Friday, September 30, 2011

Episode 1103: Postcolonialism Is Out To Get Me, Isn't It?

How's this for cool? The second printing of Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern Issue 4 was done by Tien Wah Press in Singapore. Don't think I'll manage to finish the issue before I have to fly though, I'm afraid. Pablo Mukherjee sent back my dissertation proposal with comments and a recommended bibliography that will help to furnish the theoretical framework my current proposal lacks, so yeah, postcolonial studies is still catching up with me anyway, even though I decided against the corresponding module for my MA with Neil Lazarus. As it turns out, Neil's most recent book, The Postcolonial Unconscious, published only in August, is likely to prove critical to the formulation of my thesis. Have a stack of reading to get through now, and I'm actually considering cutting back on some of the less interesting TV shows I'm following, in the vein of how I axed Harry's Law from my list previously, although I've since reconsidered on Nick Marshall's prompting, only to be told that the show has devolved into something he dislikes, i.e. 'Generic Legal Drama: Featuring a Sarcastic Lady'. Ironically, doesn't that sound exactly like my type of show?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Episode 1102: My Poor NatWest Account

Annual allowance still hasn't been credited, so it's fortunate that the first instalment for Warwick Accommodation isn't due till end of October. I'm wondering if it hasn't arrived because the AGD only makes transfers on a specific day in the month, and because I signed my agreement in mid-September, I 'missed' the date for this month, and so I'm stuck waiting until it rolls around in October. Have sent an e-mail to check, in case it's a clerical error and I've been overlooked, though I highly doubt such a major mistake can actually happen! Anyway, it looks like Thursday is also a TV bonanza for me. There's Fresh Meat and The Fades from the UK, and American shows Free Agents (remake of something British, and therefore more likely than not to be disastrous), Happy Endings (the only Friends knockoff from 2010/11 to survive another year), Revenge (think Gossip Girl if it were set only in the Hamptons and were only about getting revenge rather than being ridiculous), and Suburgatory (another promising contender from this year's crop of admittedly gimmicky shows). Maybe Nick Marshall is right. I should just start a new blog about TV. The Internet obviously needs another person mouthing off online about what's on TV...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Episode 1101: Oh Gossip Girl, How You've Fallen!

Yes, we're back on the subject of TV tonight. Let me be clear about something right off the bat: I was and still am a Gossip Girl fan. When it started out, the show was soapy, the people beautiful, and the comebacks snarky, all wrapped up as high school drama. Quite unlike anything that had been on TV, apart from The OC, I guess. Arguably, it also started the wave of book-to-TV adaptations that still shows no sign of ending, although the lacklustre ratings for The Lying Game and The Secret Circle suggest that even if an author's previously adapted book series becomes a smash TV hit and cultural phenomenon (Pretty Little Liars and The Vampire Diaries respectively), trying to replicate the magic isn't always as easy as finding another sets of books to riff on. Having watched the Season 5 premiere of Gossip Girl though, and as much as it pains me to write this, I have to concede that of the two shows, 90210 is now undoubtedly superior to its East Coast cousin. It just feels breezier and more carefree, whereas I'm now inclined to agree with those who have long criticised the cast of Gossip Girl for just going through the motions. While its ratings mean it could limp through a Season 6, I'm not sure what the point would be. It's always a bad sign when your newest main cast member features only in the last five minutes of your season premiere. The writers really need to step up their game.

Also a disappointment, Fox's Terra Nova. While not exactly a flop for the network, compared to the ABC/CBS/NBC trifecta, this show is definitely not punching its weight, considering it's one of the more expensive shows to produce this season (damn those cheesy SFX and CGI dinosaurs!). The two-hour pilot had 9 million viewers, and I'm predicting the show will shed anywhere between 2-3 million next week. The problem isn't that Terra Nova isn't enjoyable. The problem is that it recycles too many stock motifs and tricks, right down to its stirringly epic soundtrack. That and it's plagued by a predominantly average-looking cast, except possibly lead actor Jason O'Mara, who gets a shirtless scene, so you know the network wants you to think he's hot. (What did I say about stock tricks of the trade?) The premise - colonists being sent back 85 million years to an alternate timeline from a 22nd century Earth on the verge of ecological collapse - is only marginally original, and strongly reminds me of UK show Outcasts. (Yeah, no one watched that either, even though I personally liked it.) Basically, Terra Nova looks like it's going to be Jurassic Park: The Series, a chance for Spielberg to rehash one of his most successful efforts. Mark this one down as my first cancellation prediction for the 2011/12 season. Let's hope it lasts longer than Lone Star, which was a mighty fine show that would likely have fared better somewhere like USA or FX.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Episode 1100: Alphas, Or Heroes/X-Men Done Right

