I honestly meant to write another review tonight (it'd have been the third this week), but it just didn't happen and I think my sleep cycle has been out of whack for long enough, so I'm not going to try and stay up to make it happen. I have re-read the chapbook (Ben Stainton's The Backlists), so I'm going to try and make it to the Library tomorrow afternoon before church. I'm not a huge fan of working in the Library, but I find that when I really need to force myself to get something done, being surrounded by people who would definitely judge me for being Facebook (as they surreptitiously log onto their own Facebook profiles, of course) seems to do the trick. I think it's mostly because in the Library, I don't have access to three external HDDs full of TV shows of varying degrees of awesomeness, so there isn't really anything intrinsic about the Library that makes it particularly conducive as a working environment for me. Still, much as I hate to admit it, perhaps I should start spending more time there and getting work done. The coffee bar in there has closed for the holidays though, so it doesn't seem worth the effort. I mean, the only reason I do work in the Library is to randomly grab a flavoured latte or a bottle of vitaminwater (or both) at some point.
Anyway, for the past week or so, I've been reading Wena Poon's two short story collections, Lions In Winter and The Proper Care Of Foxes, and they're really incredible. My favourite line from the first (which happens to be available in the UK from Salt) is when a character in 'The Shooting Ranch' remembers her father's words, 'No one can hate a Singaporean as much as another Singaporean.' I suppose the sentiment isn't necessarily specific to Singapore, but it just resonated with me because sometimes I'm definitely guilty of feeling that way. On a related note, there's a poignant exchange in 'Vanilla Five' from the second collection when the protagonist ask, 'Why do you speak with a London accent sometimes?' and gets this reply (context being that this other character was abandoned by English parents and raised by a Japanese man): 'Same reason why I sound Japanese sometimes. [...] I know I'm not American. I'm trying to find the right voice for this face. I'm still trying.' I think for the first time, I might have found an acceptable explanation (to myself, if not necessarily others) for my mutable accent.
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Friday, March 30, 2012
So basically, although I watch heaps of TV, there are presently only two shows that I'm fairly obsessive about, and they're Community and The Vampire Diaries. There are lots of other shows I love, so many that to list them would be quite meaningless, but these are the two that I wouldn't mind rewatching a couple of times. So it's nice that this week, they've both aired pretty incredible episodes (and that the ratings for Community have remained stable). I've been having a look at Price Peterson's photo recaps of The Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle again, and they're hilarious because here's a guy who clearly is a fan but also recognises how ridiculous the storytelling frequently gets on both shows. Case in point? This week, the writers found a way to make it such that when an Original vampire dies, so do all the offspring of that vampiric bloodline. How convenient, right? I hope this just means that Claire Holt can be upgraded to the main cast for the inevitable Season 4, as she's pretty incredible. She's already lasted longer than most other guest/recurring characters that have been introduced over the show's three seasons, and since Matt Davis has to leave at some point to join the Cult pilot (which sounds like it'll be awesome enough to get picked up for a series), that leaves an opening in the cast for her to fill, right? Meanwhile, Community offered up the first of a two-parter, and blanket forts are so Season 2. It's all about the pillow fort now, clearly. Still not sure where John Goodman's arc as Greendale's Vice Dean is going, but this was a promising step. I secretly want it to somehow link up with the reappearance of Evil Abed from the darkest timeline of 'Remedial Chaos Theory'.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
Woke up to an e-mail letting me know that I've won a copy of Phil Jourdan's Praise Of Motherhood via a Goodread's giveaway, and Scott's agreed that it would be a good book to review for The Cadaverine, so everything's hunky-dory on that front. Anyway, I always knew that 3-in-1 coffee we bought in Penang was pretty strong, but man, I am so hopped up on caffeine right now that the only thing I can do is play Words With Friends on my iPhone. It's a bit frustrating because I was planning to write the review of William Winfield Wright's Cosmonauts tonight, but hey, who knows? Maybe when the caffeine wears off a little, I'll be able to sit still long enough to finish it. I've already got half of the opening paragraph down, which is always the hardest bit for me, and I like the chapbook, so things should hum along nicely once I get going. If all else fails, I'll just force myself to write two reviews tomorrow! The rest of the day hasn't been very productive, despite there being far less TV than usual to watch, i.e. just three half-hour comedy episodes. One of these was the new episode of Happy Endings, and with this episode, I think that show has finally proven itself equal to Community, at least in my book, so I really hope it gets a third season.