Saturday, December 31, 2011

Episode 1195: Farewell 2011...

It may be the holidays, but I'm pleased to report that Eunoia Review has chalked up a new monthly high for site visits, surpassing the old record that was only set last month! It's also more than four times the numbers we were getting for the same period in the journal's first year of existence. I think it might be asking for too much to hope for a similar quadrupling by December 2012. Haha! Mostly I'm just glad that the readers have stuck with us. Was fully expecting a slight dip in viewership, what with all the Christmas and New Year's carousing I'm sure people are getting up to, even those who read literary journals. Maybe this month just happned to have more contributors whose posts have greater virality, as Facebook Insights would put it. (Pretty sure the piece published at noon today is an example of this phenomenon.) I think getting people to share the work being published more often is going to be an important part of growing the journal's audience in 2012, and I'm going to look into ways of doing that. I'm considering just extending an open invitation via Facebook and Twitter, asking if anyone wants to come onboard as a sort of publicity coordinator. Perhaps in 2012, it's time for Eunoia Review to become more than a one-man operation?

Friday, December 30, 2011

Episode 1194: Scratch Yesterday's Post Title!

Met up with Shirley at BooksActually to collect the books she bought on my behalf, as well as have a chat with Kenny and, of course, buy some more stuff. Picked up some pamphlets and zines that I'm guessing were showcased at the zine fair earlier this year, including a pamphlet that I'm pretty sure is by the same Samantha Toh that I went to CAP with, way back in 2002. So it's a fairly hefty haul I've brought home this time, although that's really par for the course when I visit BooksActually. I'm thinking that if Kenny agrees to it, I'm going to propose a three-part review of the Babette's Feast series for Sabotage Reviews, divided according to the batches the pamphlets came out in. I know he's in touch with Cui Yin at Woolfson & Tay, an independent bookstore in Bermondsey, so there's a chance that anyone in the UK reading the reviews could eventually pick up copies of the pamphlets too. It does feel like a massive undertaking though, and I should probably clear at least one or two of the reviews I owe Claire of the pamphlets from The Knives Forks & Spoons Press. Have also requested a review copy of the book version of the I Wrote This For You blog, which I'm going to pitch to Scott at The Cadaverine. All in all, it looks like I've got a lot of reading to do, none of which actually even has any bearing on my academic work! Not that I'm complaining though, just have to start being more conscientious about not procrastinating and wasting time from now on...

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Episode 1193: Holiday's Over, Back To Reality

Finished Issue 9 of Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern before checking out of the hotel, so I managed to finish both the magazines I brought along on this short trip. (Lucky Peach Issue 2 was pretty delicious, some interesting dessert recipes in there!) Started reading Steven Amsterdam's Things We Didn't See Coming, which is an interesting take on dystopian fiction. The first chapter is set on New Year's Eve 1999, and it's implied that in the novel's timeline, the Millennium Bug was the catalyst for plunging civilisation into chaos. The time jumps so far have been slightly confusing, but if you just go with it, the world Amsterdam's created is a disconcerting mixture of familiarity and alienation. Also caught up with the premiere of The Noose Season 5 this afternoon, after getting back from the airport. It never ceases to amaze me how that show gets away with poking fun at Mediacorp and Channel NewsAsia. It's got to the point where The Noose is naming and shaming fellow Mediacorp shows, like Point Of Entry. So hilariously bad, you can't look away. That also pretty much describes DOA: Dead On Arrival, which is currently airing as tonight's Channel 5 movie special. So many plot holes and so much bad CGI!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Episode 1192: David Eagleman Is One To Watch

Finished reading Sum: Forty Tales From The Afterlives by David Eagleman, one of my discoveries at MPH yesterday. It's an interesting collection of flash fiction, reminiscent of Borges in its philosophical bent, and playfully imagining possible versions of the afterlife, occasionally accompanied by speculations as to the nature of the presiding God. What's especially interesting to me is that Eagleman majored in British and American literature as an undergraduate, before going on to become a neuroscientist. That kind of cross-pollination isn't unheard of (David Morley immediately comes to mind), but it's pretty counterintuitive to anyone who's been educated in Singapore, where the separation between arts and sciences is still pretty rigid. Spent an hour or so this afternoon scheduling submissions on my dad's laptop, a tricky affair because the WordPress page kept going crazy in the old version of IE installed on the laptop. Got them all done though, so the journal's all set till the end of March. Tomorrow it's back to Singapore, when I might finally be able to start on my essay on Christian Bök's Eunoia. I'm kind of starting to think that my essay title is too precise and therefore restrictive, but I suppose I could still make it work. Just need to think more deeply about the structure of this long poem. Annoyingly, Marjorie Perloff has done a succinct yet illuminating close reading of it in a chapter in Differentials: Poetry, Poetics, Pedagogy, so I'm going to have to work hard to avoid merely parroting it. (Also, we randomly met Khaw Boon Wan at the hotel today!)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Episode 1191: A&W & Gurney Drive

Turns out that the hotel has complimentary broadband access in its rooms and free WiFi in the lobby, which is just as well since I couldn't figure out how to make my dad's laptop into a hotspot. Just had Penang char kway teow for dinner at Gurney Drive and kind of think it wasn't that much different than what's sold in the Northpoint food court. (Incidentally, that's one of only two places I know of that sell Penang char kway teow in Singapore, the other being a stall in the food court at Tiong Bahru Plaza.) Had lunch at A&W in Plaza Gurney, which I haven't eaten since all the Singaporean outlets were shuttered. Bought a bunch of books in MPH too. Nothing I was actively looking for (didn't even know Orhan Pamuk had a new book out), just stuff I happened to find while browsing the shelves. Would've bought more, but it's hard to justify buying UK paperbacks anywhere else other than Amazon UK, so all I got were Random House paperbacks, from the Anchor and Vintage imprints. Then we all went to see Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows. I've never actually seen the first film, so I've no prior frame of reference, but I thought it was really good. I think the BBC TV adaptation still comes out slightly ahead, so I'm excited that the new series of that is finally premiering next year!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Episode 1190: Okay, Terra Nova, You've Changed My Mind

Watched the Terra Nova season finale before heading to the airport. It's actually pretty good, on par with the pilot. The feel-good factor actually makes sense in the two-part finale, rather than being something that looks like it's there just to make the show more family-friendly. I think the problem's always been that Terra Nova was a two-hour movie trying to be a 13-episode TV show, hence why everything in between pilot and finale has largely felt like filler, right down to the glaring lack of dinosaurs. I was originally rooting for it to be cancelled, but after seeing the finale, I feel like I want it to get a second season. Kind of like when I saw 'Epitaph One', the coda to Dollhouse Season 1 that only appeared on the DVD release (and SingTel mioTV), except that show deserved a second season anyway. So okay, Terra Nova, you've changed my mind about you. Now Fox executives, just make up your mind about the show already! (Ditto for whether or not this is the final season of House.) Anyway, I'm probably not going to have Internet access while I'm in Penang, unless the hotel has WiFi, which will make answering submissions difficult. Could use my Vodafone SIM card, since the data roaming cost on that is significantly lower than for SingTel, weirdly enough.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Episode 1189: Rain-free Christmas!

Given how wet it's been the past week, Christmas was surprisingly dry. Windy, to be sure, with the threat of a downpour constantly in the air, but not much actual rain. (On a related note, I was mildly amused by the flooding in Orchard Road this year. Oh, sorry, I mean the 'ponding', as Singaporeans have been informed by the relevant authorities.) Saw Dick Lee twice in VivoCity, once on the way out after dinner at Bosses Restaurant, once around the GV cinema on the way to the carpark. In the flesh, he looks, well, nondescript. Didn't even notice him in the restaurant until my mum pointed him out! As for the food at the restaurant, I wasn't terribly impressed for the most part. Chief complaint? Every dish was too salty, to the point where the flavour profiles began to run together. The salted egg yolk pau with a molten filling for dessert was an interesting touch though. Speaking of food, my second issue of Lucky Peach finally arrived yesterday, so I've been reading that. This issue is all about 'the sweet spot', in all its incarnations, which makes for a wonderfully eclectic selection of writing. Favourite so far is Adam Leith Gollner's on apricots. They've never exactly been my favourite fruit, but maybe that's because all I've had before are what's available in the supermarket.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Episode 1188: Flipboard!

Just discovered Flipboard today, and I'm a bit obsessed with it now. Went on a following spree in Google Reader and Tumblr right after I downloaded it onto my iPhone. If you don't know what it is, it's an application that pulls your social media streams together and displays them in a magazine format (it was originally developed for the larger screen of the iPad). You can also add Flipboard-curated aggregated feeds, feeds of popular websites designed for Flipboard, or add a basic feed manually if the website hasn't developed one specially for Flipboard yet. The concept must be popular, as Google has released its own version of the concept called Google Currents. What I find cool about Flipboard is how do many sources of information are pulled together in a very clean interface that still proves pleasing to operate even on the reduced screen estate of the iPhone. I will say that discovering an application like Flipboard has done more to persuade me that I should shell out money for an iPad of my own than even watching China Miéville using his in our EN236 seminars! I'll have to work out my budget for 2012 to be sure if I can spare the expense, but I think I should be able to.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Episode 1187: Zephyr Holdings Sounds Like An Insane Working Environment

Randomly decided to pick up Max Barry's Company to read. I read his earlier novel Jennifer Government a couple of years ago, and Company is also a work of corporate satire, but at the level of a single holding company, rather than global capitalism run amok. It actually really reminds me of Better Off Ted, that criminally underwatched comedy that was cancelled too soon. Barry also had a new novel out in August that I wasn't aware of previously, Machine Man, a science fiction novel this time. Going to have to wait till I'm back in the UK to order it from Amazon UK, as the price on The Book Depository is higher. Also going to pick up his debut novel Syrup, when he was still going by Maxx Barry. (Incidentally, a contributor to The Cadaverine once expressed concern that if he used his actual name, he risked being mistaken for the Australian novelist.) In other news, Eunoia Review marks another milestone in welcoming its 300th contributor! The last couple of contributors have been interesting too, including two Macedonian writers, one of whom sent in a science fiction piece that wouldn't have been out of place in something by an author on Gollancz's list.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Episode 1186: First Borders, Now PageOne

