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Archive for May, 2009

Results Get

All Smoke, No Fire

So the results are out and the rest of the world gets to do the whole I-told-you-so routine again that seems designed precisely for me. No, didn’t fail my Math or anything (I had that dream about a week ago, just before the Richard Feynman one), but it wasn’t spectacular either. In fact, I think that’s the best that could be said about it, that it wasn’t a spectacular success but also not a spectacular failure. It panned out as a B-, B+, B, B, A-, which adds to 18.5 points, and Math was actually one of the Bs. Also surprising was the A-, which came in what I initially thought was my worst subject, and with the other B I was hoping for an A.

So, you see, results just like to mess with your brain.


On the topic of expectations and messing with brains, I did mention, I think, stepping into high gear for Bukit Merah a couple of days ago. (Forgive me if I didn’t. I’m an old man and my memory isn’t what it used to be.) On my Wednesday break day (and the unintentional Thursday semi-break day), I tried to sort it out and a few ideas came through. I’m now kind of stuck on one of the ideas which is oscillating between a proper brain-messing and something a little more orthodox. While I’ve always happily pushed ahead with the brain-messings, this one runs the risk of not fitting at all, and that leaves an itchy feeling in me that I think is basically my common sense telling me no.

So, I’m pretty sure that’ll be adjusted, though in what way doesn’t seem all too clear yet. I’m pretty sure about sticking to challenging expectations with this one idea, so we’ll just have to wait and see, and hopefully something interesting will emerge.

In the meantime, there’s still quite a bit to work on before I actually get to that point, and I mostly have everything before it figured out, so I’m more or less set for the next couple of weeks. (Assuming that I keep up with the fairly tremendous pace.) I’m almost at the halfway point, though, that said, I don’t know how long the thing is, so saying that is kind of pointless.


Here are a couple of links. You can click them.

David Tennant to reprise Hamlet for BBC Two. [via BBC] I’m still waiting for the RSC DVD of the stage production. Which reminds me that I was talking to Jolie the other day and I realised I just don’t watch theatre alone. In fact, I can’t do a lot of things alone. The only things I can safely say that I prefer to do alone are work and writing, which tend to become the same thing most of the time. I’m just a companionship person.

UC Berkeley Classics Department’s 2009 commencement address by David Mendelsohn. [via UC Berkeley]

“And so, I would ask you this: when you think of what it means to be a classicist, don’t think only about your deconstructive readings of Homer, or post-structuralist approaches to Plautus, or Freudian readings of the Euripidean romances, or Marxist interpretations of the Peloponnesian War, the iconography of red-figure vases or the prosopography of the late Roman Republic. Think about Mrs. Begley; think about the people in Kraków, who, when they had very good reasons to believe that civilization had ended, felt that the first thing they needed to do was to put on a play by Sophocles.”



A happy 端午节 to my very few readers. (:


Thursday Photo: carousel lights

carousel lights

Rainy Days (*Bang Bang* *High Kick*)

Not Just The Weather

It’s been rainy, yeah, but it’s also been more than a little gloomy for me these days. Since last Friday, in fact. Doesn’t look to be clearing up soon, although I think we all get used to gloomy days after a while and just learn to make the most of them.

Writing has been good. I’ve continued at my ferocious pace and am happily forging ahead with no hint of letting my foot off the gas. I will today, though, because I’m going out to take my mind off of things. I’m hoping that the extra thinking time I have today allows for some good planning of the following chapter, which is extremely long (at least in my mind) and I really need to kick the awesome gearbox up to the fifth gear. I’m six or seven chapters in and I realise I haven’t quite stepped it up yet. I better do it before it’s too late.

Otherwise, it’s all looking okay. It’s just my personal life that’s going through a little bit of a rough time, and my closest friends have not been in touch, having gone overseas for exchanges and work-and-travel, so it’s all been more than a bit difficult.

*Bang Bang* *High Kick*

This is pretty self-explanatory, but it has a Doctor Who fan onboard the TARDIS in a special scene with Captain Jack written specially for this. David Tennant cameos.

[via YouTube]

Love it when John Barrowman pops about going, “Bang bang!” and then kicking the air after one such instance.


Tuesday Photo: carousel one

carousel one

Richard Feynman Dream

Never According To Plan

Funny. I think I said on Friday morning that I wasn’t expecting to do any work on Bukit Merah. Things rarely go according to plan. I hammered out a fairly significant portion at about twice my usual rate over the weekend instead. It might have to do with how Friday was a terrible day, and I generally perform pretty good when I’m sad. Like a limit break or something.

I’m sure the writing’s all very rough and will need a lot of editing, but the point of the matter that I wrote fast (for my standards).


I’ve been playing Valkyria Chronicles. It’s fantastic.

“Entanglement Machine”

Last night I had a dream where I was in a car with a friend of mine and an aged Richard Feynman with white hair and spectacles. It was at night and we were in a carpark testing my friend’s “entanglement machine”. Apparently, that’s a really fancy name for a machine that does nothing but produce a small glob of black mass. We performed one test on my right index finger (like it was a good idea for the off-chance that I might, I don’t know, lose a finger or something), and when my friend applied these wires to the skin, poof, a tiny black glob appeared on my finger.

