Thursday, May 27, 2010

I Love Me Some Validation

So, last Thursday was absolutely phenomenal; in fact, it was so phenomenal, it took me a week just to write about it. See, Thursdays are when I meet with Lynn for my Restoration Lit tutes, which means that Wednesday nights are spent scrambling together an essay; it was a particularly late night that quickly became an early morning because of "I Was a Rat." By the way, the show went very well--sold out a few nights AND put on one entertaining production. I was very pleased! Anyway, back to the academic validation (oh, yeah, it's all about the academic validation). I had a great tutorial on Katherine Philips and Hester Pulter, two women royalist writers in the Interregnum, and she also gave me back the last essay. She wrote at the end, "Excellent, Jarred. Detailed as always, but showing a real sense of scholarship and discovery." Wow...scholarship and discovery. Color me flattered as all get out! I really think I've found a period of literature that I get on with well. Also, after the tute, I went punting for the first time! Want a picture?

So, my life is pretty good right now. Sure, I'm still stressed, trying to keep up my level of work on Lynn's expectations. Darn, don't you hate it when you set the bar too high. Should've just kept your little head down, Jarred...

Oh, in other news, I'm in our Summer Play at Regents. We're doing a version of Shakespeare's Midsummer, so that's pretty fun. I'm playing Lysander, one of the lovers, and I just get to flirt with my friend, Fran, for the entire play. Good times, good times. Well, I'll keep you posted on my last few weeks in Oxford. (Insert sigh here) Where did the year go?

(Me and Fran, Lysander and Hermia.)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Remember When?

Hey all, remember when I used to be a good blogger and kept you updated weekly? Yeah, I don't either. But, I feel really guilty about it, so I'm going to fix it this morning with a brief update in Regent's Library (next to my lovely friend, Amanda who may or may not be reading this over my shoulder).

It's 4th Week, which means I am half way through my last term at Oxford. Hold on, let me wipe that little tear away from my eye. OK, and I'm back. Yeah, so this term had been pretty busy, considering I only have one tute. But this one tute is very stressful; in fact, I've developed a complex. Since I only have my tutorial on Restoration Literature, I thought, "Hey, Jarred, why not give this everything you've academically got?" I showed up in 1st Week with an essay on the body in Milton's Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained with a little bit on Samson Agonistes. My tutor called my essay one of the strongest student essays she's read on Milton in a while. I was floored, as Milton gave me such a hard time; he's a very dense poet to sift through. My essay for 2nd Week was on Restoration comedies, and I really threw myself into that essay. I loved the plays I read (The Country Wife, The Man of Mode, and The Rover) which meant that writing the essay was so much fun. And my tutor told me, "Jarred, you clearly had fun writing this." She also told me that she was impressed by the work I've produced, and even said my Restoration comedy essay was borderline graduate level work. In one way I should be thrilled that she enjoys my work, but mostly, I'm terrified. Here's the complex: I'm so scared that those essays were flukes and that I really don't have the potential she sees in me and that the next essays I write will reveal what a Restoration lit fraud I am. And then I tell myself, "Get over it and write your next essay." It's an approach. I love the Restoration period, especially the theatre, although right now I'm supposed to be writing about the poetry of Katherine Philips and Hester Pulter. Instead, I'm blogging.

On the social front, I'm in another play, which has played a major role in me not blogging. I play an old man in an adaptation of Phillip Pullman's "I Was a Rat." It's quite a cute and fun show--a fairy tale type spectacle with a bit of social commentary thrown in. It opened last night, and I'm still waiting for our reviews. Perhaps I put some excerpts up if they're flattering or vaguely offensive (like last terms reviews for Instead of Beauty and Little Shop of Horrors). I love theatre, but with this new found Restoration Complex, I haven't enjoyed it as much as last term; all I can think is, "I should be working!" In fact, I SHOULD be working as this next essay is due in for tomorrow and this week "I Was a Rat" is playing, so I need to work. Like, now. I'll update you later, promise. Trust me, I'm an (almost) academic.

(Oh, and just to keep your eyes happy, I'm sharing a photo of me with Emanuelle, our college tortoise. Majestic is the only word I can think of to describe her beautiful and regal air.)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Holiday Travels Part Deux!

After Dublin, I went straight to Paris to meet my very good friend from high school, Jennifer. Jen is also studying abroad at Oxford University, at Mansfield College. Meeting in her Paris, a very exciting thing for me! I'm going to let Jen's pictures do most of the story-telling.

On our first day, we went to the Musee d'Orsay which houses a lot of Impressionist work--Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Gauguin, and others.

We also stopped by this little creperie, then visited Notre Dame.

(I've got a serious case of hat hair, hence the self-conscious pose.)

(This is my camerawork!)

Jen and I also paid a visit to Louis XIV decadent palace, Versailles. It was, well, decadent. I loved it, but I loved the smaller Le Grand Trianon, part of la Domaine de Marie Antoinette. You know, I always thought Marie and I would get on well; I once even told that to a scholarship interview committee...that didn't...that didn't go so well... Anyway,here's Jen resting in the style of Marie in Le Grand Trianon:

We went to the catacombs as well, feeling very Poe--who, fun fact, wrote in Paris. Also, in that same morbid day, we went to Oscar Wilde's grave. Another fun fact: Wilde's actress crush, Sarah Bernhardt, is also buried in the same cemetery.

