Monday, April 30, 2012

Episode 1316: Temporary Departure...

Having talked it over with a bunch of people, I think I've got a better idea of what sort of questions I want to put to Thumboo now, so I'll get around to that once I'm back in Singapore and over my jet lag. Have also finished packing, more or less, and am hoping my carry-on doesn't get weighed this time. If it does, I'll just have to take out all the really heavy Brian Selznick hardbacks, put them in a plastic bag, and pretend that I just bought them at the airport or something. Would have even more books to bring back, except I rediscovered yesterday that all the books I was planning on bringing back to read for my dissertation are actually available at the Yishun library, which is great. Now it's a question of whether I do work on my dissertation while I'm in Singapore, apart from trying to interview various people. First though, I probably need to clear this backlog of reviews that is building up. Was going to write one over the weekend or today, but then I got caught up in packing and stuff like remembering to print my boarding pass and coach ticket for tomorrow, and finishing all my food in the refrigerator. Definitely not looking forward to having to reclaim my fridge space when I get back in a month...

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Episode 1315: Awkward...

So I finally sent an e-mail off to Edwin Thumboo, asking if I could interview him. He replied about five hours later, and it was slightly awkward because he seems to expect me to have really specific ideas of what I'm trying to find out, and how it fits in relation to the scope of my dissertation. (It would be really awkward if after explaining in my eventual reply what exactly my dissertation is proposing, he completely disagrees with my analysis of his poem.) Fair enough, although the thing is that I'm not even sure if any of the interviews will end up being useful for the dissertation. Trying to find out what the poets think was never really my goal in the first place. I've always felt it would be nice to know what they thought they were saying if I could find out, but my dissertation's largely trying to tease out what most of the poets seem not to (want to) say. (Except maybe Aaron Lee, so I should definitely find a way to get in touch with him.) Frankly, part of me now just wishes I'd gone with my gut and eschewed the interviewing thing altogether. Not Thumboo specifically, but the whole idea of trying to get all these poets to talk to me.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Episode 1314: Marginal Cartographies

So today has been pretty cool. Short version: I finished reading Brian Selznick's Wonderstruck, Gregory Sherl added me on Facebook, I gave my first (and sadly, probably last, for the time being anyway) conference paper, Daren Shiau added me on Facebook, and I came home from the conference with enough teabags and sugar to last me the rest of the year. If you're short on time (and patience), you can stop reading now. I won't get upset. Now here's the long version, if you have time. I read Selznick's The Invention Of Hugo Cabret a couple of nights ago, and it was just as beautiful as the movie adaptation. Wonderstruck was great as well, in a chills-down-spine way, even though I figured out the book's twist before it was revealed through the storytelling. After not enough sleep, I woke up to discover Gregory's added me on Facebook, and I'm glad we agree on the non-creepiness of adding each other. Still love your writing (and that poem on The Rumpus today). Conference paper ended up being way too short, but I just played it like it was intentional, and thankfully, people seemed to find my paper interesting. (Saying stuff in an even tone always makes it more convincing!) Turns out someone else who turned up in my session is also from Singapore, studying at Sussex, which was a nice surprise! Then Kenny tagged me in a Facebook note, and I presume because of that, Daren added me, which is helpful because I might be able to talk to him about his Merlion poem now. (Maybe I should just get Kenny to help me out? I'm sure he's got the contacts. Will ask him when I next pop by the bookstore.) Then to cap off a great day, I ate lots of sandwiches and crisps at the wine reception, and took home lots of teabags and sugar sachets. Would've preferred for the vending machine not to eat up my £1.50 when all I was trying to do was buy a bottle of Coke, but hey, I've had worse days.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Episode 1313: Un Peu De Tendresse Bordel De Merde!

To be honest, the nudity in this Canadian dance production from Dave St-Pierre wasn't so shocking after the first couple of minutes. Even when all the naked men were clambering over the audience at the start, the balance between funny and uncomfortable was tipped firmly in the favour of the former, at least for me. I did find the first half of the production harder to get into, as I couldn't quite see how the scenes were adding up in relation to the theme of tenderness. The second half, however, was perfect. From the solo female dancer twirling as the male dancers came up one by one to kiss her, to her stumbling and falling into their arms minutes later, to the very end of the performance, when they poured bottles of water on themselves (after threatening to empty them on us), thus transforming the stage into their own slippery canvas. Thematically, I found myself reminded of LOL (Lots Of Love), although at the surface level, Un Peu De Tendresse Bordel De Merde! didn't feel as bittersweet when it finished. I think if I tried to start interpreting the nuances of this production though, I'd find that it was actually just as challenging and complex a work of art.

