Saturday, April 30, 2011

Episode 950: Enough With The Elections Already!

Light bulb blew today, completely out of the blue. Friends recommend letting natural light into my room more. They're probably right, and to be fair, I have drawn the curtains a bit more recently, now that the weather is no longer freezing and the amount of daylight we get verges on the excessive. Anyway, that's fixed now. Finished reading Carrie Etter's The Tethers last night, which was very good, and now I'm getting through Zoë Brigley's The Secret. Incidentally, Doctor Who this week was pretty damn amazing, if you ask me. Can't wait to see how this week's plot developments fit into the series arc, and how heartbreaking was it when River realised she was never going to kiss the Doctor again? To finish off this post, since it's a week before the elections in Singapore, I thought I'd say a quick word or two, possibly the only time I'm going to comment on them here. Firstly, enough with the Nicole Seah adulation that's flooding my Facebook. Seriously. Yeah, she sounds great and poised. There was a video of her at a rally that was a bit too fire and brimstone for me, though it's clear that wherever she got her training in public speaking from, she sure knows how to have a crowd eating out of her hand. That interview she gave to a foreign journalist was a bit awkward though. Too many Obama-style references to 'change' (maybe they were deliberate?) and she sounded like she was trying to modify her accent for the foreign media. What annoys me about the Nicole fans though, is how no one's bothered to point out to them that if she gets into Parliament, she's also taking an entire GRC team in with her who've not been nearly as vocal. Isn't this the sort of 'free ride' the PAP is constantly being accused of? Yet because this is the opposition we're talking about, it's like a massive betrayal to even breath a word against anyone running on a non-PAP ticket.

I also detest people who blindly distil political debate down slogans and rhetoric, and in the process make it sound like voting for the opposition is some sort of civic duty. News flash! It isn't. Vote opposition if you want. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn. Just don't do it because you've been convinced by someone's Facebook link that it's the 'right' thing to do. Like I've commented to several friends online, judging by the sort of comments netizens throw out, Singaporeans genuinely deserve the politics they've been getting over the past decades. How many of us can honestly say that we're casting a vote for the national good, as opposed to our own self-interests disguised as the national good? Look at all the issues people are so riled up about. Even when they're 'big picture', like immigration, it's always in the selfish context of 'me, me, me'. I don't want to live in an overcrowded city any more than the next Singaporean, but short of turning the island into a complete urban sprawl, I still say people should suck it up and be a bit more tolerant. Admittedly, for a party that's been around for over 40 years, the PAP definitely needs a way better PR machine. So when the men in white are back in power (because let's face it, it would be a freak result if they were kicked out, and I guarantee lots of people would actually regret it, just that the MM shouldn't have said so publicly), they need to figure out why GE 2011 nearly went so horribly wrong. I could have made this post way more cogent, but I figured it wouldn't matter. Those who agree with me probably won't see a need to speak out in solidarity against the emotional rhetoric that's overtaken any sort of rational discourse during these elections. Those who disagree with me are just going to label me a pro-PAP lackey and wouldn't have been prepared to listen to anything I had to say anyway. Everyone wins.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Episode 949: What Royal Wedding?

So as you may have gathered from the title, I don't really care about the royal wedding. It's not that I'm an anti-monarchist. I mean, it's not my king/queen, and you have to admit, it's a good tourist draw for people who are into that sort of thing. Instead of trying to watch the royal wedding online (although I hear Pippa Middleton was smoking hot), I was reading the April edition of New Linear Perspectives and reviewing it for Sabotage Reviews. It was decent, though it didn't really amaze me like some stuff I've reviewed in the past. Also got around to reading my first batch of fiction submissions for The Cadaverine. Exciting times! Now I'm about to log off and so some leisure reading. Read Stephen Brown's Future Me last night, a play about a lawyer who gets busted for paedophilia, and to quote the back cover, the play 'is a devastating study of unlawful desire. With unflinching honesty, it examines the destructive power of illicit deeds and the limits of forgiveness. For someone who has crossed the line, is there really any chance of a 'future me'? In light of what happened to an acquaintance late last year, it was an interesting play to read. Now the question is what do I read next? If only something like David Louis Edelman's MultiReal existed, yeah? That would be awesome.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Episode 948: So, What Next?

Since we've got a one-day extension for our PWP submission and so I'm getting it bound on Tuesday instead, I popped in to see Michael Hulse during his office hour today. We talked a bit about my PWP and what's next for the poems, and Michael noted that perhaps the exposition in the poems wouldn't necessarily be an issue when sending them around, since the reading public's tastes actually can't be said to lean definitely in one direction or the other on this point. As evidence, he cited the reception of Ted Hughes's Tales From Ovid, which stays close to the original text, and where Hughes invents, the additions tend to be expository anyway. With the cuts in Arts Council funding though, now's a terrible time to be hawking poetry manuscripts to publishers. He did point out that one possible way to go is to try and get a manuscript accepted with a Singaporean publisher (choices I can think of literally take up the fingers of one hand), and then approach publishers here about putting the collection out as a co-publication. Not sure how the legal mechanics would work out, but I suppose it's the most plausible next course of action, if I wanted to do anything more with these poems. For today though, I think I'm just going to get fully caught up with 90210 (already read and scheduled all outstanding submissions for Eunoia Review), and maybe read something for fun.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Episode 947: PWP Done!

