Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Episode 1255: At Last, Essay Mark...

Mourning Diary has probably arrived at the Post Room, but annoyingly, the slip for collecting it hasn't turned up in the mailbox yet. I hope it shows up by tomorrow, or the whole point of ordering it would have been defeated. On the bright side, mere hours after I complained to Tory about us not getting back essay marks for last term's modules, a tutor e-mailed us individually to let us know our marks and comments sheets were ready for collection. I swear the universe is just reading my mind! Spent some time in the Library today catching up on submissions for The Cadaverine and The Conium Review, interrupted by coffee and chat with Claire Trévien, mostly about TV shows. I've finished going through this week's submissions for The Conium Review, and I got through a few more for The Cadaverine, before getting sucked into another mini-round of bizarre e-mails with a would-be contributor. Seriously, I think I should start collecting these odd e-mails, anonymise them and make a blog. Anyway, I've got another review up on Sabotage Reviews today. I'm a bit of a reviewing machine, as Claire put it, and I've sort of told Jane that I'll do one for Epicentre Magazine as well. If anyone would be up for reviewing or submitting poetry for that, by the way, get in touch. I've been given the go-ahead to commission reviews and solicit poems! So if any of my writer friends actually read this blog, consider yourself informed, although I'll send a proper e-mail/Facebook message out to specific people I have in mind when I'm a bit more organised, probably over the weekend.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Episode 1254: Support Cipher Prime!

Managed to get my review done before cell, and even had time to read a submission for The Cadaverine. Have a new batch in from The Conium Review too, so I've got to step up my reading speed. I also found time to read about half of Roland Barthes's Mourning Diary in the afternoon, and I was going to leave the rest for tomorrow, but now I'm thinking that I should just press on and finish the whole thing tonight. After I watch the new episode of Pretty Little Liars, of course. (Watching The Lying Game now, still loving Allie Gonino's band The Good Mad on it!) Incidentally, I got a newsletter today from Cipher Prime, announcing that they're doing fundraising to make a sequel to Auditorium, the game that first brought this game studio to my attention. Every game they've made - Auditorium, Fractal and Pulse - has been intelligent and beautifully put together, so I think they're worth backing. The Kickstarter page is here, and I've already pledged US$50, largely to get the special Supporter Edition of the game for bragging rights in the future. (Doubt many people I know would even care. Haha!)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Episode 1253: Lots Of Reviewing Going On Here...

First up, here's my review of Evelyn Posamentier's Poland At The Door, another chapbook from The Knives Forks and Spoons Press. So now that's only two more chapbook reviews I owe from last year! Speaking of which, I just got approached to do a review of the first title put out by the intriguingly named Wormwood Chapbooks. That title's actually sound out, but I understand that a second print run is on the cards, along with more forthcoming titles. Wish I'd heard of them sooner, as they're currently closed to submissions. The press is affiliated with A Few Lines Magazine, which I know of because I've published a poem from one of the editors before. (He's the one who approached me about the review.) Took a cheeky afternoon nap because I only got two hours of sleep last night, and now I'm debating whether I should stay up until I finish writing this review for Sabotage Reviews that's due in by Wednesday. I suppose I could, as I'm only aiming for 500 words, 600 maximum, since it's a review of a pretty straightforward but highly entertaining instalment of a pulp fiction serial. Also took on another book review for The Cadaverine, of Shalom Auslander's Hope: A Tragedy, which the author's website describes as 'a hilarious and haunting examination of the burdens and abuse of history, propelled with unstoppable rhythm and filled with existential musings and mordant wit. It is a comic and compelling story of the hopeless longing to be free of those pasts which haunt our every present.' Works for me!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Episode 1252: Melancholia