For example, that one scene where the male dancers start out as camp parodies of gay men, then slowly clothe themselves, and ultimately, shed their blonde wigs, all the while declaiming 'Frappe-moi!' (shifting from falsetto squeaks to chest voice, of course) and striking themselves (their faces had turned red by the end), that was extremely uncomfortable to watch. Were we supposed to tell them to stop (the performer-audience divide had already been blurred earlier by the burlesque-style 'hostess', Sabrina)? What did it mean for such an overt (and stereotypical?) form of masculinity to be asserting itself and yet turned against itself in that act of assertion? It was moments of rawness and violence like that which made the performance thought-provoking. To sum up, never has nakedness looked so unsexy. Yet it wasn't as though the nudity was somehow being elevated and sacralised, the way it could be in something like sculpture, the sexual frisson turned into pure aesthetics. It was, as Claire put it, like another costume to put on and take off. I find it hard to summarise what the production was like, so if you're in the area, it's on for another night at the Warwick Arts Centre, and I highly recommend seeing it for yourself.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Episode 1312: Stupid NatWest!

Thanks to the erratic nature of American network television scheduling, I only had two shows to catch up with today, which in turn meant that I had time to pop down to Leamington to deposit the cheque the DVLA issued me as a refund for my application fee. Had to go all that way because NatWest have only gone at shut down their campus branch! (First they restricted my debit card to withdrawals from RBS and NatWest machines, now this?) Clearly should also have tried to organise my time better so that I could reread Nathan Thompson's chapbook and finally write the review for it. Going to aim to do that tomorrow, at least the rereading anyway. Anyway, I read Gregory Sherl's Last Night Was Worth Talking About on the bus journey to Leamington, and I really liked it. You can buy it here, and you could wait but you probably shouldn't since the chapbook has a limited run of 150 copies. I like Sherl's writing so much, I might even try adding him on Facebook. It wouldn't even be that stalkerish because we have six friends in common. That's more than one hand, so it's okay, right? On the subject of limited runs, I've also bought a copy of Roddy Lumsden's book from Penned in the Margins, The Bells Of Hope. It's an elegantly minimalist red hardback, and there are only 200 copies of it. Mine was 76/200 (and signed, which I wasn't expecting), so if they're sending them out in order, you should probably also get your copy here soon, if you want. Credit goes to Claire for showing the book to me halfway through our drive to Chipping Norton last week, as I probably wouldn't have known about it otherwise.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Episode 1311: Whew!

So it turns out my supervisor quite liked my conference paper. That was a relief. Didn't really know how he was going to react to it. He did have some small suggestions that he'd jotted down here and there, some of which I've incorporated, some of which I'm leaving till when I actually write the dissertation. He also corrected some of my words, but the corrections didn't seem to make sense. Why substitute 'forebears' with 'forebearers', or 'behoves' with 'behooves'? Pretty sure in both cases that my usage is the dominant form in British English! Have finished the PowerPoint presentation that I'm going to use on Saturday, and I'd forgotten how ugly PowerPoint is. On a happier note, after last week's massive order from Mud Luscious Press, I've made a more modest order today from YesYes Books. It's also finally been confirmed that I'm getting a review copy of Ryan Frawley's Scar sent to me in Singapore, which was the book I was approached by a PR person to review a week ago. Quite excited because it sounds like the kind of postmodern fiction that I'd enjoy, as opposed to finding tedious. That and it's of course still really cool to have your reputation as a reviewer precede you. Haha!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Episode 1310: Glutton For Punishment?

Double rejection today, almost exactly 12 hours apart. So after feeling a bit blue for a while, my response has been to send out even more work, including a postal submission for the next Unthology. It's probably a long shot, that one, but it would be pretty awesome if my story actually made it in. I definitely go through phases when it comes to submitting my work. I'll do a sizeable batch of submissions at one go, and then I'll go for weeks, even months, without sending anything else out. Then something will set me off again, and the cycle just repeats itself. I think the reason why I don't submit regularly is that I don't really think I have a lot of work that is good enough to send out, so once the good pieces are sent out, they're tied up until I hear back from the various editors. I'm also thinking of sending a pamphlet-length submission to Holdfire Press, although I feel even less optimistic about that, since the past few pamphlet submissions I've made have all led to nothing. Sometimes I just feel like there's this disconnect between the feedback I get within a classroom setting, and the judgements being made by editors out there. So either I'm a far worse writer than I've been told I am, or I'm just not targeting the right publications (though I've improved on that front since I first started out). Or maybe I'm just on the right side of mediocre, but not so far enough across the line as to stand out from the millions of writers out there, all also trying to make their voices heard. This is possibly one of the few areas of my life that I can actually get quite insecure about.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Episode 1309: Paper's Done!