Opened the newspapers today to read that PageOne is closing its Singapore outlet in February. Another mega bookstore bites the dust! Kind of ironic, since the homegrown company's business is thriving in the region. Shame, I'd just been there yesterday and bought two Ted Dekker books. To be fair though, I only bought them because they were international edition paperbacks that I wouldn't have been able to buy from the Amazon UK website. Having looked at the prices on other books, I was once again reminded at how expensive books are in Singapore. I'm not even talking about taking into account Amazon's discounts. Even going by the RRP, book prices here just don't make sense, given what the exchange rate with the pound's been in recent years. I doubt the differential can be attributed entirely to shipping costs, since surely there are economies of scale to be exploited. I wouldn't mind paying a bit more at an independent bookstore like BooksActually, but at a chain bookstore, I don't see why I'm paying what I perceive as a marked up price. Thankfully, there's still The Book Depository and its global free shipping. Its prices vis-à-vis Amazon UK are no longer competitive apart from American paperbacks, but if the exchange rate with the pound stays roughly the same, I don't think Kinokuniya is going to get much business from me even when I'm back in Singapore for good.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Episode 1185: Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Caught Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol with Ben Woon and found it surprisingly good. Usual suspension of disbelief required for a viewer to buy the plot, of course, but otherwise, I could've been watching an extended episode of Covert Affairs, right down to the multinational filming. I say that because for the latest instalment in an action franchise, there was a liberal amount of humour sprinkled throughout, mostly provided by Simon Pegg's character. Not entirely convinced that this film is going to rejuvenate Tom Cruise's career (even if he did lose his shirt in typical Hollywood hunk fashion), but as a semi-reboot of the franchise, I think it does the job. The new agents in the team, played by Paula Patton and Jeremy Renner, were a mixed bunch. Renner's character provided an interesting counterpoint to Cruise's, but Patton ended up seeing like the token female agent. Also, am I the only one who thinks Josh Holloway's agent shouldn't have been killed off in the first five minutes? Seemed like a waste of the character to me. Refreshingly though, the film was devoid of romantic entanglements, although if there's another film in the franchise, I'm betting Patton and Renner's characters will be the go-to couple.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Episode 1184: Allegorical Fantasy Isn't Dead

Finished reading Ted Dekker's Green today, which functions as both the end and the beginning of the Circle series, themselves part of the larger The Books of History Chronicles. I'd read the original trilogy a couple of years ago and loved it, and although I agree with some critics who say this book is comparatively weaker, I don't think it detracts from the overall audacity of Dekker's allegorical project. Of course, it's only possible to divine the allegory if one possesses a certain familiarity with the Bible, particularly the New Testament. Not that the references are necessarily all obvious. My favourite was actually a reference in Green to 1 Corinthians 13:12, perhaps more famously known via the title of Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly. As an allegorical fantasy, the Circle series is more The Chronicles Of Narnia than The Lord Of The Rings, with a healthy dose of contemporary thriller infused. It's definitely readable, although the religious overtones will definitely rankle for the more militantly atheistic. The full series consists of 17 interlinked books, a sprawling achievement, and I've only read five so far. Could try to get through the rest by the end of the holidays, but I should really get on with stuff I have (as opposed to want) to read, right?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Episode 1183: Weird Contributor!

Slowly catching up on the backlog of TV shows that accumulated last week, between flying home and the weekend at the hotel. Had a look today at an already accepted and published story that a contributor wanted revised. This was the fourth revision she's requested since acceptance, and this most recent instance came a few months after the story had been published and she'd already promised that the previous revision would be the final one. Despite my reply that was worded to suggest that this repeated tweaking of a story that had already been accepted and was now published was unnecessary, she didn't seem to get the hint, as she replied that she was looking forward to reading it. Leaving aside that that doesn't even make sense, since she wrote the story and it's already been up on the site for months, this latest revision sees about 50% of the story being deleted and replaced by new material, not necessarily for the better. If she'd sent this version in to me all those months ago, I'd probably have rejected it. I didn't put it quite so bluntly in my most recent reply, but I did suggest that at this point, she'd be better off just changing the story's title and trying to get it accepted elsewhere, since I think that while the core of the story remains, the execution in the published version versus this most recent revision differs sufficiently. Frankly, it's become a bit too overwritten, in my opinion, and if she replies to my e-mail to express disappointment that I'm declining to update the story or anything remotely along those lines, I might actually be forced to tell her that.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Episode 1182: The Library Continues To Baffle Me...

Just came back from a weekend at Swissôtel The Stamford. High tea on Saturday at the Asian Market Café was surprisingly unimpressive, given how the other F&B outlets in the hotel complex are pretty good. Persuaded my mum to spend some of my dad's Les Amis Group vouchers on chocolates and macarons from Canelé Pâtisserie Chocolaterie this evening, so that was a treat. Am now replying to the second batch of questions for that interview about Eunoia Review with Geetha. Can't wait to see the full interview up at Flyway! In more frustrating news, the Library has (un)helpfully suggested that I post the book back because 'The book in question is still required by another borrower' and 'Any fines levied will be off-set against postage costs incurred'. I didn't see the Library working so hard to get the book back when it was overdue while I was waiting to borrow it. In any case, I've worked it out, and it isn't exactly worth my while to post the book back. Given its weight, surface mail is the only method that wouldn't see me paying more than my eventual total fine, and that would take so long to reach the Library, it wouldn't actually make sense. (Although come to think of it, I could do that, just to mess with them.) Any other method of posting would see me paying significantly more than I expect to be fined, and so logically, I should just hold on to the book and ignore all the unhelpful suggestions from the staff, since I'm pretty sure they've completely forgotten the fact that I'm going to be posting the book from halfway across the world and not the next county.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Episode 1181: Seriously, SMRT?

I feel like I should take back everything I said about SMRT in my earlier post. Four disruptions in three days is really pushing it! This is some crazy PR disaster the company's got on its hands. Granted, the excuse is probably going to be that this latest disruption is simply an extension of what happened yesterday, but that begs the question of whether SMRT even fixed anything overnight, while the MRT system wasn't operating. It's going to be a tough sell, convincing the public that SMRT is capable of rectifying the issues, which look more and more like they're systemic, rather than being unfortunate coincidences. I imagine a section of the populace will be baying for Saw Phaik Hwa's blood soon enough. Can't say I blame them this time, even if it seems like the typical Singaporean knee-jerk reaction, conflating resignation with someone being held to account. I do agree though, with those who say that SMRT should extend some sort of goodwill gesture to commuters for the inconvenience caused by these recent disruptions. Something that goes beyond giving refunds, of course.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Episode 1180: Warwick Library, I Am Not Impressed

Am almost done with House, co-authored by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker. It's a suspense/thriller novel that clips along at a rapid pace, like most of Dekker's stuff. Finishing a book of his per day doesn't seem far-fetched at all, so I might just continue reading them alongside all the academic stuff I need to get through. On a related note, I'm currently being fined 20p each day because a book I placed a hold on was returned late, thus preventing me from borrowing it until someone else has placed a hold on it too. This meant what should have been a vacation loan for me became a three-day loan, although presumably, if I were in the UK and able to return the book, this other person would now be able to hold onto the book for the rest of the holidays. Doesn't really seem fair, does it? I'm basically being inadvertently penalised for someone else's inconsideration. The Library staff haven't been especially helpful, just reiterating what I already know and completely avoiding my gripe about the unfairness of the situation and that it's also physically impossible for me to return the book before the start of term. Ah well. Why should they, when they can just fob me off and collect the eventual £5.40 fine? For a university library, our academic provision is actually really inadequate. You definitely won't find me defending the Library in the future!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Episode 1179: Fellow Singaporeans, You Seriously Need To Chill Out

The vaunted public transport system in Singapore is taking a major battering lately. Taxi fare hike and not one, but two significant disruptions to the MRT network (albeit on entirely different lines)? It's like the proverbial perfect storm. That said, all the people ranting right now need to take a deep breath and, well, shut up. Sure, in recent years our public transport system has increasingly suffered from problems like overcrowding. Is it still a solid system? Yes, with room for improvement like any piece of infrastructure in a growing city. People are going to latch onto the spate of recent failures and completely dismiss the fact that statistically, it's hard to deny that as far as our public transport is concerned, it functions more often than not. Given the high volume of usage, the surprising thing should be that it doesn't break down more often! In this regard, the parties involved are clearly victims of their own success. They've engineered something that gives the impression of being so absolutely reliable, they've lulled the average Singaporean into a state of complacency. I'm not trying to defend SMRT here, but it is completely unrealistic to expect disruptions never to occur, even such a massive one as today's. I guess Singaporeans aren't going to buy promises that it won't happen again though, given our experience with flooding in Orchard Road...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Episode 1178: RIP Russell Hoban

Ending of The Quantum Thief was excellent! Also leaves the story wide open for a sequel, so here's hoping. Am now valiantly trying to get back into reading Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern. Postal issues have delivered the arrival of the new issue of Lucky Peach, so I couldn't start reading that. Also thinking of getting through some Ted Dekker or China Miéville while I'm back in Singapore. Definitely impossible to cart the Dekker novels over, although I could bring China's stuff over (again), I suppose, since I'm literally not packing any clothes for my return flight, just books, books, books. I know I said I was going to start reading academic stuff, and I definitely will once I'm over the jet lag! Genuinely excited to think about Christian Bök's work and its structure, as it really seems to tread that via media between avant-garde and accessible. Also, have just heard that Russell Hoban has died. Shame, he was one of my favourite novelists, criminally underrated writer. Maybe now that he's dead, more people will start reading his books. After all, death is one of the ultimate literary canonisers, if you're a believer in the canon. (If you aren't, you probably were reading Hoban anyway.)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Episode 1177: Everyone Who Loves Science Fiction, Read The Quantum Thief!

