Monday, February 28, 2011

Episode 889: Still Pushing Ahead...

Have managed to write some more dialogue for my play. Am hoping to do a massive push tomorrow in the Library between the DR@W experiment and seeing Blue Valentine with Dan in the evening that will let me get to at least the middle of the play, which shouldn't be too much of a stretch, seeing as how this one-act play isn't meant to be terribly long. I've already managed to work in a couple of in-jokes referencing stuff from Measure For Measure, like Isabella's silence and Angelo's description as 'precise'. I hope whoever's marking this picks up on stuff like that, or I will be quite upset. The trouble I'm having is that my dialogue has a tendency to want to veer into idle banter for laughs. I've already put one such exchange in, which I think works because it hints at prior events that there isn't space to bring up otherwise within my play. I've also been finding good bits in essays here and there, some of which I may quote verbatim via my Critic character in his (probably) single appearance right before the end. The thing is that I'm trying to create a play of ideas that would still be interesting to watch because of the way they're embodied by characters, sort of like how some critics have proposed to interpret the characters in Shakespeare's play. The tricky thing is to avoid turning my characters into flat caricatures or stereotypes.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Episode 888: Breakthrough!

It's oddly appropriate that this auspiciously numbered post concerns the conceptual breakthrough I had this afternoon regarding my Shakespeare creative project. Was talking it over with Bella because we were going to work in the Library on Tuesday, and the more I typed in Facebook Chat, the clearer it became what my play had to be about. It helped that Bella could look at my ideas from the perspective of a Theatre and Performance Studies student. Looking at my original proposal to Carol Rutter for the project, it's kind of funny how what I've got right now in my head for the body of my one-act play is actually closer to what I had in mind when I first chose to do a creative project than what it had drifted into in the intervening months. I'm pulling a lot more ideas together now, I think, but in a more cogent fashion than before. Pretty incredible given that just last evening, I was having doubts about what I was actually going to put into the play. It's a bit too complicated to explain here what the play is going to look like now, and I doubt anyone really cares that much apart from myself. Suffice it to say that I'm pleased and feeling very optimistic about getting the play finished in a timely fashion!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Episode 887: Reece's Half-Birthday

So what else could there have been but a bar crawl in Leamington? We started at Kelsey's and worked our way north though, so that was interesting, since it meant being in Kelsey's before it started smelling too rank. That was a welcome change! Since we were heading northwards, I also ended up having takeaway from a different place because it wouldn't have made much sense to walk down half the Parade back to Vialli's. Truly, a night of novelty. I mean, before I left the house, I even managed to do some work for a change. Wrote the first page of my play, which was mostly a bunch of stage directions, since my play opens and closes with the Duke delivering his final speech from Measure For Measure. I'm glad I've finally written something, but I do think that I still need a clearer idea of what's going to happen in the middle, if the writing's to go as smoothly as I need it to. It's like I have a lot of interconnected ideas floating about, but haven't managed to integrate them properly into a larger theoretical framework that would justify the existence of my creative project.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Episode 886: Army Daze

Just got back from the Singapore Society's production of Michael Chiang's Army Daze. (Can I just say that I'm impressed they got Ivan Heng to advise them?) It was an entertaining performance, although I think to get the full effect of it, you really did have to be a Singaporean male that has gone through NS. The stereotypes were naturally wildly exaggerated, but occasionally, you do encounter people who are actually like them. I know I did. A minor problem I had with tonight's production was the timing. The scene transitions were slightly awkward, but I'm chalking that up to the venue, which I imagine couldn't have been the easiest to work with since I'm sure the Panorama Suite wasn't designed with theatre in mind. What I had in mine was the odd pacing of the line delivery, like there would always be a split second pause too much. That aside, it was impressive how the cast managed to inhabit their roles, especially Nicholas. Mad props to Zhi Zhan too, particularly for that Lady Gaga moment. Anyway, I managed to get some reading done while waiting on campus for the play to start. I now definitely have enough ideas in my head to begin writing, so I'm going to get on that tomorrow before Reece's bar crawl!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Episode 885: Best Before

