Monday, December 31, 2012

Episode 1561: Farewell...

On this blog, at any rate. It's technically been some months since I was a student at Warwick, but I'm waiting until tomorrow to move to a new blog address, for the sake of coinciding with a new year. Might even have a section in it for those TV reviews that Phil has been hounding me to start doing. Plenty of shows have already been axed, but it's one of those odd years when the networks have committed in most cases to airing the complete initial 13-episode order, so it'll still make sense for me to be dissecting them. I'm almost certainly moving to WordPress, and I'll put up a final post here tomorrow with the link. Managed to read a fair amount of Bernie Hafeli's Bear Season, which is the latest novella that I'm providing a blurb for. Eunoia Review is also ending 2012 in style, having clocked new records for total monthly and average weekly views, despite it being December and hence the holiday season. Here's to publishing more great work and getting more eyeballs on it in 2013!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Episode 1560: CZ12

CZ12 is apparently going to be Jackie Chan's last major action movie. It's also been critically panned, by Asian and Western reviewers alike. I actually happen to kind of like it, but that's because five minutes in, I decided that the film was a huge farce and had to be enjoyed for what it was, intentionally or otherwise. There's no point in trying to summarise the plot, except to say that it's vaguely political in a non-threatening way. Does the average person really get riled up about their country's 'national treasures' having been stolen in the past and being auctioned off for obscene amounts of money in he present? Maybe, but only if there's someone to tell them to get angry first, in my opinion. Where CZ12 amuses though, is largely in its random multilingualism. This provides some comedic exchanges to punctuate all those action sequences. Let's be honest with ourselves, okay? There's something vaguely ridiculous about a Jackie Chan action movie anyway, let alone viewed from the perspective of 2012. I suspect CZ12 was trying its best to own that silliness, and so for the most part, it played like a screwball dramedy. Think the casual danger of Covert Affairs crossed with any of the lowbrow comedies that Hollywood pumps out annually. It's formulaic, sure, but in a world where The Twilight Saga is a multimillion-dollar franchise, I don't think we get to say that there are all that many films so terrible that they can't conceivably be taken with a pinch of salt and enjoyed.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Episode 1559: Looming Deadlines!

Two book reviews and one blurb that definitely need to happen by mid-January. I think I can definitely get it all done though, and then some. I've realised that with my laptop gone and only having the spare one to work from, there's a lot less reason to just switch it on and waste time doing things like refreshing Facebook, for example. If I didn't need a laptop of my own for NIE stuff (and to set up a new iTunes library), I could actually live with this state of affairs. I feel like it could be really productive when it comes to my own reading and writing. (That having been said, I've been doing a lot of reading but far less writing. Last thing I wrote was ironically just before my laptop died, a 250-word flash fiction for Kenny.) I suppose I could even just take over the spare laptop since it's speedy enough for me, and either reformat it or just clean up its electronic clutter to my satisfaction. Only issue is that it doesn't have a full version of Microsoft Office loaded, although I might be able to install that from one of the DVDs that came with my old laptop, years ago.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Episode 1558: How Long Should I Keep The Laptop Running?

Back from staycation and my laptop still won't work. Ah well, it was always a long short. I've booted from the Windows Vista installation DVD, and the laptop's now stuck at what looks like some sort of intermediate loading screen, so I'm just going to leave it running for a day or two, and we'll see what happens. This is really the only course of action left, since attempting to launch Startup Repair just sends the laptop into the same BSOD sequence. Randomly, I found myself in the Isetan 'private sale' today, and the place was packed with way more people than would be in there on a regular day, which I find kind of ridiculous. Ended up fleeing the store for the comparative calm of Kinokuniya, but I didn't have time to go and sign up for a membership, so I guess I'll just do it online. Anyway, I was pleased to discover that the new series of Miranda has started up, beginning with a Christmas special! I don't normally go in much for physical comedy, but Miranda Hart does such a really good job of poking fun at herself. The BBC commissioned this third series back in 2011, but it's taken until the end of 2012 for it to see the light of day!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Episode 1557: Even More Books To Get...

Had a bit of a wander around Kinokuniya earlier and discovered quite a lot of science fiction books that I want to get. Didn't actually get anything in the end, as the books were either considerably cheaper on The Book Depository (and I'm still holding out for a 10% discount promotion to happen on the site!) or in the case of those UK paperbacks that have been priced in line with the current exchange rate (finally!), I'm waiting until Kinokuniya does its usual 20% discount for members. Of course, this entails getting a new membership, years after letting my previous one lapse. Hadn't realised just how many paperback releases had happened while I wasn't keeping track, especially considering some are from authors whose work I've been following, like Adam Nevill and Christopher Priest. Ah well, simply means I know where my first month's pay is going! Besides on a bunch of literary magazine and small press subscriptions, I mean. Have read hardly anything that I planned to during this staycation at Goodwood Park Hotel, but I have begun reading The Alpine Review, which feels like a less pretentious version of Monocle.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Episode 1556: OD-ing On British Dramas

One after another, I've watched the series finale of Merlin, plus the Downton Abbey and Doctor Who Christmas specials. Didn't like how Merlin ended, apart from the completely pointless snippet of 'old' Merlin in a contemporary setting. That would've been a nice touch, if the show had been going to leap forward in time and reinvent itself as a contemporary fantasy. Alas, that wasn't to be its destiny. As for Downton Abbey, I've long since accepted that it's a show that demands total suspension of disbelief, so I was quite happy with everything that happened in the Christmas special this year. Of course, it's sad to see Dan Stevens go, but maybe it'll give Allen Leech a chance to step up to the fore among the 'upstairs' bunch. Will be interesting to see how the show handles the fallout of Matthew Crawley's death when it returns for Series 4. Typically, the show's accelerated passage of time between and within episodes doesn't leave much space for grieving, but given how Matthew and Mary have been sold as the show's epic love story since its inception, I'd expect some dwelling on his death. Really loved the Doctor Who Christmas special, which was a wonderful way to reacquaint us with Jenna-Louise Coleman. Am interested to see what the deal is with her character when the second half of the series returns next year!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Episode 1555: Laptop's Broken...

Laptop looks like it's finally broken. All that's really been lost are a bunch of MP3s that I almost certainly won't realise I'm missing (partly because I've probably never listened to them). My documents have been backed up on a thumbdrive ever since the laptop hard drive started showing signs of failing. Anything not backed up exists as an e-mail attachment. So all things considered, this isn't the catastrophic loss of data it might have been. It's a shame though, that the laptop couldn't have lasted a few weeks more until I bought a new one for NIE. I still think there might be hope of resurrecting it, but I'm just not sure how yet. All signs so far suggest the fault on this occasion is logical rather than mechanical, so there probably is a way to fix it up. Just a question of whether it's within my means to do so. Not sure if it's worth the hassle though, to be perfectly honest, especially given that there are other things I need to/would rather do! There's a spare laptop lying around anyway, so it's not like I can't work on that. My laptop is ridiculously slow anyway, so it's high time for a change. Now to start thinking what kind of laptop I want to get...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Episode 1554: Lost In Translation?

Went to return some library books today, and as usual, ended up browsing to see if I could find anything of interest. Picked a pair of science fiction anthologies, just out of curiosity, as well as an anthology inspired by Clive Barker's The Hellbound Heart. Also found a pair of books by Steve Lowe and Alan McArthur, charmingly titled Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Shit? I do like some good old-fashioned British grumpiness. The book I spent the afternoon and evening reading, however, was Keigo Higashino's The Devotion Of Suspect X. I was persuaded by the blurbs to borrow it, which probably should have been a warning flag for me. Came to the end, and felt like it was kind of flat. Maybe it's really great in the original Japanese, but the twist ending didn't seem that great a surprise to me. Would've worked fine as an episode of say, Elementary, but on the page, it was just okay. The novel, which has spawned a film adaptation, is actually part of Higashino's Detective Galileo series, which itself has been adapted as a TV drama, so the plots obviously translate well into other media. I do kind of wish now that I hadn't spent the day reading this particular book though...

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Episode 1553: Underemployed Soon To Be Just Unemployed?

The combination of one week off the air and not much else to watch over the Christmas holidays makes this week's episode of Underemployed feel worse than it usually seems. I mean, it's generally considered difficult to make a show about the post-college years that audiences want to watch, so there's something kind of valiant about MTV's attempt. Still, maybe the channel would be better off sticking to high school shenanigans along the lines of Awkward and Teen Wolf in future? Either that, or get some better writers to write for the shows that they want to design to be older-skewing. Underemployed has already been relocated to Saturday nights for the rest of its season, which suggests MTV is just burning off the remaining episodes. I would say it's a shame, but almost all of the cast is attractive enough to book a gig on a CW drama, so as long as they've got hardworking agents, they'll pop up on our screens again soon enough. (Speaking of which, Charlie Weber, who recurs as Todd on the show, already booked a recurring spot on 90210.)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Episode 1552: Support The Alarmist!