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Was in the Library today and I noticed there was a new book of critical essays on Kazuo Ishiguro, which I borrowed out of curiosity. I'm a huge Ishiguro fan, and I don't think he gets enough critical attention. If I did a PhD and could bring myself to write about novels instead of poetry, Ishiguro would be one of my top picks. Anyway, two days ago I was up trying to sort out the first paragraph of my review of Hope: A Tragedy. As usual, one paragraph led to another and I ended up staying up till I finished the review, which you can read here. That's one down of the four I plan to write this week, although I might scale that back to three. Then it's going to be one per week, two at most, for the rest of the holidays, as I need to start working on that conference paper. I figure if I start on that next week, it gives me an entire week in which I can listlessly type and retype my introduction, while I figure out how the paper needs to look. Then I'll have a fortnight to actually get it written. If that works, it also means that I could work at that pace on the other chapters of my dissertation, which is quite reassuring. Unless when my supervisor sees the draft of the conference paper, he declares it to be awful, in which case, well, back to the drawing board on how to go about assembling 16000 words. I feel like I'm being too cavalier about the whole matter, a dissertation being one of those 'serious things' and all, but at the same time, I don't want to turn into one of those students for whom academic work becomes the be all and end all of their existence. I want to do well, obviously. I just don't buy the typical Asian mentality that your work has to become an all-consuming object.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Went to Leamington for an open mic night, but it wasn't that fantastic, so we relocated to a different pub along the Parade. Got a lift back to campus from David, which was great because I'd actually expected to have to get a cab back from Leamington. We chatted a bit about Eunoia Review, and I was saying that the volume of submissions has by no means been constant. Of course, that totally jinxed me and I switched my laptop on to find five submissions waiting in my inbox. I've dealt with all of them now, in my usual timely fashion. On a side note, I want to say that I'm really humbled by the reach this one-man operation is beginning to have. I'm not one of those editors who's swayed by whether a submitter has been published previously or how established they are as a writer, but I do look contributors up after I've issued an acceptance, either to follow them on Twitter (if they have an account) or just out of curiosity to see what else they've done. So imagine my surprise when I found out that the latest poet whose work I've accepted has done a book of translations that was published by Carcanet in 2006. It was like that moment a while back when I accepted poems from someone who turned out to be the head of department at an American university. I really, really want to know how these people are coming across what barely even qualifies as a shoestring operation, run entirely in my spare time (although I probably already spend too much time on it), considering that apart from following contributors on Google+ and Twitter, and pushing posts on the site to all my social media accounts, I don't really do that much to promote the journal, beyond getting it listed on a couple of sites that index literary journals. I was also pleased to see a comment from Carrie Etter on the latest poem published on Eunoia Review! I've met Carrie once at a reading in the Writers' Room, but I'd completely forgotten she was from Normal, IL, and it's amazing that she's a regular visitor to the coffeehouse that's the subject of the poem. Talk about synchronicity. I don't even know how she would have come across the journal, to be honest.
Monday, March 26, 2012
Have been listening to new singles on YouTube because the first paragraph of this review isn't going so well. (Stayed up to finish reading Hope: A Tragedy, which I think is brilliantly controlled. Just when I thought the plot's Beckettian absurdity was starting to get frustrating, Auslander pulled the literary equivalent of a bait-and-switch.) I've listened to a bit of Justin Bieber's 'Boyfriend', out of curiosity to know what his post-puberty musical direction is going to be. Turns out it's basically a laughably derivative attempt at sounding like he's grown up, although it will undoubtedly further confirm his position as a bona fide pop star. I also had a listen to Kris Allen's new single, 'The Vision Of Love'. I know it's potentially controversial to say that I genuinely prefer Kris Allen to Adam Lambert, but I have to say, I really like the new single. I also loved the new single by Bright Light Bright Light, 'Waiting For The Feeling'. It's perfectly poised between pop and dance, which is where a lot of my favourite music resides, I think. Anyway, I think my head's sorted itself out regarding the first paragraph, so I'm going to try and get that down on the page before I go to bed!
Sunday, March 25, 2012
So it looks as if my one-week break from doing academic work is about to extend into two weeks instead! The plan is currently to write four reviews by the end of this week, which is entirely possible, given that I've already read most of what I need to review. Notwithstanding this, I've already agreed to do another four reviews, although hopefully I'll be able to space those out better. I mean, at some point, I do have to write the conference paper, even if no other bit of my dissertation gets done over this vacation. By the way, speaking of reviews, check out my latest, which I've been told is a milestone of sorts for Sabotage Reviews, being the site's 200th post! Pretty exciting. I also finally started watching Press PausePlay, which is this film Alex told me about a while ago, which seeks to answer the question of whether 'democratized culture mean[s] better art or is true talent instead drowned out'. (Haven't seen the whole film, but I'm guessing the conclusion will be that the jury's still out on this one.) Discovered Icelandic neoclassical artiste Ólafur Arnalds through that, so I've got pretty much all his music now.