There have been quite a few new summer shows that impressed me by being as good as, if not better than, fall/winter programming. Like Falling Skies, Franklin & Bash, Suits and Torchwood: Miracle Day. Having watched the finale of Alphas this afternoon, however, I can safely say that this show had the best one, in terms of tying up the story arc(s) of its season, while demonstrating potential to expand its in-show universe. (Okay, so it's a bit odd to put it in those terms for dramedies like Franklin & Bash and Suits.) I agree with those TV critics who've praised the way in which Alphas balances its drama and its political undertones, and credit for that surely goes to co-creator Zak Penn, who's done writing work on X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand. Considering that Alphas airs on SyFy and only has a fraction of the production budget of a franchise like X-Men, it's a pretty mean feat, the dramatic flair with which the season ends. It should also silence detractors who saw the show as a pale imitation of Heroes. Should also mention that Ryan Cartwright has delivered an amazing performance as the autistic Gary.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Episode 1099: Packing Begins!

Started packing this evening, so all the clothes I want to bring back have been picked out. Only need to make up my mind about the books and I'll be all set. Probably could do with bringing less clothes, as usual. Ah well, I'm rationalising it on the grounds that I'll be there for the full year this time, rather than just nine months, so obviously I need more clothes with me, right? Randomly, I never realised that Heronbank and Lakeside were organised under one Warden as the Heronbank and Lakeside Student Village. I guess like Westwood, being outside the main traffic corridors of Central Campus does give these residences more of a community feel. I wonder what floor my room will be on, and how far away will the launderette be? I've already sent an e-mail to Access Storage Coventry to say I'm moving out by next Monday, so I don't have to rush to get all my boxes out on the same day that I land in the UK. Probably makes more sense to pay a taxi driver a flat fee and have him drive me to the building from campus, wait for (and help?) me to unload my boxes, and then drive me back to Heronbank. I guess £30+ should be reasonable enough.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Episode 1098: Still Plugging Away...

'When I get sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead. True story.' Barney Stinson, you are a wise man, and my friends who watch How I Met Your Mother (like Lizzie, Nick Marshall and Sophie) are really bad friends for not having forced me to watch this show sooner. I'm making my way through Season 2 now, as you might have guessed from the opening quote. Could probably finish it before I have to fly back. Trying to fit in another season alongside all the other TV shows I'm following is almost impossible though, especially if I'm trying to keep up with my reading as well. Am almost done with David Calcutt's The Map Of Marvels, and that's me set for one module for the first three weeks. Speed reading could allow me to finish another week's worth of children's books, but I'm thinking I should finish off the issue of Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern I'm currently reading. (I left off at this non-fiction piece about the Unabomber, which I found pretty engrossing on my last MRT journey.) Also deciding which books I'm going to bring over to the UK this time, and I'm being disciplined about it. Anything I can find in the Warwick Library is out, so that's several Bloodaxe poetry anthologies axed from the list. Some unnecessary stuff is still on it though, like the three Philippe Grimbert novels, which I want to bring to read because it'll help me keep up with my French, except I already know I'm more likely than not to put off actually reading them, possibly for an entire year. Another 'luxury' item under consideration: 12 issues of Wholphin.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Episode 1097: Let's Not Pretend Anymore I'm Going To Stop Talking About TV Shows

