Thursday, June 30, 2011

Episode 1011: New External HDD!

Have sent off the NIE paperwork I was completing yesternight, which I couldn't have done if my mum hadn't randomly had a photocopied copy of my IC. (I somewhat foolishly packed that away with my ATM card into one of the boxes being shipped to me. At least I hope I did. If I've left the ATM card in storage, spending this summer is going to be largely on credit cards!) Am caught up with my various TV shows again, and have acquired a stack of library books too, this being standard holiday practice. Might actually read some of them this time, as a couple of them are plays, and a couple are anthologies of Singaporean literature that I think might be a good idea to browse through, seeing as I'm intending to do my Master's dissertation on the Merlion in Singaporean poetry. Will be at BooksActually tomorrow to take advantage of the 25% discount! Going to use the opportunity to pick up the Interlogue series from Ethos Books, which is the only series of academic writing on Singaporean literature and writers that I'm aware of. I've also bought myself a new external HDD. 3 TB this time, which I didn't know they even made yet, but I suppose once manufacturers started working with that first terabyte, there was no stopping them from going further. It's pretty handy though, and significantly increases the number of TV shows I can follow in the 2011/12 season. (By which, of course, what I really mean is that I can now afford to relax my standards.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Episode 1010: Still 74, After Three Years...

Am back home safe and sound after the airport fiasco. Flight was uneventful, at least. Saw The Rite, which was basically Anthony Hopkins doing a remix of his Hannibal Lecter character, minus the cannibalism. Colin O'Donoghue also starred, as an implausibly good-looking (and sceptical) Catholic priest-to-be. Then I saw Crime D'amour, which was very, I suppose one would say, French. I loved the whole revenge plot, but it seemed like something was missing that would have made the film cohere. Technically, there aren't any gaps in the logic of events as they play out, but that this is only made clear in the last 15 minutes or so of the film (primarily through flashbacks that extend the initial snippets shown earlier) isn't particularly helpful. I also saw Tron: Legacy, which now seems vastly overrated, and I'm including Garrett Hedlund in that statement. Interesting premise and visuals, but let down by the execution, I thought. Also watched Come Fly With Me, brought to us by Matt Lucas and David Walliams of Little Britain fame, and I didn't find it terribly funny. The whole format of the jokes was actually really repetitive, and most were either trying too hard to be funny, or just trading on racist stereotypes. Anyway, I've got the breakdown of my module results, and boy, did I bomb on the Shakespeare paper. I suppose I could've studied more, definitely. In the end though, my average across eight modules still worked out to a 74, which is essentially the recurring theme of my university career, I've come to realise, so I should just accept it and be happy. To bastardise the Bard, 'What's in a number? that which we call a First / By any other number would look as neat'.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Episode 1009: The Perfect Storm (Or #FML)

The news that I got a First has been vastly overshadowed by the perfect storm of my experience at Heathrow today. For some reason, Qantas has got really strict (thereby eliminating their comparative appeal vis-à-vis Emirates), and although I was one of the first people to check in, the weight allowances were strictly enforced and my carry-on was weighed. To cut a long story short, which mostly involved me looking like an idiot in the middle of the departure hall, frantically repacking, I am more than £350 poorer (I knew the surprise MOE money would come in handy for more than buying books), in order to get everything I own back to Singapore. In hindsight, I could have avoided the £132 excess baggage charge by buying a new suitcase and transferring some stuff into it, and then taking that onto the flight as my new carry-on. At that point, however, my naturally calm disposition was being tested to its limits, pretty much, and I resorted to the one method that would definitely make the problem go away, i.e. throwing money at it. Not proud of that, but frankly, I think most people in my position would have done the same if they could. Now I just want an uneventful flight home because emotionally, I'm completely spent at this point.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Episode 1008: It Is Literally Too Warm!

The six boxes fit perfectly into the storage unit! Had so much trouble trying to call for a taxi that I ended up walking to the taxi rank further down the Parade and getting into one there. The driver was such a nice man too. When we got to the storage facility in Coventry, he offered to wait with my boxes while I went into the reception area to sort things out, and only left when he received a call-in booking. If I'd known the paperwork would take that long, I wouldn't have let him stay with the boxes! Anyway, that's settled now. All that remains is to stuff everything into my luggage, which so far, seems to be going well. Might end up being overweight, in which case my contingency plan is to shift books from the checked in suitcase to the carry-on, unless the person at the counter is nice to me. It's ridiculously warm in my room again today, and I've literally showered three times today, between the heat and the packing. Have also been trying to finish the food I have left, with limited success. Have loads of crisps left that I'm leaving to the rest of the house, and there are some Indian curries left that I won't get through by tomorrow, but I've eaten the Ben & Jerry's and the Tesco frozen blueberries. All while watching Party Down. I'm really trying to like this show, but I'm not feeling it. So in relation to the discussion with Nick Chen at the Summer Party, I maintain that Community is definitely funnier.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Episode 1007: Summer Party

