Monday, November 30, 2009

Episode 434: Little Bits That Add Up

Finished the essay around 2 am! Felt that it was decent, but think it's not quite as good as I'd meant for it to be, which is annoying. Oh well, it's worth 1.875% of my degree. Doesn't sound like a lot to be honest, but it all adds up in the end, so it would be nice to get a First for my first piece of assessed work this year. Given how I'm relying on LL209 to pull up my overall average this year, it's a bit disconcerting how little studying I've done for my test tomorrow, which is admittedly worth only 1.25% of my degree. I have gone through the irregular verb conjugations and the negations, but there doesn't seem to be anything else that I can do. I know we're not supposed to use the dictionary for the grammar section, but given that dictionary entries for verbs tend to provide enough information to extrapolate from, I don't see what not using the dictionary actually means. It's not as if everyone's suddenly going to shut their dictionaries together for one section of the paper! Anyway, have started on the creative writing for this week by doing the pseudo-translation of H. C. Branner for Peter Blegvad's seminar on Friday. There is some sort of story here, slightly disturbing and eerie. Not sure what to make of it really.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Episode 433: Last Essay Of Term!

Gaby's party was great fun! At one point, Reece suggested drinking games, and all of a sudden, a huge number of people were crowded into Charlie's room, going through a range of drinking games. I eventually ended up playing I Have Never with a bunch of people I'd only met for the first time that night, which would have been awkward under other circumstances, but it was fine. Dan stayed over, but I took a taxi back home. The driver was pretty friendly, and we chatted about Singapore most of the way back. Instead of going straight to bed, I spent a couple of minutes rewriting my essay's introduction. Yeah, I'm hardcore. Didn't make it to church, so I spent the rest of the day trying to start on the rest of my essay. Only really got going in the evening, and I've reached the point where I think I might not have enough words to say everything that I want to. Oh well. Once this is done, I can pretty much relax for the last two weeks of term. Still have to study a bit for Tuesday's French test, but that won't take too long. Then an hour or so of scripting some new dialogue for the musical.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Episode 432: Introductions Hate Me

We've been given a two-week extension for the report, but I handed mine in anyway because although it's not as good as it could be, it's as good as I can be bothered to make it right now. Plus once my close reading is done and my French test is over, I've got nearly two weeks of complete freedom from deadlines before I fly home for a short break. Speaking of which, the introduction to the close reading has been killing me all day since I started working on it. I know more or less what the rest of the essay is actually going to be about, but I can't find the right words to niftily summarise it in the introductory paragraph. Had hoped to finish at least that much before Gaby's party tonight, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen. Upon re-reading 'Ozymandias' for the nth time though, I have realised something amazing. It's a very minor structural thing, the sort of point I'd make right after the introduction just to get it out there. Anyway, it's basically how I think 'Ozymandias' is a sonnet that merges characteristics of the three major sonnet forms in English, i.e. Petrarchan, Spenserian, Shakespearean. Slightly tenuous, but it does have a sort of bearing on my final conclusion, about how 'Ozymandias' is like a matryoshka doll that hasn't been completely assembled.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Episode 431: Two Out Of Two...And 22!

The day began really badly. I overslept and missed my 9 am seminar, despite setting two alarms, but since the EN232 seminar repeats at 11 am and 1 pm, that wasn't really a problem. Forced to turn up late for the EN273 seminar, as once again, I had to wait for a delivery by City Link. I wish Amazon UK would just use Royal Mail more often! Things looked up once I actually turned up in class though. Read out my stuff twice today, once in each seminar, and received positive feedback from Michael Hulse and Peter Blegvad, tutors whose judgements I respect and value highly. Win! Poem here, story here. At this point, have begun thinking about EN232 portfolio, so am still trying to decide what sort of stuff to write for it. This story is a possible direction, but will it fill an entire portfolio? A realise mode is possible as well, see here. Made £22 after classes by repeatedly solving the Tower of Hanoi, although I think the point of this research experiment was really to do with people's self-perception and predictive abilities. It was an Economics department thing, after all. Must keep an eye out for more of this sort of thing! Sophie Mac and Stevey's speakeasy party was fun, my flat cap being fairly well-received. Someone said I looked kind of ghetto, but I know he didn't mean it in a bad way. Had to leave early though because I've still got one last lesson tomorrow for this term's Archaeology module. Didn't even drink that much. Remedy that at Gaby's party tomorrow?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Episode 430: Archaeology Report Done!

