was lovely though, if somewhat drowned by cocoa powder that got on my clothes. Left with Samantha, and because we bumped into Vanessa walking outside Social Studies, we ended up back in Samantha's room, just chatting to while away the time until Claire Lim's games night for charity started. Wound up playing two games of The Big Taboo, which is kind of fun compared to regular Taboo, I must admit. Not the kind of thing that I could get addicted to though. Bought some of the food since it was all for charity anyway, and I wanted to clog up my veins with some fried batter. Told Sophie to give me a text when she was headed to Varsity, and she actually came all the way to the Library to find me. Bless! Didn't quite work out though, since she was at the gantries on the first floor and I was coming out from Lib 2 on the ground floor. Talk about crossed wires!

Anyway, tonight was the last Varsity gathering for the next five weeks and we had a good-sized bunch, a mix of regulars and newcomers to the group. (Eugene, you really should have been here this week instead!) It wasn't all that cold, compared to the past couple of nights, but somehow I found myself getting colder as the hours wore on. So much for drinking to stay warm, huh? I think everyone had a fun night, all things considered, although there was a point when a couple of girls sitting on the other side of the window were coming on by turns to me, Dan and Matt, which was kind of funny and creepy at the same time. I mean, they were basically blowing kisses and signing hearts at us, and they were really into Dan, which weirded him out, I think. Can't blame them though, since Dan is well fit. All in all though, still a fitting way to send out the term! Nothing like a good bet to spice things up for a change, yeah? Missing all of you for the next couple of weeks and hoping everyone doesn't get too drunk while you're on vacation...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Episode 170: The Last Of England

I just got back from the Alternative Film Society's screening of The Last Of England, which was really intense. I'm not quite sure what to make of it, to be perfectly honest. Was having a few drinks before that with some of my coursemates, as good a way to while away the afternoon as any, you might say. It's good fun though, trading stories and gossip over alcohol. It's the last week of term, and hardly anyone's in the mood for actual work anyway. If we keep this up all the way through vacation, we'll pay when Summer Term begins. I definitely need to get my act together, so I'm treating this last few days of Spring Term as my last bout of madness before I get down to some heavy academic work, which will be very possible given that the usual friends won't be around to distract me, e.g. Thursday nights will actually be used for something other than drinking. Haha! We also went to see Maureen Freely today to get our fiction portfolios back. I'm okay with my mark, although I honestly expected it to be a bit better. I can't really complain about what I got though, so it's just my nature to be dissatisfied. The day began well enough, for I won the poetry slam during our seminar. I am aware that this turn of events had more to do with the order in which I chose to read out my poems than their being actually better than everyone else's. I honestly felt some of the stuff read out today was way better, like Annabella's.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Episode 169: Domination

Just got back from the Good Food Society's social at Chico's in Leamington Spa. The food was pretty good, but the service was fairly dismal for an establishment that automatically includes a service charge in the bill. I mean, I can accept lousy service in Singapore since the staff don't have to work for the GST anyway, but over here, I expect some standards. Anyway, I played Domination again for a good part of today, which is sort of like a desktop Java version of Risk. It's pretty cool because someone designed a Middle-earth map, so that's what I've been playing on obsessively. Curiously enough, the strongest starting position is Mordor. As long as you can secure that, you're pretty much set for the rest of the game, especially since the AIs have only two tactics, as far as I can tell, even the hard AIs. One, they attack until they run out of troops, i.e. they are purely expansionist. Two, they will always try to break your hold on a continent. It's starting to get a bit boring though, so I'm thinking the next round that I play, I'm going to set five hard AIs against one human player, with random starting positions. Have not written anything new for tomorrow's slam session in Peter Blegvad's seminar, so I will just have to get by with stuff I've written previously. Am feeling lazy anyway, since it's the last few days of term! Must study a little for my French test tomorrow though, even though I think it's not going to be much of a problem for me.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Episode 168: To Buy Or Not To Buy?

I got an e-mail from YOOX informing me of an additional 15% discount on menswear, so I hopped over to the site to check it out. My bill at the moment stands at £282, which I don't mind paying, but I want to let my parents know first, as even though it's my money I'm spending, I want to get their open (dis)approval first anyway. I have until Wednesday to decide if I'm getting the stuff or not. I will almost certainly get at least one or two pairs because those are really a steal, but if I'm going to start buying G-Star RAW, I might as well get a good start with five pairs. Lest you think all I've done is contemplate online shopping, let me say something about this morning's visit to WarwickPrint. We got to see how The Warwick Review is printed, step-by-step. It's really quite interesting, especially lithographic printing, the skill and technique required to get things right. Kind of makes you sorry that the digital age is slowly killing off so many trades. I'd never really thought about the amount of work that goes into getting something like a book or literary magazine from idea to page. Doesn't mean that I think the cost of books these days is justified though, since the industry is becoming so profit-driven, it's frankly very distressing/disturbing!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Episode 167: I Got My Groceries At Last!

