intermissions


Bah. I know I’ve promised a whole slew of less self-absorbed posts, like more on the ASEAN scholarship, GRRM, So Far, Hana Kimi, etcetera, but I’ve been caught up with research essays. and I couldn’t help getting suckered into joining Nanowrimo this year. …So here’s a couple of links to the NaNoWriMo site, my member page; and see you in December! (where is the collective moan of despair? doesn’t anyone love my little textual voice?)

What’s NaNoWriMo? It’s essentially a project to write 50,000 words in a month; and it’s quantity, rather than quality, that counts. It works toward just getting your creative juices flowing, to use a really tired phrase about creativity that says a lot about just how creative people are nowadays – ahem. Well, to take on the project requires nothing more than signing up at the Nano site, perhaps joining a region or a group to share ideas, encouragement, and eventually congratulations with…and of course, a plot you want to expand into 50,000 words. You “win” if you reach 50k before the November 30th midnight, you “lose” otherwise. “Win” in quot. marks because there isn’t a prize, you just feel satisfied you’ve done it and you can now tell people you’ve written a 50k novel without having to lie anymore. (You’ve done that?) Losing doesn’t matter either. Nobody reads your novel unless you want them to, because the site doesn’t host your novels. Hm, and if you were wondering, that’s 1666.666…7 words per day. That’s all I can think of offhand that I really wanted to know when I first signed up a couple of days ago. Check the FAQ and About pages on the Nano website to find out more.

Why have I signed up? Good question. Why am I here? Why do I live? Who am I? What is life?!

Though a’course, if things work out, I’ll probably be wanting to post an excerpt, or two, or godhelpme several chapters, and I’m not sure where to post them. Should I start a livejournal account just for it? Or just post here? Wonders. I’ll think about it. As of now, I have very little more than a gimmicky idea that looks like it could bud into a plot if I water it enough and give it some sporadic affection. I have a Fool. Not this Fool, or this Fool, but this Fool. Though they’re all connected, and it might be interesting to put all those definitions of Fool into one.

Adding Nano onto my list of things to do this November just reminds me exactly how easily distracted I am, how much I want and have to do, and how little time there is. Gah. Is it strange therefore that I’m not actually worried about meeting the 50k goal? I’m more concerned about my impending lack of sleep. Check back with me on the state of my eyebags come November 30th. πŸ˜›

righty-o. i might be entering the discussion a little late, considering the brouhaha back in february this year about whether the ASEAN scholarships, particularly the pre-university ones, are scams or true golden opportunities. i think, though, that this is the time that most of you prospective scholars will be sitting for entrance test, or receiving offer letters and thus debating what to do with them. i’d love to write a detailed piece about the ASEAN pre-university scholarship from my point of view, tips, advice, the works.

and i will. unfortunately, i have to finish middlemarch by tomorrow and i have a major essay to write on ian mcewan’s (fantastic) atonement, so i really don’t have the couple of hours i expect it will take to write all of what i’d like to write…so don’t be surprised if it takes til next weekend for something to appear on this blog about the scholarship.

then again, the more i think about it, the more i want to get to writing about my experience as soon as possible. so here’s a little encomium-like postamajig. (i’m like that. lazy. impulsive. and occasionally impassioned, when i’m not being lazy, and when impulse drives me that way.)

if you’re one of those prospective scholars, and are really on the fence about accepting it or not – then let me give you a sort of warning about it. to me, it’s the perfect example of extremes. polarity. it’s unbelievable fun, but unbelievable work; it gets you almost drunk with enthusiasm, and also leaves you utterly, braindead tired. most people go into it hesitant, wondering, a little nervous, suspicious of how much the singaporean education system lives up to its reputation of rigid rote-learning and yeah, elitism. by the end of the month, some will be loving it, literally having the time of their lives, squeezing what seems to them like every ounce of excitement there can be had out of every second they have. there won’t be enough hours in the day to do all you can and want to do. there won’t be enough space in your phone’s address book for all the people you’ve met. and some will be hating it, feeling utterly alienated, a stranger in the crowd, amazingly exhausted, and painfully homesick. and some will do both – love, and hate, anticipate and dread the next day. some will give up. some will stay.