I did manage to finish my paper last night, but then I couldn't get to sleep, so I just stayed up catching up on all the TV shows I'd put off watching over the weekend. Did nap for a couple of hours sometime around 6 am, although I kind of slept through my alarm and scuppered my own plan to get an English breakfast at University House before my EN911 seminar. I'm still super sleepy now, so I'm not going to start on the review writing till tomorrow. Once I do though, I'll be a machine! In fact, I tempted to just go straight to bed after this new episode of Game Of Thrones, rather than staying up to read like I normally do, even though there's heaps of stuff that I want to dive into, now that I can temporarily put aside my dissertation. Would like to start reading for my EN954 essay (for which I also need to decide on a title by Friday), as I'm trying to return all the elegy-related books I'm holding onto, so that my friends taking the module can pick up the books. Plus I'm going to be away for a month, so I figure that it might be a good idea to return all the Library books I have on loan, in order to avoid a repeat of the debacle over the Christmas holidays. Haven't quite decided on that yet, as in many cases, the odds that anyone is going to want to borrow the books I have are quite slim. Pretty sure nobody is going to place a hold on any of the four books from the Schools Collection that I've had since I can't even remember when!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Episode 1308: One Does Not Simply Finish Writing A Paper...

Am going to press on and finish the conference paper before I go to bed, instead of putting it off for another day. Surprising amount of discipline, right? (More like I just want to be done with it so that I can have a fun first week of Summer Term, before I fly home for another month of, well, fun.) I do hope my supervisor will be somewhat happy with the result when I meet him on Wednesday. It actually feels kind of good, knowing that when I've finished the paper, I'll have around 2500 words down on paper, all of which will be making it into some part of my dissertation, and given that the dissertation is only 16000 words, 2500 is quite a fair proportion of it in the bag, so to speak. It's definitely not as detailed in its analysis as my academic writing usually tries to be, but I'm aware of this and it'll obviously be addressed when I have to rewrite the paper for my actual dissertation chapters. Once the paper's done though, I also have heaps of reviewing work to catch up on, but that'll be more fun to write than the paper's been. Pretty much have to write two reviews by the end of this week, but it should be okay because I've already read the stuff to be reviewed.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Episode 1307: Chipping Norton Literary Festival

Finally made a trip to the Post Room this afternoon to pick up all of this week's parcels! I might just spend tomorrow reading Luke Kennard instead of writing the rest of my paper. Am slightly behind on the word count now, as I was at the Chipping Norton Literary Festival this evening. (Thanks for the lift, Claire!) Really enjoyed the poets featured, especially Paul Askew, Laila Sumpton and Anna McCrory, whose poems I felt were brilliant when read aloud but I can imagine would also work very well on the page. Came back and got a tweet from an author promoting his new audio book, which got me thinking about whether the next area Eunoia Review might expand into is publishing audio work. Not just writers' recordings to accompany their texts, but actual audio-only work like The Drum Literary Magazine does. I think it's be pretty cool, but I'm not sure if it'd be feasible, logistically speaking, in terms of hosting the audio files. If it really took off as a thing that the journal does, I doubt I could rely on the space provided by WordPress for uploading files! Plus I'd probably need to get someone involved in handling audio submissions, just because I don't think I could handle the extra workload. Ah well, I'll think about it when I've got more time on my hands.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Episode 1306: Buying Spree!

