Saturday, June 30, 2012
So belatedly, I've just been to see Prometheus at the Arts Centre with Becky and Toby. I quite enjoyed it, and here's a link to an LJ post some guy wrote all about the symbolism of the film. He offers up a pretty intriguing analysis that does help to put into focus the themes of the film that I appreciated, although it still doesn't really excuse what some critics have rightfully pointed out, which is that the film, gorgeous as its visuals are, suffers from curious plot deficiencies that sometimes actually detract from its attempted intellectualising (courtesy of Lost's Damon Lindelof). I'm not talking about the unresolved ending, which while not exactly a cliffhanger, hardly makes for closure either. I get why it was done that way (Prometheus needed to be a self-contained film, but still leave room for a sequel to be made, pretty standard Hollywood studio reasoning), and I approve of that. What I can't get behind is how most of the characters behave completely illogically, given that they're mostly scientists of some variety, and the trip to this moon has only taken them two freaking years in cryostasis. Seriously, that's small change, so I don't get what the rush was for everyone, recklessly charging about and basically unleashing their own doom. Fair enough, Logan Marshall-Green's Charlie was clearly meant to embody an archetype in contrast to Noomi Rapace's Elizabeth, so his character's stupid behaviour is excusable (plus it was hardly his fault that he was dosed with DNA-altering black goo). Everyone else? Please. As if humanity got to the point of having advanced space flight by abandoning a rational and considered approach to scientific investigation. Having said all that, I think what redeems the film, apart from the visuals, is Michael Fassbender. (Side note: I'm a bit weirded out by how Fassbender looks just a little bit different in every film that he does. Maybe it's just me?) His performance as the android David is pretty much perfect, as far as I'm concerned. Kind of feels like Prometheus was two films being cobbled together, one being your standard expedition-gone-wrong movie and the other also a fairly standard sympathetic exploration of what it's like to be an AI, and the two don't really mesh properly until the film's sort-of ending.
Friday, June 29, 2012
Finally picked up all my post today from the Post Room. Lots of pamphlets, basically. Stuff from the Faber New Poets series, Holdfire Press (speaking of which, I really should think about putting together a pamphlet submission for them), and Penned in the Margins, plus a couple of novels. Want to just dive in and start reading, but there's still reviewing to be done. (Although let's be honest, all I really want to do is continue reading Snobs.) So I also met up with two Phils this afternoon. Chatted with Phil Jourdan over lunch about books and music, and also about plans to help me take things with Eunoia Review to the next level, which I'm very excited about. Have been wondering about ways to continue doing literary stuff even after I've left the UK, and this feels like the perfect opportunity. Then I posted some returns to Amazon UK and had coffee with Phil How, as well as finally getting my copy of the Writing MA anthology. This latest is twice as thick as the previous one, interestingly with no contents page or page numbers. Looking forward to reading the work of my friends though...
Thursday, June 28, 2012
So I had a great time in London today. Finally met up with David Tait, so that's one more editor checked off the to-meet list! Also ran into George Ttoouli, which was a nice surprise. Got introduced to Jon Stone, who co-edits Fuselit with Kirsten Irving. (The magazine looks cool and I'm going to order the latest issue, maybe get some of the stuff from Sidekick Books too.) Would've liked to have stayed for one of the Poetry Parnassus events, but I'd promised Cui that I'd be at the Alvin Pang reading she organised at Woolfson & Tay. So I finally got to meet Alvin, whom David had coincidentally met at the launch for Alvin's new book from Arc, When The Barbarians Arrive. Pretty much had to dash off after his reading and a bit of the open mic after (where I read out 'Homecoming' and 'Caged', the latter's one of my favourites to read out because it's short but has a great twist ending), and even then, I barely made it to Victoria Coach Station in time. (Same thing sort of happened this morning at Cannon Park because my laptop was being uncooperative!) So all in all, a pretty great day.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
