Sunday, February 28, 2010

Episode 524: I Overslept And Missed Church, But I've Been Working!

After the lack of sleep on Friday and Saturday, I couldn't take it any longer, so I overslept this morning and missed church. Could have gone to the evening service, I suppose, but I ended up spending the day working on the assignments for the Warwick Skills Certificate module. Have finished three out of six, and it's been relatively easy. I should probably be able to finish another two tomorrow, if not all of the remaining three. Haven't forgotten about that remaining poem I've got to write for Thursday either, so I'll get that done after the portfolio of assignments is completed. At some point, I also have to bang out a plan and an opening paragraph on how the Singaporean system is (wilfully) misunderstood by the Western world. I've actually got an idea for what sort of angle to take on it. Definitely the sort that's still inadmissible in the Singaporean media, but practically par for the course in the Western one. I'm going with the idea that Singapore is basically a carefully engineered experiment that has been remarkably successful over the past four decades or so, and now that a winning formula is in place, it makes little sense to do more than tweak the variables. It's not saying that we've got it perfectly right, but that compared to most places, we're doing pretty okay, so who's to say we should have to change to please the West? Laura said that we're not allowed a real democracy because people like me would just break it with arbitrary decisions like voting against candidates who made a grammatical error, but hey, the British are the ones who are being offered David Cameron as a choice for their Prime Minister, so in comparison, I think Singapore's actually, well, rather more palatable. Wouldn't you say so?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Episode 523: Epiphany!

After this module on personal finance, I'm actually mildly tempted by the prospect of working in the financial industry. Sadly, my current life trajectory doesn't look headed anywhere remotely in that direction. I suppose I could always get certified, if I decide not to stay on in education. Giving financial advice sounds like a day job that would pay better, and I'm definitely not one of those who believe that you have to starve for your art. MNight was okay. I thought they had an interesting story, but Butterworth Hall doesn't seem to me like the ideal venue for dramatic performances. It's somehow too cavernous, more like the sort of place you'd expect to attend a concert. Anyway, I was doing some desperate research in the Library before the performance, trying to connect religion and sensuality in 'The Eve Of St. Agnes' Hit paydirt when I found some university module webpage that did just that! It seems so blatantly obvious now, I'm ashamed of myself for not having thought of it sooner. I'm a terrible close reader! Sigh...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Episode 522: Kasbah Redux

So I'm back from another night at Kasbah, and have to be up in another four hours or so for the second session of the Warwick Skills Certificate module later this morning. I am tempted to forego sleep altogether, but intellectually, I recognise that even getting just four hours will be immensely helpful for staying awake throughout a day in which I will not get back home again till around 11 pm. Kasbah was okay, although there was this weird guy who was either trying to hit on me, or hit on my friends via getting friendly with me, by telling me that one of his grandparents was Chinese. Well, hoo-bloody-ray for him. I must have missed the memo that says ethnicity automatically gives you a free pass. Anyway, I didn't manage to finish reading the two chapters from The Art Of Political Murder that Maureen Freely handed out during the seminar, but what I've read so far has been fascinating. Still no progress with regard to the Keats/Rossetti essay, although I think I'm fumbling my way towards some sort of breakthrough. I have no problems with 'Goblin Market', since as Emma Mason mentioned in the lecture, that poem is so odd you can make pretty much anything stick to it, and since she was High Church Anglican, my idea about religion and sensuality is on the right track. The problem is that I instinctively sense that 'The Eve Of St. Agnes' is similarly entangled in the two, but I can't articulate how precisely, at least not in a way that allows meaningful discussion alongside 'Goblin Market'. Two more weeks to figure it out!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Episode 521: Enfin, Enfance

Strange but interesting session on sound poetry in the morning with George Ttoouli. I would say that it's not really my thing, although there are interesting things that can be done with it. We have to write two poems for next week, using modifications of the Oulipean constraints, The Beautiful Inlaw and The Beautiful Outlaw. I've just done the poem for the former, using Nick Chen's name. I've managed to get some sort of sense going, in addition to discovering quite by accident that K is a brand of British cider. So now the poem is about kicking alcoholism. Haha! Will try to write the other poem tomorrow, in that vast swathe of time I have between my last seminar and the skills workshop in the evening, which I'm only going for because I did one last year and it's on my transcript, so it feels silly to not stick it out and finish off the whole certificate now, even though the modules I'll be taking aren't the ones I would have picked. There could be worse things than learning about personal finance, I guess. I've been reading Enfance, which as I described to Eugene, is the sort of novel that I would rave about if I were reading it in translation, except I'm reading it in French, so I understand just enough of what's going on to know that I would like it, but it's too tedious reading it in French for me to really enjoy the process! Had meant to do essay-related reading, but it seems getting through a decent amount of Enfance is going to be hard enough work. Maybe I'll bring my laptop onto campus tomorrow and try to start writing the essay in the Library?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Episode 520: Nothing Rhymes With Orange

