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May. 17th, 2009


(no subject)

Right at this very moment, I'm luxuriating in that feeling you have just after you've read a good book, when you may not be actively thinking about it, but somewhere your mind is digesting it, and you still feel a little altered from reading it.

Also I saw Coraline today and liked it very much indeed.  My thoughts are under the cut, with a few spoilers

Mothers don't eat their daughters! Collapse )

And next week I go to see Wolverine. I am aware that it is dire, but I've had a minor crush on Gambit since I was a kid (the Cajun accent: officially the sleaziest accent in the world). Lets see if Tim Riggins can do him justice


Mar. 1st, 2009


Happy Birthday Dr Seuss...

...though for some reason I found your books inexplicably scary as a child. And also you're dead. It was mostly Green Eggs and Ham, actually. Don't ask me why. Just another children's book which mildly traumatised me and alienated me from my peers (don't even get me STARTED on when Atreyu's horse drowns in the Swamp of Sorrows *sniffle*)

So. Right now I'm in something of a quandary. In the past three months, I seem to have either made a series of really bad or really good decisions, depending on how you look at it (that's code for whether you listen to my mother or not. Can you tell I'm Asian yet?).
I sort-of quit my job, which I've mentioned on here before. It's a long story, involving my firm not signing a training contract with me for reasons of their own (though they kept assuring me of my intelligence and likeability, and I was all I have a Masters and friends TELL ME SOMETHING I DON'T KNOW. Okay not really, but still) and me realising that I didn't want to be an accountant and it all coming together in a nice venn diagram, where the overlap = unemployed. 

Then I decided I'd just chill for a while. I needed a bit of time off, to recharge and figure out what to do. That's just about when we entered this big-ass recession. That's when sensible-me (the super-ego I guess) stands to one side with an expression that seems to say "Way to go with the decision making twit-face". And also seems to be judging me on my outfits. Baggy t-shirts that advertise an aerobics studio that my mum went to in the early to mid nineties are comfy, yo.

But I digress. With a disturbed feeling in the pit of my stomach, I start to search for jobs. Shit, I think, all the deadlines for applications to law conversion courses? Passed. BBC Jobs? Ditto. Anything else I can damn well think of that I might want to do eg. psychotherapy, media jobs, anything, anything, anything? DITTO. And if the deadlines haven't passed, the vacancies just aren't there. Or they'll be bloody competitive Crap, I start to think. No wait, more like CRAP.

So now I'm stuck in a quandary. And then roseability_ asks me the magic question. 'What do you do all day?' she says. 'Write?'

To which I say HA. I do stuff sure. Sort of. I meet friends, I spend hours on the internet, I do the occasional laundry, I watch films, and tv shows I meant to catch up on, I start and don't finish diary entries, I spend a little too much time napping while my cat is curled up next to me. I read, and read, and read. But mostly, I just seem to be sinking in to a weird half-life. Not quite alive at the moment. And I sure as hell don't write. I mean I think about writing. Every day I get up and it's pretty much the first thing I do. But I seemed stuck for ages in this writer's block, where everything I wrote seemed stale and ridiculous, and I lost all pleasure in it. 

But today, for the first time in a while, I actually wrote. It helps that it's funny. I'm funny. Yeah don't look at me like that. Maybe not Tina Fey funny, but I get the job done, k? I set myself the task of writing something funny a while ago. By a while ago I mean 200-and frickin'-7. And I realised, if I never finished it, if I couldn't finish one damn novel that would mean I could never secretly inside my own head, call myself a writer (which is as far as it goes to me. I don't think I could pursue writing as a career, for various reasons, but it's still just an inherent part of my identity). And I may post it on here when I'm done, if it weren't for the fact that it was so damn silly.

And in other news I heart Kate Beaton's comics, which you can find here: beatonna and she's going to turn up here in March. It's almost hysterically easy for me to get to, what with it being my old university. And it's cheap! So hurrah etc.

Jan. 1st, 2009


In which we talk of (mostly) frivolous things...

I expect I should comment on 2009 in some way...so Happy New Year, everyone!