At £38, I'd say that the Summer Party was a lot more worth it than the Graduation Ball. Again, didn't stay terribly late because I've still got packing to do. Sensibly caught the U1 at 9.30 pm with Annabella and Rob, whom I'd bumped into (with Nick Chen) at the Curiositea tent after wandering away from the paella queue to get a Coke. This means I've had a little bit of time to pack the final boxes before going to bed, which is fantastic. Just waiting for some sheets to be done in the dryer, and the sixth and final box will be sealed. Now my only concern is that I may have underestimated how much storage space I needed to rent, and that the boxes I've prepared won't fit into the unit I've rented. At this point though, I'm pretty much prepared to pay whatever's necessary to get a bigger unit, should it actually come to that. Anyway, the weather today was scorchingly perfect for the Summer Party, so I've got slightly tanner. Wasn't really into the music side of things, so I mostly just ate food and went on rides. Don't quite understand why there was such a huge queue when Laura and I got there mid-afternoon though. It's not like they only had one person working the entrance! Still, it was a suitably fun event at which to see loads of people for the last time (ever?), at least until graduation. Only people I properly said goodbye to were Annabella and Rob though, and that was on the U1.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Episode 1006: Matt & Emma's Wedding!

So it turns out that cordon at the bottom of the Parade was because of a suspected homicide. Wow. In happier news, Matt and Emma got married today! I woke up after five hours of sleep to get to the final practice for the band. Quite pleased that I caught the bus I'd planned to, as that doesn't happen very often when it actually matters. The wedding, by the way, was genuinely moving. Really honoured to be part of the band as well, so thanks for asking, Matt. Also, the spread (and quality) of food was definitely better than what we had yesterday at the ball. If I heard right, the caterer was relatively cheap, so that just makes it even more impressive. I've also unexpectedly discovered a taste for Cava. Probably drank more champagne tonight than I've heretofore drunk in my life. Not complaining though! Would've stayed later than I did, but I was absolutely knackered, and still had to get on with packing for Monday, so I left around 11 pm. Narrowly missed the bus going back to Leamington, then decided it really wasn't worth waiting around an hour for the next one given how tired I was, so I got a taxi home for £20! So. Worth. It.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Episode 1005: Graduation Ball

For £68, I must say the Graduation Ball wasn't quite worth the money. I'd hardly describe using Travel de Courcey coaches for transport as travelling in style, and for whatever reason, there were power cuts randomly throughout the night. Food was okay though, and the labyrinthine National Motorcycle Museum actually looks really nice on the inside, despite Lucy's unimpressed reaction when we first rocked up to the building. It was really warm in the basement floors though, and mobile reception was non-existent, which made it practically impossible to find people, except by chance and lots of wandering around. You might wonder why I even went to the ball, what with all my post-event grousing. Thing is though, I would never have gone if most of the close friends I've made at university over the past three years weren't also going to be there. I suppose the ball mattered less than the idea of one final rite of passage, shared with people who are important to me. I know, I know, sentimental bullshit, right? I'd rather be happy than stick rigidly to principles in a case like this though. Caught the coach back to Leamington with Laura, where we saw the whole bottom of the Parade cordoned off. Seemed like a pretty major accident had happened a while before we got back...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Episode 1004: Last House Party?

Got two boxes meant for storage filled, so that's progress. Definitely can take care of the remaining ones after the Summer Party. Then all that's left is the final hurdle: transporting to the storage facility. Hopefully, that won't be too much trouble, moving four boxes around by myself. Still hoping someone I know with a car will turn out to be free on Monday to drive me into Coventry! Was initially in two minds about going to the house party at Nina's, but figured I should since it'd probably be the last house party for me this year. Good call as it turns out. Stayed till past 3 am, and those of us still there got takeaway pizza. Shared a taxi home with Pete and Sophie as well, so that took care of having to walk from quite far into South Leamington, which seemed a slightly dodgy proposition to undertake alone. That said, daylight was creeping up on us by the time we left, which was a bit surreal. Getting a taxi was definitely better than having to walk all the way back to my house, so Lucy should totally have stayed on at the party. It would literally have cost just over £1 for each of us then.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Episode 1003: Doctor Faustus At Shakespeare's Globe