Back and unpacked, just need to shift books around to accommodate the ones that I've brought back. Almost done with The Quantum Thief, and it's pretty clear why Hannu Rajaniemi has been garnering praise for his 2010 debut. Like the best science fiction, I think where it succeeds is in establishing depth for its fictional universe without needing to spell everything out for the reader. There's the feeling that there's heaps of material that just hasn't made it into this story, but that it exists anyway and can be deployed to tell other, equally fascinating stories. I haven't spoilt the ending for myself, so I don't know if there's room for Rajaniemi to continue writing stories about Mars and the Oubliette (exomemory and gevulot are intriguing concepts, especially when you think about the current growing concerns surrounding privacy in our digital lives), but then again, Greg Egan doesn't write linked novels either and each still makes for astonishing reading. Probably going to have to hit the academic stuff pretty hard after I'm done with this novel, apart from the poetry that I'm reviewing for Sabotage Reviews over the holidays. At least I'm reading about something that I'm interested in on a personal level, even if I don't necessarily write that sort of poetry myself.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Episode 1176: En Route...

Have concluded that Economy Class on the upper deck of an A380 flight is definitely better than on the main deck. Apart from there being less passengers and what feels like better service, if two gates are used for boarding (as opposed to two exits within one gate), the upper deck gate has a way shorter queue and you won't be scrambling for a seat while waiting to board either. Didn't have any luggage issues this flight, apart from my carry-on luggage being slightly overweight. Thought it was odd that the counter staff asked to weigh it before the suitcase for checking in. Ended up removing stuff, weighing the luggage, and then putting the stuff back in! Managed to watch a couple of films during the flight, starting with The Smurfs! Loved Neil Patrick Harris, loved Smurfette's pop culture references ('I kissed a Smurf and I liked it'), loved the film's whole feel-good factor. Then I saw Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, which I was prepared to hate because I've seen the original Planet Of The Apes with Charlton Heston. That and the trailer for Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes doesn't do it justice. It emphasises the apes running amok, but in reality, it's the humans who undo civilisation all on their own. It's a very minor subplot that I think could definitely have been better fleshed out, even if this film was supposed to reboot the franchise. The payoff for that bit of the story comes in the ending credits, where the spread of the virus to pandemic proportions is shown. Anyway, I've never been a huge James Franco fan, but I really liked him in this. Also saw Love Is The Only Answer, this bizarre Hong Kong film that tried to be too clever with its flashback-within-a-flashback storytelling. Somewhat entertaining, but I've seen better from all the actors involved in TV shows. Horrible Bosses wasn't too bad. Slightly cringe-inducing in places, mostly because I thought Kevin Spacey was too good for a lowbrow comedy like this. Finally, I saw Winnie The Pooh (and I'm not ashamed to admit it)! I really liked the old school Disney animation and how the fourth wall was constantly being broken, although having recently read all the stories, I felt like this film wasn't really bringing anything new to the table.

Episode 1175: Typographical Blues

As an editor, I find it slightly annoying to get typographically quirky submissions. Mind you, I've nothing against them per se. It's just that sometimes I find it hard to tell what the writer's intention was, and that bothers me because I really want to get it exactly right (within the limits imposed by WordPress). Haven't had anyone complain yet, so I suppose my guesswork has been pretty accurate so far. This occurred to me because I've just scheduled a poem whose indenting seemed, well, pretty random to me. (On a side note, it would be so much easier if there was a way to have WordPress automatically convert tabs into proper HTML. I'm sure there's some trick to this I haven't figured out yet, but just shoving a series of non-breaking spaces also creates the desired effect anyway.) Also, The Quantum Thief just keeps getting better and better! Have about half of the book to go, so I'm going to save it for reading material during the flight, in case there aren't any movies I want to watch. Glad I got to do worship for one more Sunday before flying home! For some reason, I couldn't get my boarding pass to print in IE, so I had to install Google Chrome on one of the Learning Grid computers and then the boarding pass got printed without a hitch. Stupid Microsoft!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Episode 1174: Jee Leong Koh - Required Reading

Watching the blooper reels for Seasons 1 to 5 of How I Met Your Mother, after watching the one for Season 2 of Community yesterday. Hilarious! Maybe I should watch the bloopers from a drama, just to see if I'll find them as funny. Finished reading Jee Leong Koh's Seven Studies For A Self Portrait this morning before heading to the Kidz Klub meal, which ends with a masterful, lengthy sequence of ghazals. (Yay for a box of Maltesers, by the way! Thanks Sarah and Anna.) I just can't get away from how formally constructed his poems generally are, without feeling forced. Probably a bit clichéd to make the comparison to Thom Gunn, isn't it? Anyway, I was flipping at random through Poetry In Theory: An Anthology 1900-2000, edited by Jon Cook, and I'm starting to feel like I should be reading the whole thing from cover to cover, even if only a couple of the essays are actually going to be necessary for my essay eventually. I'll give it a go between services tomorrow, maybe even take the book home over the holidays. I've pretty much sorted out what books I'm taking home, for academic purposes and for relocation from one personal library to another. Cheekily overloading my carry-on suitcase, so I'm hoping the SIA counter staff won't weigh it. The suitcase that's going to be checked in is only a kilogramme or two over the weight limit, so I guess that should be fine, unless the person at the counter is being especially anal.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Episode 1173: Catching Up With Everyone's Favourite Serial Killer

Have been catching up on Dexter over the past couple of days, and I've reached Season 5 now. The Season 4 finale was pretty heartbreaking, but I can see why it had to happen, in terms of the show's overall story development. Should be able to catch up completely with this show over Christmas. Don't understand why I ever stopped in the first place! Read a bit of poetry today, Jee Leong Koh, whom I enjoy because he doesn't shy away from form and rhyme in his poems. (In fact, his first pamphlet Payday Loans was a sonnet sequence, quite traditional at least in terms of its rhyming patterns.) I've also read the first chapter of The Quantum Thief, which I absolutely loved! So Amazon UK got it right this time. Am now getting around to answering the first batch of questions for that interview on Eunoia Review, and it's a pretty comprehensive list, including some that I'm not really sure how to answer because they've never really occurred to me in the course of editing the journal. Not sure if I'll be able to get through all of them tonight, but I do want to finish them before I fly back to Singapore, so that the interviewer can go through the answers and formulate her second round of questions.

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Episode 1172: Postmodern Pooh In The Post!

Can't quite remember if I've ever read it though, or is it just its predecessor, The Pooh Perplex, that I've read. I did finish reading Feed (might pop by the Writers' Room tomorrow afternoon to return it), and I guess the ending was okay. Personally, I'd have preferred if more questions had been answered by the end, specifically in relation to the state of the world that the story is set in, but I guess since the protagonist is this completely apathetic character, it makes sense not to get all those answers as a reader. Kind of limits the book, which ties in to what I said yesterday about its critiques not being particularly subtle. Am going to start reading Hannu Rajaniemi's The Quantum Thief now, as Amazon UK has been relentlessly recommending that to me, presumably on the basis of all the other science fiction titles I've been buying. The reviews of it that I've looked at suggest that Rajaniemi's writing shares an interest with the likes of Greg Egan in integrating complex scientific concepts into the story, and I'm a total sucker for Egan's work. Anyway, it randomly occurred to me today that maybe I should jet back to Singapore for my 25th birthday, since that'll happen in the middle of Summer Term when I don't have lessons and all I'm doing everyday is slaving away at my dissertation. If I could redeem a flight, I might head back for, say, three weeks around that time? Might run the idea by my parents when I'm back over Christmas, since it's my dad's miles that I'd be using to redeem any tickets anyway.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Episode 1171: Interview Request For Eunoia Review!

Have been approached by an MFA candidate at Iowa State University about doing an interview on Eunoia Review for the university's resident literary journal, Flyway. As Laura pointed out on Facebook, I've done interviews before for the journal, which you can find at Duotrope's Digest and The Review Review. This is the first time, however, that I'm being approached directly, as opposed to me responding to a general call to editors who would like to request an interview. It's quite exciting that someone cares enough about what I'm doing as to want to interview me about it. Speaking of interviews, I should probably start thinking about how I want to go about mine with the Ceriph editors when I'm back in Singapore, especially if I want to do something face-to-face. Have begun reading M. T. Anderson's Feed, which is a breezy read, partly because the narrator has been made so intentionally vacuous. Anderson's critique of the increasing mediatisation of society isn't exactly subtle, but it doesn't make the point any less valid, I think. Will finish reading that by tomorrow, and aim to have a quick glance through the books that arrived today from Amazon UK, just to be sure that I won't regret accepting recommendations made to me by whatever algorithm Amazon uses to determine these things!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Episode 1170: Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Have just been to the last WSC screening of the term, so I've finally made use of my crew status to watch something for free. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is definitely among the crazier shows that I've seen, but I loved it for that. This Finnish film tells the story of what happens when the 'real' Santa Claus is excavated in Korvatunturi, on the Russo-Finnish border, and turns out to be a nasty piece of work instead of a jolly gift-dispensing old man. Onni Tommila, who plays central character Pietari, is an adorable hero, and although the story logic is occasionally clunky, the film's still an enjoyable romp. A couple of trailers for films in next term's schedule were screened before the movie, and I realised that I want to watch every single one of them: Cowboys & Aliens, Contagion, Drive and In Time. On a side note, I completely understand why Ryan Gosling has risen to become Hollywood's newest 'golden boy'. What I don't understand is why people keep trying to make Olivia Wilde happen. (On another side note, how good was this week's episode of How I Met Your Mother? Not many shows could get away with that sort of double bait-and-switch, wrapping it all up in a big-hearted finish.)

Monday, December 05, 2011

Episode 1169:!

With this week's episode, Once Upon A Time has officially joined Revenge as one of my favourite freshman dramas. Didn't quite get why Emma was so appalled when she found out Sheriff Graham was sleeping with Regina. I get that Emma and the Sheriff have some sort of chemistry, but her reaction was a bit overboard, given what we've seen of them together so far. Also, pretty glad that there wasn't much of Henry in this episode. He doesn't really seem to do much on the show at the moment apart from constantly insisting that Emma needs to help everyone remember their fairytale selves, right? On a more academic note, Emma Mason mentioned to us during today's seminar, which is a fantastic site where you can find electronic copies of academic texts. I've literally found most of the books that've been sitting unread on my table this term, so now they can occupy the virtual space of my hard drive instead! Seriously though, if you're a current university student, it's well worth checking out, especially for those times when there's only one circulating copy of a book and everyone seems to want it. (Frustratingly, there isn't yet a copy of The Postcolonial Unconscious available, presumably because it's way too new to have been digitised by someone and uploaded.)