i know quite a few people who gave up. only ‘direct scholars’ do it though, which are people like me and probably like you who came or will go to singapore from high school somewhere else. i don’t know how happy these people are, wherever they’ve gone, whatever they chose to do instead of sticking with the ASEAN way. i think i experienced everything i described up there in that longish paragraph, and i did almost give up in the first year and go home, but then i thought: it is monstrously hard work, but it is unbelievable fun, and i’d rather be slogging through work some days to get to those amazing fun days, pushing the limits both ways, than to settle into some dull haze of inbetweenness. so i stuck through it, and though i have LOTS i can say about those 2 years, basically the outcome was that i now look back on it as the most fulfilling, most satisfying, the most damn fun period of my life. those friends i made are likely to be sitting beside me on identical rocking chairs when we’re all white-haired octogenarians in some distant future that we scholars have helped create. and if we didn’t create it – hell, we still ended up with 2 years of fantastic memories.

if you think you’ve got the competitive streak in you, then you won’t be wasting your time with the ASEAN scholarship. go ahead and take it. unbiased opinion, that. i’m not even in singapore right now, and i didn’t even get 3As. but i’m glad i accepted the damn thing.

*psst* besides, all you need is a little luck and quick wits, and you can actually do fairly well without mugging too hard. (mugging = studying. you’ll learn the lingo when you get to singapore.) πŸ˜‰ */psst*

i’ll talk about money and the details of schoolwork and so on in another post. middlemarch beckons, and i do have to supplement some of that luck and quick wit with a little real reading.

meanwhile: if you’re another ASEAN scholar stopping by, do tell me if your experience agrees with mine, or if it objects hotly and viciously, and feels a need to connect bare live wires with wet skin. my skin.

i watched Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige on DVD yesterday, loved it. the book it’s based on, Christopher Priest’s World Fantasy Award winner of the same title, has been waiting for me to get my grubby hands on it – it just has to go through 8 more pairs of grubby hands before it reaches my local library, and i’m especially keen on reading it because for a change, people have been saying the movie > book. now that’s really good news; it shows that you don’t necessarily have to compromise when you’re making a film adaptation. after all, you adapt it to fit your medium, and it looks like the Nolan brothers certainly did that, and well. but i’ll reserve final judgment til i actually read The Prestige.

can’t believe i missed out on watching it last year. think i’ll go look up more of Nolan’s stuff.

that’s it for regretful reflection. now it’s time for excited expectation! within the next few hours, OverClocked ReMix‘s newest project Final Fantasy VII: Voices of the Lifestream will be available online. free. 4 discs. yes! their very first official remix album from final fantasy, and from the pretty much unarguably most famous final fantasy to boot. what’s not to get excited over? the advance review seems to promise it is every bit as good as it sounds – sure, ocremix has churned out some less than likeable remixes on its site, and its also got its share of meh projects – the EarthBound one i found hard to appreciate in its entirety – but this is final fantasy. no one’s going to mess around with nobuo uematsu’s fine work in FFVII; i’m convinced this will be anything but mediocre. take the Chrono Trigger project as an example; fantastic, ingeniously remixed stuff. i love that it wasn’t just single tracks being reworked, but multiple tracks went into one remix, including material from Chrono Cross. So: OverClocked, receive my trust. it’s a small and insubstantial thing, but it’s all for you.

on a more personal note, me and a friend have decided to embark on a, uh, quest for enlightenment. spec fic enlightenment. *wry grin* we’ve drawn up a plan to read all the Hugo, Nebula and World Fantasy Award winners for novel, and probably the short stories too…and if we have time or we hear that a nominee for a particular year should have won instead, we’ll read the nominees as well. and maybe the novellas and novelettes. *ponders* we figure that since we’re still youthful and fresh-like, we might as well design a project for ourselves that’ll give some productive structure to our currently unproductive free time, and besides, the both of us love speculative fiction. and besides, i’m a damned literature student. why the hell am i not reading more!? argh! i’m an idiot! a big idiot! an idiot for idiots! an idiot of idiots! idiots call me idiot!