The Keats lecture today was even more entertaining than last week's. Impressions are always a hoot. Seminars are another matter altogether. I always feel vaguely dissatisfied when I leave, like we're always just skimming the surface during that one hour. I suppose I can't really complain all that much, since I never say anything, but it's because I don't have anything astounding that I think deserves to be said. I ration my speech in seminars like a starving urchin from a Dickens novel. Anyway, we wrote terza rimas for EN238 today. Wasn't pleased with mine, so I'm going to start from scratch after my French test on Tuesday. Spent this afternoon and evening in the Library, hammering out the archaeology report. It's finally done! I don't even care how good it is anymore. If I did, I'd have been paralysed and probably not have finished. I did find time to bang out a 25-line poem for EN273 tomorrow, which I was moderately pleased with. I think with writing inspired by Biblical texts, the more you subvert the original, the more interesting the result. That's what I need to do more of. It's not that I can't, but that because the stories are so embedded in my belief system I find it hard to look at them in any way other than the orthodox. Now all I have to do is get started on the close reading, either tomorrow or Saturday afternoon, then finish it up over the whole of Sunday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Episode 429: Pictures Of John Gray

Ended up not being able to do Kidz Klub stuff in church because I had to wait for the speakers to arrive, otherwise I'd have to trudge to the depot to collect them, which is some part of Coventry that I've never been to and have no desire to explore. Did manage to get a bit more work done though, which was good. The report's not finished yet, but I've made it to 660 words, and have yet to cover the finds and implications they have for future development of the site, so I think I should be able to coast comfortably to the word limit, having produced something that is not fantastic, and not even near to my usual standards, but is at the end of the day, adequate. Went to meet Jonny on campus after that, as I wanted to buy a flat cap and he wanted to buy a waistcoat, both for Friday's fancy dress party. I found my flat cap at Topman, but he didn't like the waistcoats they had, and he sent me an SMS later to say that he hadn't bought any from the other shops either. I'd already gone back to campus to spend some time reading in the Library.

This was when I experienced an eerie moment of déjà vu as I read John Clare's 'I Am', as I'm positive Mr Purvis has shown us this poem in class before. I was literally anticipating the lines as I read them. Would totally switch to doing the close reading on this poem, if I hadn't already thought out what I wanted to say about Shelley's 'Ozymandias'. Anyway, Pictures Of John Gray was an interesting experience, although like Dan said after the performance, I felt like it just didn't quite gel as a whole. The best bit, for me anyway, was when one of the actors was addressing God, talking about missing his father and wanting him back. I'd glanced at the programme beforehand, so I knew that was a bit of autobiography going on, which didn't make it any less moving. On a final note, was it just me, or were all five actors the sort that could easily be regarded as conventionally attractive, to a greater or lesser extent? I mean, okay, so it is a devised piece informed by The Picture Of Dorian Gray, and Dorian's supposed to be beautiful, but surely that wasn't a prerequisite for being cast?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Episode 428: Slightly Stressed...

Cell was at my place tonight, and I made dinner! Pasta bake again because that's one of the few things I can confidently dish up. Everyone seemed to like it anyway. Have not done any work at all today, but I'm going to do some reading after this episode of House, so that'll count. Would really like to finish the report on Mill Hill Field, but I'm thinking I'll just bring my laptop out with me tomorrow and get through it after helping Sarah Adamson out in church. 'Ozymandias' will have to wait, I'm afraid, now that I'm not going to ask for an extension on the report. Also have to find some time to study for the French test next week! Having two parties to attend this week is not helping matters, so I'm just going to have to be more disciplined about doing work in the afternoons. Report tomorrow, two stories on Thursday, and the 'Ozymandias' close reading whenever before Monday afternoon. I can do this! On a side note, after disapproving of House's actions last week, this week I'm feeling sorry for him. Maybe the producers still have a trick or two up their sleeves after all...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Episode 427: My Twitter Experiment

Have decided that it's futile to rely on more information being uploaded to the website, and that it's really just another form of procrastination, since I can turn out a perfectly adequate 1500-word report just with the information that I already have. So I wasted some time, reformatting the report without adding anything substantial to it. Then I decided to rewrite the beard story from last Friday's seminar. I thought my original story was dull, and the cut-up we did during the seminar wasn't that much more exciting either, so I shook things up by reorganising the narrative in the form of a Twitter feed. The experiment with the form was more interesting than the actual story the feed told, although the user does display some signs of mild paranoia. I even went so far as to dig up a TwitPic URL that pointed to a picture of a guy with a scarf, as that was part of the story. I'm hoping that on Thursday, which is when I plan to write the other two stories imitating authors in the reading pack Peter Blegvad gave out, I'll turn out more entertaining stuff. Am going to see Pictures Of John Gray with Dan on Wednesday, which means another evening this week when I can't do any work!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Episode 426: Rain, Rain Go Away

