Monday, October 31, 2011

Episode 1134: Halloween Horror Night!

Got to hear Adam L. G. Nevill, David Moody and Gary McMahon read at the Halloween Horror Night in the Arts Centre earlier. (Lovely meeting Jane again as well!) Bought Nevill's The Ritual and Moody's Autumn, and got them signed too. Moody's series is currently being reissued in paperback through Gollancz, which is one of my favourite imprints, so I'm excited to start reading that as they're released over the coming year. Interested to see how the series compares to Mira Grant's ongoing Newsflesh trilogy, another zombie series that is very strong on portraying survivors rather than focusing on only the zombies, which Moody pointed out is what keeps the genre from sinking into cliché. Nevill's work reminds me more of something like Mark Z. Danielewski's House Of Leaves in the psychological aspect of its horror. The new novel from Gavin James Bower, Made In Britain, also arrived in the post today. I loved Dazed & Aroused, and so far, this second novel is working for me too. Particularly like the way the story's told through three characters, their narratives touching and slowly intertwining. Going to try to finish that by mid-week, and then get on with Julie Bertagna's Exodus.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Episode 1133: Sequence Almost Finished...

Have finally finished rewriting the first 12 sonnets in the sequence. Was quite pleased that one of them ('Industria') actually didn't require any revision in order to fit in with the 'story' of the revised sequence, not even to satisfy the internal pattern I imposed of having each poem contain some sort of reference to the sin/virtue of the poems that precede and follow it. I'd actually forgotten about this 'rule' when I was revising the 'virtue' sonnets, literally remembering only as I was walking back from Varsity to my room after dinner. Spent half an hour going through the five poems and fixing that, before heading to church for the evening service. Managed to come up with the last three lines of the next sonnet while in church, so now I'm trying to finish the whole thing before going to bed. Then that leaves just one more to go! Have recently discovered that this sequence is actually the perfect length for the Iota Shots competition, so if I can get my act together, I'm going to send it off for that. Claire's also just pointed me in the direction of Holdfire Press, which are accepting pamphlet submissions. Oddly enough, I definitely remember clicking through to their WordPress site a few months ago, possibly via a review on Sabotage Reviews!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Episode 1132: Putting Together A New Sequence

Earphones have been dispatched, so hopefully, I won't have to go the entirety of next week without being able to listen to my iPod. Anyway, I know I've said it before, but something happened today that's making me say it again. Sometimes, writers behave so unprofessionally to editors, it's baffling. Basically, I'm pretty sure that there's almost no chance another editor could have accepted the story in the 22 minutes it took me to read and reply to the submission (yes, I looked at the e-mail timestamps), which means it must have been a simultaneous submission to begin with. Except nowhere was that stated by the writer, despite my having made it very clear in my submission guidelines that anyone submitting has to tell me if the work is also being sent elsewhere. I suppose what I found less frustrating was the time wasted on formatting the piece for the site and more the writer's blithe response, which was to pretty much go, 'Oops! Another magazine wants this and I've said yes. I'll send you a replacement instead.' Seriously? Then why not just send me the 'replacement' in the first place?

In less frustrating news, I've undertaken to revise a substantial number of my poems. It's the first time I've actually gone through poems and pretty much rewritten them entirely, and it's because I'm trying to complete this unrhymed sonnet sequence that I started in 2008. It's about the seven deadly sins and the corresponding seven heavenly virtues. When I first wrote the sequence (which is technically still unfinished because I never wrote the last two sonnets), it was pretty flippant stuff. Looking at the poems now (one to three years later depending on where they are in the sequence), it's clear to me that more than half the time I was confecting lines just to finish the poem. Probably because the sequence was originally meant to be seven sonnets plus 14 half-sonnets, but I got tired of trying to write about being unadulteratedly good and decided 14 sonnets would have a better symmetry to them. In rewriting the sequence, I'm trying to give the two halves sort of their own overarching 'story'. It's worked out fairly well for the sins, and now I'm about to find out how the virtues fare.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Episode 1131: Earphones Broken (Again!)

