Sunday, May 31, 2009

Episode 251: Sun-kissed Me

Gorgeous weather again today. Wound up on the grass after church, having lunch with church friends, and then doing a bit of revision inside and outside the Learning Grid. That place is insanely stuffy! I think I did get a slight tan today from being in the sun, which is great. Need to work on getting darker when I'm back in Singapore, even if it involves something as banal as swimming everyday. That would also have the fringe benefit of bleaching my hair, so I might not have to dye it when I get back. I've finished re-reading Waiting For Godot, and I don't know if it was just the weather or something else, but it was such an excruciating experience. I've decided this play is nice to see/write about, but a real pain to read. I think that is pretty much my feeling towards the Beckett canon in general! Have begun reading Elizabeth Bishop's poems, which I'm really enjoying, so she's definitely won a place in my list of poets that I'm jealous of. At the moment, I'm trying to decide between going to bed and staying up all night to read The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn. Found it in that pile of books near the entrance to University House. I've never picked up a BookCrossing book before, although I've heard of the site and think that the concept is fantastic, if somewhat gimmicky. I wonder if I should do something really crazy, like bring the book back to Singapore and release it there? That is the point, right, to help the books to travel?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Episode 250: Susan Boyle Didn't Win!

It is mildly appropriate that to commemorate another milestone for this blog (i.e. 250 entries), I'm pleased to announce that Susan Boyle did not win Britain's Got Talent. Granted, that woman can sing. However, anyone who doesn't realise that her meteoric rise to fame is simply symptomatic of the way the mass media operates in our time is kidding themselves. Broadway and the West End are full of people who can sing as well, but they're not exactly getting the sort of media coverage that Boyle enjoys, are they? (I am pleased to note though that Daniel Boys is releasing his debut album on June 1. I've pre-ordered a sign copy!) So I'm sure she'll have some sort of career after Britain's Got Talent, but it's only a matter of time before the media latches onto another underdog with a compelling story. Anyway, I spent the day getting on with my Spanish instead of revision. Am now considering if it's worth re-reading Yeats and Williams if I'm not keen on writing about them. It all really depends on what the questions are like, but it seems prudent to start preparing earlier. Perhaps re-read Stoppard and Beckett first, followed by Eliot and Bishop?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Episode 249: Of Power Outages, Poetry & Pop Music

Was on Central Campus for the better part of the afternoon. Had to pay Ellie for the Ugly Cousins Club hoodie and deposit money at the bank. Bumped into Shen Ting and ended up in the Library. Where there were two power outages within the space of about an hour. Why couldn't this have happened during one of my papers? It would've been a hoot. Both times, I secretly laughed at all the people using computers in the Library who had been on Facebook instead of actually studying. Serves them right! So after picking up some books that might come in useful for my last examination of 08/09, I settled down on a couch to read Chris McCabe's The Hutton Inquiry. This is where I admit that I feel quite strongly about poetry that doesn't seem to obey the rules of grammar. (Yeah, all you 'free verse' poets out there, I'm glaring at you. Free verse isn't actually free, and there's a biting comment on that right here. Scroll down to the bit on free verse, where it says: 'Do not flatter such work, as it will ultimately grow by flattery until its mediocrity becomes the rule. Good poets must murder their darlings; bad poets must have their darlings quietly removed from view and replaced with something healthier. A paintbox, for example, or a film.' Three thumbs up, as some of my friends would say.) McCabe's work, however, makes me more than a little jealous. I would love to be able to write like that, but all I seem to manage are variations on a theme in tidy lines that would form sensible, if somewhat odd, sentences once the line breaks were removed. I sometimes want to break language, but I think I'm too good at self-censoring for that. It isn't hard to tell which end of the harmonious-dissonant spectrum I'm nearer to, to borrow Alicia Ostriker's idea.

Right. Now that I've established in the previous paragraph that I am indeed possessed of some intellectual faculties, I'm now going to tell you about how I've been a bit obsessed with some pop music tracks for the past couple of days. Cobra Starship's 'Good Girls Go Bad', Darin's 'Desire' and V Factory's 'Love Struck', to be precise. I like many kinds of music, but I have particular genres I gravitate towards instinctively, and this kind of disposable, summery pop is one of them. If you'll believe me, I'm actually dying to see the video for 'Good Girls Go Bad', if only because Leighton Meester's going to be in it. I've also discovered Popjustice is exactly the sort of pop music website that I should be reading. Am not very sure if the new mix of FrankMusik's 'Confusion Girl' I heard there is an improvement over the original, as it just sounds like a weird remix gone wrong. Am impressed by Cascada's 'Evacuate The Dancefloor', even if it does sound a bit like Lady Gaga throughout The Fame. (I don't really care about chronology and who's been working on their music for longer. The sound of 'Evacuate The Dancefloor' is obviously aping that of RedOne, who seems to be the 'next big thing' for music production in the post-Timbaland era.) Oh, and I've also figured out what to make for cell dinner next Tuesday. Pasta bake and salad. It's going to be interesting. Me being in the kitchen, I meant. Not the food. That will be decent. How wrong can a pasta bake go?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Episode 248: The Go-Between