I find it both amusing and a cause for concern that NatWest apparently still have not resolved their technical issue(s). It's been, what, two weeks now? Also, the apologetic note appearing on the bank website keeps getting signed off by increasingly senior executives. Right now, it's up to the level of Group Chief Executive. The notes are all the same though, just platitudes about how sorry they are and they promise no one will be out of pocket and they're doing everything they can to resolve the situation. Seems to be working though, since I haven't heard of anyone panicking. (Yet.) Lots of irate people, but not exactly a stampede of people trying to take their money out of NatWest accounts. (Oh wait. It's because they can't!) Meanwhile, I've also just realised that the review I've stalled on all day probably isn't urgent, since I don't think my editor is going to see it until he gets back from his trip anyway. I kind of still want to finish it before going to bed, as the magazine is short and the review's meant to be as well. I even know pretty much everything I'm going to say. I'm just hesitating about typing it out because I want to figure out how to be constructive with my criticisms.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Just got back from a barbecue-cum-bonfire in the field behind my church. It's kind of sad to think that this was probably the last time for quite a while, possibly ever, that I'm seeing some of my friends. I suppose there's always Facebook for keeping up with what's going on in each other's lives, but it's not really the same as being able to meet people and chat, especially people in the cell that I've been attending this year. Ah well, it was always going to be this way, wasn't it? No sense getting all cut up about it. So my copy of theNewerYork arrived today, and I'm excited to read it. Was very impressed that it was sent using first class international postage. Also tried to start my review of 20x20 magazine. I like the concept of it, but I just don't think this most recent issue is particularly strong. The images/artwork side of it is pretty good, but I'm not feeling it as far as the writing's concerned. Might be the issue's theme that's at fault, as I actually quite enjoyed the previous issue, which I've also been sent as a sort of reference. It doesn't really help that there's so little writing to critique in this issue in the first place, so it doesn't really feel wholly representative of the magazine.
Monday, June 25, 2012
Helen Mort's a pint for the ghost arrived in the post today. Haven't time to read it yet, but I'm excited to. Have been curious to read more of her work ever since I heard her read a poem at the Marginal Cartographies conference, so it was nice to see that her second pamphlet from tall-lighthouse was still in stock. (Just realised that her first, the shape of every box, is available as used copies from third-party sellers, so I've just ordered that too.) Had drinks today with MA people to celebrate another deadline passing, which is always fun. (The drinking bit, not the deadline itself.) Plenty of banter, basically. Am also starting to think that my goal of two reviews this week might be overly ambitious, given my immense talent for procrastination, but we'll see. I'll try to stick to it. I definitely could do the 20x20 magazine one tomorrow, since it's only 500 words, and I've already read Richard Meier's Misadventure, so I just need to find a few hours in which I can sit down and focus. Beyond that, who knows? Would really like to get back to reviewing a novel, just for a change, but that means actually reading one first, so easier said than done!
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Made a final push in the afternoon while I was in the Library and finished off the commentary. The whole thing's printed, and I've already done the e-submission, so I just need to wake up on time tomorrow to head into the department before noon. Now that this deadline is out of the way, it's time to get caught up on some reviewing work, as always. I've decided that I can give myself the rest of the week off where academic work is concerned, so I'm going to aim to have at least two reviews done by the end of the week. Should be possible, since I've been reading stuff for review here and there anyway. Am also happy to report that NatWest is now allowing me to transfer between my accounts again, although it would appear that their technical issues still aren't fully resolved. Not impressed! Got dragged to Rootes Bar after evening service to watch the football match between England and Italy. I thought it was rather dull, to be honest, right up to the point where England lost on penalties. (I did think it was pretty funny how quickly the place emptied once the match was over.) Honestly don't feel like I'm missing out on anything by not being a football fan!
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Ha! I knew it was too good to be true. The NatWest epic fail is apparently still ongoing. The bank's trying to downplay it as a technical glitch, but it's clearly a pretty bad one if it's still plaguing their system after a week. In fact, the problem's actually got worse for me, as now I can't even transfer money between my savings and current accounts. NatWest says it's keeping bank branches open to ensure people won't have problems getting money out, but hey, thanks for closing your branch on my university campus. I'm not paying money to get a bus to take my money out of my account because you're incapable of resolving a technical fault in your system. That's just ridiculous, if you ask me. On a happier note, after all the computer drama yesterday in the Library, I've finally finished my portfolio. That just leaves the 1500-word commentary to write, which I may have a crack at now, failing which, I'll do it at some point tomorrow. I spent just over two hours in the Library last night after that fiasco, retyping stuff. I think the end result is an improvement over what I had, and I've tweaked the fictional e-mails a bit again this afternoon anyway.
