Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Episode 281: Yesterday Redux

Stayed up to a crazy hour to finish reading The Evil Seed. The ending is overly melodramatic, but for a first novel, it's not too shabby on the whole. Instead of starting on the next novel, Sleep, Pale Sister, I've decided to start reading Katie Roiphe's Uncommon Arrangements, which is about the marital lives of seven couples of the London literary circle in the years before the Second World War. Completely random, I know. It was one of the books Michael Hulse wanted to get rid of when we last met for The Warwick Review, and I thought this was finally a work of non-fiction that I wouldn't mind reading. Am thinking of heading out tomorrow afternoon to get Eugene Chan's hard drive, and possibly pick up a couple of library books along the way. Am now continuing with Mental, which is shaping up into a cross of Grey's Anatomy and House, i.e. too much drama. Within three episodes, there have been enough surprise revelations to fuel one full season of another show. This does not bode well for the longevity of this series! The repeated unsubtle hints that Chris Vance's character, Jack Gallagher, is hot don't exactly help. We get the point, writers, move along now. I mean, Gregory House is considered one of TV's sexiest doctors, and the writers didn't have to keep emphasising that to us.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Episode 280: New Music, New Shows

Just saw the video for 'World Gone Crazy', the new Sleepthief single, featuring Coury Palermo. I'm liking it very much, especially Palermo's voice. Kind of reminds me of music from Emmy Rossum and Enya because of the layered vocals. Tweeted about it and Palermo actually replied to my tweet! I hope he releases an album soon, and meanwhile, I'll be waiting for Sleepthief's Labyrinthine Heart. My sleeping pattern's still a little messed up, so I took a nap in the afternoon instead of reading The New Poetry. Spent most of my time either reading Joanne Harris's The Evil Seed or checking out new shows. The anthology series, Masters Of Science Fiction, is interesting, kind of like the visual equivalent of reading a short story. (That's a slightly silly comment, since all the episodes were based on short stories in the first place.) 'What makes us human may one day be defined not by the gifts we posses, but by the virtues we lack.' That's a line that Stephen Hawking uttered in the third episode's closing scene. It's a bleak thought, if you're inclined to agree with it. Also saw the pilot episodes for Hung and Mental. The former's premise is a well-endowed man who tries to make a living out of his, uh, equipment. The pilot was a bit slow, took some time to find its footing, but it showed promise. Mental feels a bit derivative of House, although the scope of illness is more strictly confined and Chris Vance gets to keep his original accent (although you must admit, Hugh Laurie's American accent is flawless). I'm not sure what this show wants to be yet, nor whether it'll survive beyond one season, but as summer viewing while other shows have yet to return, I'll take it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Episode 279: I'm Bored...

I've been back less than a week and I'm already bored. Just finished reading May Barry's Jennifer Government. Was quite impressed by how the different storylines began converging as the book progressed, but I think the ending could have been better handled. Left me feeling like there was something more to be said, like it could have been the start of a great series. I like corporate satire though, and this is an interesting riff on the subject. Plans to turn it into a movie have stalled, it seems, although I remain hopeful. It would be awesomely entertaining, you know it would! Tomorrow, I'm going to start reading some poetry for next year's modules. Managed to see an episode each of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and CSI: NY. I quite like Laurence Fishburne's character in the former, although I'm not sure that he can quite fill Grissom's shoes on the show. I'm starting to realise how awful it is to have all my favourite shows not airing new episodes during summer. It's an opportunity to catch up on stuff that I've got on my hard drive, I suppose. That and the mediocre drama on local TV.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Episode 278: Jet Lag...

Finally got around to reading Max Barry's Jennifer Government, which gave rise to the online game, NationStates, which I played for a while years ago. It's very readable, although I know some of my friends would sniff at it for not being, shall we say, meaty enough. That's the problem though. I like writing essays about complicated literary works, but when it comes to actually reading something for fun, I'm more likely to pick whimsical or lightweight cleverness over deep, tortured intellectuality. Not that I won't read anything containing the latter; it's just not likely to be something I'd spend an hour on without some other compelling reason. Am still feeling jetlagged, so am thinking of having an early night after dinner. Not going to church tomorrow, so might stay at home all day and learn Spanish. Or Latin. Or Quenya. Would go to the library, but it feels somehow hypocritical to say I'm not going to church because of the quarantine but still go along to the library, even though I do think the concept of quarantine is a bit flawed and Singapore's current number of cases suggests that it's a bit futile anyway.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Episode 277: Back, Safe And Sound

There was a lot of turbulence during the flight, and the repetition of the announcement grew very tedious after the first five times I heard it. Didn't get much sleep during the flight, nor did I read much of the Ligotti handout, so I'm currently feeling very sleepy. I've managed to unpack all my books and clothes, and after sorting the clothes out, I've realised that I probably have enough clothes to open a charity shop! Books as well, but I'm too tired to get around to shelving those. Will do that tomorrow, since I won't be going out because of my self-imposed quarantine for the sake of social responsibility. Can't attend the briefing for my school attachment either, but apparently, they can send over the stuff that I need to know anyway. Will have plenty of time on my hands over the next couple of days, just to chill and read, possibly even write something. Have had a couple of lines that I've been turning over in my head since the start of the week, but they're final lines, so I need to place them in some sort of wider context. Credit is due to a phrase that Jerrick tweeted week ago, which inspired me.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Episode 276: Homeward Bound!