The earphones that came with my iPod have finally broken down. Well, the right ear anyway. It still works if I bend the wire in certain ways, so that'll have to last until the earphones I ordered from Amazon UK arrive. I ordered the same Sennheiser CX 300 ones in the 'eco packaging' (which is actually really ingenious) that I got in my first year at Warwick, coincidentally around this time of the term too, give or take a couple of weeks. Anyway, I think today's EN974 seminar was when the bigger picture of the module finally clicked for me. Still glad that I'm not going to be writing the essay though! I do enjoy the ideas that get thrown up, and Thomas Docherty has a way of connecting them that makes their logic almost irresistible, but my own primary academic interests don't particularly lie in this area, which is quite densely philosophical at times, so I think I'd struggle with writing an essay for this module. I'm going to try and get some reading done tonight, for work and not for pleasure, if only because I'm feeling a bit guilty about not having done anything for my dissertation in ages. Not sure what I'll read, but it's probably going to be Carl A. Trocki's Singapore: Wealth, Power And The Culture Of Control. This isn't to preclude reading for pleasure, naturally, just that I won't let myself get around to that until I've read like a chapter or two of Trocki's.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Episode 1130: Salt Modern Voices Reading

Just got back from the Salt Modern Voices event in the Writers' Room, where I got to read alongside Emily Hasler, Adrian Slatcher and Claire Trévien, all of whom have pamphlets out in the Salt Modern Voices series. I was actually a stand-in for another reader who couldn't make it at the last minute. Happened to bump into George Ttoouli on my way to the Post Room yesterday, and he asked me if I'd be up for reading. Was especially nice to finally meet Claire, which actually makes this the first time that I've met any of the editors whom I write reviews for. In relation to my plans to publish a pamphlet, she pointed out that apart from entering competitions, I should be keeping an eye out for smaller presses that are soliciting new work. Anyway, now it's back to the grind, which currently consists of reading Molière's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, or The Would-be Gentleman, as the translation calls it. Sounds clunky, but hey, maybe that was the point? I was trying to read the original French alongside the Penguin translation, but after one act, I figured I wasn't getting anything more out of this doubling of reading time. Quite pleased that I could understand a fair bit of the French without having to refer to the translation though...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Episode 1129: Meeting MOE Freshers

Went to the first session of the Arts Faculty Seminar Series for the new academic year, after a rather boring (and useless) Introduction to Research Methods session in the Library. Two very different papers were given, which seemed to me to illustrate the opposing approaches to the presentation of research and new knowledge available to postgraduates. One can either strive for clarity, distilling the essence of concepts, or one can weave a web of knowledge so dense that only a specialist would want and/or be able to follow its connections. I suppose it'd be unfair to say that one approach is better or superior really, since the former runs the risk of oversimplifying the subject. (I did think the dismissal of the free will defence in the first paper was too pat. What about Alvin Plantinga's formulation?) Anyway, I'll probably go back to the next session in Week 7 because I'm making it a point to get involved with more academic stuff this year, being a postgraduate myself and all. Also met up with the new batch of Warwick MOE scholars for dinner in The Dirty Duck. There are so many of them! Well, relatively speaking. It seems like the numbers are slowly creeping up from my time anyway, when I was the only one in my batch. There's even a girl doing English Literature this time!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Episode 1128: A Deadline Forgotten

For some reason, I'd been labouring under the delusion that my review of V. S. Naipaul's The Mystic Masseur was due later this week. It was in fact due on Sunday! So I've hastily written it and sent it off to Craig. I didn't really care for the novel itself, but that's because I don't get on with most Caribbean and Indian authors. Purely personal preference. I thought the ideas it contained about colonialism and social class were interesting though, especially because they're concealed to some extent behind the narrative's comic façade. Now this review's done, I just have one more to go, which I sort of solicited and then put off working on because there's no deadline for it. Am still managing to stay on top of things, academically speaking, although I haven't been doing much reading or research for my dissertation. Guess I'll start to get worried if there's been no progress on that front by the middle of this term? At the same time, I'm also trying to get back into reading for pleasure. Poetry mainly, of which I have a lot, although I finally ordered those Pinter and Stoppard play collections, which I'm excited about as well. I've wanted them ever since I discovered them in library@esplanade, and this being my final year, it's now or never to get them on the cheap, relatively speaking.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Episode 1127: iOS5!

Rejection from the Oxfam anthology just came in. Finally. Some days, it just feels easier to be a reviewer/critic rather than a writer. It's easier to tell when you're getting things right as the former, at least that's what I think anyway. Received wisdom says that at this point, you're supposed to keep writing, but really, I think that calls for the sort of obstinate self-belief (self-delusion?) that I don't possess. (Of course, the irony is that I'm aware I'm only saying that because I haven't 'made it'. If I had, I'd probably be blithely dispensing similar advice. Everything's always rubbish until you're on the correct side of the fence, isn't it?) Anyway, since I'm being banal again and going on about petty (both senses of the word!) personal stuff, I'd like to mention that I did successfully update to iOS 5 on my iPhone after all. Had to leave it plugged in overnight because I've never done a full backup of my device contents before, but everything was good to go when I woke up. Just a few buttons pressed and everything was up and running. I must confess, I quite like this update. Plus I even reinstalled Facebook, at long last. Seems to work fine now, although people are still complaining in the iTunes Store, which leaves me wondering if the developers just didn't plan on making the latest version too backward compatible in the first place, and that's what's causing people so much grief.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Episode 1126: iOS 5?