I've never been someone who particularly feels the symbolic weight of it as an occasion; nonethless I hope anyone reading this has a wonderful 2009. Perhaps my happiness has been slightly dampened by disheartening speeches from the Pope, continuing economic crappiness and the terrible stituation in Gaza at the moment. Not that an intellectual response isn't, like a cash gift, always appropriate, but in an entirely basic and emotional way, I hope things get better.

Now on to other matters:

Dollhouse stuff. First reviews haven't exactly been positive, I read the pilot script yesterday and it's shame so much seems to have been changed, as I liked it (in it's first incarnation, it was more intricate than previous shows, but definitely darkly awesome and intriguing), and this interesting snippet from an interview with Tahmoh Penikett (great name, incidentally, and I've always loved the sweet, and morally centered, Helo ) links Dollhouse to Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Which, though I've read it, never occurred to me, and yet is obvious (though Dollhouse, as a tv series, couldn't be as precisely and claustrophobically tragic...right? I'm not sure if I trust Joss again after he broke my heart with Dr. Horrible *sniffle*).

Secondly, I've just started reading Lolly Willowes or The Loving Huntsman by Sylvia Townsend Warner. It was on my Amazon wishlist for five (!) years, till I decided to buy it in Foyles (see my last post) and I very much wish that I'd read it earlier. I think I'd have ended up doing my dissertation on STW *heaves a big missing-academia sigh*.

I only really managed to read about 50 books this year- not the greatest record, as I have literally hundreds on my to-read pile. I'm an excessive book-buyer, and have absolutely, and completely lost track of how many I own. Clearly over a thousand, but how far over, I've no idea. My plan is to go shelf by shelf and weed out the wallflowers this year. I tried my best to keep a reading journal, but a demanding job, studying, exams and general life hazards, got in the way. Nonetheless, because I like making lists:

Top 5 books read in 2008: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, The Bell by Iris Murdoch, The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy , The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon, Silent in the Grave (and its sequel Silent in the Sanctuary) by Deanna Raybourn.

Top 5 films in 2008: Wall-E, No Country for Old Men, Lars and the Real Girl (dvd), The Fall (dvd) and The Dark Knight.

Best comics: Buffy Season Eight by Joss Whedon et al, Death Note- the first manga I've read, and it's utterly brilliant (so far I'm up to book 9), and Y: The Last Man and Runaways by Brian K Vaughan.

Best Discoveries: Donna Hay- she's Australia's answer to Nigella, and her brownie recipe is the best I've ever made (and the only one I'll ever make in the future), Eve Lom cleanser- it's true, it's all true, my skin looks better than it ever has, Bumble and Bumble hair powder (I don't think I'll ever be without a bottle again). 

Now I'm going out to dinner, so that's all folks!
xo xo

Tags: ,

Dec. 9th, 2008


In which I ramble on, but don't necessarily make a coherent point...

It's not normal for me to have a bone to pick with Foyles. Generally, though it lacks the eccentric, shambolic air that defined it once upon a time, I like Foyles. It's layout is nice and airy, it always picks interesting, often obscure titles to put out on its tables, not just bestsellers or heavily promoted titles, and it's staff are intelligent and helpful.

But I went in there today to find a book that's been on my Amazon wishlist for about three years, but which I've never got around to buying: Lolly Willowes or The Loving Huntsman by Sylvia Townsend Warner. I was browsing the Guardian blogs today (work avoidance mostly) and saw that it had been reviewed as part of an ongoing look at some Classics reissued by Virago. I couldn't however, find it in general fiction. A quick trip to the information desk told me that it was stocked in lesbian fiction on the second floor.

Me and my two friends (all of us friend from uni, all women of colour- hee, that term makes me giggle- and all feminists) went up to have a look at this section. It was a small section, sandwiched on to a book case that was part of the much larger gay section, and seemed a little odd to me. Most of the titles were unfamiliar to me, but I did only quickly scan the booksheleves. I was however surprised to see selected Rebecca West and one Daphne Du Maurier novel, and Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Armin; all of which there were multiple copies of. Just above it, and also stocked in lesbian interest adjacent to it, was Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy. Levy, Townsend Warner and Du Maurier are/were lesbians. Rebecca West decidedly wasn't. There isn't much information out there about Von Armin.