Friday, June 22, 2012
So I spent a good part of the day in the Library working. Managed to get all the Merlion e-mails done (yes, I've decided that having them as letters made no sense, since how would my fictional self know where to post them?), and even started adding to one of my short stories (have decided I don't really know yet where to take the other one, so why try fixing something that isn't broken?). So just as I was about to head back to my room from the Library, shortly before midnight, the PC decides to screw me over. For some reason, despite my having saved my work repeatedly over the course of the afternoon, evening and night, the computer somehow failed to actually save the work. A FML moment, if there ever was one. I've finally become the guy who loses his work, and it wasn't even my fault. Going to stay in the Library and try to get everything back down on the page again. So angry right now, but it's too quiet in the Library for some sort of massive, raging meltdown. I'm telling myself that if I can't remember what I wrote, then it clearly wasn't that great to begin with. Scant consolation, but there you go. If I'd been working on my essay instead of my portfolio, I think I'd be way more pissed off.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
The NatWest saga has found a resolution. It seems that my issue wasn't an isolated one and was in fact part of something systemic. So the Ted Baker transactions have actually been wiped from my records, as if the money never left the account to begin with. Have now placed a new order for theNewerYork, and also one for Midwestern Gothic (summer sale on all issues!) and said magazine's editor Robert James Russell's novella, Sea Of Trees. Have heard nothing but good things about the novella, and I've been eagerly waiting for it to become available through Amazon UK (so that I can save on international shipping). Still haven't started writing, although a portfolio/essay-writing party might be happening tomorrow in the Library with Tory, but I will definitely get started on something after I've caught up with all my TV shows for today. Have had a few lines running through my head, and it's now a question of whether I want to write the 'letters' as syllabic poems or in prose. My current plan? Write them in syllabic lines, but justify the text so it looks like a block of typed prose.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
So the latest development in my ongoing NatWest saga is that the PayPal transaction has been refunded, but the Ted Baker ones haven't. Not impressed. That aside, my third trip to London this month was great. I had more sushi at itsu, and then sat in Starbucks to wait for Naomi, reading Richard Meier's Misadventure. Seeing as this collection won the inaugural Picador Poetry Prize, I had fairly high expectations. Fortunately, I wasn't disappointed in the least. Meier's poems have some of the most consistently excellent final lines that I've encountered. The titular poem, in particular, genuinely shocked me when I finished it, definitely wasn't expecting how it ended. Naomi and I spotted Jeremy Treglown and John Fletcher in the audience at the Royal Society of Literature event, and it was really good to hear Archbishop Rowan Williams speak. Whatever you might think of his tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury or his moral/theological views, it is undeniable that the man is an incredibly intelligent and sensitive reader and writer. It was good to hear him speak about poetry and translation, although I would have liked him to more extensively compare and contrast poetic and religious language in his conversation with Fiona Sampson.
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
So NatWest has still not reversed the charges, and all my tweet achieved was getting myself asked to follow the NatWest account and to get someone to call me. Right, as if I'm going to waste my time being put on hold and shunted from person to person, all for my problem not to be resolved in the end. I'm going to give the bank till the end of the week, as the charges still don't have a description in my account yet, which means that NatWest hasn't even figured out what the initial charges were for, let alone got around to reversing them. Now that they've closed their branch on campus, to speak to someone in person would require forking out a few pounds for a bus into the city centre. Not that I can't afford that, but it's the idea of having to spend my money to fix a problem that shouldn't even be one to begin with that rankles. So I'll just go to the branch in Victoria when I'm in London again next week. Or I could go tomorrow, I suppose. Or maybe I'll wake up tomorrow, and all that money will be magically back in my account. (Yeah, I don't think so either.) On a happier note, I've written a review today, which means I'm down to, oh, about a dozen more to go. Little victories though, right?
