Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Episode 981: More Poems Accepted!

Ordered some books from The Book Depository, thinking to take advantage of the spring promotional 10% discount, only to completely forget to enter the code while checking out. Could probably cancel the order and reorder again right now, but given my experience with trying to sort things out with The Book Depository when orders go wrong, I'm not going to risk it just to save a few pounds. At least the books were all Vintage Contemporaries/International editions, filling in gaps in my collection of books by Charles Baxter, A. S. Byatt and Mark Salzman, so I'd have bought them anyway, with or without the promotion. The Book Depository usually undercuts Amazon UK by 1p for books published in the UK, but why I've continued using it is because it's cheaper to get American editions through The Book Depository than getting them delivered from Amazon US. Otherwise, they'd have lost my custom ages ago, when they basically told me to suck it up after I tried to return an order to them to claim a refund and the books presumably went missing in the post. Calliope Nerve got back to me, by the way, and the editor took five out of six poems that I sent in this time. They're appearing daily in mid-July! Feels good, as Calliope Nerve was one of the first places to offer me publication when I started sending things out, and I've been trying to place more poems with them ever since. That makes eight poems that have been accepted in the space of less than a week!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Episode 980: Congratulations To S. J. Fowler!

One of the contributors to Eunoia Review has a new collection out with The Knives Forks and Spoons Press, so this is just a quick plug to say that S. J. Fowler's Red Museum is now available on Amazon UK. It's quite exciting to have the journal credited in someone's collection, so may there be more to come in future! Anyway, I've been looking at self-storage places for the summer, and may have found one in Coventry that does the first month for just 1p, minimum two-month rental of the space. Now to figure out if I can in fact make do with the smallest unit that they offer, and how exactly am I going to get all the stuff transported there. Am slowly gearing up to reading stuff for review as well. Could have got something done today, I think, but I was still procrastinating. It is, after all, a Bank Holiday, something that I did not know until yesterday evening, having asked Sarah Adamson if she'd like me in this afternoon to do Kidz Klub stuff. Tomorrow, I shall procrastinate by going to get a haircut. I figure the journeys to and from London on Wednesday, when I'm going to see a matinee performance of In A Forest, Dark And Deep (Matthew Fox and Olivia Williams in a new Neil LaBute play!), should be enough to get me through the short story collection that I need to review by Friday.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Episode 979: Writing Stuff...

More good news. Placed a poem with Heavy Hands Ink, and scanning through the previous issues, I noticed that Maxwell Baumbach and I have similar editorial tastes, having taken poems from around a dozen of the same poets. Definitely a place I'll be looking to submit to again in future, maybe in a couple of months once my PWP has been marked and the poems are free to go up online. I suppose even if they were accepted by magazines now, there wouldn't be any issues with plagiarism accusations since they'd be published and credited to me. It's just easier to avoid any controversy whatsoever though, I suppose. I haven't even put them on my poetry blog. That said, I just entered the whole sequence for a chapbook competition. I figured since the deadline is end of next month, the results will be out long after my grades have been confirmed. It's a 50-copy print run for the winner, who gets 25 copies, the other 25 being sold from the publisher's website. I would be bowled over if I won, although I'm quite proud of my PWP, so it would be a nice way to round off the whole endeavour. Have also been accepted as a reviewer by Drunken Boat, although the specifics of that have yet to be worked out. Looking forward to it though. I like reviewing, and free books are payment enough at present. Also submitted a bunch of poems to the Moving Words competition back in Singapore. So who knows, I might get to see my poem on the MRT one day! That would be pretty wild, right? Ah well, one can dream...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Episode 978: I Appreciate Swift Editors

When I get bored, I sometimes send out submissions of my work, in the hope that an editor somewhere will like what they read and include me in their journal/magazine. Today was one of those days, and I've managed to place two poems with Ink Sweat & Tears. I particularly appreciate Helen Ivory's commitment to swift replies, since it's exactly what I believe in as an editor, especially if you're running an online journal. If Duotrope's Digest's statistics are anything to go by, not a few markets are guilty of taking ages to get back to people who submit, and yet they also seem to turn down almost everything that gets submitted to them. What gives? Honestly, how hard can it be to issue a timely rejection and say thanks, but no thanks? In the short time since I started sending work out, I've realised that unless what you're writing is complete tripe, more likely than not there will be an editor out there who is prepared to publish it and bring it to an audience. It's a matter of doing a bit of research, reading what appears in a particular publication and judging if you'll be a fit. I think once you open yourself to electronic submissions as an editor, you need to accept that you have a part to play in keeping the submissions moving. Take them, leave them, I really think what people want is to know, so that they can celebrate their achievement, or try somewhere else.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Episode 977: Freedom Doesn't Feel That Special

Had dinner at Noodle Bar with most of the house, plus Annie, Freya and Kathy. The Coventry people presumably went clubbing after we had post-dinner drinks, while we went home. Am now catching up on the remaining television that I skipped because of revision. Can't decide if the glacial plot development of Camelot is intriguing or infuriating, since the show's already put quite a few twists on the Arthurian legend. Merlin, however, is far superior as entertainment. Plus this is a Starz show! Where's all the sex and violence gone? (Okay, right after I typed that, a little boy who was really sweet in the episode fell off a balcony and died. That was a bit upsetting. Whoa, now Igraine's just stabbed someone while having sex with him in exchange for her freedom. That's all the boxes ticked then.) Anyway, we've got half a month more to read and review the shortlist for the Saboteur Awards, so that's good. I can concentrate on polishing off Stuart Evers's Ten Stories About Smoking, which comes intriguingly packaged like a box of cigarettes. I would say it's corny, except that it's actually pretty rare to see paperbacks being marketed this way. Hope the stories are good though, as it'd be a shame otherwise. The packaging would just be gimmickry then, wouldn't it?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Episode 976: Et Il Finit...With The Government Inspector!