Have been reading the first issue of The Alarmist, and it appears that my editorial tastes have some overlap with those of its editors. The issue opens with a piece by Adam Rabasca, whom I published in April (Eunoia Review actually gets a mention in his contributor biography in the issue), and also includes work from past and upcoming Eunoia Review contributors like J. Bradley, Kevin Ridgeway, and John Tustin. They've launched a Kickstarter campaign to help them pay their contributors (among other things), but with only half a month to go, it doesn't seem to have gained much traction. Have shared the link a couple of times, both on my personal profile and on the Eunoia Review page, although I haven't pledged any money yet myself, being kind of broke until 2013. Definitely plan to pledge something before the 15 days are past, just haven't decided what level of contribution I want to make. It's getting harder and harder to run a print magazine these days, so I really hope these guys can keep doing what they're doing!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Episode 1551: We're Still Here

Unsurprisingly, the world didn't end today. I suppose it's not so bad, at least the loonies now have the whole weekend to get over their disappointment! Imagine if they all had to go back to work tomorrow. Speaking of which, I got an e-mail from HR this afternoon telling me to attend a two-day preparatory programme at the start of January, and it's effectively the crash course version of my PGDE. It's just a bit strange because it says in the e-mail attachment that the programme's meant for untrained officers that are being posted to schools, but I'm headed for NIE, not a school. Have sent a reply asking if I'm really supposed to attend, and it wouldn't surprise me if this turned out to be a mix-up on their end. At the same time, it wouldn't surprise me if I were told to attend the programme anyway. (It is, however, mildly disconcerting to learn that a two-day programme is considered enough preparation for people to be sent to teach. Right?) We shall see what reply I get from HR! You know what would be truly bizarre? If they sent me for the two-day programme, then posted me out to a school for a week, just for the heck of it.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Episode 1550: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Just got back from seeing The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and I liked it well enough. I actually have yet to see all three films of The Lord Of The Rings, despite owning the extended editions on DVD for a couple of years now, but I did see enough of it here and there to note that this first film of the prequel trilogy (yes, I think three is pretty excessive for an adaptation of The Hobbit) is quite shameless about re-presenting moments from the earlier trilogy. Think perilous scene on a mountainside, the One Ring twirling in mid-air to land on a hobbit's finger, summoning of giant eagles, etc. Nothing wrong with that per se, but it means that visually speaking, there's a big sense of been-there-done-that. There's a good post up at Sidekick Books by Andrea, discussing what's fundamentally missing from Peter Jackson's film adaptations, although part of me also feels like expecting anything more than explosions and CGI from what was always going to end up as a blockbuster, source material notwithstanding, is perhaps being overly optimistic to begin with. I don't actually have an issue with the bloated running time of the film, since it was partly down to interpolating material from Tolkien's wider mythos. In a way, this new trilogy is going to share the same fate as that of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, since they both have to tell stories that already have larger narrative endgames in mind. It's just what happens when you decide to make prequels. What I kind of didn't like was the great pains An Unexpected Journey took to connect itself to the events that kicked off The Fellowship Of The Ring. I'm not sure if this could've been done more subtly, to be honest. Ah well. There's still two more films to go, and at least Martin Freeman is actually likeable as Bilbo. The dwarves, on the other hand, are largely interchangeable, if you ask me.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Episode 1549: Gossip Girl, You Won't Be Missed

Spent pretty much the whole day in church, first helping to set up my cell's CCIS room, then at practice for singers and the band. Didn't realise it was going to take all afternoon to set up, so I actually brought along a couple of the magazines I bought yesterday, thinking that I'd be able to spend some time reading before practice. Turns out that the only time I read anything was when I read half of Cereal on the MRT ride to church. Spent the ride back home watching Gossip Girl, sitting down. Didn't get up even when this middle-aged couple with several bags stood right in front of me, because if you're toting that many bags of shopping from Gap, I don't really feel like I need to stand up for you, if I'm being perfectly honest. Anyway, the Gossip Girl series finale wasn't as problematic for me as I'd been expecting, based on the AV Club's review of it. Sure, it's still pretty ridiculous that Dan is Gossip Girl, but factor in the suspension of disbelief most TV shows demand anyway, and it might just about work. What definitely didn't work was how everyone reacted to the revelation. I get that everything had to be compressed into the last 15 minutes of the show's existence (although maybe not, if the writers hadn't spent literally all the previous nine episodes of the season messing about with the pointlessness that was Bart's return from the dead), but really, nobody was bothered? Nobody thought there was just something a little bit psychotic about the whole thing? Was this because Dan's from Brooklyn and the UES crowd just assumed it was normal behaviour?

The only truly enjoyable part of this whole series finale was the flashback to Dan's first UES party, which managed in the space of a couple of minutes to capture everything that was so fascinating about Gossip Girl when it first aired, i.e. pretty faces dressed in various shades of preppy, being casually bitchy to each other. The show was selling a fantasy, but then the writers decided they wanted to their characters to actually grow, which is always a risky thing for teen dramas. I mean, sure, develop the characters so they're more than just 'the blonde/brunette one' or 'the jock/jerk' or 'the outsiders', but don't lose sight of why your show's entertaining! I mean, wasn't the whole appeal of Gossip Girl that it was just full of people behaving slightly wickedly, but Gossip Girl was always there to make some sarcastic comment about it? Instead, the show increasingly bogged itself down by trying to ascribe deeply meaningful motivations to its characters' pathological behaviour. Now let's just cancel 90210, wait for The Carrie Diaries to flop, and The CW can transform itself into a network populated by genre/action shows and wholeheartedly fluffy fare.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Episode 1548: It's Tough...

Angela's in town this month visiting relatives, so we caught up over coffee at Forty Hands. Went to BooksActually before that, where I promptly broke my own resolution not to buy any more books this year. Just finished Troy Chin's Bricks In The Wall, which pokes fun at the music industry. (What I really want to see though, is another volume of The Resident Tourist!) Also bought a small stack of magazines, but only because they were debut issues, so I can start collecting them from the very beginning. Picked up Cereal, Galavant (a local publication!), The Alarmist and The Alpine Review. Yet even as new literary ventures are springing up, others are being shuttered. Heard the sad news yesterday that The Knives Forks and Spoons Press is ceasing operations, although thanks to POD technology, KFS aims to keep its backlist available for purchase. It's really a shame to see the press go. I've reviewed some of their output in the past, and through that, I've been introduced to poets whose work I wouldn't otherwise have encountered. (Coincidentally, a couple of the press's poets also happen to be contributors to Eunoia Review.)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Episode 1547: Always The Accumulation...

So I had to wait around while my parents went to the bank after lunch, so I ended up in the library again. Having finished reading Chris Ware's heartbreaking but wonderful graphic novel, Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid On Earth, I picked up another three books, including the surprising find of Dzanc Books' Best Of The Web 2010 anthology. Someone in the acquisitions side of things for the National Library is getting things right! Have now finished reading one of those three books, Lishan Chan's A Philosopher's Madness, published by local press Ethos Books. It's a personal account of the author's experience of a psychotic break a couple of years ago. Quick read, though I must confess that I found it less interesting than I'd expected. On the reviewing side of things, the three books I requested from Zer0 Books have landed in my inbox. It's growing increasingly unlikely that I can finish the review of Jerrold's new collection to coincide with the launch this Friday, but that's okay, I guess. Now the next pressing review (aside from Shark) is of Scott Dominic Carpenter's This Jealous Earth, as I have to interview him as well, and this review has always been intended to coincide with the book's launch. Time to pick up the reading pace...

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Episode 1546: I Admit It, Merlin Actually Bores Me Now...

It's just as well the BBC is axing Merlin after this fifth series, as I'm honestly getting a bit bored of it. Blame it on watching whiplash-inducing dramas like The Vampire Diaries, but I expect a show to actually advance its storylines, instead of mostly marching in place and occasionally advancing the plot by a fraction. As of this week's episode, the antepenultimate of the whole series, Arthur still doesn't know Merlin has magic. At this rate, it wouldn't surprise me if the show ended with Mordred killing Arthur (as per the Arthurian legend), with Merlin not saving Arthur because that would reveal he has magic. (Now that I think about it, that would actually be amazing. The show should totally go there. Entertainment news headlines for the next day in the UK? Sorted.) Frustrating as the show is though, I generally like the cast and would like to see them back on TV soon. No idea how good their American accents are (relevant issue because major British exports to American TV don't seem to be allowed to retain their native accents, e.g. Hugh Laurie, Damian Lewis, Andrew Lincoln), but I wouldn't complain if they ended up on something across the Atlantic.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Episode 1545: Look What The Postman Brought!

Couple of days ago, the latest issue of The Believer arrived for me. (Still no sign of the other three issues I'm owed from my original massive order though. Will wait another week before dropping the McSweeney's team an e-mail.) Today, I received Dad Says He Saw You At The Mall by Ken Sparling and The Alligators Of Abraham by Robert Kloss from Mud Luscious Press, as well as Gregory Sherl's Monogamy Songs (Future Tense Books) from the man himself. (If you see this, Gregory, I'm afraid I can't take a picture with the book on all 63 islands because some are restricted access, but the next time I'm somewhere other than the main island, I'm starting an album on Facebook.) Can't wait to start reading all these books! Also have to remember to take out an MLP subscription next month, among others, to continue growing my personal library. Could do it right away, but I feel like I've spent too much this month as it is, but if I still have some cash left after Christmas, I'll go ahead and start taking out those subscriptions, especially for literary magazines like Popshot Magazine and The White Review that I've allowed to lapse.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Episode 1544: What Is Post-Experimentalism?

To find out, check out my review of Post-Experimentalism by Bartleby Snopes, and then buy a copy of the issue. I'm pretty confident there's something in there to please almost all readers and/or writers! Next one to write is of Shark, although I might still try to squeeze in one of Jerrold Yam's new poetry collection by next week, in order to coincide with the launch. (Gutted that I can't actually be at the launch, since I'll be singing for CCIS in church that evening.) Have also asked Zer0 Books to send me all three titles that they've sent me e-mails about so far, since Craig at Rum & Reviews Magazine is game for reviews of non-fiction titles. Completely defeats the purpose of my trying to cut down my reviewing workload, of course, but those Zer0 Books titles sounded really interesting. Like 'I would buy this book' kind of interesting. Sadly, still waiting for The Book Depository to do another 20% discount promotion! Cheque from Parcelforce also arrived a couple of days ago, which was a surprise. I'd been expecting it to get lost in the intercontinental transit. Am going to lose about 40% of the value though, since I have to pay a charge in order to deposit it into my POSB account. Same applies for the USD cheque that's coming from The Misfit Quarterly.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Episode 1543: Would You Apply To Intern At Dalkey Archive Press?

Anyone reading this based in London? If so, you might want to check out Dalkey Archive Press's post about job openings at the press. Oh wait. I mean unpaid internships that might result in an actual paying low-paying job at some point. Hey, at least the advertisement is being transparent. So it all sounds pretty draconian, and the obligatory parody Twitter account already exists. Guess the literary sphere needs something to go nuts about, now that the controversy surrounding Duotrope has pretty much faded, in the face of the company's continued stonewalling. On a happier note, I got a stellar poetry submission this afternoon. Usually, when I get a batch of half a dozen poems or more, it's rare that I take the whole lot. Every so often though, a poet sends in stuff that I love and I jump to accept it all. So welcome, Sean L Corbin, to the growing ranks of Eunoia Review contributors! The journal now has posts queued for the next five months, so I think I'll temporarily close it to submissions, should that stretch to half a year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Episode 1542: Yes, I'm Still Hate-Watching The Mindy Project...