Bought a bunch of pamphlets today from the Salt Modern Voices series, as well as John McCullough's The Frost Fairs. I've heard particularly good things about the latter, and I was feeling mildly guilty that we're Facebook friends but I've yet to read his collection. Let's hope The Book Depository doesn't screw this order up! I went to see Melancholia at the WSC after service, and I wouldn't say the film was a complete waste of time. I'm glad that critical consensus about the film hasn't consisted of unadulterated praise, since I thought that the film, while undeniably a gorgeous work of art, is not without its flaws. Like the tedium of the first part, when the wedding party seemed to drag on forever, so that by the time I got to the second part of the film, I kind of just wanted it to all be over already. The camera work also really annoyed me because of how shots kept going in and out of focus, but hey, Lars von Trier has the right to shoot his films how he wants, just like I have the right to complain about it. What I found most intriguing about Melancholia on the whole was the casting, to be honest. Charlotte Gainsbourg didn't surprise me, since she was in his previous film Antichrist. I did like father-and-son duo Stellan and Alexander Skarsgård being in the film, but who truly surprised me was Kirsten Dunst. I can completely see why she received the Best Actress Award for this at Cannes, since for someone who quite possibly is still better known for her role in the Spider-Man trilogy, Melancholia feels like a really meaty role in comparison. Of course, she's played critically acclaimed roles in the past, like in The Virgin Suicides. Can't believe she's only 29! I was also mildly puzzled to find Kiefer Sutherland in this film. I've never seen 24, although I did enjoy the pilot of his new show Touch, but it was just weird seeing someone who's been associated with a TV role for a decade playing someone entirely different in a film.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Episode 1251: What I Said Yesterday, Basically

Have finished going through all the Epicentre Magazine poetry submissions, and I'll start on the fiction ones for The Cadaverine tomorrow if my headache goes away. I expect it will, since I'm mostly recovered from my cold, and it's just a lingering cough I've got now. Decided to go to the Post Room today as a form of procrastination from reading submissions, and it turned out to be a good decision because I was not only able to pick up the Cavafy hardback that I'm returning, my copy of Embassytown from The Book Depository was also available to be collected! Might start reading that next, after I finish The Boy With The Cuckoo-Clock Heart tonight. Oddly though, it looks like this is the original copy I ordered, rather than the replacement that was dispatched when I complained about the original order not having arrived. Will wait another month and see if another copy turns up! Figured I might as well do some more grocery shopping while I was out of my room, and I randomly decided to buy some hot cross buns. So maybe for the next couple of days, I'll break my rule of not eating breakfast.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Episode 1250: Still Sick, But I've Cracked On With Reading Submissions Anyway

Spent the afternoon after my seminar continuing to catch up on TV, just vegetating because of the cold that's still not gone away entirely. Don't think I'm going to rally enough for any sort of social activity by tomorrow evening, so both the FORM fundraiser and the Leamington house party are out of the question and I don't have to make a choice as to which one I want to go to more. Instead, I'm going to sit in front of my laptop and read the other half of the Epicentre Magazine submissions that I didn't get through tonight after catching up with all my TV shows. My parents would be proud of my self-discipline! Hasn't been as hard as I thought it would to decide whether to accept or reject, although there was a surprise from someone I'd published in Eunoia Review whose submission this time was quite, well, boring. Speaking of which, I've just checked the Eunoia Review inbox, and I've got four submissions waiting for me, so I should be cracking on with those now. I've got a list ranking to maintain. Haha! I think the journal's currently back at the top on Duotrope's Digest for swiftest responses for both poetry and fiction. It's never fallen out of the top three since it started getting listed anyway. It's also now firmly in the bottom half of the Top 25 for approachability, although it'd probably have fallen off that list by now, if the true acceptance/rejection ratio for the journal were being tracked, rather than going by user reports. I've toyed with the idea of working it out myself, since I've still got all the submissions in the inbox, but that's just a waste of time to uncover a statistic that few people apart from myself could be expected to care about.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Episode 1249: Everyone, Check Out Opaque Nature!

Just got back from the Opaque Nature album launch at Taylor John's House. The band were really, really good, so definitely check out their Bandcamp page, have a listen, and get the album if you like what you hear. Was a truly excellent way to end a day that actually got off to a really bad start. Woke up around 5 am and couldn't fall asleep again for an hour or so because of my cold. When I eventually did, I proceeded to sleep through my alarm, waking up about half an hour before I was supposed to be in S2.82 doing a DR@W experiment. Good thing I managed to show up though, since I made £18! Also managed to get to a Collect+ shop on my way to the city centre, so that book is finally on its way back to Amazon UK. Then had a lot of time to kill before the band were due to be playing, so I just randomly stepped into the Belgrade and sat down for a while, which I figured would be safer than wandering through the streets by myself. There's some productions that look interesting, including a run of Equus, so I might check if there are free tickets going for under-26s. Might as well make use of my youth while I still can! First issue of The Conium Review also arrived in the post today, and it's a weird feeling to see myself being thanked in print for making the magazine's publication possible. Glad to be part of a publication that's invested in doing print issues though. It's a nice change, since all the other projects I'm involved in are online-only.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Episode 1248: Sniffles