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Episode 1168: Who Knew Lady Gaga Could Be So...Normal?

Finally ordered copies of Frederick Crews The Pooh Perplex and Postmodern Pooh, which I've already read before (why does the Library even have copies of them?), but they were so funny that I want copies of my own. I've also been re-reading the Winnie-the-Pooh stories, which even at the age of 24, I still find incredibly charming. Randomly, I'm also watching A Very Gaga Thanksgiving, a couple of days late. She's so, well, normal in this TV special for ABC. Ken Tucker at called it 'disarmingly direct, sincere, and unpretentious', and I have to say, it was actually refreshing to see this side of Lady Gaga. I suppose the fact that the audience she was performing for comprised friends and family also called for her usual brand of insanity to be dialled down more than a couple of notches. I mean, she was still quirky, but for the first time in a long, long while, it was possible to think of Lady Gaga as a human being, as opposed to this overwrought work of art. (Also, the way Lady Gaga was styled in this, didn't you think she looked a bit like Sarah Michelle Gellar's character on Ringer? It's really a bit weird.) I suppose what I enjoyed most was the reworking of songs for live performance like 'Born This Way' and 'Judas', whose studio versions can grate because of all the sonic wizardry being piled on them. Even 'Bad Romance' (still her best song for me) was given a slight spin with an actual drumbeat being thrown into the mix.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Episode 1167: (Briefly) Piercing The Bubble

Christian Bök's Crystallography and Eunoia arrived today, so I went to the Post Room to collect them and ended up being late meeting people in Birmingham. Yeah, I left the Bubble to pay the Christmas Market a visit! It was really crowded today because it was the Family Day promotion, with discounts at the various stalls. I got some marzipan, candied nuts and a chocolate apple, so I'm happy. Would've bought more stuff as Christmas presents for people, except I did that a few years back on the first time I visited the market, so kind of out of ideas where presents are concerned. Guess I'll just buy presents when I'm back in Singapore, since I'm trying to devote as much of my luggage space as possible to carting back books I don't need with me anymore. Incidentally, this week's episode of A Gifted Man was actually pretty good, so it's a shame that show is clearly going to be cancelled. It's had three additional episodes ordered on top of its original 13-episode run, but compared to other CBS shows, its ratings mean the network's probably just looking to have material to air before spring premieres, rather than demonstrating actual faith in the show. Ah well. I guess the show has strayed too far from its initial premise anyway, which was basically Ghost Whisperer-meets-House. Now it's pretty much devolved into only being a standard case-of-the-week medical procedural, i.e. it's House but blander.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Episode 1166: Leamington, I've Missed You

Just got back from the Singapore Society Christmas Dinner in Leamington, so that's the second time I've left campus this term! Although I kind of miss living in Leamington, it still doesn't really bother me that my life has kind of narrowed down this way though. Not sure what reasons would impel me to venture to Coventry or Leamington anyway, at least on any sort of regular basis. The libraries maybe, although I've got a mini-library of my own in my room (which I'm trying to trim by bringing some books back when I fly home for Christmas), and I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of what the Library on campus has to offer anyway. I've almost finished reading the latest issue of Anon, so those'll all go back with Cake and Popshot Magazine in the suitcase. I'm not really sure if I'll bring anything new over in terms of reading material this time. I guess possibly the three Bloodaxe anthologies, Staying Alive, Being Alive and Being Human, although now that the Library has copies of all of them, I'm not sure there's much of a point in doing that. Ditto for the absolutely crazy idea of bringing over all my Thomas Hardy novels. Given my track record (and the amount of stuff I actually need as opposed to want to read), whatever I've got on the bookshelves in my room now could easily keep me occupied for the remaining eight months when I get back in January. There's always Amazon UK in the unlikely event that it doesn't!

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Episode 1165: One Week Later, Still (Sort Of) Sick

I mentioned a while ago that I would put up links to my two latest reviews, so here and here they are. Also decided to give myself a metaphorical kick in the butt and finish writing that review of Armour instead of procrastinating further, so it's now winging its way to Craig on the electronic superhighway. Had a bit of a milestone for Eunoia Review recently as well, as the site had a record number of views for the month of November. 3075! I think taking things to the next level for the journal would have to involve creating more ways for contributors and readers to interact, maybe branch into getting other people to write original literary articles for the site, start building a community around the whole thing. Sounds fantastic, but I just don't know if I'd actually have the time to manage stuff like that! It also kind of moves away from the journal being the sort of thing you can dip into as and when you like, since it's perpetually putting new stuff up. I guess I just want to figure out how to get more exposure for the writers I publish without having to become too visible as the editor? I think it's partly because I feel like a bit of an upstart, as far as being an editor goes, although my editorial judgements don't seem to have gone too far off the rails, if I might say so, judging by readers' comments on the work being published.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Episode 1164: There's A First Time For Everything...

Had a good afternoon, earning £16 from a DR@W experiment. Rubbish evening though, since I failed to meet a review deadline for the first time. I've actually written a third of the review for Armour and have ideas for the rest of it, and normally I'd stay up until it was all done. Since Rum & Reviews Magazine publishes issues though, as opposed to Sabotage Reviews and The Cadaverine where work goes up on a rolling basis, it doesn't make sense for me to now divert any more time away from doing the Schiller reading for Friday's EN974 seminar, especially not since Craig's given me a one-week reprieve. Also gives me a chance to read Armour again, and maybe some other points will emerge from that for the review. I've got enough material to meet the word count as it is, but I feel like I'm still only skimming the surface of Kinsella's new collection. I've never been what you might call a fan of Kinsella's, but this was due more to lack of exposure than any actual antipathy for his poetics, which if Armour is anything to go by, I should actually quite enjoy because there is a definite formal streak running through it. Maybe it is time to pick up some of his other collections when I have some spare cash. Anyway, time to finish up this newest episode of Covert Affairs, and then get on with the Schiller reading!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Episode 1163: No, I Don't Want More Contact Hours

I'd considered attending the SU General Meeting in MS.02 this evening, but seeing as it's still carrying on nearly four hours after it began, I'm quite glad that I exercised my right to not care. The ban on Bacardi has been upheld, which seems a bit pointless anyway, since it's still sold in Costcutter on campus and Tesco off campus. Ethics wins the battle, but capitalism already won the war. Regarding the motion on the agenda about enhancing the quality of education though, I'm not entirely convinced that having a guaranteed minimum number of contact hours translates into enhancing education quality. I quite like having all that free time to read (and think about what I read). Ideally, anyway. Just because it doesn't always work out that way doesn't mean that it's somehow better to increase the number of hours I have in class. Having read Thomas Docherty's book, I'm more inclined to think the desire to have a minimum amount of contact hours as reflecting the same logic that sees a degree in terms of it's delivering value for money. If students here didn't have to pay tuition fees, do you think they really would be terribly bothered by the absence of a minimum number of contact hours? I doubt it. Or at least if they were, it would be for reasons other than wanting to get their money's worth, which I would probably regard as being fine. Not to say that brand of reasoning is completely absent at the moment, but to deny that capitalist logic has anything to do with it at all is being unrealistic.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Episode 1162: A Brace Of Ideas

Have just finished reading Thomas Docherty's book, which again, I highly recommend for anyone interested in the issues surrounding higher education. Now about to start on John Kinsella's Armour, which I need to read and review by Wednesday. A bit of a challenge, as it's a significantly longer volume of poetry than the ones I've reviewed in the past! On the bright side, spoke to Emma Mason today, and she thinks both the essay ideas that I've got sound like interesting things to explore, and yes, I was right that the one about form and disease could work for next term's module instead. The trick then, as always, is to get all the reading for the essay done. It does look like I probably need to read most of this anthology edited by Marjorie Perloff and Craig Dworkin called The Sound Of Poetry/The Poetry Of Sound, just because a good part of the effect of Eunoia comes from the soundscapes that Bök creates within the different sections of the univocalic poem that are nevertheless tied together by the recurrence of certain images and themes. Emma also pointed me to an article by Simon Jarvis called 'The Melodics of Long Poems', which definitely sounds intriguing.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Episode 1161: Getting Ahead Of Myself...

I'm having trouble deciding what I want to write about for my EN973 essay. I know it's definitely going to be related to questions of form (or apparent lack thereof, since I'd argue that even free verse, which is supposedly the absence of form, is in itself a kind of formal choice, if that makes sense), and I initially thought I'd got it all figured out. I was going to write about Thom Gunn and either Elizabeth Bishop or Jack Clemo, and it would be in relation to what has been thought of as 'the consolation of form', to borrow Frank Kermode's words, since I think it isn't hard to make a case that in the work of these poets, the formal shape of the poetry is very much a part of its effect. Intuitively though, I sense that I may be getting ahead of myself, since the particular angle I want to approach the poetry from, i.e. in relation to disease/disability and grief, could make for an essay question better suited to next term's EN954 Romantic Elegy. (Especially because then I could do Mark Doty or Paul Monette alongside Gunn instead, in relation to specifically AIDS and grief.) Then I was browsing through this book I'd borrowed by Marjorie Perloff, in which she does close readings of a whole series of poems, and there was one chapter where she brought up Christian Bök's Eunoia, and her reading of it really made sense for me of what I'd previously only been able to think of as an Oulipian exercise. So I got to thinking that maybe the broader question of constraints in writing poetry would be something interesting to look at. After all, form is a type of constraint when it comes to the writing of poetry; it's just one that can be handled well or misapplied. I guess what I really should be doing is talking all this over with Emma Mason, since she convenes both the modules that the essays are for anyway...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Episode 1160: For The University

For the past couple of days, I've been making a serious effort to get through one chapter of Thomas Docherty's For The University: Democracy And The Future Of The Institution each day. So far, so good. Plus I really like what he's saying in the book, which is incidentally available to read in its entirety here, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License. My favourite quote so far is this one from Chapter 4, 'Leadership: Legitimation and Authority': 'Education, however, is not the mere realizing of potential; rather, it is the ongoing making of more and more potential, the never-ending desire, identified now with the activity of research, to seek out the good, the true and the beautiful.' Perplexingly, his article on the New College for the Humanities for The Independent was labelled 'Impenetrable hogwash!' and being filled with 'ethereal descriptives', neither of which are criticisms I agree with. A review of the book in the New Statesman similarly claims it exemplifies 'the bad habits of theory-dulled seminar-speak'. Personally speaking though, I've never found Thomas to be one of those academics who've retreated so far into jargon that they can't communicate to anyone not steeped in the same discourse, and if the writing seems obfuscatory, maybe it's symptomatic of an attitude towards education that says knowledge has to be broken down into modular units that can be easily digested (after having been paid for).

