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Friday, 26 June 2009

Please stop doing this, BBC.

Just idly watching BBC news, and I know it's late at night (11 pm) but that's no reason for the quality of journalism to take a nose dive. Item about Michael Jackson supposedly having had a heart attack - ok, fine, I give you that lots of people care about Michael Jackson.

But when the announcer started talking about how according to a fan website Michael Jackson has died, and that this piece of information cannot be confirmed, it hacked me off.

I thought it was specifically the property of Taiwanese media to report hearsay which they found on some joe-blow's website, but apparently I was being unfair. The BBC seems to have jumped in on the act as well.

Why would I need journalists/journalism when all they are giving me is something they read on the internet? What the hell happened to REPORTING?

Don't get me wrong. I'm into twittering and citizen journalism and user generated content - but it's when a media channel tries to straddle that bridge that they wobble and fall into the mire.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Questions, by Stephen Dunn

If on a summer afternoon a man should find himself
in love with only one woman
in a sea of women, all the others mere half-naked
swimmers and floaters, and if that one woman
therefore is clad in radiance
while the mere others are burdened by their bikinis,
then what does he do with a world
suddenly so small, the once unbiased sun
shining solely on her? And if that afternoon
turns dark, fat clouds like critics dampening
the already wet sea, does the man run—
as he normally would—for cover, or does he dive
deeper in, get so wet he is beyond wetness
in an underworld utterly hers? And when
he comes up for air, as he must,
when he dries off and dresses up, as he must,
how will the pedestrian streets feel?
What will the street lamps illuminate? How exactly
will he hold her so that everyone can see
she doesn't belong to him, and he won't let go?

"Questions" by Stephen Dunn, from Local Visitations. © W.W. Norton & company, 2003. [buy now]

[via The Writer's Almanac]

Monday, 15 June 2009

Bye bye, MSt

I've just emailed my dissertation and all peripheral documents to be printed off by Dan at the computer lab (saves me 100+ pages of cost in printing). These 9 months have gone by so fast. It's been a terrific slog, and I hope that I get an overall distinction so I can come back to Oxford if I want. But if I don't get a distinction - well, I tried my best.

Looking forward to going home and packing up my things, and a celebratory dinner tonight.

I'm so grateful for all the help that people have given me. Dr. Sally Mapstone for her unending support and words of encouragement (plus her minute attention to mistakes on my bibliography and her suggestions for ever more reading). Ralph for his ingenious advice which leaves me so baffled that I decide to stop whinging and just get on with it (???) - and for answering my miscellaneous questions about absolutely everything (from paeleographical questions to queries about architectural features at Keble). Maria for being my fairy godmother and producing hugs and cups of tea at all the right times, reading and proofing my outlines/drafts, and sending me home to rest when she knows that's what I really need. Sergi for doing the same - but also for his patience and understanding because of all people he knows my strengths and weaknesses best (and is probably heartily sick and tired of my split infinitives). DJ for always abusing the com-lab's resources and printing off my papers and for scrounging for envelopes for me at the very last minute. Alison for her time and energy spent on giving my papers a last once-over and advice that makes me think if only I had another 3 days my paper would be perfect...

and of course all the friends I've made on the course and my MCR family... and the anonymous but familiar faces I always see in the Upper Reading Room and the Keble Library, who make me feel like I'm not a loser for spending ALL my time in such places...

It's been good.

Monday, 8 June 2009

A short novella?

Champagne & Canapes
~
Asparagus tips with hollandaise sauce
~
Seared scallops with a ginger anise sauce
~
Carpaccio of fillet steak encrusted with peppercorns, coriander seed,
and rosemary
Potatoes dauphinoise
~
Dark chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream
~
Gourmet cheese selection, with water biscuits and oatcakes
-----------------
No, not a short novella - the menu at Walton street's black tie dinner tomorrow night. If I'm going to be stressed, I'm going to be stressed out in style.

Wher's the fun?

The last time I wrote about The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedy I remember having a lot of fun. Maybe it's bound to be less fun the second time around - I keep asking where the fun has gone.

Right now it's just past 11 am and I am sitting at U216 in the Upper Reading Room again. The sun is shining. I want to be lying on the lawn in Pusey Quad, with my straw hat over my eyes, napping gently.