So today, Gregory Sherl's The Oregon Trail Is The Oregon Trail arrived in the post today, among lots of other things. The buying spree I went on not long ago is finally starting to arrive, so the time seemed right to go on another one. I bought Sherl's book because Chris Emslie (whose taste in writing I trust) has been raving on Facebook about him and I was curious. Turns out though that Sherl's book is part of Mud Luscious Press's Novel(la) series, and you know me, I love collecting, so I've pretty much ordered the whole print catalogue of Mud Luscious Press, and also that of its imprints Nephew and Blue Square Press. Helped that I randomly found USD 10 in my PayPal account, apparently a cashback for having bought something last year using PayPal, so clearly I had to spend it on something immediately. As expected, between my abysmal sleeping patterns (couldn't get to sleep, so I ended up watching the latest and very brilliant episode of Community twice) and meeting MA people for drinks in the afternoon (until late at night), I didn't write anything today for my paper, but it's still clear where it needs to go next, so I should be good for at least a few hundred words tomorrow before I need to head to Leamington to catch a ride from Claire to the Chipping Norton Literary Festival.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Episode 1305: Just Keep Writing, Writing, Writing

That post title's sort of a Finding Nemo joke. I know, it's really bad. My second day of writing has gone a lot smoother than the first though. Took an afternoon nap, woke up and started writing, and have more or less reached my word count for the day. I'm still a bit bothered by how my argument has to be sketched out rather than elaborated because of lack of space, but at least it keeps things clipping along at a good pace while I'm writing. I feel like I'm not doing justice to any of the poems I'm examining by spending just one paragraph on each of them, but I guess it can't be helped! I'm thinking that I might actually try to write beyond my daily 500-word goal tonight, since things are going well, and it'll let me have some wiggle room in the next couple of days, especially if I'm meeting MA people for drinks tomorrow and going to a reading on Saturday. I mean, I don't have to do either of those things, but I'd very much like to. Alternatively, I could just try to finish watching all three remaining episodes of Unriddle 2 on YouTube. It's such a hilariously bad sequel to the original series, but it's like a trainwreck, you know? You just can't look away.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Episode 1304: How Flattering...

Received a pleasant surprise in my inbox today from Craig. A PR person e-mailed Rum & Reviews Magazine, asking for me by name to review the debut novel of one of her clients. Coincidentally, there's a Coventry connection as well, as the author was born and raised here, but now lives in Vancouver. In a further twist, that's also where the previous author whose book I requested to review for The Conium Review is based! Was quite surprised that this PR person found me via Rum & Reviews Magazine though, as it's been a few months since I reviewed anything for that site, and I've only ever done three reviews there anyway. Still, it's quite flattering to be sought after, even in such a minor way. It does mean that the reviews are starting to pile up again though, so I'll have to get cracking once my paper's written. I'm probably going to be on track for my 500 words a day from today till Sunday, so that's good. Once I've got past the introductory bit, the rest of the paper should pretty much write itself, just because it's mostly going to be close readings of poems with the occasional critic thrown in to give my argument greater weight.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Episode 1303: Kept Yesterday's Promise!

Have done some work today, which I'm ridiculously proud of. Read a bunch of articles and essays, and also decided a bunch of others weren't exactly relevant to the paper per se, so I'm not going to spend time reading them because I'll just use it as an excuse to put off actually getting on with writing. Am reworking the abortive draft I was supposed to turn in last term into part of the conference paper, so the word count is off to a bit of an artificial boost. I will get at least the first paragraph down before bed, and I'll hopefully write a more substantial chunk tomorrow. I mean, I literally have to do about 500 words a day to get this done, which is entirely manageable even for my advanced level of procrastination, given how the conference paper can't possibly delve very deeply into anything anyway, due to time (and therefore space) constraints. Tomorrow, I'm going to read the opening bit of GĂ©rard Genette's Palimpsests: Literature In The Second Degree, just to see if I can fit it together with the Eliot essay as a theoretical scaffold for my argument. I suppose the Bloom reference in my paper's title can be excused because it's practically become theoretical shorthand for a sort of Freudian understanding of literary inheritance, even if according to Bloom, most people have 'weakly misread' his book if that's their takeaway.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Episode 1302: Tomorrow, I Really Will Write Something For My Paper Tomorrow

So today hasn't exactly been productive, at least not when it comes to my conference paper. Unsurprisingly, the realisation that the paper only has to be 2500 words long has had the effect of prolonging my procrastination further. To be fair, I also spent the afternoon buying groceries and doing my laundry, as well as dealing with half a dozen Eunoia Review submissions, most of which landed in my inbox around dinnertime. Thankfully, most were short, or I'd probably still be reading them and then editing the accepted ones for the site until past midnight. As it is, I'll be lucky to get any reading done even, before going to bed. I am absolutely going to force myself to fashion some sort of opening paragraph tomorrow though. Just a paragraph because I'm being realistic, knowing the number of TV shows I watch on Tuesdays. Plus an opening paragraph wouldn't require me to have done all that much in-depth research, although I'm starting to think that a lot of the reading I was intending to do might be targeted at the wrong stuff, i.e. reading up on Edwin Thumboo as opposed to more generally, given that while I do want to talk in some detail about Thumboo's poem, it isn't necessarily within the scope of my paper (or my dissertation) to do a dissection of his oeuvre.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Episode 1301: Hillsong London