After 3 lovely nights in Paris, Jen and I went down south to Nice! It was...well, not exactly what I needed. You see that hat from earlier? Yeah, it got stolen in Nice by some French punks. This next photo is actually the last record we have of that hat; Jen and I went to visit our hostel roommate who worked at this bar with live music. The roommate was nice. The live band's lead singer was a Dutch guy who looked like Kurt Cobain. There was also a French couple fighting, and I may or may not have been an instigator. I sort of kind of started dancing with this guy's girlfriend...yeah... Anyway, look, a distraction!

(Yeah, I kind of forgot my razor, so pardon the scruff...)

So, that's my holiday in France with Jennifer. Oh, right, Nice is also where I left my camera, and I have plans on getting it back. When I do, there'll be a nice photo entry of France from my eyes. In the meantime, I'll just have to keep you occupied with tales of Trinity Term, my final term at Oxford. So far, I've managed to read Milton's Paradise Lost over the vacation, as well as some secondary sources. I'm kind of ahead right now. 0th week is approaching quickly, as in this Sunday quickly, and already the finalists (the students in their final year) at Regents Park are feeling the stress of upcoming exams. I also have an audition lined up for Monday evening for a show--but just ONE show. I will not be spending more nights on the JCR sofa because of theatre like I did last term. Ladies and gentlemen, I'll update you later, but right now, I've got some instant coffee to make and some secondary reading to tackle. Au revoir!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Holiday Travels 1--Dublin for St. Patrick's Day

At the end of Hilary Term, a group of Americans went to Dublin to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in the proper Irish fashion. We left Oxford on Monday, March 15th and arrived in Dublin safe and sound. We checked into this pretty nice hotel about 30 minutes outside the city center which ended up costing less than a hostel in town, and then we set out to explore the city. On the first day, we went to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, which kind of made me feel nostalgic; I do miss Medieval literature and manuscripts, even if the tutorial itself was an emotional trauma-- (Flash back to "Point taken, however..."). We then went to the Guinness storehouse where I got to see how my favorite stout comes to life. Our group also walked around the Temple Bar area of Dublin that evening which is filled with moody cobble-stone pedestrian streets; I loved it. The next day we visited the Oscar Wilde house where Wilde was born and where his mother lived, followed by a visit to the National Museum of Ireland. We also visited Christ Church Cathedral, which was pretty, the Irish Writer's Museum, and the Irish Film and Photography Center. Good, clean fun--I swear. By the way, all photos are courtesy of Hayley McGee! I would upload some of my photos, but I kind of left my camera in Nice. I'm a genius, I know; truly, I have everything sorted in my life. I'll blog about Paris next when my friend, Jennifer Yun, posts some pictures from our French adventures!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

End of Term Report

Wow, has anyone else noticed a drastic decrease in blogage this term? Sorry about that. This was really a busy term; in fact, "busy" doesn't even begin to cover it. The two shows I was in, Little Shop and the Richard O'Brien's (not the Rocky Horror Richard O'Brien, but a second year at Brasenose) Instead of Beauty, sucked up so much time, but the both went well. Opening night reviews for Little Shop were iffy as we had just got done building the set 30 minutes before the house opened!!! Actually, fun fact: part of the set fell when I tried to open the door to my own shop, and then part of it fell on our leading lady. One reviewer understood the technical problems, concluding that technically speaking, the show was not ready, but performance-wise, the musical was solid. Another reviewer said the entire thing was awful and that readers should be warned to "not feed the plants or spend your money at the Pembroke musical." It was a vicious review, and the author even remarked that I had too much energy. Too much energy in a musical? Didn't really think that was possible... Critics were very receptive to O'Brien's work and our production in general. Audiences, even our older ones, really got into it as well, which is surprising because a lot of the subject matter is pretty sexually charged. I really enjoyed being immersed in the Oxford theatre scene this term, even though my life has been hectic because of it.

Academically, I've still been highly engaged with what I'm studying. My Modern Lit tutorials with John (my tutor last term for Wilde) went well. He enjoyed my work and we had some very productive, enthusiastic, and absolutely nerdy tutes, especially on James Joyce. Aw, I'm going to miss John next term. My other tutorial, Renaissance Lit, went surprisingly well. See, I was terrified because political history is not my strong point, and in the early modern period, the literature is inseparable from the political world: the court was central to poets and playwrights alike. Despite my shying away from political strife during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James II, I managed to scrape together some good work, according to my tutor. She really enjoyed my essays on Shakespeare's late plays and we had a really good discussion on The Winter's Tale. Also, she like my readings of John Donne's poetry. I think my favorite, though, was our tutorial on John Ford's works: Tis Pity She's a Whore, The Broken Heart, and The Lover's Melancholy. I was really moved by Ford's language and his exploration of an early working of psychology was fascinating as well. I think Ford is severally under-read, and the critic conversation surrounding his works is equally limited. In one way, it's a shame, but in another way it's a way into the critical world if I could extend my essay and probing of my work. Lynn, my tutor, wants to see my essay pushed further because she thought I was on to some very interesting discoveries with Ford's works. Overall, I got the equivalent of an A in both tutes and I feel really well versed in Renaissance stagecraft. Yay!