Friday, November 25, 2011

Episode 1159: Caught Up With How I Met Your Mother!

I like to think that I publish a fairly diverse selection of work in Eunoia Review, but I just turned down a submission that was way too experimental for me. I don't know if I can even say whether the poems were good or bad, that's how shut out from them I felt while reading. I guess what seemed weird was that the poems were grammatical, and yet I couldn't make sense of them. Almost as though blanks in a template had been filled in using a random word generator. Don't mean to be dismissive, but it was really alienating. Anyway, I'm now fully caught up with How I Met Your Mother, all six-and-a-half seasons of it. I feel like I've crossed some sort of invisible threshold where comedy fans are concerned. (Only way forward from here is to get into stuff like Arrested Development, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia or The Big Bang Theory.) I'm also impressed by how consistent the overall ratings for How I Met Your Mother have been. I know the Nielsen ratings system is ridiculously outmoded, but having a Season 7 episode with numbers that narrowly missed beating the current all-time series high in Season 1? That's incredible, as far as today's American television landscape is concerned.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Episode 1158: Menu Of Conversation

Lately, it seems like Threadless is having a sale every other week. Not that I'm complaining! A couple of tees I've wanted for quite a while have finally been discounted to $10 (I learnt my lesson from the last time and waited!), so I'm going to get them. Only have to spend $75 to get $6 shipping, so I figure, what the heck, I can treat myself. (Given the current exchange rate between USD and GBP, it's going to cost me around £50. This is including $6 worth of Street Team points that I'll be earning from the pictures I uploaded of me wearing my most recent purchases.) Otherwise, it's been a day of ups and downs. Woke up still with a stuffy nose, and was actually feeling quite ill just before I had to go to the DR@W experiment in the WBS building. Earned £10 from that though, so that was good. The talk by Theodore Zeldin after that, organised by the PPE Society, was also thought-provoking. At the dinner after the talk, I was paired with a complete stranger, a French Erasmus student, who (and I swear I'm not making this up) happens to be studying Mandarin at the Language Centre! So even without the Menu of Conversation given to us at the table, we'd have had plenty to talk about anyway. As we were leaving the Rootes Building, she praised my French accent, especially considering that I've never lived in France before. Looks like 11 years of studying the language have not been in vain!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Episode 1157: Ill, But On Track!

Met with Ross Forman today, and felt more reassured that I'm making an appropriate amount of progress where my dissertation is concerned. If you think of 'researcher' as being derived from 'reader' + 'searcher' (I know it isn't, but just go with me on this), I'm very good at searching for information that could potentially be relevant, but I'm terrible at actually getting around to reading any of it. Have managed to pick up an upper respiratory tract infection anyway, so I haven't been in the mood for any sort of academic reading all day. It's annoying because this is the mildest winter I've experienced in all my time at Warwick. By this time, I usually can't get by with just a hoodie anymore, yet I've only worn the Ted Baker coat once this term! I'm starting to think of what to do my EN973 essay on, and at the moment, I'm going with the lazy option of picking poets I'm already sort of familiar with. So Elizabeth Bishop and Thom Gunn for now, as I'm interested in the formal aspects of their poetry. I was intrigued by Jack Clemo after this week's seminar, but most of his books in the Library are only for use in the Library and not for loaning, which means having to photocopy them, but that becomes a waste of money if I end up not working on Clemo for the essay. Frustrating! Maybe I'll request them anyway, just to have a look.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Episode 1156: Banterrific!

In the end, I went with carrying on writing within the Safehaven universe. So I've just finished a prologue to the two chapters I've already got, to begin fleshing out the story's setting and establishing the motivations of the protagonists. I think the picture that's emerging for me at this point is growing more layered. Instead of the Exodus being humanity fleeing from a catastrophe on Earth, I've decided to portray Earth as having developed into a utopia of sorts. Efficient arcologies have replaced urban sprawl, and as a species we've grown to a level of cooperation that would have been inconceivable at the present time. However, efficiency can be stultifying, and the people who leave on the Exodus are making a conscious choice to escape this way of life. (Shades of Tony Ballantyne's Watcher trilogy here!) While life on Safehaven doesn't exactly prove peachy for most of the colonists, it's still an independent civilisation that's been established. The arrival of the Last Ark from Earth is thus seen as a threat, since it carries the Founding Families who were the literal and figurative architects of the Exodus. It's not like they're the bad guys though, and it's all these layers of ambiguity that I want to play with in my story.

On a separate note, James Gapinski at The Conium Review has kindly reviewed Eunoia Review here. (He's also a contributor to the journal, and you can read his stuff here.) I didn't know he was going to do this, so it came as a pleasant surprise. Always nice to know there are people out there supporting what you're doing! He also praises the daily posting concept, which meant a lot to me because I think it's what sets Eunoia Review apart from a lot of other online journals, in terms of the sheer amount of work it allows me to showcase as an editor. (That and my half-day average response time!) What I really want is a way for people to click a button on the site that just pulls up a random post for them. I'm sure I could find a way to do that, right? Anyway, in case you're wondering about the title, it's what I suggested Laura name her blog. I thought it was an excellent pun, and it sparked off a brilliant comments thread on Facebook that pretty much made my day (and Sophie's, when I told her to check it out). Banterrific, to employ a neologism. I literally had to stop from bursting out laughing every time a new comment was made on the thread, which was kind of awkward because I was walking to my seminar in the cold, and then I was actually in the seminar for the next three hours.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Episode 1155: What Story Do I Write Now?

Came home from my seminar to find a notice about painting work in my room stuck to my door. It's baffling, since I can only identify one patch of wall that might need repainting, and it definitely isn't major enough to require its being done during the term. Apart from that, the paint job everywhere else looks pristine! The painting's supposed to happen this week, but the notice doesn't say which day or what time, or whether I need to clear stuff from certain parts of the room. If Warwick Accommodation thinks I'm just going to guess at their intentions and pack up everything, they've got another thing coming. It'll be far more fun to complain if they get paint on any of my stuff, right? I've got some free time tonight, but I can't decide whether I'm going to write my workshop story or not. Or if it's even going to be a third chapter set in the same universe I've been working in so far. It feels like I need to fix what's already been written before I can move on to a third chapter, and that process may involve adding additional chapters before what's currently the first one anyway. On the other hand, with such a rich universe to work with, it feels like generating unnecessary work for myself, trying to come up with a new idea that I won't have the energy to follow up on.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Episode 1154: Two Reviews In Three Days!

Have just finished my review of Martin Pond's short story collection, Dark Steps. First came across his work when I reviewed Unthank Books' Unthology No. 1, and his story in that was really good. The collection is more uneven, although none of the stories were bad, just more predictable than I would have liked. I was really disciplined with this review, by the way. I had free time before church, so I made myself finish reading the PDF (less than 40 pages so it didn't take too long), and then I came home right after service ended to write the review. (Would have taken less time if I hadn't kept stopping to watch another episode of How I Met Your Mother! I'm at the point where Jennifer Morrison's character shows up in the plot. I like her a lot better here than towards the end of her House stint, although I also love her now in Once Upon A Time.) Don't have to deliver another review for the next couple of weeks or so, unless Craig lets me know he wants the review of John Kinsella's Armour soon. The pamphlets from The Knives Forks and Spoons Press, I'm keeping for review at the end of term and during the Christmas break, with maybe one for January.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Episode 1153: Apples Instead Of Crisps...

Was thinking of writing my story today for next week's workshop, but I ended up getting bogged down with getting the timeline of the plot straight. I think it's more or less worked out though. Found a nifty site that even tells me how much time will have passed for an Earth observer when my first colonists land on Safehaven. Not that it's actually very important to the story right now, but it could be in the future, if I ever bring characters from Earth into the storyline. (Probably won't, just because I can't figure out how to make the mechanics of sending transmissions between the two planets work, and I'm going to try and remain as scientifically plausible as possible.) Am caught up on How I Met Your Mother until Season 5, by the way, so I definitely can catch up to the current season before heading back to Singapore. (Natalie, aren't you impressed?) Also, the things I do to not get fat(ter). I bought apples today from Costcutter instead of crisps! I've bought a couple of small packets of Tyrells on campus here and there this term, but haven't bought any large packets of any sort of snack whatsoever from the supermarket. Unlike last year, when I pretty much bought at least three every time I went to Tesco. Guess having to carry my shopping and walk for 10 minutes as opposed to just stepping outside to the bus stop really makes a difference!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Episode 1152: Seriously, Four Recalls In 24 Hours?

Just polished off my review of Caged: Memoirs Of A Cage-Fighting Poet and sent it off to Scott. I also have a new supervisor (Ross Forman), and new ideas about my dissertation. Going have to do a lot of reading to start putting it all together though. The impetus for that has partly been having holds placed on books that I borrowed at the start of term and haven't really read until now, which led to four recalls in 24 hours. I've already returned two and placed my own holds on other copies of them, which I'll hopefully get before the end of term. I'm going to photocopy the relevant chapters from one more, and with The Postcolonial Unconscious, I'm going to try and finish reading the whole thing by the new due date, which is next Friday. Probably can't do the photocopying thing until I've read the whole book, and then only if it turns out that specific chapters are relevant, rather than passages being spread out throughout the whole book. Highly suspect it's going to be the latter though, purely by nature of the book's project, which is to provide a reconstructive critique of the field of postcolonial studies.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Episode 1151: My Streak Of Productivity Continues Into A Second Week!

