Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Episode 373: (Sort Of) Clean Room At Last!

I caved and started vacuuming my room today using the rather gross vacuum cleaner in my house, following that up by wiping the floor with a wet towel, which was good enough for me, since my standards of what constitutes clean are lower than my mum's, although I now admit that the frequency with which she cleans the house is by no means obsessive. In the middle of all this cleaning, an alarm suddenly intruded. Seems like something's wrong with our electrical circuitry, so the electrician's coming down tomorrow to have a look. Anyway, the point is that my room now looks presentable, with the addition of a duvet, two pillows, a bookcase, a dust bin, a rug and a laundry bag, all courtesy of Ikea. I'm quite sure I could have saved money by shopping elsewhere, e.g. Tesco, but I'm one of those people who wouldn't mind inhabiting an Ikea showroom, so I actually think the expense was worth it. Sort of. I'm annoyed that the bookcase tilts, and to fix it properly would require more effort than I'm willing to expend. A piece of cardboard, strategically inserted into a tiny gap between the wall and my cupboard, will have to do instead. I'm just glad that I changed my mind and decided to put in a bit of work to unpack all my stuff. Feel a lot better than I did yesterday, to be honest. Now if only we had an Internet connection...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Episode 372: Stuck In The Between

I'm already back in Coventry as I type this, but since my room is still dusty from the renovation work and my expensive (but very good) vacuum cleaner was stolen, I can't clean the place up, and will therefore resign myself to living out of boxes and a suitcase for a few weeks. I didn't even pay for that vacuum cleaner because my mum bought it for me while I was in Singapore, but that somehow makes it all the more worse. I think deep down, I'm a filial son, but I just don't know how to show it in tangible ways. I also feel like I'm worrying too much about all the loose ends regarding our housing, when nobody else seems overly worried at this point. Maybe I just like things to be tied up, so it always bothers me when they go haywire unexpectedly, regardless of how serious things are. To be honest, none of the things I'm concerned about can't be resolved with a few telephone calls and a firm attitude. Unfortunately, I hate calling people up and I'm also very averse to confrontation of any sort. I'm more likely to travel down to campus, just to get online and download a couple of episodes of various TV shows. If only all this could be resolved via e-mail, I'd gladly do it that way. Matthew 6:34 seems like a good verse to remember at this point. I will trust that everything will work out. Eventually.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Episode 371: Last Day Of Internet At Home For A Fortnight!

Yeah, you read that right. I'm going to be stuck without Internet access at home for a fortnight until the BT guy comes, and possibly a day or two more while O2 hooks us up. There's always wireless access on campus, but it's such a drag to have to go down even when I don't have classes, just so that I can check my e-mail. On the flip side, I guess at least now I have a fighting chance of staying on top of my reading for a couple of weeks. I really have no excuse this year, since the reading I actually have to do amounts to a fraction of last year's. (That's what you get for not doing modules that involve reading novels!) I'm really hoping to get a two-day school week, and I'm just waiting to find out when's my seminar for EN227 Romantic and Victorian Poetry. Anyway, I decided to pre-order Phil Wickham's latest CD as a gift to myself before I fly off. It comes with an acoustic version of the album, so I thought the two albums together would cover the two-hour coach ride from Heathrow to Coventry quite nicely. Am resisting the temptation to start listening to it now before I leave the house tonight!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Episode 370: 24 Hours To Go...

Okay, not exactly, but give or take a couple of hours and it's correct. I don't mind going back, but I'm not likely to relish the flight. As I was explaining to Shirley last night, it's the time spent between here and there that I don't enjoy, when you're neither where you came from nor where you are about to be. I'll be fine though. I'll just distract myself by reading a book or something. Have practically finished packing, and I'm only 2 kg over the weight limit for my luggage, so that's amazing. I'll probably be able to get away with it, as long as I check in my luggage early. That's going to depend on how long it takes my dad to leave the house, since he's flying off too, to Switzerland via Paris. Service today ended really early, which I thought was a good thing. It was actually kind of the ideal length, if you ask me. The Hands Mystica performance was also good, despite the occasional mistake. I'm now trying to finish reading John Stott's Your Mind Matters, so that my parents can pass it to Shirley next Sunday. It's about the importance of being a thinking Christian, something that my dad obviously felt was very necessary to impress on me, although I forget what occasion prompted this.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Episode 369: The Beautiful Letdown