Was waiting in the Library to get my money from Rahul, so I ended up reading L.P. Hartley's The Go-Between. If he'd come an hour later, I might have actually finished it while I was in the Library. In any case, I've just finished reading it, before heading to Varsity. Truly a masterful work. I can still remember reading the opening passages when I was back in JC, in the middle of a paper, and just being struck by the phrases. How can you not like a book that begins with the line, 'The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.' This is the first time in a really long while that I've managed to finish reading an entire book in less than one day. I vaguely recall having begun on The Go-Between years ago, but never finishing, so the experience of reading it today was, in a way, quite evocative. There's part of me that really responds to Leo's character, although I don't think I was quite that naïve at 13. He reminds me of Briony from Ian McEwan's Atonement, although the consequences of his actions are less disastrous. I admit that the 'climax' of The Go-Between is, frankly, rather anti-climactic. It literally is glossed over in less than a page, and that seems to me what is most problematic about the novel for me. Nevertheless, it's been a joy to read something for pleasure and not for work!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Episode 247: Parlez-vous français?

French today went swimmingly. I wrote about fair trade, and I sort of said on a philosophical level, doesn't it reinforce the inequality between First and Third Worlds? Don't flame me. It just seemed like a clever way to make the short essay stand out, rather than your run-of-the-mill drivel along the lines of 'Le commerce équitable est très bon.' Being deliberately controversial and using what is supposedly good vocabulary for the standard of the average LL208 student. That's my tactic for scoring in French. Hopefully, it pays off again. Also got the Freud and Carter essay back from Adam. Finally. As expected, it wasn't a First, but it was the next best thing! So on average, that should be a First for EN122, assuming that's how they calculate stuff in this department. Diesel jeans also arrived, and I think I like them as much as, if not better than, the G-Star RAW ones from the last time I went shopping for jeans online. Will debut a pair tomorrow at Varsity, which is now officially among the most pretentiously deconstructed pieces of denim in my cupboard.

Now that I've got just under a fortnight before my final paper, I've spent the afternoon looking for new music, both Christian and secular. Particularly worth mentioning is the V Factory single, 'Love Struck'. I swear it ticks all, all the boxes required to become a radio hit, right down to the cheesy lyrics and synchronised dance moves in the video. The scary thing? This group might actually have a chance, as the lead singer used to date Disney darling, Ashley Tisdale. Also listening to Darin, who hails from Sweden, which already gave my iTunes library Måns Zelmerlöw. What is it with Sweden and catchy pop music? Most awesome song addition of the day has to go to 'Good Girls Go Bad' though. Cobra Starship featuring Leighton Meester. I'm actually willing to buy her album when it drops, provided it sounds like this track or her cover of 'Bette Davis Eyes'. It seems Kara DioGuardi co-wrote this song, so I suppose she can be forgiven for having co-written the tripe that is 'No Boundaries' for Season 8 of American Idol. In case anyone's wondering, I prefer Kris Allen's version over Adam Lambert's, simply because Lambert annoys me. He just strikes me as the sort of person who knows his voice is good and deliberately shows it off.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Episode 246: 'Soon born to die, soon flourishing to fade.'

So the paper went better than I thought it would. In fact, all that studying felt kind of wasted, since I didn't exactly put much of it to use. Well, it was little things here and there, but I'm not sure how much of it will actually gain me significantly more marks. I did really like the Barnabe Barnes sonnet that came out for the Renaissance poetry commentary. Didn't think I would have a lot to say about it initially, but as I started writing, ideas just sort of fell into place and I'm quite proud of my one-page analysis for that sonnet. Writing it was just one of those rare moments when spotting and analysing a point of interest was more intellectual pleasure than pain. I'm pretty sure my translations this time were better, and while I definitely could have written more about Wyatt and been more coherent towards the end, I think overall I should be able to pass comfortably, and perhaps a low 2:1 could even be more than a pipe dream. Post-paper, I wasn't making plans, unlike most people, to get smashed in the pub, as I've got a French paper tomorrow morning and I had to be at cell tonight anyway. I don't regret either of those things though. They're just part and parcel of my life, things that I've consciously chosen to do and that matter to me just as much as drinking myself (somewhat) silly. Besides, in light of the message of the Barnabe sonnet, whose final line I've nicked for the title of this post, I think life's too short to spend just drinking, wouldn't you say so?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Episode 245: Saving The Earth, One Plastic Bag At A Time