Catching up on TV now, while reading Coventry Patmore's 'Prefatory Study on English Metrical Law', which I actually found more tolerable than the Poe stuff on prosody that I read before I went to London. Still, tomorrow's seminar isn't looking promising, that's all I can say! (Unless everyone really lays into Poe and Patmore, and their pedantry.) Also updating my iPhone to iOS 5, so here's hoping it doesn't go dramatically wrong. Re-read Koh Jee Leong's Payday Loans on the coach back to Coventry, and was once again struck by how much a big part of why I like it so much has to do with the fact that it's a sonnet sequence. Sonnets with lots of full rhyme, by the way. These days, end-stopped rhyming is sometimes seen as being in poor taste. Ditto using an 'old-fashioned' form like the sonnet. I for one would be happy to see the New Formalism consolidate its hold on Anglo-American poetry. It's about time the pendulum swung away from the excesses of free verse. Haha! I say all this as a poet who doesn't even write in strict form all that much, although I do in fact have a particular soft spot for sonnets and wish I could write them with greater facility.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Episode 1125: Sophie's 21st!

Came down to London for the weekend because Sophie was celebrating her 21st. (Thanks for letting me crash at yours!) Thought I was going to miss the coach this morning, but it turned out to be nearly half an hour late anyway. All that speed walking for nothing! Got into London and made it to Bermondsey without incident, thankfully. Had to charge my handphone before heading to Oxfam Bloomsbury and Marylebone, as I usually do whenever I'm in London. Picked up some poetry and drama, and I'd have got even more poetry, except I couldn't have carried all of it back. If I'd brought a bigger bag, maybe I could have. Someone had donated a whole stack of review copies from Cinnamon Press! Really wanted to pick the lot up. Anyway, Sophie's birthday was at the interestingly named pub, The Defectors Weld. Got myself a Mojito, and I think I was the last person who managed to get a drink before the bar tab ran out. Just as well, cocktails cost £7.50 at this pub! Didn't stop me from buying a second Mojito later in the night, but it was nice to have had the first one for free, naturally. Didn't get to speak to Sophie much tonight, but it was great running into Dan as well when I first arrived.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Episode 1124: More People Should Watch The Vampire Diaries (It's Really Very Entertaining, I Promise!)

I guess I've never really noticed it before, but practically every episode of The Vampire Diaries is insane. In a good way. (Incidentally, a line like 'Really? You think I'm gonna let a blood addict tell me how to drink?' is definitely why everyone should have vampiric drinking buddies.) My only complaint at the moment is how awkward Bonnie's character has become. She's become little more than the go-to witch when you need a spell to randomly fix something, although I suppose with more ghosts popping up, she's hopefully going to become more relevant again. (I always thought her relationship with Jeremy was plain awkward, especially since I liked his character better with Anna.) At least her spells sound cooler than those on The Secret Circle, which are just a tad lame, being a handful of words that the circle chants over and over again until the magic happens. Just in general anyway, The Vampire Diaries has been schooling The Secret Circle on a weekly basis. I don't think Nick's death last week on the latter is going to have quite the same impact that Vicky's did on the former back in Season 1. Honestly, The Vampire Diaries is the kind of show that could get away with stuffing three game-changing cliffhanger scenes into its last five minutes (like this week's episode). Alongside Community, I think these are currently the network drama and comedy that are criminally underwatched.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Episode 1123: Crunching Through The Spectrum Of Culture

I've come to realise that Dirty Soap, the newest addition to E!'s reality stable, is actually pretty compelling viewing. Oddly, part of the appeal, for me anyway, is that the drama on it is pretty, well, tame. Plus these people are all in their 30s or approaching it, and all but one are soap stars to begin with, so it's almost like there's no need to excessively manufacture additional drama because their daily jobs already involve the hilarious messiness of soap opera plotlines. I mean, there's the usual amount of stagey stuff, but mostly, it's just a bunch of friends (and frenemies) getting along with their professional and personal lives. It's difficult to even find a clear villain among the lot (although Farah Fath is clearly meant to be the closest thing), which is strange because that is usually a must for a reality series. In any case, the cast is ridiculously attractive, so the show's watchable just for that. (The ridiculousness was, perhaps, highlighted in this week's episode when Brandon Beemer literally spent all of it being insecure about walking the runway at a fashion show. Seriously? Yawn.) It's like the cast from one of The CW's teen dramas got aged into people who actually look like adults, as opposed to adults pretending to be teens.