Whoa! The Beautiful Life got canned after just two episodes, leaving four unaired. Guess even having Ashton Kutcher's name attached to this series wasn't enough to save it from itself! What a pity though. It didn't exactly have the best acting, but the cast was still rather easy on the eye. Maybe they should have capitalised on that more? I mean, for a show set in the modelling industry, it never really felt particularly glamorous, especially set aside shows on the same network like Gossip Girl and Melrose Place. Oh well. One less show to follow during this TV season! New seasons of Dollhouse and Ghost Whisperer have premiered, and I've just finished both episodes. I'm just glad that the latter seems to have avoided jumping the shark, despite moving the action forward by five years. I'm quite curious about what direction the writers are going to take, now that Melinda's son appears to be coming into his powers. Dollhouse is getting more complicated, which is good, but also means that the show is probably screwed after this season, since it's on Fox. Joss Whedon should've known better, after Firefly got cancelled. We'll see...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Episode 368: Packing Woes

I finally got around to doing some serious packing this afternoon. So my suitcase is full and just under the weight limit, a measly 23 kg. To be fair, if I only packed what I truly needed to take back with me, I could probably get by with a mere 10 kg, which speaks volumes about how much stuff I have and how well I've divided it between two countries. A lot of the weight is coming from books that I'm bringing over. For leisure reading, since I don't exactly have a lot of books for the modules I'm doing in 09/10. I've had to slash the number I'm bringing back by half, although it's a sensible move, since I was thinking of bringing stuff like novels by Thomas Hardy and Orhan Pamuk, all of which the Library has anyway, so there's no point in lugging my own copies over. I'm pleased that the Library actually has copies of Hardy's less famous novels, since I've always had this plan to read them all in chronological order and get progressively more depressed. Out of everything Mr Purvis ever said in class, I think this is one of the things that's definitely stuck with me.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Episode 367: Decisions, Decisions

Rewatched both of the Timur Bekmambetov films based on Sergei Lukyanenko's novels, just for fun. I kind of feel like the Dark Ones get a more balanced portrayal in the novels, whereas in the films, the good-versus-evil dichotomy is a lot more pronounced. Am reading Twilight Watch now, so I should be able to finish Last Watch before I head back to the UK. Have also found cheap flights back in December, but I haven't booked them because I haven't made up my mind to come back for two weeks then, and I'm also hoping that somehow my mum'll manage to redeem tickets from SIA. Am now trying to decide between attending my last Alpha session tomorrow and going to see Caleb and Chun Long busk. I know which I should do, but I'm still trying to decide which I want to do more. Such a minor decision, and yet I can't make up my mind. I did make up my mind today about which Threadless tees I'm bringing back to the UK. Also took pictures of myself wearing all of them, uploaded them to my Threadless profile, and earned enough points to cover shipping for about half a dozen tees! Now to wait for the next $5 sale...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Episode 366: One Year On...

So this blog's been online for a year, chronicling the ups and downs of my life as a fresher. As if to bring things full circle as I step into my second year, I went back to facilitating for High Achievers this afternoon. My first and last assignment for 2009. Ah, roasting in that familiar black jacket. As usual, I typed out the FR on my trusty N95 on the bus back home. Then I headed off for dinner in town with Jerrick and Jin. In between, I managed to pick up those Joost Elffers books by Robert Greene that I've been meaning to get, although judging by their hefty weight, I might not be able to take them to the UK with me. Not this time anyway. In all likelihood, I'm already bringing over too much anyway. We had dinner at an Indonesian restaurant in Paragon, where they had this intriguing puréed avocado dessert. Am now watching the latest episodes of Gossip Girl and Melrose Place, back to back. Talk about mindless TV. On a side note, I can't believe my parents don't approve of my heading off to New York by myself for Easter. They think the city's too dangerous, but well, no more dangerous than London. It's not like I'm going to stay in the slums...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Episode 365: Proud Holder Of A Biometric Passport