The Season 2 premiere of Nikita was actually kind of boring. I like that Michael and Nikita are together and on the run, and Melinda Clarke is still being brilliant and scary as Amanda, but I somehow just expected more from an episode kickstarting a new season. The addition of Dillon Casey (probably more familiar to TV audiences as the random guy who got naked with John Barrowman not too long ago on Torchwood: Miracle Day) looks set to complicate things for Division, and maybe provide a new love interest for Alex, after Ashton Holmes's character got killed off far too quickly. I'll admit though, Birkhoff got more badass over the summer. Now that was a good moment in an otherwise lacklustre season premiere. Still need to watch the premiere of Fringe Season 4, but I have faith that it's going to be awesome. For a show that airs on Fox, notorious for canning intriguing shows (anyone remember that two-episode gem, Lone Star?), for Fringe to make it this far, and up its game with each successive season, is pretty incredible. It's still in the Friday night death slot though, so I guess a Season 5 looks unlikely. Sigh. Maybe 2012 will be the year Fox wises up and ditches the reality crap like American Idol in favour of renewing something like Fringe or Terra Nova (yeah, I'm predicting the latter's demise before it's even aired)?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Episode 1096: I Need To Shut Up About TV Already...

Lost alumni are popping up everywhere this TV season. First it was Terry O'Quinn on the new season of Hawaii Five-0, now it's Michael Emerson on Person Of Interest, which also stars Jim Caviezel. The show's central concept is pretty interesting, sort of Human Target channelled through Alias. I don't know if it's just me, but the series debuting this season all seem so much more promising than last year's. Community is back as well, and I'm excited to see what happens at Greendale this year! The musical opening scene was a nice touch. It didn't exactly make fun of Glee, but it did underscore how cartoonish High School Musical and Glee really are. Strip away the song and dance shtick, and they're just as fluffy as anything put out by The CW. By the way, The Secret Circle is definitely shaping up to be a good companion to The Vampire Diaries, albeit with a far less obviously attractive cast. (Let's face it, there is apparently not a single ugly young adult in Mystic Falls. Not even homely.) In all honesty though, I am actually looking forward to Ryan Murphy's latest creation, American Horror Story. Dylan McDermott's always been one of my favourite actors, ever since the days of The Practice.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Episode 1095: More Shows To Follow!

Review for Sabotage Reviews turned in an hour or so after midnight my time, and Scott has given the nod to my review of Conaway's book, so that one's going to The Cadaverine. Drunken Boat book has definitely been posted to me, but it hasn't arrived yet, so the editor is checking up on that. Will probably start reading The Mystic Masseur, which I'm revieiwing for Rum & Reviews Magazine, on the flight back to London if there aren't any interesting movies on my SQ flight. Would have to be really unlucky for that to happen though! Also just found out that Shen Ting's taking the same flight as me, so there'll be somebody to share a cab back to campus with. By the way, Nick Marshall, if you're reading this, you should start watching Fresh Meat and The Fades. They're both UK shows. Fresh Meat is C4's new university sitcom, in which the posh-but-pretending-to-slum-it kid describes Coventry as 'really normal'. (I swear I actually burst out laughing at that point.) It seems funny enough, although most of the characters are pretty hard to warm to. The Fades, on the other hand, is possibly trying to be Supernatural, and not doing too shabby a job either.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Episode 1094: To Damn With Faint Praise?

Have been stuck on the same paragraph (third of four) of my review of Jack R. Johnson's An Animal's Guide To Salvation for about an hour. Need to finish it by tonight because it's due, but with the time difference between Singapore and the UK of seven hours, I still have a bit of leeway. I believe it's actually the closest I've ever cut it for a review. Shouldn't have left it so late to begin with (I've come to realise that I always do), as it should only have taken me an afternoon to read the whole PDF, instead of dragging it out over a few nights like I have. Anyway, the problem I'm having at the moment is that there's nothing especially awful about the book, but it's somehow not been a particularly satisfying read either. It's adequate, would be the most succinct way of putting it. Except to put it that bluntly just feels mean-spirited, I guess? So I've been dancing around the issue, trying not to damn with faint praise whilst still being fair to the book. It's always challenging when the material for review falls into this grey area. Don't have another review due after this one till the end of October, although I'm expecting a book of poetry from Drunken Boat that may have been lost in the post, and there's the PDF Cameron Conaway sent me not too long ago that I need to place with one of the sites I review for.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Episode 1093: TV Tuesdays!