So the productivity streak continues and I surprise myself. Just finished reading Jonathan Swift's satire A Tale Of A Tub, which for something written between 1694 and 1697, I actually found surprisingly easy to get through. After dinner, I seriously considered not reading the 100+ pages I had left, since I'm only auditing this module anyway. I took a 10-minute nap, and then ploughed through them in more or less one sitting, barring the occasional break to play The Sims Social. (Yes, apparently I'm still playing that.) Not sure what I have to say about it beyond that I think it's really funny. I suspect the satire on Western Christianity would probably be lost on a 21st century reading audience, if it weren't glossed. Someone's placed a hold on The Postcolonial Unconscious, so I might try to have an especially productive weekend and read all of it, in between getting caught up on my reviewing work. It isn't terribly thick, and I've already read one chapter, which is the one that's likely to be most relevant for my own dissertation, I hope. Still haven't heard back from John Fletcher about being assigned a new supervisor, which doesn't really surprise me, truth be told. It would be nice to find out before the end of term though...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Episode 1150: Diversion

Since I don't have Introduction to Research Methods on Wednesdays anymore, I stuck around in church longer than usual to do Kidz Klub administrative stuff. Went to the second session of Arts Faculty Seminar Series, where Claire and Vedita gave two really interesting papers. I also picked up four pamphlets from Claire that are published by The Knives Forks and Spoons Press. Having had a browse through everything that she brought, I'm fascinated and impressed by the variety of poetry that Alec Newman at the press chooses to publish. I'm going to spread my reviews of those out over the rest of the year, basically keep me occupied while I'm back home in December. Anyway, so I was originally going to the Peter Forbes lecture at 6 pm in the Zeeman Building, but then I ended up staying at the session longer than I'd planned to. Then I decided I'd go to see Schrödinger at the Arts Centre at 7.45 pm, since it was the last evening it was being performed and I'd been thinking of seeing it since last month. Ended up in Varsity having dinner with all the PhD students instead, which was unexpected, but nice. I mean, the people I chatted to were all really friendly, and in a way, I kind of liked being around people I hadn't been around for three years of undergraduate life. Of course, I love you all to bits, you know who you are, but it was just refreshing to be meeting new people in a social context, I guess. So I'm glad I didn't go to see the play after all!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Episode 1149: Awkward Auditing

So it appears I should have been reading a novel instead for the seminar I audited today. Awkward! All that reading I did was helpful though, really interesting stuff that I'm going to have to get to grips with in relation to the Merlion poems that I'll be looking at. Anyway, my four issues of Anon arrived in the post today, so that's something I'm looking forward to reading. (As if I don't have enough to read already! As a matter of fact, I'm picking up more poetry from Claire tomorrow to review for Sabotage Reviews. They're collections published by The Knives Forks and Spoons Press, and I'm quite excited about this because at Eunoia Review I've published a poet who went on to publish a collection with the press.) Each of the three packages the magazines came in had a personalised note slipped in as well, to thank me for buying the magazine, which I thought was a really nice touch. Also, oddly enough, this week's graze box was delivered to my hall rather than being held for me at the Post Room like it has been for the past few weeks. It was delivered to my hall on the very first week though, and the box definitely fits into the mailbox slot, so here's hoping that this state of affairs continues for the rest of term. It's really a bit of a drag having to walk all the way to Westwood Campus just to pick up a box of healthy snacks, much as I appreciate all that brisk walking! (I clearly need it though.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Episode 1148: Seriously, NBC?

Just heard that NBC has benched Community for its mid-season schedule. Probably means it's going to be cancelled, assuming it even returns to the schedule eventually to finish off the current season. Shameful but inevitable consequence of the severe dumbing down of network television in the USA. This might be premature, but Greendale, you will be missed. Have just one more reading to go for tomorrow, so I might stay up to finish it, or I might just cut myself some slack and go to bed. Would've finished if I hadn't gone to the Theology Reading Group and/or caught up on today's quote of TV, but both activities were enjoyable, and I refuse to believe everyone in the seminar tomorrow will have read everything anyway. Having read all this stuff though, including Neil Lazarus's defence of Fredric Jameson in The Postcolonial Unconscious, I kind of wish I'll get reassigned to him for my dissertation. It's more likely that I'll be reassigned to Ross Forman though, since Neil is already supervising a few other people this year, which I'm sure would work out fine too. It's just that I already know Neil would be sympathetic to the way of reading the Merlion poems that I'm proposing in my dissertation, whereas I'm not sure it necessarily aligns with Ross's specific areas of interest within postcolonial studies. (Basically, I wish John Fletcher would just reply to my reply to his e-mail, where he asked me for something the department already holds a hard copy of, i.e. my proposed topic.)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Episode 1147: One More Article? (Or Two)

Goal accomplished! I've finished reading Caged: Memoirs Of A Cage-Fighting Poet and the remaining issues of Popshot Magazine. So when the issues of Anon arrive, I can get cracking on them. (I've also got three issues of The White Review to look at, but those are a bit heftier, so I might save them for the Christmas vacation.) Only way this could be better would be if I'd read another article or two for Tuesday's seminar as well, although I might stay up to do that. The first's only 23 pages, so I guess that's manageable, and then the second's another 14, so it feels like I should do this, since I don't have to get up early tomorrow (and therefore can afford to go to bed a bit later). I'm actually quite pleased with how easy it's been to fall into the discipline of reading something everyday, as opposed to thinking about doing so and ending up repeatedly refreshing Facebook or something equally stupid. Incidentally, our resident tutor has finally instituted a rota for clearing the trash. That was why he called for a kitchen meeting this afternoon, which I didn't attend because I was on my way to church for practice before the evening service. Thought Chernise's talk was excellent.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Episode 1146: Hat Trick!

How disorganised do you have to be to acknowledge my rejection e-mail, and a few days later, e-mail me saying that regretfully you have to withdraw your submission? If I wasn't receiving this e-mail in my capacity as an editor, you bet I'd have fired off a snarky reply pointing out the complete redundancy of the withdrawal. In a related incident, while I was getting my haircut, in an attempt to make conversation (as you do) the woman asked me if I was going out tonight. Except she asked me twice, less than five minutes apart, and this despite having received a fairly comprehensive reply the first time. So I guess she just wasn't listening the first time? To be fair, I doubt anybody wants to hear me talk about the extra reading I have to do over the weekend so that I don't turn up utterly clueless to a seminar that I'm only auditing for one week. I've finished one article so far, and that was Fredric Jameson's 'Third-World Literature in the Era of Multinational Capitalism'. I thought it was really interesting stuff, and ironically, made me want to read Lu Xun. In the original Chinese, no less. (This makes sense once you've read the article, so just go with me on this.) Six more readings to go now! I should have enough time to get through them all, but realistically, with my talent for procrastination, that's probably not going to happen. On the other hand, I've read three out of six issues of Popshot Magazine so far, and another five chapters of Caged: Memoirs Of A Cage-Fighting Poet. My thoughts for the review of the latter are more or less in place, but I'm going to get through the remainder because I like Cameron Conaway's writing.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Episode 1145: Ditto (I'm Impressing Myself!)

Much as I love listening to Thomas Docherty during Friday morning EN974 seminars, it was nice to have a lie-in instead. I also managed to get more reading done today, a comparable amount to yesterday. Two days in a row, one might almost think I was becoming studious. Have got through another five chapters of Caged: Memoirs Of A Cage-Fighting Poet, so I'm on track to finishing the book on Sunday. Also dealt with today's submissions for Eunoia Review, which included one from a starving writer in Hollywood. (You know that was bound to arrive, sooner or later!) So now I'm moving on to the handout for Monday's Theology Reading Group. If I finish that as well, I'm going to start on the readings for Neil Lazarus's EN904 Problems and Modes in Postcolonial Literature seminar that I'm auditing just for next week. It all looks like it'll be very relevant to my dissertation, so I'm actually quite looking forward to both readings and seminar. There's just a lot of reading to do for that, and they're all interrelated, so it's kind of necessary to read all of them to make sense of the issues, which I might add are ones that I've never really examined closely during the course of my study of literature.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Episode 1144: Reading Loads Today!

Stayed up past 3 am to finish reading David Moody's Hater. Completely impulsive decision, but I'm glad I did it. I think Hater is one of those novels that packs a greater punch when read straight through in a single sitting. I've decided though, that I'm not going to start on Dog Blood until the third book in the trilogy is released because I don't want to have to leave myself dangling upon finishing the middle book of the trilogy! (Same reason I haven't read Autumn yet, as Gollancz have begun reissuing Moody's subsequent books in that series.) Anyway, since the only show I'm actively following that aired a new episode yesterday was American Horror Story, I'm using the freed up time to catch up with Season 4 of How I Met Your Mother. I'm also catching up on my reading for review work. Have read a couple more chapters of Cameron Conaway's Caged: Memoirs Of A Cage-Fighting Poet, which I'm hoping to finish over the weekend as this review for The Cadaverine is long overdue. Then there's a short story collection Richard just forwarded me to review for Sabotage Reviews, and a new collection of poetry from John Kinsella that Craig posted me a few days ago. (My previous review for Rum & Reviews Magazine hasn't gone up yet though, so the latter isn't as pressing, I guess.) Also found time to read the new issue of Cake that arrived today in the post. Loving the green cover for the Key Lime issue! For a literary magazine that comes out once a year though, I kind of wish the issues contained more material. At £5 excluding postage, Cake feels a bit pricey compared to magazines like Popshot Magazine (especially with its illustrations) and The Warwick Review.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Episode 1143: Gusto Has Amazingly Camp Wait Staff

Argh! I forgot to check the settings in Photoshop when I was converting all my graphics from JPEG to TIFF, so almost all of them have been saved at 72 dpi rather 300 dpi, the latter being what we need for the publicity booklet. Have been trying to connect using the remote desktop to correct this, but I keep getting booted off when someone else logs on. So I'm just going to continue watching my fill of TV while I wait for the machine to become available. Had lunch with Angela, Louise, Maria and Tory at Gusto Over & Bar, the new restaurant that's replaced EAT in the Arts Centre. Don't think I've ever met wait staff that are quite so camp before! I'd never been to the place when it was still EAT, but this rebranding seems to have gone down well, as the place was bustling at lunchtime. Mostly older people, to be fair, as the prices are a little higher than at other SU outlets and less likely to attract students. (We'd only gone because we wanted to check it out.) I'd say it felt like greater value for money than those places though, and Gusto have a no-tipping policy and no service charge. (Don't the higher prices go some way to making up for that though?) All in all, definitely a place I'd visit again.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Episode 1142: This Story Has Legs

Concerns about the story were mostly to do with worldbuilding details and the in-universe story logic, though Phil (a fellow science fiction buff) pointed out at the end that most of the 'gaps' didn't strike him as such because he'd assumed they'd be filled in eventually as the story carried on. Nonetheless, everyone else was also right, and there are, while I wouldn't call them inconsistencies, kinks that need ironing out in order to make the story's internal logic watertight. The good thing is that there's plenty of material to flesh out, and it doesn't all have to be crammed into the space of the two chapters I've got so far. I'll probably add a short prologue before the first, just to give the basics of why humanity had to leave Earth for Safehaven, with further details spread among the rest of the story. Not sure if all the questions people raised can be answered in the space of the portfolio's word count, but I should be able to at least address some and signal that the rest will eventually be beyond the portfolio's confines. I've taken to thinking of the plot in terms of arcs like on a TV season, and I'd say right now, I have enough elements seeded to get through an initial 13-episode order, with potential to go even through the back nine.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Episode 1141: Scheduling Drama...