Monday, June 18, 2012
So that's three refunds that for whatever reason haven't been credited back to my bank account. (My order of theNewerYorkM fell through because the website somehow didn't add on international shipping.) Have tweeted NatWest, in the hopes of getting an answer by tomorrow. Have also decided that I'll submit my EN911 portfolio next Monday, rather than my EN954 essay. Had thought I would stick to my plan of trying to work on the essay till Thursday, and then if I didn't have at least 1000 words down by then, I'd switch to working on the portfolio. That was before I realised that once I add up all the work I want to include, I already have 3400+ words, which means the portfolio is practically done. Just need to write the 'Dear Mike' series of letters, inspired by Lim Tzay-Chuen's proposal to move the Merlion to Venice for the Biennale in 2005 and reading Joey Comeau's Overqualified, as well as possibly extending either (or both) of the flash fictions I've included, so as to replace a long sonnet sequence. (I like the sequence, just not sure that it meshes very well with the rest of the portfolio, aesthetically speaking.) Then I can bash out the commentary in an hour or two, I think. The major advantage of deciding to hand in the portfolio instead of the essay is that I can immediately start catching up on my reviews, which is crucial as I have more than a dozen titles pending now!
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Just bought myself the current issue of theNewerYork and pre-ordered the next one, which is due for release in August, so hopefully it'll arrive before I leave the country. Also thinking of getting the first issue of death hums, but it depends on whether they ship internationally, so still waiting to hear back on Twitter. Speaking of which, I've resorted to tweeting Ted Baker in order to get their attention regarding my failed orders and non-reversed charges. Looking at their Twitter page, it seems like I'm not the only person having issues with ordering stuff, and I'm hoping that resorting to social media will mean my issue gets resolved quicker. It worked when I last did it, trying to get Virgin Media to sort out terminating the Internet account at my old house. Anyway, what I wanted to say is that these days, I get quite excited about buying literary magazines. Not stuff that's been around for ages and has a huge catalogue of back issues. I'm excited about magazines that are just starting out, and at the risk of sounding like a print fetishist, I really like being able to order a physical magazine and have it arrive in the post. Of course, I love online journals as well, or I wouldn't be involved in editing quite a few of them, and my love for print isn't because I think print is more prestigious than electronic (my one-sentence view on the issue is that there's more than enough room for both to coexist in the literary ecosystem). I just think qualitatively speaking, the reading experience changes depending on whether you're reading off a printed page or a screen, and I like having that variety, I really do.
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Didn't realise that Laura Wade's Posh had transferred to the West End, until I saw the posters when I was in London on Tuesday. So this afternoon, I caught the matinée at the Duke of York's Theatre. Previously, I'd read the script of the original 2010 Royal Court production (which incidentally, Kit Harrington, who now plays Jon Snow on Game Of Thrones, acted in) and enjoyed Wade's writing, so it was a no-brainer to catch the 2012 West End production. Apart from the fantastic musical interludes used to signal scene changes (maybe the cast should do a musical next?), I appreciated how Wade's characters weren't uniform stereotypes. Not that the play goes about deconstructing these privileged upper class characters, in order to paint them as sympathetic and misunderstood. What it does do is provide nuance, so that these 10 rich young men can't be reduced to being archetypes of the rich-and-horrible. The pacing after the intermission did feel a bit off, as if things got out of hand too quickly and too drastically, but I suppose in a way, that could have been the point. In that moment of crisis, everyone's moral cowardice gets revealed, and it should be uncomfortable for the audience to be made to realise that the one character who has been most repugnant throughout, i.e. Leo Bill's Alistair Ryle, is also the only guy whose behaviour is internally consistent, morally speaking. Doesn't make him any less wrong, but it does give you pause, I think. Of course, the play doesn't let you dwell on that for too long, since the action immediately cuts to Alistair being offered a place in the world of privilege, ushered into the protective echelons of power.
