Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Episode 1073: It Came In The Mail...

All five parts of The Resident Alien have arrived, so that's my reading plans sorted for the next couple of days! Shouldn't take long, since they're graphic novels. My graduation photographs have also finally arrived, literally at the very end of the six weeks the company estimated delivery would take at the most. (I graduated on a Thursday.) Offer letter from Warwick also arrived, as requested, so I'm going to scan it and send a copy to MOE, then there's really absolutely nothing they can still need me to provide before my signing can be arranged. Was going to start my visa application today, but it turns out the online system isn't available today (or yesterday, for that matter), so I'm going to have to do it tomorrow, if there's time before I need to meet Bernard at NUS to collect a couple of books he's bought for me. Like I was telling Shirley yesterday, my current game plan is to get one thing done everyday. It's working out well so far. Today was sorting out chords, which I've kind of done. Just need to actually check the arrangement before sending out copies to the music team.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Episode 1072: Selamat Hari Raya!

Totally forgot that it's Hari Raya Puasa today. Public holidays are clearly wasted on people like me. Tried to buy the Interlogue volumes that I'm missing from the Ethos Books website, but it wouldn't play nice with my Visa, so I'm probably going to end up paying by cheque. Great to see that the publisher still has the titles in stock though, considering that the second volume on poetry, the one most relevant to my dissertation needs, was published more than a decade ago. Have e-mailed my proposal and module choices to the department, so it's back to waiting. Speaking of which, all the graduation stuff I bought has yet to arrive, apart from the departmental photographs, which were amazingly prompt, considering posting to non-UK addresses usually takes forever. If the stuff doesn't arrive within a fortnight, I think it's time to start chasing the companies responsible. Have also finally ordered a bookshelf from Scanteak, so all those boxes of books are finally going to be proudly displayed, if not always read. I mean, I was going to finish reading the two dozen or so issues of Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern that I ordered earlier this year, but so far, I've only made it through Issues 1 and 2!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Episode 1071: Proposal Written (At Last!)

Given how long I've been putting it off, writing the 500-word proposal took only about an hour. Granted, I'd been mulling over it for weeks now, so it was really a question of getting the wording right in the proposal. I think it's convincing enough to get approved, and the actual thesis is going to have to be refined through workshops anyway. Next thing to do is settle my visa application and book an appointment. Still no word from about signing anything, frustratingly. Anyway, I recently bought Troy Chin's graphic novel series, The Resident Tourist and all the back issues of McSweeney's Wholphin (steeply discounted!), so I'm looking forward to their arrival in the post. Would've bought all the back issues of The Believer as well, especially with all the annual catch-up bundles being discounted, but the shipping to Singapore would literally have been as expensive as the magazines themselves. Guess I'll wait till I'm back at Warwick. Transatlantic shipping'll still cost a pretty penny (and then some), but not as much as to Singapore. Once I've got all the back issues of all the various magazines published by McSweeney's, I'm going to take out a combo subscription to all three!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Episode 1070: Tony Tan It Is...

In the end, the finish of PE 2011 proved to be as nail-biting as GE 2011, with recounts meaning the result wasn't official till I was in bed. Tony Tan is now the seventh President of Singapore, by a whisker of a margin. Had the Equinox high tea in the afternoon, where the desserts were better than the rest of the food and the mango juice was excellent. Not sure what the draw of the place is though, apart from the view from the 69th floor, which is admittedly excellent. Anyway, I still haven't done anything about my proposal, although I've continued to read and schedule submissions. Currently, the queue is holding steady at about eight months, so I don't think there's any need to double up posts from October onwards to trim it, which I was seriously considering doing. If writers insist on having instant publishing gratification, well, they're not going to get it from this editor. Especially when they should've been forewarned, assuming they even looked at the site before submitting! Time to distract myself with the returning episode of Doctor Who...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Episode 1069: PE 2011