Given that New Girl and The Mindy Project share a network, you'd think the writers would be sharing tips with each other. Except they clearly don't, since the former delivered a Christmas episode that was just the right amounts of sweet and goofy, whereas the latter still tried way too hard. Never watched The Office, so I'm completely indifferent to Mindy Kaling, but The Mindy Project suggests that she's not ready to anchor her own show yet. (On the other hand, Zooey Deschanel has totally won me over, but it's also because New Girl has shifted her character away from, maybe even somewhat deconstructed, the MPDG persona.) Chris Messina remains the most entertaining character on Kaling's comedy. Maybe they should just spin him off? Together with the recurring Tommy Dewey, who played Mindy's douchey (now ex-)boyfriend. If the show's still so muddled come 2013 when it returns for the second half of its season, after it's undergone retooling, I might just drop it from my viewing list. You know what's the saddest thing? I can think of several other comedies (Community, Don't Trust The B---- In Apartment 23, Happy Endings, New Girl, maybe even Suburgatory) that could've pulled off the sort of episode that The Mindy Project was gunning for this week because their writers have proved they know the characters they're writing for.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Episode 1541: Who's Afraid Of Lena Dunham?

Today, I decided that I'm adding Lena Dunham to the list of things I'm officially over, and will therefore not be watching Season 2 of Girls when it airs. Not that I was ever into Dunham or her show in the first place though. What completely soured me on her was her reaction to Gawker leaking the full book proposal. Mind you, she's already nabbed a US$3.5 million deal from Random House, so it's not like her nascent career as an author is being jeopardised. Unless she was worried people would look at the proposal and flee from the book when it's finally out. It's apparently not even written yet, so the hefty price tag feels like the publisher paying for the name of second-generation media royalty than an actual reflection of the future book's substance anyway. (Ironically, Random House isn't the one that bitched about the leak to Gawker, forcing them to take the proposal down. That was all Dunham.) I'm also thinking that I might drop Homeland from my regular viewing when Season 3 airs next year, but only because I feel like it's one of those shows that's more satisfying when viewed in a marathon session that gets through, say, three or four episodes. Still greatly admire the work Claire Danes and Damian Lewis are doing on the show, just not sure if I'll have time to keep it on my weekly viewing next year. That actually applies to a lot of shows that I currently follow, so I'm going to have to scrutinise that long list at some point and make decisions. Incidentally, Eunoia Review got its very first 'we went on holiday but got robbed so please send us money' scam e-mail. Was sent from a contributor's e-mail, so I'm assuming she was hacked. Would let her know, except I don't have her on Facebook. What I don't get though is why spammers don't try to be more grammatical. Surely it would give them a slight edge in fooling people?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Episode 1540: Never Thought I'd See The Day...

So while looking up reviews of Unthology No. 3, just to see what people are saying about the anthology, I came across this review, which compares me to China Miéville. In other news, I think I can die happy now. Haha! Very flattered, of course, but I also know I've still got a long way to go before I really earn that compliment. Still, a guy can dream, right? Anyway, despite feeling a bit under the weather today, I still made myself finish the review of Post-Experimentalism, which should be going up at Sabotage Reviews shortly after whenever's the next time Richard checks his e-mail this week. Many thanks to Nathaniel Tower of Bartleby Snopes for sending me a review copy, sorry it's taken a while for the review to happen. (Actually, make that a blanket apology to basically almost all my editors that I owe reviews to. I swear I'll be working on them, even over the Christmas period!) Wanted to get the review done today, so that I can concentrate on finishing Wes Brown's Shark by Wednesday, and writing the review hopefully by the end of the week.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Episode 1539: #EunoiaLIVE

Here's another generous review of Unthology No. 3, which describes my story as one of the collection's highlights, 'leaving behind a labyrinth of psychological contemplation'. Genuinely glad that reviewers seem to be getting what the story's about, and 'labyrinth' is particularly apt in this case, given that 'The Triptych Papers' actually began as an homage to Jorge Luis Borges. Also did the first #EunoiaLIVE Twitter chat between the end of service and dinner, which you should be able to pull up in Twitter here! The chat's a bit messy/choppy because @JonnyAldridge and I had to stick to the 140-character limit, and that sometimes resulted in us tweeting before the other person had finished, but you should be able to work it out. Was a good experiment, although for the next one, I'm thinking I should get someone based in the same timezone as the contributor to do the chat, so that it can happen at a time when more of the journal's Twitter followers are online. This time, it was 6 pm here and 10 am in the UK, but the middle of the night in the USA, where the bulk of the journal's readers/followers are.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Episode 1538: Time To Attack The Backlog!

Attended Jon Chase and Denise's wedding in the morning, and ran into some old Warwick friends, including Jon Lee, who'd come all the way from the UK! Managed to grab some time before that to schedule new work for Eunoia Review, and now I've just done the same for The Cadaverine. (Would've done more, but David, if you're reading this, you need to choose to reattach the original attachments when you forward something to me!) In order to start clearing my reviews backlog in earnest, I'm going to aim for a three-day cycle. Read for two days, then write the review on the third. I'll almost certainly not be able to keep it up until the backlog is gone, if at all, but with a specific timeline like that, I'll definitely get more done than operating with the mentality that 'I'll get this done tomorrow'. Can't afford to let the backlog carry over in its current state into 2013, especially not when I'm starting at NIE in mid-January. I've proven to myself in the past that I can be quite efficient when it comes to turning out reviews, so I just need to make the magic happen again.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Episode 1537: Doing My Tiny Bit

Contributor still wants to send me a copy of her chapbook when it comes out, which makes her the first to offer to do that so far. It's definitely a nice gesture, though by no means do I usually expect to receive one for my (and I hesitate to use the word) efforts. I just think of it as doing my little bit to promote contemporary literature, and I'm flattered that these writers think that my words will help. Speaking of which, I need to set aside time this month to read Scott Dominic Carpenter's collection of short stories, This Jealous Earth, and prepare some interview questions for him. I reprinted one of his stories in Eunoia Review, and MG Press approached me a while ago about doing the interview. The review-cum-interview isn't technically due till January, and since this time I'm uploading it myself to Sabotage Reviews (the interview anyway, haven't asked my editor if he'd prefer the review and interview to be split into separate posts), I could cut the deadline pretty close if I have to. The idea is to post the interview as close to the collection's publication date as possible anyway, to help spread the word about it, which I'm more than happy to do. I've developed a soft spot for independent presses in the past couple of years, and it sounds like exciting things are forthcoming from MG Press.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Episode 1536: Another Blurb...

Just blurbed another chapbook for a Eunoia Review contributor, and I'm going to be doing a Twitter chat with a different contributor on Sunday evening under the hashtag #EunoiaLIVE. Let's get that trending, the total of five people who read my blog! Anyway, lots of shows that I follow are having their winter finales this week, so it means a lot of my time will be freed up for the rest of the month to, you know, actually write reviews. I know, I know. If I didn't procrastinate so much in the first place, I'd be much further along through my review pile than I am right now. Something else I've been putting off doing is buying some books and literary magazines. I've made a couple of one-off purchases in the past month or so, but in terms of taking out subscriptions, I've been trying to hold off until I start drawing a salary. As much as I'm aware that my first month's pay will be more than enough to cover anything that I spend for the rest of this month on my credit card, I also think it's not setting a good precedent for myself, living on credit, right?

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Episdoe 1535: Bought Cards Against Humanity!

Not to bang on about Duotrope's Digest, but it's disappointing yet unsurprising to see that the 'debate' over the site's decision to go paid basically consists of two camps of writers talking at each other, convinced that the other side is dead wrong/selfish. It's like contemporary American politics writ small. Sorry to sound like a broken record, and I know I promised not to talk about the whole issue anymore, but it's exposed such a major faultline within the (American) literary community that I almost can't help myself. Anyway, on a brighter note, thanks to Keegan, I've got an American address to ship my order of Cards Against Humanity to, both the original set and the two expansions. Threw in the Christmas set as well, which I could have been a jerk and paid nothing for, but I covered their costs. Would've given more, but I felt like I'd already done a lot, dropping US$45 at one shot on the original set and expansions. Regardless, it'll be great to get the physical cards (the next time Keegan's back in Singapore), since playing with paper slips just isn't the same...

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Episode 1534: New Records!

This week's episode of 90210, which contrived out of nowhere to bring the cast back to the show's former high school setting, only emphasised how it's completely unbelievable that the characters are only two years out of high school. Sister show Gossip Girl avoided this awkward visual reminder by sending its characters on to college, and when that proved rather boring, flung them all into the adult world of backstabbing and casual infidelity. To be honest, the only teen drama I've encountered that has done a reasonable job of casting actors that could pass for teenagers is Pretty Little Liars (even sister show to that, The Lying Game, gets it so wrong). Granted, there's the issue of how actual teenagers are probably not legally allowed to work the kind of hours full-time TV filming requires, and that's before we even start talking about their acting abilities (although some of these grownup actors are still pretty terrible). Anyway, Eunoia Review has been setting a couple of viewership records lately. November saw an all-time monthly high, and today, the site has reached what's roughly a six-month daily high, building on yesterday's impressive numbers. Of course, maybe I've just been targeted by a bunch of really aggressive spammers, but Akismet hasn't caught a higher than average number of spam comments, so I'm not really sure where this sudden spike in visitor traffic is coming from. Not complaining though!

Monday, December 03, 2012

Episode 1533: Duotrope: A Developing PR Disaster?

A final word on the Duotrope debacle (unless any striking developments occur): I don't think it's a good sign when a company's way of dealing with criticism is to post a Facebook status that basically boils down to 'We hear you, but we're not going to change our minds until we've had time to see what happens.' After a couple of days of silence, in which its Facebook page and Twitter account were used to repeatedly push the message about the paywall going up in January, Duotrope posted a status that on the surface sounded grateful for all the feedback and support, but was also couched in the sort of corporatese that has got me leaning more towards the belief that the site is just trying to make a quick buck now. I don't blame them, since the pressure to monetise the user base in order to pay employees must have been enormous, but there's still something faintly arrogant about leaping from a free, donation-supported service to what amounts to an all-or-nothing paywall. It's been clarified what is still accessible to non-subscribers come 2013, and in short, the site will be pathetically useless unless you cough up money.