Collected my biometric passport today, so the first step towards New York has been made. Had to seal my old passport to it because of the UK visa, and the method they use at ICA is still surprisingly primitive, although admittedly, it's probably very effective at preventing people from separating the passports once they've been joined, since if the seal's integrity is compromised, if I'm not wrong both passports will be invalidated. Then I went to Eminent Plaza to join the freshers for their food trail. Just got back from our last stop, eating crabs at Jumbo. Am now watching the season premiere of House, which is something really different from what an episode of House normally involves, but the change of pace is interesting. Anyway, I almost registered for the Open Studies Certificates that I'm interested in tonight, but I'm having second thoughts. I'm still keen to do the one in Archaeology, but I'm not so sure if I still want to do the one in Philosophical Studies. It's less a question of time management than one of whether I can be bothered to see it through over a year. As I put it to Shirley, I have the intellectual capacity for it, undoubtedly, but not the discipline to make use of it.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Episode 364: Still No N97 For Me!

Am on a marathon re-reading session at the moment, trying to finish reading the first three books of Sergei Lukyanenko's Watch quartet in order to refresh my memory before I begin reading Last Watch. I suspect Natalie wants to read the books too, so it's just as well I've already decided to leave them behind in Singapore. It's better than reading Stephanie Meyer or J. K. Rowling, at the very least. Lukyanenko's books would work very well as a TV series, I think. I've seen the two film adaptations based on Night Watch, and while they were suitably gritty, there's plenty of storylines that they didn't cover, and now the Americans are going to make the third film and they're just going to ruin it. Went down to the Nokia store at Causeway Point, but at $989 without contract, the N97 is still too expensive for me to justify a purchase. Especially when it's my dad that's paying. If I fly back in December, perhaps I'll get it then, assuming the price has been slashed further. So since I'm not going to buy a new iPod either, now that Audrey is giving me hers because she's got an iTouch now, I guess I'm definitely buying that new Ted Baker reefer jacket. Haha...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Episode 363: Early Morning Musings...

I once thought to myself that it would only get easier. Leaving, how hard could it be after the first time? I managed to fool myself because the first time, I already had a ticket for a December return tucked away in cyberspace, and the second time, it was only going to be for six months. Now, with barely more than a week till the third time that I board an aeroplane to cross two continents, I realise that I was wrong. It doesn't get easier; it should get harder. The reason is entirely selfish, and betrays the sort of sentimentality that I am otherwise loathe to openly acknowledge: I resent having my life carved up like this, accumulating memories that practically belong to two different people. I have friends back at university whom I've known for less than a year, and I sometimes have more to say to them than to people that I grew up with. Yet these people are the ones who're going to still be waiting for me here, after the inevitable point comes when 'Goodbye' isn't followed by 'See you after summer' anymore, and the people I knew at university recede only as far as Facebook and my future salary and annual leave allow them to. It is this need to retune my feelings whenever I relocate that nags at me. Then there is that curious hybrid group, Singaporeans at Warwick, who evoke a completely different set of feelings altogether. Now if I were more disciplined, this is exactly the sort of psychological conflict that could be mined to significant literary effect. I am not so self-flagellating as to want to dissect my feelings by spinning work out of them. Much easier to get by with witty jibes, tongue firmly in cheek and the inaudible snap of words in the air. Far easier to just type it out here one night on the spur of the moment, so that all the subsequent days and nights can be lived with a lightness of heart and spirit.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Episode 362: Qui N'aime Pas Le Chocolat?