Apparently, the undergraduate secretary in my department thinks that I'm a member of the teaching staff, as I got an e-mail reminder today about getting my students to do module evaluations. Couldn't decide if I should reply to the e-mail jokingly, or just ignore it. Anyway, my plan to start working my way through submissions today has been scuppered by my cold. So instead, I've been watching lots of TV. Gossip Girl this week was actually okay! I'm glad the Dan/Blair pairing is being given some mileage, since it was pretty much the only remaining heterosexual relationship among the main cast that had gone unexplored so far. (I must say, it's also pretty impressive that Rufus and Lily haven't been carted off the show, unlike all the parental figures on 90210, which has always clearly been the West Coast counterpart to Gossip Girl.) Also managed to have an awesome haircut. Usually my hair looks quite weird right after I cut it, but it's perfect this time, which leads me to believe that I've been cropping it too short all this time that I've been using the salon on campus. Meeting with my supervisor after that went well, I think, although he's still all for my interviewing the poets in the anthology and doesn't get why I don't share his enthusiasm for that idea. We'll see! Getting to interview Edwin Thumboo would be a coup, that's for sure, even if I'm not sure why he'd accept my request. At least my supervisor supports my decision to entirely abandon postcolonial studies as the basis for my argument, even though it's one of his research interests. I still feel like I need to address it though, if only to state why I'm rejecting it as a framework, and he thinks the way to do that is to set out my case in the introduction, in order to explain why I think the concepts of floating signifiers and liminality are for me a more productive way of reading the poems.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Episode 1247: Pancake Day!

Went to cell for the first time this year even though I'm definitely developing a cold. There were pancakes though, as it's Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day. Might be the first time I've actually had pancakes on Pancake Day while in the UK! Despite feeling ill, I managed to get all my reading for Thursday's seminar done, and I've started reading the Arendt essay for Friday. It's all part of a resolution we made while in the pub last Friday to speak up more in the seminar! I usually just don't say anything for the same reasons as all the way back in JC. It sounds horribly conceited, but I just tend not to speak unless I'm fairly sure what I have to say is going to advance the discussion in some way. That and I prefer listening and thinking to speaking off-the-cuff, which is sometimes what can happen in a seminar and then you get really banal things being said for the sake of filling the silence. In more pressing news, NBC has finally come to their senses and returned Community to their schedule, starting from March 15. It's about time too! That's also the date that The Vampire Diaries returns with new episodes, so I can finally get back to my brilliant Friday TV combo.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Episode 1246: The Ides Of March

I'm forcing myself to start and finish the 'abstract' for my dissertation that's part of the progress review. In the process of banging out those 1000 words, I've come to realise that maybe the field of semiotics needs to be explicitly engaged with in my dissertation. In the middle chapter, to be precise. Ideas from semiotics like the Merlion as a floating signifier already seem to underpin the things I've been trying to articulate to myself so far in relation to my dissertation research, so perhaps the way forward is to stop avoiding the heavyweight theory and just go for it. Let's see what my supervisor has to say about that when I meet him on Wednesday. Didn't think I'd actually get any work done tonight, having realised at around 6.30 pm that the WSC was screening The Ides Of March this evening, and obviously I had to go and see it, being a new convert to the awesomeness of Ryan Gosling. I had my reservations at first, since I'm not usually into films about politics, but I ended up enjoying the slow burn of this one, as Gosling's character went from wide-eyed idealism to hard-nosed cynicism. I think the balance might have been skewed too much in favour of the former state, since once things start going downhill for the character, the film seems to arrive at its ending rather quickly. Of course, it wouldn't be a WSC screening without being plagued by some technical error. Maybe I'm just really unlucky, but I'm pretty sure something's gone wrong every time I've been to see a film at the WSC this term.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Episode 1245: Found A Book I've Been Looking For For Ages!

Spent about an hour clearing the submissions I was forwarded this week to read for The Conium Review. Will start on the ones for Epicentre Magazine tomorrow! Just noticed that Paul Glennon's first book, How Did You Sleep?, is back in stock on Amazon UK, by which I mean there's just one copy remaining, which I've promptly snapped up. I must confess that over a year after I bought it, I've yet to finish reading his second book, The Dodecahedron: Or A Frame For Frames, but I like the concept of it very much, and on that basis, I've been trying to get hold of a copy of How Did You Sleep? that didn't cost too much, to see what Glennon's other work is like. As for what I've actually managed to read, for the past couple of days, I've been getting acquainted with Mathias Malzieu's The Boy With The Cuckoo-Clock Heart and it's lovely. It's been described as a whimsical fairytale for adults, and that's fairly accurate. Perhaps most interestingly, Malzieu is also the lead singer of French rock band Dionysos, and the band's made a concept album to accompany the book, which is also being made into an animated film. Malzieu's published a few other books, and I'm hoping that the others will eventually be translated into English. Although I suppose I could try reading them in French?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Episode 1244: Ears Ringing, But Pretty Worth It