Re-read Joey Comeau's Overqualified and read One Bloody Thing After Another, and now I kind of want to make a trip to Toronto to stalk him. In a nice way, of course, which I think he might appreciate anyway. Also finished The Day Of Small Things, one of the things I need to review. It's about the charitable efforts of a group of Christians in Bridlington, working with gypsies in Romania. The creative writing bits in it aren't exactly the best, a lot of chopped up prose, clanging rhymes and haiku, but given the nature of the rest of the book, short articles describing the experiences of people involved in the Romanian project, it's okay. I am a bit uncomfortable with the number of poems that involve ventriloquism, speaking for gypsy children who otherwise probably wouldn't have a voice (at least not in an English-language medium), but I can see the purpose. Review's probably going to be quite short, but I think I'm going to hold off on writing it until I get back to Singapore. I'm telling myself that I want to focus on packing, which I need to do a bit more of tomorrow, by the way.

Anyway, I went to see Doctor Faustus at the Globe, which was interesting! It didn't make me like Marlowe as a playwright any more (apparently not even watching Arthur Darvill as Mephistopheles can do that), but I did think the staging was excellent. Being able to see the faces of pretty much all the rest of the audience made the theatre experience very different, and the staging of the play was also more straightforwardly symbolic than usual, I suppose. It was, in a way, refreshing, not having to decode and map symbols back onto themes, with everything pretty much handed to the audience. The open-air nature of the Globe also meant line delivery was more declamatory, which did work with Marlowe's writing though, and watching an afternoon performance meant the lighting was entirely natural. The thrust stage also allowed actors to stride into the midst of the encircling audience, which I felt really drew them in. Altogether a novel experience, and I'm glad I made the effort to head down to London for it!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Episode 1002: I Tweeted Authors (And They Tweeted Back!)

Not even home for summer break yet and already I've four reviews to write. Not complaining though! Finished reading Gavin James Bower's Dazed & Aroused yesterday, which really reminded me of Niven Govinden's We Are The New Romantics. (The former literally name-checks the latter in one chapter, and Bower thanks Govinden in the acknowledgements. Interestingly, both also appear to move in the same circles as Stuart Evers, whose debut collection I reviewed not too long ago.) I mentioned this on Twitter, and ended up having brief Twitter exchanges with both authors. Not going to lie, that kind of made my day. (Yes, I'm aware of how sad this potentially makes me sound, but I don't really care.) Just got back from the band practice for Matt's wedding, and now I'm watching the premiere of TNT's Falling Skies. It's tempting to dismiss it as just another show about aliens, but considering the disasters from the fall/winter schedule that were V and The Event, this is actually not bad. The focus on humans surviving in a post-apocalyptic setting is basically the same premise as AMC's The Walking Dead, but with more likeable characters, if you ask me. I did like The Walking Dead, but I can't honestly say I found many of the characters particularly palatable. With Falling Skies, on the other hand, one of the leads is a father trying to find his son who was enslaved by the aliens. I'm a sucker for the emotional arc his character is so clearly going to experience over 10 episodes.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Episode 1001: Creative Writing Dinner, Part Two

This time, dinner at the Newbold boys'. Brought a bottle of wine instead of preparing a dish because I spent most of the afternoon doing more packing. Now have three boxes filled for the Seven Seas shipment, which I've arranged to be collected on Thursday. Have sorted out my remaining stuff into those destined for storage over the summer and those for bringing home in my luggage. (My carry-on is packed full of books!) Shouldn't take long to dump everything into boxes/suitcases over the weekend, right? Annoyingly, I've split one of my favourite pairs of jeans. Same G-Star RAW one that had a torn pocket last year. Seems a patch on the inner thigh had been fraying for a while without my realising, and it finally gave way. Should be possible to fix, I just don't have a sewing kit with me. Dinner, on the other hand, was great! It's always fun to meet up, can't believe it's literally coming down to the last couple of days when we're all still in the same area. At the risk of sounding sentimental, how time flies! Oh well, at least there'll be a chance to see almost everyone at Graduation Ball and/or the Summer Party...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Episode 1000: Creative Writing Dinner, Part One