Woke up and have been alternating between revision and procrastination ever since, including an hour-long Skype conversation with my parents in which we discussed, among other things, whether the Nokia N97 or N86 8MP is a wiser choice for my mobile upgrade. I'm leaning toward the former for now, mainly because it looks sleeker. That and I don't actually need an 8-megapixel camera in my handphone, not when I already have a proper digital camera. Anyway, it's occurred to me that I've never blogged about the time when I tried to help save the Earth by buying a 'green' bag. It was the day of the failed picnic. I was buying some snacks and drinks in Costcutter, and not wanting to stuff everything into my Crumpler bag, I decided to get one of those 'green' bags Costcutter has taken to selling. I'm mostly sceptical about their actual effectiveness in saving the environment, but that's not the point of this story. As you may or may not know, there is a sort of lifetime guarantee on the bags. If they break, you can bring them back to be replaced. Well, guess what? The bag I picked, and into which I was happily loading my purchases, turned out to be broken. Irony 1, Environment 0.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Episode 244: Luminarium

The links on Luminarium aren't as helpful as I assumed they would be, at least not for preparing for an examination. Have clicked through and found what I think will be useful, but on the whole, I think it's back to GradeSaver for me. Am revising a bit of French grammar at the moment to break the monotony. Church friends went to Jephson Gardens in Leamington after lunch at Varsity, and I would have followed too, except I was supposed to be revising at Alex's. That pretty much devolved into sunbathing as time went by. Although to be fair, it has beenis a really lovely day. I might even have got a bit of a tan! Would have stayed out in the sun longer, but revision won't do itself, I'm afraid. Ironically, I could probably go and sit for the paper right now and still scrape through with a pass, so it kind of makes a little sense to just stone away the next couple of hours, and the whole of tomorrow. Still, would like to do better than a mere pass. Shall have a think about songs for cell worship on Tuesday, and then go off and do some work...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Episode 243: GradeSaver

Have finished with GradeSaver, and will move on to Luminarium tomorrow, before repeating the cycle again, this time with particular focus on Wyatt and Shakespeare. Anyway, as predicted, I woke up really late, but I sort of managed to get into the swing of revision after dinner. Read the opening bit of the first chapter of The Dark Volume, and it was sort of okay, but not enough to distract me from revision the way that reading Turn Coat could. If I let it. Have not read a chapter from that for the past two days! I have managed to waste a bit of time getting to the Season 5 finale of Charmed though. Have definitely decided to eliminate 'unnecessary' revision, which will hopefully allow me to actually get everything into shape in my mind by Tuesday. What I need is a revision session with people who actually are studying the same thing and can help me to clarify my thoughts. I am definitely treating this examination too likely, although this being first year and all, to go to the other extreme seems unnecessarily excessive. Still have to brush up on French grammar at some point, possibly tomorrow, after getting back from church.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Episode 242: Something Ugly Your Way Comes

It's just past 3 am and I'm settling down to read a bit of The Dark Volume. It means I'm going to wake up ridiculously late and ruin any morning revision plans, but I'm still a bit too awake to sleep. So tonight, the Ugly Cousins Club descended on Coventry to do a poetry slam. We had some readings at the Tin Angel first, where I read out two poems from my competition entry. A few people said nice things to me about them later, so that was good. Who knows? I might actually win something come October. Then we trekked down the streets of Coventry to the Nursery Tavern's back room to have the slam proper, which is also where I discovered that if I ever need to play drinking games, I should do so with Malibu & Coke, simply because I find it immensely moreish. Slams were good, abundance of cigarette smoke less so. The irony of being surrounded by 'No Smoking' signs could hardly have escaped anyone observant enough. We wound up in Ellie's house way past midnight, just standing around and talking, when we should have been trying to get a taxi back. Anyway, props to Nick Chen for winning the slam and Ellie for sending a bunch of us back to campus!

It was also Samantha's birthday today! Sorry again that I couldn't be at the barbecue. Keegan texted to say it was starting late and that I shouldn't turn up. We did have a surprise picnic for her in the afternoon, although partly because of Keegan, what was supposed to have been a picnic in Leamington turned into a Coventry excursion. It is a bit indefensible to make everyone wait for nearly an hour. The reason why there are so few punctual people is because they've all given up hope and decided to join the ranks of the tardy. That's what I think anyway. Well, at least I've signed the new housing contract now and can spend next Thursday afternoon, well, not doing anything. Jerrick's quiche was lovely and Peng Kun's chicken was deliciously bad for my waistline. (If you're reading this, Keegan, never mind about the £4.60 that you owe me. We didn't consume that much of the crisps and Coke anyway.) In summary, it was a Friday where I got hardly any revision done, but it was fun nonetheless! Will pay for it dearly over the weekend, of course. Just three more days to go...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Episode 241: Revision Plans?