Could have gone home after my seminar in the morning, but ended up hanging out with friends in Curiositea and then The Dirty Duck until 7 pm! All this after my good intentions to start reading for my essay today. To comfort myself over this skiving, I had four Gü brownies for dinner. (I hope they're still on offer at Tesco this Sunday, in which case, I'll buy loads because they are so good.) I have done a tiny bit of work today though, composing a poem about a hypothetical dressmaker driven out of business by Queen Victoria's decision to wear white at her wedding. Apparently, she did it because she had some lace she wanted to use. I decided not to write about a queen because the lines I was coming up with sounded silly. That's not to say the poem I did end up writing is particularly good, but for what it's worth, it's much easier to imagine what it's like to be a royal dressmaker than a queen. Am going to write one tomorrow about the asp that bit Cleopatra. (Thanks to Dan for the idea that I've more or less stolen!) Anyway, I shall leave you with this poem that I discovered while doing a bit of historical research into the tradition of white weddings. I'm particularly impressed by the perfect rhymes, which also explains why there's no mention of orange:

Married in white, you will have chosen all right.
Married in grey, you will go far away.
Married in black, you will wish yourself back.
Married in red, you will wish yourself dead.
Married in blue, you will always be true.
Married in pearl, you will live in a whirl.
Married in green, ashamed to be seen.
Married in yellow, ashamed of the fellow.
Married in brown, you will live out of town.
Married in pink, your spirits will sink.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Episode 519: Shortlisted By Angelic Dynamo!

Contrary to what most critics had led me to believe, I actually enjoyed Michael Tolliver Lives, Armistead Maupin's return to the characters he first created in Tales Of The City after two (ill-advised in my opinion) forays into writing other stuff. I'm sure their criticisms will stand up should I cast a literary eye on the novel, but I can't help wondering if they've missed the point of the novel, or indeed, a series like Tales Of The City. You don't go to it looking for great literature; you go to it to escape and be entertained. I'm not saying great literature can't do that for you as well. What I am saying is that Maupin is doing it without claiming to be writing what most critics apparently want to see, i.e. 'literary' stuff. There is no shame in writing commercial stuff. After all, we can't all be starving artists 100% of the time. It's like how my dream is to be both a respected poet and a commercially successful science fiction novelist. In the absence of the latter, a job in the civil service would do fine too. (Come on, I'm Singaporean, i.e. pragmatic.) I've made a small step towards the former too, which you can find here. Please read and vote if you like it!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Episode 518: Donne-moi La Main

I've just finished watching Donne-moi La Main, which was the film I picked for our latest task in LL209. It's a really frustrating film to get through though. Pascal-Alex Vincent began as a director of short films, and it still shows in his first full-length feature. What would otherwise be enigmatic in 15 minutes borders on insufferable when it's made five times as long. Too many questions are left unanswered by the end of a film that seems more interested in showcasing the attractiveness of its twin main actors, Alexandre and Victor Carril. (Hollywood does this all the time, but this film is clearly not in that league of spinning something out of nothing.) The really annoying thing is that the twins clearly have a love-hate relationship with each other, but Vincent's idea of exploring that seems to consist of pointed glaring and fisticuffs. It all seems like a missed opportunity to do more than rehash the sibling rivalry Vincent already (sort of) explored in his short film Bébé Requin, also starring the Carril brothers. Decent cinematography, but hopeless plot construction, even by arthouse standards.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Episode 517: L'Oréal Hydra Energetic

Was tempted to give the morning service a miss and attend the evening one instead, having come back past midnight following a couple of drinks after Measure For Measure. Then again, if I'd done that, I'd most likely have reasoned that I was too tired and it was too cold to attend the evening service, so I'd have ended up not attending that either. Anyway, in Varsity after the service, I saw a L'Oréal commercial for some cream to combat eyebags. What was most intriguing though, was that the celebrity endorsing it was Matthew Fox, who plays Jack on Lost (which you may or may not know I've stopped watching until the whole series has ended later this year), so I thought to myself, if he's man enough to (pretend to) use that, it totally makes it okay for me to do likewise. (I know, stunning display of rational economic behaviour right there.) I actually found the product in Boots after doing the usual grocery run at Tesco and bought it. I also had my fear of aging thoroughly awakened by the extensive product range on the shelves. There goes my confidence in my youthful good looks! (Who am I kidding?)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Episode 516: Measure For Measure