The weather when I woke up this morning was so awful, and I basically got soaked on my way to church. Weird hair for the rest of the afternoon! I suspect my French Connection coat needs cleaning, as after drying it against the radiator, a puff of vapour that smelt suspiciously like fried food rose from it. Must have been the Cosmo buffet. Anyway, we adjourned to Varsity after service as usual, to find that they've redesigned their menus, and naturally, to pay for all those nice new menus, I think the prices have gone up as well. I do so love their curly fries though. Came back home with the intention of getting some work done, but was sucked into the evils of American TV again because I still haven't caught up on all my shows from last week. Didn't have time to do work in the evening either, since I was at Claire and Adeline Jen's birthday celebration. Only stayed about two hours though, as I'd agreed to meet Dan at The City Arms for a drink. The pub was literally down the road from Claire's place anyway, so I burnt another two hours there. No alcohol though, as they're really strict about carding us, and I didn't have my passport with me. Had a lime soda instead! Conversation was delightfully rambling as always, covering amongst other things, the distinction between fantasy and science fiction, which was prompted by a desire to determine which genre China Miéville belongs to. Personally, my rule of thumb is that magic is to fantasy what technology is to science fiction. Nonetheless, as Dan and I simultaneously pointed out, Clarke's Third Law states: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Episode 425: Cosmo

Lesson today was quite interesting, and if Christopher Kirby puts all that information he mentioned on our website, finishing the report over a couple of days shouldn't be a problem. Am tempted to ask for an extension, say a week or so, as he seems quite okay with that sort of thing. I'll see how things stand on Wednesday and make a decision then. In the mean time, I suppose it makes more sense to start thinking about writing that close reading of 'Ozymandias'. Anyway, the afternoon was comparatively good compared to what transpired in the evening. I waited 40 minutes for Keegan to show up for a dinner outing that he had arranged and for which he had shifted the meeting time forward by an hour. Understandably, I was bloody annoyed. To top if all off, it wasn't as if the food at Cosmo was fantastic. It's okay, and as a buffet, definitely a step up from Wing Wah, but damn it, I could have been at home, doing work. I only agreed to come because I thought my other housemates were as well. As it turns out, I apparently have a lot of invisible housemates because Samantha was the only one I actually saw last night at dinner...

Friday, November 20, 2009

Episode 424: Birmingham Christmas Market

Peter Blegvad looks really different with a beard. Just putting that out there. Anyway, I headed down to the Christmas market in Birmingham with Annie, Dan, Kathy and Owen after lessons. I can't believe I didn't go last year because I love it! How can anyone not be at least a little happy at anything related to Christmas? We wandered around the stalls at first, just to see what was on offer. Made a detour to Waterstone's, where what began as my looking for books in the clearance section turned into my buying books for myself and some presents for people back in Singapore. So yeah, I've sort of broken my promise not to buy any new books until I've read at least five that I already have, and the prices were in fact very slightly more expensive than getting the books off Amazon UK, but buying them made me so happy! Plus, like I said, most of the books are gifts for people, so I don't feel bad about paying a bit more. Also got my dad's present, but this was back at the Christmas market. Have to shop for my mum and my godparents, and I'm thinking that I should make a second trip to the market, sometime later in the term. Maybe even on the Thursday right before I fly, so that I can get some of those candied nuts for my family, and maybe my godmother, if the sugar doesn't make them an unhealthy present. Sophie called to see if I was going to Kasbah, and I would have, except I've still got a lesson tomorrow and would prefer not to be smashed tonight. Come to think of it, I probably won't even make it to Kasbah for the rest of the term. Except possibly in Week 9. Oh well...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Episode 423: First Rehearsal (For Me Anyway)