It's not every year you get to vote twice in four months. That said, I can honestly say that I don't care who wins the presidential election. Wouldn't it be nice if reality had a fast-forward button? Then we could find out who wins and all go to bed, instead of waiting for recounts. (I freely admit that if I stay up to hear the results, it's literally only because like pretty much every other Singaporean following GE 2011, I think Yam Ah Mee is amazing!) The actual voting this time was even more anticlimactic than when I was in London in May, as it was at North View Secondary School, right beside my block. The polling agents were momentarily at a loss at what to do because I'm still registered to vote overseas, but they eventually got their act together. Haven't made any progress with my dissertation proposal. Instead, I've been playing various versions of 'Awakening' and 'Forever Reign', trying to figure out which version's the best to use when I'm leading worship at COGS in September. 'Awakening' is especially tricky because the Chris Tomlin and various Hillsong versions all have noticeably different arrangements, even though the core riffs of the song are kept throughout.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Episode 1068: Nobody Does Local Like BooksActually

Met Shirley for books and coffee before cell. Managed to find enough stuff to buy to use up all my BooksActually vouchers, and the store now has a permanent 20% discount when you buy three or more books, which I think is great. Cyril Wong came into the store just as we were about to leave, and I could have asked him to autograph the pamphlet of his which I'd just bought, but I didn't in the end. Quite pleased with my purchases from BooksActually, as usual, but especially of Cherian George's Singapore: The Air-conditioned Nation. Mr Purvis brought it up so many times throughout my JC years, I feel slightly silly for not having sought out a copy sooner and reading it. Coffee was at The Plain, which like Forty Hands where we had coffee with Claudia the last time, is one of those niche cafés that've popped up in Singapore as an alternative to chains like Starbucks. I'm not much of a coffee connoisseur, so to me, places like The Plain are more about the chilled ambience than the coffee anyway!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Episode 1067: Singapore's Knightsbridge

I known for a while that H&M is coming to Singapore. What I didn't realise was that the store is at Knightsbridge, a rebranded mall along Orchard Road. Also didn't know that another tenant is going to be the second Asian outlet of Abercrombie & Fitch! Can finally fulfil my single remaining shallow sartorial aspiration, the next time I'm back in Singapore. Of course, the Singapore store has promised to continue being discriminatory, I mean, discriminating, in its hiring practices, in life with the brand's image. I'm slightly sceptical because if the crowds I squeeze through in local shopping belts are any indication, attractive people of A&F calibre are more the exception than the norm here, unless they're not actually Singaporeans. I predict the employees are more likely than not to end up consisting of pan-Asian models, rather than those with a more 'local' look. Regardless, all this implied criticism isn't going to stop me picking up a few pieces from the A&F store once it opens, prices depending. Too bad the parent company has already terminated the more age-appropriate (for me) Ruehl No.925 brand!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Episode 1066: Success!

Sweet! Finally made some progress with my dissertation proposal, so I should definitely be able to get it done over the weekend now. Also think I've managed to adjust the Mega Manager settings so that the file downloads don't interfere with the rest of the family connecting to the WiFi. Grabbed fewer files overnight than I expected, but at least I know Mega Manager can hum along nicely 24/7. On an equally happy note, I'm staying in Heronbank for my MA! Accepted the contract yesterday, so now it's whether I can make it to the UK a week early to attend LIPPfest in Leeds. Would really like to, although I'm not sure what I'm going to do about accommodation. Doesn't seem like the Radisson still has rooms at the festival special rate. In any case, I haven't signed anything with MOE, so I haven't booked my flight either. (Or made an appointment to do my visa for that matter. Probably should get around to doing that, especially since the application can be completed online now.) Geosynchron is read, and I must say, I liked how the ending was more speculative than conclusive, even if it was a bit hastily done in my opinion, but I can see how such an ending to the trilogy would be a major problem for any network trying to make a TV adaptation. As far as finishes go, it's in the league of Lost, I reckon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Episode 1065: £8.97 Makes A Lot Of Difference