So Kasbah last night was fun! My ears have almost stopped ringing. Got back at just past 4.30 am, which may have been the latest I've ever been out. We even found a pub that opens till 4.30 am, The Oak Inn, which was where we went after leaving Kasbah. Nothing to shout about, other than its late closing time, although the burger van guy right outside the pub was pretty cool. So on the whole, this was certainly among the more awesome 16 hours or so that I've spent at university. Definitely made the right choice to reschedule my haircut yesterday! Am now slowly catching up on the TV I've missed. Probably going to take until tomorrow, since I slept till nearly 3 pm today. Did manage to make it to the Post Room, where I was again disappointed not to be collecting a copy of the American paperback of China Miéville's Embassytown. I've sent an e-mail to The Book Depository and fully expect to be fobbed off with some excuse. Now that they've been acquired by Amazon though, I'm banking on some of the customer service from their new parent company filtering down. I'm getting my book, whatever it takes! (To add insult to injury, the UK paperback is currently retailing on Amazon UK for £2.99!) Also realised that I have the wrong edition of Cavafy's poems for next week's EN954 seminar, so I've placed an order on Amazon UK for the right one. Had to create a new account using my Warwick e-mail to get an Amazon Prime trial for the free one-day shipping, or the book wouldn't have arrived in time for me to read it. I'm afraid I'm going to have to return the book once the seminar is over, but in my defence, I do plan to get the paperback edition when it comes out in May!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Episode 1243: Chicken Rice Brawl

As promised, here's my review of Noughties for The Cadaverine. I had an epic afternoon in the Dirty Duck with a bunch of my coursemates. Went there straight from our seminar and stayed in the pub for six hours. So much literary banter and in-jokes traded during that time, it was great. I think the consensus by the time we left was why we hadn't done drinks sooner than the middle of Spring Term. We ended up leaving the pub at around 6 pm, having already agreed to reconvene later at night for Kasbah, which was perfect since I killed those couple of hours watching Chicken Rice Brawl. I'm now in my room, waiting for the 12 everyone else is on to arrive on campus. The SingSoc production was okay, I guess. One of the male leads had this weird tendency to deliver all his lines on a rising intonation, so they sounded like either questions or exclamations. Made it a bit hard to buy the crucial plot point concerning how he was supposed to make a great Romeo for the play-within-a-play. In fact, I suppose that was the main problem for me, line delivery from most of the cast generally being too one-note. There's injecting Singaporean flavour, and then there's sinking into caricature. I guess our production from two years ago has yet to be topped. Haha!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Episode 1242: What To Review Next?

This has got to be my favourite passage from the Hannah Arendt reading I'm doing right now for tomorrow's seminar. It's from Chapter 11 of The Human Condition: 'The point then is not that there is a lack of public admiration for poetry and philosophy in the modern world, but that such admiration does not constitute a space in which things are saved from destruction by time. The futility of public admiration, which daily is consumed in ever greater quantities, on the contrary, is such that monetary reward, one of the most futile things there is, can become more "objective" and more real.' Think I'll just let that quote stand without further comment. I did manage to finish the review of Noughties before my seminar today, although I cut it pretty close. It should be up in a day or so, and I'll post a link then. (The line about the book being a cross between The Secret History and Dazed & Aroused did make it in.) Now that this one's in, I've got a choice of what to work on next. It's either going to be a review of this really short e-book for Sabotage Reviews that I need to send in by the end of the month, or one of the things I said I'd review for The Conium Review, most likely Jason Erik Lundberg's Red Dot Irreal.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Episode 1241: Stupid Fire Alarm!