OK, so right now I'm in Nice, France, in the hostel's cafe area after traveling to Dublin and Paris. I will blog about this experience in full soon, I promise. Also, next term I should be less busy as I ONLY HAVE ONE TUTORIAL! I am so thrilled. And it's with Lynn, my Renaissance tutor, and we get on well. I have the opportunity to get very intimate with Restoration Lit, starting with Milton's Paradise Lost. Trinity term is going to be magnificent--trust me.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Moment to Spare Blog Update!

Hey there, ladies and gentlemen, it looks like I actually have a moment to spare to fill you in! I mean, I should probably be reading John Donne right now, but I'm feeling so relieved after my Modern tute that I'm not thinking about my Renaissance paper right now. (And, for the record, it's that kind of thinking that keeps me playing catch up. Problem identified...but is it going to change? Hahahaha--no.) Anyway, I had a great tute today for Modern on James Joyce and Catholicism. My tutor liked my paper a lot and the close readings I did were very subversive--that's totally a good thing. Know what's not a good thing? I have rehearsal every night this week until 11:30pm because Little Shop opens next week! I am too nervous about this, especially as I keep butchering "Mushnik and Son." But, I think it can only get better. Or so I hope. Also, I have officially been cut from the rowing crew. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted...well, fun in that bizarre masochistic get up at 5 in the frigid morning kind of way. This is probably a good thing, what with my busy schedule. Without rowing, I'm a lot less tired and I have more free time in the mornings. Well, I think that's it. I'm off to music rehearsal for Little Shop. DON'T FEED THE PLANTS! xx

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hilary Term--4 Week Crash Course

Hey, ladies and gentlemen! I know you've been waiting on the edge of your seats with bated breathe, wondering when I was going to post again. I had hoped that enough pretty pictures of Scotland would distract you while I stretch myself across Oxford doing an ungodly amount of extracurricular activities. Basically, my life looks like this right now: rowing in the mornings, academics from about 9am-3pm, rehearsal for this new show from 3:30-6:30, rehearsal for Little Shop of Horrors from 7:00-10:00, then library time from 10:30-1:00am. And that's on a slow day! Lemme break it down.

So, we'll start with rowing this term, since it happens first in my day. I have been doing ergs (um, indoor rowing machine sessions) and doing 5ks. That's the brighter way to start my day, really. The river has been red flagged this term because of all the rain and snow, which means we haven't really been able to get on it. However, it went down to blue flag, so with an experienced cox, we went out on Friday and will be having another outing tomorrow morning. There's also some tension in my rowing life right now because we have 9 rowers, yet only 8 seats. We will have to cut someone from the crew this week. See the drama unfolding? Now, not to be pessimistic, but I'm not that strong of a rower. If we can flash-back to last term where our coach called me "the Hunch-back of Notre Dame." And our new coach doesn't think I'm rowing much better because of my too tight hamstrings. Honestly, I don't think I'll make the crew, but I'll certainly keep trying. Our 8 rowers will be chosen based on performance in the water according to the coach (um...yeah) and then our 2k erg times. I'm going to try to erg well and hope that keeps me off the bottom rung. But, if it doesn't, rowing was certainly a good experience.

Academically, I'm doing about the same as last term. My two tutes--Renaissance and Modernism--are pretty interesting, especially after I got past the poetry of Sir Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser. I've touched on some Samuel Beckett, which was a heart-breaking affair, but absolutely fascinating. I spent last week with Shakespeare and the gaze in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, and The Winter's Tale. My tutor really enjoyed my essay--both the content and the way in which it was written. This week I'm continuing with Billy Shakes, and I'm also exploring Catholicism and the language of the liturgy in James Joyce's works. It's a party.

On the theatre front, I'm in Little Shop of Horrors, and opening night is like 2 weeks away. Am I spazzing? Am I nervous? Am I reveling in the part of Mr. Mushnik as a crazy-dancing man with an unnatural love for money? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding, "Yes!" Also, I auditioned for this other play during 1st Week, and I actually got in! It's called Instead of Beauty, and it's an original composition entry for the Oxford University Dramatic Society's New Writing Festival--or, OUDS' NWF. I love acronyms. The show has a four person cast, so it is a lot more pressure that Little Shop, only Little Shop still makes me more nervous because I have to sing. In front of people. Someone remind me how I got cast for a musical? Anyway, for the past 4 weeks, I've had two rehearsals a day, and at least one every Saturday and Sunday. I'm pretty much living on drama right now, both academically and on stage.

Of course, I top off my day with some good quality library time. In fact, that's where I am now. I'm having a lot of fun, but my life is absolutely crazy right now. Hopefully, I'll be blogging more after 6th Week (so, after Little Shop runs and right before Instead of Beauty goes up; also, if I'm still rowing, Torpids will be the next week...) Thanks for tuning in, sports fans, and I'll keep you sort of in the know when I can. Back to work!