All three of us found this sectioning off problematic in some way. I do find it odd though that a book like Lolly Willowes which is about female emancipation, should be stocked only in the lesbian ficition shelves. This is tricky territory. As an Asian I sometimes find 'ethnic' sections in bookshops to be tiresome; though I can see why some people may find them useful/necessary (but then there's a whole other issue of post-colonial literature, especially Indian, being lauded these days, which seems to be getting to people, though they are tiptoing around the issue- see the general reaction to The White Tiger winning the Booker, lots of criticism but no-one really seemed to say out loud what they were clearly thinking).

 I can't speak for how lesbians feel about the paltry section which is dedicated to them (and which is seriously, and with the pun only slightly intended, a bitch to find). But isn't this sort of labelling a little old? It certainly felt tired to me. The section was small, and seemd ill-thought out. On the Foyles website, there is no mention of a 'lesbian fiction' categorisation. The only possible hint to that is the more ambiguous tag of 'female friendship', which when clicked on produced a list of similarly categorised books which included Vanity Fair and The Rules of Engagement by Anita Brookner (a book which from reviews, is a genuine examination of platonic friendship). Perhaps female friendships are of interest to lesbian women- but they are to straight women too. The gay section contained gay fiction, and lots and lots of gay erotica (with front covers that were also quite giggle worthy). It felt more explicit, more thoughtful and was a hell of a lot bigger.

I think this may be down to the complexity of women (just to talk up my own gender fora  bit). Any intelligent woman looking for a good fiction book, whether straight or gay, would probably be found two floors down, browsing General Fiction like everyone else. Gay male writers are of course there in abundance and obviously there are lesbian or bisexual authors to be found there to- in books by Virginia Woolf, Patricia Highsmith, Alice Walker, Jeanette Winterson, Ali Smith, Sarah Waters, Patricia Cornwall...and that's just off the top of my head- all writers that no-one would dream of sectioning off as purely for lesbian interest only, and rightly so. To trek two floors up for 50 or so books labelled as of interest to gay women, feels a little insulting and reductive. And on the flip-side, people who wouldn't normally gravitate to the lesbian fiction section are being deprived of books like Lolly Willowes. Like I said, this is a tricky subject. I never really felt the need to read characters who were the same race as me growing up; I, like most kids, could read colour-blind (and gender and sexuality blind too). But there were times when I'd feel the absence or the stereotypes- a prime example is when, after much strenuous reading, I got to the part in the Lord of the Rings where Tolkien mentions Easterlings and Haradrim, and realised with a jolt that that was my place, if you will, in the narrative. It's no bad thing, as an antidote to that, to have multi-cultural (that poor lambasted word!) or gay characters. To those people that may be seeking out a representation of themselves in literature, I expect a dedicated gay section may come in handy. But when it's as small and arbitrary as the one at Foyle's it does seem to be frankly unnecessary.

ALSO: I saw the re-make of The Women yesterday and was completely bewildered by it. It probably merits its own post. And for anyone who doesn't know of it bookmooch is actually a really great way to get rid of unwanted books and get hold of one's you want. If you can have some forebearance, and don't mind posting stuff out to people for free (which I don't) it works very well indeed.

Dec. 2nd, 2008


Caligula would have blushed...

....though not at my escapades. My shenanigan rating is stuck at zero. That was a just a way to work The Smiths in to the title. All will become clear later.

I realised the other day that putting this livejournal under my 'website' on facebook was just asking for trouble. I assumed that it would be ignored, but it seems some people have actually gone and read it. And these people were random enough for me to wonder whether I should return to updating this regularly or not.

Truth is I'm terrible at making friends with people I've never met. I actually thought I succeeded at the beginning of this year...only then to spoil it all by becoming good friends with them in real life. So I feel that no-one reads this...but then that's also quite liberating. I can just prattle on with little to no consquences. I have been part of lj (under different names) since I was about 15, and feels stalwart in some way that social networking sites like Facebook don't. I am yes, one of those people that hates the new layout (somehow I liked being forced to scroll through someone's interests, and favourite films and books, to get to their wall, now it's hidden away in another page and no-one cares about it anymore). God, what a modern complaint.