To flip to the opposite end on the cultural spectrum, I've got a new review up at Sabotage Reviews which you can check out here. It's of Sarah Dawson's chapbook, Anatomically Incorrect Sketches Of Marine Animals, self-published for the Kindle. The poems are enjoyably lyrical, but they get even better when you start analysing the play with language that's going on in them, as my review notes. That's one review done, with two outstanding. Would've been three if that collection sent by Drunken Boat ever reached me over the summer. Shame, I'd been looking forward to that one. I also attended a Sidelights on Shakespeare session this afternoon, where Thomas Docherty gave a paper called 'Celtic Shakespeare'. Pretty different stuff from the usual academic papers, e.g. the Celtic being referred to here is the Glaswegian football club. What Thomas was talking about with the politics of education really struck me. It is hard for me to escape the conclusion that to a certain extent, the person that I am, intellectually and socially, has been profoundly shaped by a system that privileges and rewards academic ability with opportunities in an upward spiral, whose endgame is a scholarship for tertiary education. Yet at the same time, the reason I can reflect on my own life and say this sort of thing is precisely because I've received the kind of education that I have. It's problematic, right?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Episode 1122: The Real Thing

I think Tom Stoppard is one of those playwrights whose work is nigh impossible to mess up. My only quibble with the WUDS staging is something that can't really be helped, which is that the main actors look a bit young for the characters they're playing. That aside, I really liked minor details like Charlotte (as the character from the play-within-a-play) and Annie both munching on a Mars Bar while being accused of infidelity, or how the action on the upper stage was playing out the storylines of the secondary characters that I presume aren't in the text, since I don't have the script with me to check. This included a storyline for Max that ultimately led to the call he makes to Henry to announce his remarriage. I thought that was a nice touch, apart from the practical purpose of these segues allowing for set changes on the ground level. It's pretty interesting too, how a play that seems to start out about being about love/marriage/infidelity transitions into being about the politics of language and writing, and then bringing all these things together. I did wonder if the play was intended to contain so many of what felt like false endings, or if that was just a product of the way it'd been staged. Whatever the case though, I think I definitely need to make buying Stoppard's plays a priority.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Episode 1121: I Change My Mind!

The books I ordered have finally arrived, as well as my graze box! Was beginning to get worried there. Would've e-mailed the Post Room if nothing had showed up today. (Randomly, the notification cards are no longer blue but white or yellow instead, and collection is now in a separate section of the building.) Anyway, reaction to my story during this afternoon's EN978 seminar was generally positive, with the main complaint (if you can even call it that) being that the story left people wanting to know more. The feedback was really helpful, and I can see how the story could be fleshed out to easily double its current length or more. So now I'm again in two minds about which module to audit. I mean, I really enjoy the ideas on EN974, but I still can't see how I'd go about writing an essay for that, and if I've got a solid idea with my story that I can run with, putting together the portfolio is basically going to be a lot less difficult. That would in turn leave me more time to do the reading and research for my dissertation. That's the plan at least! Have till the end of the week to actually make up my mind because that's when EMR closes, but I guess this latest development (i.e. people liking my story) pretty much decides things.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Episode 1120: Crisis Resolved, For Now

Finally sent off the revised proposal in the early hours of the morning, and nearly overslept and missed my haircut appointment as a result. Fortunately though, Pablo Mukherjee seems to think that the revised proposal represents a good starting point for my research, and more importantly, he didn't object to my bringing in the concept of liminality, which I wasn't sure I'd applied correctly. He also raised the issue of commodification, which is definitely a good angle to look at the Merlion, which if you go back to its origins, is really a manufactured tourist icon. All this stuff about national identity? It's just writers projecting their own anxieties onto a blank canvas over the decades, if we're being honest about the whole matter. Looks like I've got my work cut out for me in terms of reading anyway. Feels good, knowing that you might be stumbling about, but at least you're more or less going the right way for now. Plus it's only Week 3. I'd be crazy to think I have a perfect idea of what to write for my 16000-word dissertation at this point in time!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Episode 1119: Minor Dissertation Crisis