Song was easy to pick up, and apparently, the ensemble doesn't have as many songs to learn and the guys have one song less than the girls. Yay! In other news, we wrote sestinas in EN238 today, which isn't a form that I would voluntarily pick. David Morley's forms this term so far have seemed to revolve a lot around repetition. It kind of works for me, but I think I just need to assemble a combination of six words that I find more interesting. The ones I was working with during the seminar were really more or less randomly off the top of my head. Analysis of Blake came back as a 74, confirming my suspicion that I will never amount to more than a clever mediocrity. Good, but never stunningly brilliant. Well, at least I know what standard to match for my assessed close reading due in Week 9. We've finally switched lecturers for the module, by the way, and Jonathan Bate was really entertaining. I know, I know. We don't go to lectures to be entertained, but it certainly helps if the lecturer is engaging. Have almost settled on 'Ozymandias' as my choice for the assessed work, especially after we teased out some of the complexities during the seminar that had bothered me when I last read the poem.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Episode 422: I Actually Read Milton

I managed to finish the reading for EN273, finding Paradise Lost surprisingly readable. I'm sure there are people who'll disagree, but I thought it was okay, at least compared to most long poems I've had to read in the past. I even finished writing my own poem for the seminar, which I might even ask to have workshopped, as I'm not entirely pleased with how my initial idea has been realised in the present poem. Have just got back on campus after cell at Elizabeth's, nearly missing the bus because I was cleaning my spectacles. Am helping Jonny give out waterbottles after Pop!, although I might ask to leave just after midnight, since I neither live within what I think of as walking distance from campus nor do I own a bicycle. Plus I have a 9 am seminar, so it would be nice to get some sleep. Still have not done any further work on the report due Saturday after next, which isn't yet a cause for concern, but will be if I leave this Saturday's lesson none the wiser as to what I should write. Am hoping that examining the finds will give me some inspiration, although I foresee the report is really going to be almost like an exercise in creative non-fiction. (I kind of feel that's what archaeology is all about anyway, if you'll allow me to be facetious.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Episode 421: Disappointed With TV!

Met Sarah Adamson after LL209 to discuss helping out with administrative stuff at Kidz Klub. So that's Wednesday afternoons sorted! Griping on Facebook about the flaws in the TV shows we watch is a wonderful way to waste time. At the moment, pointing out the inconsistencies of Merlin has been entertaining me and Laura, to the point where she's suggested we should just become TV writers ourselves. I think that's a great idea, but it's going to take a bit of effort to create something that isn't just derivative of the shows I like. Caught the latest episodes of Gossip Girl and House today. Lady Gaga's appearance on the former was, frankly, underwhelming. In terms of the directions the plot is taking, they make some sort of sense, but who really cares? I just thought Chuck saving Jenny was so cute, given the history of their relationship, and I also loved how the show is finally owning up to the fact that Nate is basically the show's resident manwhore. The show nearly came full circle tonight, except Tripp ruined things for Nate and Serena. Still, this show is just getting too much hype and not actually delivering. Chuck's gay kiss? The threesome? Lady Gaga? None of these plot points was worth the amount of online columns spent on them! House, on the other hand, seems to be spiralling out of control. Not only is my favourite doctor leaving (temporarily?), but for the very first time, I found myself thinking that House had crossed a line with his mind games. That's saying a lot, since House is basically my hero when it comes to manipulation.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Episode 420: David Morley's Launch

Did my laundry while waiting to head over to campus to meet the Ugly Cousins for David Morley's launch. Will still have to do at least another two loads tomorrow before it's all done though, especially since I'm changing the bedsheets as well. Arrived halfway-through the Ugly Cousins meeting with Dan, which more often than not, consisted of Nick Chen earnestly asking questions while everyone else in the room either laughed or buried their head in their hands. Ah, Nick Chen, what would we do without you? Anyway, the launch was at Wilde's in Leamington. The readings were inaudible at times due to the background noise generated by the other customers, an issue which resulted in some drama when one of the readers basically declared that his poetry was too good for this and refused to read. I later gathered that his beef was also to do with the fact that he felt established poets weren't replying to his e-mails properly, and that Nine Arches Press wasn't 'grassroots'. That's an odd thing to say, given that the press was started by Warwick graduates and hardly seems like a huge, impersonal publishing conglomerate. Besides, how much more grassroots can you get than a reading in a noisy pub with no PA system? There's just no pleasing some people. I almost wish he had read though, so that I could hear what a 'good' poem sounds like. A bunch of us adjourned to the Robbin's Well after the readings, which ultimately resulted in me and Dan getting the last bus back to campus, and then walking back to Earlsdon from there. At least now I know my way back, and it didn't really take as long as I thought it would...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Episode 419: Back In Coventry...