But anyway to update my life. I was looking for a job, then I found a job. And guess what? Heaven knows I'm miserable now (I feel not even the slightest bit of shame at how clunky that was).
I basically sort of fell in to training to become a chartered accountant in a small firm in central London. Imagine that small solicitors practise that Stephen Fry runs in Kingdom. Now make it bigger. Then add in the W1 postcode (so listed building yes, but it's all narrow and Georgian). Then take away the warm hearted, good natured eccentricity and replace it with a sort of shabby materialism, dreary conversation and bad tempered old men. Yes that about sums it up.

And I pretty much hate it. My exam record hasn't been fabulous as I find it so dry and awful that I can never muster the enthusiasm to revise (in fact, to emphasise matters, I should be revising right now), thus I'm probably going to leave around christmas time.

 I feel I should *do*something, but am not actually quite sure what that is. I know the things I'd like to do (something either academic, like perhaps re-thinking doing a PhD, or something to do with people, perhaps counselling), and what I'd love to do (something creative, someting writerly, ideally in television). I have started sending people incredibly long emails with a level of minutae which is astounding. It's like the way I list to people all the things I've fallen in to (For the record they include...a moat, a trench, a ditch, a pond, a lake, and an irrigation tunnel...so there's actually some reasoning as to why I avoid cemetaries (open graves) and wells (self-explanatory)) just to have something to write about. I *miss* writing.

A few months ago I went on this workshopping event thingy called The Network designed as a sort of talent initiative to get young people in to television. Great if you were in to presenting, production, directing or research and development but writing? Not so much. This isn't to belittle my time there, it was an absolutely brilliant experience. The people were great, we did interesting things, fellow delegates were awesome, I met Charlie Brooker and saw Steven Moffat from across the room, hell we even saw Gok Wan standing outside a bulding somewhere (my GOD to girls just love him, all the girlies in the coach I was with went crazy). I cannot count the ways it rocked. But writers are a difficult bunch. I didn't meet a single one while I was there (probably because they couldn't be bothered to get up there the lazy bastards), so it was hard to get a feel for how people actually break in to it. I left with the sinking suspicion I had when I started- that this was going to be very hard.

It's daunting to even try, but I have to force myself to. So now I'm setting myself a goal. To write a one-hour script in the next six weeks (after my exams on Friday...for which failure is imminent). To plan, start, and finish it, and to not let myself procrastinate. Something Must Be Done.

Feb. 9th, 2008


What do you do with a BA in English?

 Lately I've been musing on the future; specifically my future. I feel a bit dead-end-y. I completed my degree, got my first, did my MA, hated it, realised I shouldn't do a PhD...and for the past five months have been sitting at home, thinking. This said thinking has been interspersed by going out with friends, catching up on all the dvds and films and tv programmes I'd missed, wading through my to-read pile...but a lot of it has been me, at home, playing with my cat, and supposedly thinking. And supposedly looking and applying for jobs, though I'm hardly on the ball with that. I feel a little as if I'm waiting for something to happen, though in reality what that means is that I'm waiting for myself to happen in some way. The details of this happening are still a bit fuzzy.

I was pondering what I actually want from the future and realised that part of me wants a life that is secretly a little bit fabulous. A nice house, and a beautiful garden, and a kind, intelligent husband, who wears glasses and is a little eccentric, and a bevy of daughters, who will all be smart, resourceful and good. And when people meet them they'll say, 'Oh are you one of the (insert dream husband's last name here) girls?' And I'll spend my days writing not-very-good novels that I'll never send off to anyone and cataloguing my library, and sipping jasmine green tea and being a little like Flora Poste.

Of course I realised this some time after I could have paved a proper path to such a life, such as dilligently applying myself to some course of study which would have led to some well-paying job so I could afford this nice house. Though perhaps the two are mutually exclusive, and all the people who do live in nice houses, are too busy, and tired and stressed to waft around dreamily in the sunshine. 
And as I say all this I feel quite embarassingly middle class, wanting a life of ease and erudition without putting my nose to the grindstone.