Went to see Rimini Protokoll's Best Before at the Arts Centre with Bella. For an explanation of what this game/play is like, go here. We thought it would be really pretentious, but it turned out to be quite fun. Some of the actors' anecdotes felt a bit banal, but I guess that may have been the point. Life isn't always one interesting incident after another, but if there's one thing the production did do, it was to drive home the fact that life is a series of choices. It would be overly simplistic to say that Bestland was a perfect analogy for life, but it provided an adequate approximation for reflecting the choices available to us in life and how the consequences can play out. Randomly, I managed to get myself elected President of Bestland. Then I decided to become a dictator by suspending elections. (To be fair, I would have been a benevolent dictator. Give me some credit here, given where I was born and raised.) So I was overthrown in a coup, though my fellow players chose to spare my life. They did, however, exile me out of the game, so 'Fred' was the first player out of Bestland. I'm actually really tempted to check and see if the Arts Centre still has free tickets for the Saturday performance. If they do, I might pop down before Reece's birthday thing and see if I can get elected President again, and this time, manipulate my way into remaining in power. If the actors help by casting me as the 'family values' candidate again, I could probably make it. The key is to be quick enough and jump onto the platform when nominations open, which for me, happened quite by accident. Kudos, by the way, to the couple that survived till 109 at the end of the night, when they managed to hold out against the in-game wind blowing them to their death on one side of the screen!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Episode 884: China Miéville Reading From Embassytown!

John Fletcher's lecture sounded intellectual. I wasn't quite sure because I kind of lost focus midway. He was basically reading off his own printed lecture transcript, which made me feel like he could've just sent it around by e-mail and I could have had a few more hours of sleep instead. I suppose it bothered me less that he was reading off a printout than the fact that he was pretty blasé about it. I got there late, but apparently when he began reading, everyone was apparently still chattering away. Got a decent mark on the mock listening comprehension we did in last week's LL251 seminar, so I guess I'm reasonably prepared for next week's examination. Did some reading related to my creative project while waiting for the China Miéville reading, which, by the way, was awesome. Embassytown seems like it's going to be incredible! I've got to wait for the American paperback to come out though, which is a bit of a bummer. China was being his usual erudite self. Today's big word was 'autotelic'. I had to Google it. (It means 'having a purpose in and not apart from itself', in case you were wondering.) I queued up to get an autograph (Looking For Jake because it was the first of his books I ever read), which I don't normally do. To be fair, I don't normally go to readings apart from when I'm at university anyway. It was just a bit weird, I guess, since China teaches me. I mean, I'm going to be seeing him for a seminar on the Brontës in less than 12 hours.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Episode 883: I'm No Scrooge, But...

Felt a bit silly today for paying so much for a ticket to The Tempest. Could've gone on Saturday instead and paid a third of the price instead, or if I'd been organised and sorted this out much earlier, I could've even gone for free! Oh well. It's not so much the extra cost that bothers me, since I've definitely been better at managing my money this year and so I've got a bit of a buffer by this point. It's just the annoying awareness that I could've used the money to, I don't know, buy another book or something. Anyway, here's the link to my review I promised a while ago, which was posted yesterday at The Cadaverine. Haven't been up to much today so far, since it's a Tuesday. Coming straight home after my seminar sure makes a difference though. I've caught up on all the shows, and it's not even 11 pm yet! With regard to Gossip Girl, incidentally, I'm definitely jumping on the Dair bandwagon. They don't even need to hook up. They can just become like best frenemies. Even that would be such an awesomely refreshing dynamic compared to having to watch Serena being blonde or Nate being thick or Chuck being scheming. The seminar itself went well. It's nice feeling properly prepared for a change, instead of practically winging it. One of the handouts we were given today was taken from a book I really should have read ages ago for my creative project, so I'm taking that as a sign!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Episode 882: Arts Centre Junkie!

