Sunday, December 19, 2004

City Of Frozen Hills

"I deny nothing, but doubt everything."

- Byron

This is being posted from a Youth Hostel in Glasgow. Don't worry, my life hasn't collapsed: I'm here at the Theoretical Archaeology Group 2004 conference. Interesting stuff so far. Yesterday was "The Archaeology of Conflict", the segment which I was most interested in. Several interesting papers, one of which was even about conflict in the Aegean Bronze Age.

There was a perfect example of the archaeology of conflict when I ran into RW. When I told her why I was there, she was very politely snide about y'know, my entire area of research. In her view, you see, studying warfare is something bone-headed men do, while bold feminists such as herself do real work. Those of you who know me well might find the concept of me as some sort of Ernest Hemingway clone quite amusing. Me, I'm too pissed off.

The conference as a whole has given me plenty to think about, mostly about being much more rigerous with myself and my approach to the work. It's too easy to write about ships and ignore people. On the other hand, I don't want my work to be a political speech with some archaeological material in there as window dressing.

Anyway, I must go. My time's running out and Yvette's presenting her paper this afternoon. I'll post again in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

An Accumulation Of Anecdotes

Last night I went to see scriptwriter Frank Cotrell Boyce at Liverpool’s 3345 club. You may remember him from such scripts as 24 Hour Party People, Code 46, Revengers Tragedy, and Hilary and Jackie.

I think the best thing I learned from it was that you don’t have to be the stereotype of an industry-person in order to be a scriptwriter. Boyce is far less organised than I am, and freely admitted that the script for 24 Hour Party People was never actually finished. He was also nice enough not to get annoyed when I pointed out that the fact that the script was unfinished probably helped the film work.

His advice on scriptwriting and actually getting films made was also interesting. He suggests that the best thing to do is work with people you like and get on with, rather than picking people for technical expertise. As he pointed out, this also means that your script usually ends up less mangled…

The other main point he made was that the “Three-Act Structure” and “Write What You Know”, are both utter, utter, crap. He suggested that the structures of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now are both accumulations of anecdotes, through which the audience pieces together relevance and an overarching storyline by themselves. As for writing what you know: “It’s obvious to me that Shakespeare should have waited to be crowned King of England before writing Richard III”.

All in all, a very good evening.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Modern Dance

There is a theory that 80s memes are back in fashion. There are Reaganites in the Whitehouse, a Thatcherite in Number 10, and the prophecies of the smarter cyberpunk authors are coming true around our ears. Which means that the bands I saw on Friday night are well placed to take advantage.

The gig was at the Liverpool Guild of Students. Being a fool, I turned up at 7:30, the time on the ticket. No one was around. Soon enough I saw people who must be there for the gig: suits, ties, red shoes, brylcreamed hair in a side parting. I followed them into the bar. It was just me and them in there, then. Only later did I realise that they were one of the bands, Maximo Park. I like to think that the reason I wasn’t thrown out was that staff thought I was actually a band member.

Maximo Park turned out to be not half bad, but then I’m biased: their frontman is the frontman I’d like to be – a mixture of Jarvis Cocker, Bryan Ferry, and George Orwell, the avatar of rage-in-a-suit. They rattled through some suitable new-wave guitar songs.

Then the fun really began, when The Futureheads took the stage. A Futureheads gig is like being trapped in a washing machine with some rocks. Black-shirted rocks who stand in line and play guitar. They sound like The Clash gene-spliced with Billy Bragg, their songs are given titles like “A Picture of Dorian Gray”, and everything is undercut with dry Geordie wit. Furthermore, they succeeded in making me dance like an epileptic on speed. Suffice it to say that they come recommended.

There's more music-based insanity over at N.A.O.W.F.I.T., where Tom, following a challange laid down by myself, has written a surf-pop song entitled "Salt City".

Friday, December 03, 2004

Has Comedy Jumped The Shark?

Watching the first series of Black Books on DVD this week, I note two things.

The first is that this moment may be the peak of western comedy:

"Which one of you...bitches...wants to dance?"

The second is that we have a celebrity lookalike for Emily:

The lovely Tamsin Greig!

I realise that Emily will probably disagree, and may attempt to stab me next time I see her, but I'm willing to put myself at risk for the furtherance of science.

In other news, I have received an e-mail from someone outraged by the content of Tuesday's post. It is a spoof, but I am pleased nonetheless.

Thursday, December 02, 2004