anyway, come the mid-semester holidays, i’ll probably put up a pic or spreadsheet or someotherformat with all my intended readings on it, and tick it off as i go. πŸ˜€ what i’ve read off that list is uh, very limited. if anyone has any suggestions what i should start on first, go ahead and tell me, please.

but that isn’t what kept me legitimately busy, but what kept me really exhausted, because i was juggling spending time getting to know my uncle well, acquainting myself with my other uncle’s family and his exceedingly spoiled children, and – schoolwork! uni work, really. i just think of it as school again though, since on some days i keep hours long enough to remind me of JC back in ol’ Singapore. so i did my Ulysses close reading assignment. i realised it was my very first advanced level assignment on the morning it was due, and so duly panicked and went through an hour of frantic revision and editing and other stupidmereflections, before finally dropping the damned thing off at uni and heading down to the gold coast to join the family. spent the 3 hour trip reading Charles Dickens’s Bleak House for classes this tuesday, and i can say, with sincere and whole-hearted enthusiasm, that i’ve become a dickens fan.

i wasn’t before, simply because i was one of those asian children brought up in awe of the english language and consequently the ‘great english classics’ – so tomes like dickens’s bleak house really, really scared the crap out of me. especially with a name as uh, bleak, as bleak house. but then i got through the introductory passage on the law and court ethics of the time, and then through the first chapter, with surprising ease, and then when i met the rather farcical characters – as they were represented in their introductory chapters, at least – of sir leicester and lady dedlock, i realised i was going to be changing my mind about dickens. and fairly soon. tulkinghorne was a delight.

then i got to jarndyce! not that esther wasn’t fascinating in herself. she is, really. just that jarndyce gave me my first real – to follow popular Internet slang – LOL moment. laughoutloud moment. jarndyce fleeing out the back of the house to avoid accepting ada’s thanks was just priceless. as was his charming explanation to esther: “This, you must know, is the Growlery. … When I am out of humour, I come and growl here.

*laughoutloud*

i have little to say to people who have yet to read dickens – except that i will call them ‘people yet to read dickens’ simply because i think it almost immoral not to read a book that has been commonly held to have defined a certain part of human history. you could argue that statement, i think. i could, if i could get myself to wake up enough to tackle it.

mr vholes and his dead gloves. *laughs* and you can just hear miss flite’s manner of speaking – not quite patronising, but certainly arresting. πŸ™‚

speaking of arguments – i was thinking to-day what a terrible public speaker i am. and in that respect, i am a huge, huge liar. i can’t begin to count the number of people i’ve met, whom i’ve since found out, thought me one of those bright and bubbly, self-assured and confident individuals who find speaking to strangers perfectly normal and perfectly easy: they are wrong, wrong, wrong. i’ve never found speaking to strangers easy, and i used to be one of the most introverted people in my class, if not my whole firstgrade level. a shier girl you could never meet. (is that how you spell ‘shy-er’?) and i’ve never gotten over it, no matter how i appear to others (you’re deceived, deceived!). take, for example, the fact that i stutter and stammer my way through anything longer than a sentence spoken in public, despite the fact that i am probably one of the more vocal members of my social ethics lecture group, and that i haven’t not spoken in a single class yet so far. nobody else, i’m sure, begins her (apparently confident) speech with a flushed face, heart beating in the veins of her cheek and neck, saliva-lumpy throat, short breaths and an inability to hold the gaze of the audience! *sigh* i’m trying as hard as i can to be comfortable with speaking in public though. after all, i am expected to pass this course, and passing means i have to do the required seminar presentation…in few weeks from now.

hm, let’s muse. i discovered my lecturer knows my name. whether that is because i’m one of the few students of chinese race in the lecture, or whether he has a knack of remembering names and associating them with faces, or whether he thinks i’m a smashing social ethics student, or whether i’m rather memorable as the stuttering but pitiably determined-to-speak student, is up for grabs. (i refuse to grab, however. refer to my refusal to speculate about freud and my uncle. same premise.) anyway, it’s still wonderful to know someone knows your name, when you didn’t expect them to, but would like them to. i’m a somebody! i have an identity, outside of my self, my immediate family, and my honorary family – that is, my ‘most dear and sweet darling’ friends, to quote esther from bleak house – i have a name, and it is mine!