Just spent an hour typing out a reply to Bella's e-mail, which caught me completely out of the blue. Was going to put it off till Tuesday afternoon, but I decided not to procrastinate for once, and I'm supposed to be out of the house on Tuesday anyway. Finished reading Dexter In The Dark because I stayed up past 3 am, so I'm now re-reading Chocolat and falling in love with the confectionery descriptions all over again! I wasn't quite sure what to make of Jeff Lindsay's third novel, partly because the introduction of supernatural elements in the form of the god Moloch strained the plausibility of what has so far been a reasonably realistic novel series, not to mention that Lindsay's preference for what usually amounts to a deus ex machina to terminate the plot rang jarringly hollow this time. I do love the alliteration revolving around Dexter's name that's scattered throughout the novels though. Anyway, back to Chocolat. I'd forgotten how mouthwatering the passages describing sweets and chocolates were. They remind me of this other book, The Breadmaker's Carnival, by Andrew Lindsay. I'm also very intrigued by the chapters narrated by Father Francis Reynaud, since they seem to me a good example of creating a distinctive voice for a character, something that I've been trying my hand at in my prose work. Shall have to read the sequel, The Lollipop Shoes, before I fly back to the UK, since I'm not going to fly my Joanne Harris novels to Singapore, only to cart them back with me again to the UK!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Episode 361: BT Just Made SingTel Look Efficient

Watched the season premiere of Fringe and the second episode of The Vampire Diaries before I left the house for Alpha. The former was brilliant stuff, definitely taking the series to another level. The latter, frustratingly, still needs to pick up its pace, assuming it wants to hold its own against the other CW shows. I'm slowly warming to Ian Somerhalder's character, if only because Paul Wesley's character is so blandly tortured in comparison. I finished reading Dearly Devoted Dexter last night, so I'm starting on the last novel in the series that I own, Dexter In The Dark. Dexter Morgan, possibly the only loveable serial killer in literary history. Alpha today ended really late, partly because we started really late in the first place. I just arrived home to a missed call from the UK, which was almost certainly BT calling to inform me that I need to pay an obscene amount of money to get a landline up and running, and that it will also take them three whole weeks to get an engineer over to do it. Foresee myself living out of the Learning Grid, just to get Internet access. I think I'm going to have to rethink the whole idea of not wanting to move back to campus accommodation in my final year. The convenience is so attractive all of a sudden, higher costs be damned.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Episode 360: First Hangover Ever...

Left Zouk early because I was way past my alcohol intake limit. That's what I get for finishing one jug of Long Island iced tea by myself. So I woke up this morning with my first hangover, albeit a rather mild one, given that it's been less than six hours since I woke up and I feel more or less normal again. Anyway, I've just seen the premiere for The Beautiful Life, which while reasonably watchable, indicates that The CW's current formula seems to be to throw a bunch of generically beautiful people at a concept and hope they stick long enough for the show to become a hit. I like The Beautiful Life because a couple of actresses from other shows I watch are on it, namely, Ashley Madekwe (Secret Diary Of A Call Girl) and Jaime Murray (Dexter, Valentine). The latter's turn as Lila Tournay on Dexter was most impressive. Elle MacPherson also comes across as a surprisingly natural actress, compared to most of the 20-somethings that Hollywood has been turning out in the past few years. I'm afraid Mischa Barton's voice is weird though...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Episode 359: Trip Down To ICA (And Back Empty-handed)

Went down to ICA, but didn't end up making my passport, since I was informed that I could still get my old and new passports sealed together even if I applied for the latter online. So I figured, why waste the extra $10 that applying in person costs? Turned around and went home, although I did manage to finish reading Darkly Dreaming Dexter and move on to Dearly Devoted Dexter. Am now watching the second episode of Melrose Place before I head to meet everyone else at Zouk in a couple of hours. Yeah, this show is shaping up to be Gossip Girl's skankier, LA cousin. Then again, that role might already have been taken by 90210, but I wouldn't know because I haven't caught up on that remake yet. Now I'm not about to say that the cast possesses superb acting talent (because we all know that's at best a secondary concern on a show like this), but Ashlee Simpson-Wentz is still exceptionally bad. I don't know what's wrong with her, but there's something really annoying about her character's wide-eyed innocence. She doesn't even pull it off that well!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Episode 358: MIG 4