3884 words. It's finally finished! Wrote the last couple of pages while watching 90210, although since I was scrounging desperately for words by that point, I don't think my divided attention actually adversely affected the quality of the writing anyway. It's definitely too heavy on the quotes, but hey, it's not easy trying to pad an essay out when you want to avoid making it all about interpreting your own work for the marker, which is a bit of a pointless exercise. At least last year for EN238, each poem kind of had its own little story behind it that I could talk about. This time, it's literally just been a case of me wanting to write something that riffs off the Bible. Michael Hulse sent me an e-mail saying he liked the complete sequence, with the same qualification as last time that there's more exposition than he thinks is necessary. Personally, I think he's probably right, but I wouldn't know how to fix that, to be perfectly honest. Stripping it out would probably free the poems up to speculate even more wildly, but I don't know if I could write those poems. Still, whatever, it's finally done. Now to take a break over the long weekend, and then start worrying again about my EN236 portfolio (about 75% done, excluding the rewrites that will supply the missing 25%) and revision.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Episode 946: DR@W Made Me £39.50 Richer Today!

So after a total of six e-mails back and forth, this submitter finally let me read her poems. These were sent along with a request that she be credited should they be accepted for publication, which immediately tipped me off that she'd never visited the journal's site before. Otherwise, she'd have realised that there are currently 200+ pieces of writing there that have been properly credited to their creators. I should have known better, since all her questions in her e-mails dealt with matters that could have been cleared up by paying attention to the submission guidelines, which I even gave her a link to in one of my replies. To top it all off, the poems weren't even any good! Now I feel like I've trampled on her soul by rejecting them. Already anticipating an aggrieved e-mail when I wake up in the morning, but at least I will totally enjoy laying into her with my reply, since her response is almost guaranteed to be so ridiculous that it'll be all I can do to dial down the sarcasm. Anyway, DR@W made me £39.50, which I believe may be the highest payout I've ever received from it. Not really a fair gauge, of course, since the payment this time was for a part of the experiment carried out last term as well. Still, it's nice to be paid for, you know, making decisions. The Economics Department is literally just handing the cash out. As for essay progress, still not nearly enough, but enough done that I could finish it by pulling an all-nighter tomorrow, which is something to be grateful for. Library trip was definitely worth it!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Episode 945: Hating This Essay...

Technically, taking into account the +/- 10% provision for word counts, I've finished a third of my PWP essay. I worry that I'm running out of things to say, partly because I am consciously trying to avoid explication of the poetry and deliberately concentrating on questions of purpose instead. I've pretty much exhausted the whole vein of what it means to write Christian poetry, I think, short of starting on a sweeping analysis of the history of English poetry or doing close analyses of poems that other people wrote and somehow trying to make that relevant to what I've written. I'm hoping that once I start talking about the whole sibling rivalry thing, I'll get a lot of mileage out of that. Otherwise, I have no idea what else I can talk about anymore. This may change, of course, after I've been to the Library tomorrow, before or after the DR@W experiment I'm doing. In fact, I'm counting on it. I've worked out the general idea of the next couple of pages, but even that will probably only double the current length of the essay, unless I can find something really compelling tomorrow that will expand the ideas I've got into something more substantial.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Episode 944: Happy Easter!

Today's post is mostly just random stuff/links strung together with little pretence that they connect up in any especially coherent way. So can I just say I don't get how I haven't noticed Sky Ferreira's music before today, especially her single 'Obsession'? Love it. Also finally found a review of Lady Gaga's 'Judas' that echoed my problems with it, but a bit more snarkily. The last two paragraphs are hilarious. Staying on the topic of music, check out the amazing origami stop-motion music video done by Opaque Nature for their song 'Mixing The Colours'. It's a great song, and the video just makes it even better. Moving along, it turns out WordPress was probably lying to me about the limit of 100 scheduled posts, as I've scheduled up to 110 now, and if the system for detecting the number of scheduled posts was an automated one, it should have locked me out by now. So either the WordPress guy was lying to me and covering up for the fact that I was aggressively censored, or they've lifted the limit on my account because they've reviewed what I use it for (i.e. running a daily literary journal). So that brings me to this blog, which is the best Internet trainwreck I've seen in a while. That woman either has zero EQ or she's crazy.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Episode 943: £4.10 For The Scenery?