Final paper anticlimactic as anticipated, although questions that came out were perfect for me. Did a vaguely science fiction flash fiction for Section C, which I actually wish I could have a copy of because I thought it was pretty okay for something written in about an hour, without editing. (Literally did not use Tipp-Ex once!) So on the whole, I think this paper went okay. All that unnecessary fretting in hindsight! Stayed on campus for the obligatory session of drinks in the pub, and then caught Government Inspector with Bella and Rahul. Totally realise now that the person I walked past in the Arts Centre a couple of evenings ago was Julian Barratt! (This is apparently a big deal, but naturally, I had no clue at the time, as you do.) The play was an entertaining farce, particularly loved the scene where hands just appeared in random locations, brandishing bribes. I thought the timing was a little off in the first scene, and the very last moment of the play was a bit abrupt and too in-your-face. Otherwise though, enjoyable stuff. Appreciated how the mayor's wife was a huge sendup of the sort of crass reality TV middle-aged woman. Also favouring my academic freedom for a while before getting back to the stuff I need to read for review. Deadline in just over a week...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Episode 975: Et Il Continue...

So the DFP B2 examination wasn't that hard. The first section was mildly annoying though, as I finished 20 minutes into a one-hour section. Was allowed to get a book out to read for tomorrow's EN236 paper, so that wasn't too bad in the end. Still, one hour was just an unnecessary amount of time! Gamble paid off for EN301, so I managed to craft a thesis statement that fit in perfectly with what I'd been revising, although I think the essay on the whole lacked the kind of nuance I would have tried to give it under non-examination conditions, so I'm not absolutely confident it's going to get a great mark. Oh well. At least my French module should balance out the grade on this module! Have spent an hour or so just typing out quotes that I think it'd be useful to remember for tomorrow. Do you think if I read them over and over and over, I'll actually remember enough of them in about 15 hours' time? That's basically what I'm counting on. Then it'll be the end of my undergraduate academic career and the start of a month of drinks and parties and sunshine. Lovely.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Episode 974: Et Il Commence...

Have finished with revision for Shakespeare/Middleton, which basically involved consolidating my Post-its and sticking them into the books. It was useful in a way, helped to show which particular aspects of my chosen themes predominate in which plays, and I imagine it'll be handier tomorrow not having to flip through all the pages I've flagged in order to find an appropriate textual reference. Am now treating myself to the season finale of House and Cookie Dough Ben & Jerry's, before getting on with a bit of reading for EN236. From what I've read in reviews of it though, the series has jumped the shark, if it hadn't already done so before. Not to mention Lisa Edelstein isn't coming back for Season 8. That was quite a surprise. Whom are the writers going to turn to in order to generate sexual tension with House, now that Cameron and Cuddy are gone? Thirteen? Wilson? Random new character(s)? (Update: I've finished watching it now, and I can't imagine how they're going to open for Season 8 without creating continuity/logical issues, especially without Edelstein's character in the picture.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Episode 973: Sleepy Revision...

The oral went okay, I think, although there were a couple of embarrassing moments, especially during the translation segment. Still, I think I acquitted myself decently. Met up with Freya, Lizzie and Nick for lunch and Library times after that. Could probably have got more done, but at least I've finished The Changeling now (although it didn't quite live up to Sophie's hype), and I'm going to get through Antony And Cleopatra before going to bed, which shouldn't be too hard because I read it to death when I did it at 'A' Levels. I think I'd definitely have been more productive this afternoon if I hadn't only had about six hours of sleep each of the past two nights. I think I'll be fine though. By tomorrow, I'll have prepared about as much as I did for my core module examinations in previous years, plus this time, we can annotate our texts, so I don't even have to attempt to memorise useful quotes! In fact, I probably already have far more than I can usefully include in an essay under examination conditions anyway, just need to transfer them to my Post-it notes. Then I should probably try and get through at least one set of authors for EN236. Just three more days and everything'll be done! Can't wait.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Episode 972: Library Chats Beat Revision Hands Down

It's literally a godsend that not only is the disgraced ex-IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn a Frenchman, one of his mooted successors happens to be Christine Lagard, the French finance minister. I will be quite disappointed with myself if I don't find a way to slip this timely pieces of knowledge into my oral examination tomorrow, especially since I actually know all the proper French vocabulary for them. Being on worship today was good, although I was a little late getting back for the evening service practice, having had a really good chat with Freya and Nick in the Library, which was sort of strange because they're kind of friends I only made comparatively recently. We're now having lunch tomorrow! Meant I totally did not read The Changeling like I was supposed to though, and I'm now more likely than not just revising four plays for EN301. Also can't be bothered to revise French vocabulary any further, although I really should attempt one last look at it all, so I might do that before going to bed. I'm just paranoid that if I don't have a last glance at everything, I'll miss re-reading precisely the phrase that I'll find myself reaching for during the translation component tomorrow and failing to remember. It wouldn't exactly be a massive tragedy, since the oral is the final bit of the internal examination, and it doesn't count for too much. Still, every little bit counts, seeing as I can't guarantee a fantastic performance in my other upcoming papers!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Episode 971: Everyone's Still Here, Yes?