The Measure For Measure production was quite good. My only problem was that apart from the Duke and a few other characters, the rest of the cast seemed a tad too bent on delivering their lines like they were, well, delivering lines, which made it difficult to connect emotionally with them. Dan did point out that in the case of Isabella, this might have been deliberate, emphasising how as a novice nun, you wouldn't necessarily expect her to be comfortable with the world she has to confront in order to save her brother. Point taken. I did like how in this production, they've interpreted Isabella's silence after the Duke's marriage proposal as a rejection, with her following the nuns back to the convent. The Duke's performance, incidentally, was superb. (I think I've seen him before, in Pictures Of John Gray.) He was the only one, I felt, for whom Shakespeare's lines rolled off the tongue, coming across as sharp rather than slightly antiquated. I do agree though with the idea that the Duke's character is perhaps too glib in his manipulation of all the other characters, which seems somewhat unnecessary if you think about it. He's the Duke! He could have fixed everything without continuing to pretend to be a friar, although that would have deprived Shakespeare of a nifty denouement...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Episode 515: The Indie Love Bundle

So to balance out yesterday's hard work, I've been playing a computer game all day! Bought it as part of a discounted bundle being promoted by Cipher Prime, which gave the world Auditorium (a fantastic melding of audio and visual candy by the way), which was really the only reason I even bought the bundle, to be perfectly honest. I'm glad to say, however, that the three other games I've tried (Eufloria, Osmos, and And Yet It Moves) have all been pretty fun. Eufloria, in particular, has intriguing graphics. Osmos boasts a good ambient soundtrack, while And Yet It Moves, well, let's just say you have to play it to appreciate how bizarrely good it is despite its (relatively) simple gameplay. Basically, any of these games is perfect for procrastination, just like Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook. Eufloria was the most addictive for me, so a full day of playing it has been enough to get it out of my system. It's back to the (sort of) grind tomorrow, although not for very long, since I'm going to see Measure For Measure in the evening!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Episode 514: The Return Of The Snow

It started snowing sometime after noon and didn't let up until not long ago. I know, insane, right? There's more forecasted, which is ridiculous. It did mean I had nothing to do except stay at home and work though. Couldn't even be bothered to put on a pair of jeans to dash across the road to buy that bottle of Coke I've been craving since I finished the last one. (I like it once it's gone a bit flat because I swear Coke here is fizzier than it is in Singapore.) I filled out half of the sheet for LL209 next week, but I'll actually have to watch Donne-moi La Main before I can complete the rest. I could fake it, I guess, but I feel like being dedicated, now that we've got around to doing things in class beyond (re)learning grammar. (My theory on this is that my slight obsession with patterns makes grasping grammar a fairly intuitive task for me. Will test this out with the next language I try to learn. It doesn't, however, explain why I was so rubbish at Chinese in secondary school, although perhaps I just wasn't mature enough then to appreciate the language, something that I occasionally find myself regretting now.) Still have to read Nathalie Sarraute's Enfance. Now that's going to be quite a challenge, reading a novel in French. Did a quick job on my Rossetti presentation for next week, which is smashing for the amount of time and effort I put in, and I've also marked out all the articles/essays I'm going to need to read for my essay on the poetic significance of sensuality in Keats's 'The Eve Of St. Agnes' and Rossetti's 'Goblin Market'. It's a lot of stuff, and definitely overkill. It's nice feeling so prepared though, and way ahead of the deadline as well. Whether this actually translates into better work remains to be seen.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Episode 513: Just Me And My Ego Today...