Friday, June 15, 2012
So when I got into London, I had time to kill before I had to head to Sophie's place to meet up with everyone. Having bought myself something from itsu, I settled down in the middle of Victoria Station for lunch. Figured I'd check out the Ted Baker sale again. True enough, the wallet I wanted seem to be available online again. Tried to order it and the first time, the order just mysteriously became empty. So I tried again, only to be faced with the same problem as last night, where the order failed right after I entered my payment details. Not sure why this was the case, as a quick check of my bank account revealed that my debit card had been charged (and last night's charge hadn't yet been reversed). Have e-mailed customer services, and I'm sure they'll sort it all out. Otherwise though, it's been great to see everyone again! I mean, Facebook's okay, but it's not quite the same thing as real life meetings, is it? Plus once I go back to Singapore for good, it's going to be that much harder to actually see any of my university friends, so it's good to be able to do something like popping down to London for a weekend.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
I love Ted Baker, but I usually only buy it when there's a sale. Was originally just going to buy two wallets, but then just as I placed the order, one of them must have gone out of stock and the website hadn't updated yet, so it wasn't successful. Then I was going to buy the remaining wallet, plus two belts and a pair of shorts. Was going so far as to admit to myself that it's time I start buying size 34 again, instead of pretending to myself that I'm still a size 32, plus this new total amount would have got me free shipping. (Yes, I'm aware it's just a cunning ploy to get people to spend beyond a threshold amount.) Guess what? Now the other wallet is no longer available online. So barring the wallets suddenly becoming available online again in the near future, it doesn't look like I'm buying anything during this sale anymore! Really wish I'd acted faster now, as the wallets were really nice. They're both still available in a physical store, it seems, so I suppose there might be a chance that more stock will be made available for ordering through the online store. Sigh...
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Was supposed to meet my supervisor at 4 pm, but he wasn't in. I'm wondering if I might've got the day wrong, but no matter. I won't be able to meet him until the end of term, and I won't have written anything new by then either, since I'll either be writing my essay or new poems addressed to the Merlion during its journey to Venice. Yeah, that's the idea I had last night. Sort of inspired by Joey Comeau's Overqualified, a novel told through a series of cover letters, so I want the letters to tell a sort of wider story. (Side note: I read The Complete Lockpick Pornography on my coach to London yesterday, and it was awesome!) That's the plan anyway. Might find that the poems are boring, or there isn't enough material for a sequence. Won't know until I start writing. My only concern is whether the accompanying commentary would end up overlapping too much with my dissertation, but I suppose if the overlaps only consist of citing historical facts, I should be fine. Now trying to decide if I want to read David Kennedy's Elegy to prepare for my essay, or Bill Clegg's Portrait Of An Addict As A Young Man, which arrived today in the post.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
So my first London trip this month went well! Texted Sophie before I got in, so we had coffee and hung out for a couple of hours. Saw this hardback in Oxfam Bloomsbury titled All The Sad Young Literary Men, Keith Gessen's debut novel. A quick look online suggests that it's either trying too hard or readers are too unintelligent these days, both being equally likely and neither precluding the other. Will order from Amazon UK so that I can return it if it really does prove insufferable to read. Then it was off to the Penning Perfumes launch, which is possibly the best-smelling publication I'll ever own. The event, hosted by Odette Toilette, was great fun, so I'm really glad I made the effort to attend. It was also lovely to finally meet Lindsey Holland (it's like I'm collecting face-to-face meetings with my editors before I leave the UK for good!) and to get introduced to Tori Truslow, after Claire Trévien saying several times in the past that we should be. Had a good chat with Emily Hasler as well, which has given me some ideas for what I want to put in my portfolio due in September. There's still a small possibility that I might actually just blitz through that next week, instead of writing and handing in my EN954 essay, but it mostly depends on how prepared I am by this weekend. Also heard back from Sean Colletti at The Camarillo Review, and he's happy for me to contribute reviews. Am actually wondering if I could offer to do one of Penning Perfumes, since I was at the event too. For now though, I think the essay needs to remain my top priority, right?