So the Rapture failed to happen. As a friend put it on Facebook, maybe you had to click 'Attending' to get taken? Read most of Women Beware Women in the Library while waiting for band practice in church (ironically scheduled for 6 pm, no less), and finished it off when I got home. Had forgotten the carnage that ensues in the final scene, which still seems to me out of keeping with the tone of the rest of the play. Is it because it's a masque, and so realism gets chucked out the window to some extent? Skimmed an article dealing with this, but I don't think it's going to be particularly relevant to the question I'd like to answer in the examination anyway. I've gone through a couple of articles and books, so I've got about a page of quotes now. Still have some chapters to go through, and four plays to re-read, so I've got my work cut out for me over the next couple of days. Should be okay in the end, I guess, although I'm a little disconcerted at how unfamiliar I am with feminist literary criticism, considering how I'm hoping to write about gender/sex on Wednesday. Ah well. Will just have to make do at this point, won't I?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Episode 970: See You The Day After Tomorrow...

Have just finished re-reading The Taming Of The Shrew, which took less time than I could have made it take, but also certainly most time than was strictly necessary for something that wasn't a first reading. Tomorrow, I'll tackle the Middleton plays, and then back to more Shakespeare over the weekend. I think I've basically abandoned any attempts to do more for EN236, although since I've read all the books at least once before, I'm pinning all hopes on a cursory skim the day before being enough. Would probably be good to memorise some generic quotes, especially since some of the books have snazzy introductions, but I guess it'll be fine, right? It can't be as bad as everyone is freaking out about on Facebook, right? Plus, people, it's the Rapture tomorrow evening at 6 pm, isn't it? A bit of perspective in order here. In other news, my previous entry about Rebecca Black as prophetess of the Rapture has so far failed to go viral. Absolutely gutted. On the other hand, Eunoia Review got a passing mention in the Poetry Foundation's blog! That was pretty awesome. It wasn't for anything earth-shattering, mind you. Just props for how quickly I get back to people who submit. Currently, it's hovering somewhere around half a day, which I'm quite proud of, considering it's basically a one-man operation and I read every single word of every single submission that comes in.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Episode 969: Rebecca Black Predicted The Rapture!

Read a bit of Shakespeare tonight, until revision got totally derailed by an impromptu barbecue. Guess it won't matter though, since the Rapture is scheduled for Saturday apparently. So did not get the memo for that. Also, the Rapture before the new episode of Doctor Who? Not cool. Seriously though, the horrible thing is that there are people who have basically sold everything in the belief that they're not going to be needing anything beyond Saturday. Lucy brought up an excellent point, by the way. Rebecca Black's 'Friday' is absolutely about predicting the Rapture. Right from its first line. See, the reference to an ark is meant to remind us of Noah's ark, in which a fraction of humanity escapes the wrath of God. It's important that she wakes up at 7 am, as seven is the number of spiritual perfection and holiness. The line 'gotta go downstairs' may possibly reference the Incarnation, a descent from the heavenly realm to earthly realities like needing to 'have [your] bowl' and 'have cereal'. I suppose 'Gotta catch my bus, I see my friends' could be talking about fellow believers in the Rapture. Alternatively, it could point to a reunion in Heaven with those who have already passed on. The pre-chorus, 'Kickin' in the front seat / Sittin' in the back seat / Gotta make my mind up / Which seat can I take?' is a lot clearer. It's obviously a challenge to believers to take a stand for their belief in the Rapture, and she's advocating active promotion of it, rather than being a passive backbencher. When you get to 'Everybody's lookin' forward to the weekend' in the chorus, it's patently clear what the song's agenda is. Curiously, her theology gets a bit muddled in the bridge, where she sings 'Tomorrow is Saturday / And Sunday comes afterwards / I don't want this weekend to end'. Perhaps her prediction of the Rapture is purely on a subconscious level, and she's in denial of it? Or is she cannily suggesting that we need to exist in this state of perpetual preparedness for the final reckoning?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Episode 968: Another Lame CW Finale...