Saturday, March 24, 2012
Having seen two productions of the play and now the 2012 film, I feel almost obliged to read Susan Hill's original novel, for the sake of completeness. While I respect that the film is its own creature, I'm still going to say that I don't think it's as good as the play. The problem is actually really straightforward; the film doesn't trust its audience to become scared. So where the play (and I imagine the novel too) relies predominantly on the verbal to ramp up the tension, thereby making the moments when we actually see the titular woman all the more terrifying, the film persistently teases the audience with fleeting glimpses of her, and when it's actually time to show her in close-up, the soundtrack really rams the moment in your face. You feel the jolt of adrenaline, but you also realise how completely ridiculous the 'scare' is, as evidenced by the laughter and tittering in the cinema tonight. It reminds me of when I went to see The Eye 2 in the cinema back in Singapore, and everyone laughed whenever something supposedly scary happened precisely because they were able to predict its occurrence. (With one exception, and that moment in the film was likely the only one that succeeded in shocking people.) In a post-Exorcist mediascape, where the rise of body horror and torture porn as film genres has inured and desensitised us as viewers, such tactics like using loud noises just won't work, at least not without generating that audience self-awareness that leads to amusement rather than fright. Didn't really like the way the story had been changed for the film too, especially the frustratingly 'Hollywood' ending. I also found it slightly difficult to buy Daniel Radcliffe as a father, permanent five o'clock shadow notwithstanding. The kid who plays his son was exceedingly adorable though, I'll concede that. Turns out he's actually Radcliffe's real-life godson.
Friday, March 23, 2012
'Films, perhaps, show us who we want to be, and literature shows us who we actually are. Sitcoms, if they show us anything, show us people we might like to know. Because of this, the sitcom is a medium designed to reassure. The more reassuring the sitcom, the better its chances become at winding up in the financial promised land of syndication, where multi-camera sitcoms fare far better than their single-camera brethren. Most sitcoms are about families, and for the millions who watch them, a sitcom becomes a kind of mental family. Week after week, your couch faces the couch of characters you feel you know, characters whose problems can never quite get solved.' That's a paragraph from an essay by Tom Bissell called 'A Simple Medium: Chuck Lorre and the American Sitcom', which is this week's Small Chair offering from McSweeney's. While I'm not a fan of any of Lorre's sitcoms (The Big Bang Theory has been on for too long for me to get into it, for now), and he apparently frowns upon the manic antics of more recent comedic incarnations like Community, Happy Endings and Suburgatory that I love, the point Bissell makes about the nature of sitcoms seems valid to me. On a related note, slightly gutted that the ratings for the second post-hiatus episode of Community have slumped. To above pre-hiatus levels, admittedly, but still not a good sign.
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Two reviews in as many days. I am a machine! Here's the link to the one I wrote yesterday, about the book version of I Wrote This For You. In other news, I'm so over The Sims Social (about damn time!) and curiously enough, Thought Catalog. The former's stopped being fun for me and has just morphed into a huge waste of time, whereas the latter simply isn't as intelligent as I think it's supposed to be pretending to be. It's a massive love-hate relationship because the articles are all so bite-sized and clearly targeted at the demographic (I like to think) I'm part of, i.e. 'young readers with money to spend and time to burn', as this Forbes article calls us. What's surprising is how quickly I've gone from being a fan to being vaguely irritated by Thought Catalog. I swear it hasn't been more than a month since I first became aware of it! As I explained to Bella, Thought Catalog actually reads to me like a watered down version of some of the columns you can find on McSweeney's Internet Tendency. It's a bit like junk food, addictive but with not much actual substance. Anyway, since this has been a pretty link-heavy entry, I'm just going to end off with one more, which begins in a way that I think summarises my (unarticulated) sentiments towards my undergraduate years: 'When I was an undergraduate at Oligarch University [i.e. Yale] I, and I suspect many of my peers, had three desires that were utterly in conflict: to be invisible, to be free and to be special.' (Yes, I'm embarrassed that it's true.)