Have finally finished reading King Lear. My favourite line? 'Out, vile jelly! Where is thy lustre now?' It's gruesome, horrifying, and sends chills down my spine every time I read it. Am now watching a bit more of Korol Lir so I don't go into tomorrow's seminar completely clueless, even though our group did meet up this morning to discuss what we're going to say in the seminar about the film and its relation to the text. I'm going to talk about how the King of France has to have a translator with him, whereas in the play, everyone of course miraculously speaks English. (You know, even if the play's set in Venice, Verona or Vienna!) In a way, this drives home the foreignness of the King of France and how Cordelia being wedded to him is essentially exile, in a way that isn't necessarily immediately apparent from the play, where armies sweep on and off the stage from the wings. It also raises the stakes, I feel, when the invasion from France happens. Randomly, I've turned into a bit of an Arts Centre junkie all of a sudden. Wednesday and Thursday, I'll be attending China Miéville's reading and a performance of Best Before respectively. Next week, also on a Thursday, I'm seeing the Cheek by Jowl production of The Tempest. Finally, Tuesday after that, I'm seeing a dance performance, LOL (Lots Of Love). Loads of stuff to look forward to! It also means that I really, really, need to start writing this play tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Episode 881: I Hate Having A Cold...

Could finish reading King Lear if I sacrificed an hour or so of sleep, but instead, I've stopped after Act 3 Scene 3 and am now watching a bit of Kozintsev's Korol Lir, so that I'll have something to say tomorrow when meeting the other people in my seminar group who've been assigned this film. Not going to watch the whole film though. That'll have to happen tomorrow. I'm just getting through the first scene! The opening of Kozintsev's adaptation is already an interesting divergence from the text of the play anyway, with the peasantry trooping towards the castle across a barren countryside. I'll say though, it's a bit weird listening to the lines in Russian, even if there are accompanying subtitles. (Oh, bit of French just crept in there, a translator telling the King of France what Cordelia's just said to Lear.) Have also decided this afternoon that a lot of the so-called reading I was planning on doing for my creative project is, strictly speaking, unnecessary, since a lot of the material is more concerned with advancing particular interpretations, whereas the goal of my project isn't so much interpretation as trying to unpick precisely why there exists such potential for multiple interpretations to begin with.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Episode 880: Massive Oxfam Haul

Since I was in London, I had to make my customary stop at Oxfam Marylebone. Wasn't disappointed! Bought nearly £50 of books, rescuing (among other things) poetry collections from Carcanet, Shearsman, Templar Poetry and the tall-lighthouse. Very, very pleased, as I got all of them at more than 50% off the list price. I'm quite happy to pay for poetry, but it helps with building my personal library if I can occasionally get some collections at a steep discount. Was with Eugene Chan and Zilu, who both read Monocle, and we happened to see the store while walking to Nando's for lunch. Popped in, and I must say, I think Monocle has officially replaced The Economist as my intellectual magazine of choice. My new aim is to take out a subscription. Well-produced, looks striking on a coffee table, and boasts solid content to boot. It's perfect for me! Actually tempted to start subscribing now, except it's silly because I won't be in the UK for a continuous year. Can't start in Singapore over summer either, so it'll have to wait till I'm back in Warwick for my MA. Sent the application out yesterday at a Ryman's outlet, so here's hoping everything works out for me!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Episode 879: Maroon 5 At Brixton Academy!