I did manage to finish going through SparkNotes, and have now moved on to GradeSaver. To reward myself, I bought a novel by Paul Coelho, Brida, as well as Gordon Dahlquist's two novels, The Glass Books Of The Dream Eaters and The Dark Volume. Would have rewarded myself further by buying this pale blue shirt from Ted Baker that would have looked perfect on me, but Shirley talked me out of it. Randomly, have decided that what my wardrobe needs is a pale blue tie, like paler than the sky. That shade of blue has a certain je ne sais quoi. Have also decided that for the essay question, I will prepare Wyatt and Shakespeare, with a cursory glance at Sir Gawain And The Green Knight in case I somehow cannot answer questions on either of the former two poets, in which case I'm screwed anyway, so how bad can I do by writing about the Gawain-poet? Have also decided that it probably makes sense to not revise stuff I have no intention of actually touching in the examination, e.g. Book II of The Faerie Queene, or John Donne's poetry. What I can't make up my mind about is whether to do revision for Renaissance poetry in general, since there's supposed to be a question on lyric poetry and sonnets in the paper. Time enough to worry about that over the weekend, I guess? Now it's time to head out to Varsity to reward myself for the slight progress that I've made today. Haha...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Episode 240: SparkNotes

Have picked out the poems that I'm going to submit for the Golden Point Award. Not so sure that they're brilliant, but I'm willing to bet they'll still be better than the average entry. That and I wasn't completely bowled over by some of the previous winners in the poetry category, so I'm wondering how high is the standard in the first place. Ah well. Will just submit and hope for the best. Even second runner-up would net me a tidy sum of money. I would devote more time and effort to this if I didn't have an examination in less than a week that I am horrifically unprepared for. Will attempt to finish going through SparkNotes tonight, and then GradeSaver tomorrow. I know this isn't how you're supposed to study 'important literary works', but at this point, I'm willing to go with anything that helps me to pass. May have to completely abandon revision for Book II of The Faerie Queene, if only because I am actually more familiar with Book I and the whole religious angle of it actually plays to my strengths in comprehension. I'm aiming for a 2:1 in EN121, and 2:1 or First in everything else. Would really like to know if my essay on Carter and Freud was as bad as I think it was, although thanks to my essay on 'Howl', it would take a shockingly bad mark to pull me below a 2:1 for EN122. Ditto for EN124. As for EN123, however bad my essay on Heart Of Darkness was, everything can still be salvaged by a solid performance for the examination. Three weeks till freedom and fun things like learning Spanish and reading John Ashbery...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Episode 239: Ice Skating!

Just got back from a student cluster meeting in church and am really hungry, so have stuck something in the microwave. It was a good way to end a day that began rather abysmally. I woke up to discover that one of my cartons of Innocent smoothies had been stolen, quite possibly by someone returning drunk from Top Banana, last night being opening night for The Copper Rooms on campus. My favourite flavour, no less. Then according to ClickandBuy, the reason why my account has been charged twice is that one payment is actually just a reservation that will be refunded in three to five business days. It's annoying, but this sort of happened the last time I dealt with Bandstocks, so I guess it will work itself out like it did the last time. It's just that losing £33.12 to a company's paranoia when you're short on cash to begin with is kind of frustrating! Have had to use my POSB ATM card to get money out of my POSB account, so at least my cash woes are resolved. The day sort of began to look up once we went ice skating. I probably fell down the most, but there were moments, out there on the ice, when I kind of got the hang of it, and it felt good. Krisztina was trying to tell me what to do, but I guess I just lack sufficient psychomotor skills. Came back and got a smidgen of work done after catching the Gossip Girl season finale, which by the way, was totally awesome. (Can't wait for Season 3!) Anyway, like Claire and Elizabeth were saying as we were walking back from church, cell meetings always put me in a good mood. So I guess my day didn't turn out so badly after all...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Episode 238: Staying In My Room Tonight

Woke up really early to head down to The Sovereign with Elizabeth, John and Jonny to pray for Canley. Early start hasn't translated into consequent productivity so far, although I have finished going through my lecture notes, and will move on to SparkNotes after dinner and an episode of Charmed. Am slightly annoyed now because I seem to have been charged twice for an online purchase. Have e-mailed the third-party company handling the fund transfer for clarification, and will call the bank tomorrow morning as well. Have been reading Jim Butcher's Turn Coat in between spells of revision, and I can't wait for the next book in the series to come out! It's due April 2010. Had meant to head to the Library after my afternoon meeting, where I got back my essay from Michael Hulse with a nice mark, but I decided against it in the end, although I would probably have been able to find company there. Came back instead, and went shopping online, hence the fiasco about double charges. Was only going to the Library because I was planning on showing up at the Ugly Cousins Club, and possibly Hot Chocolate after that. Am feeling a bit stressed though, and have realised that going for Rob's ice-skating thing tomorrow means I won't get any work done all Tuesday. So apologies to Jack and John respectively!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Episode 237: Prayer At The Sovereign

Headed to The Sovereign with the other students after service for lunch, and discovered the joys of roast gammon. I've also randomly decided to start collecting VK bottles, after realising that the more common flavours that they have at Varsity actually match up quite nicely with the colours of the Planeteers' rings. (Yeah, I totally spend my time connecting useless bits of information like that in my head.) I am well aware that there are more than five flavours of VK, although some of the more 'exotic' ones have never passed before my eyes. Anyway, Jonny somehow ended up being asked to lead the worship to kick off the 24/7 week of prayer in the function room at the pub, so a bunch of us went back to Elizabeth's room to plan. Went quite well, all things considered, although Jonny's sneezing in the middle of worship was just hilarious. We're going to join the people praying again tomorrow morning, and hopefully, it'll also mark the start of a really productive day for me. Didn't get anything done today beyond a few pages of Amanda Hopkins's lecture transcript on fabliaux in The Canterbury Tales. Must finish reviewing lecture notes before The Warwick Review meeting at 3 pm! Library, anyone?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Episode 236: Plunging Into Revision