Anyone with a bit of coding savvy should just throw together a website and get the word out immediately. They could even charge, but at a price that's just a fraction of what Duotrope is asking for. A breakdown of exactly how much Duotrope needs to cover the site's operating costs, i.e. hosting fees and employee salaries, would go a long way towards convincing disgruntled writers that a subscription-based model is the only way to fund the site. Still, why not advertising instead? It's not enough to say you considered it, without explaining why it was ultimately rejected, since other literary websites have no qualms about running advertisements. Frankly, this level of secrecy and caginess is something I'd expect from a big corporation like Apple. Do the Duotrope team honestly think their website is too big to fail/be replaced? Why are so many writers apparently happy to continue forking over money unquestioningly? I don't object to the paywall so much as to the manner in which its announcement and implementation are being handled. If Duotrope want to start running themselves like a profit-driven enterprise (or at least to break even), they deserve to be scrutinised like any other company.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Episode 1532: Why The Silence, Duotrope?

As a sort of follow-up to yesterday's post, I have to mention that I don't understand why Duotrope's Digest didn't move to an advertising-driven model instead. Given that the site is run by a bunch of writers and former editors, this whole decision to move towards a subscription-based model seems like a slap in the face to the writing community. I'm sure they chose this path because it's the only way they saw the site ever becoming self-sustaining in terms of enabling them to pay the people who work on it, but their continued silence in the face of mounting criticism on their Facebook page strikes me as rather curious. (Several comments have also pointed out how one month's notice, right as we're entering the Christmas season, is probably the worst time of year to expect people to suddenly part with a chunk of money.) Are they hoping that if they bury their collective heads in the sand and keep pushing the message that a paywall is going up, people will just fall into line with their wallets out? There sure seem to be people who are unquestioningly, nay enthusiastically, forking over the money, and bully for them. I just find it disconcerting that the team behind the site have so far not spoken up to address the legitimate concerns people have raised, beyond a perfunctory claim that in the long run, they believe the paid model will improve the accuracy of their statistics, arguably the most attractive feature of the site, after its massive catalogue of listings. Oh really? When there is no question whatsoever that a sizeable chunk of your 'freeloaders' will just leave the site come January, thus reducing your sample size? (Inverted commas, because I'm not sure it's fair to pin the label on the 90% who typically don't donate to the site. The Internet has raised a whole generation of consumers with an entitlement mentality who are disinclined to pay for something if it's already being provided for free anyway, so you can hardly blame them in this case.)

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Episode 1531: Duotrope's Digest Goes Paid

Just heard that Duotrope's Digest is switching to a paid model. I most likely won't miss it, but will other writers? Although I've used it sporadically, it just never became an integral part of my life as a writer. I mean, it was fun for a while, tracking my acceptance percentage and watching Eunoia Review hold steady at the top of the listings for swiftest markets, but as an editor, to be honest the site hasn't actually driven much traffic to my journal lately. Seems that under the new paid model, effective from 2013, most of the features that've been provided for free in the past will now only be available to paid subscribers. What I'm curious to know is whether the site will in fact be able to get enough paying subscribers to carry on running, which is the whole point of transitioning to a subscriber model, rather than relying on donations. Given that only around 10% of its users have donated in the past to the operating costs of the site, how much of that group will now be willing to become subscribers? In addition, how many people who've previously used its features at no cost will now be prepared to start coughing up a little money? The sums are pretty insignificant in my opinion, US$5/month or US$50/year, but intuitively, I'm sceptical that all that many people will be willing to start paying for something that they've managed to get for free in the past. Also, with so little functionality left for non-subscribers, how will the site grow its subscriber base?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Episode 1530: Shelving Done!

So it's taken some time, but all my books have finally been shelved! It does mean that there's pretty much no more space that I can utilise to fit any more books in, barring the occasional gap that's been intentionally left, as per what I mentioned yesterday. I suppose if I wanted to be really crazy though, I could just keep stacking the top shelf until the books reach the ceiling, but it would make trying to get any book from that shelf highly impractical. Of course, there's still space to stack another row of books in front of the ones already there on the bookshelves that aren't in my room, but I'm not sure my mum would be pleased to hear of that plan. Personally, I'm just glad it's all done. I think that I might really have to make a decision not to buy any new books for a couple of months, and actually stick to it this time. Well, after I get all the ones that I've been eyeing for a while now but have been holding off on ordering online until I get my first salary! It'll never end though, not unless the entire publishing industry collapsed overnight, so I really have to start being even more selective than I already am. Can you imagine if I actually wanted to read 'classic' novels (other than Thomas Hardy), rather than just contemporary fiction? My personal library could easily grow by another 100 volumes or so.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Episode 1529: Seven Seas Boxes Have Arrived!

So my Sevens Seas boxes have finally arrived, and like the other two times, I had no problems with the company at any point of the process. I've unboxed all the contents, and the clothes, kitchen implements and miscellaneous stuff have been put away, more or less. All that remains is the laborious process of shelving the books! I'm about halfway through the piles scattered on my floor, and if I were less OCD about the whole matter, I'd totally have been done by now. It's not just that I shelve alphabetically by publisher/imprint, then again within that by author. It's also that I try to anticipate where books will potentially need to be reorganised at a later date, e.g. shelves with books by Faber & Faber or Vintage, or with local publishers, Firstfruits or Math Paper Press. Minimises the amount of disruption later on, when I buy new books. I've also made the decision to relegate some sets of books to boxes, simply because it's not feasible for them all to be on the shelves. So now I've got two boxes of Bloodaxe books, my Marion Zimmer Bradley Darkover novels, and my OUP paperbacks under my bed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Episode 1528: You Give Something Away And People Still Complain...

Have started on my review of Post-Experimentalism, which will probably be finished over the weekend, depending on what time my Seven Seas boxes arrive tomorrow and how long it takes me to unpack everything. Am tempted to just leave the books in their boxes and ignore the matter until I find myself in need of one of those books, but my OCD tendencies in this area mean that I'll be ill at ease until at least the majority of them have been more or less alphabetically shelved by publisher. I've also just been amused by all the people ranting on the Facebook page of PixelCUBE Studios. A new entry in the Impossible Test franchise is being released tomorrow, but over the past couple of weeks, the company has been releasing codes for free downloads of The Impossible Test 2. I managed to nab one from the latest batch, and then sat back in amusement to read all the bitching that was happening in the Facebook comments threads. Sure, the codes were posted late, but really, no one's forcing you to wait around for a free game, if you have actual jobs to be getting on with, as some commenters complained they had.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Episode 1527: And The Dissertation Lives On!

What a day it's been. Didn't leave the house at all, but had a lot of good stuff happening over e-mail. Accepted a bunch of submissions for Eunoia Review, and I'm also going to do a Twitter chat in December with a contributor when his work is published. Will most likely be using the hashtag #EunoiaLIVE, so look out for that. (Could have saved #LIVEunoia to save one character, but two people pointed out on Facebook that there's a good chance people won't get it.) Might make it a semi-regular thing, if I can work out timezones with interested contributors. Readership for the journal has also rebounded after a sharp Thanksgiving slump, said slump also driving home once again where the bulk of the readers come from at the moment. In an even more exciting turn of events, Edwin Thumboo has read my dissertation and thinks I should consider publishing it. There's apparently an NAC grant that I could apply for, but I don't really know how to go about that anyway. He wants to meet when he gets back to Singapore next month though, so I'm sure I can talk about this with him then. Never imagined this could be on the cards for my academic writing, but honestly speaking, I won't pretend that publication wouldn't be a really nice way to cap my academic career so far. In any case, whatever else happens, it's great to have my research understood and valued!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Episode 1526: I Have Managed To Fall Sick Again Without Ever Fully Recovering From The Last Time

In spite of that, I've finished reading the second issue of theNewerYork last night, and like the first, it was excellent. Highly encourage everyone to check them out. Have also finished reading Bartleby Snopes's Post-Experimentalism, so I'm going to get cracking on that review tomorrow. Might even finish it in a single day, like I did with the last review I wrote. Moving on, I'm reading Wes Brown's Shark, as mentioned yesterday, and alternating that with Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, Jane Austen served up with zombie mayhem by Seth Grahame-Smith. (He's also the guy we have to thank for Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter, and no, I haven't seen the film.) Beyond that, I was thinking of bumping up Jerrold Yam's Scattered Vertebrae on my to-review list, since Andrea wants to try and schedule it on Sidekick Books as close as possible to the collection's launch. It's either that collection, or finish reading Lander Hawes's Captivity, for a long-overdue review for The Conium Review. It's actually kind of embarrassing, how far behind I've allowed myself to slip where this to-review list is concerned.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Episode 1525: Maybe I Should Read Wolf Hall?

Have not read Hilary Mantel's Booker-winning Wolf Hall, entirely because I'm not into historical fiction, but I did just read a 2010 article by her in Intelligent Life on what it was like to win the Booker and it made me like her as a writer and as a person. If the book weren't so long (and if there weren't already a sequel too), I'd probably pick it up now. From a practical point of view though, I still have too many other books that I need to read, which is something that I'm painfully aware I've been going on about for ages. I'm working on it though! Picking up Wes Brown's Shark again tomorrow, which I'd read a chunk of and enjoyed, but it's really not the sort of book that you can just dip into for a couple of pages at a time, to be honest, which is slightly problematic because my attention span has got really fragmented of late. Yet I remain committed to clearing my entire review backlog (or at least 75% of it) by the end of 2012. I could even confidently say it'll happen, assuming I go cold turkey on my TV shows, but we all know how likely that's going to be...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Episode 1524: God Of Carnage

Caught the SRT production of Yasmina Reza's God Of Carnage with Claudia and Peter. It reminded me of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, still one of my favourite plays, even though it's been so many years since I read it for my 'A' Levels. I think there might even have been a reference in God Of Carnage to the 'What a dump!' line from the Albee play's opening. (This is itself a reference to Bette Davis's line of dialogue from the film Beyond The Forest. Thanks Google!) Reza's play was a lot more farcical though, and it just felt like the humour was really French at times, in a good way. I enjoyed how the dynamics on stage were constantly shifting, as the alliances between characters were permuted. Something like that couldn't have worked if all four actors hadn't pulled equal weight onstage, so kudos to the cast. No idea if it's his natural one, but Art Acuña's New York accent was a nice touch, which as Claudia pointed out, perfectly suited his character. I would definitely be interested to see a production of this in French, or at least to read the original script.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Episode 1523: How Intelligent Do We Think Parcelforce Will Be?