Was going to grab some McDonald's for the coach journey back to Coventry, but I forgot that it was still breakfast hours. Epic fail! Got home and was greeted by the humming of our new washer-dryer, so we all know what's going to occupy me for the better part of tomorrow, before I head down with the Ugly Cousins Club for David Morley's launch in Leamington. Spent some time shelving the books I bought, as well as vacuuming my room, before talking to my mum on Skype for about two hours. (First time this term, but only because it took forever to get Internet in my house, and after that, it just didn't seem pressing and my sister was never online for me to tell her to put my mum on because of her nursing attachment.) Am presently looking forward to the latest Doctor Who special, which I should be able to catch before going to bed tonight. Meanwhile, have been listening to the new OneRepublic album, which is proving enjoyable so far. I particularly like the new single, 'All The Right Moves'. Got to love Ryan Tedder's killer falsetto, which I sincerely hope isn't studio-enhanced because that's just cheating. Next up on my playlist: Kris Allen's debut. I don't really care about American Idol as a rule, but his voice is what really does it for me. I know a lot of people prefer Adam Lambert, but Lambert's singing, to me anyway, is so self-consciously theatrical. It's like it's telling you, 'Listen up, I sound bloody amazing, right?' That just totally puts me off. Also really looking forward to Lady Gaga's EP, The Fame Monster, as well as her upcoming appearance on Gossip Girl. Didn't like 'Bad Romance' that much when I first heard it, but it's kind of grown on me, I guess? The video, however, is typically bizarre.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Episode 418: Bad Work, But Good Food Makes Up For It

Spent the afternoon trying to get started on my report for my Archaeology course, with limited success. I can see how I can pad the thing out to 1500 words, but I'm having trouble condensing information without including things that are irrelevant or borrowing too much from the Hill report. Shall continue plugging away at it over the next couple of days, hopefully making more progress. Perhaps it would help if I actually read the Hill report through instead of just skimming? The quality of the scanned pages is really bad though. I'm beginning to feel that my experience with archaeology is going to turn out the way it did with psychology. I'll wind up finding the subject interesting, but not enough for me to overcome the tedium associated with the work. I'm just aiming to pass anyway, since this is just Open Studies, although I will be awarded a grade on the university's 17-point scale because I'm doing this as part of a full Certificate. Anyway, it was nice to finally meet San Choo, after having been Facebook friends for over a year. He came over to cook dinner for us today, so that's what he was doing while I was working on my report. The food was really, really good. I don't think I've ever enjoyed lamb this much before? Conversation was lively, although perhaps too coarse for Eugene's delicate ears.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Episode 417: Titles Collected, Reviews Written!

I need sturdier shoes. Either that, or China needs to improve the quality of its manufacturing. After just two days walking about London, my shoes have got more splits in the rubber than ever. Not impressed. May consider buying a couple of pairs of new shoes when I get back to Singapore. The Oxfam at Goodge Street didn't have any books, but I had dinner at KFC and have since decided that my idea of the perfect marinade for chicken would be a cross between KFC and Nando's. Was up till 4 am this morning working on the titles for WSC. That Moulin Rouge! title was a real pain, even with the Magic Wand Tool in Photoshop. I also finished writing both of my reviews this morning before Claudia and I headed over to Topman at Oxford Circus. No, I didn't watch either of the films I reviewed (Jennifer's Body and Sommersturm), but well, I think the reviews were fair. It was hard giving Jennifer's Body a positive spin though, since that is apparently quite a lousy movie, considering it was written by Diablo Cody, who won an Oscar for her work on Juno. Oh well. Am now watching TV on my laptop, but may do the Shelley and Byron readings for next week after this. Would really like to get started on my report for the Archaeology certificate, but I'm still unsure what information to work with.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Episode 416: Sleeping Beauty

Didn't really buy that much poetry at the two Oxfam stores. In fact, I was kind of disappointed by the range of poetry available. I did pick up some other stuff though, so it wasn't a total waste. Had lunch by myself at Nando's, and still don't see why people rave about it. It's really not that spicy! Met Eileen and Petrina for tea at Fleet River Bakery, where I had hummingbird cake. I'm still not quite sure why it's called that, to be honest. It was quite nice though, with a cream cheese frosting on top. Catching up with the two of them, however briefly, was good as well. I spent quite a lot of time at Itsu too, waiting to meet them and later, waiting to meet Claudia at the Royal Opera House. I mention this because I've discovered this strange tea/juice combination that actually kind of works. Earl Grey, watermelon and lime. The tea gives it that little bit more complexity, and it's the sort of thing that you could pretty much whip up at home. Well, in Singapore anyway. Don't think I've seen watermelons around in Tesco. Anyway, the highlight of my day was undoubtedly watching Sleeping Beauty, having paid £10 for a £100 seat. Sometimes, being a student does pay off in the most awesome of ways. I'm not usually a ballet person, but this was actually really good, and being so near to the orchestral pit and the stage just made it that much more intense. That and getting to rub shoulders, literally, with well-heeled people. A guy could get used to this.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Episode 415: London Getaway