Have decided that it's a bit pointless to just (re-)read the texts, so I'm going with SparkNotes and Luminarium to help me get up to speed, and I'll read the actual texts again if I have time after that. Am banking on Thomas Wyatt, William Shakespeare and John Donne for the essay, especially the first, but Sir Gawain And The Green Knight is still definitely on the cards at this point, especially because it's so richly patterned. Have gone through my seminar notes, and am now moving on to my lecture notes. After that, it's SparkNotes, then Luminarium. With slightly over a week to go, I think there's still a chance to scrape something more than a pass for this module, so I'm trying to make an effort. Spent a bit of time catching the season finale of Ghost Whisperer, which was a good way to end, I think. Raised enough disturbing questions for a new season to answer, but still ending on a hopeful note. Did a bit of online shopping early in the morning because I couldn't fall asleep last night. I managed to find the Voyager edition of William Gibson's Count Zero! At least according to the product description and ISBN that's what I've bought. Once it arrives, I'll set about ordering the rest of Gibson's books from Amazon UK. Also bought David Morley's poetry collections from Carcanet. Then in the afternoon, I dispatched some stuff from Amazon to Derrick for him to bring back to Singapore for me. Here's to books and reading!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Episode 235: Should I?

Am browsing through books on Amazon, when I really should be getting on with revision. Somehow though, Middle English vocabulary just doesn't make my day. Or night, for that matter. I am trying, honestly. That is when I am not googling lines from my own writing and amusing myself with the responses. Try it. Google 'The true test of love is its passage'. That's the opening half of a sentence I wrote for a 100-word epic competition way back in 2005, which was eventually published on postcards and distributed around Singapore. It's a bit surreal to realise that people actually did see the postcards and that my words did affect them in some way, however little. Am now entertaining thoughts of submitting some poetry to the SPH-NAC Golden Point Award competition. Deadline's 29 May, but I've got more than enough poems anyway, since poetry entries are stipulated to consist a minimum of five and a maximum of eight poems. So the question that confronts me is whether it's ethical to submit work that I've handed in before to David Morley. Technically, it's not breaking any rules, but I will probably take the poetry blog offline just to be safe, since all my work appears on there as a sort of backup copy, in case of some catastrophic system failure that takes out my laptop and external hard drive. Perhaps I won't delete it, but just somehow block it from being indexed by Google in the first place?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Episode 234: Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival

Have failed to revise anything so far, but that will change tomorrow. I find it impossible to believe that I can't read something on a day when I have only one seminar in the morning! French oral went swimmingly, although after a few minutes, I'm pretty sure my conjugation went out the window and I was liberally scattering franglais throughout my conversation, partly because I was trying to talk about politics and I didn't have the necessary vocabulary for the task. I think things went well overall though. At the very least, Louise seemed interested, which apparently is one of the criteria on which we are assessed, i.e. our ability to retain the examiner's interest. Headed back to the Library, and Laura, Lucy and Sophie were still where I left them half an hour earlier, but Dan had already left. Doubled back to Bar Fusion to borrow Keegan's card and get some more books out, this time for EN123 revision. Am pretty much set on revising only the poets and playwrights on the module, as most of the novels don't do anything for me. To be fair, I haven't actually read them, so it's not like I'm making an informed decision, but in the first place, they aren't authors I'd voluntarily read!

After some dithering in my room, essentially wasting time that could have been spent re-reading Sir Gawain And The Green Knight, I headed to the CAPITAL Centre for two poetry readings, as part of the Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival. The first featured young poets from Birmingham, Northampton, East Anglia and Warwick. Couldn't quite make out some of the readings, but those that I did, I liked. I particularly liked George Ttoouli's poems! The second reading saw the poets who teach them taking the stage, so Luke Kennard, Zoë Brigley and George Szirtes respectively. I enjoyed all three, but was particularly drawn to the latter two because of their specific literary interests. Kennard's work isn't the sort that I would naturally be drawn to, I have to admit. Then I was off to our usual Varsity session, although I sort of told Jack I would follow the creative writers to The Dirty Duck. It was drizzling today! The kind of miserable trickling that is more suited to autumn than spring. What is wrong with English weather, seriously? Is a little consistency too much to ask for at this time of year?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Episode 233: The Age Of Stupid

Just came back from seeing The Age Of Stupid at the Arts Centre. Wasn't going to go because Sophie couldn't come, but Laura said she would, so instead of writing out stuff for my French oral, I went to see the film. Really glad I did though! Five interleaved narratives, with a framing narrator from the year 2055. This is definitely a film targeted at our generation, so I found it really odd that during the Q&A session, one woman complained that she worked in sustainability education and couldn't see how the film would be useful to her at all. Then again, she admitted that films do nothing for her personally, so I really don't think hers was a very fair opinion. Anyway, it's on at the Arts Centre tomorrow evening, and it's going to be screened a couple more times in July, so everyone should watch it. There's less scaremongering than you would expect from a documentary about climate issues, although it does inspire a healthy amount of guilt. Unless you're completely blind to your own behaviour as a consumer, in which case, good luck to you! Am now going off to work on my French oral for tomorrow. Then possibly, some revision for EN121, which I should have started on earlier, but now looks like it'll have to wait till tomorrow afternoon. Or possibly Friday, depending on how chipper I feel after the oral. Haha...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Episode 232: Revision. Tomorrow!