Am £8.97 poorer, but getting my TV shows back is going to be easier than I thought. Can't imagine why I didn't think of this solution in the first place! Now the only tedious thing is having to click through the individual encrypted links (although trawling the Internet for unencrypted URLs is also feasible, and rather less tedious), but at least it's faster than P2P. I might have been a bit optimistic though, in saying to Shirley that I'll have the contents of my external hard drive back by tomorrow. Thinking of adding a couple of shows to my TV collection anyway, since my Megaupload premium subscription lasts a month. Like Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I feel like I've missed out, not having seen such a seminal television series, and one created by Joss Whedon, no less. It's practically criminal, right? (I suspect Dan might agree with me on this.) Now that this problem is well on its way to being solved, I can kick back and finish up reading Geosynchron. Frankly, the whole Jump 225 trilogy is just a TV series waiting to happen, and if the economics of TV production and advertising weren't what they are, and David Louis Edelman had a higher profile (and was willing to sell the adaptation rights), I'm pretty sure that series would have been made by now. I realise I actually say that a lot about books that I enjoy, but I can't decide if that's a good or bad thing.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Episode 1064: All Good Things...

Caught up with reading and scheduling submissions for The Cadaverine last night, thinking to have a crack at my dissertation proposal. Felt really tired though, so ended up reading Geosynchron and watching Ju-on: Shiroi Rōjo/Kuroi Shōjo on mioTV. It's a double bill of sorts, made to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the original film, which I've never actually seen before. Last night, I watched Serendipity, a John Cusack/Kate Beckinsale romantic comedy. Loved it (especially Beckinsale's English accent) and it was one of the rare occasions when I thought it was actually worth having mioTV. Anyway, Eunoia Review saw a huge spike in visitor traffic last week, after we published this story. Even reached 200 views last Wednesday, a new record and surpassing the previous high which came not long after the journal became eligible to appear on Duotrope Digest's listings of the top 25 swiftest and most approachable markets. Seems like the increase in visitors was only temporary though, as the numbers are back to the usual average of around 70+. Ah well, it was going to happen eventually...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Episode 1063: Inching Forward...

Slowly but surely reacquiring my TV shows. The really massive undertaking is going to be the 10 seasons of Smallville! In happier news, I'm making good progress with finishing David Louis Edelman's Jump 225 trilogy. Got through MultiReal today, about to start on Geosynchron. Not sure what I'll read next, simply because there are too many options and frankly, it's paralysing. It's either one of the urban fantasy series I have, which should be easy to breeze through, or starting on Ted Dekker's novels, possibly involving reading through the original Circle trilogy again. This option is more time-consuming, but is technically one of my personal summer goals, besides losing some weight. People keep telling me I've put on weight, and it's sad but true. They're not nasty about it, of course, and I don't think anyone looking at me right now would call me fat, however self-deprecatingly I throw the word about. It would just be nice, you know, to go back to what I weighed in first year of university. (Or even better, what I weighed right after BMT.)

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Episode 1062: Not Again?

Came home last night to discover that one of my external hard drives had stopped working. I can hear the drive spin up, it clicks once and then spins down, only to spin back up again, and so on. Don't think it's completely dead, as it's not making any weird noises like the last time one of my drives failed after I dropped it, so I've resorted to dumping it overnight in the freezer. The collective wisdom of the Internet said there's a chance this might work and get the drive to show up on my laptop long enough for me to grab some data off it, so fingers crossed. I honestly don't expect that it will, I have really bad luck when it comes to stuff like that (see the time I tried to fix my Nokia N95 by myself), but on the off chance that it does, it means not having to look for some very hard to find TV series all over again, so I'm willing to give it a shot. Fortunately, both my sisters and Eugene Chan have copies of some of my shows, and I still have some shows on DVD-Rs from years ago, so rebuilding the contents of this hard drive isn't going to be too hard. I even have that spare drive from the last drive failure that I got as a replacement under warranty. Don't think I'm going to send this one in though. There's a small chance it might still be under warranty too, but I don't think there's really a point. It's the data on it that I want back, not a replacement hard drive. Plus how good can it be? It's assembled in China.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Episode 1061: 11/20

