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.

The weekend

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.

A review

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"

What is style?

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)

Writing and Running

Maxim Jakubowski writes in his Guardian weblog about the links between writing and exercise, quoting a study that concluded "Instances of aerobic exercise significantly impacted the creative process of the participants and these effects were shown to endure over a two-hour period"

Which is nice to know.  I’m continuing the running after almost a month.  I do feel fitter, even if I don’t look it.  It’s another ten days until the event and I’m still struggling to hit my target time.  I’ll be up again 6:30 tomorrow for another try.

Some of my favourite books, I’ve never read.

From Momus:

"As a student of literature, something you find yourself doing a lot is reading books about books — narratives which tear through the plot outlines, critical receptions and choicest quotes of other books, giving you some kind of rapid gist or taste of hundreds of titles you’ll probably never read. What I’ve always liked about these books-about-books …  is that they leave you free to fantasize about the books they’re describing and actually construct them — with all their peculiarities heightened and exaggerated — in your head.  In a weird, inverted way, some of the books which must be most hellish to read in real life, in real time, turn out, in these metabook accounts, to be the most entertaining to read about. The worse they sound, and the more negatively they were received, the better the story of them becomes."

(Another interesting piece of writing by Momus is Pop stars? Nein danke!: In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen people…)