So Sara Bareilles was the opening act for Maroon 5. While I've never been a massive fan of her (despite acknowledging that her mainstream hit 'Love Song' is ridiculously catchy), I must admit I was won over tonight. She just seemed really, well, genuine, as a performer. Plus she was amazing live. The same went for Maroon 5. A bit annoyed that my camera batteries went flat in the middle of the concert, but I managed to use my iPhone to snap a couple of shots, as well as record an epic moment when Adam Levine borrowed an audience member's mobile to call her friend, only to be thwarted by bad reception. This was before 'She Will Be Loved', so I've got a pretty decent video of the whole exchange and the entirety of the song. I definitely appreciated how they played material from all three of their albums, and I think they pretty much covered all of their hit singles, with the notable exception of their two most recent ones, 'Give A Little More' and 'Never Gonna Leave This Bed'. Even songs from Songs About Jane sounded fresh because they were given new arrangements that matched those from subsequent albums. The music was fantastically loud and had a lot of crunch, if you know what I mean. Oh, and obviously, Levine is sex on legs. If I could tell this from the first row of the balcony, I can't imagine how the people crowded in front of the stage must have felt. By the way, this was the first live concert I've ever been to, and I don't think I'm going to make it a habit. Although I shelled out for the VIP package (including early entry and band merchandise), I don't think there are that many acts that I would really want to see live. OneRepublic, I suppose, and Lady Gaga, as long as her new album isn't rubbish.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Episode 878: Multicultural Dinner Party

Brought tangyuan to the dinner at Maria's place, which was well-received. The food tonight was all very delicious as well, so I'm really glad I made up my mind to go, despite needing to get some work done this week. (The paella David, Lawrence and Paul brought was so good!) Had a good conversation with Elena as well, whom I saw in Ranon's production of Emily Of Emerald Hill last year but had never properly met until tonight, so that was nice. It's funny how even in my final year as an undergraduate, I'm still meeting new people who've so many friends in common with me (thanks Facebook!) but I've just never become friends with myself. Not that it's a bad thing. I mean, they're usually lovely people! It just seems a bit of a pity to only be meeting them now, so near the end of my degree. Speaking of which, I sent off the soft copies of my application documents that will hopefully get me another year in the UK, preferably sponsored. Michael Hulse, as I guessed, checked his e-mail today, so I'm picking up my reference tomorrow before catching the coach to London to see Maroon 5 with Eugene Chan, and I'll post the hard copies from there via DHL. Fingers crossed! Won't know the outcome for quite a while, which is going to be nervewrecking if I let myself think about it so I just won't.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Episode 877: Middle Of Reading Week, And What Have I Done?

Went straight from cell (which was really just dinner with Jethro and Neil) to Christian's bar crawl. Didn't stay until Kelsey's though, as I was feeling a bit ill (definitely coming down with a sore throat), so I left together with Dan. I want to be in reasonable shape tomorrow so that I can read King Lear. Need to be on campus as well, to attend a briefing for my latest DR@W experiment. If I can finish reading the play in the afternoon, I can spend the evening watching Kozintsev's Korol Lir and do my preparation for Tuesday's seminar. Honestly though, all I really want to do is curl up in bed with a trashy novel. Or even an intelligent novel. Just anything except Shakespeare. Can't really afford to though, I've already fallen behind my plans for writing the one-act play for my creative project, although I think that a first draft can be banged out pretty quickly, now that I've more or less figured out the shape of the play. Making sure it's good though, is quite another matter. One week to draft, one week to polish, one week to write the accompanying commentary? That's pretty much what I'm looking at right now, isn't it?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Episode 876: Crazy House Party!

People kept bumping into me at the house party, so there's now watermelon Bacardi Breezer all over my shirt and trousers. Have scrubbed them and thrown them into the washing machine, so I'm hoping the stains come out. Especially from the shirt. Would be very annoying otherwise. On the bright side, I stayed late enough such that Vialli's wasn't open anymore, so instead, I'm microwaving a Tesco chicken tikka masala. I've also discovered the wonders of dip, so there go my plans to trim my waistline. Need. To. Resist! Grace's birthday party was fun, though I don't know if I can cope with two consecutive nights of sleep deprivation, since Christian's bar crawl is tomorrow. Doesn't look like I'm going to get much work done at this rate. I did rewrite my personal statement today, so now it feels more coherent than what it was like on Sunday, that version having been written on the back of about five hours of sleep. (Okay, so I just felt like I had to tweak it because I was paranoid and thought everyone would make more of an effort than I did.) Now if only Michael Hulse would check his e-mail soon...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Episode 875: Valentine Schmalentine