That's how many of our JC classmates made it to dinner and drinks tonight. I think we were all pretty impressed that we managed to rustle up so many people on relatively short notice, and it was great meeting up with people, some of whom I haven't seen for nearly half a decade, and finding out what everyone's up to these days over dinner at Soup Restaurant in Suntec City, and then beers at FIV五 Izakaya Bar. Before that, I was in the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library, making photocopies. Most of the stuff I had to find was on Level 8, but the photocopying room there was completely full by the time I'd found them all and the photocopying guy told me to try the room on Level 9. That's where the mother tongue resources are, and lo and behold, the room was completely empty, just like he said it would be. (Why am I not surprised?) Spent over $20 photocopying possibly more material than I'll end up reading, let alone using, so if my proposal (which I haven't written) winds up getting turned down by the department, I'm going to be more than a little annoyed.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Episode 1060: The Pupil

Review of Curbside Quotidian is up here. Ended up trimming off the first paragraph at my editor's suggestion. Now my next project is a review-cum-interview for Ceriph, possibly extending to the people at Math Paper Press as well. All depends on how amenable the people involved are, although since I'm happy to do e-mail interviews, I don't anticipate any problems getting them on board. Will get started on this once I've written my dissertation proposal, so sometime next week? Now watching the new season of The Pupil, Mediacorp's attempt at a legal drama. Judging by the drama-filled recap of Season 1, the closest American equivalent show that comes to mind is Damages. Whatever the case (pardon the pun), it's nice to see a local production in English where the actors don't make you cringe when they open their mouths. It's like Mediacorp decided to get all the actors who don't sound weird speaking English and made a drama with them. Janice Koh, Lim Kay Tong, Adrian Pang, Tan Kheng Hua? (We're leaving out Bobby Tonelli and George Young because technically, they're not locals. Rebecca Lim also doesn't get a mention because she mispronounced 'jail', and I don't care that she won an Asian Television Award last year for this role.) It's nice seeing Lim back on TV in a regular capacity. Think the last time I saw him in anything was during his Growing Up days.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Episode 1059: Too Much To Say?

Was going to get up early and make a start on my review of Curbside Quotidian, but unsurprisingly, I didn't actually start on it till later in the afternoon. Even took a nap between writing the first and second paragraphs, or I'd have been able to finish it by now, since this is one of those lucky occasions when I was able to figure out everything I wanted to say in the review after just one read-through of the material. Might even have to deliberately single out fewer specific pieces for discussion, or group them under broader headings, in order to keep the review to a manageable length. Have already gone past 400 words, and I still have at least two stories and one poem that I want to dissect. Probably going to have to omit the non-fiction pieces from my discussion, although it seems unfair, given that I'm making mention of all the other three categories of work published by Curbside Quotidian. Perhaps a quick sentence tagged on at the end to draw attention to the non-fiction piece? I think it's really good, but don't have much to comment on it beyond that I could imagine it being published by McSweeney's in one of their magazines and that it'd be interesting to see the complete work that it's excerpted from.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Episode 1058: Decided!

As Pretty Little Liars goes on hiatus till winter, along comes The Lying Game to take its place. Based on another book series by Sara Shepard and also airing on ABC Family, it should prove a shoo-in success, I expect. (The CW is surely trying to replicate the formula as well with The Secret Circle riding on the popularity of The Vampire Diaries.) The trouble is that apart from Alexandra Chando, who plays twins Emma and Sutton (think Nina Dobrev as Elena/Katherine), none of the other characters are particularly sympathetic in the pilot, but as a stopgap programme between the tail end of summer programming and fall premieres, it should do fine, I guess. I've also made up my mind about what order to put my modules in. Second choice will be the one on urban modernism and reserve the one on translation studies. Turns out it's assessed with an essay like most other English modules (although I had to look in the handbook for a different MA in our department to find that out), and I figured it wasn't worth leaping into a module like that if it was going to be assessed traditionally, since I have no background in translation studies at all, despite being functionally trilingual. Anyway, hopefully I get all the choices I want!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Episode 1057: Which Module Should I Take?