I finally wrote the poem, but having written it, it's failed to live up to that luminous vision of it I had in the Library yesterday. It bothers me, naturally, but at least I've worked the idea out in some form. I also took out an old unfinished piece from that time when a bunch of us creative writers traipsed down to London, and finished it. Didn't really change much apart from a few words here and there to tidy it into a heptasyllabic piece. I also spent the better part of the afternoon sending stuff to magazines/websites. Not going to say too much in case nothing comes of this flurry of e-mails, but I'll be quite saddened if all 21 poems and two short stories were rejected. I'll know anywhere between a fortnight to six weeks. I don't really know how to explain this sudden desire to be published, since the last time it happened, the euphoria lasted about a day and after that it just became an anecdote to trot out in conversation. (Not that the majority of people I'm acquainted with would react much beyond a polite phrase or two. I don't blame them though. How can I, when what they're doing seems so much more meaningful, even (dare I say it) to myself sometimes?) It would be nice to receive some form of external validation via publication, if only to secure a minuscule footnote in literary history. I'll take whatever I can get.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Episode 512: Stillborn Poem

Had meant to write a poem today after I got back from the Library, but I think striving too hard to make it happen has killed the idea temporarily. Will try again tomorrow, or perhaps later, just before I fall asleep. I find that tends to be a good time to get a few lines down in my N95, even if it usually ends up with me not being able to sleep until I've finished the poem. I have the basic idea in my head, and I'm just aiming for something a bit lighthearted this time, so we'll see how it goes. I was going through my repository of poems the other day, and after taking out everything that's ever been submitted for assessment or published in some form, I still have a hefty number to work with, should I choose not to write anything new at all for the EN238 portfolio due next term. Trouble is, the reason these are the leftovers is because I don't think they're actually that good, the exception being the most recent stuff that was done over the Christmas vacation. Some of the old poems could be reworked, certainly, and I've done it before. Again, we'll see how that goes. It's by far the latest of my deadlines anyway. Speaking of poetry, the reason I was in the Library this afternoon after LL209 was because I was reading Michael Hulse's stuff. It was, you know, just one of those random things I felt like doing. That and I don't really have the money to spend on acquiring his collections. (I also had to resist shelling out £90 for two pairs of Christian Audigier leather shoes this morning. Decided against them because while the shoes were selling for 36% of their original price, which makes them a steal, Christian Audigier is a really douchey-looking brand, and you know me, I'm a classy kind of guy. Haha! I forget how Alex described this last year during a EN124 seminar, but whatever it was, he was, and still is, totally spot-on.) Anyway, I really enjoyed Michael's work. It was a lot easier to read than David Challoner, who is proving to be a challenge to get through as I get further on in his Collected Poems. (It's a bit of an arbitrary thing, but I'm bothered that he doesn't use much punctuation.) Particularly appreciated some of the imitations that were included in Empires And Holy Lands: Poems 1976-2000, including 'Stopping By Woods Without A Map'.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Episode 511: Unusually Productive Start To Reading Week

I slept until past noon, but still feel quite terrible. I did make a to-do list, and I even managed to cover the first two items. This was after changing my bedsheets, which in itself made me feel ridiculously accomplished. (Let's not comment on the fact that I also tried to wash my laptop sleeve with the bedsheets, which totally ruined it. Thank goodness it was just some cheap one that I took from Audrey way back. Have ordered the cheapest replacement off Amazon UK that seemed like it would actually do a decent job.) I finished reading the last part of all those non-fiction pieces that Jeremy Treglown has been handing out to us, which included a brilliant speech delivered by Arundhati Roy, entitled 'Insta-Mix Imperial Democracy'. It exposes the inherent hypocrisy when a country like the USA presumes to criticise supposedly undemocratic states. It also brought me back to one of the few major disagreements I've ever had with my dad, which had to do with the reasons for the war in Iraq. He bought into the American spiel about democracy and liberation, whilst I maintained that oil was definitely a factor in it. (Please don't bother calling me out on this. I'm aware that the geopolitical reality is far more complex than I've just painted it to be.) Also managed to finish the entry for my site diary, so that's one more piece of work out of the way. Just need to do my Rossetti presentation and watch a French film by next week's lesson!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Episode 510: Buzzing Or Buzzkill?

If like me, you happily migrated to Gmail and Chrome because you couldn't believe a company had finally come along that seemed so adept at providing the general user with what he/she needs, you might want to rethink that position. Those of you on Gmail should have noticed Google Buzz by now, an opt-out service that was obviously designed to simultaneously compete with Facebook and Twitter, arguably the reigning champions in the social networking and microblogging arenas. The question, obviously, is whether Buzz hits the spot and is capable of upstaging them. As some technology writers are pointing out, Buzz doesn't seem to significantly improve on the functionality provided by sites like Facebook and Twitter that has made them part of the sociocultural fabric (for now). Where Chrome was looking to simplify the browsing experience, Buzz seems bent on embracing the full gamut of social networking, allowing for integration with Blogger, Flickr, Picasa and YouTube, among others. It comes as no surprise that of the four sites I've named, only Flickr isn't actually owned by Google. After all, why make it easier for people to connect to something outside your sphere of influence? Far better to keep them in your orbit, buying up the hit websites in specific content categories and forming your own constellation of domination. (Note the conspicuous absence of Facebook in the list above.) In essence, Buzz is simply consolidating Google's diversified Internet empire under one umbrella.