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Have begun reading Shalom Auslander's Hope: A Tragedy in earnest, as I'm pretty sure my review is actually overdue at this point. Thankfully, it's one of those books that's easy to breeze through. I'm sure if I sat down and analysed it in comparison to books that I've found to be a trudge, it'll all boil down to something banal like sentence length and complexity, or something equally mundane. Then I could go away and find another book that completely disproves this theory. Or I could just not begin worrying about the whole thing in the first place? Heard a while ago that the McDonald's at East Coast Park is closing down, and now someone's made a video to commemorate the passing of another unofficial Singaporean icon. While it's a great video (with appropriately nostalgia-inducing soundtrack), I have to say that personally, I'm not all cut up about this. I don't feel like it's another part of my childhood that's being erased, mainly because I can probably count on both hands the number of times I've been to East Coast Park and to that particular McDonald's outlet. I wonder if that's part of the reason why I've never really felt homesick throughout these four years that I've been overseas, not having emotional attachments to places like a specific McDonald's outlet. I'm sure if I thought really hard about it, there must be places that I would miss if they were gone forever. There just aren't any that come to mind. I mean, I don't even really miss the flat that my family used to live in, and I grew up in it. I'm sure lots of people will think there's something emotionally defective about me now, but honestly, isn't this just as valid a way of processing your personal history? After all, the process of remembering is always already a process of forgetting, in that a selection has to be made. I just happen to work with a different filter from lots of people, I guess.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Currently writing my review of the book version of I Wrote This For You. It's a bit hard to do because this isn't one of those books that's amenable to my usual style of reviewing, which relies a great deal on what are essentially techniques of close reading. I'll work something out though; I somehow always do. I'm also starting to realise that the bad thing about the holidays is that I end up shopping online a lot. Bought another bunch of Threadless tees today because the site's having a 48-hour sale and buying just one wouldn't have got me my money's worth in terms of shipping costs. Ordered a bunch of poetry books yesterday, and I've got more that I want to get, I'm just waiting until The Book Depository does another 10% discount promotion. Even though those books are already cheaper on The Book Depository than Amazon UK (which is odd, given the new pricing regime for UK-published books on the former after the latter acquired it), I still want to spend just that little bit less if I can! Also ordered the first issue of Smith Journal today, an Australian magazine for men put together by Morrison Media, who also publish frankie. It came to my attention because the second issue is now available at BooksActually, so I've asked Kenny to reserve me a copy of that. It's quite funny how I arguably buy more stuff from BooksActually while abroad, getting Shirley to collect them for me as my long-suffering 'courier', as Kenny refers to her.
Monday, March 19, 2012
Cities Of Sameness, Nicholas YB Wong's debut collection from Desperanto, arrived in the post today. Was pleasantly surprised to see Eunoia Review mentioned in the acknowledgements. Not going to lie though, it felt pretty sweet to see that! Though I did feel slightly silly for pre-ordering and paying extra for shipping from the USA, as I could've saved a few quid by waiting until it was available to order from The Book Depository. For some reason, I'd assumed that The Book Depository wouldn't stock work from a small press like Desperanto. Ah well! Anyway, a new daily record for site visits was also set today, for the third time this month no less, so it's been a good day for Eunoia Review. It also seems I may actually have been prematurely pessimistic about site traffic falling off, since so far, the daily numbers seem to have stabilised at a higher level than last month. (Was quite amused that there was a noticeable dip on Saint Patrick's Day though. Totally doesn't help to dispel stereotypes about literary folk and drinking, right?) I've also queued submissions until the start of July, so it's looking like the new publication schedule I instituted back in October was the right move.
Sunday, March 18, 2012
Slept for about 12 hours after getting back from London, which was fantastic. Thought the old lady sitting across the aisle was going to die while we were somewhere in the middle of the M1, which would have been incredibly awkward. Turns out she'd just passed out from the heat or something. (The radiators in the coach were switched on, but for the first half of the journey, the air-conditioning had been turned off completely, so it did get pretty stuffy.) Have spent most of the day catching up on reading and scheduling submissions, but I'll have to get around to catching up with my reviews, starting from tomorrow. I'm giving myself the next two weeks to hopefully clear all the reviews I owe various editors, and then I'll start working on my conference paper. I also really want to get back into reading for leisure, now that I don't have seminars to read for every week. I've been reading bits and bobs here and there, but haven't really set aside time to just enjoy a good book! I can actually be quite a fast reader when I consciously make the effort, although I'll admit that I'm usually one of those 'slow' readers who mentally vocalise every word on the page.