Eunoia Review just got listed by NewPages, although it's been placed under 'a list of hybrid and experimental online literary endeavors that do not adhere to traditional models (magazines, publishers, booksellers), but that still meet a number of other criteria for recommendation here'. I guess what's experimental about Eunoia Review is the absence of discrete issues, since something new goes up on the site every 12 hours. Regardless, it's nice to get a bit more exposure, hopefully. Lots of drama today with previously accepted submissions, so I've had to rejig the queue several times. Very pleased to have been able to accept more poems by Ben Parker though, who's one of my favourite poets whom I've accepted in the year that I've been running the journal. Another's Nicholas Y. B. Wong, a Hong Kong poet whose first collection is forthcoming. (Okay, I just listened to him read his poem at PANK Magazine. Slightly disillusioned now. Haha!) Anyway, when I was leaving the Library earlier to head to band practice in church, the girl in front of me at the gantries tapped her card and missed the sensor without realising it. Understandably frustrated when the gantry equally understandably didn't open, she slammed her card down again, this time actually tapping the sensor. Not meaning to stereotype, but yes, she was blonde.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Episode 1140: What A Waste Of Time, Part II

The online searches took much less time to complete this afternoon, but if you could calculate uselessness per second spent, they would make the time spent writing yesternight pale in comparison. Hopefully, I've done the bare minimum required to pass. Started reading David Moody's Hater before bed last night, got through about 50 pages before I was too sleepy to continue. This is the kind of speculative fiction that I really enjoy, where some aspect of contemporary society is taken and given a slight twist, and then pushed to its logical conclusion. It's compelling stuff, and I can see why Guillermo del Toro wants to get it made into a film. There's even a blurb on the back cover from him, which says, 'A head-spinning thrill ride, a cautionary tale about the most salient emotion of the 21st century...Hater will haunt you long after you read the last page'. Right now though, I'm focusing on getting through as much of Julie Bertagna's Exodus as I can. I nearly ordered the whole trilogy a week or so ago, but I reconsidered and cancelled the order, just in case the first book in the trilogy didn't engage me. For the first few chapters, it was okay, but I wouldn't say it was worth spending my money on. I'm more than 100 pages in now, and I'm probably going to change my mind again and get the full set. Then I really need to stop buying books for the rest of the term!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Episode 1139: What A Waste Of Time, Part I

Am forcing myself to complete the first part of the assessment for Introduction to Research Methods by tonight. Would've finished by now if I hadn't noticed the new episode of Merlin had gone online. (Seriously, there is so much subtext going on in that show that I don't think it even qualifies as subtext anymore. It airs before the watershed, right?) Since it's the citation format that's being assessed, I'm not going to make too great an effort to ensure that the logic of my critique necessarily holds up. Frankly, I haven't even read all of the article that I'm purporting to critique! It's relevant to my dissertation, so I will have to, at some point. Just want to get this done, so that I can finish the second part of the assessment tomorrow before service, which is all those ridiculous online searches that have to be done. I'm honestly not going to make too much of an effort with this whole assessment, since it's just a pass/fail thing. What's the worse that could happen? Redoing them, with feedback to tell you exactly where you fell short the first time? Please. On a happier note, all the slots for graphics have now be taken, so I shouldn't have to do any more myself!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Episode 1138: Magazine Spree!

Am writing my story for next Tuesday now. Thought Lucy had randomly decided it was her turn to be workshopped this week when she sent something out in the early afternoon, but it turns out she probably just sent something meant for another module to our mailing list instead. The story's definitely set in the same world as the one I submitted to be workshopped the last time, and it's intended to expand the in-story universe considerably, at least for something that clocks in at around 1000 words. I'll find out whether I've pulled it off at the seminar! If people like this second piece, or at least can see how it could be changed to fit with the first story, I might have the makings of a novella, as I think within six pages, I've set up enough material to work with that I could easily complete my portfolio for assessment just by fleshing out the storyline and moving it on. Quite pleased! I've also been on a bit of a literary magazine spree lately. The three issues of The White Review I ordered a while ago have arrived, and today, I ordered the issues of Anon that are still in stock, as well as the latest issue of Cake, so I'm looking forward to getting stuck in all this new writing. Also bought a couple of Threadless tees again, and discovered to my annoyance that some of the tees in my previous order have now had their prices slashed. I swear this always happens to me!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Episode 1137: I'm Cited On Amazon UK!

Okay, a couple more people have signed up to do graphics, with hopefully more to follow tomorrow, so maybe I won't have to do half a term's worth by myself after all! I've still got a story to write for Tuesday's EN978 seminar, but the idea I originally had has completely vanished from my mind, so I'm stuck. Tempted to write a continuation of my story from the last time, but I'm somewhat reluctant to expand the story forward in time without having fleshed out the existing material, which is what I'm intending to do for my portfolio submission. Maybe I'll wake up tomorrow with an idea? I definitely want to try and shape another dystopian world, just because I think that sort of writing plays to my strengths, and it's fairly easy to age a story like that up or down as required. Whereas I know that if I were to write about something closer to real life, I'd constantly be asking myself whether I was bringing anything new to the table. I know we've been told that we shouldn't feel when writing for children that common themes/stories can't be told again, but I guess they're just not the kind of stories I see myself telling. Anyway, I randomly came across (i.e. in the course of Googling myself) a book listed on Amazon UK that quotes a review I did for Sabotage Reviews a while ago of the Lazy Gramophone site. It's just a one-liner blurb under the Review section, but I still think it's pretty cool.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Episode 1136: Why Is No One Signing Up?

Earphones finally arrived today! It's so crippling not being able to listen to music whenever I want to. Picked them up after having coffee with Angela, Lucy, Maria and Tory, along with a couple more books. Finally got enough credit to redeem a £10 Amazon UK voucher from Valued Opinions, so I promptly bought a few more books of poetry. Am now busy trying to find titles and graphics for next term's WSC publicity booklet. Already signed up for another week because the take-up this term has been especially slow, with half the slots still unspoken for. If no one else signs up by Friday, I'm going to put myself down for another graphics slot or two. Kind of my job really, as the Graphics Co-ordinator. It's just not ideal timing, given that the Research Methods assessments are due on the same date! While those shouldn't take long either, to be honest, I'd prefer not to have to juggle them, that's all. Guess I could do the second part of the assessment, which consists of searching various databases for things I don't care to know for the sake of demonstrating to the department that I can do a search. Frankly, this whole Research Methods module is a bit of a joke, if you ask me.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Episode 1135: Get Coury Palermo's New Album!

Coury Palermo's new album the broken way we love was released today, which you can get in digital here. Palermo's one of those singers whose voice I am actually in love with, mainly because it's like an instrument unto itself, making even his acoustic songs pretty amazing listening. First came across him when he did vocals on a couple of Sleepthief songs (another great artiste), and I've been following his stuff since. Bought and downloaded the album in the afternoon, but haven't had a chance to listen to it yet because I decided to go to the Singapore Society General Meeting. For the pizza. Well, and to vote for Freshers' Rep, even though the role has no relation to me as someone already in my fourth year at Warwick. Swung by the Library to swap Alvin Plantinga's The Nature Of Necessity for Neil Lazarus's The Postcolonial Unconscious. Had borrowed the former a couple of days ago to read his solution to the problem of evil, but it was pretty technical, and while I'd like to come to grips with it intellectually, I also needed Neil's book for my dissertation research.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Episode 1134: Halloween Horror Night!

Got to hear Adam L. G. Nevill, David Moody and Gary McMahon read at the Halloween Horror Night in the Arts Centre earlier. (Lovely meeting Jane again as well!) Bought Nevill's The Ritual and Moody's Autumn, and got them signed too. Moody's series is currently being reissued in paperback through Gollancz, which is one of my favourite imprints, so I'm excited to start reading that as they're released over the coming year. Interested to see how the series compares to Mira Grant's ongoing Newsflesh trilogy, another zombie series that is very strong on portraying survivors rather than focusing on only the zombies, which Moody pointed out is what keeps the genre from sinking into cliché. Nevill's work reminds me more of something like Mark Z. Danielewski's House Of Leaves in the psychological aspect of its horror. The new novel from Gavin James Bower, Made In Britain, also arrived in the post today. I loved Dazed & Aroused, and so far, this second novel is working for me too. Particularly like the way the story's told through three characters, their narratives touching and slowly intertwining. Going to try to finish that by mid-week, and then get on with Julie Bertagna's Exodus.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Episode 1133: Sequence Almost Finished...