Just came back from MIG 4, which was at some HomeTeamNS place that Keegan found. Karaoke is always entertaining, although the shark's fin soup they served was really rubbish. Thin, lacklustre stuff. I had fun though, although Keegan, next time, don't be so ridiculous about dinner. Having seen the season premiere of Gossip Girl, I believe it's actually about the same quality as last week's premieres on The CW. However, the reason it's not a disappointment is because unlike Melrose Place and The Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl has the weight of two seasons' history to prop it up, which means however pointless the action in the episode appears when viewed in isolation, it's still the (somewhat) logical progression of things that have taken place before. The fact that the show always starts after a summer of unseen action helps, although some things just didn't sit right. Including Nate and Vanessa's respective new hairstyles. I really, really want Dan and Serena's creepy half-brother to be added on as a regular cast member, although I doubt it's going to happen. It's just that their blended family is already so bizarre, the writers might as well throw him into the mix, right?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Episode 357: I Need More Time!

I know I'm a bit late, but I finally viewed the infamous interview with Ris Low on YouTube, and while I'm not surprised that people with her (lack of) speaking skills exist in Singapore, I wonder if they have any idea how dumb they sound. I suspect she did at least, given the way she occasionally glanced in the direction of the person doing the recording. That, or she was just making sure the camera was still pointed at her to capture each last humiliating broken sentence. Anyway, it's starting to look like I still won't be able to finish the Italian course. I kind of don't like Spanish that much, to be honest, so am somewhat wishing that I'd started on the Italian course instead. Oh well. Feeling quite sanguine about it all. I did manage to finish reading Sleep, Pale Sister last night, so that's an achievement. I'm going to re-read Chocolat very quickly, but before that, I'm going to finish the three Dexter Morgan novels that are sitting glossily on my shelf. Then it's back to the Joanne Harris novels. I've still got so many books I want to read before I fly back! Urgh...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Episode 356: Worship & Barbecue!

So this afternoon, I led main service worship for the first time in a very long while (and what will be the last time for an equally long while), and after service, Uncle David said that my choice of songs was good, so I guess it went okay. I wonder what everyone thought of Chris Tomlin's 'How Can I Keep From Singing' during the prelude? I love the bridge of that song, although even when sung in G major, a few keys down from the album recording, it's verging on being out of my vocal reach. (I like a challenge!) Was roasting throughout practice though, as the air-conditioner nearest to me wasn't switched on. Took a taxi down to the Warwick barbecue at East Coast Park, which cost less than I expected. I didn't actually eat a lot, but had some good conversations with people I haven't seen since the end of last term, which was good. It's so odd to realise that we're the Year 2s now, although I was slightly amused to learn that one of the freshers is older than I am, thanks to Tiffanie's ruthless interrogation as the freshers paraded in front of our ad-hoc 'panel'. Stayed later than I'd intended to, but thankfully, I was able to share a taxi back with Bella, Sarah and Shen Ting, even if it did kind of mean I travelled in a circle to get home.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Episode 355: In Future, Don't Tell Me...

I've lost weight. Unless I ask you first, of course. I'm not so obsessed that I diet regularly (although I occasionally skip breakfast), but it does bother me when people tell me that I look like I've lost weight. For one thing, due to a mild exercise regimen I started more than a month ago (which has since grown to involve 200 press-ups, 50 sit-ups and 100 standing heel raises, with vaguely weekly increments), I've sort of gained a bit of muscle, and my weight is inching closer to what it was before I went through the army (during which I lost quite a lot of weight in fat). If I wanted to lose a few pounds now, I'd have to start doing some aerobic exercise again. Like running. Unfortunately, I'm a bit too lazy to actually do that. So far. Anyway, the whole point of this post is that this afternoon, after having lunch with my grandmother and aunts, one of my aunts commented that I've lost weight, but my face has got fatter. The latter is actually true, in that while I still have a decent jawline, I also have a slight double chin and my face is no longer as lean as it was when I got out of BMT. The former though, whenever I hear it, just makes me wonder if the person has all along considered me a bit hefty and just never dared to mention it. Now you know what goes through my mind when you tell me I've lost weight. So please, don't tell me that. It's not true, and it just leaves me slightly disconcerted.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Episode 354: Vampires & Ghosts

