Sunday, February 22, 2009

Life's a stage

I was out with boyfriend yesterday because it was such a beautiful day. The sun actually stayed out for more than an hour. I had some books to return to the county library down by Westgate Centre (Queen Street). It's a very good library by the way.

The sun was shining, the streets were lively with families out for a stroll and rowdy teenagers piling up on the statue in front of Westgate. I took the boy on a looooong stroll along the Thames. It was gorgeous! I'd been up there before, in september when the trees still had leaves, but this time it was both peaceful and dramatic. The light was a little strange later in the day and the trees were gold and a metallic sort of green.

We tried to walk back to the town centre down the other bank but somehow ended up in a wild bit of scrubland between two arms of the river with no bridges. We turned around and ended up walking down Iffley Road. From there, we went to the G&D's on Cowley Road, something of a regular haunt for us.

The Oxford Playhouse was holding a "show" called Etiquette. Boy and I were having coffee and ice-cream close to the two tables by the window which were covered in a black cloth and had props and headphones on them. Couples sat at the tables and listened to instructions. They were clearly playing out a scene. We were intrigued but didn't really think to participate in whatever this was. After the end of one performance though, the woman in charge of the thing came to ask us if we wanted to give it a try if the people who had reserved the next slot didn't show up. We said ok. So we did it.

I don't know what to make of the experience. It was intriguing... There we were, playing out a scene at a cafe in Paris between a prostitute and an old man. Then we were actors in a play about a woman leaving her husband. Then there was something about a murder. All this using the props and language (we had to repeat certain lines, at times it worked really well as he was replying to the questions I asked and vice-versa at the proper speed). It was a little unsettling. At times it was very hard to hear what boy was saying so I missed part of the experience very likely. Still, it's pretty cool and I recommend the experience. The whole audience becomes actors becomes characters. The use of little white figures and chalk on the black board works really well. I completely forgot the other people in the cafe for a while. But I still don't know what to make of the play itself.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Now it feels more like a Master's course!

Phew! Week 3 and already there's lots of work to be done. The way I see it, I have it pretty easy. All I have to do is read a couple of articles on Children's Publishing that Claire assigned, do a bit of research (more because I'm interested than because I have to) and do some NPD research. This last bit is not very stimulating but I think it's mainly because I'm not too thrilled with the project and the group.

Oh well!

On the other hand, the Magazine module looks tough although the Lecturer is usually so much fun. Boyfriend has to write a 3000 word essay on a cultural subject rather than straight publishing. It's on Men's Magazines (yeah, thooose) which is an interesting topic but involves a lot of research an 3000 words is a LOT!

We also have to hand in our official dissertation proposals next week or the week after that. I've barely even thought about mine. I think having NPD and dissertation work in one semester is exagerating. The NPD project could be a dissertation all on its own! It's that huge and stressful! I mean, it's very interesting from the point of view of getting experience of how it's supposed to work in a real company without risking real money on it but it's a lot of work that is a bit too much like the editorial project for my taste. I don't know, maybe I'm panicking prematurely but I feel it like this weight on my shoulders all the time, even when I'm not really thinking about it. I guess this is how a postgrad is supposed to feel.

Trial by fire and all that.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

2 weeks in and already hating group work

Well, NPD is a bit disappointment. I swear, two weeks in and I'm already hating it. It's the editorial group project all over again but with more work and people taking it very seriously from the beginning.

I'm really, really tired of group work. You know it's bad when you know from the beginning that you're going to end up hating everyone in your group in a matter of weeks. Add to that a very bossy and unimaginative Managing Director and you have a recipe for a very unhappy Chantal.

I don't know, maybe it won't be so bad this time around. The trick is to work hard from the start and make your voice heard (a bit of a challenge for me) so you don't get left behind (and see people take credit for your work so you end up losing points grrrrr!). I'm taking on Editorial and Design work. I wanted to be Managing Director but everyone voted for this other girl *le sigh*. Oh well, at least I get Design which I really wanted and avoided Finance which I didn't.