Latest episode of Gossip Girl was very disappointing. It was trying too hard to be the backdoor pilot for the spinoff, and all the flashbacks just didn't feel justified, especially not in a prom episode! Who cares about Lily's past when the present presents so much more opportunities for backstabbing? They'd better not screw up the season finale next week. Need to seriously get down to revising for EN121, although since I've read hardly any of the texts for the module, it's more like 'vising' than revising, as Jane Holland put it last week. Have not managed to prepare for French oral on Thursday, hence last-minute decision to tell Chloe and Rahul to go ahead to the agency without me tomorrow afternoon. Knowing myself, just making that quick trip into Coventry will basically ruin any chances of my doing proper work for the rest of the day, however early I get back to my room. Must look up vocabulary tomorrow! The problem is that I would like to see The Age Of Stupid at the Arts Centre, but I really shouldn't. So if none of the people I texted about it are keen, I'll just abandon the idea.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Episode 231: Super Monday Bar Crawl!

So I got back to my room just past midnight and thought taking a three-hour nap would help me survive a marathon essay-writing session. Well, turns out that it made more sense to reset the alarm half an hour later each time it rang, so I only actually got up some time after 5.30 am. Desperately tried to finish my work, but didn't quite manage to clear everything. The essay for EN124 was harder to finish than I'd expected, partly because it was such a weird kind of essay to write. As one of my coursemates put it, it seems like a rather roundabout, 4000-word way of asking for feedback on the course. I am quite pleased with my extended metaphor though! So I wound up submitting the EN123 essay late, by which I mean I posted it through after the office had closed for the day, three hours after it was due. Actually spent the two hours before our last lecture of this term finishing it. Don't think it's any good, but by that point, I couldn't have cared less even if I'd tried. Now that all my assessed work is out of the way, I can concentrate on not failing EN121! Two weeks, God only knows how many words to read. Fun times ahead...

So this being the infamous Super Monday and all, us creative writers went on a bar crawl in Leamington. As usual though, I wasn't exactly drunk. Slightly tipsy is about right, I should think. I was quite possibly in worse shape that time at Café del Mar back home. On a side note, I think the practice of carding people in the UK is so silly, not to mention inconsistent. The bartender at The Benjamin Satchwell refused to serve me because she wouldn't accept my ISIC, even though her colleague had just done so barely five minutes earlier. Overall though, the whole night was good fun, although I think the two pints of Blue Lagoon I had at Kelsey's at the end of the night came this close to making me sick. Ending off the night with chicken and wedges from Vialli's helped though. Savoury stuff always does it for me after imbibing large amounts of alcohol! I still remember how a couple of weeks ago, I came home from Varsity and proceeded to microwaves sausages and mash, just because I needed something salty. Anyway, we should totally carry out our plan of making nights like this a regular thing. That'd be quite cool, I think.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Episode 230: Waiting For Godot

The Irish literary critic, Vivian Mercier, once described Beckett's Waiting For Godot as 'a play in which nothing happens, that yet keeps audiences glued to their seats. What's more, since the second act is a subtly different reprise of the first, he has written a play in which nothing happens, twice.' Seeing it performed really brought out the humour in it though, enhanced by Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart's comedic timing. I did find it a bit hard to stay awake in the first act, as well as not being used to having to strain to hear the dialogue. No more cheap seats for me in future! They were awfully uncomfortable too. Incidentally, I loved the lighting at the end of both acts. It was gorgeous! It looked like it had been filtered through a dense network of branches, so the pattern of light and shadow on the stage had a really dreamy quality about it. Could have just been me, but I thought it was really beautiful. Tried to work on the coach trips to and from London, but I only managed about 300 words getting there, and while I did type out a fair bit of stuff in my handphone, I didn't write all that much while we were travelling back. We were seated on the upper deck, so the swaying just made me feel sick. Am going to nap for three hours, and then wake up and make a final push to get Super Monday stuff over and done with!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Episode 229: Waxing Philosophical

Spent most of the day trying to make headway on my Heart Of Darkness essay. It's not going so well, but at least I'm almost halfway through, although I doubt the essay is going to be as fantastic as I want it to be. So I can't believe I just spent three hours engaged in a philosophical discussion on a matter that is of absolutely no personal relevance! I must say that it was quite intellectually satisfying though, at least when compared to getting on with my Super Monday deadlines. Also found out that Conrad can't make it for the play and Emily might not either, so have been trying to find people to take their tickets. Managed to get Owen to take one, since he wanted to see it, but I didn't know him at the time when we bought the tickets, much less know he wanted to watch it too. Anyway, I think I've pretty much done as much of the essay that I can for tonight. I could force myself to carry on, and I might finish before it's time to walk to Cannon Park Shopping Centre, but it just doesn't seem worth it. Will probably regret not working harder and earlier the same time tomorrow night, but it's about 3 am and I have to be up in just over five hours to catch a coach to London to wait for Mr Godot. Can't be helped. Nothing to be done. I guess I really will have to pull an all-nighter again when we get back from London...