It's not that I don't enjoy what I do - I do - or I wouldn't do what I do. But I'm just absolutely exhausted; not the kind of exhaustion that recedes after a good night's sleep. This one will take a week to wash over.

Thinking about moving is stressing me out. Not that I don't want to move. I am looking forward to moving on. It's just that there will be no turn-around time. Not for another 2 days, at least. Hand in on the 15th, then go home, and pack. Get rid of things I'm not shipping on the 16th, arrange for the shipping company to pick up my things. Ship out on the 17th, pick up my suitcase and a rucksack, put my hat on, and walk away.

I need to focus on the walking away part. One step at a time.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Been meaning to tell you

[see my Flickr]

So I've been meaning to tell you... that I shaved half of my head.

Things have been quite busy recently - so much so that I haven't blogged. But one of the reasons why I haven't blogged is because I recently joined Twitter, which has proved surprisingly (or unsurprisingly, for anyone who follows my gmail status) addictive.

Recently the (pa)Rentals came to visit - at a time when I had literally no time to spare, which was a shame. But we still got a few things in - they came to watch me row, and we went for high tea together at the Grand Cafe. They also brought me a new camera, hence the proliferation of photographs. As much as I love Toph's DSLR, it's a little to precious for me to take around every day. Now you can frequently find me crouched by Keble's flowerbeds keenly snapping.

Flowers are good like that, tireless models. People are much, much trickier. I don't think I've graduated to photographing people yet. Whenever I look at the Sartorialist or any other street style photographers I wonder how they approach their subjects. My guess is that each one has their own little schtick they drag out. I'd quite like to know what it is. Also, portrait photographers (or street style photographers) must have a knack of making their subjects seem relaxed. I once read somewhere (maybe from the Sartorialist) that it's the gift of anticipation. In a way I can see that - people's expressions are so fleeting. I wish my eyes were cameras, then I'd always get very good pictures.

Tonight's graduate discussion evening went well. I think my talk was well-received. Some interesting questions came up afterwards - and everyone appears to have enjoyed my example of 'flyting' from Waiting for Godot (fast-forward to 1:57). It's the first time I've done a proper presentation with powerpoint and projector and all that, so I'm glad it all came off nicely. High table dinner beforehand and Ralph told me that he won't be able to make it. To be honest I was quite glad - if no medievalists are present I could say whatever I want. I thought of emailing him to ask him NOT to come - but then he would have made a point of coming. So turns out my reverse psychology (of not saying anything to him) worked out quite well.

So recently Sally and I had a meeting and she reminded me that I really can't afford a day off. I don't remember if I mentioned to her that I'd joined a rowing team. We (the Kebelles) are the Keble fun-crew. But some people tell me that if you have erg (indoor training) sessions, you are no longer fun. So I guess we're the kill-joy crew. So, we qualified for the Summer Eights - and guess what - we won blades!

In Oxford we do what's called bumps racing. To win blades (an honour granted by the college), you have to bump 4 times in 4 days (that is, the definition according to Keble) - which we did. So, we get to buy ceremonial blades with our names on them, including when the race was and who we bumped etc - and we get to chalk up our names in one of the stairwells at college. I'll definitely have some pictures of that when it happens.

But for now, a picture of my new sandals will have to do. Weather has been so beautiful.

[see my Flickr]

Oh and also, I accidentally exfoliated myself with the gravel at college. I'm recovering from...

[see my Flickr]

But it's ok, because life here is really quite good. Here's a picture of what Oxford (especially Keble) is all about in the summer time.

[see my Flickr]

Occasionally I find myself in strange places.

[see my Flickr]

But usually I recover myself quite quickly again. Except the time when I went to Port Meadow to take pictures of buttercups - thinking that we were going to row at Godstow. Then it turned out that we were rowing at the Isis, so I had to haul ass down the river. Then I didn't know I had to park at Head of the River so I was on the wrong side and I had to double back. But the photos turned out really good...

[see my Flickr]

and it made me realize that even something s simple as buttercups can be really, really beautiful.

Now I have to go to bed because tomorrow I'd like to get up at 7 am and eat breakfast in hall. Then work all day on my dissertation in the library. The fun never stops, you know.