Look! It's my thousandth post! I think I'm going to fill it with (too) many exclamation marks! (No, not really.) Just got back from a lovely dinner at Le Bistrot Pierre with a bunch of the creative writers. I always forget how much I like the restaurant, until the next time I eat there anyway. I am particularly fond of the potato dauphinoise that they serve as a side to accompany your main course! (Okay, that was the last exclamation mark, I promise.) Think I might bring my parents there when we're in Leamington in July. Or we could go to the one in Stratford when we visit that. Woke up ridiculously early to get to the morning service, despite having a bout of insomnia and not falling asleep till sometime past 3 am. (Maybe I'm more sensitive to the caffeine in Coke than I think?) Came home straight after, and then on impulse, decided to buy myself a ticket to see Doctor Faustus at the Globe on Wednesday. The unpredictability of English weather meant that I wasn't going to spend a mere £5 for a standing ticket in case it rains, so I've indulged and bought a seat in the most expensive price category. It really just translates to a more unobstructed view from the gallery, so I don't really mind. Am usually happy to fork over more money for theatre tickets anyway.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Episode 999: Let The Packing Commence!

Have begun packing books and miscellaneous stuff for shipping home. I've taken to packing books into Amazon boxes, and then putting those into the Seven Seas boxes, rather than using bubble wrap. Bubble wrap just makes things harder because it refuses to stay in place unless I spend even more time taping it into place. I just want to get things done as quickly as possible! Have filled two boxes so far, and I'm beginning to suspect that my initial estimate that only three standard boxes would be needed at most was wildly optimistic. I did order one large box, so that could possibly take care of anything remaining that needs to be sent home, once I figure out which poetry books stay and which I want to take back to read over the summer. Mostly Singaporean stuff in the latter category anyway, to prepare for my possible dissertation topic. I am shipping almost all of my fiction stuff home, and only a couple of books will come back with me in September/October to Warwick, if any. My track record in reading stuff that I have with me in the UK is honestly quite abysmal, and hardly justifies carting numerous books back and forth. Mostly the books just sit in my room looking pretty. Oh wait, that's what they do in Singapore too...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Episode 998: Second Birthday Bar Crawl In A Week

Despite the drizzle, I headed onto the Parade today to find a suit. Was hoping to buy one from an online store, but the charcoal jacket I wanted from Next would have taken up to two weeks to be delivered, hence the need to go to a physical store. The Next in Leamington does not stock jackets in-store either though, so I turned to Topman instead. That worked out, so I now have a black suit. Two-piece for now, unless I decide to go back at the last minute and get a matching waistcoat. Or boldly wear a mismatched one. So that's more or less settled. Came home on the 68, sitting behind a woman who definitely smelt like Kelsey's, which is also where Nick's bar crawl ended up. Standard! I think he expects me to blog a blow-by-blow account of the night as it went down, so I'm deliberately not going to give him the satisfaction. Haha! I will say though, I think I might be getting a bit old for drinking almost every day of the week. Literally. Only Tuesday and tomorrow will be relatively alcohol-free. Also, when will I learn that I always order one piece too many of chicken from Vialli's?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Episode 997: Second Birthday House Party In A Week

Went onto campus to do an experiment, but ended up doing the wrong one. I still got paid for it, of course, and it was partly the research assistant's fault for not being more specific beyond asking if I was here for the 3 pm slot. Bought a bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling water, thinking to mix it with that bottle of Bacardi Mojito mix that I'm taking forever to finish. It kind of works actually. Of course, it doesn't taste like a Mojito anymore, but blending the mix with lemonade as I usually do makes the drink taste too sharp. Equal proportions of all three though, as I experimented at the house party later, possibly even better. Wouldn't have gone if the rain hadn't let up long enough for me and Dan to get there, but we still wound up being among the first people to arrive at the party anyway, which was quite funny in a way. I think accepting Reece's offer of a second drink with Triple Sec in it wasn't the best of ideas though, as I felt mildly ill for a while. Was fine by the time we got home, but since it takes about half an hour to walk back home from south of the railway bridge anyway, it'd have been odd not to have been, I think.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Episode 996: Saboteur Awards Judging Done!

Pies for lunch at The Somerville Arms with (most of) the house was yummy. Amazingly, the barbecue at ours tonight to celebrate Laura's birthday and Annie's last night at Warwick ended before midnight. Almost missed saying goodbye to people because I was keeping up with the judging for the Saboteur Awards, after getting tweeted just before things started winding down. We've settled on the results though, so that's exciting. Will post a link to the results when they've been announced. Now, since I don't have to be on campus until 3 pm for the experiment I'm taking part in tomorrow, I'm totally staying up to watch TV! I mean, come on, season premiere of Pretty Little Liars? Too good to wait until I wake up. Am watching the pilot for The Nine Lives Of Chloe King first though, another ABC Family show. Its pacing is a bit too hyperkinetic and disjointed, I think, although the premise has potential. It really does seem though as if ABC Family is just borrowing ideas from network TV that have already been done, and then rejigging them for a slightly younger audience. Pretty Little Liars was sort of like Desperate Housewives, and while it's too early to say for sure which show The Nine Lives Of Chloe King is reworking (possibly a mixture of Kyle XY and Smallville, I think), it's definitely not entirely original.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Episode 995: Done, Done, Done (Sort Of)