Seriously, did The CW just decide to put all the lame finales in this week? Watched the Hellcats one, which was equal parts average and bad. The fact that there was a whole season leading up to competing at nationals, and then they didn't even do that, was just plain silly. All the other plot elements dropped in were setting up a good Season 2 opening at least, so it's a shame it's been cancelled. I bet the show had such low ratings because by and large, its cast was quite homely by the standards of American TV, especially for a bunch of cheerleaders. There were exceptions, of course, but when the other shows on the same network boast almost uniformly attractive people, well, something's got to give. Not quite sure I like the pilots that The CW has chosen to pick up for 2011/12 by the way. Only The Secret Circle seems promising, although I wonder if a show all about witches and only witches will get boring in these times, where any supernatural-themed show seems to demand a smorgasbord of creatures and powers. A bit disappointed Awakening wasn't picked up, just one of the pilots passed over in favour of the Sarah Michelle Gellar vehicle, Ringer. I came to compulsively watching TV too late to get into Buffy The Vampire Slayer, although I'm sure I would have loved it, so I guess the chance to see Gellar in a show should be good. I did so want more zombies on TV though...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Episode 967: Of Finales As Failures

So it's that time of year when the fall/winter TV season is winding down (in the spring, yes, I know it's a bit odd), and we're heading into that gap of about a month before summer shows like Covert Affairs (how I have missed you!) premiere their new seasons. (I'm glad now, by the way, that Pretty Little Liars has been kept as a summer series despite its success that saw it being extended into winter scheduling. Guilty pleasures need to be spread throughout the year!) I saw three season finales today, all pretty awful, for Hawaii Five-0, 90210 and Gossip Girl. Now Hawaii Five-0 has been dubbed one of the genuine breakout hits of the 2010/11 TV season, and ratings-wise, it is pretty solid. So that's why this finale episode seemed rather silly, in that it tried to tie up too many of the dangling threads in the most ridiculous ways possible. Hopefully, next season will be a bit saner. Now for this pair of shows from The CW. This network is all about escapism, let's be honest. It is also apparently not incapable of delivering a good season finale. Exhibit: The Vampire Diaries (although admittedly, this show is an anomaly in terms of how good it is at being frothy and yet still constructing storylines worth caring about).

This week though, 90210 delivered a finale episode so ridiculous that it beggars belief that this show can even have a Season 4. Seems like new showrunners are coming in for that, and there might be changes to the cast. Just when I was starting to like the dynamics of the show's sprawling cast! This was always its advantage compared to Gossip Girl, which in terms of character dynamics, has pretty much been stuck in a rut since forever. I suppose it's what happens when you let everyone sleep with everyone else too early on. I find it hard to imagine what sort of interesting stories there are left to tell. Maybe if Rufus had a proper affair this time? Wouldn't that be fun for him? I can't imagine the devoted husband storyline lasting much beyond the summer, to be honest. Creatively, I think these two shows are in the most trouble out of the ones that have already been renewed by The CW, although not being someone who follows One Tree Hill or Supernatural, I can't say for sure. Glad Nikita has been renewed, slightly disappointed that Hellcats has been cancelled because I kind of liked Ashley Tisdale playing someone other than a blonde bitch.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Episode 966: Anticlimactic French Examination

I don't think I'll ever get tired of the Game Of Thrones theme music or how cool the animation of the opening credits is. This show has characters that make me so angry for and at them, it's pretty incredible. Plus there's so much scheming going on, even I'm at risk of getting lost trying to follow it all. If I didn't already have so many books to read, I'd definitely get stuck in George R. R. Martin's series. As it is, a book for review arrived today, and I'm hoping my editor doesn't want the review in till at least the end of the month. To be safe, I've e-mailed to check that I can take until then to deliver. Warwick Accommodation also got back to me on my peculiar application experience. According to them, I shouldn't have been able to pay without filling in the form, and they suggested logging back in and filling it out. No prizes for guessing how successful that was, and I've sent a polite e-mail back pointing this out. Let's see what happens nest. One thing's for sure though. The accommodation website is definitely one of the more confusingly designed of the university's pages! Incidentally, I thought the French paper today was pretty okay, even though I did make the mistake of saying 'une épée à double tranches' rather than 'une épée à double tranchant'! Ah well. It could have been worse, and now there's just the oral to get through a week from now. Would totally do a French module again at the Language Centre as part of my MA, if my department will pay for it, which is rare for postgraduates, I think. Definitely wouldn't pay to do it, not after three years of realising how the language modules I do invariably don't meet my actual needs. I'll save a few hundred pounds for a holiday, thank you very much. Might even use the money to get to Paris. Imagine how useful that would be, if I had to speak the language constantly.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Episode 965: Revision At Last!

Most interesting thing I learnt from revising French the night before my paper is that if you end a letter off by telling someone to receive your salutations, without any qualifying adjective, it indicates you're upset with them. Ah, the French and their ways of being subtly rude! Have finished going through the vocabulary lists, so I guess this is about as prepared as I'm going to get. I think the only reason I'm revising for tomorrow is because it lets me put off doing anything for Shakespeare just a little bit longer. I suppose it should be fine. Even the letter writing doesn't seem like it's all that difficult anymore. I've totally got the formatting memorised! Still, I don't think I'll be able to fully concentrate on revising anything until this paper is out of the way. With the oral examination next week, at least I can pretend that extra revision won't necessarily help all that much when I have absolutely no idea what the passages are going to look like. Technically, I guess you could make the same argument for the written paper tomorrow though, couldn't you? So I guess I really was revising to procrastinate from tackling weightier stuff like Shakespeare/Middleton. Gosh, that really is a bit pathetic, isn't it?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Episode 964: Saboteur Awards 7.5, Revision 0