Sermons yesterday were good, challenging stuff. Completely randomly, I ended up doing the scripture reading at the evening service, and was told afterwards that I had a very nice reading voice. As compliments go, that one's a first. Anyway, I caved recently and went to have a listen to the new Lady Gaga single 'Born This Way' on YouTube. Very, very disappointing. I really couldn't care less if she's ripped off Madonna's 'Express Yourself' because I'm not a Madonna fan anyway, and I don't even care that it's a bit crass to self-proclaim your song is the new gay anthem. It's just that coming from the singer who gave us brilliant stuff like 'Poker Face', 'LoveGame' and 'Bad Romance', 'Born This Way' just comes across a bit lame. Maybe she should have let RedOne produce the single, instead of it being a four-way mess. Too many cooks, etc. Hopefully, the rest of the album's better. Randomly, I've finally managed to find a live torrent for Grigori Kozintsev's Korol Lir. Meant to be watching it for next week's seminar, comparing it with King Lear and looking at where the film diverges from the text of the play and how this allows us to see the play in a new light. Can you believe I'm trying so hard to do the preparation? I'm actually impressed with myself.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Episode 874: (Almost) Done With Sponsorship Application!

So I somehow managed to not hear my alarm, just as I feared. Woke up five minutes before I was supposed to get a lift from Bex, but it worked out in the end because we ended up being early to pick up the band members who live in Coventry. Holed myself up in the Library, as best as you can on Floor 2 anyway, and wrote my personal statement of purpose for the Masters sponsorship application. I'm not sure if it's what MOE is looking for, and although I tried to cover all the suggested points, they sort of blurred together the way I wrote them up. I think the point that's going to make my application stand out is the reference to how my proposed dissertation can be related back to National Education, which I personally think is valid and interesting to boot. Now if only whoever decides these things agrees with me. Am still short of the reference from Michael Hulse, which I'll probably get only after Reading Week. Error on my part, should have thought to follow up with him sooner. Now I'm going to have to send the application off by DHL Express and hope that it arrives by Friday after next. The electronic copy will of course reach MOE sooner, but the application e-mail did say the physical paper application had to as well. That does strike me as being a bit odd, since the only difference is that the hard copy will be accompanied by the references. Surely though, there are other ways to ensure that the applicant can't intercept his own reference?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Episode 873: Chernise's CNY Party

Just got back from a party at Chernise's place, where there was lots of Singaporean food and tidbits, as well as mahjong. (Thanks for the invite, Chernise!) I won quite a few times, which is always nice, but I think it was really just because I was a comparatively experienced player. Can't remember when was the last time I played, although it must have been about a year ago. It's quite funny though, calling out the tiles in English. Am currently trying to stream the live telecast of the G-Star RAW runway show at New York Fashion Week, but it's not loading, so I might just go to bed in a bit, seeing as I have to be up in a couple of hours for band practice at 9 am. The party was fun though, definitely don't regret staying till so late (even though not getting enough sleep always takes away any motivation to do work whatsoever). I mean, I still might have even if I didn't know Mike was able to give me a lift back to Leamington. Would just have paid a bit to get the NU1, I suppose. Incidentally, I'm quite impressed that out of all the cutlery I took out for last night's dinner party, I've only lost one fork. Made it a point to try and clear up (most of) the cutlery before I had to leave the house.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Episode 872: House Potluck