Monday, June 11, 2012
This afternoon, I was going to attend a reading by Charles Boyle in the Chaplaincy, but in the end, only two people showed up, me and Lemma. So instead of a reading, what transpired was a sort of informal chat with him and Michael Hulse, and David Morley, when he came by. Also got a bit of an inside look at the making of this autumn's Poetry Review, partly concerning the difficulty of reviewing in print the large volume of poetry pamphlets that get published every year. Was interesting to see the pamphlets that're going to be reviewed in the next issue, as some of them are pamphlets that I'm hoping to review myself, either for Sabotage Reviews (Knives Forks and Spoons stuff) or The Cadaverine (Richie McCaffery's Spinning Plates). Recognised most of the other presses that popped up too, like Oystercatcher, Salt, Smith/Doorstop. Am going to order both of Boyle's poetry collections from Faber & Faber, once I can get another £10 Amazon UK voucher via Valued Opinions. Didn't leave the 'reading' empty-handed though, as I asked Michael to let me have the back issues of The Warwick Review that I'm missing. Must remember to take out a subscription before I go back to Singapore for good...
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Caved this morning and sent my supervisor the thing I did for Introduction to Research Methods before leaving for church. Figured there was no point in wasting time worrying about a pseudo-deadline when there's a real one looming at the end of the month. (Two weeks to write 6000 words is entirely doable, and I'm excited to get going with this one anyway. Have decided I'm going to put the dissertation out of my mind until this essay is done. One thing at a time, right?) This did mean that I could enjoy the rest of the day stress-free though. Watched another episode of Downton Abbey after the morning service, then met up with Phil and Sarah for a drink in Costa, and pool afterwards. Then after the evening service, I discovered another item on the Varsity menu that I love: the Dirty Rocky. Way too much food, but so much chicken goodness! (To be honest, it's really just the batter they use that's really yummy. That and the hot sauce.) Also, in preparation for reading Joey Comeau's newest book The Complete Lockpick Pornography (which is really two thematically related novels being published in one volume, Lockpick Pornography and We All Got It Coming), I've started rereading Overqualified, his novel told through a series of cover letters. It's heartbreakingly funny, and I definitely recommend it to everyone.
Saturday, June 09, 2012
Just realised that the number 30 is even more significant for the Merlion than I thought. I already noted the 30 years between Thumboo's 'Ulysses By The Merlion' appearing in his collection of the same name (1979) till the publication of Reflecting On The Merlion anthology (2009), but it turns out that 30 years also passed between its first use as the then-STPB's logo (1964) till the poem was inscribed on a plaque in the Merlion Park (1994), as well as between the Merlion statues' installation in the Merlion Park (1972) till their relocation to the other side of the Esplanade Bridge to provide a better view (2002). Definitely should stick this somewhere in my dissertation, just as a sort of historical quirk. Maybe in the introduction, to provide some spiel about the significance of the anthology's timing being traced back to these earlier milestones. Haven't written much today, although I've got an opening sentence down for my middle chapter, and an idea of the conclusion that the first chapter's argument heads towards. Am at the point where I'm thinking that I should just e-mail the thing we had to do for Introduction to Research Methods to my supervisor as a crude draft of what the literature review section of my introduction will look like. It's not perfect, but most of it can be salvaged/trimmed down for that purpose eventually.
Friday, June 08, 2012
That's how many views the journal eventually got for today. It's obviously going to be a one-off spike, but hey, still pretty cool. Have started watching Downton Abbey at last, in order to put off writing my dissertation for another night. (Will definitely do something tomorrow!) I'm actually really enjoying it and wondering to myself why I didn't start watching this sooner. It's like a classier version of Gossip Girl, with English instead of American accents, and set in the previous century. Am simultaneously procrastinating by doing my film titles for next term's WSC publicity booklet. Can't upload them though, as my laptop freezes every time I try to access the subfolder that contains the remote desktop package. So that's two things that can't work now. The weird thing is that otherwise, the laptop seems to run fine. I mean, I even managed to run Granado Espada, and everyone knows gaming consumes a huge amount of system resources, right? So I'm starting to think if maybe this isn't even a hard disk problem, but something to do with the laptop's memory instead.