Was pleasantly surprised by the Hillsong London service this afternoon that I attended with my cell. Everyone knows megachurches tend to attract criticism, but if this was a typical service, I personally wouldn't have many qualms about attending Hillsong London on a regular basis. The band, of course, was great, but actually, the number of musicians they had was pretty normal (although they did have six backing vocalists). I'm one of those people who don't agree that just because 'it's worship', good musicianship is suddenly optional and only the intent matters, so no complaints about the band from me. It was interesting how everyone was so cool and trendy though (even the speaker was wearing skinny jeans and bright yellow shoes), which is part of the appeal of a megachurch like Hillsong, I guess. That said, in the row right in front of us at the Dominion Theatre was an elderly couple. On an entirely different note, this is my new favourite YouTube channel. I've never actually heard most of the songs being parodied, but the ones that I recognise, I think are absolutely brilliant. The only way they could be better would be if the production quality were on par with the original songs, in which case, I might actually stop listening to the originals in favour of these educational parodies. The 'Bad Romance' one about the French Revolution is a particular favourite, and I have a sneaking suspicion even Mr Rollason would have approved of it!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Episode 1300: Shifting Ideas...

So I've just found out that my conference paper needs to last for 20 minutes, which translates to around 2500 words. Definitely can write that within a week! I've started reading, and even have a serviceable opening sentence in mind. Started reading Bloom's book, but the more I got through it, the more I became convinced that my supervisor's suggestion at our last meeting to take those portions of Bloom's theory that suit my purposes instead of just rejecting it wholesale isn't going to work out. The reason is that the theory advanced in The Anxiety Of Influence appears to me to be precisely the sort of totalising framework that Ross Forman was warning me against trying to impose on my readings of the poems in Reflecting On The Merlion, and as such, to extract bits of Bloom's theory seems to be a wilful distortion of his ideas. More and more, I'm starting to think that a return to Eliot's essay 'Tradition And The Individual Talent' would prove more clarifying. There is even a helpful connection within Bloom's book, where he refers to the sixth (and most advanced) revisionary ratio as 'the return of the dead', even if the sense in which he means it isn't as benign as Eliot's. I think what I'm struggling with is wanting a critical vocabulary that conveys antagonism, yet increasingly realising that while the various Merlion poems do have a tendency to critique their antecedents, only Lee Tzu Pheng's 'The Merlion To Ulysses' is openly and unambivalently hostile to Thumboo's original poem. All the other poets are either critiquing the Merlion as an icon (rather than Thumboo's poem and its intentions) or expressing a level of hesitancy or self-doubt about themselves.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Episode 1299: Lots Of Literary Goodness!

So today, three NAP chapbooks arrived in the post. Two more will be on their way once they've been published. I also bit the bullet and bought the back issues of [PANK] (digital, because that was the only way to get the earlier issues, even if they're somehow taking forever to download onto my iPhone) and Electric Literature (paperback, because there was no additional shipping charge and I do like holding a physical magazine to read). I also bought Sleepers Publishing's app that gathers together the stories the Melbourne-based publisher puts out through The Sleepers Annual. Didn't neglect the print side of things though, as The Book Depository finally made a 10% discount coupon available, so I finally ordered all those books that have been in my basket for about a month, and then some. The coupon's valid till mid-May, so I might end up buying some more books before then. I'm only willing to spend so much because I'm going back to Singapore in just over two weeks for a month, so I'm just treating all the money I've spent today as being what I would've spent in May anyway if I'd been in the UK.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Episode 1298: Unwittingly Wasting Time, But Google Saved The Night