So Parcelforce have finally forked over compensation for that damaged parcel. £27.88, which I believe is the exact value of the five books that I listed as damaged. Was kind of expecting them to pay out more than that, considering that I spent over £100 on the shipping in the first place. It remains to be seen, however, if they were intelligent enough to send the cheque to my Singaporean address. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if they just blindly posted it off to the Warwick one. Have sent an e-mail to check, and fingers crossed, I won't have to e-mail the Post Room to tell them to keep an eye out for a letter, which they may or may not do. I think the lesson here is that sometimes being literate and liking to read can become a bit of a pain. I can only hope that since the e-mail they sent me came in a couple of hours ago, typical British inefficiency means that they weren't planning on posting the cheque until after the weekend anyway. Of course, this also assumes that my timely reply gets read before any further action is taken, of which there is no guarantee. We're talking about a company that sent me a questionnaire by post, and then didn't reply to my online message that it never arrived. Would label it stonewalling, except I got a pretty quick reply when I bypassed the stupid online portal and sent an e-mail directly to the claims team.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Episode 1522: Really Thankful For...Thanksgiving (Eve)?

So it looks like I'm going to be a facilitator at another MOE scholarship tea session. Maybe I'll bump into an English HOD from a school nearer to where I live this time who's in need of teachers to join his/her department? Anyway, I seized the opportunity of hardly any original TV episodes airing on Thanksgiving Eve to get a review done at last. The same situation is going to be repeated tomorrow, so while I might not be able to get another review done, I can at least make significant progress in my reading. Won't even begin to whittle down the pile, but it's a start! Incidentally, I've started alternating between reading Huffington and Intelligent Life on my iPad, and the difference in quality really shows. I mean, I know no one takes The Huffington Post seriously, but it's like they're not even trying anymore. Obvious typographical error even in their 'literary' issue? (It was actually kind of good, apart from that ironic mistake.) Arianna Huffington can keep writing about the 'slow news movement' in her editor's letters all she wants. It's still not going to change the fact that Huffington is a pretty shallow magazine. Why am I still reading it then, you may very well ask. For the same reason that people read tabloids, I suppose.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Episode 1521: A Tale Of Two Freshmen Comedies

Holiday episodes can make or break a comedy. Do you try to put a spin on what would otherwise be obvious family-related jokes, or do you get all kooky with the holiday theme? Or do you just, well, squander the opportunity altogether? Having seen the Thanksgiving episodes of The Mindy Project and The New Normal, I've come to the conclusion that the former is spiralling into disaster, whereas the latter might actually be headed towards serviceability. As such, it both horrifies and mortifies me to switch my endorsement from the one to the other. The Mindy Project delivered a mess of a Thanksgiving episode, in which the obvious main romantic triangle of Mindy/Danny/Jeremy was split up, which made for some weak jokes and a lot of cutting back and forth between storylines. (If you wanted a clear example of how half-hour comedies do A-, B- and C-plots within a single episode, this was pretty much it.) I initially thought this show had promise, but I'm starting to think it's a case of Mindy Kaling's creative control gone wrong. There are also casting changes coming up, with one series regular leaving, one demotion from regular to recurring, and one new recurring character with potential for promotion to regular. It looks like the show's still struggling to define itself among everything else in the TV landscape, but its ratings have already slipped enough for TV by the Numbers to label it a toss-up for renewal or cancellation. On the other hand, The New Normal has got a lot less shrill lately, although it's also obviously still trying to figure out what stories it can tell using its ensemble. Maybe having to divide his attention between three shows is helping Ryan Murphy to avoid straying into unfunny polemical territory? One can only hope, even if I wouldn't be surprised to see the show backpedal next week straight into strident diatribe.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Episode 1520: Revolution, You're Clearly Not Going To Survive Your Winter Hiatus, Are You?

Revolution continues to frustrate, although the writers seem to have firmly switched their focus from Charlie to Miles. Guess they realised that she was boring? Either that or they really hate Tracy Spiridakos, because so far, her story still doesn't really exist beyond trying to save her brother. I mean, everyone else has had the benefit of character-centric pre-blackout flashbacks, which is the go-to method for establishing some depth to a character. (She might've had one, but it must have been really forgettable.) I'm curious to know what the Nielsen ratings will be for this latest episode. Revolution is still clearly NBC's highest-rated scripted show, but that's really not saying much. (I secretly hope that the retooled Season 2 of Smash will boost that show into a genuine hit, surpassing Revolution.) The winter hiatus is probably going to kill it off anyway. Four months between new episodes? The only shows that can survive a move like that are those ABC Family and USA shows that regularly split their shows into two half-seasons anyway, and have rabid fans to boot.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Episode 1519: A Clarke/Kubrick Comparison? I'll Take It!

There's a new review of Unthology No. 3 up at Rum & Reviews Magazine, in which the reviewer writes, 'The multidimensional world he creates [in 'The Triptych Papers'] is a bewildering place, reminding me a little of the final scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey.' Prior to this, I wasn't aware that being compared to Arthur C. Clarke/Stanley Kubrick was one of my life goals, but hey, checking that one off the list as we speak. Now I really hope this story gets picked for that Singaporean reprint anthology. Either this one, or 'The Last Birthday', which The Misfit Quarterly has kindly agreed to nominate for the anthology too, as I think in terms of my fiction writing, they're the strongest stories that I've managed to publish so far, and it'd be nice to see them appear in a Singaporean anthology. Still no movement on the reviews front, but I'm hoping to use the Thanksgiving break for some of the TV shows that I follow to catch up on things! Was thinking of going to the library in Bishan earlier, since I had to change trains there anyway, but I figured that I already have enough on my plate in terms of reading, without actively seeking out more.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Episode 1518: NIE Beckons At Last...

So NIE has sent over stuff, so I'm no longer clueless as to what the next step in my life is going to look like. On the other hand, a fair amount of information has to be obtained by me at a later date, once it's available on the NIE Portal. So I'm not exactly 100% clued in yet. However, on the recommendation of friends who are already in NIE, I've set up another Gmail account, specifically for all NIE-related stuff. Partly for my own organisational purposes, partly because I don't relish the prospect of potentially having to repeatedly explain who the Perfect Sublime Masters were. Have also realised that another of my reviews editors does non-fiction titles, so suddenly, most of the urgency behind setting up my own reviews section for Eunoia Review has vanished. Or been postponed, at least. Need to find out first how much my friends can commit to doing if the reviews section becomes a reality. The other alternative is not to commit to making it a regular thing to begin with. Just leave it as something sporadic, maybe not even bothering to solicit books to be reviewed and instead take them as and when some publicist gets in touch.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Episode 1517: The Misfit Quarterly Is Out!

Farewell, 666 Park Avenue, Last Resort and Partners, we barely knew you. (Not really true, since they're all halfway through their initial 13-episode order. Meanwhile, The Mob Doctor has yet to be put out of its misery by Fox.) All three shows had clear potential, although only 666 Park Avenue manifestly failed to live up to it. Last Resort was probably hampered by its subject matter, which was definitely something different for a serialised drama but not exactly possessed of mass appeal, whereas Partners looked like an attempt by CBS to tick a comedy box not covered by the coarseness of 2 Broke Girls, the recycled relationship entanglements of How I Met Your Mother or the inanity of Two And A Half Men, which just couldn't seem to find a mainstream audience. Sure, sometimes the jokes tried a little too hard, but I was curious to see how it might've developed, and like I've mentioned before, CBS needs to start renewing its comedy slate. Maybe that was the problem though, that little in the show's plots so far indicated avenues for further development. On a different note, the inaugural edition of The Misfit Quarterly is now available and it looks gorgeous! I have a story in it (that first chapter of my abortive YA novel that actually works really well as a standalone piece), and you can find out how to get a free digital edition here. A huge thank you to AJ Leon and everyone else in the Misfit team!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Episode 1516: Humanities Mini-reunion

Got together with a bunch of JC friends for dinner at Cumi Bali and drinks at FRY Bistro after. It's always great meeting up with them, just to catch up. If I had to get philosophical about it, part of the appeal is how these friends represent a sort of continuity between my pre- and post-university life. Plus they know cool places to hang out that I don't know/never bother to find out about! The whole plan to start writing my review before I left in the evening didn't work out though, even if I've figured out my angle for the piece. It's not going to get written tomorrow either, given how little sleep I'm going to get tonight. Have to be up at 7 am to sing at a wedding in church, and it's already 2.30 am now! Taxi driver on the ride back home had really contemporary taste in music. Wasn't sure what he was listening to, sound quality was too poor to be a radio station, but there was Lady Gaga, Maroon 5, Adele, Avril Lavigne, and that was just in the 20 minutes or so that I was in the taxi. Pretty happy that the fare worked out to just over $25, inclusive of the 50% midnight surcharge.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Episode 1515: 30% Off = Lots Of New Books!

30% off at BooksActually today, so I came home with quite a haul. Won't allow myself to read any of it yet, of course. (There's also the interesting question of how I can possibly fit all my books in my room, once the Seven Seas boxes arrive. Will have to start banishing some stuff out of sight, into boxes, I guess. The question remains though. Which books to hide away?) What I have done is read The Lucky Star Of Hidden Things again, and my first impression of the collection has been confirmed. I like it, but not as unreservedly as other reviewers seem to, which did make me second-guess myself for a bit. I feel quite confident now that I'll be able to articulate what my reservations are in the review though, so I'm not too worried. Will aim to get at least a paragraph or two done before I go out tomorrow evening, and then probably finish the whole thing on Saturday afternoon (or evening, after procrastinating), after I get back from the wedding in church. Have already begun reading for my next review, which is a special issue of Bartleby Snopes. It's called Post-Experimentalism, and I'm not sure what that means yet, but the very first story that was told in tweet-sized paragraphs was pretty cool, so I'm optimistic.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Episode 1514: Set Foot In NIE For The First Time!