Title is self-explanatory. Anyway, I am so not cut out for communal living. At least not as it is practised in my hall. I went to the kitchen today to make lunch, to discover both my dishwashing liquid and sponge have been appropriated. I took the sponge back to my room and wrote the dishwashing liquid off as my gesture towards making the world a better place by sharing and caring. Yeah right. I'm annoyed. So to console myself, I've spent the day since coming back from church watching episodes of Charmed and Demons. Was on Skype for a bit with my family, which is pretty fun in its own way. I should probably be reading something, but I'm feeling lazy this weekend, so no reading. At least not for my essays. I might read that collection of Paul Celan's that's been lying on my table for ages. The ridiculous thing is that there probably isn't a lot of text per se to get through, but I always have this sense of inadequacy when I read anything, as if I'm somehow not doing the writing justice with my reading. I wouldn't say it's paralysing, just sort of a very convenient psychological barrier to aid procrastination! Just one more night of slacking, and I'll be really assiduous on Monday. I promise!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Episode 166: New Music

Woke up at 1 pm, and since then, have spent most of the day watching television on my laptop. The fourth episode of Dollhouse was a bit of a disappointment, as it felt like filler, and it's far too early in the show's season for an episode like that. I'm glad Gossip Girl is finally returning to finish the rest of its second season and that it's been renewed by The CW for a third! Natalie's managed to send me the two seasons of Carnivàle, so I might finish those over Easter break. Have been watching a lot of Charmed recently too, and although I still like it, I can't understand why my sisters and I were so keen on the show when it was still airing. Our parents wouldn't let us watch it, of course, because of its content. So I've basically spent all day in my room, except for a couple of hours when I went to the Library to get another couple of books, and then doubled back to Humanities to attend Vanessa's farewell party. Heard a song while I was there, 'Deep' by Binocular. It was quirkily good, so I've gone and searched for the album. Somehow, after finding it, I detoured into looking for albums by Blake, David Garrett, Teatro and Will Martin, none of whom sound anything like Binocular. Now it's approximately three hours after I first started typing out this post, and I really should be sleeping...

Friday, March 06, 2009

Episode 165: Preliminary Research

I just had a fun time calling up various companies to cancel the memberships I was automatically enrolled in when I bought a 'trial' of the product. In theory, it means I won't be charged for anything beyond the trial's shipping cost, which I'm fine with. I will, however, by monitoring the charges made to my credit card over the next few weeks, and as soon as anything suspicious pops up, I'm going to do everything within my power to hammer them. Just to be safe, I'm not going to use my MasterCard for the next month or so. Shall switch to Visa if I need to use a credit card to pay for anything, which is unlikely to happen anyway. Am feeling foolish now for not being more careful and doing my research. I also forgot to go down to pick up my £10 refund from the French Society. Sigh. Hope I'll be able to get it on Monday with no problems, although the secretary has assured me that if I encounter any, I shouldn't hesitate to let him know. In other news, I am feeling good about myself, academically speaking. The Stoppard essay turned out fine, although my inability to get anything other than 74 is starting to make me wonder if I'm an intelligent mediocrity. I have also picked out the essay topics I want to do over Easter vacation for three of my modules, and have made tentative attempts to research them, at least enough to pique my interest and generate some vague ideas about the directions I want to take the various essays. Shall have to do some serious reading tomorrow, I think...

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Episode 164: Die Welle

I am loving my new haircut. Seriously. I think I'm not ever going back to Chaplins at Cannon Park Shopping Centre, will just stick to Thompson & Murray on campus, especially since the latter charges less if you're not getting a full cut, which is what I would like to do in order to maintain my hairstyle. Anyway, I braved the dark streets of Canley last night when I walked home from Mel's place at about 1 am. Eugene stayed over because he wanted to sleep in later and you can't do that here when the cleaners come around at 9 am. That and Mel could take him shopping and show him around Coventry, whereas all I had to offer was a boring lecture on subaltern studies, a somewhat strange seminar on 1960s literature that was more song lyrics than typical literature, and a French class that would have bored him anyway. So I brought him to Leamington Spa after my class, and I showed him the Royal Pump Rooms before grabbing a quick bite at Vialli's. I can't decide whether to be surprised that the guy taking orders recognised me from last Saturday, when I went there before Twelfth Night. I do love the Vialli's hot sauce though! It tastes sort of like chicken rice chilli.

Then we came back to campus to watch Die Welle (The Wave) at WSC, this being, once again, Lucy's idea. A good one though, as the film was excellent. It's based on true events, although relocated from America to Germany, which made it just that little bit more chilling, since whatever criticism you might have of the former Bush administration, the Third Reich was still way higher in the scary stakes. One teacher, over the course of a week, basically grows a neo-fascist movement out of nothing at all. We get both sides of the story, in the sense that the students do flourish and develop a sense of purpose through their involvement in The Wave, but at the same time, they become blinded to the negative aspects, like their exclusionist behaviour. It all ends tragically, but I won't spoil it for people who've never seen the film before. Suffice to say that like the Milgram and Stanford prison experiments, the events of the film bring home just how darkly humans can behave, given the right set of circumstances.