So once again, I had this grand plan to read after dinner, and it was ruined. While preparing to upload a new piece to the WordPress site of The Cadaverine, I decided to update our theme, thinking that this would just optimise the underlying code. Turns out it significantly altered the layout! After spending an hour or so trying to tweak the updated layout to resemble as closely as possible what we were using previously, I managed to discover through the miracle of Google that the original theme files could still be downloaded from WordPress's own website. So once I'd done that, it was simply going to be a matter of a few tweaks, right? Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. I could figure out minor things like getting the font on all our posts to appear as black (I'd done this before), but I couldn't work out how to get our navigation bar to look like it used to. The trouble was that the site originally had a mixture of pages and categories in the navigation bar, but the older version of our theme doesn't support custom WordPress menus. So I either ended up with just the pages (and a duplicate Home button) or the categories. After another hour of trial and error, once again it was a fortuitous Google search that allowed me to figure out what part of the code to modify in order to get pages and categories to appear together in the navigation bar. Turns out it wasn't that difficult, and if I'd actually known how to do coding, I probably would've figured it out straight away, as opposed to spending the entire evening on this and rendering moot any attempt at reading. Guess that's another day of putting off getting started on my conference paper...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Episode 1297: Oliver!

Went to the Birmingham Hippodrome to see Oliver! I thought it was okay for a musical. The Dickens source material is so emotionally affecting to begin with anyway, so that's a ready-made arc. Trouble was, I felt like the plot of the musical ended up feeling quite choppy somehow. Almost every other song ended in a picturesque onstage montage, so the scenes didn't so much transition as suddenly switch. (Plus the first couple of songs didn't really grab me.) While the songs were melodic, I thought lyrically they had a tendency towards too much repetition. The one time this worked though, was in the scene after the intermission where Oliver wakes up in Mr Brownlow's house. The slow layering of the five voices in that scene was my favourite moment of the whole musical, and then when it transitioned into a full-on scene with the ensemble singing as well, I liked how the original melody was tweaked from melancholy to cheerful. Also, I'm not sure if it was the venue's acoustics, but occasionally, I couldn't really make out the lyrics as they were being sung. I'll admit to being mildly confused that a musical entitled Oliver! ended up being more about the interactions of Fagin, Bill Sykes and Nancy, with Oliver more like a pawn being traded back and forth. I suppose that's one way of interpreting the source material.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Episode 1296: Epicentre Magazine Lands!

Completely forgot that Tuesday is the worst day of the week for me to attempt to do any sort of work, just because of the sheer amount of TV that I follow which airs on Monday night. I'm almost done though, so I'll still be able to get a little bit of reading in tonight. Incidentally, the inaugural issue of Epicentre Magazine went up today, and there's some cracking stuff in it! It's been amazing to see the reach the magazine is having, just in one day. Currently, it's at 1200+ views and still counting, which is really impressive. WordPress now breaks down viewer statistics by country, and it's interesting that an overwhelming number of the viewers so far have been from within the UK. (By contrast, the viewership for Eunoia Review is predominantly American.) Part of the reason, of course, is that most of the writers in this first issue are British. So I'm curious to see if the viewer figures will even out more in the coming days, or will they continue to remain heavily weighted towards the UK. Whatever the case, it's still a really good start to the magazine, so kudos to Jane and thanks for roping me in!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Episode 1295: Fallen London

So Phil's got me started on this web game called Fallen London, and it's pretty good. It's sort of Victorian gothic (so I've managed to get Maria playing it as well), with the storyline(s) getting doled out in bite-sized portions. There's also a limit to how many actions you can do before you have to wait for them to be replenished, so it's the sort of game that you don't have to spend too much time on if you don't want to. Plus for a change, it's a game that doesn't seem to require that you buy the premium in-game currency to get ahead, at least not so far. Admittedly, I've barely scratched the surface of the game because of the aforementioned constraint. A surprising number of my friends were already on it though. Makes me wonder how come I didn't discover it sooner! Haven't done any work today obviously, but I'm just treating this as the last day of my long (and unearned) Easter weekend break. (From what exactly I am taking a break would be an interesting question.) Starting tomorrow though, I'm going to knuckle down. First up, Bloom's The Anxiety Of Influence. I'm sure it's going to be a fascinating read...

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Episode 1294: Babette's Feast Is Brilliant!