My journey back to Singapore got off to a slightly rocky start because the taxi was late. Was beginning to get worried, but it turned up just as I was about to call the company to send another. Arrived at Pool Meadow with plenty of time to spare, and then Tiffanie appeared, so there was company all the way till the flight itself. Got stuck sitting next to an obese woman on the coach, said experience convincing me that obese people should be made to pay for two seats instead of one. I was uncomfortable throughout the entire journey! I hope the woman felt at least a little guilty. Being a bit fleshy is okay, but when you begin encroaching on other people's personal space, I think that's a problem. Tiffanie and I checked in together, so we were probably below or just slightly over our combined 80-kg limit. Hooray to not being charged! I managed to see three films during the flight, as well as three episodes of Little Britain USA and an episode of Jamie's Ministry Of Food. I saw Watchmen, which initially confused me terribly since I've never read the comic, but I sort of figured out what was going on by the end. Then I saw this Chinese film, The Equation Of Love And Death, which again, left me slightly confused, but when all the dots connected, I thought it was quite brilliant. I would have happily read a book with a plot similar to that in terms of its convolution. In fact, I already have. Several times. Dragonball Evolution felt a little silly to me. No disrespect intended to fans of the manga, to which I'm sure they'll agree the film didn't do justice. It just felt like the whole thing had been dumbed down to fit American tastes. Also saw bits of He's Just Not That Into You, which for me was a failed attempt at cleverness and complexity. Didn't help that I was really sleepy by that time...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Episode 275: All My Bags Are Packed

I'm ready to go. I've shuffled some of my stuff around again, and I think it fits slightly better now. Still overweight, of course, but I'm still praying for a miracle on that front at the check-in counter tomorrow. Found out that I have to self-quarantine when I get back to Singapore, at least where MOE is concerned. So I can't attend the briefing for my school attachment, and apparently, neither can a lot of my peers. Personally, I think the whole concept of quarantine is inherently flawed. I'm supposed to be quarantined, but there's nothing to stop my family members from going out and about, and if I were infected, what's the likelihood that they wouldn't be as well? Think about it. Without meaning to downplay the danger posed by the current pandemic, or disregard all those victims who've lost their lives, I think we're overreacting as a global community. Then again, I'm not a healthcare expert, so what do I know? Perhaps they're all right after all, and I'll be sorry for doubting them when the virus mutates and comes roaring back with a vengeance. Am making myself a last crummy dinner, before heading out to The Dirty Duck for the last time until autumn blows around. I'm going to miss this place while I'm gone. I think I'll miss it more than I've missed Singapore, which sounds like a terrible thing to admit to, but there you go. I've typed it here, for all the world to see. A quick word about my results. This first year has turned out, shall we say, quite literally, for which I'm grateful. Here's to more of the same in 09/10!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Episode 274: Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, The Illegals & Monsters, Inc.

It seems like we are doomed to experience housing drama, even until the last moment. Turned up at the house, only to discover that the house specified in the contract wasn't the one that we thought we were getting. Thankfully, that's been cleared up and new contracts signed. Rooms have also been sorted. Impartially, I might add. Much thanks to Dan and Shen Ting for helping me to move my stuff into the black cab, especially Dan, who followed me to Earlsdon and then helped us to move our stuff in as well, even though he didn't have to. I owe you one, Mr Barrow. So now everything's settled and the only lingering question is how much, if at all, I'm going to be charged for my overweight luggage. Fingers still crossed on that one. Came back to campus with Lola while the others popped off to Birmingham, and then I went to Adriana's production of Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, which was great. The actress cast as Honey looked eerily like the actress from the film version. Prettier, of course, but still bearing a somewhat uncanny resemblance. Mentioned it to Bella as we were leaving the CAPITAL Centre, and she agreed. This is one of my favourite plays ever, so it was nice to catch it during SPLAT Fest.

Wanted to grab a smoothie from the Library Coffee Bar, but it was closed. So I sat in the Library and finished up Celan's Fathomsuns and Benighted. My head felt properly messed with by the end of that, and I was only reading the English translations. Can't imagine what it must be like for a German speaker to read those poems. Thought of staying in the Library until it was time for The Illegals, but decided that I would trudge back to Westwood instead. I mean, it's not like I actually had anything important to do! Anyway, The Illegals was an interesting interweaving of life stories, and I suspect the cause it champions is one that I could actually envision myself supporting with more than just words. We'll see. No Colin Firth because he was filming and they overran their schedule, otherwise I'd have been sitting a mere metre away from him. Not that it mattered to me, since I'm not really a fan of Colin Firth anyway. No, I have never seen the wet shirt scene in the 1995 TV serial adaptation of Pride And Prejudice, and if the rest of the world is to be believed, I am apparently missing out on a 'defining moment' of television. Cue shrug.