Friday, May 08, 2009

Episode 228: One Year Older, One Year Lazier

Full disclosure is always a bad idea if you don't look like you belong on a runway. Enough said. Anyway, last night was rather entertaining, if you ask me. A whole table of people singing a birthday song I am incapable of working on any sort of regular basis. It always has to be some sort of frantic rush with me. The price, of course, is the quality of work, though not always. The most recent EN121 essay was an unfortunate casualty, I'm afraid. A 2:2, which shows how erratic performance in the module is. To be fair, I do like the Renaissance poetry, just not The Faerie Queene. Long poems like that and Sir Gawain And The Green Knight are such a pain to read! Will have to though, within the next two weeks, since I'm actually better at writing commentaries on specific passages and poems than writing topical essays. Am thinking I should be able to scrape a low 2:1 for this module, which will hopefully be offset by a good showing in my other modules. Am now having doubts about that Freud/Carter essay for EN122, which has resulted in a redoubled desire to nail the Heart Of Darkness one for EN123. Am somewhat paralysed by self-doubt on one hand and perfectionism on the other. At least my EN124 portfolio is totally out of the way now. Okay, shall go off and try to rephrase my introduction to the essay, the outline for which came to me after I got back from Varsity last night. The outline still makes sense in the clear light of day, except now I actually have to word the introduction so that the idea behind the whole essay is clear, since apparently I don't have enough original thoughts of my own, according to Sarah Poynting. She's probably right about that, since I was basically desperate to finish that essay, quality of work be damned. There is still time to make this one good though, so I will try to do so.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Episode 227: Feeling 22, Acting 17

The title is kind of true, I guess. I generally don't act my age, although that presupposes that there is a proper way to act when you're 22. Ah, whatever. So today, it was my turn for a birthday 'surprise'. Not bad, the Singaporeans actually managed to find me outside the Language Centre. Chernise made a delicious cake, which was definitely on par with stuff you can get at the bakery! Anyway, am a little annoyed with myself for some of the mistakes I made in the rédactions that I got back because one of them, erroneously substituting 'concernant' for 'en ce qui concerne' is so obviously a case of transliterating English into French. Sigh. Must be more careful, and possibly write French rédactions in future under less pressured conditions. I'm thinking that over summer, I should put in place some sort of system, whereby I go through one language each day of the week. I don't actually have enough to fill up all seven. At least I don't think so. English, Mandarin, French, Cantonese, Spanish, Latin, Quenya, Italian. Hey, I guess I do. Not sure what English is doing there, although I suppose I could spend that day devoting myself to reading and writing exclusively. More (good) poems, yes? Also received my attachment posting, and it's to North View Secondary School, right beside my home. Very convenient, although it's a bit weird to know that the students I meet could potentially be my neighbours. Good for bonding on some level, but also a bit too much blurring of the professional-personal life divide. It would be quite funny if after the attachment, I ended up hanging out with the students at, I don't know, Northpoint or something. Haha!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Episode 226: Elections!

Just got back from the Singapore Society elections. It was seriously stuffy in there towards the end! Congratulations to everyone on the new executive committee! Am now starting to reply to the birthday wishes that are trickling in on Facebook, when what I really should be doing is figuring out the introduction to my essay. Did get a bit of reading done in the Library in the afternoon, after I went to have a haircut, but it hasn't been enough. I vaguely remember that there was a good introduction sentence somewhere, but now I've got to go hunt for it again tomorrow, between EN123 and LL208. I'm sort of taking the line that Heart Of Darkness is one of those texts that just lends itself to a multiplicity of interpretations, but that they can still be related back to each other. Am thinking of discussing imperialism and gender, since that's the parts I've read so far which make sense to me immediately. In any case, it's just 2000 words, so no point spreading myself too thin and trying to cover every possible interpretation of the text. Thanks Marc for a long-overdue dinner! I promise to return the favour after summer. Haha...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Episode 225: Must. Do. Work. Tomorrow!