Couldn't get to sleep last night, so I started reading the Babette's Feast chapbook series from Math Paper Press. Am halfway through the 10 chapbooks, and so far, I haven't been disappointed (although the first, Jason Wee's My Suit, probably could have done with more proofreading to smooth out some of the awkward tense shifts). In fact, I think what Kenny and Karen have started with this series has the potential (and deserves) to put Singaporean writing on the global map. That's the level of the quality of the writing! Alvin Pang's What Gives Us Our Names is one of the best things I've read. Ever. That's saying a lot because I don't usually get all superlative about the stuff that I read. There's a powerful simplicity to Pang's writing that transforms the chapbook into a very moving experience, reminiscent of say, Italo Calvino's writing in Invisible Cities. Anyway, I managed to survive the Easter service on about three hours of sleep, and then a couple of us had lunch at Arun's and just hung out for pretty much the rest of the day. It does mean I'm pretty exhausted now, so I might crash soon, in the hope of shifting my sleeping patterns back into something resembling normal hours.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Episode 1293: This Day Doesn't Exist, Apparently

So it's the third week of the Easter holidays, and I'm slightly ashamed to say that I still haven't done anything for my conference paper. Earlier, I did briefly consider reading Bloom's book, but then almost immediately thought better of it and decided to stick to reading something I'd actually enjoy, just for one more night, although I suppose I could do 'work' by reading the Merlion anthology yet again. Then again, as someone mentioned at Mike's yesterday, the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday doesn't really feel like it exists, and you wouldn't feel like doing work on it anyway. To be fair, I could've had a productive evening, if I hadn't spent most of it looking for new music. I think maybe I should go through all the hassle of bringing my laptop to the Library next week, or perhaps use Dropbox to store a copy of all my dissertation readings, so that I can access them from a Library computer and do some work. Might as well make use of Dropbox since I've got it, right? Assuming the Library computer allows me to install the Dropbox application and sync files locally, of course...

Friday, April 06, 2012

Episode 1292: Thanks FictionDaily!

Am back from Mike's birthday barbecue. Good times had by all, with appropriate amounts of banter! Anyway, was the latest episode of Community its best ever or its best ever? This show's definitely at its greatest when it's poking fun at familiar cultural institutions. It's frustrating how people aren't watching it, whereas The Big Bang Theory, which is also a fairly weird comedy, is getting up to four times the viewership, as measured by the admittedly flawed Nielsen system. Part of the problem is clearly the general failure of NBC's primetime lineup to thrive, e.g. Smash is supposed to be the network's latest hit, but its ratings would get it cancelled on pretty much every other network (except The CW, which would kill to have even those). I just hope the prospect of syndication gets Community the fourth season it so clearly deserves. Incidentally, for the third time, the FictionDaily site has featured a story from Eunoia Review under its LONG category! Really chuffed about that, I have to admit. Here's hoping the journal gets a few more regular viewers out of being featured. That'd make me really happy for the writers with work in Eunoia Review. I've been getting a fairly steady stream of submissions lately, and looking at the Duotrope's Digest statistics, I'm starting to think it definitely doesn't reflect my true acceptance-rejection ratio anymore. If anything, if 100% of the submissions I receive were reported, the journal probably wouldn't be in the list of top 25 Most Approachable for poetry or fiction. Definitely would still be right at the top for 25 Swiftest in both categories though. Now that they've started listing non-fiction as a separate category, I'm hoping more people will cotton on to the fact that Eunoia Review accepts creative non-fiction submissions too, as those have always been lacking so far.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Episode 1291: Really, Yale?

It seems that the debate over the Yale-NUS College has erupted once more. I'm not au fait with the issue, so I won't presume to comment on it, but a friend of mine has written a response here. I particularly like how Yale academic James Sleeper keeps banging on in the comments about how Singapore is an 'authoritarian corporate city-state', as if that somehow invalidates any Singaporean attempt to critique the American reaction to the joint venture. Authoritarian is stretching the truth, since at the day-to-day level, no one in their right mind would think of comparing Singapore to a genuine dictatorship like North Korea. As for being a corporate city-state, I'd argue that if you carved major cities like New York and Los Angeles out of the rest of the USA, that's exactly what they'd become as well. Plus isn't the USA one of those countries where the government is either in the pockets of big business or pretty helpless to resist its lobbies? I suppose you could say Singapore, with all its GLCs, is being a lot more honest about the relationship between government and business. Ultimately, the whole debate reads like a textbook demonstration of why given half a chance, the rest of the world loves to hate the USA. I would hazard a guess that no other country is as full of people who believe their way is the only right way to do anything, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Episode 1290: Please Nominate!