Have finally finished reading through the shortlist for the Saboteur Awards, so now it's time to type some comments into that nifty Shareflow thing all of us on the judging panel got invited to. Have also sorted out packing and shipping of books and clothes for the summer, by which I mean I've clicked about and ordered boxes and storage space. Have just under two weeks to get it all done, so I'm not terribly worried. I even managed to find a suit that I might buy for the Graduation Ball. It's from Next, fairly reasonable price (to me), and has met with approval from a couple of friends on Facebook so far. Some are saying I should go with black (the one I've picked out is charcoal, at Vaish's suggestion), but black feels a bit boring and staid for a university ball. We'll see. I need to order it soon though, seeing as the ball is end of next week and it takes time for delivery, and I might return the suit if it turns out not to fit well. (I mean, it's Next.) Would really love to splash some serious money on Ted Baker, but I really don't think I can justify it. Plus the Next suit has the advantage of being cheap because it's made from a polyester/viscose/wool blend, so it'll definitely be light enough to wear back in Singapore, which is definitely a point of concern for me.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Episode 994: Still Not Done!

Just got back from Claire's birthday bar crawl. Left before Kelsey's because that place is kind of rank, to be honest. As in, literally. It always smells bad. Now trying, yet again, to finish that issue of Cake. Also sent off my entry to the LIPPfest Poetry Competition today. Don't really know what my chances are, but the poems I sent in were pretty much my last remaining good ones that haven't been published already or sent out to editors. We'll see! If I win anything, I'm definitely reinvesting the prize money back into more books of poetry. Found out yesterday that Emma Mason is editing The Collected Poems of Elizabeth Jennings, out in September from Carcanet, it seems. Quite excited about that. Jennings is one of those poets that I've never really read extensively, but from what I gather, is the sort of poet I would enjoy. The latest episode of Game Of Thrones was heartbreaking by the way, even though I already knew what was coming. I really feel like I should get into the novels as well, but they're so long, and I've already got so many other things to read. I suppose I will get around to them when George R. R. Martin finally finishes the whole series? Wouldn't want to invest in it and then have to wait ages for the latest instalment to emerge.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Episode 993: Half A Magazine To Go...

Okay, so turns out this whole reading thing doesn't happen just because I say it will. I tried though. I'm blaming the lousy weather for my attack of apathy. That said, I did stay up until nearly 3 am, finishing the redraft. I'm not sure if it'll be good enough for Toh Hsien Min this time, but I will say it is definitely an improvement on the first version of the poem. Not sure if it is necessarily subtler, since the gardening metaphor kind of stretches across all three section of it now, but there are (hopefully) fewer clumsy moments like the ones he noted in his comments to me. Caught the U17 to Freya's, and it stopped nearer than I'd thought it would, so I had to walk less in the rain. Incidentally, you know that awkward moment when you realise you and a stranger are totally headed for the same destination? Yeah, that was me, within seconds of getting off the bus. I basically looked like I was stalking some guy, all the way to Freya's doorstep. In the rain, no less. Party was good, so shame on the people who didn't make it because of the rain! Wasn't planning on staying over in Coventry though, so I caught the U1 back with Aisling and Lizzie. Epic slog, making it from Freya's to the stop at Gibbet Hill, but we got there with five minutes to spare, so now I'm back home, trying to read the remainder of Cake Issue #2: The Carrot Cake Issue!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Episode 992: One More Magazine To Go!