Great results, and then I said something along the lines of, Hey, wouldn’t it be great if I had a disentanglement machine? I could destroy my enemies! Then, suddenly aware that I said something stupid, I sank into silence. I remember thinking that Richard Feynman was receptive to even the stupidest of ideas, and he started mumbling to himself, Disentanglement… enemies…

We performed a second test on the same index finger (so much for rigorous experiments), and this time, the black mass was more scattered, roughly tracing out my fingerprint. Interesting, I should have thought, but I didn’t because it was a dream. Instead, Richard Feynman pointed to one of the graphs that was the one on… oh I don’t know… something against time. Apparently, the mass was produced at 4 and 6 seconds. This was reflected by an increase in the graph level immediately after those times. But! he exclaimed, what’s interesting is this!

He was pointing to the bits just before 4 and 6 seconds, where there were dips. He got all excited and told us that such dips had yet to be explained.

Just then, a security guard appeared and knocked on the window. He informed us that our car, a cheap old sedan, was slanted. Richard Feynman took it upon himself to reverse out of the lot to steer the car straight, but just as he was about to drive back in, something happened, and this got fuzzy, so I can’t tell you what. It had to do with some other vehicle interfering, mainly, driving across and preventing us from parking.

Somehow that got cleared up and we had to try again. This time, I was to drive. Having not driven in a long time, I drove very gingerly, and it was about here that I woke up.

See, I have these really… strange dreams.


Money Matters

So you spend it.

Here’s the loot report for yesterday, or in other words, the books joining my little library:

  1. Seeing by José Saramago
  2. All-Star Superman Vol. 2 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
  3. The Odyssey by Homer (Translated by Robert Fitzgerald)
  4. The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger
  5. Pandora In The Congo by Albert Sanchez Piñol (Translated by Mara Faye Lethem)
  6. The 4 Major Plays by Anton Chekhov (Translated by Curt Columbus)
  7. Last Evenings On Earth by Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Chris Andrews)

Not quite the mix I was expecting, with a shortage of science and poetry. I think I’ll pop by for another book tomorrow if I happen to be passing by, though that’ll likely be a recent novel than anything else. In fact, it might even be in Chinese.

I’m happiest about my Pandora In The Congo buy, actually, because it’s not something I would normally read, and I’ve only heard good things about it.

I had a bunch of other books I was intending to get, including the new Kazuo Ishiguro Nocturnes and In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin, but I suspect I’m going pocket paperback for those, if they ever appear. Otherwise I’ll just get them as they are. There was also a science book that’s in a gigantic hardcover and I was at first slightly tempted, but what the hey, I’m a poor student without a job.

I’m sure there’ll be another before school reopens, since there’s the Great Singapore Sale somewhere along these couple of months, so there’s certainly ample time to stock up on my new semester reading.


I think I’ll be working on a query for The River. I just want some space from Bukit Merah for now, in case I burn out prematurely. I figure that if I can’t tell how long it’s going to be (since I am making it up as I go along), then I run the risk of either writing it too short (rushing it) or too long (dragging it). Some distance, temporal or otherwise, from it might help, so I reckon I won’t be back at it until Monday, depending on how the weekend works out.


Results in a week. Wonder what I’ll see. There’s something nerve-wracking about getting your results reported to you by your computer. A click of the mouse and poof it’s there. And as if it wants to mess with your head a bit more, it doesn’t appear instantly. No, it just lags a bit and hangs around and tries its best to surprise you. Then it shows up like a magic trick, and you’re struggling to contain the dread in the first couple of seconds as you try to make sense of it all.

Then it makes sense. And it’s like dust, taking ages to settle.

Next week. Friday, I think.


The WordPress 2.8 beta has got up and going. [via WordPress.org]


Team ICO’s next project has an alleged trailer. [via Kotaku]

Looks great. I like the giant beast.


New trailer for 9. [via YouTube]


Thursday Photo: slice of purple

slice of purple

Books And Wilco

Book Outings

Kinokuniya is having a Thursday-to-Saturday sale, and I’ll be down twice, I think, with different people. Got a couple of special things to look for, a couple of orders, and a couple of gifts. Apart from that, I believe it’ll be the usual stuff, just hoping to spruce up my own library with a mixture of new fiction, classics and non-fiction.

I hope I don’t spend too big, but sometimes, you see a really pretty and rare photography book or the like and it’s just too hard to resist.

So, just to make sure I don’t go crazy with my cash, I’m going to try to keep it to about five novels comprised mainly of new books and one or two of the classics. Then I’m going to add a science book, and possibly a general interest book. If anything else strikes my fancy, I’ll cap it at a maximum of two. And if there really is a rare photography book or some other sort of lovely tome that I feel I just have to have, then I suppose it’s just too bad.

In any case, I’m not planning too much this time. I’ll just pop by and improvise.

Been Busier

I’ve been writing, as you probably know. Finished drafting the third chapter yesterday. I got stuck on what to do for the fourth, so I didn’t do anything. I’m making reasonable progress, I think. I’ve been busier, but this pace has been pretty good. I just hope I don’t neglect The River and fail to make any sort of submission. The writing on Bukit Merah is somewhat unplannable (if that’s not a word, I made it up), but the submission is something I can actually arrange into some kind of a schedule, so for now, I’m just going to go with the writing.

That’s assuming, of course, that my mind doesn’t go blank when faced with the prospect of making a submission. I suspect it will, and if you take it that way, I suppose you can call this self-denial instead.


Faber & Faber, one of my favourite publishing houses, turns 80, and has a bunch of celebratory events lined up. [via Faber & Faber]


I was checking my RSS feeds and I saw Neil Gaiman with a nice journal entry about writing and the nature of the job. [via Neil Gaiman]

Signal Leakage

Wilco’s upcoming album was leaked, and this article describes the sort of buzz the subsequent actions taken by the band and vendors that was generated. [via billboard]


Tuesday Photo: ah wong

ah wong