Monday, December 31, 2012

Episode 1561: Farewell...

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

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Episode 1560: CZ12

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

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Episode 1559: Looming Deadlines!

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

Friday, December 28, 2012

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

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

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Episode 1557: Even More Books To Get...

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Episode 1556: OD-ing On British Dramas

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

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Episode 1555: Laptop's Broken...

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

Monday, December 24, 2012

Episode 1554: Lost In Translation?

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

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Episode 1553: Underemployed Soon To Be Just Unemployed?

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

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Episode 1552: Support The Alarmist!

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

Friday, December 21, 2012

Episode 1551: We're Still Here

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

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Episode 1550: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Episode 1548: It's Tough...

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

Monday, December 17, 2012

Episode 1547: Always The Accumulation...

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

Sunday, December 16, 2012

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

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

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Episode 1545: Look What The Postman Brought!

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

Friday, December 14, 2012

Episode 1544: What Is Post-Experimentalism?

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

Thursday, December 13, 2012

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

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

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

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

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

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Episode 1541: Who's Afraid Of Lena Dunham?

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

Monday, December 10, 2012

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

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

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Episode 1539: #EunoiaLIVE

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

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Episode 1538: Time To Attack The Backlog!

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

Friday, December 07, 2012

Episode 1537: Doing My Tiny Bit

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

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Episode 1536: Another Blurb...

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

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Episdoe 1535: Bought Cards Against Humanity!

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

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Episode 1534: New Records!

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

Monday, December 03, 2012

Episode 1533: Duotrope: A Developing PR Disaster?

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

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

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Episode 1532: Why The Silence, Duotrope?

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

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Episode 1531: Duotrope's Digest Goes Paid

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