Have finally finished rewriting the first 12 sonnets in the sequence. Was quite pleased that one of them ('Industria') actually didn't require any revision in order to fit in with the 'story' of the revised sequence, not even to satisfy the internal pattern I imposed of having each poem contain some sort of reference to the sin/virtue of the poems that precede and follow it. I'd actually forgotten about this 'rule' when I was revising the 'virtue' sonnets, literally remembering only as I was walking back from Varsity to my room after dinner. Spent half an hour going through the five poems and fixing that, before heading to church for the evening service. Managed to come up with the last three lines of the next sonnet while in church, so now I'm trying to finish the whole thing before going to bed. Then that leaves just one more to go! Have recently discovered that this sequence is actually the perfect length for the Iota Shots competition, so if I can get my act together, I'm going to send it off for that. Claire's also just pointed me in the direction of Holdfire Press, which are accepting pamphlet submissions. Oddly enough, I definitely remember clicking through to their WordPress site a few months ago, possibly via a review on Sabotage Reviews!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Episode 1132: Putting Together A New Sequence

Earphones have been dispatched, so hopefully, I won't have to go the entirety of next week without being able to listen to my iPod. Anyway, I know I've said it before, but something happened today that's making me say it again. Sometimes, writers behave so unprofessionally to editors, it's baffling. Basically, I'm pretty sure that there's almost no chance another editor could have accepted the story in the 22 minutes it took me to read and reply to the submission (yes, I looked at the e-mail timestamps), which means it must have been a simultaneous submission to begin with. Except nowhere was that stated by the writer, despite my having made it very clear in my submission guidelines that anyone submitting has to tell me if the work is also being sent elsewhere. I suppose what I found less frustrating was the time wasted on formatting the piece for the site and more the writer's blithe response, which was to pretty much go, 'Oops! Another magazine wants this and I've said yes. I'll send you a replacement instead.' Seriously? Then why not just send me the 'replacement' in the first place?

In less frustrating news, I've undertaken to revise a substantial number of my poems. It's the first time I've actually gone through poems and pretty much rewritten them entirely, and it's because I'm trying to complete this unrhymed sonnet sequence that I started in 2008. It's about the seven deadly sins and the corresponding seven heavenly virtues. When I first wrote the sequence (which is technically still unfinished because I never wrote the last two sonnets), it was pretty flippant stuff. Looking at the poems now (one to three years later depending on where they are in the sequence), it's clear to me that more than half the time I was confecting lines just to finish the poem. Probably because the sequence was originally meant to be seven sonnets plus 14 half-sonnets, but I got tired of trying to write about being unadulteratedly good and decided 14 sonnets would have a better symmetry to them. In rewriting the sequence, I'm trying to give the two halves sort of their own overarching 'story'. It's worked out fairly well for the sins, and now I'm about to find out how the virtues fare.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Episode 1131: Earphones Broken (Again!)

The earphones that came with my iPod have finally broken down. Well, the right ear anyway. It still works if I bend the wire in certain ways, so that'll have to last until the earphones I ordered from Amazon UK arrive. I ordered the same Sennheiser CX 300 ones in the 'eco packaging' (which is actually really ingenious) that I got in my first year at Warwick, coincidentally around this time of the term too, give or take a couple of weeks. Anyway, I think today's EN974 seminar was when the bigger picture of the module finally clicked for me. Still glad that I'm not going to be writing the essay though! I do enjoy the ideas that get thrown up, and Thomas Docherty has a way of connecting them that makes their logic almost irresistible, but my own primary academic interests don't particularly lie in this area, which is quite densely philosophical at times, so I think I'd struggle with writing an essay for this module. I'm going to try and get some reading done tonight, for work and not for pleasure, if only because I'm feeling a bit guilty about not having done anything for my dissertation in ages. Not sure what I'll read, but it's probably going to be Carl A. Trocki's Singapore: Wealth, Power And The Culture Of Control. This isn't to preclude reading for pleasure, naturally, just that I won't let myself get around to that until I've read like a chapter or two of Trocki's.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Episode 1130: Salt Modern Voices Reading

Just got back from the Salt Modern Voices event in the Writers' Room, where I got to read alongside Emily Hasler, Adrian Slatcher and Claire Trévien, all of whom have pamphlets out in the Salt Modern Voices series. I was actually a stand-in for another reader who couldn't make it at the last minute. Happened to bump into George Ttoouli on my way to the Post Room yesterday, and he asked me if I'd be up for reading. Was especially nice to finally meet Claire, which actually makes this the first time that I've met any of the editors whom I write reviews for. In relation to my plans to publish a pamphlet, she pointed out that apart from entering competitions, I should be keeping an eye out for smaller presses that are soliciting new work. Anyway, now it's back to the grind, which currently consists of reading Molière's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, or The Would-be Gentleman, as the translation calls it. Sounds clunky, but hey, maybe that was the point? I was trying to read the original French alongside the Penguin translation, but after one act, I figured I wasn't getting anything more out of this doubling of reading time. Quite pleased that I could understand a fair bit of the French without having to refer to the translation though...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Episode 1129: Meeting MOE Freshers

Went to the first session of the Arts Faculty Seminar Series for the new academic year, after a rather boring (and useless) Introduction to Research Methods session in the Library. Two very different papers were given, which seemed to me to illustrate the opposing approaches to the presentation of research and new knowledge available to postgraduates. One can either strive for clarity, distilling the essence of concepts, or one can weave a web of knowledge so dense that only a specialist would want and/or be able to follow its connections. I suppose it'd be unfair to say that one approach is better or superior really, since the former runs the risk of oversimplifying the subject. (I did think the dismissal of the free will defence in the first paper was too pat. What about Alvin Plantinga's formulation?) Anyway, I'll probably go back to the next session in Week 7 because I'm making it a point to get involved with more academic stuff this year, being a postgraduate myself and all. Also met up with the new batch of Warwick MOE scholars for dinner in The Dirty Duck. There are so many of them! Well, relatively speaking. It seems like the numbers are slowly creeping up from my time anyway, when I was the only one in my batch. There's even a girl doing English Literature this time!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Episode 1128: A Deadline Forgotten

For some reason, I'd been labouring under the delusion that my review of V. S. Naipaul's The Mystic Masseur was due later this week. It was in fact due on Sunday! So I've hastily written it and sent it off to Craig. I didn't really care for the novel itself, but that's because I don't get on with most Caribbean and Indian authors. Purely personal preference. I thought the ideas it contained about colonialism and social class were interesting though, especially because they're concealed to some extent behind the narrative's comic façade. Now this review's done, I just have one more to go, which I sort of solicited and then put off working on because there's no deadline for it. Am still managing to stay on top of things, academically speaking, although I haven't been doing much reading or research for my dissertation. Guess I'll start to get worried if there's been no progress on that front by the middle of this term? At the same time, I'm also trying to get back into reading for pleasure. Poetry mainly, of which I have a lot, although I finally ordered those Pinter and Stoppard play collections, which I'm excited about as well. I've wanted them ever since I discovered them in library@esplanade, and this being my final year, it's now or never to get them on the cheap, relatively speaking.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Episode 1127: iOS5!

Rejection from the Oxfam anthology just came in. Finally. Some days, it just feels easier to be a reviewer/critic rather than a writer. It's easier to tell when you're getting things right as the former, at least that's what I think anyway. Received wisdom says that at this point, you're supposed to keep writing, but really, I think that calls for the sort of obstinate self-belief (self-delusion?) that I don't possess. (Of course, the irony is that I'm aware I'm only saying that because I haven't 'made it'. If I had, I'd probably be blithely dispensing similar advice. Everything's always rubbish until you're on the correct side of the fence, isn't it?) Anyway, since I'm being banal again and going on about petty (both senses of the word!) personal stuff, I'd like to mention that I did successfully update to iOS 5 on my iPhone after all. Had to leave it plugged in overnight because I've never done a full backup of my device contents before, but everything was good to go when I woke up. Just a few buttons pressed and everything was up and running. I must confess, I quite like this update. Plus I even reinstalled Facebook, at long last. Seems to work fine now, although people are still complaining in the iTunes Store, which leaves me wondering if the developers just didn't plan on making the latest version too backward compatible in the first place, and that's what's causing people so much grief.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Episode 1126: iOS 5?

Catching up on TV now, while reading Coventry Patmore's 'Prefatory Study on English Metrical Law', which I actually found more tolerable than the Poe stuff on prosody that I read before I went to London. Still, tomorrow's seminar isn't looking promising, that's all I can say! (Unless everyone really lays into Poe and Patmore, and their pedantry.) Also updating my iPhone to iOS 5, so here's hoping it doesn't go dramatically wrong. Re-read Koh Jee Leong's Payday Loans on the coach back to Coventry, and was once again struck by how much a big part of why I like it so much has to do with the fact that it's a sonnet sequence. Sonnets with lots of full rhyme, by the way. These days, end-stopped rhyming is sometimes seen as being in poor taste. Ditto using an 'old-fashioned' form like the sonnet. I for one would be happy to see the New Formalism consolidate its hold on Anglo-American poetry. It's about time the pendulum swung away from the excesses of free verse. Haha! I say all this as a poet who doesn't even write in strict form all that much, although I do in fact have a particular soft spot for sonnets and wish I could write them with greater facility.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Episode 1125: Sophie's 21st!

Came down to London for the weekend because Sophie was celebrating her 21st. (Thanks for letting me crash at yours!) Thought I was going to miss the coach this morning, but it turned out to be nearly half an hour late anyway. All that speed walking for nothing! Got into London and made it to Bermondsey without incident, thankfully. Had to charge my handphone before heading to Oxfam Bloomsbury and Marylebone, as I usually do whenever I'm in London. Picked up some poetry and drama, and I'd have got even more poetry, except I couldn't have carried all of it back. If I'd brought a bigger bag, maybe I could have. Someone had donated a whole stack of review copies from Cinnamon Press! Really wanted to pick the lot up. Anyway, Sophie's birthday was at the interestingly named pub, The Defectors Weld. Got myself a Mojito, and I think I was the last person who managed to get a drink before the bar tab ran out. Just as well, cocktails cost £7.50 at this pub! Didn't stop me from buying a second Mojito later in the night, but it was nice to have had the first one for free, naturally. Didn't get to speak to Sophie much tonight, but it was great running into Dan as well when I first arrived.