Saturday, March 17, 2012
On my way back from London in the last London-Coventry Megabus coach, and looking forward to finally getting some sleep. We were at Kelsey's last night until it closed, which is a scary achievement. I suppose as a one-off thing it's actually pretty funny (although it's not like anyone did anything outrageously stupid on our night out), but it also meant I had barely any sleep before I had to be up to catch my coach to London. Raided the usual Oxfams once I arrived and came away with 19 books, mostly poetry, so that was pretty impressive. Had lunch at itsu, another of my London 'traditions', before going to the OCF Easter outreach. It was nice catching up with some of the MOE people I bumped into while I was there. I also really enjoyed seeing LOL (Lots Of Love) again, and I'm glad that everyone I asked to come along seemed to enjoy it too. Seeing it for the second time, I did feel that the dancing was a lot more structured than I thought when I saw it for the first time just over a year ago. Realised that quite often, movements were being repeated and elaborated upon. Also noticed how the soundscapes had a tendency to 'resolve' from harmony into chaotic noise, which I thought was interesting. I'd forgotten how beautiful and sad that final sequence of Kip Johnson dancing with the tangle of cords like it's a real person actually looks, as the lights dim to black and John Lennon's 'Love' plays.
Friday, March 16, 2012
Heading out to Leamington in half an hour for more drinks, so this is just a quick post because I don't think I'll be back till the middle of the night. So I had my last seminar ever of my four-year stay at Warwick this morning. (Sort of, as I technically have two rescheduled EN911 seminars next term, only one of which I'm likely to be in the country for though.) It was pretty intense for a last seminar, but it also gave those of us in it a good deal of fodder for banter when we were having drinks later in the Dirty Duck, mirroring how our bunch of postgraduates started hanging out around the middle of this term. (Nice little bit of parallelling there.) I must say I'm actually really going to miss Thomas Docherty's seminars, even though half the time I feel kind of dumb while I'm in them, despite having done the reading. As I said to a couple of people in the pub, he's one of those tutors I want to take out for a coffee, sit him down, and say, 'Start talking. About anything whatsoever. Just talk.' It would definitely be riveting, and I imagine most people who've heard Thomas speaking would agree.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
I've finally decided what my conference paper is going to be titled: '"This image of themselves": Anxiety of Influence and the Merlion'. Also spoke to Emma Mason today about my essay for EN954, and she likes my idea of looking at the AIDS elegies written by Thom Gunn and Paul Monette, thinking in terms of the differences in the forms employed by these two poets. Now the question is whether I should actually order a copy of Monette's Love Alone: Eighteen Elegies For Rog. I've got a few poems on the handout Emma gave us, but I'm curious to see what the whole collection reads like, and just generally curious about Monette's poetry, which seems to be largely out of print, although there are plenty of second-hand copies floating about. Now that I'm not getting my driving license in the UK (I need to send my passport to the DVLA for the provisional driving license but I absolutely do not trust the British postal system), I don't have to worry about setting aside money for driving lessons, so all that can either be saved or spent on more books, and we all know which is the likelier possibility for me. I've definitely got other books in mind that I want to get, including all three Vintage paperbacks of Tom McCarthy's novels. I'm just waiting for The Book Depository to do another 10% off promotion.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Met my supervisor this afternoon and chatted for an hour. In summary, he thinks that I should stop worrying about finding a totalising theoretical framework into which I can fit my ideas, and instead I should just concentrate on articulating those ideas first and foremost, bringing in theory only if it's going to help me make the argument. He did agree that the conference paper would be a helpful starting point, and that I should try to write it in such a way that it can be easily reincorporated back into my dissertation proper, to save myself additional work. Ah well. I'll start worrying about all that next week, although I do need to reply to the conference organisers with a finalised title by Friday. Anyway, this week, The River (yes, I'm still watching it, since it's only eight episodes) tried to be Fringe-meets-The Walking Dead, and it was just a ridiculous episode for a show that's already doomed to be cancelled anyway. In other TV news, Matt Davis is leaving The Vampire Diaries because he's been cast in the Cult pilot, which will also be airing on The CW if it gets ordered to series. Much as Alaric will be missed on The Vampire Diaries (although he apparently has the network's blessing to appear as both characters, leaving the way open for guest appearances), I do hope Cult gets ordered to series. It sounds like the show's going to be tonally more like Nikita than the usual teen drama fare that network produces, which is worrying because of how bad the ratings for Nikita are. Still, at least he'll be a lead for a change, rather than being part of the sprawling cast of subsidiary characters that writers for The Vampire Diaries don't really seem to know what to do with lately, besides writing them in and out as and when a plot point calls for it. Don't get me wrong, I still really love that show, but seriously, just spin off all the Originals into their own series already!