Went straight from that to the last Ugly Cousins Club meeting, which saw some reading, followed by many abortive drinking games. Haha! I was just nursing a bottle of Bacardi Breezer throughout. Some of us split off to head to the screening of Monsters, Inc. on Rootes field, which was an experience in itself. It's one thing to catch a film with people in a cinema. It's quite another to be in the middle of a crowd on a field. It got a bit nippy though, which was the only downside. I confess that this is one of the more recent animated films, relatively speaking, that I've genuinely enjoyed. Of course, it helped that the screening was free, courtesy of KPMG and Warwick Student Cinema. Otherwise, I certainly wouldn't have paid money to see something that I've already seen. I've hardly ever done that before, if I remember correctly. I think people who pay money to watch the same film multiple times, as people do with the Harry Potter series (and soon will with the Twilight series), are just being silly. Wait a while more, buy the DVD, and you can rewatch it as many times as you want! So all in all, it's been a busy day. One day closer to leaving for Singapore...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Episode 273: Packed And Ready To Go

Had pancakes with my cell in the morning, and after that, we had our usual meeting stuff and then went to see Krisztina's Irish dancing performance. That was fun, and I also kind of like Celtic music anyway. Left to pick up my Good Food Society hoodie at the Arts Centre, and then rejoined my friends for a drink at The Dirty Duck. Then I came home and repacked. Now that has been depressing. I've bought an additional box, although I'm not sure how much lighter it's made my luggage. My laptop bag is stuffed full of books, so the laptop's going to go into the Crumpler, itself stuffed with books. You know what would be really nice? If somehow, when I arrive at Heathrow on Thursday, someone on my flight to Singapore spots me and offers to check in his/her luggage with me, thereby solving my overweight woes. Alternatively, a lucky break at the check-in counter, involving me smiling at the person handling my luggage and him/her ignoring the fact that my luggage is ridiculously overweight. If neither of these scenarios occurs, then there's only one solution: credit card. Sigh.

Anyway, when we were walking back towards The Dirty Duck, we saw a couple of ducklings in the pond outside the Mathematics building. They were really cute, just paddling away and what-not. However, there was one duckling that just wouldn't stick with the rest. Kept trying to climb up the ramp at the side of the pond. It was funny at first, but then it became a bit upsetting because the duckling just couldn't get out and was just wearing itself out trying. Apparently, the other ducklings were from a nest that someone had just taken off the roof of the building, but it seems that this particular duckling wasn't one of their number, hence the refusal to hang around the others. It was the closest thing to heartbreaking drama I've ever witnessed on campus! We weren't the only ones watching though, and after we left, some guy scooped the duckling out of the water and brought it to the other end of the pond. Didn't help though, and probably terrified it to death! Ah well. Maybe I can write a poem about this duckling? That would be an interesting poem, I think.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Episode 272: Almost Done With Packing!

Have finished reorganising my Facebook albums! It was tedious, and cost me more hours of sleep than the unimportance of the task justified, but I feel vaguely satisfied, now that it's done. I've also almost finished with my packing. Bought two more medium boxes from Costcutter, which turned out to be smaller than I expected, but I've managed to squeeze stuff in them. May end up sticking any remaining random stuff into the backpack. It's finally starting to sink in, the fact that my first year of university is drawing to a close. Today was already the last time I'll be at Westwood Church for about three months. Went along with some of my church friends to a performance by Warwick Revelation Rock-Gospel Choir, which was an interesting experience! Came back after that and did my laundry. The stains still won't come off! So I'm going to have to take the clothes home and let my mum have a go at removing the stains. As for the dryer, I put in £1.50 instead of £1, but my clothes didn't come out any drier than usual. What gives? The clothes were, after all, tumbling for an extra 25 minutes.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Episode 271: Alumni Day

Am about to head out to The Dirty Duck to meet Dan and whomever he's asked along for drinks. Spent most of the afternoon helping out for The Warwick Review. I say helping out, but all we really had to do was sit around, listen to readings, and try to hawk the magazine. During our shift at the stand in Humanities from 3 to 5 pm, Laura and I had just one person walk pass and stop. Gave her a free copy of a back issue and she took a subscription form, said she'd think about it. Anyway, I really enjoyed hearing Tiffany Atkinson, Claire Crowther and Carrie Etter read and talking with them. Hearing my friends read was also interesting, and I heard a lot of work today that I enjoyed, Conrad's in particular. I read just one of my own, and I picked 'Caged', which I should probably not read anymore just because I've read it thrice already, and I can predict what sort of reception it'll receive. Time to read something else when I next do a reading. The working lunch provided for us was also very, very satisfying to nibble on in between readings! I also mixed myself a cup of yuanyang by mistake. That's tea and coffee, with milk, in case you were wondering. A Hong Kong thing, which I've always been slightly curious about. I am happy to report that it doesn't taste awful, although it doesn't taste to-die-for either. Sugar helps, greatly. I'm in the midst of reorganising my photographs on Facebook in chronological order, as I've just noticed that albums can hold up to 200 pictures now. This is the sort of utterly pointless activity that I can only indulge in when the most pressing thing that needs to be done is finishing my packing. Haha...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Episode 270: L'empreinte De L'ange