So one of my more horrifying discoveries in recent memory is how much I actually like the cover of Rebecca Black's 'Friday', as sung by the cast members of Glee. Now I don't watch this show, although it is on my external HDD, and it comes recommended from sources like Eugene Chan and Lucy, who like many of the same trashy shows that I do, so they're probably right. Heard about the cover version because the Internet is fantastic that way, and oh dear, it is pretty nice. Production-wise, the song's been sped up and the beat is now dancefloor-friendly in a way that the original bizarrely wasn't for a song about partying. The vocals are still dripping with Auto-Tune, but at least they aren't nasal anymore. Didn't get any revision done before heading to Lizzie's birthday party, where I had the interesting experience of finally being abused by neighbours for causing too much noise, although the woman was shouting at us was being rather bitchy, and silly as well, since she left her window open when shutting it would have significantly reduced the amount of noise she could have been able to hear. I did manage to finish reading most of Envoi Issue 157 before leaving the house, and was reading Horizon Review Issue 5 on my iPhone while taking the bus down the Parade. So I've read seven out of 11 magazines on the shortlist! My copies of Cake have arrived as well, so I'm tempted to get on with that tomorrow instead of revising for French. In all fairness, the amount of vocabulary I've absorbed after two terms is probably enough to see me through the whole two-hour examination!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Episode 963: My Personal Black Friday

What does it say about me that when I woke up and realised it was Friday the 13th, the first thought was honestly wondering what Rebecca Black would have made of Black Friday. Anyway, for a change, my Friday the 13th devolved into something that while wasn't quite a nightmare, could surely have turned out much better. For starters, I went to look at the room just down the road that I was planning of reserving for 2011/12. The property's nice and quiet, postgraduates-only, but it turns out I've been going about applying for accommodation the wrong way. I blame the very badly designed Warwick Accommodation site. Basically, I've managed to pay the £250 Postgraduate Reservation Fee, but I'm not sure what exactly I've managed to apply for, since there didn't seem to be any options in the application form. Most odd, and I've e-mailed the Accommodation team to express my mild confusion at what's happened. The money paid goes towards the first term's rent payment, so the money's not the issue. I would like to have an option to specify which hall I prefer for on-campus housing though, even if my preference is definitely still that room down the road. It's all a bit perplexing, and I would like to sort it out to my satisfaction as soon as possible.

Then I came home and realised it was possible to book rooms with Warwick Conferences without making an enquiry first. Except there's no link to the booking form on the page talking about graduation stuff! So now they're fully booked for the days that I wanted. Had to spend about an hour trawling the Internet for alternatives, and have finally settled on a hotel in Leamington. Went ahead and booked because it was down to the last room for the option I needed, but since cancellation is free, if my parents don't like it, I can always look for something else. Don't see why they'd object though, plus it's cheaper than what we'd have had to pay to Warwick Conferences. To top if all off, I haven't managed to do any revision. Again. At least I'm making some headway with the Saboteur Awards shortlist. Yesterday, I finished reading La Petite Zine Issue 24: Emotional Rescue and re-reading FRiGG Issue 29 and Polarity Magazine Issue 1: Death vs. Taxes. Going to try and get through Envoi Issue 157 before bed, and maybe Stone Telling Issue One. Then the day won't be a total bust. Could still do a bit of French, I guess. I've pretty much decided there's no point worrying about the examinations for EN236 or EN301 because I know I should be able to handle them, even with slightly over a week's worth of revision. It's just a matter of finally re-reading the plays I've selected, and going over the groups of writers I'm planning on using. I'll totally be fine, right?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Episode 962: When Good Just Doesn't Cut It For You Anymore

Received an e-mail in the afternoon saying my Shakespeare creative project was finally ready for collection. Got a 71, which is about as low as you can go and still be a First, so I guess I should be thankful. Apparently the Pirandello influence was much appreciated, and if I'd gone even further with it, I would've done better. Now I don't mean to sound obnoxious, but I think the experience of three years at university entitles me to type what I'm about to type. Basically, at this point I know that I can turn in work at undergraduate level (I specify undergraduate because I'm assuming postgraduate is a whole new ball game and will be frankly more than a little disappointed if it doesn't require stepping up my game) and feel confident that odds are, it's going to come back as a First. I've worked out how much the system here demands for the results that I need, and I can deliver that more consistently than not. Honestly, it would be surprising to graduate from the Singaporean education system without managing to pick up this sort of skill. Think of it as a tactical advantage. Increasingly though, what I'm frustrated with is not being able to get the kind of grades that I want. In three years, I have never been able to score anything above 14 on any of my English modules graded on the 17-point scale, which translates into a 74.