Guess my plan to catch up on How I Met Your Mother before the new season premieres has failed, since the Season 7 premiere aired yesterday. I'm not even done with Season 1 yet! It looks like Tuesdays are again going to be the day with the most shows to watch for me, as many as 10 during this period when summer and fall programming overlap. Just as well that I have Wednesdays free on my timetable, unless I decide to take an academic French module at the Language Centre. The only modules I can progress to both run on Wednesday afternoons. Don't see any point in taking an LLL module, even though I'll get another Open Studies Certificate out of it. If I did, at least it wouldn't be in French. Can't decide if I really want to pay £300 for an academic module though. Totally didn't feel it was worth it when I did that in first year, and while it's not like I haven't learnt stuff over three years of French lessons, it hasn't entirely been what I imagined it would be like either. I'd like to think that by now, I'm capable of maintaining my language skills independently. It has been more than a decade since I started learning French after all...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Episode 1092: Sing The Blues

Went with Bella to catch a local film directed by Kenny Ong, Sing The Blues, at Sinema Old School. (Forgot how tiring going up those steps could be!) It was part of this year's edition of the Singapore International Film Festival. Although the director, producer and screenwriter are all Singaporeans, the film was actually shot in Kyoto with Japanese cast and crew. The film is on par with other independent films I've seen, and the main character is based on Tatsuya Ichihashi, who spent more than two years on the run after murdering Lindsay Hawker. It imagines what might have happened to Ichihashi when he supposedly spent two weeks in Kyoto. The Q&A after the screening helped to clarify some elements of the film that I found confusing on a first viewing, so I'm glad I stuck around for that. Not sure if I'm going to catch any of the other SIFF films within the next couple of days. Might just stay at home and try to get through as much reading as I can before flying back? Aiming to at least reach and finish Issue 4 of Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, alongside with as many children's books as I can for EN978.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Episode 1091: Eunoia Review Doubles Up!

Well, to be precise, that's only happening from October 2011 onwards. I was hoping that I'd only have to do double daily posts from October 2012, but the 'backlog' of posts is already into the ninth month and might reach a tenth soon, so I figured it was now or never. Spent a few hours after coming back from church rescheduling 262 posts, while watching new episodes of Doctor Who and Wild Boys. Turned out to be less tedious than I expected, and the hassle had been one of the reasons I'd been putting off making the switch in the first place. In any case, the journal now only has work scheduled until February as opposed to June and all the contributors are going to get to see their work published much sooner. Let's face it, nine months was kind of pushing it for an online publication. I suppose as a guideline for the future, if the 'backlog' consistently stretches past six months, it's time to revise the publication frequency. The easiest solution is to artificially restrict the number of acceptances I issue, but that's just silly! So I'm just going to carry on as I always have and see how things go...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Episode 1090: More Premieres From The CW...

The Graveyard Book was excellent! It's the kind of book whose ending leaves you wanting more, although like with quite a few of the children's books I've read so far, that ending feels too, well, convenient, for lack of a better word. I think I've read enough to keep up for the first two weeks of term, assuming I get that module. Am now watching the pilot of The Secret Circle, where the magic starts out as lame as on The Vampire Diaries, and then quickly gets a lot cooler. (Nice to see Gale Harold on TV again, after being criminally underused in Hellcats. He's definitely starting to get typecast though, but I suppose on The CW, every cast member is reducible to some sort of archetype anyway. Also, how is it possible that Thomas Dekker looks even younger now than he did on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles?) Granted, that show, as the season premiere demonstrated, has more than enough going for it already, even without the witch aspect. Intrigued by Jeremy's seeing the ghosts of his deceased girlfriends though, and it'll be interesting to see where that goes.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Episode 1089: More Children's Books!