The Varsity group was a bit small tonight, although Eugene still did get to meet some of the usual figures. It was awfully cold though, and has been for the past couple of days, which is really crazy. Just when it was getting warmer too! So there we sat, outside under the heating lamp, which we had to repeatedly switch back on because the silly thing apparently has a self-timer with a very short limit. At least now we know how it works. Or else where would we be when Alex isn't around (and he wasn't tonight)? Seriously though, what is the point of having a heating lamp that doesn't stay on? To keep away random vagrants, who would find it hard to compete with the patrons for its use anyway? Am now staying up, looking for Girls Aloud songs because 'Something Kinda Ooooh' was played in the pub (yes, we eventually went inside), along with various other dancefloor-friendly tunes that made me realise again how I'm a weird person who loves that kind of music but doesn't really feel comfortable dancing in public. Haha...

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Episode 163: The Vagina Monologues

Had already decided I wasn't going to see The Vagina Monologues today because I had to pick Eugene up from Cannon Park Shopping Centre, but he got caught in traffic and missed his coach, so I ended up going to the performance with Mel. Can't say I regretted it because it was really enjoyable, and no, before you ask, it wasn't uncomfortable being a man in the audience. I thought the cast as a whole was good, just thought one of the monologues could have been delivered with more conviction because I felt the actress was rushing through her lines a little. Mel said she preferred the version she saw when she was in Cambridge, but I've never seen The Vagina Monologues performed before anyway, so I'm just glad I've finally seen it at least once. After that, we did a bit of shopping at Tesco, picked Eugene up from the bus stop, and then Mel made this lovely risotto for dinner. I've more or less decided that over summer, I'm going to get some cooking practice at home, where my mum will be on hand to help clear up any disasters and the rest of the family will be there to eat up whatever I make, however horrible it tastes. Haha! Eugene had brought rum butter with him, so we had that with pears because I forgot about looking for apple pie at Tesco. We've spent most of the night just catching up on gossip really. That's been good fun! If only, I didn't have a lecture tomorrow morning...

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Episode 162: Doubt

Went to see the film version of John Patrick Shanley's Doubt this evening because Lucy suddenly suggested it after the EN121 lecture. A Catholic priest is suspected of sexually abusing the new black student, and Meryl Streep's character goes throughout the film absolutely convinced that he has had improper relations with the child. It is never explicitly clarified whether or not this was the case, but then again, the whole point of the plot is that it is driven by Sister Aloysius's conviction of Father Flynn's guilt, regardless of there being no evidence. In contrast, Sister James is more prepared to accept his explanations, even though there is something a little dodgy and Philip Seymour Hoffman does look kind of creepy. The film has uneven pacing at times, but it is nonetheless redeemed by Streep's strong performance, particularly in the final scene, when she breaks down and finally confesses, 'I have such doubts,' thus revealing that her single-minded campaign was in part a means to reinforce her own faith. Now I'm stuck staying up late to finish the radio play for Wednesday's seminar! I think I've got two separate endings in mind, but I can't decide which I like better, so I'm just going to write lines for both, since they'll just be for a few seconds anyway.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Episode 161: Stolen Sausages

My faith in humanity continues to erode. After stolen salt, stolen black pepper, stolen cooking oil, and stolen Ikea frying pan, ladies and gentlemen, I give you stolen sausages. Yes, both jars have disappeared, the opened one in the fridge and the sealed one in the kitchen cupboard. Sigh. That was possibly the worst part of my day. I did manage to get stuff done though, like my laundry. I even boiled enough pasta to get me through the rest of the week, which was also when I discovered the missing sausages. I even found a poem for Jim's seminar on Thursday. It's D. J. Enright's 'The Noodle-Vendor's Flute', which Mr Purvis gave to us once upon a time. I picked it because I was just searching for poets who'd published in the 1960s, and I realised that Enright was born in Leamington Spa. Coupled with the fact that he lectured at NUS, it seems like Enright is a poet whose historical path lies at a curious tangent to mine. That and the poem is pretty interesting! I've just finished typing out my presentation for tomorrow's EN122 seminar. It's a bit narrower in scope than I'd originally envisioned, but well, I don't think I really have to give a very long spiel during the seminar, so what I've got should be plenty. Now all that's left for the week is to write that damn radio play, which I've got some vague ideas for, but haven't worked out fully. Laura suggested meeting up to have a writing and recording session tomorrow after our seminars, which sounds like an awesome idea, so hopefully that works out.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Episode 160: Wing Wah & Wayne

What I really like about going to church here in the UK is how I keep discovering all these songs I'd never have heard back home, simply because there isn't that culture of introducing contemporary songs. Some of the songs I'm discovering here aren't even that new, but you can bet almost nobody back home has heard of them before. Latest discovery is Martyn Layzell. Am now stuck perusing the McGann reading after getting back from Wayne's birthday buffet at Wing Wah. I'm seriously not cut out for the whole massive eating thing, although that's partly because I actually had lunch at The Sovereign and snacked in the middle of the afternoon too, while watching the latest episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. This show's trying to become too cerebral for its own good, which is a bad sign for a franchise that gains most of its impact from lots of machine-on-man violence. Plus Cameron's behaviour is just getting more and more bizarre! Can we say imminent cancellation, yeah? I called it first should that actually happen.