So I travelled to Stratford on the X18 to pick up a copy of The World's Wife from the library there, but it turned out not to be there, contrary to what the online catalogue indicated. Borrowed a Li-Young Lee's From Blossoms: Selected Poems though, so not completely a wasted trip. Didn't realise Stratford lies outside the Unirider zone for Leamington/Warwick though, so ended up having to pay £4.10 for the stretch of the journey from Stratford till the Hilton Warwick. That was slightly annoying, especially since the driver was quite rude about it. (Of course, what this means is that I can totally avoid paying for a return ticket to Stratford, though I have no idea how much that saves me really.) It's a pretty scenic route, especially in the spring. I haven't really started on my 4000-word essay for my PWP, apart from laying down the introduction's opening sentences. It's a good start, and hopefully, I'll do more tomorrow. You know, tomorrow being Easter Sunday and all. Oh, the symbolism! Incidentally, the new Doctor Who is quite disappointing, especially after the hype from the trailer, although unlike a lot of people, I do like how the relationship between the Doctor and River is continuing to develop. That piece of River's dialogue when she was with Rory was genuinely moving: 'My past is his future. We're travelling in opposite directions. Every time we meet, I know him more, he knows me less. I live for the days when I see him, but I know that every time I do, he'll be one step further away. The day is coming when I'll look into that man's eyes, my Doctor, and he won't have the faintest idea who I am, and I think it's going to kill me.' (The execution of the concept, however, totally rips off Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife, yeah?)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Episode 942: Parlez-vous Le Français Des Affaires?

Managed to read both Kathy and Sophie Mac's PWPs, which I really enjoyed. Kind of made me feel like for all the reading I do, not a lot of it ends up filtering into my own writing, at least not thematically. I really like non-realist stuff, but I never end up writing it? Oh well. Sat in the garden and finished reading Elizabeth Jenning's Christianity And Poetry. Couple of quotes from there that are probably going to make it into my essay, though I'm not sure what the structure of that looks like yet. Definitely need to do some more reading if I want to have anything to say in the essay. Would have gone into the Library to browse through some books, but it's closed for Easter weekend, so I'm only going to be able to do that on Tuesday. Ideally, I'd like to get started on the essay before then. For a change, I already have the opening sentence! It's something I read in a newspaper a while ago about the centrality of the Bible to English literature. Have also begun revising my French, since I figure that if I start making attempts now, by a week before the paper I'll actually have done enough that I don't spend the whole week after my birthday freaking out that LL251 is going to pull my average down. That would be ironic, considering my Language Centre module is meant to be a lock for me and compensate for my other modules.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Episode 941: PWP Done!

Well, the poems are anyway. I'm going to read through them again tomorrow before I e-mail Michael Hulse. Now to wrestle with that 4000-word essay! Also need to write some fiction, but that deadline seems comparatively distant right now. As for revision, what revision? Sigh. I should start on the business French vocabulary though. After a month of no lessons, I bet most of it's fled my brain. Not good when you can't use a dictionary during the examination! Finally finished off the review for Sabotage Reviews tonight as well. The online magazine I was reviewing this time actually took way less time to read than I expected, so I'd done that a couple of days ago while procrastinating from writing my PWP. The review turned out a good deal longer than I expected, partly because I had some slightly harsh things to say about one of the contributors' poems. Why is it that I never second-guess myself when I like someone's writing, but if I don't like something, I always hesitate to criticise it if the writer's been published in numerous places? It's unwarranted insecurity about my abilities as a critic, since I don't think I'm exactly shabby in that department. I think I might take a breather tomorrow since it's Good Friday, although I'm not planning on attending tomorrow's service. It's too early in the morning and I'm not used to waking up at that time of the day anymore, and I just never seem to get anything done after a morning service because I just end up lazing about when I get home from a long lunch. Planning to read Kathy's PWP and give her feedback, and I don't know, maybe start writing the essay even. If I bash away at it, something will emerge, right?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Episode 940: GE 2011 Is On My Birthday!

So I guess it had to happen. My spate of productivity has petered out on the day I wrote, you guessed it, a poem titled 'Peter'. I did spend some time going through everything I'd written from the beginning, agonising over which verbs to leave in the past tense and which to change to the historic present. Wikipedia: 'Literary critics and grammarians have said that the historical present has the effect of making past events more vivid.' Maybe that's why I find that the shift makes some of the poems sound less weighed down? I'm thinking I might aim to finish the final three by tomorrow, and then send the whole thing off to Michael Hulse for feedback. Anyway, I found out yesterday that Polling Day for Singapore GE 2011 is going to be on my birthday. Thank you, the powers that be, for making me shell out money to go to London on my birthday to vote. Urgh. At least I've got enough friends there, presumably all voting as well, so that it makes the trip worthwhile. Almost regret having registered to be an overseas voter now, especially since it isn't even clear if my GRC (the newly created Nee Soon GRC) is going to be contested by the WP. Part of me wants it to be a walkover (again!), so that I can save a few pounds for something I care more about. (Like how I didn't say I don't care about the election at all, just implied I cared less about it than other things?) Now that the NSP has unveiled a candidate who's 24 (see webpage here with a comments thread that makes me want to bang my head against a wall), I think someone should turn GE 2011 into a reality TV series. Nicole Seah and Tin Pei Ling can have a catfight, using Kate Spade bags. It'll be riveting television, I'm sure.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Episode 939: Sun, TV, Poems (In That Order)