About to begin editing a poem for resubmission, months after the editor suggested I rework it. I've still got until the end of the month to get it in before the next issue's submission deadline, but it's just been bugging me lately, so I'm going to make a start on it tonight, possibly even finish a redraft. Almost done with the shortlist for the Saboteur Awards as well, just Cake to go. Should be able to finish it tomorrow before going to Coventry for Freya's barbecue. Then I can finally focus on reading all the great novels that have been piling up on my floor without feeling guilty! I've already dipped into most of them, to be honest, just need to set aside time to read more than a handful of pages, time that isn't snatched from what should be spent trying to reestablish something resembling a normal sleep cycle. It seems I'm capable of procrastinating even from my leisure activities. I did spend the late afternoon reading > kill author Issue 8, which I really enjoyed by the way, so at least today proved an exception. It's been more than two weeks since my final paper though, and honestly, the time at home by and large hasn't been spent wisely. Don't even have TV for an excuse, as most of the summer series that I'm following haven't premiered their new seasons yet!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Episode 991: The Book Of Eli

Just got back from seeing The Book Of Eli at Jethro's place. As I understand it, critical reception was mixed when it came out last year, and I'm guessing this was partly because of the Christian content, even though that's not made explicit until about halfway through the movie. Even leaving that aside though, I still thought it was incredibly moving. It didn't necessarily have to be the King James Bible Eli was trying to preserve. Any other book, and I think my reaction to the revelation that he was blind would have been the same. Granted, having it be the Bible helps explain some of the more supernatural aspects of the plot, like how he pretty much evades injury right until the end, and even then, after he's been shot, doesn't die until after he's dictated the whole Bible to the curator at Alcatraz. I think that's something hard to find these days, that internalising of a book. Who would bother memorising anything in the digital age? I admittedly don't, and I still think it's a shame. Incidentally, somehow I don't recall getting the impression for whatever publicity I encountered for the film that this was what it was about? Otherwise, I definitely would have paid to see it in the cinema when it was screening. Definitely a bit heavy-handed in its treatment, but no more so than how the typical Hollywood blockbuster shoves the message down our throats that violence is cool.

Was out earlier in the afternoon as well, for Annie's surprise in Jephson Gardens. Close encounters with ducks, caterpillars, and all manner of insects. Fun times though, at least when the sun was out! We ducked into The Jug & Jester for a bit because it started to drizzle, and I think I've really developed a liking for the Jeremiah Weed Sweet Tea that the Wetherspoon's chain does now. It's possibly the only way I've found I actually enjoy drinking vodka. Tried looking for sweet tea vodka in Tesco, and they either didn't have it or I just wasn't looking in the right place. As much as living on campus is going to be very convenient next year, and I've more or less convinced myself it is a better choice, I am going to miss Leamington and places like Jephson Gardens. I mean, I suppose it's basically like going to the Botanic Gardens in Singapore, except that isn't a stroll away from where I live. Sad times! Plus I can't imagine it being very easy to get a bunch of friends to just have a picnic in the middle of the week. No wonder they say student life is the best.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Episode 990: Finally...

Got back my remaining assessed work this afternoon, and at this point, short of some massive academic disaster involving a Shakespeare examination, a First is safely in the bag. I've worked it out, and even if I got just 50 for that, I would need to somehow have failed my French as well to drop from a First. So this is really good news, not to mention my PWP finally gave me a mark higher than 74. To be honest, I would have been quite gutted if it hadn't. The markers didn't necessarily agree on its merits, although both concurred that the essay was excellent. (It's like my Shakespeare creative project all over again!) Fiction portfolio, on the other hand, was somewhat disappointing, and I didn't think the feedback was particularly helpful either. I guess I'd be more upset if the genre I primarily worked in were prose, but since it isn't, I'm prepared to accept that this might be something I just don't have it in me to be really good at. That said, it sounded like the creative project I did for the EN236 examination was basically the best part of it. Was told that the story could develop into something really good with more redrafting, outside of the examination conditions, but I should never attempt to get it published in Singapore. Hadn't thought it was that incendiary, or even had the potential for being so. I just thought it was a cool science fiction flash fiction. Maybe this is my niche? Writing about Singapore, but indirectly. Does this make me political? I know it can be argued that all writing is political, but I don't really want to be actually political, if you know what I mean.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Episode 989: Resident Evil Franchise, Check

Have finished watching Resident Evil: Afterlife, the fourth instalment in the film franchise. The films have all been panned by critics, but have also been box office successes. It's not exactly hard to see why. Milla Jovovich isn't exactly hard on the eyes, is she, and what are the films apart from elaborate action/CGI scenes held together by the appearance of plot? (There is genuinely very little dialogue, I've noticed. It's mostly expository, or people shouting commands.) Wikipedia provides the factoid that Paul W. S. Anderson, who directed two and wrote all of the Resident Evil films, graduated from Warwick. (Same course as Michelle!) Other things I've been doing aside from watching really bad films include listening to Simon Curtis's new album R∆, which is freaking amazing pop from an independent artist, and sending a submission to a Singaporean anthology. Hope something gets selected for inclusion. It kind of blows that I can't seem to make much headway in the literary scene within my own country, at least not in recent years. Can't really say if it's a case of not knowing the right people or not writing in the currently popular fashion. Maybe I just haven't tried hard enough (to fit in)? In other news, today Eunoia Review published the first chapter of Will Henderson's memoir-in-progress, House of Cards. I think it's a cracking good read, so click here and have a look. More excerpts and links to other parts of it can also be found here.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Episode 988: Milestones...