Thursday, June 07, 2012
How did that just happen? Eunoia Review managed 500 page views in just over four hours this afternoon, and I have absolutely no idea where the views are coming from. They're almost entirely from the USA, but that's not saying much because the journal's readership has always been heavily weighted in that direction anyway. Whatever the case, it's just another part of what's been a really great day, which has only been marred by the refusal of iTunes Genius to stop crashing my laptop. (I don't use the Genius function at all, so I've turned it off rather than waste time trying to fix the problem.) Firstly, I don't appear to be jetlagged at all. I went to bed at around 10 pm, and woke up at around 9 am, which is the sort of enviable sleeping pattern that I don't think I've ever been able to enjoy at any point in my life, to be honest. Read J.T. Welsch's pamphlet Waterloo today, and it's a lovely sequence of poems. Definitely getting his Holdfire pamphlet (and the others as well) once they're available for ordering on Amazon UK. Am now reading Rebecca Lindenberg's Love, An Index, which Terrance Hayes describes on the back cover sticker as 'a terrific litany of losses and retrievals. These poems re-cover, reclaim, and remake the elegy form.' Have wanted to get it ever since the McSweeney's Small Chair app featured a selection of the poems, and with the release of a second volume in their poetry series (Allan Peterson's Fragile Acts), I figured it was time to start buying. Was also approached by a friend about doing some literary-related stuff in a couple of months, but I'll say more about that when the time comes, with links and appropriate amount of fanfare for the informing of whoever's reading this blog. Then I pre-ordered Splice, the newest game from Cipher Prime (i.e. the guys behind Auditorium, Fractal and Pulse, all awesome, beautiful games). Randomly, I also discovered that I really like the iced caramel latte that the Arts Centre cafe does. Sure, it's probably far too sweet to be healthy, but being healthy is definitely not one of the reasons people drink coffee anyway!
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
What sad news. I've always liked Bradbury's work, especially his short stories. There's a three-volume scholarly edition of his Collected Stories being prepared by Kent State University Press, so I would like to get that once they're all published. Speaking of books, I (reluctantly) woke up from a nap at 5 pm and went to the Post Room to pick up seven parcels. (Would have left it till tomorrow if my flatmate hadn't got back to his room.) Everything I ordered before leaving for Singapore has arrived, and I'm actually really impressed that nothing got lost in the postal system. Among the books that arrived is a beautiful paperback of Cavafy's Complete Poems, translated by Daniel Mendelsohn. It's a compilation of the hardback editions of Mendelsohn's translations of the Collected Poems and Unfinished Poems. Looking forward to diving into it when I have the time! Now it's time for the Season 3 of Pretty Little Liars, and then back to bed, or maybe I'll read some more of Tucker Max's Sloppy Seconds on my iPad before that. Started reading it during the flight because like I told Shriram the other day on Facebook, there's just something about Tucker Max stuff that makes for great in-flight reading.
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
So it turned out that there weren't too many films I wanted to see on this flight. Only saw three, starting with This Means War, in which I thought Reese Witherspoon was pretty superfluous. Frankly, the Tom Hardy/Chris Pine bromance was very USA Network, i.e. funny enough to carry the whole show on its own. (Apparently, quite a few film critics would disagree with me though.) I approved of Hardy being allowed to keep his accent, as well as both actors playing against their real-life images. This film was obviously never going to catapult either guy to Hollywood superstardom (I guess that would be The Dark Knight Rises for Hardy and the rebooted Star Trek franchise for Pine), but it does show that they can do comedy repartée. Then I saw How To Train Your Dragon, which I loved and is now being developed into a trilogy, per Hollywood's penchant for spinning out moneymakers. Also watched Liar Game: Reborn, a mishmash of game theory and group psychology, producing outcomes that didn't always make sense, at least not until the later flashback sequences explaining them. I was sort of expecting something more gruesome, like the Saw franchise. Sure, a crippling monetary penalty is something you'd want to avoid, but it's hardly life-threatening, and the show seemed so desperately to want to portray the whole Liar Game as being thus. Maybe I needed to watch the earlier parts of the franchise, which consists of two TV series and one film?