First of my books from The Book Depository arrived today, China Miéville's Kraken. Rather annoyed that the book's been slightly damaged during transit though, which is a perennial issue with The Book Deppsitory because the company uses padded envelopes, unlike Amazon, which uses cardboard packaging. Oh well, it's not like I can get an exchange, at least not without forking out the cost of postage to return this copy. Speaking of Miéville, I haven't actually made any headway with my plan to get through all his novels over the summer. I know, I'm just too undisciplined about reading! Unless I get back to a book a day like I managed for a while last summer, I'm never going to read most of the books I want to before flying back. Currently though, my main concern is deciding on my MA modules. I've settled on all my choices for Spring Term, and my first choice for Autumn Term, but I'm having trouble making my mind up about what to put down as my second and reserve choices for Autumn Term. Basically, one module on translation studies sounds interesting, but I haven't a clue if it's assessed with a typical essay like other English modules, while the module on urban modernism is recommended for my Poetry and Poetics pathway and covers some texts I'm particularly interested in, but the tutor teaching it left a bad impression on me in first year because of her lecturing style.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Episode 1056: Why Was PM Lee's Shirt Blue?

Just surprised myself by sitting through the whole of PM Lee's National Day Rally Speech! Was impressed that his pronunciation preserves the wine/whine phonetic distinction, whose gradual loss I remember Amanda Hopkins lamenting in a Middle English language class in first year. (I must admit, I myself do not habitually make the distinction, even though I do agree that it's worth preserving.) Also, I'm pleased that Mr Brown shared my sentiments regarding PM Lee's blue shirt this year. Was it a nod to the WP's landmark win at GE 2011? It did make for a moment of bad colour design towards the end of his speech though, when the background switched to pretty much the same shade of blue, and he promptly blended into the background. Shirley says that I was paying attention to all the wrong things, but well, aren't the speeches basically the same every year? You can distil them down to one sentence: Singaporeans must always think long-term and look beyond our shores. The details change annually depending on what are the 'hot' issues of the day, but otherwise, that really is the message the government trumpets 24/7. Not that I disagree with it, of course, but it's a bit on the abstract side, you have to admit.

Anyway, in a burst of industry, I've done some preliminary research for my dissertation, after a sudden bout of worrying that it would be impossible to research. Have been pulling articles from online databases, leading to the surprise discovery that Warwick subscribes to The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, which seems suitably obscure. I guess you can argue for the Commonwealth connection, but I wouldn't have placed this journal on a must-have list for a place like Warwick. Still, I'm glad the university subscribes. Really made getting secondary literature easier. Now just need to comb the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library and make a stack of photocopies, and I'll be well on my way to having enough material to read, digest and work with. Need to come up with a proposal though, and I may have to tweak it slightly from what I originally proposed to MOE, just to make it more likely to be accepted by the university. The Merlion angle is definitely a fruitful one, just because the poems in the anthology I'll be working closely with lend themselves well to comparative close readings, but I probably need to work in a postcolonial angle as well, much as I dislike that whole body of theory. Who knows? Maybe I'll come across something in my reading to change my mind.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Episode 1055: More Local Books!

The symbolism of this series of Torchwood just keeps getting more and more overt, if that's even possible. Come on, Gwen's whole speech in the hospital? Tell me that wasn't on some level about the cuts the UK is facing. One thing though: is it absolutely necessary for Jack to get in some sort of gay joke each week, just for the sake of it? It's getting a bit, well, predictable. Anyway, I managed to exchange my books for locally published stuff in the end, so while I didn't get any member's discount, at least I wasn't entirely wasting money either, since outside of Singapore, it's pretty much impossible to find Singaporean books. I did finish Telltale: Eleven Stories in the end, and can safely pronounce it an excellent anthology. The stories are recognisably Singaporean, yet they aren't parochial in their outlook, which is what sometimes frustrates me with local literature, especially from earlier generations of writers. I recognise that to some extent, I only have the luxury of saying something like that because I grew up in the 1990s. Still, I think for a country's literature to begin looking beyond its own shores is a heartening sign of maturity. I've always found it odd that Singapore, so plugged into the anglophone world in other aspects, should lag in gaining recognition in this regard, especially since we do have excellent writers.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Episode 1054: I'm A New Wena Poon Fan