Scheduled a bunch of poems that've probably permanently taken Eunoia Review into a ninth buffer month. We've been holding steady at just under eight months for quite a while now, so I guess it was only a matter of time. Went to the library in Queenstown and picked up another bunch of children's books. Don't know if I'll be able to read them all, but I can try in the remaining two weeks! Am now reading Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, which is good fun. If I can get through half of it today, I'll reward myself by watching the season premiere of The Vampire Diaries and the newest episode of Archer. Have to wake up early for dental appointment, or I'd watch the premiere of The Secret Circle too! My plan to catch up on all six seasons of How I Met Your Mother before the new season starts is probably already dead in the water. My only regret is not having watched it sooner, because I could totally have been the Barney Stinson of my circle of friends at university! Well, there's always my MA year, right? Right?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Episode 1088: A Change Of Pace In Reading

Haven't even got back to university and have already received two e-mails about conferences. Registering for neither though. One takes place before I get back, the other's on a topic I'm not interested in. (Modernism, if you must know.) Anyway, I've been reading books for young(er) readers. Finished Katie Davies's The Great Hamster Massacre not too long ago, and now I'm in the middle of Sally Nicholls's Ways To Live Forever. I'm not sure I could write for the age level of the former, but the latter, I could take a crack at that sort of thing. Nicholls's book is great by the way. You wouldn't think a book narrated by an 11-year-old leukaemia patient could be uplifting, but that's exactly how Ways To Live Forever feels. Once I'm done with it though, I need to get on with the titles I'm reviewing. Got another from Vagabondage Press, and a V. S. Naipaul title unexpectedly arrived in the post today. Never been a Naipaul person myself, but this first published novel of his, The Mystic Masseur, is supposed to be really funny and entertaining. We'll see!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Episode 1087: Signing On The Dotted Line...Again

Finally, I've signed my variation agreement for my Master's. Like the last time, there were typographical errors in the agreement! Definitely transcription errors that someone should have caught, had they been doing their job right. (By the way, the MND building looks surprisingly rundown, given the ministry's job scope.) Got my flight ticket issued as well, in the nick of time, as the reservation would have expired today otherwise. So now I've bought my coach ticket from Heathrow to Coventry as well. All that's left to do is e-mail the storage company to let them know when I'll be vacating my unit, and I'm all set to head back. Apart from packing, that is. Since I've already decided to do my annual thing of spending Christmas in Singapore, I probably won't have to carry all the books I need and/or want over on this flight. I guess I can afford to leave all of the reference stuff behind, until I know whether my dissertation proposal has been approved. Incidentally, David Tait's written an article for the National Association for Literature Development, which you can read here. (Full disclosure: He mentions a bunch of people at the end that've been published by The Cadaverine, including yours truly.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Episode 1086: Studying = Fun?

I've decided! EN978 it is. Sent an e-mail to the department to confirm the switch, then I went to the library to look for books on the recommended reading list. Was surprised that almost all the books can be found somewhere within the library system here, with about half of them available in the Yishun library branch itself. A couple more are at the library in Queenstown, so I'm going to quickly read a few I borrowed today by Friday and swap them for new ones before cell in the evening. I wanted to take a look at the readings for EN973 Poetry and Poetics, but I guess I can't access them yet, so I'm just going to look at the essays on the Poetry Foundation website. Starting to get excited about the modules I'm hopefully doing. Like I told Shirley, if I get all my choices, it'll really be like I'm getting money to enjoy what I'm studying. It's such a foreign concept for a Singaporean student, right? I'm already starting to get ideas on what I can write for the assessment for EN978. Up to 8000 words of fiction for younger readers is no joke! That's actually longer than anything I've had to write in three years of my BA.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Episode 1085: Which Module Should I Take?