Finished two poems today! So that's four to go. The turnaround for WarwickPrint is apparently only one hour, so I could theoretically finish my essay as late as Sunday, submit it for printing and binding, and collect it from the Bookshop sometime on Monday. Feel a lot more reassured now. The only way this could go horribly wrong is if Michael Hulse hates all the poems he hasn't seen before, which would mean I've completely misjudged my recent work vis-à-vis the clutch of poems I finished over Christmas and rewrote in the first few weeks of last term. I really hope not. Anyway, I might have squeezed in a third poem like I did yesterday, except I spent a couple of hours in the garden, basking in the sun again, and then I came in and watched a lot of TV, this being Tuesday. Amber Tamblyn's exit from House was surprisingly good, in a way that previous character exits haven't necessarily been on this show. It showed her character developing, and her exit was then an organic result of that. Thumbs up! Gossip Girl is also finally back, with its typically nonsensical plot developments. I have a theory that Charlie, the new character on the show who looks a little like Blair's features crossed with Serena's blondness, is to allow Dan to have the best of both worlds, since the writers apparently decided they don't want to go forward with Dair (yet).

Monday, April 18, 2011

Episode 938: Three Poems In One Day!

Today has been incredibly productive, even though I only woke up at around 11.30 am. Have already finished drafts of two new poems, and I'm definitely going to make it through this third one before going to bed, which just leaves six to go! Now even at one per day, I'll have more than a week to write my essay, which may be helpful, since I don't really have any idea of what to put in it yet. Also read the online magazine that I'm supposed to be reviewing, which took a lot less time than I expected, so now I feel like I should've read it earlier and written the review by now. I think this one's going to be slightly shorter than usual, so maybe say, around 500 words. I kind of like it, but I'm not quite sure if I can articulate why without sounding hollowly effusive, and I definitely want to avoid that. So despite doing all this work (I know it's really not a lot, so don't judge), I also found the time to watch the first episode of Game Of Thrones, a show that has a pretty cool opening title sequence, by the way. The show itself seems promising, should be interesting to see how the multiple storylines are built up. That's also happening on The Killing, although I'm starting to feel the pace is too slow on that show. Tom Cornford was raving about the Danish original last term, so I might check it out on iPlayer eventually.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Episode 937: OT Poems Done, Just NT Ones To Go

Am up to 21 pages out of 30, which is good! The progress, I mean, not necessarily the poems themselves. Speaking of which, there is a distinct lack of progress in 90210's second season. The characters are still completely at the mercy of inconsistent writing, and the show kind of represents the triumph of casting over story logic. It's like we're supposed to ignore how erratically everyone actually behaves because it's LA and they're all, like, inhumanly gorgeous and stuff. For all its faults, at least Gossip Girl's characters tend to be more consistent. (Like how Nate has always been the token pretty boy with almost zero plot function, or Serena's always falling for men she shouldn't have, or Blair is always scheming, or Jenny is perpetually annoying.) Anyway, I've got nine poems to go, and I'm hoping they'll be faster to write than one per day, although that rate would give me exactly a week to write the accompanying essay and get everything bound for submission. It's just that I feel like I'm entering the home stretch now, and I basically have had ideas all along for these three groups of poems that play off nicely against each other, as well as bringing the whole sequence to a circular finish. This is in contrast to the recent stretch of poems, where I've pretty much had nothing but a title (and that's usually been just a name) and have had to feel my way to the ideas I want to convey. Not that I haven't stumbled across interesting ones in the process, but it does take a mental toll, I think. Maybe I'll take the rest of the evening off to decompress...

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Episode 936: So WordPress Wasn't Censoring Me After All...

Just to continue the Lady Gaga-bashing from yesterday, the album cover for Born This Way is awful. Crazy fans have suggested that like Judas, Lady Gaga is going to betray her fans by revealing the real cover in three days. At this point, I think we're way beyond performance art territory. Lady Gaga might actually, gasp, be buying into her own PR, thus making her certifiably insane. Listened to 'Judas' again, and my criticisms of it from yesterday still stand. Anyway, moving right along. Turns out WordPress wasn't trying to censor my literary journal last night, although their technical support team sure took its sweet time getting back to me, given that they suspended my posting privileges and told me to contact them ASAP. I think waiting more than 12 hours for a reply doesn't qualify as an ASAP reply on their part. So it seems that you're not allowed to schedule more than 100 posts in advance, although I think 100 posts over 100 days is quite a different thing from 100 posts in a day, if they somehow think I'm sort of spammer, and their system really should be designed to tell the difference. I suppose what's annoying is that there's no mention anywhere obvious that you can't exceed this limit! It's all settled now, so I'm just going to let the scheduled queue shrink a bit before getting on with things again. My own writing kind of hit a brick wall since yesterday, when I was trying to write this pair of poems about Jonathan and David. Gave up, deleted the drivel I'd got down on the page, and dashed off a poem called 'Jesse's Sons' in just over half an hour, thereby proving that jealousy is easier to write about than friendship. Now trying to make some headway with 'Job's Children', possibly even finish it. Can't believe it slipped my mind when I was looking for groups of siblings that Job had 20 children, 10 before and 10 after his trials.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Episode 935: So The New Lady Gaga Single Isn't That Great Either...