So incredibly full of food right now. Made a pasta bake for the potluck at our place. It's basically my default dish when I ever have to make food that doesn't involve frozen meat going into the oven. It always turns out okay, and occasions that call for making such dishes are few and far between anyway. Was meant to be on campus at 2 pm to judge another round of auditions for the poetry slam, but embarrassingly, turned up 20 minutes late. Came straight back after that and finally nabbed a copy of Justin Cronin's The Passage from the local library. It's hefty though, don't know if I'll be able to finish it between the plays I need to catch up on for Shakespeare and the next book I need to review, The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. It's by no means a new book, but I'm really excited nonetheless because I'm a massive Gibson fan. Nice change too, reviewing fiction, as the last two I've done have been non-fiction. That's pretty much why my editor offered it to me anyway. It's steampunk too, and I've never actually read anything belonging to that genre before. Should be an interesting experience.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Episode 871: Science Fiction Needs More TV Love

Wow, it's been a long day. Just got back from band practice in church, and I'm starving. I probably shouldn't eat though. Maybe just some crisps? Making an entire meal seems rather excessive at this time of the night. Didn't get any work done between my seminars in the afternoon, although I'd hoped to have done some reading. Read only a couple of pages! I did get a haircut, though it didn't turn out too well. The hairdresser took off too much length again. Maybe next time, I'll just bring in a picture and tell her to cut my hair in accordance to it! Ah well. It'll grow back soon enough, should look fine in a couple of days. Have just finished my French homework, so now I'm settling back to watch the second episode of Outcasts. I think it's actually shaping up to be quite good. Eric Mabius's character is sufficiently interesting to make up for the writers having killed off Jamie Bamber's in the first episode. A quick browse on the web will reveal that critics are largely savaging the series, but I think it's still heaps better than having to watch stuff like Jersey Shore or The Only Way Is Essex. Why does science fiction not get more love from TV? I think this is a very serious issue. I mean, it's like way cooler than reality programming, isn't it?

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Episode 870: If You're Crap At A Language, Ever Think It's Actually Your Fault For Not Trying Harder?

Okay, Carol Rutter's lecture today didn't quite sell me on Othello either. To be fair, I'm more into Shakespeare's comedies than his tragedies. Except King Lear. Not quite sure how I'm going to get hold of a copy of the adaptation that I'm meant to be commenting on in the seminar after Reading Week though! Then I had French, where there were lots of freshers whining and bitching, when really what they needed to do was put in more effort. I mean, come on! I can't believe we're still going over the agreement of past participle endings, and people who presumably should know better by now just don't get it. They grumble about not learning anything in the seminars, but it's patently obvious that most of them have a tenuous grasp of the language that would be much improved by complaining less and putting in a bit more effort. Just so we're clear though, it's only the English freshers displaying such abysmal attitudes. It really does my head in, having to put up with people like that. Makes me wonder why they even wanted to do French at university since they appear to have so many issues with it! Skipped the AdHoc meeting (again) to go and help judge the poetry slam audition for Ugly Cousins Club. Then I went to the Javier Cercas reading in the Arts Centre because George Ttoouli was handing out free tickets. Would probably have gone anyway, but this just meant that I saved a few quid. What's not to like about that?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Episode 869: New British Shows

Went to see George Ttoouli to pick up my reference for MOE. Talked a bit to him about my Shakespeare creative project and came away oddly more certain of what the play is going to look like now. Tom Cornford's recommendation to read Pirandello's Six Characters In Search Of An Author was definitely a good one, although the version I've read is the adaptation by Rupert Goold and Ben Power. Might still read a translation of the original version, or at least see the 1972 film adaptation that I got out from the Library today. All this does mean, however, that quite a lot of the research I was gathering weeks ago is now only mildly relevant at best. Oh well! Not actually going to do any work today anyway. Have just finished watching the premieres of two UK shows, Bedlam and Outcasts. The former is kind of like Ghost Whisperer, but with more menacing spirits. Fairly interesting, but not exactly breaking the mould. Nice to see Ashley Madekwe back on TV though. The latter is a science fiction drama, so that in itself is pretty much reason enough for me to watch it. Apparently, it bears some resemblance to Battlestar Galactica (including starring an alumnus of that show), but since I haven't seen that (yet), I don't have to judge it for that. I can see some philosophical questions being raised in it, and it makes me wish that British series didn't have such short episode orders on the whole. I guess it means that you can't afford to pad out the plot, but sometimes, you just want more space to explore stuff in. I can totally see Outcasts working as a solid science fiction novel though, which I think is a good sign. Bold (and potentially, stupid) move though, killing off the most interesting character on the show in the first episode.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Episode 868: Productive Streak!