Minor dissertation crisis before I left for church. Was trying to get on with revising my dissertation proposal, when I happened to come across an article published in PRISM: USP Undergraduate Journal, published by NUS, which basically analyses the intertextual relations in the Firstfruits anthology Reflecting On The Merlion: An Anthology Of Poems, as well as making an attempt to map the transitions between them onto the narrative of the Western literary tradition, and commenting on the implications the poems have for Singaporean national identity. So that's basically my original thesis statement pretty much proven (and then some). Now I'm trying to find a way to take this analysis to the next level, which I think has to involve in some way the argument that the national identity thus constructed has always been provisional and sceptical about itself, fundamentally uneasy about the traditional East/West binary that postcolonialism purports to challenge. This doesn't seem like much though, so I'm thinking of also grounding the discussion of the Merlion and Singaporean national identity within the concept of liminality, and somehow tying that to a postcolonial approach. It's all quite confusing in my head at the moment, and I'm sure as I read more, it'll get clarified more and more, but for now, I just need to get some sort of revised proposal out!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Episode 1118: Yawn...

Went to the Heronbank and Lakeside Welcome Party, but left with one of my flatmates after the prize draw when the disco started. I guess as a postgraduate, I'm at that stage where I'm comfortable not feeling like I have to make new friends under such enforced social conditions like a welcome party. I mean, I'd be cool with making new friends, but it has to happen organically and have some better basis than living in the same hall of residence. Wasn't outraged like some people that you could only get beer, cider, soft drinks or wine for the free drink, though I was amused that the wine came prepacked in plastic bottles. Lizzie was crashing at mine overnight, and she was getting back from a shift at Kelsey's, so I came back to my room to watch Merlin and eat Vialli's instead, which was more entertaining than staying at the party would have been, I should think. Still perplexed by why my graze box hasn't arrived, as it was due on Friday. Maybe it's best just to cancel the deliveries altogether once this one has been sorted out. A delivery from Amazon UK should have arrived by now too, so I will be expecting a little blue notification card on Monday in the post box. Otherwise, something's gone really wrong with the Post Room on campus!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Episode 1117: So Much Love For Community Right Now...

Stayed up last night to finish my story, and it ended up being quite different from the idea I originally had. What I had in mind was sort of riffing on Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. What I ended up with doesn't really remind me of anything specific that I've read, although I'm hoping it's the sort of story that can be read by both younger and older readers. Was almost late for my morning seminar because I went to bed late (man, I'm really getting old!), and I think I'm pretty set on switching to auditing for EN978 now. EN974 continues to blow my mind, largely because Thomas Docherty is great at breaking concepts down so I know what the heck is going on, even though the module is about stuff that I usually don't read/think about. The dissertation workshop today was pretty helpful too, and I've a good idea of how to rewrite my proposal over the weekend. Shouldn't take too long, I think. Anyway, for those who've seen it, how brilliant was the new episode of Community? Alternate timelines and Evil Troy and Evil Abed? I hope those two make a reappearance somewhere further on in this season. I mean, Community is zany enough that it could work, and the show even set up the invasion premise in two episodes ago with the two Model UNs! That's exactly the sort of not-so-subtle cue that this show would put out there.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Episode 1116: Where's My Story?

Okay, the traffic surge seems to have stopped, but it did take the journal past 25000 views. Have put off writing my story for EN978 all day, only to realise in the evening that I was actually meant to have sent it in on Tuesday. This is what I get for not actually reading e-mail attachments! So now I'm trying to turn the idea that I had for a story last night into something that can be workshopped. Except I'm having trouble taking it from concept to execution because the thought that I need to target the writing at a younger age group is getting in the way of my thought process. Guess I'm just going to wing it eventually and hope for the best. The rest of the day wasn't a total waste of time though, as I finished reading Frank Cottrell Boyce's Millions for next week's EN978 seminar. Didn't get to re-read the Montaigne for tomorrow though. Just realised that the translation I read online was by Charles Cotton from the 17th century. No wonder it felt weird! The M. A. Screech translation for Penguin feels a lot clearer to me, but that's partly also because I'm now reading the essay for the second time, I guess.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Episode 1115: New Visitor Record!