Still unproductive in terms of writing my conference paper, but my poem in The South Townsville micro poetry journal is now available to read, along with a mini-interview of sorts. My third review of a chapbook from The Knives Forks and Spoons Press is also up at Sabotage Reviews. I've also realised that nominations are open for the 2012 storySouth Million Writers Award, so if anyone reading my blog also happens to follow Eunoia Review and enjoys the fiction I publish there, please consider nominating a story of your choice here, which has to be longer than 1000 words and have been published in 2011. I've already sent in my three nominations as an editor. In other news, the weather's decided to take a turn for the worse lately, so I had to walk through a drizzle to pick up a mystery parcel. Turned out to be the flipped eye pamphlets I ordered a few days ago. Wasn't expecting them to arrive so soon, but this means I now have Max Wallis's Modern Love, which I've heard nothing but good things about, and he's actually putting the poems up on his website, so you can read them and then buy the pamphlet.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Episode 1289: Coventry's Nightblue Fruit

Apparently the cleaner doesn't come to do my room on Tuesday anymore? I'm so confused. I'm assuming it's now Thursday, since that's when they showed up last week, but I assumed it was just a one-off. Anyway, I went to the Nightblue Fruit open mic at Taylor John's House. (First Tuesday of every month, except January, for anyone in the area who's interested!) It was a lot better than the one at that place in Leamington that shall remain unidentified. Didn't read anything myself this time, but I think I will, if my friends are interested in going back in the coming months. Going to have to miss the very next one though, seeing as I'm back in Singapore for the whole of May. I got a bit bored while I was online in the afternoon, so I ended up buying the clinic II anthology and all five of the print chapbooks NAP has for order. Most of the latter have a limited print run of 150, and as they all sound intriguing for various reasons, I thought I'd best get in there before they're sold out. Am also contemplating getting the PANK Magazine iPhone/iPad app, but I'm going to read a few of the online issues to see if the work they publish is my kind of thing. I've been hearing nothing but good things, but as the app is a fairly expensive investment for digital issues, I want to be sure. Would also like to subscribe to Midwestern Gothic, but that's a bit trickier because there doesn't seem to be a way to preview the magazine's material.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Episode 1288: Game Of Thrones Is Back!

Am finally watching the season premiere of Game Of Thrones, and yes, the show's still as awesome as I remembered. Still don't know what HBO will do when they run out of books to adapt, especially since George R. R. Martin might just be massively trolling the universe and planning to die before the last book of the series is written. On the other hand, I've decided not to continue following AMC's remake of The Killing, as the Season 1 finale really annoyed me and from what people are saying online, it seems like the Season 2 premiere isn't exactly forthcoming on answers either, and I'm not spending another season with a show that refuses to make progress towards solving pretty much its only mystery that I expect the audience cares about. Annie tells me the Danish original was excellent, and that's exactly what Tom Cornford told us at least twice last year during our Shakespeare seminars, so at some point, I might check that out, if I can find it online. Spent a couple of hours in the Library this evening, alternating between playing Words With Friends on my iPhone and reading Koh Buck Song's Brand Singapore: How Nation Branding Built Asia's Leading Global City. Had to finish it because it was due today, which I might have complained about in a previous post. Anyway, I did, and I came away not particularly impressed by Koh's analysis. While I generally agreed with it, I felt that it just came off ultimately as quite cursory, given that it's written by a self-professed expert. Some of his comments on the Merlion should prove useful for my dissertation though, so reading the book wasn't necessarily a waste of time.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Episode 1287: Ah, April Fool's, You Got Me

After several abortive attempts, I finally got the review of the Stainton chapbook going, just before I had to leave for church. Came straight back after, watched the Season 2 episodes of The Pupil that I'd missed in Singapore because I found them on YouTube, and then continued writing. It's almost done now, and I'll send something off to Lindsey tonight, no matter how late I have to stay up to get it done. After all, this should've been done by Friday! I've also got to reply to an e-mail from the editor of The South Townsville micro poetry journal, which has just accepted one of my poems. It's a new online journal with a slight twist. The editor takes only one-poem submissions (because like me, it's a one-man operation over there and I guess he has more on his plate than I do), and if accepted, you have the option of answering three questions posed by him and inspired by the poem. So that's what I'm doing in a bit, once this review's done. Incidentally, I was actually taken in by an April Fool's joke today and I'm not embarrassed to admit it because it's a pretty funny/bizarre one, depending on your tastebuds. Basically, I actually thought Innocent Drinks was being serious about its new limited edition smoothies with a dollop of marmite in it. I mean, why not, right? If there's a company I trusted to make such a concoction even remotely palatable, it would be Innocent Drinks. (By the way, isn't it weird how the company's now 58% owned by The Coca-Cola Company?)