Made my first trip ever to NIE today to view an art exhibition put on by some of my MOE friends. I think it's really cool that they could do something like this during their time at NIE. Can't imagine I'd be able to do anything similar as a Literature student. The journey itself to NIE and back was pretty straightforward, although I think the return leg gave me a headache. As much as the commute remains entirely unappealing, I still don't want to live in an NTU hostel though! Anyway, I finally sent a blurb off to a past Eunoia Review contributor for his upcoming poetry collection. Couldn't in good conscience offer to do a full review of it at this point, but I'm hoping that when I clear some of my backlog, he'll still be up for my reviewing it. Also scored a free e-book from Royal Pulp, coincidentally by another contributor to the journal. Am thinking that the press will be a good contact to have, if this as-yet hypothetical reviews section does eventually happen, which will be no earlier than January 2013. Everyone else seems to think it's a great idea, so I guess I ought to spend time figuring out how to make it happen, as opposed to trying to nip it in the bud, right?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Episode 1513: A Reviews Section?

Another book has been offered to me for review, a pair of essays on the Oulipo from Zer0 Books. Might end up having to turn this one down though, if Scott doesn't want it for The Cadaverine, as all my other reviews editors don't do non-fiction titles. Either that, or accept what is looking pretty inevitable these days and launch a reviews section of my own on Eunoia Review. I suppose it wouldn't have to be a full-fledged thing. Could just be an occasional review here and there, at least until I find someone to run the section. (Laura, Lesedi and Natasha have already offered to help.) Still, I'm hoping to put off the decision until I'm in the middle of my PGDE. If I can cope with it then, trying to build a team of reviewers and to get books coming in, I know I'll be able to cope with it in the long run. Anyway, I'm hopeful that Scott will okay the Zer0 Books title, since we've run a review of one of their non-fiction titles before, Phil Jourdan's powerful memoir, Praise Of Motherhood. (Come to think of it, did you give them my journal's e-mail, Phil?)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Episode 1512: Skyfall

While I was never one of those people who had an issue with Daniel Craig as the new Bond when he was first announced, I think Skyfall is the film that finally won me over fully. (I'm not old enough to have seen any other Bond than Pierce Brosnan, whom I personally thought was very likeable in the role.) The film itself was solid, like Craig's two other instalments in the franchise have been, but it was the Adele-backed opening credits that were truly amazing, the singer herself being an interesting soundtrack choice for what is fundamentally an action movie. (I personally think credit sequences are an underappreciated art, especially in the realm of television, which tends to favour title cards or recap sequences instead.) Another bold move was killing off Judi Dench as M, but I suppose it was a pragmatic decision as well, since however lovely she is as an actress, Ralph Fiennes is almost certainly going to outlive her and be able to play M in the next couple of Bond films. Ben Whishaw as Q was a nice touch too. Am I the only person who thinks his portrayal was clearly influenced by the character of Auggie from Covert Affairs? Now that Craig's signed on to do two more Bond films, it'll be interesting to see how the new character dynamics get developed.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Episode 1511: A Couple Of Cool Discoveries

So I discovered a couple of things yesterday. Firstly, I can't believe that I haven't seen The Lizzie Bennet Diaries until yesterday! It's a vlog adaptation of Pride And Prejudice, and it's brilliant. If anything, it actually makes me want to read the original Austen novel, which is pretty much the same reaction I had when I started reading Seth Grahame-Smith's Pride And Prejudice And Zombies. (Haven't finished it, in case you were wondering.) My other discovery was that the iPad edition of Intelligent Life, a cultural magazine from the publishers of The Economist, is free to subscribe to. Obviously, I've already downloaded all the available issues, and I hope Credit Suisse keeps sponsoring the magazine, although should the publishers start charging, I'd probably be happy to start paying as well. Now for a complete non sequitur, here's my review of Howie Good's Cryptic Endearments, my first for Sidekick Books. Have already read Afric McGlinchey's The Lucky Star Of Hidden Things in preparation for my second, and I've already got the third lined up, which will be Jerrold Yam's Scattered Vertebrae, the collection I was talking about in my last post.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Episode 1510: Full Circle

In what I suppose amounts to coming as full circle, Singaporean poet Jerrold Yam has asked me to review his upcoming collection from Math Paper Press, without realising that I'm also from Singapore. Our connection is that I'm publishing his poems in Eunoia Review from next Monday to Wednesday, all of which will also be in the new collection. (Do check them out, by the way, they're excellent!) This isn't the first review request to come my way via Eunoia Review (to be exact, it's the third within the past month), and once again, it's making me wonder if it would make sense after all to bring someone else on board to help run a reviews section, independent of the publication side of things. Incidentally, I've also completely caught up with my TV viewing. I would say it feels liberating, but then that would run the risk of mischaracterising things. It wasn't burdensome to get through all those dramas, comedies and dramadies, but it did take a lot of time, the sort of time that people can only afford to spend if they don't have to work. So in future, I'll almost certainly have to start being a lot more selective about what shows I actually follow on a weekly basis.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Episode 1509: Unthology No. 3 Launch!

Am down to just five episodes of television tonight, so I'm basically caught up with my viewing schedule. In completely unrelated news, I also purchased the newest title in the Angry Birds franchise, Angry Birds Star Wars. It's actually pretty cool, if a bit of a shameless marketing move on Rovio's part. Haven't explored enough to comment on any new game mechanics, although I did purchase a bonus pack of levels that features lightsaber-wielding birds, which was fun. Meanwhile, back in the UK, Unthology No. 3 is being launched at the UnLit Festival, which I really, really wish I could be at. I know I keep saying this, but it's absolutely true. So to make me feel better about not being there, everyone reading this should go buy the book! (Amazon UK here, US here.) It's full of brilliant stories, like the others in the series. There's a review of the book up at Sabotage Reviews as well, in which my story was singled out by the reviewer as her personal favourite. Made my day when I read the review, I have to confess.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Episode 1508: What's Up With Gossip Girl?

It continues to baffle me how most of the character relationships on Gossip Girl continue to circle in a holding pattern, given that the show is nearly halfway through its final season. This glacial pace would make more sense if the show had a full 22-episode order, but the writers have only been given 10 to wrap things up. I personally think The CW made a mistake here by overestimating the appeal of timeslot replacement The Carrie Diaries and that the ratings aren't going to be anything to shout about. On the other hand, I really hope Cult will succeed. Looks like it'll probably air on Friday, after Nikita, which means that the bar for ratings success will be lowered. Unless the network axes either Beauty & The Beast or Emily Owens, M.D.? Pros and cons both ways. The former is a procedural that diversifies the network's offerings, but it's also kind boring, especially airing after the whiplash-inducing plot twists of The Vampire Diaries. The latter pairs very, very well with Hart Of Dixie and Mamie Gummer is really likeable, but it's not exactly firing up the ratings for a newbie show and reinforces the image of The CW as only programming for the 18-49 Women demographic.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Episode 1507: Math Paper Press SWF Launch No. 4

Yeah, that title's no mistake. I just didn't make it to the launches on Sunday or Monday. Already picked up all the books though, when I went to the first one. Except Yeng Pway Ngon's Unrest, which I got today, along with a box set of his poems published by The Literary Centre in parallel English and Chinese text. Read the first volume of that (it's a set of five) a while ago, and really like Yeng's poetry, so since there was a single copy of the box set at the Festival Pavilion, I snapped it up. Anyway, I felt quite happy that I could understand what he was saying throughout the night, without translation. Also felt kind of inspired after he'd spoken to start reading more contemporary Chinese literature. Almost certainly not going to happen, if I'm being realistic, but at least it's something to aspire towards. Then I had an interesting chat on the MRT ride home with a Malay history teacher and fellow fan of Alvin Pang's writing. Was explaining how I sought to interpret the Merlion in my dissertation, and it was really nice to be met for a change with comprehension from a fellow Singaporean, rather than scepticism, which has pretty much been the default response when I've mentioned it in the past to people my age.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Episode 1506: When Meta Isn't Always Good

Depending on how far ahead a comedy like Partners is written and filmed, I'd say that this week's episode (which may have been aired out of order) was indicative of the show's going for broke, pun intended, as you'll soon see. CBS comedies aren't exactly famous for being meta, since that's more an NBC thing, although that network generally seems to be embarrassed by that brand of humour (see its treatment of critics' darling Community). This week, however, Partners seemed determined to rub its audience's faces in just how meta it could be, beginning with the episode's tongue-in-cheek title, '2 Broke Guys', an unsubtle reference to 2 Broke Girls, for which Partners is the lead-in. Then the show launched into an extended riff on Brandon Routh's turn as Superman (let's face it, probably still his best-known role). An NBC comedy could have pulled this off (yes, even insufferable The New Normal, I think), but on CBS, the meta moment just came off as forced, even if Routh's character is ironically the most likeable character on Partners.

Later on, the episode also gave us a slow motion-style scene of Routh and Sophia Bush's characters making sexy faces at the camera. Fairly lazy, as far as being meta goes, but hey, if the show had gone this direction right at the beginning of its run, it might've made it stand out in a year of fairly lacklustre TV debuts, if only for a week or two. (Yes, there's Revolution, which is still being hailed as an authentic hit of this TV season, but while I'm betting it's no one-and-done like FlashForward or The Event, I'm also convinced the show is hugely overrated and its ratings will reflect this when it comes back after its winter hiatus.) However, the real problem is that fundamentally, Partners isn't a show that is improved by being meta, the way that something like Community undoubtedly is. Partners is a relationship comedy, except the relationship at its core is a bromance, rather than the romantic endgames of something like How I Met Your Mother. As such, it works best when it's grounding itself in realism, albeit a heightened one where Michael Urie's witticisms are bookended by that staccato percussion line from Imagine Dragons 'On Top Of The World'. (Great song, by the way.)