It doesn't make for an immediately intuitive user experience, and for people who already have Facebook and Twitter, Buzz might feel redundant. This brings us to the most glaring flaw in Google's introduction of Buzz: its handling of its Gmail users. You might have noticed Google's invitation to try out Buzz. Like me, you might have rejected it. Imagine my chagrin when a few days later, Buzz appears anyway, just under my Inbox, and the new items slowly began accumulating. (The slowness of this suggests that most of my friends aren't hopping on the Buzz bandwagon, thankfully.) A friend has pointed out that you need a public Google profile before Buzz can work, so it's unfair to say that Google didn't give me a choice in the matter. Thing is, I had that public profile before Buzz ever came along. So who gave Buzz permission to assume this constituted an invitation for its invasion of my privacy? For that's exactly what Buzz does. It plucks a bunch of Gmail contacts and automatically follows them. Didn't it occur to the geeks designing this that not everyone I e-mail frequently is necessarily also someone I would socialise with in other settings? Much has already been written by more qualified people about the ramifications of Google's carelessness in this regard, so I won't belabour the point. Suffice it to say that the online backlash generated by Buzz has the potential to torpedo Google's attempt at snagging a slice of the social networking pie. (Orkut, an earlier attempt, did well enough. In Brazil.) After all, as the (limited) public experience of Google Wave has demonstrated, it's not enough that the geeks and early adopters 'get it'. If you're too far ahead of the curve for Joe Public, you'll sink. Before Google embarks on its next project for Microsoft-scale domination, it might do well to consider if it's providing a service people actually want, rather than something it thinks people should want.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Episode 509: Digging & Chung Ying

Had been dreading today's lesson, but it went far better than expected and I actually felt useful. Did hit a snag at the start when I couldn't find the class though. Went to the classroom on Westwood Campus, but finding no one there, I obviously headed to the site of the dig. Only problem was that having arrived in the vicinity of Cryfield, I proceeded to take a wrong turn onto the playing fields rather than farmland. Eventually found everyone, and did some surveying work before breaking for lunch. The wind was freezing, otherwise the experience would have been far more pleasant! Switched to digging after lunch with a classmate, making a small extension to the main trench that the others had dug before lunch. It was tiring work, but interesting as well, in the sense that it's the sort of thing I'd never be able to do outside of this course. Was a bit concerned that I wouldn't make it to the dinner in Birmingham on time, but I got a lift home, so that saved me some time. The dinner itself was a typical Singaporean affair, i.e. it offered the comfort of familiarity. Most random moment of the evening was when the lion dance troupe came through, and it was completely composed of Caucasians. Second most random moment was when one of the waiters went about the room, exhorting all of us to move our bodies and get dancing like he was doing to Flo Rida's 'Low'. It was simultaneously hilarious and profoundly disturbing. Of course, we had to end the night with some excitement, which took the form of racing to catch the last train back to Coventry. It did stop at Canley though, which saved me and my housemates having to wait for the oh-so-reliable 12 in the cold.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Episode 508: Psyched About Work (I'm Serious!)

So despite the fact that tomorrow's Archaeology class is going to be a disaster for me, today's been pretty good for all my other work. After a conversation with Dan and some Googling, I think my EN227 essay is going to shape up nicely once I've re-read the poems I'm writing about and done the secondary reading. Also, finally got around to telling Jeremy Treglown that I want to change the topic of my non-fiction piece, and he readily approved of my new idea, so am quite psyched about that as well. Again, just need to do a bit of background reading so that I know what I want the remaining 1700 words to cover, and I could even write this by the end of Reading Week! It's slightly ambitious, given that I've got quite a bit of stuff to do for French (and a presentation on Christina Rossetti to prepare), but I can't help it. I think I've really found my non-fiction voice, which I never seriously thought possible before this year. (In other words, The Straits Times back home should hire me. Right now. I want to be given inches and inches in which to whine and bitch about stuff too!) Plus I'm actually pretty confident when it comes to judging my non-fiction, as opposed to my fiction and poetry. This is, however, based entirely on three pieces that barely add up to 1000 words in total, so don't take my word for it just yet.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Episode 507: Two Poems In An Hour!