So I've just about finished reading Ben Masters's Noughties, which I've ultimately decided I really like, and which I still maintain is sort of the literary equivalent of crossing Donna Tartt's The Secret History with Gavin James Bower's Dazed & Aroused. Won't write the review tonight, even though that's what I'd originally planned to do, but I figure I can dash off a solid one tomorrow before my seminar. Really, I blame the fire alarm caused by the Flat 76 kitchen this morning for throwing my whole day off. Didn't make it all the way to the fire assembly point because en route, one of my flatmates and I decided to just duck into the entrance of a Heronbank West Court block and stay there until the alarm stopped. Ended up falling back into bed for another two hours, although really, I suppose I could have stayed awake and got more done. It's just that I was really looking forward to having a proper lie-in on a Wednesday and I would not be denied. Apparently, there was a fire alarm on Monday too, but I wasn't in my room to be caught by it. Bet you anything it was another false alarm caused by someone's stupidity and/or laziness!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Episode 1240: And One More...

Woke up to find an invitation in my inbox to be a Guest Editor for the next issue of The Conium Review, which I happily accepted. Since I'll only be reading submissions until June, the additional workload is temporary. It's also the first time that I'll be working on a print publication (excluding that issue of tapfactory when I was an undergraduate), so that's exciting in its own way. Between this and Epicentre Magazine, 2012 is off to a good start where my non-academic life is concerned. Got to use the rest of the term to rebalance the academic side of things though, especially in terms of doing my dissertation research. I feel like once the Easter holidays, I'll definitely get back on top of things, but I'd like to start writing something before the end of this term, just to show my supervisor. That's what I put down in my work timeline anyway. Right now though, what I really need to do is finish reading Noughties, so that I can write my review by the end of tomorrow. Don't have to go to church tomorrow to do administrative stuff for Kidz Klub because it's half-term in the schools, so I'll either have a few extra hours to lie in bed or a few extra hours to finish reading/start writing the review. Sneak preview: I actually really like the book. It kind of reminds me of Gavin James Bower's first novel, Dazed & Aroused, except the people being skewered aren't models but students of English literature. I should totally make that point in my review actually.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Episode 1239: Drive, An Art House Action Movie

I've joined Epicentre Magazine as Assistant Poetry Editor, and I replied to my first submission today. Within minutes of sending the reply, I became sucked into a back-and-forth exchange with a writer who was very persistent, to put it diplomatically. That and somehow her e-mails always sounded like they'd been generated by a chatbot, which was a very odd feeling to have. Funniest moment of the day, however, was when my mum sent me a Facebook message, asking if I was seriously running a marathon. No, I'm not. I'm just 'attending' my friend's Facebook fundraising event. Incidentally, Drive last night was excellent! It was basically an art house action movie, with sporadic but highly aestheticised violence. That scene in the lift where the Driver (Ryan Gosling) passionately kisses Irene (Carey Mulligan) before stamping a flunky's brains out was phenomenal. The minimal use of dialogue and careful soundtrack choices were also highly appreciated by yours truly, and I think after last night, it's safe to say that in the future, I will basically watch whatever film Gosling acts in or that Nicolas Winding Refn directs. So it's quite exciting that they're collaborating on not one, but two films. Only God Forgives is currently being shot in Bangkok, and they're also doing a remake of Logan's Run together.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Episode 1238: Done And Dusted...

Having stayed up last night till I finished the story, my day got off to a late start. By the time I decided to go to the Library to work on my commentary, partly to avoid being distracted by all the TV shows on my hard drive, partly to get some food, it was mid-afternoon. Ended up running into a couple of coursemates in the Library coffee bar, also working on essays due tomorrow. Forcing myself to work in the Library paid off on this occasion though. Took me slightly over four hours, but I got the commentary done, everything printed off and handed in. The commentary does get quite slapdash towards the end, as it's just me slinging a lot of quotes about that admittedly are relevant, although I may have overstated the case for the significance of my story in relation to those quotes. Ah well. The commentary carries less weightage than the portfolio anyway, so I guess things can't go that badly! Am now rewarding myself by catching Drive at the WSC, so that's three nights in a row that I'm seeing something there. All for free too! After four years as a member, I'm finally making use of my Crew status.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Episode 1237: Story's Almost Done!