Just got back from cell. Elizabeth's cake was good stuff! I should learn how to bake. One more thing to master over summer. Probably should get back to playing the guitar too. Am officially done with the EN124 portfolio, and will resist the urge to tinker with its contents any further. Time to move on to the essay on Heart Of Darkness! It will be intelligent, and sophisticated, and just plain brilliant. If I tell myself that enough times, it's actually going to happen. I'm going to go to the Library tomorrow, and just research this essay so thoroughly. I've definitely got enough books to do it! A couple of hours of solid research with Jerrick for company, before dinner at Marc's place and then elections. Hopefully, some essay-writing will happen after that too. Randomly, I currently have the full version of Gareth Emery's 'Exposure' playing on iTunes now, and can I just say it's probably the first original trance tune that I like in its own right, as opposed to stuff that is a remix of someone else's music, although that's enjoyable too. Also randomly, I had a pint of Ben & Jerry's today, for no reason other than that it was there and I needed something to occupy me while watching Gossip Girl, which is building towards what looks to be a spectacular season finale, in case you were wondering.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Episode 224: 4000 (Sort Of) Down, 6000 To Go

Had a short training session for Hot Chocolate, followed by lunch in The Dirty Duck with the rest of the CU people. So it was about 3 pm by the time I got back to my room and actually started doing work. The poem about islands hasn't materialised, but it's partly because I haven't been trying hard enough to write it, so I'll give it one last try tomorrow, between my only lecture and cell. If nothing comes to mind at all during those hours, I'm putting the idea aside, as I already have about 4000 words for my portfolio. Nope, it's not because I wrote the locksmith story, which has already been filed away under the category of interesting-but-unwritten. It's thanks to another piece that was actually a class assignment, which I've edited from a third-person narrative into a first-person monologue, which I'm sort of hooked on at the moment. Am going to try and write a snappy one for the portfolio, just so that I can end with the words, 'My name's Elizabeth. Countess Elizabeth. But you can call me Lizzie.' Yeah, I'm writing about Countess Elizabeth Báthory, prolific female serial killer and rumoured to have bathed in the blood of young women in order to maintain her youth. It's the rumour that I'm going to use as a springboard for my little flash fiction. It's going to be delicious.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Episode 223: More Poems?

Came back from lunch at Varsity with church people, and have been working on my portfolio since. Incidentally, it was a really bad idea to leave my room without a jacket today, despite it being a very sunny morning. I was freezing the whole time that we were sitting outside at Varsity! Anyway, by working, I really mean scavenging from things that have already been written rather than producing anything new, which is a state of affairs that I'm not happy about, but time is of the essence and I'm starting to get antsy. Have managed to bump the word count for my portfolio up to around 2200, although I would like to take it even higher by producing some new poems over the next couple of days. Thanks Alex, Dan and Shirley for the feedback! Right now, I'm aiming to finish a series of haiku based on a nursery rhyme, as well as a long poem about four islands (Singapore, Pedra Branca, Christmas Island and Great Britain). Am tempted to get a bit dark and write stuff about Countess Báthory Erzsébet or Armin Meiwes, but maybe that's veering too far from the overall tone of the other poems in my portfolio so far. Perhaps just the two poems that I have in mind now, and then fiction to bring the word count up to the required 4000. Then I'll need ideas for fiction. Only have one at the moment, which is about the locksmith. Sigh...

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Episode 222: Scum!

Today, I was finally the victim of racism. Some guys drove by in a car with the windows rolled down, and yelled 'Scum!' at me. I'll admit to being startled, simply because the abuse came out of nowhere. I was just walking back from Tesco after getting some food, minding my own business. So it's taken seven months, but it's happened after all. It says something about me, doesn't it, that my first reaction after the initial shock was to think of writing a poem about it. Am slowly building up the portfolio, and I'm not above culling some of my older work and including it, in what probably amount to literary self-cannibalism. Reading over what I wrote in the past though, it's struck me how self-consciously 'poetic' I tried to be at times, and also my tendency to have epigraphs that sound more meaningful than the actual poem. I still think that 'Another Night On The Patio' was really a breakthrough of sorts for me, since it showed me it was possible to marry strong imagery to flexible syntax and get a good poem out of it. So will have to be quite sparing in what I include from my older work. Have picked out three so far, and that's likely to be all, though I wouldn't rule out taking specific lines from elsewhere and spinning something brand new out of them.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Episode 221: Picnic!

Am about to grab a tub of Ben & Jerry's from the freezer and finish it, before moving on to start on some writing. That's the plan anyway. Was originally going to head over to The Dirty Duck and then Kasbah, but some stuff cropped up and that's not happening tonight, which means I really should put the time to good use instead. I've got two ideas for fiction pieces at the moment. One's going to about a locksmith who gets approached by someone who wants him to make a bump key, and the other's going to be about the secret lives of clouds. I know that doesn't really make much sense, but I don't care! Will endeavour to get at least one of those ideas fleshed out, even if it's just 100-200 words and the story isn't actually finished. The afternoon was gloriously unproductive because the Singaporeans had a picnic in the middle of the field outside Mathematics & Statistics. Food, games and sunshine. What more could a student ask for in terms of procrastination? Meant to write something during the picnic, but I couldn't come up with anything beyond a very lame first line. That was for the locksmith story. What I need is something punchy, a hook to grab the reader right from the get-go. My litmus test: I must want to read the story if it had been written by anyone else other than myself.