MOE's approved my MA course, so I just need to not screw up my grades this year. So far, that's going okay, assuming I haven't massively failed my Shakespeare creative project or something equally extraordinary. Left the house for only the second time in a week today, to get more food and snacks. Was really efficient about it too! Caught the 68 down to Iceland, then the X17 back up to Tesco, and then the 68 back home, all in under one hour. I also shaved. Aside from the fact that it would apparently take me forever to grow enough facial hair to do stubble fashionably (although I could manage permanent 5 o'clock shadow with the right equipment), I actually like being clean-shaven. Does it bother me that I basically never look like I'm in my mid-20s? Uh, not really. I'm sure it will start to rankle once I start working and the other teachers refuse to take me seriously, and it is sometimes annoying to be carded at the bar when I'm probably two years older than literally everyone else jostling to buy a drink. Apart from that though, I think it's great. You know what else is great? Having finished another PWP poem, even if I'm completely stuck for the next one now. What isn't great, is the new Lady Gaga single that's leaked. 'Judas' has a dancefloor-ready beat, thanks to RedOne's production, but that is pretty much the only thing about the song I like. Even the vocal riff recycles 'Bad Romance' way too obviously. Was this what I expected from a Lady Gaga single? Not really. It's like she's sunk to self-parody, whilst being completely straight-faced about it. Grating combination. I suppose we should be grateful it's a step from the overproduced mess that was 'Born This Way', but unless the rest of the album sounds fantastic, and I mean like how 'Bad Romance' was one of the most amazing songs of its year, I think her PR machine is going to have to do a lot of spinning in the near future to keep her remotely relevant.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Episode 934: Halfway (And A Bit)!

Am done with Season 1 of 90210, which has abysmal consistency of characterisation, although reportedly it gets better. One can live in hope. It's still not quite as compelling as Gossip Girl though. Definitely won't be caught up by the time the new Season 3 episode airs, not even if I swear off doing any work until Tuesday. In other, equally insignificant news, I've also managed to complete a second pantoum, though technically this trio of poems consists of pantoums sandwiched by an extra duplicated line. (Yes, I'm a bit obsessed with the 30 poems of 30 lines thing. What can I say? I like structure and patterns.) So at 16 poems, my PWP is finally now more than half-done. I'm trying to lay down a couple of lines for the next poem, but might just pack it in and read more of The Passage. The further I get through Justin Cronin's novel, the less I'm convinced that the film adaptation is going to do it justice. Seriously. There's just too much to cram into the standard length of a summer blockbuster, and it's just going to be too much hype that can't be delivered on. Mark my words. Now if it were turned into a TV series, or even just a miniseries, that would be a different story. Also, the story I sent to Dr. Hurley's Snake-Oil Cure is up, and you can find it here. As far as having a personal style goes, I think this is actually fairly representative of mine.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Episode 933: Almost Halfway Through My PWP...

Typically, I did end up writing a bit of a poem yesterday, despite saying I wasn't going to. Just one stanza though. Finished the rest today, and might be about to get started on the next one, assuming I can work out the angle that makes the character interesting. I kind of have an idea already, but I think I need to start writing before I figure out if it's going to be enough to carry the whole poem. Dan wrote an interesting piece about the current state of pop music, which you can find here. It kind of links to my pet theory that the steady homogenisation of pop in recent years is partially a consequence of the rise of 'super-producers' like RedOne. Slight irony with that example is that RedOne was actually co-producing on A*Teens tracks as far back as 2001, before he got two big breaks in 2007 (Kat DeLuna's debut, 9 Lives) and 2008 (Lady Gaga's debut, The Fame). Now he's everywhere, although I think his sound is less distinctive than autocannibalistic at this stage, like the songs just clone themselves. Doesn't mean they're less enjoyable, just that it's really hard to take them seriously once you realise the backing beats are essentially the same.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Episode 932: Biggest Submission Yet (Literally)

Today has been one of those really good days, I think. I was up till 4 am, organising new music in my iTunes, including the new Article One album, Clarity, but I still managed to wake up around noon. Had a good hour in the sun as well, listening to that album, which is really good. The fact that they have a violin in their band has always been their biggest selling point for me. Also got through a bit of the new Hillsong United album, Aftermath. It's only their second studio album, but it's definitely a step forward from All Of The Above or any of their live albums for that matter. By no means a quantum leap in terms of musical style, but then again, nobody goes to a Hillsong CD for that, right? So after getting a very, very slight tan, I came back to my laptop and saw that I'd received a submission for Eunoia Review from a Guardian journalist who's been published by Hodder Headline Ireland. Hefty, 15 000-word document of seven stories, which I read through and accepted without any reservations whatsoever. I think this batch of fiction is easily among the best that the journal's scheduled for publication so far. While I definitely enjoy reading and publishing new writers, it's pretty exciting to be hearing from more established writers too. On top of that I've edited yesterday's poem (although I'm not writing one today, I think), and have just finished a brilliantly and understatedly heartbreaking episode of House. So yeah, I'd say it's been a good day. Only way to end it is clearly with some Ben & Jerry's, more television, and a bit of reading before bed. I'm so domestic sometimes, it's shocking.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Episode 931: Body Clock Sorted?