The trip down to London was uneventful, even had time before it to swing by the Arts Centre and the Bread Oven to say hi to church people and Sophie respectively. Managed to swing by Tesco as well to grab some food for the journey, although trying to eat in a moving coach is generally not a good idea. Gives me a headache. I did try to read more of J. G. Ballard's Super-Cannes, but only got through a couple of chapters before I dozed off. I can't quite make up my mind about the novel so far, as I can tell it's trying to be clever, but that's the problem, I can tell it's trying. I'm sure I'll revise my opinion by the end, but right now, it's feeling a bit iffy. Claudia made us all dinner when she got back, which was couscous with chorizo and vegetables, and it was really good! I always eat much healthier when other people cook for me, it's kind of sad in a way. Couscous is really easy to prepare though, so maybe I should consider adding that to my paltry range of meals. Am going to trawl the Oxfam stores tomorrow, at least the ones on Marylebone High Street and Drury Lane. Hopefully, I'll pick up some poetry on the cheap!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Episode 414: Graphics Collected!

We were talking about regional French accents today in LL209, including the Canadian French accent, which is really quite odd and incomprehensible at times. We had a conversation about accents in our home countries, and I tried (with some success) to explain how some Singaporeans have a more 'polished' accent, what Kelly once described as 'educated Singaporean', which is a great description, since in my experience, it tends to be precisely those with a certain educational profile who possess the accent, to varying degrees. I'm a bit of an accent snob, to be honest, even if mine does vary between typical Singaporean, 'educated Singaporean' and Anglo-American mishmash, depending on the company. Met up with Owen after that to get some Photoshop tips, so now I've collected all the graphics that I'm supposed to for next term's films. Will try to finish the titles while I'm in London, but if that doesn't happen, I've still got a week after I get back anyway. So to reward myself, I'm going to watch the latest episodes of House and Gossip Girl, while devouring a pint of Ben & Jerry's!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Episode 413: Hitchhiker's Thumb

Woke up when it was almost noon, so I spent the afternoon doing my French homework while catching up on TV shows. (Yeah, I tend to do my French homework under such distracting conditions. Doesn't seem to affect the quality of the output though!) Busted the word limit writing about political and social progress and/or regression in Singapore, but it was fun discovering things like 'gerrymandering' translates as 'charcutage électoral', making it sound like the votes have to undergo some culinary process, which I guess is true in some sense. I also discovered that I have 'hitchhiker's thumb', which Wikipedia informs me is a recessive congenital condition in which the extended thumb bends backwards to the nail and outwards. See, I never realised this made me special. I always thought that was just how thumbs were meant to be! So yeah, cool discovery of the day. Further cool stuff came in the form of finding albums by Heads We Dance, The Killers and Velvet Code. I know I'm a bit late for The Killers, who've been around for a while now, but it was just so weird to realise that some of the songs I recognise from clubs/pubs are actually their songs. Like 'Mr. Brightside' and 'Somebody Told Me'. I'm a bit ambivalent about Heads We Dance's first album, Love Technology, but I really like their upcoming single, 'Take My Picture'. It's like Sophie-Ellis Bextor with less dated synths. As for Velvet Code, I just like the dancey beats. (Yeah, I'm a bit shallow that way.)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Episode 412: You Know You're Tired...