A submitter whose work I've rejected a couple of times has just me some poster, inviting me to an event. It's not spam, but still, not cool at all, simply because it's unsolicited. Anyway, this week sees Eunoia Review publishing our first two pieces of creative non-fiction, which is pretty exciting. Yesterday's piece was also the 250th overall to appear on the site, and we've also gone past 150 contributors now. Not bad for what has been, and will probably continue to be for quite a while, a one-man operation. Finished reading the first issue of Stone Telling today, which I quite enjoyed, although I'm not entirely sure if its voices are quite as diverse as the editor suggests. I mean this in the sense that when non-Western cultures are brought in, they don't feel like they have enough depth to be more than token symbols of speculative poetry moving beyond a Western cultural bias. (Curiously though, this magazine is held up as a shining example of diversity by one non-fiction piece included in this issue. The author did also come across as a somewhat polemical feminist with no sense of humour, so I'm not sure how inclined I am to concur with her expressed opinions.) Anyway, I've just finished watching Resident Evil: Apocalypse, and am about to start on Resident Evil: Extinction. Nothing like a bit of silver screen silliness before bed!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Episode 987: I Want A Direwolf

Went to church to do stuff for Kidz Klub, and I managed to finish reading Issue 5 of Horizon Review while getting a pile of newsletters into envelopes and labelling them with postal addresses. I thought that was pretty good multitasking! Meant to read both issues of Cake when I got home, but ended up having dinner and watching Game Of Thrones instead. I would really like a direwolf, thank you very much. Also finally started watching the Resident Evil franchise. Don't play the games, and almost certainly never will, but I like film adaptations of video games because they give me the bits that I'd enjoy, i.e. the storyline. Granted, Resident Evil and its sequels all seem like ludicrously messy affairs, in all senses of the adjective, but I've had lots of practice at suspending disbelief. By the way, I did hear back a couple of days ago from the editor of LITSNACK, to say my submission had gone up on the site here. A reader has commented that it reads like something out of CSI or Law & Order: SVU, which is actually spot-on. It would be the cold open sequence, and then after the opening credits, we'd jump to possibly the boy's dead body, with the CSIs snapping away with cameras and generally looking grim.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Episode 986: Finally Watching Doctor Who!

Stopped by The Jug & Jester for Phil's birthday drinks after service, and ended up staying till closing time. Now back home, finally watching the midseason cliffhanger of Doctor Who. I totally already know what happens though, because I simply had to know and looked up reviews of the episode online. Meant to get some reading done today before church, but ended up watching a new episode of Camelot instead. Kind of expected Leontes to die in this one, and I'm still convinced that's where the series is going (there is one more episode after all, and it's likely to feature a convenient battle of sorts), just that I was surprised by the restraint in not killing him off now, what with all those arrows flying about. I suppose saving this death till the end is some attempt to enliven what has otherwise felt like quite a slow season. I mean, Merlin has painfully slow plot development as well, partially because it's started from when all the central Arthurian characters are practically kids, but Camelot is just ridiculous. There've only been a couple of occasions when it surprised me, a notable occasion being the episode where the story behind how Merlin acquires Excalibur is told. It's a pretty grim episode overall, and a little morbid as well, naming the sword after a dead girl.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Episode 985: X-Men: First Class

Did something I don't usually do, and went to see a blockbuster during its cinema run. To be fair, after I saw the trailer for X-Men: First Class a while ago, I did think to myself that this was a film that I wanted to see, and I don't remember feeling that way about the original film trilogy or X-Men Origins: Wolverine (not a Hugh Jackman fan). Loved the film, although I think whoever scripted it clearly wants the audience to like Magneto as a character, if not necessarily sympathise with his views. Then again, it's hard for Professor X's telepathic powers to look more impressive visually than all that manipulation of metal. (Incidentally, am I the only one who thinks Michael Fassbender in this film looks weirdly like Jon Hamm's long-lost twin?) Also, I now definitely want to catch the upcoming Green Lantern film, after seeing the trailer today in the cinema. We adjourned to The Benjamin Satchwell for a drink, where the bouncer accepted my ISIC, but the bartender inside refused to accept it as ID. Plain ridiculous! So I went home to get my passport and came back to join Ed's birthday bar crawl, although that essentially had one proper stop. We made a very brief stop at Saint Bar, more to pick up some people who'd moved on from the pub than anything else. It was my first time there, and I wasn't impressed by how small the place was, considering the thumping dance music it was playing. The night ended interestingly though, with another personal first: a meal at Millennium Balti (instead of the proposed trip to Kelsey's)!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Episode 984: Money Should Whisper, Not Shout