Totally managed to fall asleep by 2 am, so I guess being out in the garden and the sun for a couple of hours yesterday did help to reset my body clock. Am totally watching too much 90210 at the moment though, for which I blame Annie. It's not quite as addictive as Gossip Girl, although since Season 1 was its worst, I guess if I stick it out it'll get better. I just don't like how the adults in the show have been steadily pruned over three seasons, to the point where there won't be any once the kids grow up and go to college next season. Gossip Girl dealt with that by pretty much not having the cast actually attend any lessons most of the time, it would seem. Then again, I suppose NYC does feel kind of more 'adult' than youth-obsessed LA? Anyway, I'm almost done with my next poem, which feels great. Literally have five lines to go! I should pick up the pace if I want to leave time to write my 4000-word accompanying essay. An opportunity's also come up to get involved with another reviewing gig, and I'm still deliberating over whether to commit. Goodness knows I don't actually need to be building up some list of writing credits for career purposes, heading into teaching and all, but I feel like I'm actually good at this whole reviewing thing. So it seems like a shame not to do as much with it as I can. Right?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Episode 930: Je Dors Trop, Mais Je Travaille Tout De Même

So I didn't make it to morning service, although my alarm did wake me up. It's just that having only fallen asleep at 4 am (again), I was too tired to get up. All's not lost though, as I did get work done today. Read a bunch of submissions, including a very strange 101-page poetry manuscript, accompanied by a comprehensive list of publication credits. I hate it when people do that, as if their credits alone will somehow persuade me to publish them. Also received a biographical note whose length in terms of words exceeded the poem that I was publishing, which again, was a bit weird. Got an acceptance from Bewildering Stories, very thorough editorial process going on there. The editor thinks I may be unnecessarily courting controversy by retaining the colour symbolism in the piece, but I declined to bow to political correctness just because someone might be offended that I appear to employ a black-and-white dualism (it isn't actually that straightforward in my story anyway, which should be clear to anyone who isn't reading with a political axe to grind) that has been in the literary tradition for centuries. Had a rewrite request from LITSNACK as well, which I've taken care of, so hopefully the piece gets accepted now, since the editor made it sound like all that was needed was to add a little more depth to an already interesting story. I also rewrote my most recent PWP poem, 'Dinah'. It's an improvement from yesterday, though still in terza rima just to have something different in the sequence. Have a couple of lines in place for the next one, but I am not making the mistake again of staying up to finish. Incidentally, as much as I dislike Harold Bloom as a critic, the next poem I'm writing actually owes something to his interpretation of Tamar in The Book Of J, translated from the Hebrew by David Rosenberg.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Episode 929: My Sleep Cycle Is Officially Screwed Up

Finally got around to returning Feed to the local library. Apparently I've had it for so long, the book doesn't even have the new bar codes for the self-return machines! I then took the 68 to the bottom of the Parade and bought myself an early dinner from Vialli's, which was a horrible, horrible mistake because the chicken didn't taste as good as usual, and now I just feel greasy and ill. Am so going to bed early tonight, partly because I'm going to try to wake up for the morning service tomorrow, partly because I think I might have screwed up my sleep cycle because lately I can't seem to fall asleep till 4 am. The good news, however, is that I managed to write a poem yesterday after all. Had to stay up to do it though, which is definitely contributing to the sleep cycle issues. Was going to revise it today, and Chris had some suggestions for that, but I'm putting it off till tomorrow, or possibly Monday. Maybe I should go to the Library after church tomorrow and work until I can get the last U17 from campus? Of course, this will all be completely moot if I oversleep and don't make it to service in the morning. In which case, I'll probably end up not doing any work. Again.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Episode 928: Minor Changes At Eunoia Review...

Had intended to write a poem today, but all I've got is an interesting premise and a couple of lines. The reason? I spent the afternoon catching up on new episodes of Nikita and The Vampire Diaries, which was totally worth it for the amazing multiple plot twists. Gossip Girl will always be my not-so-secret guilty pleasure (as it should be), but these two are definitely the best (newish) shows on The CW right now. Parenthetical caveat because I haven't watched Smallville or Supernatural, both of which have received praise in the past. Then in the evening, I was dealing with submissions for the journal. I thought it would be a good idea to open things up a little, so I'm now taking submissions for creative non-fiction, the definition of which I haven't bothered to spell out because I wouldn't be able to make a strong case for where to draw the line, other than to say that journalistic stuff is definitely out. I also raised the word count for fiction/creative non-fiction to 15 000, which should be fun for me if anyone ever actually sends a novella in (please don't do it just before my examinations), and the number of poems submitters can send is now doubled to 10. So a couple of hours ago, I scheduled our 250th post, which will also be the first creative non-fiction piece on the site! On a personal note, I've also had a piece accepted myself by Dr. Hurley's Snake-Oil Cure, a flash fiction from first year that Maureen Freely thought didn't end too well. I kind of disagreed because I thought the ending was appropriately creepy, so I'm glad someone's taken it. No word as yet on when it'll appear, but I'll post a link to the site when it does.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Episode 927: Limitless