seriously though, it is a great feeling to be recognised as someone individual from the pack. a wolf with a name; a leaping salmon with more pink than silver in its skin.

so enough about identity and me. besides highly recommending getting round to reading dickens as soon as is humanly possible, without too violently harming your sleep cycles, try The Age of Innocence, by Edith Wharton. Again, i won’t even attempt to offer a critical analysis of the book, or of why you should read this, or even of why i liked it and felt enriched (refer to David Lurie, (c) J. M. Coetzee Disgrace) by the scandals within it. there’s plenty of resources on the Net for you to get what you want. what you DO want to know from me is that, as a novice classics reader, but an enthusiastic one, i was sweetly surprised by how easy and enjoyable a read it was, not to mention rather modernist, than victorian. just look at the ending – what do you make of Newland’s ‘old-fashioned’ remark? honest? deceptive? deceiving? but perhaps one could say, confidently, that at least we readers recognise that it certainly is true, whether Newland realises it or not: he’s been living a fantasy, and consigns the rest of his life to that same fantasy. who wants to stop dreaming a nice dream?

on a more personal level, i really am enjoying my classes. i can’t imagine what my life would be like now, the way i’m so caught up with classes as it is, without literature in it. my friend, my pillow, my huggybuggysnuggly bolster, that i sleep with. you can’t get anywhere near as personal or intimate with, say, a chemistry book, or a boiled scalpel. so i’m keeping my options open for now – if i got sponsored to do a PhD in Eng. Lit, i’d happily wave farewell to the MBBS part of my course, i think. πŸ˜›

the only class i’m regretting taking is the contemp lit subject. a first year, the only first year subject i’m taking now; it’s ridiculously easy, more JC1 (first year GCE A Levels) level than uni first year. and i have to admit, i feel rather like i’ve been dunked underwater; everything is slow, fascinatingly quiet, and muted in all sorts of odd ways. there certainly isn’t the same sharp and almost instinctive debate that always comes up so naturally in vict lit tutorials.

well, i was going to go on about what else has been keeping me busy, but i’ll separate that into another post. this is enough to bore a singaporean college student in the last phase of editing her PW written report.

so i might have mentioned that all content-confused and aimless posts like these where i basically blog to get my thoughts in order, will have the word ‘intermission’ somewhere in their titles. and for propriety’s sake – however conflicting that phrase seems in this context – the post’ll probably be written like this: carelessly. you know, sporadic punctuation, grammar, etcetera. i’ll throw in what i like, and say what i want, and hope that the more obtuse observations i make are lost somewhere in the jungle of it all – kind of like how you miss stuff that really is uber-important in ulysses. which was a delicious read, by the way. yes, i mean it. the closer you read it, the more fun it is: ‘Potato I have.’ *cackles* i mean, a potato in his pocket is a rather absurd image.

so let’s see, i’ve actually really been busy this past week or so, which explains why i haven’t gotten round to anything further than episode 3 of hana kimi JAP or the last instalment of byousoku – and i really do want to see more of both shows! but the real life thing happened, and besides, taking a break at the beach was fun. especially because this was the first time in my (fairly brief) life i spent serious time with my uncle, my dad’s twin brother… and i tell you, i need some time to think about this and what freud might say and what i don’t want to hear freud saying – what i mean is, it was pretty unnerving, and at the same time comforting, that my dad’s twin brother was so very natural to be with. without my dad actually being around, i didn’t have to compare him to anyone other than himself, and he sort of became a replacement-dad on me before i realised it. im not sure how far the fascination with him is normal of the daughters of twins. neither am i sure if he saw me as a replacement-daughter, or even just a daughterish figure, or if my treating him so comfortably, talking to him as if he really were my father, caused him to think of me as a daughter. i don’t know. all i do know is that after less than a week together, i was really, sincerely sad to see him go. and that was the first time i’ve really met him, and probably the last time for a while – i have a strong suspicion that when thrown back into our respective direct families, that ‘replacement’ relationship dissolves. oh well. a replacement serves only so long, eh? at any rate, my uncle reminded me of my dad so much i called him up to talk to him, as i haven’t done in a while.

interesting thing, father-daughter relationships. shut up, freud.