I've almost reached the minimum word count for the portfolio, which is technically 7200, thanks to the +/- 10% rule the department operates with. I'm going to try and get as close as possible to 8000, just because I don't want to shortchange my storytelling any more than I already am by doing it just over 36 hours before everything's due. I'm not even sure if the narrative voice I'm using would be considered appropriate for a YA story, but I'm past caring at this point. I don't think it's really my fault for not being able to imagine what words a 15-year-old can be expected to know and understand. Damn it, they should be expected to look it up in a dictionary! That's what I would have done at that age. My vocabulary was precocious, even if I wasn't necessarily so. (Controversial!) If I'm being honest, I'm also tired of feeling like I have to age the storytelling downwards all the time, despite Microsoft Word still informing that readers even younger than what I'm targeting will actually have no trouble understanding the story I've written, and you'd expect an American piece of software like Word to err on the side of stupidity. I don't know if I want to spin this story out into the novel that I originally had in mind though. I find writing long fiction exhausting, and on a personal level, not particularly rewarding when compared to poetry. My not-so-secret ambition is to write a science fiction novel, but I would happily trade that accomplishment for having a volume of my poetry published by a respectable press. It's a good thing, I suppose, that I don't have to make a living off my writing, at least until I'm in my earlier 30s because that's when my bond ends and life-changing decisions will have to be made. Or won't be, as the case may be. I'd be terrible at it. Making a living off my writing, I mean. Life-changing decisions I can generally cope with.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Episode 1236: A Hollywood Film Proclaiming The Evils Of Capitalism?

Went to see In Time at the WSC, and in keeping with yesterday's theme of potentially missing the whole point of a Hollywood product, I'm going to say it's rather obvious that this film is a damning critique of capitalism, no? The central science fiction conceit, in which time replaces money as currency, is brilliant, being in that tradition of science fiction that takes an element of contemporary society, magnifies or distorts it in some way, and then trains its eye on the ramifications of that. That said, the actual dialogue of the film is way too clunky, and seriously, Olivia Wilde, yet another fairly insignificant role in yet another film? For someone so attractive, you sure are having a hard time cementing your leap to leading lady status. I'd have liked more about the whole economic system operating in the film's world, and I did find it a bit hard to believe that we'd developed genetic engineering to make everyone stop ageing at 25, yet the rest of our technology seemed not much more advanced than it is now, which didn't make much sense since there were characters in the film that'd been alive for more than half a century. On a happier note, The Vampire Diaries! At the moment, I'm with those fans who think there should be an Originals spinoff. Surely between them, the Mikaelson family has enough angst and divergent perspectives to propel a show.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Episode 1235: Immortals Is A Profoundly Pessimistic Film

So I went to see Immortals at the WSC (it was beginning to snow when I came out), and isn't it such a profoundly pessimistic film, at least insofar as what it says about human nature? The film basically sets out to demonstrate Mao's point that power comes from the barrel of a gun, or in this case, from the tip of a sword. When Cassander insists on negotiating with Hyperion, he is rewarded instead with violence (and eventually, death), the very violence that he sought to avoid. Granted, Cassander clearly wasn't intended to be portrayed in a flattering light in the film, but the message underlying his failure and Theseus's subsequent triumph over Hyperion remains one concerning the logic of force-as-power. Also, let's not forget Zeus's final conversation with Acamas at the very end of the film, which blatantly shows how the logic of violence is perpetuated from one generation to the next. Don't worry though, I didn't completely miss what presumably was Hollywood's intention for the film. I appreciate the copious amounts of CGI and aestheticised violence, masking the utter paucity of the plot, which managed to make even less sense than that of Clash Of The Titans. I also found it very funny that Henry Cavill's teeth are quite crooked, especially for someone who's obviously being groomed to join the ranks of a new generation of Hollywood leading men.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Episode 1234: I'll Say It Now, The River Is Probably Going To Flop...

Didn't get around to writing more of the story today, but I think I should still be fine. The question now is, of course, do I go and see Immortals at the WSC for free tomorrow evening, and In Time the following? Currently watching the double-episode premiere of The River, which is turning out to be quite tiresome, and I'm only 10 minutes in. The problem is that it's filmed documentary-style, so think The Blair Witch Project and yes, weird stuff is supposed to start happening soon, or so the reviews tell me. It's only airing an eight-episode first season, so I guess I'll stick it out because I'm sure I'll end up liking the paranormal stuff just enough to look past the filming style. I'm also betting it'll be axed though, which is a shame because it means no more Paul Blackthorne on TV again, whom I really liked on The Dresden Files, and then again on The Gates. (Seriously, it's like that guy just can't catch a break because his shows keep getting cancelled after one season.) Actually, I can't understand why anyone at ABC thought this show would survive on network TV. It's the wrong kind of genre fare at the moment, at the very least. The River feels more like it belongs on FX, rubbing shoulders with American Horror Story.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Episode 1233: Surprisingly, Today Work Trumped Play