Met Annie and Kathy on campus for coffee in Curiositea. Campus is nice when there's less people around! Didn't get much reading done at all before I had to get the bus to the Odeon in Coventry, where we (plus Owen) saw Limitless. Got the W1, which is one of the new bus services introduced by Warwick in partnership with Travel de Courcey, and staff and students travel for free until June. I just found out, incidentally, that the film is based on Alan Glynn's The Dark Fields, which is a book that I remember wanting to read a couple of years ago. Have ordered it now, together with Glynn's second novel, Winterland. Faber and Faber publish him, so the novels should have a certain quality. Anyway, I thought the film was refreshing, especially in terms of its cinematography. It felt like hyperkinetic pop art at times, especially in the way it conveyed the effects of the designer drug on perception. Good use of colour palettes as well. I only have two complaints, and they're both to do with Bradley Cooper. Firstly, did he absolutely have to look like the stereotypical 'artistic' figure at the beginning, with his messy hair and trashed up apartment? It's like they needed visual shorthand for 'This guy is a writer.' Plus in general, Cooper looks way better once he's been tidied up. Secondly, Cooper could get his French and Italian accents right, but he couldn't work on his Mandarin? Maybe they thought they could get away with it because American audiences probably wouldn't catch on as long as he sounded like he was speaking Mandarin properly.

By the way, it was nice seeing Abbie Cornish in a film again, although her role like everyone else's, even Robert De Niro's, felt completely peripheral to Cooper's, as the film generally does resort to stock plotting. I suppose that has more to do with its source material though, which was written as a techno-thriller, and therefore does have to conform to some extent to particular plot structures. The questions the film raises are interesting though. Would you essentially hack your brain if you could? Cooper's character appears to evade the consequences, following the one-year jump late in the film, so why not take the drug? Arguably, he ultimately didn't hurt anyone who didn't somehow deserve it, although we all felt it was problematic that it was never established if he'd actually killed the girl in the hotel room or not. Perhaps more importantly, why didn't he just figure out how to synthesise the drug himself? Surely he could have done that, alongside figuring out the financial markets. Or at least given the drug to the guy he paid to synthesise it for him. That would have worked as well, right? I liked the ending though, I suppose. I would have been really disappointed if they resorted to a finish where justice was served. The moral ambiguity they went with was definitely more interesting.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Episode 926: Should Age Matter?

Just got back from dinner at Krisztina's place. It was nice meeting Astrid and Faithful as well. Can't remember when I last laughed so much chatting with people who were total strangers just hours ago, and boy, did we cover a lot of topics! Anyway, being listed with Duotrope is finally starting to pay off for the journal, now that it's no longer tagged as a 'Fledgling' market and appears on the top 25 lists for response statistics. I wouldn't say there's been a sudden surge in submissions, although it's obvious that some people found the journal because of the editor's interview I completed for Duotrope's Digest. Especially the high school senior who still politely addressed me in his e-mail as Mr. Chung, even after I signed off my acceptance with just Ian. On a related note, I'm also starting to find it harder to decide whether to accept or reject submissions, knowing that some of the pieces are coming from relatively young writers. If I'm judging the pieces on their merits, shouldn't age count for something? In the sense that it seems unrealistic to me to expect a teenager to be writing to the same standard as a middle-aged man. I'm not saying it's impossible, and I'm aware I risk sounding patronising, which I don't intend to at all. It's just that I somehow feel if all I'm doing by editing this online literary journal is providing an avenue for people to show their work to a wider audience, then it should surely be okay not to strictly apply some sort of arbitrary standard across the board and say that's what everyone submission has to hit to get accepted. It's not like I'm handing out prizes or anything, right? I still wouldn't publish anything I regard as drivel, no matter the submitter's age, but if I'm really wavering between yes and no, I think looking at the person's age would sway me.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Episode 925: Never, Never, Never, Never, Never

Finally finished the four-part poem. Haven't e-mailed Michael Hulse yet, as I want to get to at least five new pages before I send over anything for him to look at. Maybe it's because I've been re-reading what I've written so far so many times over the past couple of days, but it's really bugging me how often I repeat certain words like 'never', 'still' and 'yet'. Literally went through 330 lines of poetry, trying to reduce the frequency of their occurrence without drastically altering the sense of the lines. I know it's statistically unlikely given my writing style to get the average below 10, maybe even 15, but it just kind of stuck out like a sore thumb once I noticed it. Especially 'never'. You'd think I could find other ways of sounding emphatic, but apparently not. (Then again, Shakespeare did have that line of perfect trochaic pentameter with Lear's 'Never, never, never, never, never', so maybe I shouldn't be too hard on myself?) Now that I've hit 11 pages out of 30, I think I kind of deserve a break for at least a day or two. It's back to reading books that are completely unrelated to my coursework! Or I could, well, revise my business French vocabulary.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Episode 924: To Continue Or Not To Continue, That Is The Question