Wrote the two poems for tomorrow's seminar between classes today. I think the results are passable. The poem about the Annunciation is decent enough, while the one about the temptation of Saint Anthony could have turned out better, but will do for something to e-mail to the rest of the class. Could have gone out tonight, to two separate social events in fact, but was so completely knackered by the time I got home that I held out for a few hours before taking a nap. Was going to read Maupin's Maybe The Moon, but I guess that's not going to happen now. Only just woke up, so now I'm watching Underworld: Evolution. I hear they're making a fourth film in this series, and in slavish adherence to the latest trend in Hollywood, it's going to be in 3D. I suppose all those Hollywood types are really banking on big franchises to entrench 3D films in Joe Public's consciousness. I'm still sceptical and think it's just one more fad whose novelty will eventually wear off. Anyway, can someone explain why there seems to be this need in popular culture for vampires and werewolves to feature alongside each other? To my knowledge, Anne Rice's vampire novels are the only ones to not do this, although witches arguably are substituted for werewolves in her later novels and her sister, Alice Borchardt, actually wrote about werewolves. Maybe I should have suggested this for discussion in EN273? Haha...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Episode 506: Just Thought You Should Know, I Ate Two Meals Today!

I didn't say anything in class today. I had an interesting idea, which I shared with Dan later in Curiositea, but there wasn't really an opening for me to bring it up in class. Not terribly bothered anyway. Was going to audition for As You Like It, but the slots were completely taken up and I'm not that keen, so I came home instead. I finally got around to writing my curse and blessing poems in the evening, and I sort of cheated. I've written them as two irregular sonnets, which are syntactically identical but have key words changed to reflect the different attitude towards Time in each sonnet. I was feeling pretentious, so bits of the sonnets are in Latin, which I'm fairly certain is grammatically accurate. Hey, the poem might be rubbish, but at least the Latin was an impressive effort. (I keep saying I want to teach myself Latin, but this summer, I'm actually going to get started on it. For real.) Was going to get cracking on the poem about the Annunciation for EN273 on Friday, but I got lazy, so all I've got is the opening line: 'These days, she would have been famous.' Am still slightly annoyed with myself for getting the date wrong and not realising my next Archaeology class is this Saturday. I think it's fascinating, but it requires about two weeks of mental preparation before I can handle being in a class where practically everyone is at least two decades older than me (if not more) and also apparently knows what the hell is going on far more than I do. Sigh.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Episode 505: My Aw-shucks Moment

What a hectic day it's been. By my standards anyway. French was not very challenging, although I thought my accent while reading today was very good indeed. Finally know what Neil Lazarus looks like because I went to get my tutors' feedback for Term 1. It was very flattering, especially George Ttoouli's comments. I mean, I'm not a problem student, but I wasn't anticipating such praise. I think it had something to do with being mature, good at adapting contemporary forms for my purposes, and possessing moral acuity. Oh George, I never knew you felt that way about my writing! Maybe I will write a 'great novel' after all, and not just my moneymaking science fiction series. If it ever happens, I'll put you down in the dedications. (This also means I'll be devastated if he thinks 'The Triptych Papers' is utter rubbish. Fingers crossed, yeah?) I'm glad Neil understands that some people just don't feel the need to talk a lot during seminars and that it's not an indication of incomprehension. Had a long discussion about this via SMS with Christopher, with both of us concluding that ironically, we found discussions back in RJC more, well, intellectually stimulating. I suppose the problem is, when you think about it, rather a chicken-and-egg issue. Your contribution can help to raise the level of discussion, but would you be bothered if the discussion wasn't engaging you in the first place? (Note to self: Say something tomorrow in the seminar before the tutor prompts you politely.) AdHoc meeting and band practice in church, followed by freezing in the cold as two full buses went past. Thank God there was a third, or else what little is left of my faith in Coventry's public transport would have been destroyed. Latest episode of House is brilliant by the way, proving this season to be quite strong for a sixth.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Episode 504: Science Fiction Ideas!