Comfortable mark, right? Plus in all likelihood, it's something lots of people would be happy with. To some extent, I guess so am I, but it's just that (not very) deep down I know I could do better if I put in more effort. You know, read a few more articles instead of just skimming through the paragraphs that offer up a bunch of nice quotes, or actually start doing work more than 24 hours before it's due. Except putting in more effort to get something that in the larger scheme of things doesn't really matter, apart from how it addresses my need for self-validation, seems, well, like a waste of time. I don't think anyone, not even MOE, is particularly concerned with how high my Firsts are. Rationally speaking, I should be supremely satisfied with how I've spent three years coasting through classes on significantly less effort than I put into slaving over work in JC. Totally should congratulate myself, right? I suppose I could just learn to live with this perpetual feeling of vague dissatisfaction where results are concerned, but that seems rather defeatist, doesn't it? Ah well. I suppose this is a silly thing to worry about, and my healthy sense of self-esteem will reassert itself tomorrow. You know what's the worst of it though? I probably couldn't say any of these things to my fellow students without getting labelled either arrogant or idiotic.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Episode 961: Last Undergraduate Seminar Ever!

It's not even midnight yet, and everyone's gone home from our house barbecue. I suspect this has something to do with the weather being chillier today than it has been for quite a while. Anyway, before I arrived more than an hour late at a BBQ held in my own house, I had my last official undergraduate seminar ever. It was LL251, so it was as usual a tad on the boring side. Not sure if I really need to revise all that much for the French paper on Monday, and after sitting through Tom Cornford's revision seminar earlier in the day, I'm not sure that all that much revision is needed for Shakespeare either. Feels like it's more about being able to construct a compelling argument from selected textual evidence, as opposed to some sort of comprehensive knowledge of a whole bunch of plays. Ditto for my EN236 paper. Basically, it feels like my examinations this year don't technically require much revision, although maybe I'm just telling myself that because there's less than a week to go before they start and I've done precious little revision. Going to get on with French tomorrow and then read one or two plays, depending on how far I get with the French. Shouldn't take long actually, since it's mostly about going over the vocabulary and memorising some stock phrases for the letter-writing component.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Episode 960: Failure To Revise

90210 and Gossip Girl back-to-back. The perfect way to end a day when I did...what exactly? Oh yeah. Nothing. Handed in my last bit of assessed undergraduate work yesterday, so I could have started on revision, but I just didn't. I did, however, rethink what combination of authors I'm using for the EN236 examination, so that counts for something. I stand corrected, by the way, on the matter of Gossip Girl's reluctance to add new members to its main cast. Although no official announcement has been made yet, Jessica Szohr and Taylor Momsen have been let go, but they may be invited to return for guest appearances. Must sting particularly for Szohr, since her role started out as a recurring that got upgraded to a series regular midway through Season 1. If Chace Crawford weren't such a pretty face, I'd have bet on his being kicked out as well. Kaylee DeFer, who plays new arrival Charlie, has been bumped to a series regular from Season 5 onwards, although so far, she's mostly been boring and stupid. I suppose they needed someone new so that the guys had someone new to make out with. Would much rather they had brought back Katie Cassidy though, or even Hilary Duff. I'd have forgiven any amount of plot contrivances, especially for the former, who was basically the best thing about the failed Melrose Place reboot. Just realised that most of the TV shows I follow regularly end their current seasons a week before my week of examinations. Isn't that convenient?

Monday, May 09, 2011

Episode 959: A Moment Of Reflection

Watching the Season 3 finale of Fringe, which features a fourth version of the show's opening titles, and can I just say that this show continues to bend my mind in a way that Lost never managed. (Love Astrid's new hairdo!) I'm glad J. J. Abrams is getting a fourth season with this one, and kudos to the cast as well, most of whom have had to play at least three different versions of themselves so far. (I think John Noble's case counts as four.) Anyway, apart from finishing my portfolio today, I've also read three online magazines for the Saboteur Awards: Goblin Fruit Winter 2011, Moon Milk Review Issue 7, and Pomegranate Issue 11: Bust. So far, I've liked them all, Moon Milk Review possibly a little less than the other two. That leaves eight more magazines to get through by the end of the month, alongside revision. Also sent off a submission to Monash University's Verge anthology, as the 2011 edition is a collaborative effort with Warwick. Also thinking of entering a couple of competitions using the poems from my two long sequences, but it depends on how organised I am in June because both deadlines are at the end of that month. I know winning shouldn't be the only reason for wanting to enter competitions, but it would be nice, you know, the recognition. I'm too young to be bitter about the lack of it as yet, and frankly, I think I'd be really upset with myself if I grew up to become that sort of writer. Still, one prize in my lifetime would be, well, nice. Right?

All this thinking about writing had me wondering if it's possible to be a good poet and prose writer. I reckon the short answer is yes. The longer answer probably involves an acknowledgement that although all writing is still just writing, on some level, different genres and forms call for different modes of thought. This isn't to say, of course, that a person can't possess them, but that one might be developed at the expense of the other, I suppose? Personally, my own experience as a writer is a bit of a contradiction in this regard. I think of myself primarily as a poet, but I have been told that I have a good prose style, although I am conscious that when writing fiction, at the level of diction and syntax I sometimes resort to devices that would be more expected in poetry, like alliteration. Ironically, although one of my not-so-secret goals in life is to write a science fiction novel series, I don't think I have the sort of interest in sustained narrative that the genre (or the form in general) demands. I could come up with an interesting idea that would work at the length of flash fiction, but to extend something to even the length of a novella, I don't think I have it in me. Partly because of the way I write and how resistant I am to completing first drafts, as opposed to editing and tweaking right from the start, partly because I don't have the discipline it takes to put together thousands of words, without cheating by breaking up the narrative and skipping over huge chunks, chronologically speaking (like both the stories in this year's portfolio) or stringing together loosely connected flash fictions (like 'The Triptych Papers' in last year's portfolio). I know in our times, we should feel free to break away from the novel's conventions, but part of me dreams of writing an 'old-fashioned' novel à la Dickens or Hardy.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Episode 958: Team Jeff!