Have written one poem today, and may possibly complete at least half of another. Progress is a lovely thing. I also did manage to get a haircut this afternoon, after returning The Plagiarist. Started reading Justin Cronin's The Passage on the bus journey back. Apparently the first 100 pages or so is really good, and then it goes downhill after that. Given that's only 12.5% of the book's length, I think I might be in for a slog at some point. Might just give up and switch to something else. I did stay up again last night to finish reading, and this time it was Mira Grant's Feed. I'd commented on Saturday that it was going to need to ramp things up to keep me reading (this book and the subsequent ones in the Newsflesh trilogy), and it sure did. I'd peeked ahead to the ending, so I knew who lived and who died (which is also why the Newsflesh trilogy won't get adapted for film even though it basically pushes all the right buttons for the genre), but I was still genuinely moved when I got to the death scenes. I mean, they totally made me feel grateful I wasn't an only child, a sentiment I expressed on Facebook that was promptly mocked by everyone who commented on my status, my own sister included. So much for trying to be nice! Incidentally, the review I did of Unthology No. 1 has caught the attention of its publisher, which is nice, I suppose. It's a good anthology, and the general quality of the writing far outweighs the typographical errors I spotted, and only because I'm finicky when it comes to things like that. I've also learnt from stalking Twitter that the review copy I received was an early galley, and all errors have subsequently been caught and corrected. So I strongly recommend checking Unthank Books out!

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Episode 923: Church For £4

Effectively paid £4 to go to church this evening, as I didn't realise the Sunday evening U1 service only operates during term time. Would have waited longer for the next Leamington-bound 12, but I felt bad for having made Krisztina wait an hour for a bus that was never coming in the first place, and since there were also three other people at the bus stop in the same situation, we ended up sharing a cab. Only good thing, I suppose, was that the driver didn't charge us an extortionate amount. I mean, I've had to pay up to £35 to get a taxi from campus to Leamington when I was moving my stuff from my previous house. It also rained while I was waiting for the U17 to get to church. Sigh. Might miss a couple of services here and there over the next few weeks, since there won't be evening services until after Easter and I'm totally not used to getting up that early on Sunday mornings anymore. Anyway, now that I'm back, I'm going to stay up and catch up on Community. Then I'm going to finish reading Feed, so that I can pop by the library tomorrow and return it. Haven't decided if tomorrow is also going to see me getting a haircut, but I am definitely going to try and get another page of PWP done. Maybe even more. I know, crazy times.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Episode 922: Community Has Literally Taken Over My Life

I'm now five episodes into Season 2, so that's 14 more to go before I'm completely caught up. Think I might save them for tomorrow before church, since I actually want to get some reading done tonight. There's just something relentlessly compelling about its brand of metahumour. The last time I was so into a series was when I was watching the already-cancelled Better Off Ted. The continued existence of a show like Community makes me feel like there's actually hope for scripted television in the USA, or to be more precise, from the Big 5 networks. I mean, I want to write for this freaking show. (Not that that says terribly much, since I also badly want to write for Gossip Girl.) Anyway, after turning off my laptop yesterday to stop myself from sacrificing sleep to watch the entirety of Season 1, I did finish reading Geoff Page's Selected Poems, which I enjoyed. Particularly liked the extracts from the 'Smiling In English, Smoking In French' sequence, which was what Michael Hulse pointed to me to in the first place in relation to a poem I'd shown him ('Tongue Geographies'). Now I think I'm going to try and continue reading Mira Grant's Feed, which I'm already halfway through. It's getting a bit tedious though, I'll admit. The initial premise of bloggers-meet-zombies is good, but there's going to need to be some major plot twists to make me actually buy the book and its sequels (because everything worth marketing apparently has to be a trilogy nowadays).

Friday, April 01, 2011

Episode 921: Joel McHale Is My New TV Hero

Have spent a good chunk of the day watching Community, which is so addictive! I blame it on the fact that each episode only lasts around 20 minutes, so it feels like you could always squeeze in just one more. I've got through 13 episodes today, and I'm going to finish Season 1 tomorrow. Best quote I've heard in a TV show for a while now: 'The funny thing about being smart is that you can get through most of life without ever having to do any work.' It is absolutely true, and if I may flatter myself just a little, I think I'm pretty much an embodiment of that. Have read nothing today, although I'm about to start on Geoff Page's Selected Poems that Michael Hulse lent me over the Easter break. Was so bored today (before I started watching Community) that I even went on Wikipedia and updated his article! I did try reading The Plagiarist as well, but I gave up after a couple of pages and that book's now going back to Amazon UK. Guess I just can't deal with anti-novels? (Yes, it was actually advertised as one.) No one answered my question on Facebook, probably because no one recognised any of the titles and therefore nobody cared. I did come across an interesting new author though, Blake Charlton, who writes fantasy and science fiction, but also happens to be a medical student. You can check out his free short story, 'Endosymbiont'. It offers a solution to what I think is the biggest objection we have as a species towards AI, that we can't give them the same brand of morality that we (think we) possess. His answer is elegant, and I think it could really only have arisen from someone with a background in biology. Don't just take my word for it though, read the story.