Just took out a subscription to The White Review, as part of my goal to start reading more literary magazines. Also finally did my laundry today, but it wasn't without incident. A defective machine ate up £4, which I'm going to get refunded tomorrow, thankfully. (Randomly, also finally managed to get rid of the housefly that's been buzzing around my room.) Had forgotten, however, how quickly the campus laundrettes get things done. A full cycle of wash and dry takes just under one-and-a-half hours! In other news, the spike in visitor traffic to Eunoia Review that began yesterday saw the site get 293 visitors today, which is nearly a 50% increase on the previous high in August. I think it may be because I had two followers retweet my tweet about this week's new work, one of whom has more than 2500 followers. The rise in traffic seems like it's holding steady into tomorrow (the 24-hour cycle follows Singapore time because that's what I set it to), so this week may even end up setting a new record in itself. One can hope! I'm really just happy that more people are reading the work that goes up on the site.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Episode 1114: Damn You, Facebook

So the update to the Facebook iPhone app crashed my iPhone, and I had to do a restore. A fix has supposedly been released, but when I try to download it, I just get an app that perpetually needs to be updated, so I'm guessing something about it is still broken. Fortunately, although I couldn't get my iPhone out of the white Apple logo of death loop, iTunes could still read data off it, so I backed it up. Now I'm slowly reinstalling applications. It's going to take a while because I had more than 600 games the last time I checked, but I'm thinking maybe this is a good opportunity to do some radical pruning. If I'm totally honest, the number of games I regularly play is somewhere in the region of a dozen, 20 at most. Anyway, if I ever change my mind, I can always download the applications again at no cost, since the App Store now contains a record of all purchased applications. Mostly I'm just glad all my data seems like it can be restored, once the corresponding application has been reinstalled. Part of me is still really pissed off at Facebook though, as Mark Zuckerberg and company seem determined to constantly tweak something that isn't even broken. This fiasco is simply the severest instance of this mania that I've encountered to date, that's all.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Episode 1113: First Amazon Purchase In Ages!

Was chatting with Naomi before today's seminar, and we agreed that EN974 last Friday was pretty intense. Like I said, I'm giving myself another week's worth of seminars to decide which one I'm switching to auditing, between EN974 and EN978. The only thing that's holding me back is that I don't really know what kind of essay I'd write for EN974, whereas EN978 would just be a portfolio of fiction plus commentary, which I'm used to putting together by now. I still can't help but have misgivings about writing for a younger audience though, despite stating a preference for the older end of the age spectrum we're dealing with in the module (which sort of shades into early 20s anyway). Ah well. I'll figure it out eventually, like I always do. I've finally got around to ordering those books that I've been meaning to since before I flew back here. Have yet to find out where my mailbox is though. Might have to go explore the other entrances in North Court. Next thing to figure out is how to walk to the laundrette in East Court without having to trudge into the open, which should technically be possible since Heronbank North and East Courts are actually joined together. Just a matter of working out which corridor(s) to wander down! Probably do that on Thursday. Also, I can now bake my frozen fish and chicken from Iceland because I have oven gloves. So thanks John!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Episode 1112: Competitions?

Am thinking of submitting my PWP, or some version of it anyway, for The Poetry Business competition. Closing date is 1 December for online entries. The PWP in its full length is too long for the competition, which asks for 20-24 pages of poetry, so I'm going to have to drop the comparatively weaker poems in the sequence. There are a couple of other pamphlet competitions with deadlines in November that I'm thinking of entering, so it's a question of whether I have enough poems that can also be put together in a sensible fashion. Entering competitions is one of the things I told myself I'd do this year because I've been told before that it's what I should be looking into doing at this stage. It's my last year in the UK, so what the heck, I might as well give it a go, right? I do wish the people behind the Oxfam anthology would get back to me about my poems though, as there are a couple in the ones I sent them that would be great to build pamphlet-length sequences around. Mostly I just want to know if I've been accepted or rejected, since Google indicates some acceptances have already been issued.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Episode 1111: New Hurts Fan!

Found a couple of EN978 books in the Schools Collection of the Library (thank goodness for postgraduate student loan limits!), so I might be able to put off going to the library in Coventry or Leamington for a while more yet. I'm still in two minds about which module I should switch to auditing if my dissertation proposal gets accepted, EN974 or EN978. The former is definitely going to be more of an intellectual challenge, and I'm starting to think I might relish that, but I also kind of picked the latter to avoid that in the first place. Choices, choices. Guess I'll be able to make up my mind after another week of seminars? One thing I don't have to make up my mind about though, is liking Hurts. Their debut album Happiness is one of the few where I like every track, and can listen to the whole thing without skipping tracks. Only other recent albums that have the same distinction are Simon Curtis's and Take That's Progressed EP. Reviews I've read so far have been lukewarm, but then I've seldom allowed my musical preferences to be swayed by reviews, or I wouldn't listen to some of the pop music that I love.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Episode 1110: Catching Up...