Monday, November 05, 2012

Episode 1505: 10 Episodes!

Suddenly remembered this morning that I'm meant to do a writing test tomorrow, but I might still call to reschedule if my cold isn't better tomorrow morning. After all, the e-mail did say that if I'm experiencing flu-like symptoms or unwell, I should inform them and they'll reschedule the test accordingly. On the other hand, there's a good chance I could rally by tomorrow, as I've actually felt better all day today than I did last night, and I would like to get the writing test out of the way, since it's already been arranged. Meanwhile, I've temporarily brought the number of outstanding TV episodes down to 10, but it's going to shoot up again tomorrow, of course. On a related note, I watched this week's episode of The Walking Dead, and was very satisfied that there were plot developments that Phil and I had forecasted, right at the beginning of this third season. Like Carl shooting Lori! I read an interview with Sarah Wayne Callies, who played Lori, and it was interesting to see what she had to say about filming her final episode, especially in terms of working with Chandler Riggs, the young actor who plays Carl.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Episode 1504: It's Been A While Since I've Had A Cold

Urgh. Am now definitely sick, which makes it hard to focus on reading anything. Going to skip tomorrow's launch of another two Math Paper Press titles, and probably Wednesday's as well, if I don't recover, but hey, at least watching TV doesn't require me to switch my brain on all that much (not even if I'm trying to be snarky about how ridiculous a show is), so I'll be doing plenty of that between sniffles. I kind of knew where the sore throat was headed anyway. It's pretty standard for me. I get a scratch throat, and a day or two after, it turns into a dripping nose. If I'm lucky, it clears up within a day or two after that. If not, I could be down for up to a week. Anyway, a clutch of solid submissions came in for Eunoia Review, so the publication queue is now pretty much five months long. At this point, what I really want to do is figure out how to continue growing the journal's audience. As I write this, the WordPress site has just reached 88888 all-time views. In monthly terms, viewership has also more or less stabilised/plateaued. I think to take it to the next level would require getting volunteers to come in to handle the social media side of the journal, since a decent proportion of the readership is funnelled to the site via Facebook and Twitter, but I obviously can't be as engaged with that as I'd like. I've also yet to tap into a steady audience from English-speaking countries outside the United States, so there's clearly room for getting more eyeballs on the work being published, which is what matters to me at the end of the day.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Episode 1503: One More For The Unofficial Blacklist

Another mildly infuriating submitter this morning. I think I've rejected 10 stories of his within the past month, and he finally fired back a request for me to point him to the 'best' story I've published in the past year. (Yes, 'best' in inverted commas, which seemed a little sarcastic, if you ask me.) One friend had the brilliant suggestion of just sending back the journal's URL and telling him that this was the best I've published all year and that he should read all of it. I'm not naïve enough to think that there aren't people who submit to me purely for the sake of chalking up another publication credit, with no interest in the rest of the journal's material, but at least don't make your ambition so naked. Plus there's just something about his stories that tend to rub me the wrong way. From his self-inserted copyright symbol (and let's not get into how amateurish that makes him look), I can tell that most of the stories are more than a decade old. They also read as if they've been filtered through the worldview of a businessman, which given the bragging in his attached biographical note, is entirely plausible as a conjecture. Well, he's another one headed for the unofficial blacklist, I'm afraid.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Episode 1502: Math Paper Press SWF Launch No. 1

Went to the launch of Alfian Sa'at's The Invisible Manuscript and Cyril Wong's Straw, Sticks, Brick, both published by Math Paper Press. Also bought all the other books save one that Kenny will be launching during the rest of the SWF, but that was through careless omission rather than choice, so I'll grab it when I pop by for the other launches on Monday and Wednesday. Probably buy other books as well, as a couple of things caught my eye in passing, but I was focusing on getting the Math Paper Press stuff. Also ran into Mohan from my RI choir days at the launch, which was nice because it meant I knew someone there other than Kenny and Alvin Pang. Serendipity, as he put it. Then I had a bit of an annoying e-mail exchange with a submitter on my way home. He'd basically sent me the same story that I'd already declined back in June, except when I pointed this out, his somewhat defensive reply was that he'd never received a rejection, only a message that his submission had no attachment, which was incidentally also what happened this time around. Debated replying to him and setting him straight with forwarded sent e-mails from June, but decided that this would've been unnecessarily petty on my part. Still, chalk one more up for the list of people from whom submissions will be viewed with a particularly sceptical eye, given their past behaviour.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Episode 1501: Now It's 20...

So I'm feeling better today, which somehow translated into me sending off a couple of submissions, something that I haven't done in a while. Also e-mailed Edwin Thumboo my completed dissertation, so it'll be interesting to see what he has to say about it. As for TV, I'm down to 20 episodes, aided by a decision to drop Vegas from my regular viewing schedule. It's been given a full series order by CBS, so it's going to be around for some time yet (although there's also no guarantee it'll make it to a second season), but there just hasn't been enough to grip me in the first three episodes that I've seen so far, especially given how crowded this year has become for me in terms of television. I'm aiming to catch up with all my shows by the weekend, although that might be tricky, given that I'm planning to attend a string of Math Paper Press launches in the coming days and I have a wedding ceremony and dinner to attend on Saturday. Have to devote time to catching up on my reading too, which I keep talking about and failing to actually do!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Episode 1500: Down To 30...

Number of unwatched episodes is down to 30, so in theory, I could watch them all within one day, provided I did practically nothing else, including sleeping. Problem is, I've also been feeling like I'm about to fall sick all day, and I definitely have a headache right now. Manned up though, and formatted all the submissions I accepted while I was in Hong Kong, so Eunoia Review now has work queued till late March. If the queue gets a few months longer, I might have to switch to publishing thrice daily, maybe even four times. Don't have any issues with that, although if it does get to that point, I do wonder if the journal might be moving too far from its original intention of being something people can dip into daily for a bite-sized (or sometimes rather large) chunk of reading. Maybe it'd be better to temporarily close submissions, purely to trim the publication 'backlog'. I definitely need to spend November clearing my reviews backlog though. Have to do a bit of shuffling in regards to what order I'm going to review stuff in, but November is definitely the month to start catching up. No leisure reading even, not until I've done at least two reviews.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Episode 1499: 36 Episodes (And Counting) To Catch Up On!

That's how many episode of TV I have waiting for me to get through them. Would've been more, except some of the networks aired repeats instead of originals because of Hurricane Sandy. Watched the Total Recall remake on my flight home. It manages to try too hard (heavy-handed political allegory, check; pseudo-philosophical mumbo jumbo, check) and to not try at all (gratuitously shirtless Colin Farrell, check; Kate Beckinsale in underwear, check). Anyway, I came back from my holiday to my contributor's copy of Unthology No. 3 and a copy of Mark Z. Danielewski's The Fifty Year Sword. Really excited to be a part of the Unthology series, which you can pick up here, here, and here. Wish I could be at the launch during the UnLit Festival! Have also been waiting for a long time to get my hands on Danielewski's book, which had previously only been released in English twice, in limited runs of 1000 copies. Like his previous books, this one is gorgeously produced, with a textured orange cover that looks like someone stabbed it loads of times with a pen. Or the tip of a sword.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Episode 1498: Yumcha At Last!

So on our last full day in Hong Kong, we finally went to yumcha at Maxim's Palace in City Hall. (We actually ended up in Maxim's Café by mistake at first. It's part of the same company, but one floor down and serving Western instead.) I'm a big fan of dimsum, but it's not that common to find places in Singapore that serve it pushcarts anymore. I'm sure there must still be places that do, but I reckon it's a concept that's ripe for wider revival. Nostalgia, packaging a tourism experience, etc. (Get on this, someone in STB!) Also, I suspect ordering off a pushcart actually induces people to eat more than they would compared to ordering off a menu. Some sort of psychology thing, yes? On a related note, I hope I haven't put on too much weight over the past few days. I don't think I should have anyway, as I haven't exactly been indulging more than usual. Fingers crossed! Haven't got much reading done either, so there goes my good intentions about trying to make some headway with my reviewing while on holiday. Maybe if I attacked the to-do pile like I did my dissertation, i.e. with erratic meal times, I might get something done and lose some weight in the process.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Episode 1497: Cheung Chau

Cheung Chau today, which basically involved a lot of walking, in footwear that was patently unsuitable. Couldn't be helped though, as I've already got rid of almost all my shoes, meaning that the pair I wore to come to Hong Kong is the closest thing I have to walking shoes at the moment. Anyway, another place ticked off 'the list'. (I don't actually have one, I just imagine that's the sort of thing I'm supposed to say.) Now I know what those TVB shows mean when the characters go to Cheung Chau for a getaway. It's sort of like what East Coast Park or Sentosa are to Singaporeans, I guess, except on a larger scale. Anyway, I'm thinking it's time to buy lots of new stuff, especially if there are any Christmas sales. Shoes, clothes, bag, laptop, the works. All in preparation for entering NIE, of course! The laptop is a definite must, I just haven't decided what I want to get yet. Was leaning towards a MacBook for a while, but to be honest, I only want one because it's cool. Except too many people have MacBooks these days, so it's not actually all that cool anymore. Right? Might just be boring and go with a Dell again, to be honest, but on the other hand, it's kind of tempting to complete my Apple gadget set, just for the heck of it. (If you're reading this, Phil How, yes, my inner hipster wants a MacBook but I'll probably run Windows on it too.)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Episode 1496: Stanley

Today, we headed to Stanley, in the Southern District, and had lunch at Saigon at Stanley, a Vietnamese restaurant. Had soft shell crab in this yellow curry, with bits of egg in it. Quite delightful. Stanley's also a really scenic area, so I managed to get some good pictures. Bought an interesting card game in a Stanley Plaza shop, Goods of Desire, which purports to teach players a bit of Cantonese, although it's only actually useful if you're ordering dimsum! Was slightly less impressed by Stanley Market, which didn't really seem all that different from other street markets that I've been to in other countries. On the other hand, I remain appreciative of how easy it is to find free WiFi in Hong Kong. I know Singapore's got Wireless@SG, but it's such a hassle logging onto that, whereas most of the free WiFi networks that I've accessed here have been one-touch login affairs. Still, even the inconvenience of Wireless@SG is superior to the comparative absence of free WiFi in the UK. What's up with that anyway? I'm pretty sure the free Virgin WiFi on the Tube is a relatively recent introduction, right? Have been making some progress with my books, by which I mean I'm reading a few pages of The Salt Book Of Younger Poets each day. It seems I was, as usual, wildly optimistic about doing my reviews.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Episode 1495: Macau