Headed onto Central Campus to get some errands done. First order of business was getting my book posted, so that I can get some money back for what was essentially not my fault. Refer here for details. With any luck, this return will actually make it back safely, although that is usually the norm rather than exception, which leaves me still very unimpressed with how this site treats its customers, free worldwide delivery notwithstanding. Then I headed to the bank to sort out my financial situation, which has been pretty dire of late, even for me. It's got completely crazy this last few weeks, so I'm going to have to rein myself in next year and impose limits. Maybe even do actual accounts. I know, shocking, isn't it? Then I went to pick up my complimentary tickets for L'empreinte De L'ange (The Mark Of An Angel), before grabbing a bite to eat and then being boring by reading in the Library after pretty much everyone has deserted it. Quite happy with my decision though. Read some Carol Ann Duffy, from a Penguin collection because someone has borrowed all of her collections from the Library. Then I read this play by Grae Cleugh, Fucking Games, which really reminded me of Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?. Without giving away two much, let's just say that there are two sparring couples of different ages, as well as a surprise revelation at the end that I completely did not see coming. Sent Bella an SMS to tell her to check it out because I think she'll like it. It's twisted enough. Haha...

Then I went back to Costcutter to get a box, came back to my room and did some more packing, before walking back to the Arts Centre to meet Dan for L'empreinte De L'ange. (What can I say? I needed the exercise.) The film was understated, and the director's choices in terms of angles and perspectives was actually very good. It's films like this one that persuade me it is possible to analyse a film in the same manner that one would analyse a written text. Without giving too much of the plot away, suffice to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how unstable my sympathies were for the two female leads, and the shift was induced by the film in a very subtle fashion. Again, without giving anything away, I just want to say that I totally saw the twist in the plot coming. Like 15 minutes before it happened, I knew what it was going to be. It was quite a classic TV plot element, at least to me. Nothing wrong with that, of course, and I liked the ending of the film. It left me unsure of what to feel about the whole situation, as you aren't likely to find it in you to say either woman was entirely right or wrong in the way she acted. Go see it at the Arts Centre for yourself! It's screening for another two days, if I remember correctly.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Episode 269: Packing!

Have managed to pack away stuff into four medium boxes, four paper/plastic bags and one backpack. What I need is to get about two or three large boxes, and then I can pack away my remaining stuff in those. I've already filled my two suitcases, and as I have no weighing machine, I'm a bit worried that I've exceeded my baggage allowance! Will have to stuff loads of books into my Crumpler and laptop bags, I guess. Am bringing more books home to leave behind than I'd initially intended to, but this is in recognition of the fact that I'm probably going to accumulate a substantial number of books in the 09/10 academic year, so it's best to leave as little behind as possible. In fact, the only books I'm leaving behind are those that I think will stay here until the end of my degree. Call it a trove of potential inspiration, if you will. That means I actually have to read some of the books, and despite being free from academic stuff for the past week or so, I've failed to do much of that. I am going to make it a point to at least finish reading Celan's Fathomsuns & Benighted from Carcanet. I can pick up John Ashbery's stuff at libraries back home, a fact which surprises me. On the other hand, there's not much Thom Gunn to be found back home, which is quite upsetting. I'm still holding out for a Complete Poems from him, or at least an updated Collected Poems that incorporates Boss Cupid. Faber & Faber, get on it already!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Episode 268: More Baked Pasta

Woke up past noon and felt somewhat better. Bex came over for a bit in the afternoon so that I could help her sort out some DVD stuff. Took a while, and I told her to go home because I didn't know how much longer it would take. I actually figured out what needed to be done about an hour after she left, and then it was pretty easy from then on. Feel a bit geeky now for having worked everything out by myself! Went over to Tocil to make dinner at Hui Lin's place, and this time, the baked pasta was full of random stuff. Aubergines, bacon, beans, chicken sausages, eggs, ham. With processed cheese slices on top for good measure. Even low-grade cheese makes stuff taste better. Haha! So now I've used up half of my remaining pasta, and the remaining half is in an unopened bag, so that'll keep over summer. (My lunch, by the way, was as close to a balanced meal as I've ever got in three terms. I mean, I think I actually managed to cover all the major food groups for a change.) Headed off to The Dirty Duck after that to meet the usual suspects for a couple of drinks. Ended up at Lakeside, where some of the most boring/random conversation took place, depending on your perspective. Think I'm going to do some packing tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Episode 267: Stratford-upon-Avon