Today's been a surprisingly disappoint day in terms of TV. Alcatraz has fallen prey, for me anyway, to the Lost curse of promising a compelling mystery that it can't ultimately deliver on. It's not good that I'm making that pronouncement after just five episodes. How I Met Your Mother aired an episode that was conceptually clever, but that also seemed to lack real heart in terms of the storytelling. 2 Broke Girls continued to trade in easy punchlines, even as the overall plot of the season seems to be quickly going nowhere. The Lying Game just needs to put me out of my misery by connecting all the dots of its mysteries before I lose interest entirely, although I'm very appreciate of Allie Gonino's singing on the show. (She's in a band called The Good Mad, which is a brilliant name.) Gossip Girl lamely revealed that Georgina was not in fact the real Gossip Girl, said reveal being so lame that I don't even care if it might be a huge spoiler to people because technically, it's no longer the case now, is it? The quarrel between Dan and Blair in this episode has been a long time coming, but it seems to have had no lasting consequences, so boo to lazy writing. Wasn't bowled over by this week's Pretty Little Liars either, oddly enough, not even with the game-changing reveal for Spencer.

So weirdly enough, the highlight of today's shows was actually the latest episode of House, a show that I am happy to concede is past its prime, but which I selfishly want more of because it could basically be retitled The Hugh Laurie Show. (It would've been the pilot of Smash, which officially premiered on TV yesterday, but which I'd already seen a few weeks ago because it aired online in advance of the TV premiere.) Nice to see Chase being given an interesting story arc, as lately it feels like he's just there to provide continuity with the show's early days and to call House out on his bullshit because the other team members are still too green to have worked out what makes House tick. Work-wise, I'm more than 50% done for the story, but now the real challenge begins, since previously, a lot of what I've done has been to write short snippets to sew together the bits of the story I workshopped last term. I reckon I'll be fine though, since what I've now got to write is the first encounter between Pandora and Adam, which Leila Rasheed specifically pointed out at the end of last term as something that really needed to be written out if I were to go any further with the stuff I'd workshopped.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Episode 1232: Steady On...

Have managed to incorporate half of the material left out of the revised version of the Prologue into Chapter 1, which brings my word count past 2500, i.e. I'm 25% done. The remainder is going into Chapter 2, which will require more substantial rewriting than Chapter 1 did, largely because there's just more story logic in it that needs fixing, which in turn looks like it's going to necessitate altering the focus of the chapter. In a nutshell, less conspiracy theory and more teenage angst. The conspiracy angle probably still has to be kept in order to fill my targeted chapter word count (approximately 1500), as well as advance the plot further in preparation for when the two main characters meet in the next two chapters. (Yeah, narrating in the first person means I can get double mileage out of a plot point like that.) With any luck, that will bring me all the way up to my required word count of 8000 for the story proper, and then I can start on my commentary, which should be a breeze because this time, I'm not really going to pretend there was any sort of serious academic reason behind the writing. Usually, I do have specific ideas I'm trying to work out in my portfolios, and if there aren't, I try to retroactively come up with something, but this time, I'm just going to go with something more relaxed and literally dwell on all the difficulties I encountered in actually writing the story and how I had to painstakingly revise it to work through these problems. Plus it's just cool to write a science fiction story, even if it's not very rigorous science fiction.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Episode 1231: Writing Breakthrough!

Currently wondering if I can get away with writing a prologue to my story that's worded in the language of the 'adult reader', although the story as a whole is ostensibly for ages 15/16. It's there to sketch in enough background that the teenaged characters don't have to spout clunky exposition in the first person later, and it's also framed as being 'found' material from a digital archive. I'm fairly positive it should be okay, and for what it's worth, Microsoft Word indicates the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of the prologue is 9.6, which converts to about the right age. In any case, it seems that I've finally made a breakthrough in getting a move on with the story. Have just over 1000 words, and if I keep up the pace for the rest of the week, which isn't impossible since churning out 1000+ words of fiction isn't the same thing as scrounging for 1000+ words of an academic essay, I should have no problem meeting the deadline without incurring undue stress. The next 1000 words or so is already written anyway, so it's just a matter of revising it to incorporate some of the material that was in the original version of the prologue that I workshopped.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Episode 1230: Cheek By Jowl's 'Tis Pity She's A Whore