Watched the pilot episode of The Vampire Diaries and was less impressed than I was with the Melrose Place pilot. The pacing was too slow for a premiere and things only got interesting when Ian Somerhalder's character showed up. He looked a bit weird though. Lighting? Makeup? Aging? Incidentally, does it say something about our collective psyche that vampires are almost always portrayed as attractive and/or seductive? I think the series will draw a moderate audience, given the current Twilight craze, but if it's going to last beyond one season, it needs to pick up the pace. Quickly. Especially since on the whole, its cast is less attractive than those of the other CW shows, so that's already one point against it. I am almost done with Joanne Harris's Sleep, Pale Sister, which is atmospheric, but also a tad overwrought, like its predecessor, The Evil Seed. There isn't the lightness that comes through in Chocolat, although admittedly, it's hard to imagine Gothic fiction being light. The very concept seems antithetical, in both literal and metaphorical senses. The tossing of the narrator's voice from one character to another is a nice touch though.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Episode 353: Why I Write

Last night, I stayed up late to finish reading a back issue of The Warwick Review. In it, there was a piece of prose by Christopher Burns, entitled 'Readings'. I wouldn't have mentioned it here, except that this particular paragraph gave me pause:

'She is not sure if this is quiet admiration or light sarcasm. Alice is no Auden and she knows it. She fears that her published work will not survive her death. It will be forgotten, pulped, a footnote in academic studies of the age, nothing more. Often she feels that artists are driven by a need for an immortality that she is unlikely to achieve.'

It was that final sentence that stuck with me in particular. The thing is, I don't consciously think about literary immortality when I write my poems. Most of the time, anyway. I'm under no illusions about what the proliferation of contemporary literature is going to do for the chances of my work being remembered, years from now. To put it bluntly, I know I'm competent, someday I may even be very good, but greatness, I suspect, is going to forever be out of reach. I'm no Auden either. Yet there is a small part of me that nonetheless subconsciously hungers, longs for my words to be read and remembered. After all, I like putting words together, but I also like knowing someone else appreciates the effort! In other news, I've given up hope on trying to finish the Italian and Spanish courses, so I'm just going to go through the core lessons for each unit, and that'll have to do for a basic grounding. I would also like it on record that The CW is officially my favourite TV network for the foreseeable future, as I think the remake of Melrose Place is trashtastic, although markedly weaker than Gossip Girl (and Ashlee Simpson-Wentz is by no means an actress). Now if The Vampire Diaries is of similar or better quality, that'll seal the deal.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Episode 352: Eleventh Hour

I've finished watching the first (and only) season of Eleventh Hour, which is a good way to satisfy my craving for slightly more bizarre scientific mysteries until the new season of Fringe premieres. I particularly like its title card sequence, with the clock ticking towards the titular eleventh hour. The science is less outré than in Fringe, but still sufficiently compelling that I've watched six episodes back-to-back each day for the past three days. The lack of a background story that connects all the episodes together (except for two episodes dealing with cloning) does kind of limit the complexity of the overall plot, but I suppose if the show had been renewed, the producers might have moved in a different direction. Anyway, today's issue of Digital Life clued me in on the National Library Board's electronic catalogue, so I decided to check it out. Downloaded an audiobook and an e-book for starters. The audiobook was, believe it or not, the first book in Cecily von Ziegesar's Gossip Girl series. Disappointing stuff. The show's full of trashy goodness, but its written forebear leaves a lot to be desired. There is lightweight fiction, and then there is writing that is just plain painful to read, let alone hear! The e-book was about philosophy, which I'm using to gauge whether I can sustain an interest in the subject over the course of a year, as I have to register for the Certificate in Philosophical Studies within the next week or so, if that's something extra that I want to be doing in 09/10.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Episode 351: Is It Procrastination If It Isn't Crucial?