I can't believe I was woken up by a fire alarm at 5.30 am. Whoever was going around setting those things off on campus, you are one sick person. It's not even a funny joke! So that was pretty much my sleep ruined. Still woke up in time to catch the 16 to Stratford-upon-Avon. I arrived at the bus stop right before the 16. Talk about brilliant timing, huh? Anyway, my first impression of Stratford-upon-Avon is that it's a tourist town trying to be a rustic village. It's kind of weird because when you walk down High Street there, it looks like any other main shopping belt in the UK. Can anyone say clone town? That said, the place does serve its purpose, preserving a piece of English heritage. I'm not sure why we're not allowed to take pictures in the houses though. Would have sneaked some, but then again, the interiors weren't entirely the sort of thing worth snapping pictures off. Interesting historical value, but well, let's just say that the exteriors were picturesque enough to compensate. I also had one of the most fantastic loaded jacket potatoes ever! Bacon, cheese and mushrooms. Yummy! Had a good time walking about the town, and managed to avoid spending unnecessary cash, so that's always good. Even made it back in time for dinner and cell, though I think my sharing was a bit incoherent because my blocked nose has been giving me a headache. Urgh. Hopefully, I'll feel better after a night's sleep.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Episode 266: Drinking Games

Went to Iceland and Tesco after my meeting for The Warwick Review and returning a couple of books at the Library. I now have enough food to last me till the end of term. Also began packing my stuff today, and I think about half the clothes that I'm bringing back are packed, as well as two boxes of books that are to be left at my new house over summer. Definitely have to pack away more stuff, although it looks like my initial plan to bring just one suitcase back is going to be a spectacular failure, simply because I have too many books that are to be brought back and left in Singapore. Oh well. I'll sort it out. There's still more than a week to go anyway! I am rather annoyed though, that once again, buying books online has resulted in me receiving an edition different from what was advertised. In this case, it was William Gibson's Count Zero. It was completely false advertising, given that the ISBN listed was for the edition I wanted and what I received was something completely different. This would seem to me to be one of the stronger arguments for the e-book industry. On a separate note, my handphone's display has officially gone haywire. Now the screen's just black all the time. It's a good thing I brought a spare handphone over!

On to happier things. Despite a sudden downpour in the afternoon, the rain had stopped by the time I had to leave for Laura's. I (sort of) went as Dorian Gray to her birthday party, which slowly but surely morphed into a series of drinking games, beginning with Ring Of Fire. Now I finally know how that game's played! I quite liked Paranoia, although it doesn't really lead to that much drinking, does it? Just lots of secrets being traded in whispers and revealed in shouts. We thought of going to Top Banana, but heard that the queues were ridiculously long, so we ended up just staying in International House and drinking. Ended up playing Truth Or Dare, which was, shall we say, very interesting. Somehow can't see myself playing drinking games with my friends back in Singapore though. Incidentally, by the end of the night, Alex's t-shirt was essentially rags pretending to be clothing. I wound up shuffling through the dark to Tesco with Dan, Reece and Sophie. That was fun, if a little random. Am pretty confident I won't be waking up with a hangover tomorrow, although I think alcohol and a cold don't go so well together. Have to be up early to catch the bus to Stratford-upon-Avon with Dan and Laura!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Episode 265: Big Day Out!

Just got back from drinks at The Dirty Duck again. (Alex's idea, not mine. I would've just gone to sleep!) Finances looking a bit tight at the moment, but only because I'm actually trying to save some money for a change. Might have to save less than I'd planned for, although technically, that bridge has long been crossed. Anyway, I think the Nokia Nseries PC Suite is a bit too much technology for my liking. Was just trying to find a way to import my pictures, but it somehow became a synchronisation of all the pictures in my handphone. Urgh. It seems that it is possible to just copy them from the handphone itself, as if it were a hard drive, so that's what I've done, which means that photographs from the Big Day Out are now up! The safari tour was good fun, although the coach got a bit stuffy towards the end. My camera sort of died in the middle, and I didn't want to switch to my handphone's camera yet, so I had to keep sneaking shots in before the camera shut itself off. Tricky, but it worked reasonably well. I should probably add that my handphone is misbehaving as well! The display keeps going black when I slide it open, which is definitely not normal behaviour. I've only noticed it happening today and I hope it's not a sign of impending failure, although that would a perfect excuse to get my hands on the Nokia N97...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Episode 264: Pimm's Party!

