On Friday I dreamt I had another dissertation to do, ten thousand words before Easter. Walking through town yesterday, on the way to Olive’s birthday party, I was thinking about the one I wrote for my MA.
Only four people have read the whole thing through. I delivered a paper based on the critical section, and Katharine read the creative section. People had told me about this before, but it still feels strange: the longest complete piece of writing I’ve done has only been read as a complete work by four people.
I spent the Christmas in Derbyshire with family. I travelled up on Christmas Eve morning with a friend of Rosy’s, then settled in for the holiday. It’s been good: fantastic food, seeing my neice, watching In the Night Garden with her, and enjoying being out of signal much of the time. I received some fantastic presents including chilli drinking chocolate, the noisiest cup in the world, spy equipment and The Rock’s autobiography. Wrestling biography is a genre I’ve not encountered before, but it’s very well written. Boxing Day I entered a small-scale run in the Diseworth village (up here they take their running pretty seriously). I had a good session, and seemed faster than normal, despite training less lately. Heading down the M40 back to Brighton now. Lots to do once I get back.
Different groups have different standards for masculinity, as shown by the following, found in an article on the Moscow Boat Fair:
"Inside models drape themselves over more boats, Bentleys and helicopters. "What kind of man buys a yacht without a helicopter on the deck," asks Sascha, a media magnate. "Such a person is not even a man."
My friend Beth has organised a video screening – as seen on upcoming:
"In November 2007, dozens of international videobloggers and artists
made a film every day for 30 days. The result: over 1000 beautiful,
intimate, funny, experimental, observational, moving, interconnected
short films. NODE 101 (UK) invites you to a showing of highlights
from the first (Inter)national Videoblog Posting Month (NaVloPoMo).
Join us at 2:30 on January 12th at the WERKS in Hove for an afternoon
of art, intimacy and international connections. The screening will be
followed by a short party with the chance to meet and learn more from
pioneering British and American videobloggers and NAVLOPOMOers."
I meant to post a few days ago, but somehow time slipped by me. Went to Short Fuse on Wednesday. It was an unthemed night but the stories seemed to have a similar mood. The last pieece of the evening was by a writer called Mark Savage. It was called I will if I have to, an odd piece about words and numerology, based around counting the letters in sentences and one of the best stories I’ve heard read in a long time. On the way out of the Komedia, I was lucky enough to run into some of the Future Platforms crew, who were on their office party.
Friday night I went with Lou to watch CSS at the dome. The gig was amazing – the support bands, Metronomy and Joe Lean and the Jing, Jang, Jong were really good. CSS put a lot of work into the show – fake snow, balloons, coming onstage dressed as presents. Sadly the gig ended early when someone hit Lovefoxxx in the face with a shoe and the band walked at the end of the song. Something of a down ending to the night.
The rest of the weekend is being lived at a slow pre-Christmas pace. Saw Santa Claus yesterday afternoon. Last night I went to a party and chatted with some artist friends-of-friends visiting from the North. The house was on the top of Whitehawk Hill: great views, long walk home. Not much planned for today.
Friday night I was once more a man-prop for Kitty Peels. I was a two-timing rogue in an act with her and Bunny DuBois, at the end of which I was slapped in the face by both of them. Afterwards I sneaked into the Komedia to join my office party which by then had reached the drunk and incoherent stage. I said hello to everyone then headed home a little later than planned.
Saturday morning was the Santa Dash, a 5K run dressed in Santa costumes. Early morning I went down to the seafront with Beth, Tom and Collette. The weather was ugly, rain and wind coming off the sea, so not idea conditions for running. We were joined by Rosy who helped us with getting ready then, once the race started, retired to the Sanctuary Cafe to wait for us.
The race itself went well. When I had to run at school I was the slow fat kid at the back but I seemed to do OK here. The weather was foul – running west the first half of the race the wind seemed light bad but when we turned and started back again it felt much stronger. I managed a good time and enjoyed the experience. I’m going to keep running and look for more events. There’s a half-marathon in February… Beth has posted video footage here.
I spent the rest of the day relaxing. I read The Black Dossier by Alan Moore. The book is insanely detailed, with the annotations explaining the more subtle and obscure references. I also watched the last episode of the Sopranos. I’m not sure the ending was wrong, but it was a little unsatisfying. All-in-all the Sopranos was a very odd drama, both reinforcing and undermining conventions.
My last performance at Short Fuse was reviewed in The Badger, Sussex University’s student newspaper:
"Next up was James Burke, with his story entitled Me. The opening phrase "I’d like to think I’m adventurous in bed" encapsulates the theme of the story. Two homosexual vegetarian men connect with one another at a neanderthal, carnivorous barbeque and begin a relationship that consists of one trying to sexually shock the other through bizarre, masochistic routines"
The article does a very good job of representing Short Fuse, describing it as a "relaxed, social environment"
It’s over a year old but I keep thinking of the article Dead Plagiarists Society. It discusses how google books revealed some interesting patterns of plaigiarism among 19th century authors. The thing that impressed me most was when the author asked: "…don’t people accidentally repeat each other’s sentences all the time? It seems to me that this should not be unusual. Yet try plugging that last sentence word by word into Google Book Search, and watch what happens." The results are startling:
"It: Rejected—too many hits to count
It seems: 11,160,000 matches
It seems to: 3,050,000
It seems to me: 1,580,000
It seems to me that: 844,000
It seems to me that this: 29,700
It seems to me that this should: 237
It seems to me that this should not: 20
It seems to me that this should not be: 9
It seems to me that this should not be unusual: 0
It seems to me that this should not be unusual is itself … unusual. "
Before reading this article it never occurred to me that such a simple phrase might be so rare. Even among so many billions of sentences something as unremarkable had not been recorded before. Style is more of a marker than I used to think.
("is more of a marker than" – 6 hits on google)