Turns out it was Yong Long I saw yesterday. Saw his pictures on Facebook Anyway, we spent today in Macau. It was a tour, so that saved the hassle of trying to work out how to get about the place. Honestly though, I'm not convinced there's all that much more to Macau than the gambling. Still, there's a certain vulgar beauty to the casinos' opulence, isn't there? Is this where Singapore is headed, now that we have our integrated resorts? Hopefully not! Added some new music to my iPod before I came over to Hong Kong, which is all I've been listening to for the past couple of days. One of the albums is Taylor Swift's Red, apparently her poppiest yet. I've never been a huge fan of hers, but I'd say that's about right as an album assessment. It's your standard radio-friendly stuff, with the occasional country inflection. More interesting are Aiden Grimshaw's Misty Eye and Jamie Woon's Mirrorwriting. Both are clearly pop music records, but musically they feel quite refreshing compared to the sounds that tend to dominate the airwaves these days. Purists of the genres they borrow from will probably disapprove though. I've also been listening to Lawson's Chapman Square, which is a solid radio-ready pop record like Swift's. Boybands definitely seem to be experiencing a resurgence this decade, but even though the four Lawson members are predictably ludicrously photogenic, musically they're actually slightly closer to the jangly guitar pop of Kris Allen, rather than One Direction, or even The Wanted.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Episode 1494: Lantau Island

Spent the day on Lantau Island, mostly at the Ngong Ping 360 tourist attraction. It's a cable car ride from Tung Chung MTR to the Ngong Ping Village, which is a pretty shamelessly touristic place. We were on a sort of package tour that also took us to the fishing village at Tai O, which has been called the Venice of Hong Kong. That was a more interesting place because it doesn't yet seem to have been completely colonised by tourism, although the signs are there. Not a lot to see though, unless you're really fascinated by fishing, I guess? Then it was back to Ngong Ping for a visit to the Po Lin Monastery, where I swear I saw Yong Long walk past me. (Think I saw him again later in Citygates Outlets, on the way back to the hotel.) Anyway, after being out nearly the whole day with my parents, I've realised that we have very different travel philosophies. I like travelling but hate tourism and how it implies that destinations can be packaged and consumed like goods, whereas my parents are quite happy to embrace their status as 'tourists', in the sense that they can be quite wide-eyed, especially when it comes to things like navigating public transport or the streets. It can get a bit trying at times, as you can imagine.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Episode 1493: Hong Kong!

Only had the time to watch one movie during the flight to Hong Kong, 38 Témoins. It was okay, but I thought what it had to say about human nature was fairly trite, and I didn't actually care about the central relationship of the film, so it didn't seem that big a deal when it abruptly ended. Anyway, it turns out that the hotel we're staying at is the same hotel we stayed at the last time we were in Hong Kong, about six years ago. Biggest change? There's a WiFi hotspot right outside the hotel now, so as long as I don't mind sitting outside and occasionally breathing in cigarette smoke, my digital life can still go on, more or less. Am trying my best to be patient while travelling alone with my parents, which I've never done before, except the couple of days when they came to the UK for my graduation last year. This time it's a whole week though. We're also not travelling on any fixed itinerary, which has pros and cons, I guess. Will be nice to go to places that I've never been to though, like the outlying islands. Also, it's just struck me how odd it is that Hong Kong-style eateries are actually not as casual affairs in Singapore as they clearly are here. Had dinner in one earlier, and it was like being in one of those roadside scenes that I watch on TVB shows now and then.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Episode 1492: Holiday Packing!

Am bringing some stuff with me to Hong Kong that I need to read for reviewing purposes, but I'm also bringing some leisure reading. Have been trying to decide between Jesse Ball and Alex Preston, but since my Facebook friends have been deliberately unhelpful and none of my Twitter followers replied, I told Shirley on WhatsApp to just pick a name. So Preston it is! Taking both This Bleeding City and The Revelations along, since I expect to get through them pretty quickly, assuming they're page-turning reads like all the blurbs say. Now I'm all packed for my trip to Hong Kong with my parents! Apparently, it should be relatively easy to find free WiFi hotspots in Hong Kong, and there's one company's network that I can supposedly get onto with a 60-day free trial, so I'm hoping that I won't be entirely disconnected from digital civilisation while I'm gone. Have managed to read the chapbook that I've been asked to provide a blurb for, so all I need is to come up with a sentence or two before going to bed. Then I just need to reply to one more submission for The Cadaverine, and I'll be good to go on holiday (except for that list of pending reviews).

Monday, October 22, 2012

Episode 1491: A Tale Of Two Comedies

So Season 3 of Happy Endings has premiered and I'm so glad it's back. For me, it's the best comedy on air after Community, with the added plus that unlike NBC, ABC typically doesn't mess around when it comes to airing new episodes. Happy Endings started off as a bit of an underdog, a mid-season show that looked like it was being burnt off, two episodes at a time. Somehow, someone thought to give it another season, and it settled into its skin as a quirky relationship sitcom that was really more about a close-knit group of friends, the only one to actually survive from 2011's crop, I believe. Honestly though, I doubt the ratings will be spectacular this year, given how most shows have been performing across the board, but who knows? Maybe ABC will lower its expectations enough to renew this for yet another season, even though that still wouldn't give the show enough episodes to be sold into syndication. A syndication deal might not mean much though. Community, which has already been sold into syndication on Comedy Central, despite how it'll fall short of the conventional 88-episode threshold if NBC declines to pick up the back nine for this season, is still being treated like an unwanted stepchild. What I would like to know is whether Comedy Central could actually afford to rescue the show when NBC cancels it. (Let's be realistic, NBC is almost certainly going to kick the show to the kerb after this year, barring a ratings miracle on the scale of what Revolution has been blessed with so far.)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Episode 1490: Nikita (Or Proof That Americans Prefer Asinine Reality TV)

Nikita is the best show that it seems almost everyone with a Nielsen box has never heard of, as evidenced by its being the worst premiere for The CW this season, new or returning series. At 0.3, it was below even the Gossip Girl Season 6 premiere, but we might explain that as being due to Nikita airing on Fridays. Still, this is The CW, so they'll almost certainly still air the whole season. It's not like they have anything they can bring out to plug the gap if they yank it anyway, unless they've somehow been secretly working on a second season of The Secret Circle. (Oh, if only that were true!) The CW is a bit of an oddball compared to the Big Four networks, so who knows, they might actually even give the show another season for syndication purposes. Unlikely, but if any show on the network deserves it, it would have to be Nikita. In completely unrelated news, here's a first: I've been asked to provide a blurb for a chapbook. I've had snippets quoted from reviews that I've done in the past, but this is the first time I've been approached in my capacity as an editor. Please understand that this is disproportionately exciting for me at the moment, as not a lot else is going on in my life. You might already have gathered this from how every other post these days seems to be about the TV shows that I'm watching.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Episode 1489: Need To Get Stuff Done Before My Holiday!

Editing a pair of reprints for the site. Way too many semicolons in the sentences! Call me old-fashioned, but the semicolon shouldn't be used like a comma. Need to remember to upload a couple of accepted submissions for The Cadaverine before I go off to Hong Kong for a short holiday. Also sort of hoping to finish a review before the holiday, and maybe one during. At the very least, I want to read at least a couple of the books, to trim the stack down. I had a good run about a week and a half ago, but then the momentum kind of died, partly because I've been reading Issue 4 of Lucky Peach. Yeah, it finally arrived, though this is actually the replacement for my subscription copy that got lost in transit. The McSweeney's customer service people have been really helpful though, in this matter and that massive order of The Believer issues I made a while ago, so props to them! Don't think I'm going to renew my Lucky Peach subscription though, not if I can get the issues through The Book Depository. The additional cost of shipping my subscription to Singapore means I actually get a slightly better deal via The Book Depository.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Episode 1488: Yes, I Did!

Note to self: I won't save that much time by taking the Circle Line if I'm doing it just before midnight. Literally ended up on the last Kranji-bound train, and then on the last feeder bus back to my block, so what I'd intended to be a time-saving measure ended up with me reaching home half an hour later than I would have if I'd just stuck to my usual MRT route. Anyway, I've received official confirmation from the department, so yeah, I have got a Distinction for my MA. Sharing that news on Facebook led to what I think is probably my status with the most Likes ever, so thanks everyone. Congratulations to everyone else on their results as well! Wish I could go back to Warwick for graduation in January, but it doesn't look likely to happen. Now to send the dissertation to Edwin Thumboo, since now that I know at least two other academics don't think it's rubbish, I won't feel too embarrassed about having him read it. I wonder if we'll get the comments sheet back for our last essays/dissertations. I mean, they did end up being the best grades I got all year, so I'd quite like to know what the feedback on them was like. Might e-mail Cheryl again to ask. It's not terribly important, since NIE aside, I won't be returning to academia for half a decade or more. Just interesting for personal reference, I suppose.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Episode 1487: I Think I Got A Distinction?

I think I might've found my new favourite TV show and it's MTV's Underemployed. I freely admit that a huge part of why I can enjoy it carefree is that I am not facing post-graduation unemployment, for which I am immensely grateful. Yet beneath the veneer of reality (unpaid internships, wannabe models/writers trapped in dead-end jobs), Underemployed plays more like a caricature of graduate un(der)employment than the real thing. As it should though, since this is scripted drama (as opposed to the staged 'real' deal on the reality TV that MTV has made its post-music video name on), it can be as outlandish as it wants, and it'll still get a pass from me (and quite a few other people, I should imagine). It's more fun to watch than HBO's Girls, that's for sure! Anyway, I'm supposed to get my MA results at some point today/tomorrow, but I think I've worked out that I got a distinction overall. The marks I need to calculate my average are already up on my.warwick, and barring any drastic changes by the examination board to my first two modules, my average is above 70, which is, you know, nice.