Was going to go to Kat's birthday party in spite of the increasingly heavy snow, but after waiting at the bus stop nearest to Heronbank for over half an hour, having narrowly missed the U2 and with not a single 12 travelling in the direction of Leamington all the time that I was waiting, I gave up and trudged back to my room to not write my children's story. Earlier in the afternoon, I caught Cheek by Jowl's production of John Ford's 'Tis Pity She's A Whore, which confirmed them in my mind as one of the most exciting theatre companies I've encountered. I did find the dialogue difficult to follow initially, which I think was partly due to my unfamiliarity with Ford's play (hence not being able to anticipate and fill in the blanks myself) and partly due to rushed line delivery from some of the actors. I also initially had reservations about the girlishness of Lydia Wilson's Annabella, especially because Suzanne Burden's Hippolita was such a strong (and hilarious) presence on the stage, but by the end, I was won over because I thought it helped make sense of why she would repent of her incestuous behaviour. I like the fact that the props were all really contemporary, including the wall being plastered with The Vampire Diaries and True Blood posters (although I spotted Breakfast At Tiffany's too). Some people might find it weird that the language of the dialogue wasn't modernised, but the juxtaposition kind of worked for me. Thought it was interesting they took out the character of Richardetto, Hippolita's husband, and changed the ending of the play slightly, so that Jack Gordon's Giovanni isn't shown to die. Instead, there's this spooky moment where Annabella steps forth from the wings, clambers over the dead body of her father, and reaches a hand towards her heart that Giovanni has been holding, the lights fading off just as she's about to make contact. There was also a lot of nudity, which seems to be a Cheek by Jowl thing, if this and last year's Russian production of The Tempest are anything to go by.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Episode 1229: Contagion

I swear the advertisements and trailers before the actual film screening for the WSC never used to be this long. Anyway, after seeing an advertisement for Lana Del Rey's album that used 'Born To Die' as the backing track, I've decided that if someone stripped out her singing and replaced it with some synth-type instrumentation, I'd actually quite like the song. I'm not terribly bothered anymore by the whole question of whether or not she's 'authentic' because I realise that's sort of moot in the music industry today. The way she sings really annoys me though. Also discovered that next week, when I really need to be writing my children's story, the WSC also happens to be screening a film I want to see almost every other night! So I finally saw Contagion and I loved it. It's like an updated Outbreak with more realistic science and less overblown military theatrics. What's not to love? I have to say that for about five minutes after the film ended, I was slightly paranoid about all the door handles I had to touch just to get out of the building, and after Kate Winslet's character mentioned that the average person touches their face a few thousand times each day, I've been extremely self-conscious every time I do it. Currently trying to write at least a sentence to kickstart my children's story again. Might just give up and go read a book, to be honest...

Episode 1228: Merlion Cento

Just composed a cento using the anthology I'm writing my dissertation on. You have to admit that's a pretty unusual form of procrastination. I've formatted it as a prose poem to send around the EN911 seminar group, since I think the procedural logic behind it and that final step of taking out the line breaks are what turn it into a hybrid form of writing. Even if no one else ends up agreeing, I still think the end result's pretty cool. It's interesting how going forwards and backwards through the anthology produces different effects, although coincidentally, applying my own rule of first line from first poem, second from second, and so forth, I occasionally wound up having to incorporate the line in both the 'forward' and 'backward' stanzas. It would be hilarious if I could stick this cento somewhere into my dissertation. Maybe if I make some point about how the Merlion as a subject is approaching exhaustion? Not sure that it necessarily is, although my argument that as a liminal figure it must ultimately work its way into a kind of obsolescence as the Singaporean identity continues to develop and mature, would seem to suggest otherwise. Eventually anyway.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Episode 1227: Stupid Room Light...

Met Nick for coffee after doing Kidz Klub stuff. Was meant to do another DR@W experiment at 2.30 pm, but the previous session before mine was already running late, and to bring the schedule back on track, I was paid just for showing up. Who says there's no such thing as free money? So I caught up with Nick again, but we still couldn't have drinks at The Terrace Bar because it didn't open until around 4 pm. Got baguettes from the Bread Oven and just chatted instead. I was going to aim to get a lot of work done today, but the light in the doorway of my room is on the fritz, so it's driving me crazy. I wonder why the two lights in the room can't be turned on and off independently. I suppose it saves a bit on the wiring? I've reported the fault, so hopefully it gets repaired by tomorrow, although I hope the porter doesn't come by really early in the morning. Haven't been able to have a lie-in since my one-off bout of insomnia on Sunday night, so although I've been getting more or less my usual amount of sleep since then, I'd really like one day to just sleep till noon, and Thursday's my best bet before the weekend. So I think instead of doing some reading and writing, I'm just going to do the first half and call it a night.