When you'd rather have stayed in bed instead of crawling out to make dinner. Anyway, I sang in church today. Good times! I like singing harmony as much as singing lead, and I don't get to do enough of the former back home, so it's really cool getting to do it at Westwood. By the time lunch at Varsity was over though, I was utterly shattered. Came home and had a nap, which kind of ended up lasting twice as long as I'd intended. So much for getting started on the film reviews for Jennifer's Body and Sommersturm. I'm thinking that this time, I might actually watch the film in question before writing the review, even though that isn't strictly necessary, or at times, even practical (i.e. upcoming releases that haven't premiered at the time of writing). Also have graphics and titles to collect, so that should keep me occupied over Reading Week while I'm in London. Hopefully, I'll be able to learn everything I need to know on Tuesday when I meet Owen, now that I've got Photoshop installed on my laptop. I kind of messed about for a bit and think I might have got the hang of it, but I'm pretty sure there's a more efficient way to get things done.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Episode 411: Days Of Significance

Have just realised that in order to get to church tomorrow in time for band practice, I'm either going to have to wake up ridiculously early to walk there or take a taxi, as the buses don't start running that early. Oh well. Practice today was good, although I was pretty much winging it throughout. Will have to have a listen to the songs later to figure out the harmony for certain, although Matt says what I've done is fine. Finished reading Moniza Alvi's Split World a couple of days ago, having really enjoyed it, especially the sequence of poems, Carrying My Wife, from the collection of the same title. Have now begun reading Christian Bök's Eunoia, which is one of those crazy experiments that has to be read to be believed. George Ttoouli was talking about it during yesterday's seminar and mentioned there was a copy in the Library, so I went to pick it up after coming out of last night's film. The main sequence of the book consists of five chapters, in which each chapter features words containing only one of the five vowels (and suppressing the letter Y), alongside other rules determining narrative content. It's in the spirit of what Oulipo writers like Georges Perec have done, but this makes it no less astonishing though.

Also went to see the RSC production of Days Of Significance with Dan and Laura this evening. Had mixed feelings about it, mainly to do with how realistic the dialogue was and the things the characters did. I know theatre is a construct and artifice is inherent, but you can still tell when something feels inauthentic, and that's how all the cussing and fighting felt. Sure, it was quite witty, but hey, so's the adaptation of The Importance Of Being Earnest I've done with Yee Hung for the musical. I kind of felt like the second act didn't go far enough in exploring the psychological trauma soldiers experience and its effects, and too much was left unsaid, which seemed like a bit of a waste because that really was what would have been interesting to play out onstage. The ending was a bit odd as well. I understand that closure isn't an absolute necessity. I mean, it's not ancient Greek drama we're dealing with here, but at the end, I couldn't get a clear sense of where Hannah's character was standing. Had she made up her mind to stand by Jamie? Or was she still unsure about the whole thing? That's the weird part, I think, that her ambivalence was, well, so ambivalent I wasn't even sure if it was there. On the whole though, I've seen worse plays back in Singapore, so I guess tonight was okay. That and going to the Tin Angel twice for hot chocolate. Haha!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Episode 410: Ping!

Reading week is officially here! Still have French on Tuesday though, but am heading to London the next day, so it's all good. Finally have tickets to tomorrow evening's performance of Days Of Significance. Didn't manage to get the free ones under the Arts Council's A Night Less Ordinary scheme, but it's an RSC production, so there were student tickets going for £5. Can't wait! EN232 was good today. We read out stories by Raymond Carver ('Intimacy') and Samuel Beckett ('Ping'). Reading Beckett's 'Ping', by the way, was one of the most exhaustingly fun things you can possibly imagine doing on a Friday morning on less than six hours of sleep. It's a fascinating work to hear though. Had to rush back from the city centre with Keegan to make it for the WSC screening of Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince. I swear the CGI in this instalment is crazy. I mean, almost none of the settings actually looked real to me. They all looked too real, if you know what I mean. An example of the uncanny valley as applied to landscapes and environments? Am now convinced that the Harry Potter series is one that has to be seen in its entirety in order to be worth watching, as taken individually, the films just scream 'Commercial! Hollywood!'

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Episode 409: The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus

We celebrated Annie's birthday by seeing The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus and then hitting Varsity afterward. The film was, honestly speaking, one of the strangest things I've ever seen. Anti-narrative, perhaps? I understand that Heath Ledger died in the middle of filming and that must have really messed things up, but I somehow felt like the film was missing scenes that would have made the whole thing make more sense. I think the best way to describe it is to compare it to a film that's adapted from a book series, so it's like too much has been compressed into too little. Probably explains why the film felt like it had a couple of false endings. Minor quibbles aside though, the film is visually very, very stunning. It's like the cinematic equivalent of a rich dessert. More like a dessert smorgasbord, to be honest. I wasn't quite sure what to feel by the end though. It seemed like it should have been uplifting, but it was barely minutes after one of the main characters had been hanged! Like, what is going on here? It was just slightly disconcerting, that's all I'm saying. We had to stay inside the pub because it was raining, so it was just as well that we managed to commandeer the back of the pub. Am totally knackered now though, which isn't good because I've got a seminar at 9 am. Sigh...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Episode 408: Here We Go Again...