Have been a bit sick ever since that day I rearranged my books, probably because of all the dust, so I gave cell a miss this evening. Also meant I couldn't go down to Kinokuniya, so I'm going to do it tomorrow before having dinner at my grandmother's place. Haven't decided what I'm going to exchange my books for. Purely in terms of getting my money's worth, I should only exchange them for other locally published stuff. Part of me really wants to get two books from among the Gollancz paperbacks of Greg Egan's Zendegi, Ian McDonald's The Dervish House, Alastair Reynolds's Terminal World or the Penguin paperback of William Gibson's Zero History, all published in the UK. I mean, the money spent can't be refunded, so I might as well get something that I definitely want, right? There was pretty much nothing left in the local literature section that I want, from what I could see that day. Guess I'll just have to make up my mind on the spot tomorrow! In the meantime, I'm trying to finish reading Telltale: Eleven Stories, edited by Gwee Li Sui. The stories are definitely a cut above the likes of Goh Sin Tub, that's for sure. Am definitely a new fan of Wena Poon, whose work has been published in the UK by Salt. What a small world it is!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Episode 1053: A Local Literary Dud

I suppose in any country's literary output, duds are inevitable. This short novel I tried reading today is so badly written though, I'm actually going back to Kinokuniya tomorrow to exchange it for something better. Not even going to dignify the author by naming him or the book, but I will say that it's shocking how the English language was mangled in the book. Either an editor never looked through his manuscript, or the editor was really incompetent, or the author was so arrogant as to disregard any editorial input. I mean, the prose is serviceable, but every so often, a phrase just sounds a discordant note that makes it hard to believe the author has worked as a journalist. Big words do not a good writer make. Hilariously, an Amazon review blasts the novel for precisely this reason, only to have the author retort that the reviewer is dishonest and has an axe to grind. Having read about 50 pages, I can safely say it's the author who's utterly deluded.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Episode 1052: Exchange Rates Conspiring To Make Me Spend Less!

Kinokuniya was having a 20% discount storewide to celebrate the 12th anniversary of its Orchard store, so I headed down with Jared to buy some books. Ended up buying only books published locally though, as given the current strength of the Singapore dollar against the US dollar and the British pound, it made no sense to pay the Kinokuniya prices for books published on either side of the Atlantic. I'll just have to wait until I'm back in the UK and/or The Book Depository does another 10% discount. Got a bunch of volumes from the Interlogue series put out by Ethos Books though, so I can return most of my borrowed copies to the library. Academic books are so ridiculously expensive! No wonder practically nobody wants to buy and read them, not even university students. (That's what we invented photocopiers for!) Sadly, since these are collections of academic essays on Singaporean literature, it would be nothing short of a miracle if copies of these books turned up in the Library back at Warwick. At least I'm not going to have trouble preparing a bibliography to accompany my dissertation proposal...

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Episode 1051: My Bookshelves Are Now A Thing Of Beauty!

Spent the afternoon switching the positions of my cupboard and my bookshelf, which took much longer than you'd think, as I decided to reorganise all my books while I was at it. Hours later, the shelves are now a thing of beauty! All the effort was in preparation for buying a second set of shelves, which I'll fill with the books and literary magazines I've now repacked into various boxes lying around. Hopefully, there'll actually be space left over for future purchases. All this shifting and arranging meant that I didn't get any reading done today, so the whole reading one issue of Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern each day is completely not working out. I've been reading the first issue of Lucky Peach though, which is delicious. Literally. I mean, after getting through about half of it, I feel like I know way more about ramen than I'll ever need to in my life, but I also feel like eating more ramen than I have any business doing so. (Who cares if what you get in Singapore is probably a bastardised version of the 'real thing'? There's actually a whole article in Lucky Peach that takes apart the notion of authenticity anyway.)

Monday, August 08, 2011

Episode 1050: What's Up With This Year's NDP Song?