Monday, June 04, 2012
Am going to be in London four times this month, which is more times than I've been there in the rest of the academic year so far. Going to get the Megabus from Cannon Park, and I've even managed to book two of my journeys for 90p. Had no idea that Megabus could get that cheap! Must be some kind of advance thing, as I could've booked another of my trips for 90p, but when I actually got around to doing it a day later, the price had gone up to £4.50. Have also selected my seat for my return flight tomorrow. Am in the same one as on the flight to Singapore, and I'm actually hoping for a repeat of what happened then, when the rest of my row ended up being empty and I could have a bit of a nap, stretched out. It's probably not going to happen, but maybe at least an empty seat next to me? Oh well. At least with my iPad, maybe I'll actually do some reading during the flight for a change, unless it so happens that there are actually half a dozen movies available that I would like to see. (Probably not, but never say never. Would really like to see Prometheus, but since that hasn't even been released yet in the cinemas here, I doubt it'll be on KrisWorld.)
Sunday, June 03, 2012
Thanks to my dad, I now have the new iPad at last. Have spent most of the day filling it with stuff from the App Store, although I'm being quite selective about what I put on the iPad because I don't want it to become as cluttered as my iPhone. Mostly I'm putting the literary stuff, as well as games that I think would be more fun to play on the larger screen of the iPad. (Am slightly annoyed that iBooks isn't syncing like I expected it would, so I've kind of given up on getting those NAP PDFs onto the iPad.) On the plus side, maybe this will also inspire me to start culling the apps on my iPhone. Haven't done that since the time I had to reset it to factory settings! I've also synced all the articles for both my essay and my dissertation to Dropbox, and then installed that on the iPad, so now I can finally read stuff without having to lug my laptop around or being cooped up in my room. Whether this will actually increase my productivity is another matter altogether, of course. I'm aiming to have 1500 new words to show my supervisor by the middle of next week, although I'm sort of tempted to ask him to push our meeting back by one week, just to give myself time to get over the jet lag. Will see how I feel on Thursday, I suppose.
Saturday, June 02, 2012
Went to Sentosa this afternoon to check out the Merlion, hoping to get some insight into the current branding of the Merlion. It was frankly very disappointing. At the attraction itself, there was no mention of the Merlion's origin as a creation of the then STPB. There is a vague reference to a decision being made in the mid-20th century that Singapore needed a new symbol, but that was it. Instead, the Merlion's now morphed into some sort of lucky charm. It's all really mundane, and even the views from the Merlion's head are nothing great, surrounded as the structure is by buildings and shipping containers (always thought it a rare case of bad planning that Sentosa and Pulau Brani ended up right next to each other). Perhaps more surprisingly, there seems to have been a complete failure to capitalise on the Merlion-as-icon beyond kitschy uses as logos or shapes for cookies and magnets. I was expecting some sort of picture book for kids, selling a cutesy story, but nothing of that sort was to be found. No reading material at all, even thought the attached shop had all of the other usual stuff hawked to tourists. Even at the Images of Singapore shop, up several escalators, not a single book about the Merlion itself was to be found. (I did, however, find a copy of Lee Tzu Pheng's Lambada By Galilee & Other Surprises, literally collecting dust in a corner of the shop, which I have now rescued.) Seems like a failure to actually explore the full potential of the icon, even as a tourist object. I mean, not even selling the Firstfruits anthology of poems about the Merlion? Really?
Friday, June 01, 2012
Saw the two-part finale for Touch today, and I thought it was great. I've been rooting for this show since it began, and while it's drawn a lot of criticism for being schmaltzy and too reliant on coincidences to tie up its stories week to week, I think all those critics are being far too cynical. Surely the point is that Touch as a show isn't trying to be realistic, but rather is asking its viewers every week, what if you could actually see how everyone is connected to everyone else? It might seem hard to believe, but isn't that just because on a day-to-day basis, none of us has that level of omniscience? I'm looking forward to the addition of Maria Bello's character in Season 2, and Kiefer Sutherland continues to surprise me with how he manages to pull off 'sort of vulnerable father', especially acting opposite a child character who's been mute all of this season. I really hope Fox doesn't manage to screw this show up, even though I'm honestly expecting the ratings to tank or hold steady at best, depending on what it's scheduled opposite on the other networks. Oh well. I hope Season 2 will at least develop the explanation for Jake's abilities further, but frankly, I'd be satisfied with another season filled with nothing but randomly purposeful connections among a global cast of characters. On any other show, the diversity would probably feel tokenistic, but this show is so overwhelmingly earnest, it makes me want to believe that all we need to become better people is to realise how alike we all really are.