Went to sleep at 4 am, so I kind of woke up past noon. Fun times. Didn't manage to get my laundry done in the day, so I had to do it after getting back from Antonia's Pimm's party. Not sure how much I had to drink there because after a while, we weren't exactly keeping track of the proportions being mixed. Had a good time though, apart from that weird guy who was pulling his pants down every couple of minutes. Alcohol, it would seem, really does do strange things to some people. Waking up late kind of ruined any plans for reading I might have had. At this rate, I'm not going to finish many of the books I've borrowed from the Library! I am presently being annoyed because the dryer has failed to live up to its name, more so than usual. This on top of the washing machine not removing the sauce stains from last week, and instead transferring them to two other items of clothing. May try washing them again if I can combine with Shen Ting's stuff to form a full load, otherwise I'm just going to bring everything back to Singapore and let my mum have a go at it with bleach. Should probably start my packing soon anyway...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Episode 263: The Woman In Black

Am not impressed by how the laminate of the replacement for my replacement battery cover is also starting to peel off. Am tempted to fire off an angry e-mail to the company that sold it to me, but I think it's pointless. Anyway, visited London today with Laura to see The Woman In Black. We saw Sophie for all of five minutes, she being en route to the Bubble. Spent about an hour in the British Museum, where I discovered a map in which the museum essentially implied Singapore wasn't one of the countries of Southeast Asia. It wasn't even on the map! Stopped by an Oxfam bookshop after that, where I picked up four volumes of poetry for just £12. Never heard of three of the poets before, but hey, at this kind of price, I figured I could afford to take a risk. Also managed to finish reading Emma-Jane Arkady's Lithium. Some good turns of phrase, but overall, I don't think it was an especially remarkable collection. As for The Woman In Black, it was as chilling as I remembered it from the performance I saw in Singapore, except that the audience back home didn't laugh quite as much as they did here. Frankly, I thought that was rather immature. While there were moments of humour in the play, the point at which there was the most laughter was a moment of tension, not hilarity, and I don't think the fault lay with the way the actors played it. Sorry, West End, you've actually managed to disappoint me. Never thought I'd say this, but possibly, just possibly, we might have a more mature audience in Singapore than London.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Episode 262: Déjà Fait

Today's passed largely in the same way as yesterday, except that I had cluster this evening. Had a chicken vindaloo curry for dinner, which is possibly the first spicy thing I've had here that has lived up to its advertising. I know, shocking, isn't it? This wasn't even an Indian restaurant, just The City Arms in Earlsdon. First thing to eat when I get home: laksa from the hawker centre opposite my block. Had the most random thought during cluster, which was that I ought to buy some kickass speakers for my room next year, just so that I can blast my music properly and sing along to it. In tune, I'd like to point out. Cluster ended sometime just after 9 pm, so I did make it to Varsity in the end. I think my mum's a bit worried that I'm trying to get totally smashed, which I'm not. I'm just wondering what my limits are so that I can avoid reaching them. Even when I was at Café del Mar, I was not drunk at any point, despite throwing up in the middle of the night. To end on a random note, I should read some poetry on the coach to London. John Ashbery, I think. Have been meaning to get into his work all term, but never had enough time to do so, by which I mean that I was procrastinating from actually having to use my brain to engage with something, as opposed to vegetating in front of my laptop.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Episode 261: But It Doesn't Feel Any Different

I genuinely wonder how much alcohol I would have to consume to wake up with a hangover the next day. To my knowledge, I've never had one. Have frittered away my first full day of true summer freedom on music, Season 7 of Charmed, and Cambridge Companions. My autographed copy of Daniel Boys's debut, So Close, has finally arrived, and it is eminently listenable. Also had the chance to take another listen to some of Jon McLaughlin's stuff. I had completely no idea that he was the one who sang 'So Close' on the Enchanted soundtrack, said song having been covered by Boys for his album. The random connections that you can uncover with a few clicks of the mouse! Spent some time downloading various Cambridge Companions while watching the first couple of episodes of Season 7 of Charmed. I think I might be able to finish the entire series before I leave the UK! Am now playing Uno on Facebook. Facebook is slowly turning into this amalgamation of everything that can actually take place in real life. It's cool, but also freaking scary. So I'm going to get off it and read some poetry instead. Go me.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Episode 260: Et L'été Commence...

So it's finally over. My first year as an undergraduate is essentially over. All that remains is a couple of weeks to tie up loose ends, before heading back to a country where the weather is slightly more predictable and spicy food actually packs a punch. The paper went well, I think. Wasn't nervous, although there were moments while writing when I sort of scratched my head and went, I should know what comes next but somehow it's escaped me. Did manage to put together two relatively coherent essays, so I'm almost definitely passing EN123, barring an exceptional disaster. Returned my library books, and then went to hang out in The Dirty Duck, where over the course of the afternoon/evening, I bumped into a lot of other people whom I wasn't expecting to see there. So just to clarify, Dan, I do not in fact know everyone. Today was an anomaly, I promise. We adjourned to Sophie's room, where we were greeted by the sight of Sophie sprawled on the floor, ostensibly asleep. More consumption of alcohol in a confined space followed, including my inviting Laura over in Sophie's name on Facebook while the latter was in the kitchen. To be fair, we could totally have done worse things with a logged-in Facebook account. Now I've just got back from the Library, where I was picking up some poetry to occupy myself for the rest of the week. Cool people go to the Library because we want to, not because we need somewhere to (try to) study. Haha! Lola was supposed to pass me our housing contract today, but somehow she forgot to call me. I would like to say that I was too drunk to call her, but the truth is that I just didn't think it was that big a deal.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Episode 259: Multiverse Morality?