Feel so accomplished. Finally had a good night's sleep after two consecutive nights of comparative deprivation, and then I managed to sort out transport arrangement for when my parents and I are in the UK for my graduation. Have also written my review of Ten Stories About Smoking and e-mailed it, with a few hours to spare before my deadline is technically past. I should stop cutting it so close. It's not like I even get an adrenaline rush or anything, putting things off this way. Had a pleasant surprise in the afternoon, by the way. Discovered I've been wired what is apparently my June allowance, although it seems like a lot of money for just one month. Didn't think the monthly rate for Warwick had gone that high. Not going to say exactly how much I got because money should whisper, not shout. (That is apparently an original formulation of what seems like sound advice for the nouveaux riches of this world. By original, I of course mean that put in quotation marks, it gets zero hits on Google. I'm going to shamelessly say that is pretty impressive.) In my case, whispering apparently takes the form of buying almost all the back issues of Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern. Shipped all those that I bought via The Book Depository back to Singapore, but a couple from third-party sellers will arrive at my UK address. This is something I've been wanting to do for ages, and I could have afforded to even without the surprise allowance influx, thanks to my comparative financial prudence this year. It's just gratifying to watch your bank balance roll with the shopping punches, I guess?

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Episode 983: Religious Identities In Literature

Attended a symposium today, which was great. I think David Jasper, who delivered a paper entitled 'Ways of Knowing: The Identity of the Artist and the Mind of God', might be my new academic hero. (Don't ask me who my old one was because I really don't know. Thomas Docherty, maybe?) Was so impressed by his paper, intellectual without being dry and insular, that I went to the Library and borrowed a book he wrote called The Sacred Body. If that impresses as well, he might become the first academic whose books I buy. Well, if they're available in paperback. The rest of the papers were also interesting, but his stood out particularly for its smooth, unhurried delivery. Turns out he's also an ordained Anglican priest. Now I'm just beyond impressed. Also kind of wish I'd had something intelligent to ask him during the symposium. Ah well. Finally got around to uploading a couple of posts to The Cadaverine, took less time than I thought. Definitely had enough time to write the review of Stuart Evers's short story collection tonight, but I'm too tired, and I've got the whole of tomorrow anyway. Also got an acceptance from High Coup Journal, which took two stanzas out of the haiku sequence I sent in. I'm pleased that the associate editor pushed to take all five stanzas, although the submission guidelines do state that they're usually unlikely to take more than a couple from a given submission anyway. There is one pretty long sequence in the issue I'm in, but the narrative flow in that is a lot stronger than in mine, the individual stanzas of which sit perfectly well on their own as they should do. That makes nine poems accepted in less than a week, and also four out of four in terms of places I sent work off to. Don't think I'm going to be able to top this for a while...

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Episode 982: In A Forest, Dark And Deep

Popped into London for the afternoon to catch Neil LaBute's In A Forest, Dark And Deep. Obligatory Oxfam visit, of course, although I only made it to the Marylebone branch, before I had to go pick up my ticket from the Vaudeville Theatre. Still, not a bad haul, including Mick Imlah's The Lost Leader and a couple of Shearsman collections. The play itself was fascinating, like LaBute's stuff generally is, although I can see why it's received some criticism for not exactly breaking new thematic ground. The corrosive sibling relationship was handled well by Matthew Fox and Olivia Williams, and it was great to see them playing characters so different from their respective TV shows (Lost and Dollhouse). I enjoyed the gradual revelation of Betty's secrets, as well as the unpleasant tension created by the juxtaposition of Bobby's politically incorrect statements and the refreshing candour with which he delivers them. Won't spoil the ending for people who might still have a chance to catch it before it ends its run, but suffice it to say that although to some extent, I spotted most of the reveals coming, it didn't make them any less chilling, especially in a play that peppered its first half with plenty of jokes. Headed back to Leamington for Roisin's birthday party, and wound up sitting next to another international student from church. I didn't recognise him, but he recognised me from a couple of weeks ago when I was on worship. Party was fun, first of many this month lined up.