Just got back from the Keeno Kino Warwick Student Film Festival, which was an interesting experience. I can't pretend to say that I understood all of the films that I saw, but I really enjoyed the one Adriana did for her film-making course last year, as well as Simon's very convincing film about an anthropologist who is driven mad by his contemplations. On the way back, I randomly started thinking about ideas for an epic science fiction series. By ideas, I mean I've actually mentally written out the publisher's blurb/summary that's going on the back cover. Haha! I've got three specific ideas that could be tied together in a continuous timeline, or could exist as three separate stories. Firstly, a society in which uploading of one's consciousness is commonplace, even before death, and these consciousnesses are regarded as independent legal entities. The catch? They're capable of producing virtual offspring as well, by exchanging fragments of their personalities. What happens when reproduction is no longer limited by natural resources, but simply by how much computing power and memory space you have? Can the corporeal humans compete? The second idea has to do with technologies like terraforming and planet construction. What would happen if human technology advanced to the point where these were realities, allowing humanity to spread to the rest of the Solar System, with the catch that we are the first spacefaring race with such abilities and attract the attention of envious aliens? This one's slightly more problematic, since I haven't thought of a good reason why humans should be the only ones, or at least the first, to develop these technologies. The last idea's relatively simpler, and involves the appearance of a genetic mutation that grants a select group of people the ability to manipulate reality, earning them the ire of adherents of all the major world religions who consider the existence of humans with godlike powers to be blasphemy. Now imagine what would happen if one of these mutants was a religious person too. These are all just some random ideas that I've been throwing around in my head, and I'll probably never get around to putting them down on paper, knowing my aversion to writing long pieces. So much for raking in the dollars...

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Episode 503: Il Faut Pardonner

Finally got around to reading that article by Georges Pompidou I've been avoiding all week. It's about the May 1968 student demonstrations in France, and is heavily ironic. My homework was to pick out all the ironic bits, but I can't be bothered, so I'm just going to wing it in class come Tuesday. Also did a draft of the sponsorship pack for AdHoc, which I've been meaning to do all week, but between rehearsing for and recovering from the musical, I haven't had the time or energy until today, after I got back from lunch at Varsity. I think it's pretty okay for a skeletal outline, but it needs to be worked through something like Microsoft Publisher or Adobe Photoshop, so that it can be prettified, like all those glossy packs I've been browsing online. (I have neither, or I'd make a start myself, despite my limited artistic talent.) Anyway, I had one of those moments today that people usually turn into testimonies in church. Without having to go into too much detail, suffice it to say that the sermon today was extremely timely. Not directly for myself, but it put me in a position to give sound advice to someone else a few hours later.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Episode 502: 12 Hours Of Sleep Does A World Of Good

I slept until it was nearly noon and have done absolutely nothing of worth since then. It's been glorious. I will get down to doing things after church tomorrow, naturally, but for now, Saturday has been great. I think the only way it could have been improved would have been if I hadn't climbed out of bed at all and if it were about 10 degrees warmer. It's not technically meant to be spring for at least another three weeks, but really, you'd think it'd start warming up by now. I suppose it has, but it's a shabby effort. Am now making up for my laziness all day by reading the Dante Gabriel Rossetti poems for next week, and they're really enjoyable. It sounds like the lamest thing ever to say, especially for someone whose own poetic output tends not to rhyme, but I like the fact that Victorian poetry does. It just makes it so much easier to read and get through, which is terribly important when you're reading a lot of stuff only because it's been assigned and not because you're actually interested in that poet. (I can be very arbitrary in my choices when it comes to reading, which is both good and bad. Good because I tend to find stuff I would otherwise never have discovered. Bad because I tend to avoid stuff that I'm told I should be appreciating because it's 'great literature'.) Am still going strong with my re-reading of Maupin's Tales Of The City series by the way. Have reached the fifth book!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Episode 501: (500) Days Of Summer

I'm really starting to get into the non-fiction half of EN232, specifically when it comes to writing in the style of a column journalist. I'm definitely beginning to develop what feels like my signature voice, which you can sometimes detect in my blogging anyway. You know what I mean. A breezy, conversational tone, seasoned with a dose of intelligence and wit, with a cynical streak to boot. Anyway, was at Lizzie's house with a bunch of people to see (500) Days Of Summer. Frankly speaking, I think the film was too hyped up for me by other people who'd seen it before, and therefore I felt let down by it. To begin with, the non-linear narrative felt like an unnecessary contrivance. The Time Traveler's Wife is by no means a perfect film, but it's one in which the non-linear narrative works to enhance the effect of the film, rather than coming across as pretentious. Admittedly, the relationship shown in the film is interesting because of the attempt to present a realistic corrective to the stereotypical lead couples of romantic comedies, but I never really felt anything for either of the characters. Compared with films like Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind and My Blueberry Nights, both of which really worked for me, (500) Days Of Summer just came off as something trying to be unformulaic by adhering closely to the formula for being unformulaic. (Sorry for that clunky sentence, I'm quite tired.) Great soundtrack, but as an actual film? Sorry, just not buying it.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Episode 500: Have I Been Blogging Here That Long Already?