Managed to sort out my essay plans and quotes early in the afternoon. So I'm going to spend the rest of the day re-reading the seven pages of notes that I've made. I'm not sure how much of the critical comments I'm going to remember, but I'm only taking very minimal quotes from the primary texts, so remembering those shouldn't be too much of a problem. Will probably pass the next couple of hours by alternately reading my notes and reading something else, just for variety. All this, naturally, after the Season 6 finale of Charmed. It's so tempting to just blow off work now and assume that it'll all come back to me somehow in 24 hours. Literally. I shan't though! Anyway, watching the season finale has rekindled my interest in the concept of a balanced multiverse, in the manner of Jane Jensen's Dante's Equation. I don't think it's possible to subscribe to it, at least not in the form that it's been portrayed in fiction and media, primarily because it either comes off as too reductive or too complicated, i.e. in practice, morality isn't something that you can conveniently flip in its entirety, e.g. in the season finale of Charmed, whereas the multiverse of Dante's Equation seems to defy the principle of Occam's razor. The idea itself, however it is applied, does seem to generate the sort of patterning and structure that confers a work the sense of substance, regardless of whether that substance is founded on anything to begin with. As Hugh Kenner commented on Waiting For Godot: 'For nothing satisfies the mind like balance; nothing has so convincing a look of being substantial.'

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Episode 258: Work Has Been An Eye-opener

The title of this entry says it all. While reading an essay on gender and modernism, I stumbled upon a paragraph that confirmed what I'd suspected ever since I began doing serious work for Tuesday's paper: I could have completely swapped my texts between the questions, and they would still provide adequate material for crafting answers. Different answers, obviously, but decent nonetheless. That's versatility for you. Have pretty much sorted out Q3, so as long as I don't forget what I'm actually planning to say, I should be fine once I stick a couple of choice quotations in my head. Am now in the process of fleshing out a plan for Q7. Tempting as it is to actually write out bits of my answers in full and memorise them instead of relying on an admittedly sound plan, I'm not going to do that. Knowing me, I'd probably blank and end up writing rubbish. As it is, my plans are pretty straightforward. None of the subtlety that usually turns up in my usual EN123 essays, at least not at a structural level. I am hoping that the arguments I'm making for each question are sufficiently nuanced to impress, and I am particularly pleased that the vague idea I had about using chronology to answer Q3 has turned out to be something workable, thanks to a critical essay I found in a Cambridge Companion. Will probably do a little bit more work, and then get some, for once, well-deserved rest.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Episode 257: Modernism? Postmodernism? Does Anyone Even Care?

Have started reading my secondary critical stuff and have already managed to round up some snazzy quotes. Now if only I could remember all of them! I've pretty much sorted out Q7 in my head, even though it's the question I've done less reading for. Still not sure what sort of argument I'm trying to make for Q3, although chronology might possibly be a point I want to raise, except that I'd then have to deal with the whole modernism-versus-postmodernism thing, which I'm keen to avoid because I think for me it'd end up muddying the waters rather than clarifying them. We shall see! Need to get some serious, hardcore reading done after church tomorrow. Dinner at Jerrick's went well, although I still have an entire jar of pasta sauce, and it probably wasn't a good idea to spend so long nattering away after dinner and dessert were actually done. Maybe I'll try to return the jar of sauce at Tesco? Feels like too much effort though. Might as well just use it at some point in the next three weeks. Anyway, I got so tired of procrastinating that I've written a parody of Robert Frost's 'Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening'. I actually think it's not bad, so I've posted it as a Facebook note for the amusement of my friends. I even tagged my tutor!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Episode 256: Today, Revision = Epic Fail

I think David Morley just gave me the Facebook equivalent of a slap on the wrist. So yeah, I will try to memorise some quotes for Tuesday's examination, even if they're all just incomplete fragments in my memory by the time I get to the venue. Today, so far I've failed to get any work done, despite staying up last night to read Williams. Am now taking my first tentative steps through Elizabeth Bishop's Complete Poems, and after that it shall be Eliot's Selected Poems and perhaps some random stuff on modernism to give all my reading a context to flounder in. The plan is to finish with all the primary texts by tonight, mull over it and quite literally dream up two brilliant theses. That will help to give my further reading some sort of direction. I'm not too bothered about Q7, since I'm writing about Eliot and Bishop for that. To be terribly reductive, he was sexist and she was lesbian; they're perfect for the question. If I can find a good quote on sexism in relation to modernism, I think I might have the beginnings of an opening sentence. Am feeling more iffy about Q3, simply because I'm not very sure what to say about Williams, Stoppard and Beckett. There's the obvious contrast between Williams early spareness and Stoppard's dense allusions, but there must surely be something to be said for Beckett and the idea of le mot juste too? Perhaps I should be decisive and eliminate one of the three?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Episode 255: Post-Varsity Industry