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Got to 500+ words on my draft, before giving up and sending my supervisor an e-mail, explaining that basically I felt like I'd written myself into a rut and needed to rethink the structure of my three chapters. I suspect that Harold Bloom's The Anxiety Of Influence isn't the best piece of criticism to use to guide my own close readings, although I'm not sure what alternative critical vocabulary I could employ. I've read a paper that employs Gérard Genette's ideas about hypertexts and hypotexts, but I can't very well do that as well or my first chapter would just be retreading ground, and ground that'd been explored by an undergraduate no less! I think that I can find a way out of this impasse by focusing on the specific idea that Thumboo's poem and its message haven't so much been misread as ignored entirely, at least by a certain group of poets. That undergraduate paper is very keen on seeing the poems as existing in some sort of historical progression that mirrors the Western canon's evolution from Romanticism to postmodernism, but I don't buy that argument, simply because it's the arrangement within the anthology that allows for it to be made. Rearranging the poems chronologically, it doesn't quite hold up.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Even as I fail miserably at getting down 1000 words for discussing with my supervisor on Wednesday, my abstract has been accepted for the Marginal Cartographies conference at the end of April. I'd half-forgotten what I said my paper was going to be about, so I'm pleased to report that nothing in the abstract contradicts my rethinking of the structure of my dissertation. Yes, I flipped through the anthology again and realised that the structure I'd decided upon after my last meeting just wouldn't hold up once I got around to doing close readings. So in a way, this conference paper is actually going to look a lot more like what my first chapter needs to be now! Went to the Library after the Theology Reading Group to work on my 1000 words, and got about 300 down in three hours. Definitely shouldn't have gone home from the Library before closing time though. Ended up watching another boring episode of The Walking Dead, which I won't spoil for people, though the episode's supposedly shocking ending has been telegraphed for weeks, even without the gaffe regarding the promotion of the Season 2 DVDs. Now trying to get up to at least 500 words before going to bed...
Sunday, March 11, 2012
Meant to get work done between morning and evening service, but ended up staying in church to play UNO and watch Arun shave his hair off. Got the whole process down on video in my iPhone! I did manage to get a first sentence out last night, but I woke up this morning and realised that while it was a decent first sentence, it was for the wrong part of the dissertation. It was definitely more like something for the introduction than for Chapter 1. I've now got another idea for an opening sentence though, so I'll work on my 1000+ words tomorrow. Now the only question is whether I work in my room, with access to more material than I could possibly need or incorporate at this point, or do I uncharacteristically exile myself to the Library and stay there until I've banged out the requisite word count. Slightly leaning towards the latter at the moment, simply because in the Library, the only distraction I'll have is Facebook, whereas in my room, there's dozens of episodes of Community just daring me to watch them. I know I can complete the work tomorrow, if only I disciplined myself enough to do it!
Saturday, March 10, 2012
As the title of this post might suggest, I'm beginning to regret having promised my supervisor 1000+ words from my first chapter by the end of term, as I haven't done nearly enough reading so far to be able to get a draft done. I suppose if I get really desperate though, I could just whack out a whole series of close readings of individual poems that don't rely heavily on criticism per se. Frankly, I'm quite sure that if I read everything that I've found so far in the course of researching my topic, I'd find that I have more than enough theory and criticism to bolster my argument. Right now, the only genuine problem I'm facing is the psychological barrier of having to get words down on the page, knowing that they'll have to be revised within weeks. It's just not how I generally work. I'm the kind of person who revises semi-obsessively as I go along, which is generally okay for module essays, where I'm able to operate within a fairly clear framework for what the shape of the essay will ultimately be. That style of working isn't very helpful though, when what I'm trying to write is essentially the opening of a chapter that should be at once self-contained and also part of a larger train of thought spanning 16000 words.
Friday, March 09, 2012
Went to the Post Room again to pick up my gift edition of The Invention Of Hugo Cabret, which is seriously a gorgeously produced hardback. If all hardbacks looked like that, I would be shallow and abandon my stand regarding paperbacks in a heartbeat. Also had every intention of doing work today, but in anticipation of the new episode of Community finally airing in a week, I decided to start doing 10-episode marathons and rewatch the whole series. The closing minutes of the pilot threw up this gem of a quote from Jeff: 'The funny thing about being smart is that you can get through most of life without ever having to do any work.' So true, so true. On an entirely different note, given the recent surge of interest in Pinterest, I think this article about the potential copyright minefield Pinterest represents might amuse those of you who, like me, are tired of new social networking bandwagons trundling along that it's assumed everyone should want to hop on. There's also a slightly more caustic article from Thought Catalog, best summed up by this depressingly true statement: 'A few weeks ago, Pinterest became the fastest stand-alone site to reach 10 million visitors in a month. Which confirms one thing and thing only: America will do anything to avoid having to read.' On that note, go read some of my haiku that's up at Three Line Poetry.