Forgot to mention yesterday that I found George Ttoouli's Static Exile in Oxfam Marylebone for £2. Also found the most recent anthology by the MA in Writing students for £2.50. Bought both, despite already owning a copy of Static Exile. I figured someone back at Warwick might want it, since I don't think Amazon UK has it in stock anymore. Instead of finishing my story for the EN236 portfolio, however, I've been scheduling posts for Eunoia Review, so there's now work lined up for publication nearly up to the one-year mark for the journal! Will probably cross that point by the end of this week. Have also been catching up on TV, and I hereby declare Community the best comedy currently on air, and The Vampire Diaries as the best drama with an unrealistically attractive cast playing characters at least three years younger than their real age. Props to the latter as well for its insanely high body count of said attractive people. So suck it, Twilight fans! (I would note at this point that I didn't compare The Vampire Diaries with True Blood because they're clearly not pitched at the same demographic, despite being in the same genre, so fans of the latter can relax.) As for Community, I didn't think it was possible to top the awesomeness of last year's paintball finale, but this year's two-parter is well on its way. Oh, and I'm definitely Team Jeff, even though it was great seeing Josh Holloway back on TV. On a Lost-related note, I didn't realise that Matthew Fox and Olivia Williams (Dollhouse) were starring in a new Neil LaBute play in London! How did I not know this? Totally know what I'm going to be doing in the week immediately after my last paper now.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Episode 957: Seriously, Poor George Yeo...

So the GRC system finally came back to bite the PAP. George Yeo is really the biggest victim of the election, even more than Chiam See Tong, if you ask me. I hope the WP uses the upcoming five-year term to prove itself in a GRC, but more importantly, I want to see them (and the other opposition parties in general) make some mention about the need for national unity post-elections, like Khaw Boon Wan did. My only concern is that local politics will become even more polarised, and that by 2016, even if the WP doesn't do as great a job as promised, fanatical supporters will just push more opposition members into Parliament. GE 2011 has set an important precedent for local politics, but what matters is how the electorate views it in future. Let's hope Singaporeans continue to engage in rational debate/discourse rather than voting emotionally! I'm pretty glad Nicole Seah's charm offensive failed to help the NSP much, and I think the PAP margin in Marine Parade GRC would've been wider if Tin Pei Ling hadn't pulled a Goh Chok Tong-led team down anyway. (By the way, can we agree the SDA is pretty much an irrelevant party at this point? SDP is getting more credible, so they should just shut Chee Soon Juan and his antics out for good.) In other news, now is probably the best time to move to Potong Pasir. Haha!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Episode 956: I Voted!

Talking about the Singaporean elections, of course. I'm pretty apathetic when it comes to British politics. The actual process of voting was totally anticlimactic, seriously. That and my GRC isn't a 'hot' one, so didn't feel like I was making some sort of political stand anyway. To my fellow Singaporeans casting your votes back home, just remember that what you're really doing is commemorating my birthday! Far more interesting was lunch and dinner before and after voting, both at restaurants serving Singaporean food. I don't hanker obsessively for it when I'm abroad, but I wouldn't say no to it either. So I've had char kway teow and lakes today! Didn't go to Oxfam though, so I'm doing that tomorrow! Diego very sweetly brought cake when we adjourned to Eugene's place after dinner, which when you consider that this is only like the third (fourth?) time we've met in, what, two-plus years, was very kind of him. I think so anyway, and it's my birthday we're discussing right now, so therefore I am right. End of story.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Episode 955: National Doughnut Week Starts On My Birthday!

Still haven't started reading the magazines, but that's because I'm sleepy and I need to get up early tomorrow to catch a train to London to vote! Shall finish my French homework, read a bit of Barthelme, and then go to bed. Incidentally, I swear there's some devious conspiracy to fatten me up over the course of my birthday weekend. Having laksa presumably after voting, and Ben & Jerry's was going for half-price at Tesco, so I stocked up. Then today, I discovered that National Doughnut Week in the UK begins on my birthday. What is going on here? It's like the universe is conspiring to make me gain weight with all this deliciousness. The doughnuts they're selling the Humanities Café cost 50p, and they are so yummy for how little they cost. I think the lemon ones are definitely my favourite, so it's just as well I only discovered them today while getting a latte to try and stay awake. Just saw the video for 'Judas' by the way, and I must say, I'm a bit surprised Lady Gaga didn't make it more, well, controversial. This remakes the Biblical account, but it's hardly sacrilegious, and if religious fanatics wanted to get offended, the video for 'Alejandro' would provide a lot more fodder. I'm sure it's not going to stop people though...