It's now a little after 2 am, and I'm about to try and finish reading Williams's Selected Poems. I've pretty much decided that I prefer his early work. Not to say that the later poems are bad, but for me they lack that spare quality which was the appeal of his early poems, and more succinctly conveyed his position, 'No ideas but in things.' I'm finding the stepped triadic line particularly irritating. I've got a book here that may shed some light on the complexities of it, but I'd just like to point out that it is rather trying on the eye to shift focus just a little bit across the page with every single line. Anyway, I've decided that the Library actually does make me more productive, as I don't have ready access to all my TV shows. (I think I've said this before!) I will probably not go to the Library on Friday though, as I'm almost done with reading the primary texts and will be moving on to criticism, including all those Cambridge Companions that I've downloaded. Everyone's hating on my Facebook status at the moment, and replying is actually keeping me from getting started on Williams, so I'm just going to get to the end of the selection from this collection, and then I'm going to shut my laptop and crawl into bed to finish the rest because it's too cold!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Episode 254: Productive Day!

Ah, the weather has returned to more bearable conditions today, and looks set to for the rest of the week. I went over to Mel's place to collect some stuff that she didn't want anymore, so that took up the morning. Then I headed over to the Library to join the 'cool' people who were studying there. While there, I found out from Sophie Mac via Twitter that there's a case of H1N1 influenza at Warwick! Cue mass hysteria and panic. Not. Although if anyone has some Relenza or Tamiflu handy, do share, thanks! I managed to read Beckett's Endgame, which is an interesting counterpoint to Waiting For Godot, although it made me feel more bleak than Waiting For Godot did. Then I read Stoppard's Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead, which has completely cemented my respect for Stoppard as a playwright. I've never actually read Hamlet, but I do have a rough idea of the plot, and I thought Stoppard's play raised some intriguing issues. Finally, I re-read Travesties, which is full of pithy lines. 'I may occasionally be a little overdressed but I make up for it by being immensely overeducated.' 'To lose one revolution is unfortunate. To lose two would look like carelessness!' How can you not love a play that has lines like those? Took a break for a disgustingly oily dinner, and then I read the introduction to William Carlos Williams's Selected Poems before heading back to my room. All in all, a very productive day indeed. I feel like I deserve a slap on the back. Or two.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Episode 253: The Mercury Climbs...

Our spell of warm weather continues, with temperatures comparable to those back home in Singapore on a rainy day.How did I celebrate this spate of glorious sunshine, you ask? I got my hair cut. Yeah, the windswept look just wasn't working anymore. In fact, it was beginning to get very annoying. So my hair's back to a short crop, which I will allow to grow out for the remaining three weeks that I'm here. Also picked up the essay questions for EN123, and after figuring out which two questions I want to do, I went to the Library to pick up a few more books. I definitely have more material than I need, so it's just a matter of synthesising a sound argument. Twice. The good mark on my Heart Of Darkness essay was heartening, no pun intended. As expected, I've dropped Yeats from my list of writers to be revised, so I'm looking at a 2-3 split. Not sure if I'll revise Beckett, suppose it depends on whether I find anything terribly compelling and/or relevant in the criticism on him. Cooked for cell today, with some help from John. I thought everything turned out rather well, considering my inexperience, although I did splash sauce all over my t-shirt when the bottle of cooking oil slipped through my fingers. We shall see if the stains come out!

Monday, June 01, 2009

Episode 252: Threadless Sale. Again!

Got back grades for EN124, and that's worked out to a high 2:1 overall, which is great. Have discovered that the cover of my laptop now has a lot of random scratches and scuffing. A little annoyed, but have realised from the moment the laptop arrived that choosing glossy over matte was one of those stupid moments when I traded common sense for aesthetics. Oh well. On to happier things, like the $5 Threadless sale! I'm going to get myself some new t-shirts again, except this time, I'm going to pay for as little of them as possible. How, you ask? By referring people to Threadless, as well as taking pictures of myself in Threadless tees and uploading them to the site. I've already earned USD 6 through referrals, and after I'm done with the photographs, I should get another USD 24. That's going to be enough to cover the shipping and then some, so I won't have to break the bank just to get some additions to my wardrobe. I will stop buying clothes after this, I really will. Only one caveat to this, and that's if I come across a leather jacket. Still slightly sore about missing out on that Zara one all those months ago! One last thing: shopping for groceries is still something completely alien to me. At least this time, I took less time to figure out the location of everything that I was looking for!