Keeping up this streak of productivity, I've finished reading Othello. Don't like it as much as some of the other Shakespearean tragedies, and Tony Howard's lecture this afternoon didn't really convince me to change my mind. Guess it's up to Carol Rutter on Wednesday. I've also finished the French comprehension for Wednesday, whilst admiring my own handwriting. I know, it's terribly vain, but anyone who's seen my handwriting has to concede that it's quite beautiful. (Not as flowingly amazing as Ka Tsai's perhaps, but more legible at least.) Now I just need to finish reading Pirandello's Six Characters In Search Of An Author and I'll have accomplished everything that I intended to today. Anything beyond that, like doing any sort of research for my creative project, would then be a bonus. Or I could just reward myself by watching more Better Off Ted. It's hilarious, and it's just too bad that it was cancelled. I suppose the American corporations felt uncomfortable placing advertisements in a show that basically satirises corporate culture?

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Episode 867: Prepared For Seminar!

Haven't finished reading Othello, but I've read enough to prepare for the mini-presentation at this week's seminar. Will have to finish reading to know the full plot details, of course, and I've less than 40 pages to go anyway. I could stay up again to complete it, but having kept myself awake last night to finish the book review for The Cadaverine, I don't think I'm going to punish myself again. I'll put a link to the review once it goes up. It's of a biography of Titanic Thompson, written by Kevin Cook. I think I might've mentioned this before, but my editor was totally right about it being an easier read than the last book I reviewed. It's a bit embarrassing how long it's taken me to get through this biography though, given how breezily it reads. Oh well. May the next review take less time! Anyway, I've got this weird idea for my Shakespeare creative project that ties in with the idea of onstage darkness and deliberately barring interpretation, where someone in the play is going to keep switching the lights off. I just haven't figured out whom it's going to be yet, since that ought to have some larger significance. Obvious choice would be to go for the director, but that's a bit of a cop-out, isn't it? Ditto for choosing one of the actors. Maybe it should be someone observing the rehearsal? The company's dramaturg? Then I can totally bring in that book Tom Cornford recommended I read (and which I haven't).

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Episode 866: Spring Awakening

Went to see the MTW production of Spring Awakening with Laura in the afternoon. I thought it felt a bit disconnected for the first couple of minutes, but by the time we got to the interval, it was solid. I must say, that sex scene was pretty graphic, although that's not quite the adjective I should be reaching for, since there was hardly any baring of skin. I mean, I've seen full onstage nudity before when I saw Quills way back in my JC days, and this was practically PG in comparison. I suppose, however, that's what made it such a disturbing moment. Now for a few comments on the singing. The lead couple was impressive, especially the guy's ability to switch to falsetto. (Having sung pretty much all the parts in an SATB choir at some point during my four years as a choirboy, I have immense respect for any guy who has the control and technique to use it.) The chorus blended well, although occasionally when they had solo lines, it was hard to make out what was being sung. Could've been miking issues, but I'm definitely sure some of the supporting cast could have enunciated more, and this includes the speaking bits as well. One thing that did bother me a little was the disjunction between the German setting and the relentlessly contemporary nature of the song lyrics. That may have been why the performance didn't feel to me like it was meshing initially.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Episode 865: It's Far Too Windy Here