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Episode 954: Me And My Crazy HTML Skills! (No, Not Really)

So the shortlist for the first Saboteur Awards is out, which means I've got 11 magazines to read and think about by the end of the month! Fortunately, I've read three of them before. I read George Ttoouli's Polarity Magazine after the launch event at Warwick, FRiGG for a Sabotage Reviews review, and I read through the entire archives of Pomegranate for Incwriters, but the website was taken down before I ever got around to turning in any of the magazine reviews for them. Would have tried to finish the shortlisted issue of Horizon Review today after I got back from French, but I ended up spending some time helping David Tait fix the About Us page of The Cadaverine so that it would display the new editorial team's biographies. I think I did a pretty good job (here's proof), considering I was wading through HTML that I didn't put together. David's been such a lovely editor and friend though, so I was glad to help out. Have also decided I can afford to put off finishing the story until after I get back from London. Won't necessarily deliberately avoid finishing it tomorrow if I can, but it just won't be an absolute priority. Last EN236 seminar was pretty interesting, in that a grand total of eight people tipped up. George made us talk about our influences at the end, which was interesting, I guess, hearing what everyone had to say for themselves. I named Italo Calvino (specifically The Castle Of Crossed Destinies, Invisible Cities, and If On A Winter's Night A Traveler), Kazuo Ishiguro, and Russell Hoban (everything except Riddley Walker, which I see as an anomaly amongst his work).

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Episode 953: One Story Done, One To Go

The portfolio is essentially done. Seems so silly now, worrying I wasn't leaving myself enough time to finish it. I could actually stay up and work on the last couple of hundred words needed to finish the first story properly and make the ending less abrupt, but I have to get up early for a seminar tomorrow. The changes I wanted to make to my second story aren't possible to incorporate without radically altering its premise, so I think I'm leaving it mostly intact. It's about an insomniac who has defaulted on NS, so I was thinking of writing in a twin brother who had stayed behind to serve, and how their sleep cycles synced up and disrupted the defaulter's life, at least until his brother dies in a training accident. Realised it wouldn't quite work though, unless I shifted the defaulter into a time zone further away from Singapore's. Otherwise, if he fell asleep at the same time his twin was going to bed on Tekong, that would still only be around 12.30 am. Hardly insomniac territory, is it? A greater time zone separation would kind of diminish how ridiculous his situation was though, since part of the story's effect is that two hours can really be considered spare change for international travellers. Ah well. Maybe I can turn the ideas I had for edits into a separate story and submit it to the Machine Of Death anthology?

Monday, May 02, 2011

Episode 952: Back To Writing...

Have begun reworking my stories for the portfolio, as it suddenly dawned on me last night that since I'm going to London to vote and spending the weekend there, that's a minimum of two days where I can't do any work. Sure, I could probably sit in some café (probably Costa or Starbucks, let's be honest here) semi-pretentiously pondering my stories, and then type everything out manically on Sunday night after getting back from church. I'd rather not though. I'm prepared to believe I'm good, but not so deluded as to think I'm that good. (Would need two nights at least, not one.) Thought I might as well start today, since tomorrow's Tuesda and that means lots of TV rather than work. (So far, all I've managed is to add a new paragraph at the start.) Maybe Nick's right, and I should set up a TV blog, in which I snarkily pass judgement on the good and bad stuff that viewers are being fed. I could watch all my guilty pleasures from The CW completely unironically for a change! It would mean having to systematically analyse TV though, which is one of the few sources of entertainment I have left that I haven't taken to self-consciously analysing. Speaking of TV anyway, that new ITV drama, Vera, seems pretty decent. It'd fail abysmally in America, of course, even if the accents had been more stereotypically English.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Episode 951: Once Upon A Time, EN301 Required No Revision

I know I said I would only make one post about GE 2011, but I've been discussing it a bit on Facebook with various friends, with whom I naturally agree and disagree to different extents. The one thing I'm starting to believe is that what Singaporeans secretly want, even if we will adamantly refuse to admit it to anyone, including ourselves, is to have our cake and eat it too, as far as politics is concerned. To elaborate is beyond the scope of this post, and I generally hate talking politics as a rule. I would, well, much rather talk about literature. On that note, let me share an interesting Shakespeare-related discovery I made while browsing through past papers, as one does at this time of the academic year. As recently as 2006, you could take the examination for EN301 without having done any revision and still done incredibly well, as back then, candidates were allowed to answer two Section A questions, instead of having to do one each from Sections A and B. Oh, if only! I may be incredibly lazy, but I like to think I make up for it by being fairly good at spontaneous practical criticism/close reading. Trying to figure out which texts I want to revise, especially for Shakespeare, since there's not much point in re-reading a play at this point if I don't plan to write on it, right? Carol Rutter recommends revising no less than six plays, which sounds about right to me. I'd have gone with four, except that might be hedging my bets too much, unless I somehow manage to find four plays that can be paired with each other in relation to six different themes! I've decided what I want to re-read for EN236, now I just need to decide how they all connect, so that I can actually answer the essay questions.