Nothing quite like having to Google to check if your work's been rejected because you didn't hear back from an editor, despite being told that they'd get back to you. Seems like basic courtesy, no? A form rejection shouldn't take more than a couple of seconds to copy and paste anyway. I would know, although I actually still type out all my replies to submitters from scratch, even the rejections. Anyway, the title of this post sums up my present dilemma. EN904 Problems and Modes in Postcolonial Literature or EN978 Writing for Children and Young People? EN928 Poetics of Urban Modernism, which I'd picked for Autumn Term, has been rescheduled to Spring Term, so I can't do it anymore because I've already got another module I want to do then, EN911 Creative Writing, and if my dissertation proposal's accepted, the taught module I have to drop comes from Spring Term, for essay deadline reasons, I expect. If my proposal is rejected, then I'd rather be doing EN954 Romantic Elegy anyway! I guess postcolonial stuff would help with my dissertation to some extent, and I do like Neil Lazarus as a tutor, but writing for children just feels like it'd be more fun, and I think I'd like to have more fun with my MA. Not that the three years of my BA weren't, but we did have to slog through things like Sir Gawain And The Green Knight, which I totally appreciate, but in the Modern English translation. Considering I applied to do EN911 in the spring, I suppose in a way I'm trying to have my cake and eat it too for one more year, with half my modules being English Literature and half being creative writing.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Episode 1084: New Local Publisher To Watch...

Rob just told me on Facebook that he's with Nick Chen on the whole Community versus Party Down issue. Sad times! Seems like there's going to be a movie continuation of the latter. Can't say that I wouldn't watch it, especially if they go all Entourage in following Adam Scott's character's story. (Might be a little odd, since Entourage is gunning for a movie too.) In some local publishing news, it seems like Epigram Books are becoming the publisher to go to for Singaporean drama. They've already published Jean Tay's Boom and Everything But The Brain, as well as Haresh Sharma's Those Who Can't, Teach. Now they've put out Six Plays, a collection of Tan Tarn How's plays, with forthcoming collections of Chong Tze Chien and Ovidia Yu. Incidentally, Tan's newest play, Fear Of Writing, just finished its run. Did think about catching it, but wasn't drawn quite enough to make the effort of fitting it into my schedule of, well, doing nothing. Haha! Going down to Robinson Road again tomorrow because my visa has arrived. This new system for Singaporean visa applicants truly is marvellous.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Episode 1083: Australian TV Holds Its Own

Have just watched the finale of Torchwood: Miracle Day. Won't spoil it for people in the UK, except to say that it wasn't very satisfying. Kind of like the rest of this fourth series, to be honest. Oh, emotionally speaking, it was plucking all the right strings by the end so any attempts at processing the plot logically were stymied (this is a typical Doctor Who/Torchwood tactic), but I agree with the critics who're saying that compared to Torchwood: Children Of Earth, Torchwood: Miracle Day doesn't feel focused enough, despite its arguably even more epic scale. In short, too many threads that 10 episodes couldn't wrap up sufficiently. (That's what the emotional climax was intended to distract the audience from, obviously.) Thing is, I really liked how epic everything was, and that the sociopolitical elements got so, so, so unsubtle. Oh well. We'll see if this one comes back for a fifth series, Starz co-production or not. Meanwhile, I've been discovering interesting Australian TV productions. SLiDE and Wild Boys, to be exact. The former is the Australian Skins, but much more light-hearted, and consequently, even more enjoyable. The only weird thing is that it's set in Brisbane, which hardly strikes you as the wildest place in Australia, right? The latter is about, well, bushrangers. Surprisingly entertaining, thanks to the soapy elements.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Episode 1082: At The Races

Call me crazy, but I just don't get the appeal of horse racing. Each race lasts about two minutes at most, but in between, you wait about half an hour while the course gets smoothed down. I suppose you could occupy the time by figuring out which horse(s) to bet on? Well, at least now I can say I've been inside the Singapore Turf Club. Dad got invited to view the races because of his PPS Club membership, so I tagged along just for the hell of it. I have to admit, the air-conditioned comfort of the Bukit Box up here beats jostling with all the old uncles down there. Still, there isn't much point in this sort of exclusivity. After all, don't such things only have cache if other people can see you enjoy them? Give me the feeling of walking to the most expensive seating block in a theatre any day! (Or should that be evening?) I'll say though, there's at least one of Barbarella's fellow SPGs here. Yeah, so I might be shamelessly stereotyping, but if you could hear her speak, you would totally agree with my assessment. (She's not even pretty! Facially mismatched people are a private pet peeve of mine. I know it's shallow, but I like to think we're all of us entitled to our tiny shallownesses here and there.)