Was supposed to pick up a reference today, but that didn't work out in the end. Scheduling conflicts! I had to be on campus anyway, to take part in an experiment in the Psychology department. Coincidentally, it was administered by someone who goes to Westwood too. Made £8.40 this time, which I was quite pleased about when I saw I'd earned the most so far out of the people who'd completed the experiment. Slightly annoyed with myself for not having gone with the right strategy to maximise my earnings though, despite having clocked immediately what the experiment was actually trying to determine and how. It's not like it would've been a lot more, to be honest. Just a few pence more or so. Went to Waterstone's when I got back to Leamington to see if they had the Orbit reprint edition of Mike Carey's Vicious Circle with the new cover, but they didn't. Figured there was no point asking them to order it though. It's slightly odd that Amazon UK is advertising it with the new cover, but apparently stocks the old one. (The reverse being the case for the first book in the series, The Devil You Know.) Now that I know that the series has been reissued with new covers, it would just be really annoying to not have all of them. A bit like how I secretly want to buy the reissued Tolkien books that come in black covers, despite owning all of them already.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Episode 864: CNY Party!

So oddly enough, I've gone to a party ostensibly commemorating Chinese New Year at Lizzie's place, where I was, incidentally, the only Chinese person. Talk about irony. It was fun(ny) though, e.g. I don't think I've seen Annie quite so tipsy before! (At least not recently.) Night ended with the typical stop at Vialli's, which will probably make me feel a bit ill in the morning. Anyway, I'm quite glad I made the effort last night to finish reading Ape's-Face before this morning's EN236 seminar. It's a strange book, that one. Can't believe Sophie actually managed to get one off the Internet for about £5. Then my EN331 seminar was cancelled because Michael Hulse was ill, but I only found out when I went upstairs with my now-standard large gingerbread latte just after 3 pm. Dilemma ensued because that meant I could either stay on campus and help at that French seminar for the full two hours for a change (haven't been since Week 1 of this term) or go home and do stuff that needed to be done, like typing up the feedback for the CU's Mission Week events and reading that book I need to review. Cost-benefit analysis suggested that the latter course of action made more sense, in light of the fact that I don't actually do a lot when I do go down apart from making the equivalent of small talk in French.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Episode 863: Stupid Ulcer

I've got a stupid ulcer on my upper lip that's making it painful to eat, as well as enunciate in French, oddly enough. Now to go completely off-tangent, I'd just like to say that V is really quite a frustrating show. At this point, with six episodes to go before the season (and possibly series) finale, I don't see how the writers could provide a satisfying conclusion to everything they've built up so far. I like the direction they've gone with the whole soul issue, but at the same time, it feels like an attempt to give greater depth to a plot that has essentially devolved into a protracted prolonging of the inevitable confrontation between humanity (and its Fifth Column allies) and the Visitors, especially now that we know the Visitors came to Earth to breed with humans. The mother-daughter conflict is possibly the best thing on the show right now, and I hope it gets used in the show's denouement somehow. On a side note, how irritating is Tyler as a character? Anyway, currently ploughing through Marion Fox's Ape's-Face, which is a really weird book. In a good way. The conversation between two chairs is surreal, but definitely the best thing I've read in it so far. Just under 100 pages to go!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Episode 862: Cosmic Jokes

The universe is mocking me today. The seminar was only on The Changeling, so thankfully, Wikipedia's article on it has rather comprehensive scene summaries, so I knew all about who wanted to sleep/slept with whom and all the other juicy plot developments. Good seminar though, apart from the bit at the end where I got stuck doing stuff on Othello for next week because I was sitting to my seminar tutor's left. Of all the characters to get, I had to get the titular. Now I actually have to read the whole play way beforehand. Just as well I decided not to go out tonight for Amrit and Grace's party, I guess? Time to catch up on reading. The last cosmic joke played on me was when I got back to Leamington. Thought I had enough time to get stuff from Tesco, including the tortellini for tomorrow's cell dinner, and so I did. Came out to see the 68 at the bus stop, so I went over, only to have the driver pull away despite my waving. The bus was practically empty, so it's not like stopping for a few seconds would've killed him. Had to wait half an hour. I suppose things could have been worse. It could have been colder than 7°C for starters. It could have been the last bus of the evening. Still, that driver should have stopped, right?