Popped down to the city centre between seminar and lecture to collect my parcel, which would otherwise have been returned to the sender after today. Was pleasantly surprised that it actually was at the Royal Mail delivery office. Was so happy about this I decided to treat myself to a Starbucks frappuccino. Nothing fancy, you understand, just plain coffee with cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla powders sprinkled on top. Made it back to campus in time for Emma Mason's entertaining lecture, although she really should stop talking about the microphone and her bra. That joke only works the first time you tell it! Am still shattered from yesterday, so I came home after some dithering in the pub with friends and have been alternating between napping and reading since. Did find a moment to do something responsible and adult, i.e. buying travel insurance. It's still hard to believe that I've actually gone and done it, and that I'll be travelling with a bunch of strangers come March. Eugene has also kindly informed me that my attractive doppelgänger has surfaced in London. We apparently look alike, sound alike right down to our accents, except he is more buff than me, and therefore according to my wonderful friend, more good-looking. I am quite intrigued, since I've never actually met someone who even vaguely resembled me. (That guy from my primary school doesn't count because now he looks really weird.)

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Episode 499: The Importance Of Being Honest

Aside from a few minor technical gaffes (which suggested the dinner songs are definitely jinxed), the musical was quite the success, if I may say so. So proud of everyone for putting on a good show! The whole thing seemed to go by in a flash compared to rehearsals. Couldn't watch most of it because we were staying backstage to avoid crowding the wings, but there were speakers all around, so we could still hear the soloists and the applause. Feel like getting involved in more theatre stuff now. There's auditions coming up for the Shakespeare Society's radio play version of As You Like It, which I'm really, really tempted to sign up for. Met most of my friends who'd come to see the performance at the Terrace Bar, which does a lovely Mojito. Finally, a place to get cocktails on campus! (I'm not actually sure if there was anywhere else that did them before this. I suppose there was and I was just not cool enough to know.) All in all, I'm glad the musical's over and that the audience enjoyed it. It was surprising how the audience really took to the love triangle aspect of the ending, since to me, when you read the scene on the page, it's the ambivalence of Cynthia that seems more prominent, given that the love triangle is something that could have been eliminated entirely from the production by changing background music and tonal nuances. Well, if any of the juniors wants to write a sequel, at least they've already got a plot point in place!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Episode 498: Black Tape!

Lately, I've been looping the first couple of tracks on Ke$ha's album, Animal. That's not a judgement about the rest of the album, but more a reflection of how long my bus journey is to and from campus. She sounds like Lady Gaga on a budget crossed with the white trash of Britney Spears. In other words, irresistible to someone with my musical preferences. I got an A for my presentation last week on New Caledonia. My tutor didn't even have anything to say apart from 'très professionnel', which was immensely gratifying, naturally. I knew taking LL209 this year was going to be a great decision! Then I had to hang around on campus until 6 pm because the costume people were only free to collect our stuff then. Helped to tape the wires we're going to use to hang up all the 'family portraits' tomorrow, an activity which Claire Lim describes as 'bonding'. I guess it is, but really, there are more fun ways for that to happen. Incidentally, Royal Mail redelivery didn't happen, which still means I'll probably miss it because it's now going to arrive while I'm out all day tomorrow because of the musical.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Episode 497: Housing Contract Signed!

Went down to Leamington today to sign the housing contract for next year. It's really quite a banal business, isn't it? You go in, sign, and leave. That's pretty much all that happens. It's such a big step, but the whole thing is really quite anticlimactic in the end, I guess. Was going to stay on campus until it was time for rehearsal, but there was way too much time to kill, so I came home and made myself a late lunch, while starting on the next Maupin novel. Also tried to get rid of the wrinkles in my trousers by moistening them and putting them back in the dryer, which sort of worked, but now it's afflicted by a really bad case of static cling that's driving me nuts. Am going to have to do something about that on Wednesday at some point. Rehearsal ended really late again tonight, so I may or may not stay up to finish reading that Maupin novel. I could totally do it, but I'd be quite sleep-deprived for the rest of tomorrow. It's okay though, since there isn't rehearsal, but I do have to stick around till 6 pm to turn in my costume to the costume people. Guess it's back to the Library after LL209 then. Who wants to bet that I'll miss the Royal Mail redelivery I scheduled for tomorrow?