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Episode 1081: Visa Posted...

Blogger's got a snazzy new interface, although I'm not entirely sure if I like it. It's just part of the makeover that Google is giving to its products. On a tangential note, Google+ seems to be dying, for my anyway. I mean, I really like the interface, but I don't really have enough friends on Google+ to make it a viable competitor with Facebook for my social networking time. What little of it there is anyway, I spent way less time on places like Facebook and Twitter than I used to. I got an e-mail from Manila today, saying that my visa was being posted, so I guess I'll be able to collect it by tomorrow, Monday at the latest. Flight's sorted as well, paid a tiny amount to fly SQ rather than BA (for some reason, no QF flights were offered in the Pricebreaker quotation this time). Would have preferred to arrive on the Saturday of Freshers' Weekend, but I guess campus will be just as hectic on Sunday. I hope the people in my hall are nice. (What are postgraduate students supposed to be like anyway, right?) Wonder how many will be people like me, going straight on from a Bachelor's, and how many will be comparatively maturer students. To be fair, I'm probably going to be closer in age to those 'mature' students myself!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Episode 1080: More Singaporeans Need To Read Troy Chin's The Resident Tourist!

Have finally finished Part 5 of The Resident Tourist, and am now more convinced than ever that a lot of my friends will enjoy the series, even identify with it. Since it's autobiographical, the narrative gets quite meta at times, which I like. Here's hoping that there'll be a Part 6, since Part 5 ended on a cliffhanger of sorts. Speaking of which, Troy himself actually seems like the kind of guy I could be friends with. As for what I'm going to read next, I'm thinking of switching gears entirely and picking up that Ox-Tales series of short stories I picked up at Oxfam a while back. Still trying to get through more issues of Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, of course. Anyway, I just watched another episode of Party Down because I want to finish off the series, but I really can't comprehend why Nick Chen insisted at the Summer Party that it's better than Community. Was he being deliberately contrarian? Or is his sense of humour so diametrically different from mine? On a somewhat related note, the number of TV shows I have on hand (past and present) may have gone past what can feasibly be viewed while holding down a steady job, even if I no longer find new shows to follow in the future (which is impossible).

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Episode 1079: Visa Application Done!

Went down to Robison Road to submit my application. Whole process couldn't have taken more than 15 minutes, including waiting time. Hopefully, the approval will happen just as smoothly, within five working days if not less. Don't see any reason why it shouldn't anyway! I was quite amused that the guy who collected payment for the application actually rearranged all the notes so that they were facing the right way up. Just like I would have done. Haha! MRT was pretty empty on the way home, which suited me just fine. Am finally on Part 5 of The Resident Tourist, not sure what I'll read next. I'm in the mood for something breezy, so I might finally pick up one of the urban fantasy novels I bought over the past year. If they're anything like Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files, I could go through one a day at the least. It's either going to be Mike Carey or Kate Griffin, in this case. Carey's novels are shorter, but there are more of them, and I don't want to start a series and then have to stop midway because I'm flying back to the UK and don't want to carry unnecessary books back with me.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Episode 1078: New Bookshelf!

My new Scanteak bookshelf arrived today and is now completely filled. I'm going to have to shuffle books around to accommodate the ones that are still in the UK though. Having shelved everything, I think I can say that given my current reading speed and the amount of time I have for reading, both of which are more likely than not to decrease in the coming years rather than increase, I think I'm well past the point at which I own more books than I'll ever read in my lifetime. Have also finally got around to completing my visa application! Heading down to the centre tomorrow to pay for the application and send all the paperwork off, as I realised that if I didn't get this done tomorrow, I might not get my passport back before the Wednesday after next, when I need it to exchange for a pass to get into the MND Complex for my agreement signing! I know, I should have got the visa done sooner. Oh well, apparently these days, practically all applications are successfully processed in five working days, so here's hoping mine won't be the exception...

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Episode 1077: Leading Worship After One Year...