Right now, I'm watching the episode of How I Met Your Mother where Lucy Hale plays Robin's younger sister. Just when I thought I couldn't like this show more! Community is still my favourite airing comedy though. Should probably be catching up on my reading rather than a TV show, but I guess I haven't snapped out of my holiday mode yet. Anyway, it's the end of my first week back at university, and I'd say this morning's EN974 seminar was a good way to go into the weekend. Never had Thomas Docherty as a seminar tutor before this, and honestly, I think he's one of the best I've had in four years. (Yes, I literally picked this module because he was teaching it.) Tempted to ask him if I can audit the companion module to this one next term. It would mean sacrificing a free day though, right smack in the middle of what would otherwise be a five-day weekend. I've also been making a conscious effort to speak up in seminars this week, where previously I'd have been content to go through an entire seminar in silence. Granted, now that they're twice as long as they usually were in my undergraduate days, it's a bit odd not to say anything at all for two hours.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Episode 1109: Most Insane TV Show Ever?

Downloaded Connectify, so I've got WiFi in my room as long as my laptop is switched on. Borrowed a stack of books today, all from the list of recommendations Pablo Mukherjee added when he sent my proposal back. I've requested that the Library purchase Neil Lazarus's The Postcolonial Unconscious, but if they choose not to, I guess paying £17 to get my own copy isn't too pricey. Anyway, I've just watched the pilot of American Horror Story, and this show is gloriously insane. If you only ever knew Ryan Murphy as the creator of Glee, this should be an eye-opener for you. (To be fair, he created Nip/Tuck before Glee, and that show was pretty crazy too.) The show piles on so many horror tropes in under an hour that if it weren't done with such manic confidence, I think the whole show would simply collapse under the weight of all those clichés. It's too early to say if this show can ultimately deliver a satisfying conclusion, but hey, it looks like it'll be a wild ride. Incidentally, Dylan McDermott is a ridiculously well-preserved 50-year-old, even by the standards of Tinseltown. I swear he looks practically like he did when he was on The Practice, and that was a decade ago. Also, I woke up to the news that Steve Jobs had died. What a way to divert attention from the flak surrounding the iPhone 4S, huh?

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Episode 1108: Fridge/Freezer Space Claimed!

Went down to church to help Sarah key in some data for Kidz Klub. Then I went back onto Central Campus to hand in the card with my MA option choices and pick up my NUS card, before doubling back to Cannon Park for groceries. Now have the bottom compartment of the freezer staked out, which I don't feel guilty about because it's half the size of all the other compartments. Fridge space is a bit more problematic, but it's okay, since all I need is somewhere to put my cheese and Innocent smoothies (and cherry tomatoes). Now it's just a matter of maintaining approximately the same amount of food and drink, so that I don't lose the space I've claimed. Haha! Spent the rest of the afternoon and evening catching up on TV, when I really should have been reading Montaigne and Descartes for Friday's EN974 seminar. I've started on 'De l'expérience', and I'm definitely going to be able to get through it and Descartes's 'Discours de la méthode' tomorrow afternoon. You know, sitting in Costa, sipping an overpriced blended coffee. On second thoughts, it might be too crowded. On the other hand, I want to go back to Iceland/Tesco to get some snacks, and more of that canned chicken in white sauce that takes three minutes in the microwave, and there's a Costa outlet in Cannon Park!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Episode 1107: First One Bites The Dust...

Re-read the MA handbook because I was still confused about what exactly is meant to happen regarding dropping modules for people doing a dissertation. As far as I can tell, I should be able to do both my Spring Term modules, provided I drop something this term. Since EN973 apparently counts for my Critical Theory requirement (which wasn't made too clear on the department website. if you ask me), I don't actually have to do EN974 Aesthetics and Modernity 1: The Question concerning Experience. I still want to though, so I'm thinking that I'll switch to auditing EN978, since there are a couple of people doing that anyway. I could just stop going, but then Lucy would probably kill me. I'm having fun reading children's books anyway, when I'm not trying to keep up with too many TV shows. Speaking of which, the first cancellation of the new TV season has happened. NBC has dissolved The Playboy Club, citing low ratings. Shame, I was just starting to warm to the show. At least it lasted one episode longer than Lone Star last year. Am back to doing administrative stuff for Kidz Klub starting tomorrow morning, after which I'm going to head to Tesco and finally claim some fridge and freezer space for myself! It's a bit too late for the fridge, to be honest, but the freezer still had completely empty compartments when I last checked, and based on eating habits from the last two years, I typically require freezer space more anyway.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Episode 1106: Plus Ça Change, Plus C'est La Même Chose