Am just beginning to discover just how many episodes of a TV show I can actually get through in one day. If only I spent as much time on the online language courses, I would definitely have no problem finishing them by next week. At my present rate of progress, I will finish the Spanish, but will not have time to start on the Italian. Granted, the courses use identical pictures, so I just need to hear how Italian is pronounced and I can figure things out from there by myself. It's nice to have the visual progress of the online course though, so I shall endeavour to make more rapid progress in the remaining nine days! I think I rely too much on Wiktionary to translate words for me, which kind of defeats the purpose of the course, i.e. learn from context and immersion. Still, whatever works, I guess. I've been amassing a good number of movies these past couple of days, including stuff that I would have already seen at a cinema if I had more of a social life in previous years (and if watching movies in Singapore didn't cost so much). One thing I haven't procrastinated about is getting worship for this Sunday's service sorted out. Have sent a reminder to Chon Tze about getting the band and I've picked all the songs out. It's only Tuesday! Usually, I'm still trying to get my act together around Thursday, so this is a good head start.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Episode 350: Chill Out, Anonymous Folk!

So apparently I've upset someone by dissing the Backstreet Boys in my previous post. I'm pretty sure I don't even know the person who left the comment, since I expect that any of my friends reading this blog will have the decency to leave their name when they comment. Since I'm already upsetting people, I might as well carry on in a similar vein. Having seen a few episodes of Eleventh Hour, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that in retrospect, Fringe is actually the lovechild of Lost and this cancelled series, since what Eleventh Hour is missing is Fringe's conspiracy theories, of which Lost has plenty. Now, I don't think I've upset too many people by this speculation, but given that an innocent lament about the premature recycling of pop culture managed to inspire ire in someone out there, who knows? On a far less controversial sidenote, I spent an hour a couple of nights ago reading Alessandro Baricco's Silk. It was one of the most beautiful works of literature that I've read, and its style kind of put me in mind of Baricco's countryman, Italo Calvino, especially the way in which Hervé Joncour's repeated journeys to Japan are described in variations of the same linguistic template. The brevity of the chapters also reminded me of Russell Hoban's haiku-like novel chapters, and the final twist at the end of the novel is wonderful. Now I'm going to watch the film version that came out in 2007.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Episode 349: Who Brought The '90s Back?

I just had a listen to the new Backstreet Boys single, 'Straight Through My Heart'. This single is trying to tick so many culturally relevant boxes, it's almost painful. Sprinkling of electronic beats, courtesy of RedOne's production genius? Check. Video cashing in on the current vampire craze (and ripping off the Blade franchise in the process)? Check. Boyband from the era of manufactured pop trying to make a comeback in the new millennium? Check. To be fair, I actually like this new single much better than the stuff they were putting out when they were angling for the adult contemporary market. The video, however, is still completely stupid. Personally, I think the whole spate of pop acts reuniting or relaunching their careers is getting just a little ridiculous, although the fact that many of them have chosen to ape the 'it' sound of the moment (i.e. channel the likes of Lady Gaga) helps immensely. It might even guarantee them commercial success! At least we seem to have passed through that phase during which hip hop seemed to dominate the airwaves to the exclusion of unashamedly radio-friendly pop. That's one of the big reasons why I stopped listening to the radio from the mid-'00s onwards.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Episode 348: The Mind Café & Moonstone

So our cell finally met up outside of Alpha sessions, after about a month. Went to the Prinsep Street outlet of The Mind Café, which actually feels quite cramped. The food tasted like it was frozen stuff reheated in a microwave, although to be fair, the apple crumble I had for dessert was decent. I think the most interesting new game I learnt this evening was actually Jungle Speed. I do wonder who comes up with all these game ideas though. There are so many board games, but very few seem to achieve iconic status in our culture, e.g. Monopoly or Risk. Perhaps if board games cost less? Or we didn't spend so much time on the Internet? Who knows? We squeezed into Hui Juan's car after that for the drive up Mount Faber to Moonstone at The Jewel Box to meet Tim and Huimin for drinks. The view up there's nice, but I still think the Singapore skyline at night is kind of boring, at least compared to say, Hong Kong. I suppose it'll be better once the integrated resorts are all up and running. Ended up veering into a theological discussion in the Lokes' car on the way home, which I repeated with my dad and mum when I got back, with mixed results. Will clarify things with my godfather tomorrow at dinner.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Episode 347: A Lyricist I Am Not