First time leading worship at COGS in more than a year and it felt great to be back! Nearly lost my voice after practice from singing the bridges of 'Awakening' repeatedly, but managed to last till the end of service. Ironically, because Communion ended so quickly today, we didn't even get around to playing 'Awakening'. It's okay though, since I'm leading again in two weeks with the same band, and it's a Communion Sunday again. Honestly wondering if it'll be a better idea to lower the key of the song from D to C, now that everyone's more familiar with how the riffs go. Don't want to kill myself trying to hit the top note in the bridges again, even though F above middle C is usually within my range. I think Chris Tomlin sings it in F on And If Our God Is For Us..., which is just madness! Maybe I'll e-mail the musicians and ask if they don't mind relearning the riffs in C for two weeks' time. On the other hand, if we're only doing it as a Communion song, it wouldn't be a complete disaster if I kept it in the higher key, right? (Update: I've just been repeatedly bitten by what looks like an Aedes mosquito. Hello, dengue fever...)

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Episode 1076: 10 Years, Seriously?!

So I finally saw the summer finale of Pretty Little Liars, which blew my mind. For a show ostensibly aimed primarily at tweens (it is aired on ABC Family after all), the plotting can get surprisingly, well, adult. The key revelation of the episode was such a surprise precisely because it didn't come as much of a surprise, given the events on the show till now, so it was pretty bold of the writers to go in this direction. No idea how the reveal of A's identity is handled in the book series, but I'm sure the twist can't be as good as what's on the TV series, assuming the two have diverged sufficiently by now. Anyway, I've finally got around to doing my online visa application, only to be thwarted by the section that asks for your immigration history over the past 10 years. Seriously, a decade? There wasn't even space in the online form for entering details of half of the total number of times I've been in and out of Singapore over the past 10 years. I've managed to list down all my trips though, and it turns out you can just key in the most recent trips and write out additional ones by hand on the printout of the online application form. As for reading, I've reached Part 4 of Troy Chin's The Resident Tourist, and I can safely say that lots of my friends who've lived overseas for a few years (and even some who haven't, like Shirley) will be able to identify with it. So head over to his site and support a local talent!

Friday, September 02, 2011

Episode 1075: Good New Shoes!

Guess really was just waiting for the actual offer letter from Warwick, as I was contacted about my signing today. Dad can't make it on the date they scheduled, so it's been postponed by a week. Probably should try and get my visa done this week then. Randomly, the new pair of shoes I bought from Aldo last week is very comfortable, among the best impulse shoe decisions I've ever made. Plus it's in a mix of dark colours, perfect for the griminess of winter slush, unlike the white pair of Diesel shoes that I would wear more often if they didn't get dirty so easily. Guess I'm still going to bring them back though, just to have another footwear option. I've been thinking about getting another pair of Havianas too, but it keeps slipping my mind when I'm out. Anyway, having seen the latest episode of Suits, I think it's safe to say it's my favourite show from the USA network. Yeah, it ranks above Covert Affairs, and definitely Royal Pains, which to be honest, has kind of hit a slump. The characters are still likeable, but the overarching storyline seems to have hit a brick wall, in terms of being interesting and getting consistently developed. Maybe the winter block of episodes will show an improvement?

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Episode 1074: TV Shows Almost Completely Restored!

I read the first part of Troy Chin's The Resident Tourist on the way down to NUS to meet Bernard, to pick up the books he bought on my behalf. Didn't take long, so might try to read the remaining four parts tonight. Found myself echoing the sentiments expressed in it, which is partly why I wanted to buy the series anyway, I guess. Then I went to Boon Lay to borrow Eugene Chan's hard drive, so now I've recovered almost 100% of my shows. (Who knows when I'll have time to watch them all?) Joined the rush hour crush on the way back, but it doesn't seem as bad as I recall it from last year. I suppose things will improve as more lines open, like the remaining stretch of the Circle Line. I'm sure Singaporeans will continue complaining if they don't. With the 'new normal' being proclaimed in local politics, looks like the compact between governing and governed is being revised in favour of the latter, although I do agree with government figures who urge Singaporeans to be more reasonable in their demands. On a related note, congratulations to Dr Tony Tan on being sworn in as the new President of Singapore!