The other modules are okay, I've very happy with Children's Publishing, we had a great discussion on Friday about gender in publishing. We discussed how women had gotten into publishing through Children's imprints which the men didn't consider important enough to put someone more "qualified" in so they gave it to the women and from there...we invaded and conquered :D

We also discussed the argument that the reason boys aren't being properly catered to nowadays is because it's women in charge, chosing and making books they enjoy hence, girls will like better. Boys did use to read a lot more in the past when men were in charge. I just say, "well, duh, there was no TV."

I'm still not sure about Digital Media Publishing. I wish the lecturer would take more time to explain the software and the ideas behind ebooks and such and less time digressing. Also, he stumbles over his words a lot and speaks very fast and I just disconnect and start playing on the internet. The project sound like a lot of fun. We have to pick a Public Domain text (or something on Creative Commons) and make it into an ebook with all the bells and whistles we want (i.e. sounds, video, links whatever). I wanted to do the Malleus Maleficarum but it's a very long text so I don't think I could enhance it as much as I want to because it would be a lot of very repetitive work and with NPD to keep me busy and a dissertation to start working on, I don't think I want to take on more work than I have to.

Another project is to have a blog that we'd update regularly. Yes, I have this one but it doesn't count. Also, I could work on my regular posting here, sorry :) My class blog is at:

I'm doing book reviews. We have to have at least 20 posts by the end of the semester and I figured that ought to keep me going. I can definitely write about 20 books. You're welcome to have a look and comment on how bad my reviews are (or the books, whatever)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The new semester has begun!

Meh, classes started again on Monday. At 9 am with Research Methods (for our dissertations/major projects). It was very exciting to see everyone back together again though. I was ridiculously perky. It's that "first day of school" thing, I guess. I wouldn't know because this is the first time I'm experiencing this which, in my opinion, speaks volumes about how much I've been enjoying myself here.

We have 5 student from Paris X university over as ERASMUS exchanges. I started chatting with them. It feels so good to have someone to speak French to! They're quite nice too. Someone had the good idea to invite them to Jazz night yesterday, which I had completely forgot to tell them about. So we had a chat over the music. The Bullingdon (a.k.a. The Bully) has live jazz every tuesday in the backroom. The Bullingdon is right in front of Tesco on Cowley Road. It's something of a regular thing for a lot of the people on the course. It's very good. I meant to go more often but I'm a lazy bum who doesn't want to go walk down the hill to it (and then back up again).

We also had New Product Development on Monday. It's a class that brings together everything we learned last semester. It's a role-play class! We're "Buckley Publishing" and are divided into groups that are different division within the company. I'm in the Education division (meh). We each have to come up with a new product that will fit with our goals (slightly different per division according to our "profile"). It looks like it's going to be labor intensive and the groups are huge! 9 people! It was bad enough with 4-6 last semester! We're all going to end up hating each other!

We also handed in our dissertation registration forms. They're going to assign us to Research methods seminar groups that are relevant to our subjects. In the end, I've decided to go with Open Access and Free audiobooks. I wanted to work on an ecological topic but I couldn't come up with one especially interesting angle to work on (that's what happens when you have too much interest in something I guess) and I was going to touch on digital media anyway so now I'll do it the other way around. Incorporate some ecology into a digital dissertation. I'm quite excited about the subject now and looking forward to starting to work on it.

I have Digital Media class this afternoon where, get this, one of the assignments is to have a blog and update it regularly. I've got the blog part down, I'll need to work on the updating regularly thing though, heh. We'll also be graded on how we customize our blog which I don't know how to do yet but we'll be taught and on the research that goes into the posts. Yes, I can't use this blog for the class (*le sigh*) but at least I have some blogging experience and I'll be able to make this blog better too. I love it when things work out that way. We'll also be covering Photoshop and Dreamweaver, two programs I've used before and some other two things I can't remember and have never used.

Should be fun, all in all.