Briefing about MAP took way less time than anticipated (and my batch of scholars isn't even up for the selection process this year, so I bet they'll be calling us back for another briefing next year), so a bunch of us adjourned to Holland Village to catch up. Seems that unlike me, almost everyone is changing universities for their Master's, and there are a lot of people going to Columbia, so maybe I should pay a visit to New York at some point! Incidentally, since it's National Day here tomorrow, can I just say that this year's NDP song, 'In A Heartbeat', is really, really not catchy? I mean, Sylvia Ratonel's got a great voice, no question about it, and Haresh Sharma's lyrics in this song are less cringeworthy than they were in the Fun Pack Song. The song just doesn't work though. It's not the kind of song that you could picture a bunch of Singaporeans singing, which kind of was the problem with Corrinne May's 'Song For Singapore' last year too. Again, great pipes, decently patriotic lyrics, but not very crowd-friendly. I might not like Kit Chan's 'Home' personally, but now that is a song which a huge crowd could belt out together, even if some amongst them went gloriously off-key. (The sentiment behind it though, is so saccharine it makes my teeth ache!)

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Episode 1049: It's Tedious When People Withdraw A Submission!

Someone withdrew a poem, so I just spent about 15 minutes bumping all the scheduled posts up by a day, all the way from the end of August. Before that, I finished reading David Mamet's Romance, a play that I bought for $5 at the warehouse sale yesterday. I also picked up Cormac McCarthy's The Crossing, which I got because I figured I might as well start building my paperback collection of his novels, having read and loved The Road and all. I also bought Joseph O'Neill's Netherland, which I'd blindly written off because of how Zadie Smith eviscerated it here in favour of Tom McCarthy's Remainder, which is admittedly, excellent. Thought it was only fair that I pick up O'Neill's critically acclaimed novel and read it for myself, in order to judge if I actually agree with all of Smith's assertions. From what I've gathered online, I think I'm quite likely to disagree with her. I must confess I find the idea that Netherland is somehow in dialogue with The Great Gatsby, that great New York novel of the last century, really intriguing. Anyway, I've decided to embark on a project of reading an issue of Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern every single day. Probably won't last long, but hey, I need some sort of goal, or I'll never read all these issues that I've bought...

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Episode 1048: Chattiest Taxi Driver Ever!

Went to Raffles Hotel today for the lunchtime buffet with my dad. Raffles Hotel is one of those iconic Singaporean landmarks that I've somehow managed to almost completely avoid. Think the last time I was there was in one of the courtyards, the one with a place selling ice-cream. The buffet was reasonably good, and I have a new appreciation for duck after trying the duck confit. The dessert section was the best part though. Crème brûlée made using gula melaka! Was originally going to head to the Borders warehouse sale at Expo directly from the hotel, and then double back to the Marymount area for dinner with Mrs Smith, but the timing for that changed, so it made more sense to head home first. Didn't buy much at the warehouse sale, which has been par for the course, as far as I'm concerned, ever since I started buying books online. Dinner was at Jai Thai, a homely restaurant tucked away in a stretch of eateries along Clover Way, itself in the midst of industrial buildings. It was good catching up with Mrs Smith over dinner and then coffee at Long House. The stuff she told us about the teaching programmes at RI really made me wish I could go back to teach there. Then I had a really interesting conversation with the taxi driver on the way home, who coincidentally, lives on the other side of Yishun, in the Chong Pang area. Chatted for at least an hour, even after we reached the void deck of my block. I mean, Audrey got home before I did, saw her walk past the taxi. He had a lot to say, but I left his taxi with a healthy respect for his can-do spirit.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Episode 1047: Chance Meetings

Posted a Facebook status complaining about slow-moving crowds in Orchard, and Bernice posted on my wall to say she was in Orchard too, at the ION Starbucks to be exact. So since Shirley was running late, and I'd browsed enough at Kinokuniya, I decided to go over and say hello. Think I honestly haven't seen her since JC days? Chatted for a bit, and Shirley arrived in the meantime, so I was about to head off. Only to turn around and realise Ken Cheng and Jun Kai were sitting at the table behind us! Talk about coincidences. Between the three of them, they were effectively blasts from all three phases of my local education past, from NYPS to RI to RJC. Would've loved to have stayed on and continue chatting, but I didn't want to keep Shirley waiting, so I made my excuses and left. I'm sure there'll be chances to meet up with them in future anyway. Ended up being late for cell, but I suppose at least I still went. Had waited so long for the 111 at Orchard Boulevard that I was on the verge of walking back to the MRT station and heading home!