Back to reality. Of sorts. ! just read a rather disappointing book, The Court of the Air by Stephen Hunt, which looks like an historical adventure set in Victorian London, but which is actually quite a complicated sci-fi/fantasy/steampunk novel instead. It's got lots of interesting ideas floating within it, but it dragged on for too long, and became quite tedious in places, till I was just urging the author to wrap it up just so I could put it down and never have to pick it up again. There was a lot to like, and I admired the complexity and detail of the world Hunt created...but it just didn't sustain my interest.

I have been going on extend charity-shopping binges, buying oodles of cheap books. I have a knack for finding books in charity shops that I want (and even have added things to my Amazon shopping basket, only to wait and find it the next day in Oxfam). I laughingly call it the Literary Psychic Network, it's as if I've accidentally logged on without realising it, because no matter how old or obscure the book, if I really want it, I manage to find it. Does this ever happen to anyone else? It seems if there is some sort of higher power, it has a literary bent.

Also I wish the writer's strike would end. I miss good tv.

Dec. 2nd, 2007


In the words of Liz Lemon....

..blerg. I have a cold, and I hate, hate, hate being ill. It's going, but through blowing my nose so much I've developed this sore bump on the underside of my nostrils thus now making it impossible to blow my nose without suffering an extreme amount of pain. Double blerg,

On to good news. I spent roughly three pounds in a charity shop and got the following. 
The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James- 50p
Exodus by Julie Bertagna- 50p
The Icarus Girl by Helen Oyeyemi- 50p
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold- 10p
The Athenian Murders by Jose Carlos Samoza- £1.20 (this I read about on at EvilAuntiePeril's blog and it seemed interesting enough to pick up. Also what are the chances of it turning up in my local Age Concern? One day I'll explain how weird literary coincidences follow me around, interesting in a 'even-though-i-know-statistically-it's-probably-probable-i-still-find-it-weird' way).

I baked this recipe per her request, for my mum's birthday today from the Guardian: Flour Power City's Apple and Almond tart which came out lovely, even though I didn't have enough eggs, or bramely apples. Though it is a recipe which relies on your own judgement, it doesn't specify how much sugar or cinnamon you should use to sweeten the apples, and even though through pure luck mine turned out just sweet enough, it could potentially turn out a little tart (which I'm not a huge fan of- i like my desserts sweet). The Konditor & Cook's Curly Whirrly cake looks AMAZING but seems more of an occasion cake  than everyday. I'll have to wait till it's someone else's birthday.

Finally I have yet to sing the praises of Pushing Daisies on here, so I shall do so now. It's brilliant. It's already possibly my favourite television show of all time (it's neck and neck with Arrested Development) even though only 8 episodes have been screened. I'm not too sure how well it's going to go over in Britain. It has a retro colour-saturated feel to its cinematography, a la Amelie or Big Fish, and a strange, odd, whimsical marriage of unapologetic romance, death and mayhem and a quick-fire screwball dialogue, with a sassy tinge. I know a friend who hates the Gilmore Girls principally because she finds the dialogue annoying- and admittedly Pushing Daisies can go down the, saying something in ten words when one will do, road. But nonetheless it's a joy to watch, and is one of the few programes that is not a straight-up comedy but can still make you laugh out loud. 

Talking of whimsical productions, it seems that Penelope has finally found a release date, February 8th next year. It once again has that pretty, colour-saturated cinematography, and also has James McAvoy playing ' An unrepentant gambler with a heavy heart and an ulterior motive'. To which I say, awesome. It might turn out saccharine, but I'm optimistic that it'll be sweet and pretty gorgeous to look at. 

Over and out xxx

Nov. 2nd, 2007


(no subject)

I'm going to stay round my sister's for the weekend, and am really looking forward to it. The only downside is that I've had not time whatsoever to write something for NaNoWriMo. Yesterday I spent the morning helping my mum out as she was having a 'one-dish party' as Asians call it. Do other people have it too? Basically everyone brings one dish along. Does what it says on the tin. There was so much washing up to do after it was unbelievable. I did that, then did a whole lot of baking so I'd have cake and muffins to take to my sisters, and then only had time to watch the latest episode of Dexter before I fell asleep.