Yeargh, but I hate when you gotta get up early, you’re still sodden with sleep because you hit the bed at 3am trying desperately to finish the book you were supposed to have finished for this morning’s class, and the coffee is cold and milk is sour.

Bad times.

Anyway, I have 15 minutes to get over the immediate post-coffee jitters, get dressed, dump the dishes into the sink for when I get back, and then rush off to catch the train. All while re-reading the other book I was supposed to have finished for this morning’s second class. … … … sometimes I wonder if you really can, like my friend Hwei San says – overdose on Literature.

I remember thinking in Shakespearean English for a whole day right after mugging (studying, for you non-Singaporeans) Hamlet and King Lear one loooooong all-nighter session.

Zounds.

Yes well, I did slack around last night, which explains why I’m in such poor condition today. Though *perks up* it was really rather educational! See, I was reading Interactive Fiction (*nudges Conscience away, who mutters something about playing Interactive Fiction.*) and applying my brain to solving fiendishly difficult logical puzzles all while enriching my vocabulary. No seriously, it was a proud moment for me when I realised I’d solved Half Sick of Shadows’ All Things Devours (recognise that from the riddle in The Hobbit? Yes, it’s a text game involving time travel. Which of course, instantly acquaints you with the idea of a game that’s all kinds of hell and all kinds of fun). This is the first game, after Plotkin’s So Far, that I’ve managed to get through, using only one small eentsyweentsy hint… and all that hint was, this time, was a reminder of the fourth dimension. heh. Great game. Recommended. (Plus, female PC. Everybody wants to play a female PC. They’re like, smart and everything.)

If I have that much trouble solving interactive fiction’s puzzles, I can’t imagine what writing them is like.

Oh, got to run. Got the post-coffee toilet urge.

just a quick post explaining the apparent hiatus… it’s not that i haven’t been doing anything. quite the opposite my friends. i’ve been on a week’s vacation at the Gold Coast, which wasn’t quite so sunny and so warm and so beachly accommodating in winter as it was and normally is, in summer – and after i came back, i discovered that the new internet plan we were on charges us for downloading over the limit, and so i’d racketed up a nice thousand dollar bill. what would hamlet have said? well, he probably wouldn’t have said anything other than a philosophical reflection on life and existentialism if he’d even understood what ‘internet’ was, but i’m thinking of a nice explosive shakespearean zounds! …or sblood! …excuse my diversion into the superfluous. i told you i’ve been busy, and so i have; i’ve been reading books like drinking water (actually, i’ve been out at malls so often i’ve been drinking more Gloria Jean’s coffee than water) and watching movies at the cinema like tickets pop out of my pockets on a regular basis. i’m hoping, really hoping, to get a few good reviews of some of these movies and books here, you know, just to see how bad my command of the english language really is, considering i’ve realised i haven’t written a bloody good essay in ages.

and i’ve been making goals, that is, i’ve decided i shall learn to write IF, or interactive fiction. ambitious plan, i know. let’s see just how far i get before my eyes get mouldy from staring at the screen wide-eyed and uncomprehending. i did manage to produce a story file though. a semi-blank one. but it produced! yay! πŸ˜›

and now, *delight*, i’ve discovered a bunch of emails from friends all around my known world (limited to southeast asia, really) sent within the last few days, and i shall spend the next day or so happily tapping out enthusiastic responses. oh i do so love receiving email. not to mention physical mail. which reminds me, seow-chan is waiting for my package to her, isn’t she? πŸ™‚

and so there’s my excuse for the site’s temporary demise. temporary, i say.

Other good news! Hobb’s third book of the Soldier Son trilogy is out. I can only hope she’s managed to salvage some of her reputation as an engrossing writer with it. I loved her Farseers, and her Liveships, but soldiers and Specks weren’t as engaging. And I just bought Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora, and am breathlessly speeding through it, so that should keep me occupied for some time more…

πŸ™‚

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