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Episode 1046: Burst Of Industry

Turns out I really can get a lot done when I force myself to sit down and do stuff. Scheduled a bunch of submissions for both Eunoia Review and The Cadaverine. Was actually going to put off the latter till Saturday, but there's a Borders clearance sale at Expo that I want to go to, so I figured I might as well get them done today. Last night, I also figured out how to tweak our template so that the default font colour for posts is black rather than grey, so I was quite pleased about that. (David Tait, what would you do without my comparatively greater technological savvy? Haha!) Then I managed to get the review of Brittle Star out in about three hours, finishing just in time for dinner. Would've taken less time if I hadn't been watching Royal Pains, and then Franklin & Bash, but it's a pretty solid review, if I may say so, or at least the close reading bit was spot-on. You can check it out here. (Particularly proud of the brief close reading in the third paragraph!) Also found out that I've been nominated for the PSC MAP. Not sure if this means that I have to do interviews this summer, but I suppose they'll explain everything to us at the briefing on Monday. Pretty impressed that they've scheduled it on the eve of National Day. Would have expected everyone to be in a holiday mood by then. If this were France, wouldn't Monday have been declared a holiday since Tuesday was a public holiday already?

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Episode 1045: A Different Sort Of Homecoming

So today I noticed that the new issue of Quarterly Literary Review Singapore is up, and my poem 'Homecoming' is the first in the issue. This was the one that I originally sent in a few months ago, which Hsien Min suggested I rewrite and resubmit for this issue. Dithered and didn't get any further with it, but I did show it to a bunch of poets like Tony Barnstone and David Tait, getting some feedback in the process. When I finally decided to do the rewriting, it came fairly quickly. So now the poem's online at last, and just in time for National Day too! Very fitting, given the subject of the poem is Singapore. This publication's doubly special for me because QLRS actually gave me my first publication in a literary journal, six years ago, with 'Another Night On The Patio', which I wrote during a Mathematics lecture in JC. So to commemorate the occasion for myself, I decided to collate links to all of my published work here. It's just a simple webpage constructed using Google Sites, but it's mostly for my own reference anyway. I doubt that many people are falling over themselves to read my stuff!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Episode 1044: More Books On Their Way...

How have I managed not to discover Archer before yesternight? Sterling Archer is right up there with my list of favourite TV characters now, and he's just an animated figure. The humour actually reminds me of 27b/6: caustic, irreverent and raunchy. I feel about this show like I felt about Better Off Ted, except this show's already got a Season 3 coming up, as opposed to being cancelled. Yesterday, I also suddenly thought of buying some books from The Book Depository. Ended up spending £135.91 on American paperbacks, mostly Vintage Contemporary/International. So thanks Dan, for sending me that coupon code a while ago. Would've spent even more, except that following the Amazon takeover, The Book Depository's prices on British paperbacks have gone back up, whereas they used to undercut Amazon UK by 1p previously. I suppose it makes sense as a way to indirectly finance the free shipping that is for now still available? Even taking that into consideration, it's still cheaper to buy books this way (whichever side of the Atlantic they're published) than getting them from Borders or Kinokuniya. Anyway, I only splurged this time to get the most recent paperbacks from authors I read that I'm currently missing on my shelves.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Episode 1043: Transcript's Arrived!

Degree transcript has (finally) arrived, so a copy's been e-mailed to the relevant people at MOE. Now to sit back and wait! Today's also the launch date for Rum & Reviews Magazine, and you can now read my review of Rachel Boast's Sidereal here! Check it (and the rest of our launch issue) out and feel free to let me know what you think! Now to crack out the Brittle Star review. No rest for the literate! Anyway, I'm watching the final episode of the latest 9 pm Mediacorp drama, and it's so lazily scripted it makes American fare look like the work of geniuses. This happens to be a 25-episode drama, and the pacing was quite good in the first half, but lately, all the episodes have been cramming too much into too little time. Now it's the finale, and they're basically trying to wrap up all the storylines by stringing a series of improbable events together to fill the episode. To be fair, Mediacorp dramas tend to be mediocre anyway, but they seldom get this bad. (I doubt any Singaporeans who read this would bother defending Mediacorp.) Nice to see Zoe Tay can still bring her A game to a role though...