Have only written about half of my Blake essay, which is bad because it means I've procrastinated too much again, but good in the sense that I'm way ahead compared to where I'd normally be. May not even have to stay up all night! I'm pleased with the main idea that my analysis is based on. I think it's clever, although to me, it possibly runs the risk of being clever for its own sake. It is true, however, that re-reading is rewarding, as the linguistic repetitions I've picked up on actually accumulated over several reads. Have not managed to read The Two-Part Prelude yet, but somehow don't feel like I'm missing out on much. Am not, admittedly, the biggest fan of Wordsworth. Maybe I just have no mind of my own, but I do kind of agree with Emma Francis about preferring Coleridge over Wordsworth because of the different ways in which they treat their human characters. I did read everything else for this week's lecture and seminar though, so don't feel too bad about it. Now if only I had spent the afternoon more productively instead of watching an episode of Melrose Place, which wasn't even that good. I'm honestly just watching it because I've already started and there is a reasonable amount of eye candy on that show.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Episode 407: I Cooked For A Party Today!

Have banged out 1234.5 words, vaguely inspired by the structure of House Of Leaves. The story didn't make any sense towards the end, but if anyone asks, I'm going to pretend that it was intentional and reflective of the psychosis of my unreliable narrator. Now I've got to start on my 1500-word explanation of why Blake's 'A Song Of Liberty' is obviously about emancipation from the decadence of organised religion. Watch me bluff my way through. Again. I am also seriously considering the wisdom of getting an electric heater. Either that, or wearing more clothes when I'm at home. Anyway, I cooked for Stephanie's birthday party! Made a pasta bake that was generally well-received, but Keegan was being contrary and didn't like it that much, which is fine, since it's not like I'm going to be cooking for him very much in the future. I personally thought there was a bit too much liquid after the baking, and I actually had to pour some of it away after I took it out of the oven. Possibly one jar of water next time instead of two?

Monday, November 02, 2009

Episode 406: Permission To Write (Badly)

Forced myself to complete two poems in the afternoon before heading onto campus for the Ugly Cousins and musical production team meetings, as if I didn't get those done today, I wouldn't have time over the remaining couple of days to finish my 1500-word close reading of Blake and 1234.5-word story for Friday's seminar. I'm being a bit ambitious with the latter, as the book whose pattern I've chosen to recreate is Mark Z. Danielewski's House Of Leaves. Expect copious footnotes that narrate a story as disturbing as the main one. It's also a sneaky way of cutting the word count down to something manageable, since I'm really bad at writing longer fiction pieces, but splitting things between main story and footnotes gives around 600 words, which is definitely manageable. Am slightly more concerned about the Blake piece because I only have a faint idea of how to structure my close reading, although I think it's a reasonably clever idea. I find Duncan Wu's explanatory notes at the bottom very irritating, by the way. It's like being told what to think and then realising that you can't interpret for yourself anymore because you're relying on the glosses to explain things for you.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Episode 405: Slightly Irritated With Myself...

I have a slight headache, so I think I shall go to bed after typing this instead of trying to read. Or write, for that matter. Have done absolutely nothing since buying groceries at Tesco with Bex and John after lunch at Varsity. Wasn't even going to do that because of the rain in the morning, but it cleared up enough by the end of service, so I figured, what the heck, I'll just get it over and done with. I couldn't even manage to do the Wordsworth reading, despite taking the book off my shelf earlier, fully intending to do so. I ended up wrapping the book with plastic instead, which left me feeling quite satisfied with myself, but having accomplished nothing of real value whatsoever. I did start on a poem for EN273, but I made it to eight lines before deciding it wasn't worth continuing, or at least, it wasn't saying what I wanted to say about this week's reading from Herodotus. May actually do the usual thing and try writing it later, under the covers, if I can figure out what form I want this week's poem to take. I've already gone through syllabics, ballad, pantoum, and I was thinking tanka this time, but I can't quite figure out how that'd work. I could give each character one tanka (Candaules, Gyges, unnamed Lydian queen) and then have a final summative tanka, but do I have enough to say about each of them to fill out five lines? Possibly. I really wanted to finish writing this week's poem tonight, so that I could start on the close reading tomorrow, but I guess that's not going to happen anymore, is it? Sigh.