Thursday, March 08, 2012
So a phrase just struck me during my EN954 seminar today, and it ended up becoming the final lines of this poem about the Merlion, because obviously, we don't already have enough poems banging on about the Merlion. Trekked to Westwood this afternoon to pick up lots of post, including two out of three of the Brian Selznick books I bought on Sunday night. I'm not usually into hardbacks because I just generally don't believe in paying more (and I also have an abiding fondness for stylish paperbacks like you get from Faber & Faber or Vintage), but I have to say, the Selznick hardbacks are gorgeously done. Also picked up all but one of the Salt Modern Voices pamphlets that I didn't already have. Just ordered No. 3 in the series from The Book Depository, but curiously, I can't seem to find a No. 11 anywhere. I also now have Elizabeth Jennings's The Collected Poems from Carcanet, edited by Emma Mason. Brought it to the seminar, mostly just to prove to Maria that it's already available for ordering from Amazon UK. It's a hefty volume, but I'd quite like to start reading it. Ever since I read her short book Christianity And Poetry last year as part of research for my PWP, Jennings has struck me as one of those poets whom I'd really enjoy, but somehow have never read. (The same applies to a lesser extent for Geoffrey Hill.)
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
New Girl was one of those shows that I used to slag off without ever having watched an episode of it. Then I caved and hated myself for doing so. As the season's gone on though, the writers have clearly wised up and realised that the pilot's premise was hardly going to sustain the whole season, and they've toned down Zooey Deschanel's character's quirkiness. The show's also evolved into more of an ensemble comedy, and I think this week's episode really brought that out. Although the characters largely are still being defined by their individual character quirks, which works better for some of them than others, I think that's permissible for a freshman comedy series. On the other hand, see the mid-season finale of Jane By Design for a masterclass in how not to do character development. I know the show probably got its eight-episode back order too late for that to factor into the writing of the most recent episodes, but still, there were way too many twists, telegraphed and otherwise, for one episode. Oh well, at least I got my answer about how the show plans to handle its excessive and slightly creepy (because one of the characters is a grown man hitting on a high school girl) love square.
Tuesday, March 06, 2012
So I did go and buy The Invention Of Hugo Cabret after all! It's a special gift edition that comes with an interview DVD with Brian Selznick, but it cost me £52.80 (including postage) because I think it's no longer in print (this edition was released in 2008, probably as a one-off promotion) and it also happens to be autographed by Selznick. (Bought his other book as well, Wonderstruck, and a making-of companion to the movie.) As Shirley said, highly uncharacteristic of me, as far as book purchases go, but as a one-off thing, I suppose it's okay. That said, I did charge it to my credit card instead of debit because I'm trying to leave money in my NatWest account for driving lessons, so I'll pay the money back to my mum once the bill arrives back in Singapore. Speaking of which, I actually need to start looking into driving lessons. I keep saying I'm going to do it, and then I don't follow through, just because I can't be bothered to actually set things up. At the moment, I'm thinking of starting lessons over the Easter holidays, but I'll probably end up putting things off again. I really want to get my license before I head back to Singapore for good though, just so that my parents will stop bugging me about it!
Monday, March 05, 2012
Had an interesting time in the Mead Gallery revisiting some of the works in The Indiscipline Of Painting. Now I think I don't really need the catalogue, I just want pictures of selected artworks. Wrote three short poems inspired by three separate works. Went to the Post Room before catching Hugo at the WSC, thinking that it was the remainder of my order from The Book Depository. Turns out it was Shalom Auslander's Hope: A Tragedy, posted to me by Scott. So I've got to start reading that for review now. I did finish William Winfield Wright's Cosmonauts yesterday, while eating dinner in Varsity before service, so I could probably write the review for that tomorrow. Am also making my way slowly through the book version of I Wrote This For You, which moves me in the same way that Hugo did. That film gets curiously heartbreaking at certain points. It's basically a family film with Gallic sensibilities, directed by Martin Scorsese. Based on Brian Selznick's novel The Invention Of Hugo Cabret, which happened to be on my reading list for EN978 last term, it's a movie about how movies came to be, and it's incredibly beautiful. Asa Butterfield puts the intensity he brought to the role of Mordred in Merlin to good use here, and Ben Kingsley as Georges Méliès is also impressive. (Interestingly, the novel I recently read, Mathias Malzieu's The Boy With The Cuckoo-Clock Heart, also has a Méliès connection.) I will say that Scorsese's film has made me want to read the book on which it's based, which sounds like it's a gorgeous production in itself, with more than half of it consisting of pictures.