Managed to get two more scenes done in the afternoon before heading to my grandmother's place for dinner. Would continue writing now that I'm back, but I'm too tired to think about the remaining three scenes. (Stayed up till 4 am this morning completing a unit of Spanish!) I sent Bella an SMS to tell her that I'll finish them by tomorrow afternoon, before going for dinner with my cell. I've realised that I'm hopeless at writing song lyrics, so I've just slapped down eight short lines for now to fill that little bit I was supposed to write in Scene 8. I'll finish up the rest of the script tomorrow, and if I have any ideas, I'll change the lyrics. Otherwise, Sarah's just going to have to improve on what I came up with, which at the moment is several lines of naff rhyming. Well, there goes one potential career down the drain. Have had a listen to Balligomingo's new album, Under An Endless Sky, and I think it's an improvement from its predecessor, Beneath The Surface. Still can't shake the feeling that the songs don't have as much depth as stuff coming from Delerium and Sleepthief though.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Episode 346: MIG 3

I tried to write the next scene in the script this afternoon, but I only managed to get through the first quarter of what I have in mind for this long, dialogue-intensive scene. Will try again tomorrow. The next segment should be kind of funny, since it's going to feature some lines adapted from the scene in which Lady Bracknell grills Jack on his financial and family background. Shirley thinks the dialogue so far is very 'English', which is good, but might encounter some resistance from other people working on the musical. I personally think it's okay, since I never imagined the characters to be speaking in anything other than what Kelly once called the 'educated Singaporean' accent. Haha! Had dinner at New York New York with some of the freshers. For the record, I did not tell Keegan that we had to have dinner there. It was just a suggestion, but in typical fashion, he just decided and said it was entirely my idea. So now I've met a couple of the freshers, who seem nice enough. MOE has assigned me to a junior as her senior buddy, but I have no idea who she is. I don't even recall having a senior buddy from MOE when I was a fresher!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Episode 345: Derailed Day

Was supposed to spend today getting on with the script, but wound up sorting music by Do As Infinity and The Veronicas in iTunes for the better part of the afternoon and evening. I've decided to give up on trying to finish the library books for now, since Jane Smiley's 13 Ways Of Looking At The Novel can be found at the Central Library in Coventry, and I've made up my mind to purchase Memory: An Anthology, as well as Secret Ingredients: The New Yorker Book Of Food And Drink, the latter partly on the strength of the following two sentences: 'To make a tomato get sweeter without falling apart not only is technically demanding but demonstrates, with a stubborn, sublime logic, an extremely abstract botanical point. Tomatoes are not vegetables; they are fruit.' I don't know about you, but those couple of lines by Adam Gopnik struck me as being rather beautifully written. So instead, I will spend time trying to finish my Spanish and Italian courses, and to read a few Joanne Harris novels because I don't intend to bring any back to the UK. I'm carting about 25 books over this time, although that plan may change if they prove too heavy. Priority goes to the clothes that I need to take with me, since I have plenty of books in Coventry already, but I brought a good number of nice jeans back for summer!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Episode 344: New Shoes!

At Claudia's suggestion, we had dinner at Shahi Maharani, which I've only been to once previously, which was Mediacorp was filming an episode of Maggi & Me there, and they were waiting for us to vacate our table because they wanted to use it. That's about as close as I've ever been to a local celebrity. Paid visits to Aldo, Beetle Bug and Pedro, by myself before dinner and with Claudia, Derrick, Eugene and Thong after. It would seem that my taste in shoes is universally regarded as non-existent. Whatever! None of the cheap shoes that I thought of buying were available in my size, so I ended up buying something from Aldo that was still discounted, just not as steeply. Eugene said it was very 'skater', but I disagree. In any case, I've long since stopped seriously taking into consideration his opinion on any aspect of my sartorial sense, since our tastes are largely divergent. I am pleased that I've managed to find something that I like though, which is also practical for the predominant weather patterns of the UK. It didn't even cost me more than $100 this time. I was mildly surprised to see the same shoes in Pedro as last year, but I figured they were trying to clear old stock, since those shoes were 'New Arrivals' when I was there in 2008.