Hopefully this weekend I'll be able to write something by hand and then type it up- but as yet I have no freakin' clue what it's going to be about. Literally nada. 

Oh and John Francis Daly, aka Sam Weir from Freaks and Geeks is starring in a new film called 5-25-77. Otherwise known as when the first Star Wars film came out.
And it looks charming, and I'm going to predict that he does a really good job in it. Trailer can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ihkni2Yc_no

Oct. 15th, 2007


(no subject)

I'm just not very lucky when it comes to ebay. I've been screwed over a number of times, even when the seller has 100% postive ratings. 

Now the postal strike has meant that a book I won that was posted on the 4th still hasn't arrived, but one that was posted on the 10th got here today. This does not bode well surely? Unless they're working through their backlog with earliest first. This isn't ebay's fault, but I really wanted the book (Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion)! Gah. Here's hoping it will get here eventually.

I read this story today and my word, is it freaky: The Life and Death of Jesse James by Josh Olson from LA Weekly. Josh Olson wrote the screenplay for A History of Violence, and the story itself is that type of freakiness which so obviously can and does happen, but is hard to believe when written down. 

I got my NaNoWriMo reminder email today (and it's the gosh-darnd cutest reminder email I've ever got).  I've already signed up, though Lord knows what I'm going to write about.

Sep. 7th, 2007


And here's where I don't unpack for, ooh, about a week...

Got back from Dublin today. I had a great time, it's a lovely city. It makes me wish I'd put a lot more thought in to where I wanted to go and do my Masters, because Trinity is lovely, and I can just see myself living in Dublin, it has that sort of vibe...If only I was doing a PhD (and yet at the same time, I'm glad I'm not...). 

The only thing that marred the holiday slightly was the (surprise suprise) flighty airporty stuff. 
So, flight was 10:30 a.m., to get to Dublin at 12.
Time we got up 5:30. Time we left house, 7. Time we got to airport, 8:30.
Time we actually got to Dublin? 9:30 PM.

Basically our plane had a technical fault. There's no-one to blame for something like that, but they were incredibly unhelpful when it came to giving out info. Still, that didn't bother me so much as what happened when they told us our flight was not coming. They put us through a whole tonne of crap about duty-free, saying before we got ourselves re-booked on the next flight, we had to return it. This was a rule no-one had heard of. It seemed in fact that someone just made it up on the spot. 
After delaying us by an hour and putting us through security again, they then said casually, actually it was okay to keep the duty-free. By that time it was too late to get an earlier flight. Bastards. I had to take off my shoes three times that day. That's no joke when you're wearing tightly-laced converse high-tops (if i don't tie them up they come undone, and that's dangerous. Also I'm a geek). But seriously, the bureaucratic nonsense of it really annoyed me, especially as it took someone kicking up a fuss for them to actually take notice and sort it out. Politeness it seems gets you nowhere. And not ONE person said sorry for your inconvenience. It took one day out of our holiday too, which was a shame. Didn't get a chance to see certain things I wanted to, or just explore.

But anyhoo. Let's stick to the positives.
Dublin = v.cool indeed. Wicklow and Dublin Bay are lovely to look at. All the people we met were nice, and it definitely felt safer than London. So Dublin, I'm sure you'll be glad to know that you get a thumbs up from me. Fingers crossed, I'll come back to see you soon. Got some great MAC make up (one blush, one mascara, to lipglass pencils (they might be limited edition...) and a brush set). Got meself a cute retro-y red swing coat from Penneys/Primark for not very much money. Had a nice hotel room. A cute Canadian flirted with me beside a river. Got myself some great photos. All in all, had a lovely time. 

ps sorry for the ellipsis within an ellipsis. And as much as I liked the Soviet sub-plot and my love for Moss non-withstanding, the IT Crowd was a bit poor tonight. Sorry Graham. I only say it because I love you. 

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