Sunday, March 04, 2012
Realised today that all three of the books I requested the Library to order have been ordered, which is great news! Unfortunately, it means I can no longer cite unavailability as an excuse for not reading them as part of my dissertation research. I hope they'll prove to be really useful though, as all the titles and book summaries sounded promising. I feel like by getting the Library to order more books, I'm doing my small part to force the university to spend some money on the humanities, as opposed to constructing things like the Zeeman Building, which apparently has shower facilities in it. (Aren't you glad that Warwick takes such pains to ensure the hygiene of mathematicians and statisticians?) I also think that the Library should hire people like me and my coursemates to manage the procurement of new titles, since clearly, the existing system isn't exactly keeping pace with what our department deems to be suitable research topics! I mean, for a university that keeps banging on about how it wants to be world-class, our Library is sometimes laughably/shockingly/woefully (take your pick) inadequate.
Saturday, March 03, 2012
Since I only got to sleep after 5 am, it's hardly surprising that I slept till past 3 pm. Still managed to get some stuff done today though. Read a few more submissions for The Cadaverine, so now I've got only two more to go from the batch that I was forwarded a while back. If I'd woken up slightly earlier, I might also have found time to start reading some of the stuff for my outstanding reviews, but instead, all I managed to do was write another pantoum. (I don't think it's that good, so no link!) Quite looking forward to the next EN911 seminar because we're going to the Mead Gallery to see The Indiscipline Of Painting. Sort of tempted to pick up the exhibition catalogue because there were a few artworks I actually really liked. I've just discovered that it's available on Amazon UK, so I'm quite glad now that I didn't buy it that time I went to see the exhibition with Bella before a play. Have also begun reading Leo Benedictus's The Afterparty, which interrupted my ongoing reading of SJ Watson's Before I Go To Sleep. I have to say though, so far Watson's novel has intrigued me more, although I suspect it's just that I haven't really got to the part of The Afterparty where it starts getting really meta...
Friday, March 02, 2012
My new theory on douchebag social dynamics after sharing a cab ride back to campus from Kelsey's with Emma and four random guys we found in Vialli's. There's always one guy in the group who isn't actually a douchebag, and he's the one who laughs at the things his friends say but otherwise keeps his mouth shut. To be fair, that guy in our cab did take my tenner and give me change, thus partially simplifying the matter of payment, so I'm willing to overlook his irrational friendship choices. I also feel slightly bad that I thought he was trying to con me when he offered change; I think he was slightly offended that I thought that. On the other hand, if you're going to associate with douchebags, expect to be tainted by association. Hopefully, he'll wise up in second year when he moves out of Rootes. Anyway, although the night ended where most of my nights out in Leamington tended to end up in third year, i.e. Kelsey's, the route there was refreshing. Technically, it began when Thomas Docherty had to finish our seminar half an hour early because he was losing his voice, which meant we arrived at the Dirty Duck before it was even open for business. That's how committed us postgraduates are to having a drink! Stayed there for a couple of hours, and then made arrangements to meet in the evening at The Duke, along Warwick Street near the top of the Parade, which was fascinatingly pretentious in its decor. Drinks were cheap though. Then Moo nearby, which I've also never been to. All in all, it was an interesting night, even the cab ride back to campus with the random douchebags. You do end up feeling a bit sorry for people like that, don't you?
Thursday, March 01, 2012
Just spent a few hours in Varsity with coursemates, reading and talking about poetry, and generally just hanging out. Got my marks back today as well for both of last term's modules. Quite happy with the mark and comments for my EN973 essay, as I feel like they're really perceptive in terms of identifying the strengths of the essay (close reading) and where it could still do with improvement (integrating different theoretical perspectives). Less pleased with the EN978 portfolio mark, even if it's still decent. I just feel like I was being marked down for failing to do something with my story that I wasn't exactly trying to in the first place anyway. It's also further confirmation that just maybe, in future I should stick to writing poetry rather than fiction, since my grades throughout four years for anything fiction-related have been consistently and appreciably worse than those for my poetry stuff. Otherwise though, March is off to a good start! New daily record set at Eunoia Review for site visits, finally crossing the 300 mark. I have a hunch it's because Ben Parker, whose poems just went up on the site, is either very good at publicising his work or a lot of people are actively seeking out his work via search engines. It's too early to say if this spike in traffic will convert itself into a sustained significant increase in readership, although I'm hoping it will, however small the increase. I live in hope! Recent acceptances also take the buffer of queued posts up to 3.5 months.