David Tait forwarded me half a dozen submissions this evening, so I'm going through a couple of them before bed. So far, all the stories I'm reading definitely need a lot of work, but I can't offer much in the way of suggestions for these writers beyond first editing down their work for greater economy, and then we can proceed from there. Frankly, I'm guilty at times of overwriting too, so I don't feel like I'm being unduly harsh by telling writers that they need to cut back. Anyway, it's been a pretty busy first day. I'd quite forgotten how much you could get done just by waking up earlier. Got up around 8.30 am, so I had time to watch an episode of Hung and Wild Boys each, shower, pick up my new student card and collect my DFP Affaires B2 certificate (avec mention très bien!), before heading to the IACS for my DR@W experiment. Then I had my first EN973 seminar with Emma Mason, which was great. Caught up with the other creative writers who've stayed on to do various MAs in Curiositea, and it was nice seeing everyone again! Had some sort of induction meeting too, which wasn't terribly useful, to be honest, and drinks and nibbles after. Chatted to some new people who're doing the Writing MA, and then I went to The Dirty Duck to catch up with church friends. So I'm pretty tired now, otherwise I'd finish reading all of the submissions David forwarded.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Episode 1105: Settling In...All Over Again

Moving all my stuff into my Heronbank room was surprisingly less of a hassle than I'd expected. Even collecting the stuff that was in storage was made easier by an obliging taxi driver, who pretty much helped me carry most of my boxes. So here I am, all unpacked. Now I just need to get rid of the boxes, although it seems such a shame, since they're all still in perfectly usable condition. Well, at least the recycling point isn't too far away. Heronbank, by the way, is lovely, especially the ensuite bathroom. The season finale of Doctor Who is insane by the way, and not in a good way. It tries to wrap up all the loose ends, going way back to our first encounter with River Song, but in so doing, it also channels the worst thing about TV/film, which is having twists for their own sake. Now the whole of Season 6 just feels like it was shoehorned into a superficially elegant narrative arc that would lead to this finale. Except all the subtlety is gone. Rose's 'Bad Wolf' motif was so much better. Heck, even the cracks in the wall from last season were better. The Silence? Very interesting to begin with, but once they started getting explained, I couldn't help thinking the whole thing was more and more ridiculous and disappointing. On the other hand, I greatly approve of the season premiere of Merlin! This epic Facebook comments thread between me, Lizzie and Nick Marshall (found here) should explain why clearly enough. Time for bed now, even though I still haven't watched the newest episode of Wild Boys. Had nearly forgotten I have an experiment to do at 1 pm!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Episode 1104: Wow, That Was A Horrible Flight

Watched four movies during the flight, and the first three were pretty terrible. First I saw Monte Carlo, which was a real stinker, despite a cast that should have been a hit. Come on, Katie Cassidy, Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester and Cory Monteith? It's like a casting director plucked names off a TV schedule. The movie was just plain bad though. It wasn't even funny, which is saying a lot, given that films involving cases of mistaken identity usually don't have to try too hard to get laughs. Disappointing! Then I watched Something Borrowed. Even since Colin Egglesfield got axed from the now-cancelled Melrose Place reboot, I've been wondering what his next acting gig would be. Unfortunately, this romantic comedy is stunningly underwhelming. It's based on a book, so now I'm wondering if the book is just as bad, or is the film just not very faithful to it, considering the bizarrely compressed-but-full-of-twists ending. Next I found myself shaking my head at the cheesy CGI in The Storm Warriors. Okay, so the point of the film probably is for Ekin Cheng and Aaron Kwok to look broody amidst a lot of ludicrous special effects, but goodness, could the plot be any thinner? Not even going to rehash it here. Last movie was Green Lantern, which I'd wanted to watch when it was in the cinemas, but now I'm glad I didn't. It was obviously nothing more than a vehicle to showcase Ryan Reynolds's body and offer Blake Lively a step up the film rung. Sadly, the movie actually just confirms that she can't really act. This movie was obviously gunning for a sequel, but apparently it was a box office dud, so those plans may be scuppered. All in all, a boring flight then, and this is not even considering the fact that I spent the last two hours or so of it in misery, possibly from something I ate. Props to the air stewardess though, for being concerned when I told her during the breakfast service that I wasn't feeling well.