Ye Olde Linoleum Shoppe

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING FOR ARCHAEOLOGISTS No.1

Allow me to be frank (and afterwards you can be Lily-Maria) -a tidy excavation is a Godly excavation - and in this new (shameful rip-off of the 'fashion tips') series I will be examining site hygiene and order, I will (if you can stomach the metaphor) be running a cotton gloved fingertip below the greasy, sagging underbelly of archaeological excavations and holding it up to the light in what I hope will prove to be a highly instructional flock of blog postings.
To begin, I will be looking at the matter of site huts and the best way of  keeping an excavation team, clean, fed and sheltered. Take for example fig. 1 below, from the outside this appears to be a jolly gaggle of site huts on what must no doubt be an industrious and reasonably well managed site.
Industrious? Well managed? No! No! No! Quite the opposite I'm afraid. This assemblage of temporary structures belies a site where the archaeologists have lost the run of themselves. A site where archaeologists, hopped-up on a pay rate exceeding two peanuts a day, have daydreamed themselves onto a par with such noble grandees as builders, gong scourers and circus freaks. Let me be frank (and afterwards we will play horsey) we are archaeologists - we are lowborn muttonheads who have no need of such high born havens. What we deserve are the fair hills and the cool wind alongside the company of little men in the rushy glen - and fig. 2 below shows how this is best achieved . . .
When an archaeologist walks onto a site with the accommodation shown above  he/she knows that those in charge truly understand their needs and desires!  Yes, Charlie Cheeseparer McBastard, the CEO with the business degree, running (or more correctly milking,) your archaeological company for all it's worth really does know the score. Why provide toilet facilities when it cheaper to see his employees go 'bake a brownie' in a bush. Why provide a tea hut when the entire crew can take shelter under a warm cow pattie?
And while we're on the subject of tea? A nice cup of Kiki Dee anyone? Take a gander at fig. 3 below, is it a good tea set-up? Go on have a guess . . . you know you want to . . .
If you answered 'Yes it looks like a good orchestration of tea facilities,' I'm afraid the suits at head office will be spilling their two kilo stash of cocaine everywhere as their knees jerk with hilarity. Let me be frank (and afterwards we can both squeeze into the football jersey,) the tea facilities that us crusty archaeologists really merit are shown in fig. 4, - if you're in doubt about this why not ask the big boys who make sure the profit margins are met.
Now dearies - a slight change of gear from satire to surrealism - drying rooms tend to be a rare bird on excavations, not because of pinch-farting overseers though. No, the absence of these beauties is all down to a certain Professor Ed Bourke, who, while excavating on Skellig Michael, asked for a drying room to be helicoptered out to the rock (he was experiencing difficulties with his crew becoming overly moist with excitement.) The hut was duly flown out and Prof. Bourke was most disappointed when fig. 5 arrived out. He felt it lacked beef, so he altered it . . .
Once the adjustments were made (see fig. 6) the good Professor set about drying his parcel of tuna sandwiches which a student had sneezed upon with gusto. The inevitable happened and Skellig Michael now lies nine miles north of it's map position. Hence the inbred fear of drying rooms among archaeologists.
And now swiftly back to satire mode - Rare as drying huts are, there is one sort of hut you wont ever see on a site, the hut that sits in the office crunching numbers, the hut that makes archaeologists and archaeology do with less so there will be more for them, the hut that has as much interest in the past as Catholic clergy have in celibacy . . .
Ooo-err that was a long one.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

FAREWELL MOEBIUS (1938-2012)

Another one of my all time favourite artists has died, Jean Giraud (aka Moebius) - I didn't even know he was ill . . . Giraud was an exceptional comics artist (exceptional in the mode of artists like Hiroshige), apart from comics he worked on the design of many films (eg. Alien, Tron and The Fifth Element,) his influence is clear in Blade Runner and Star wars (Lucas was a big fan - as was Frederico Fellini,) and when he put pen to paper magic just spilled out.


He had a thing for hats too - drew a lot of wonderful hats . . .

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

KEEPING FIT

WARNING: VIEWER DISCRETION REQUIRED
The following blog concerns theoretical archaeology and aerobics - therefore:
(a) it makes no sense,
(b) it contains at least one image of someone disappearing up their own bum.


As we all know, every generation of archaeologist has embraced a unique way of keeping their tickers ticketty-boo. Keeping fit has always been the name of the game - I remember well the exercise regime we espoused during the blue-ribbon yesterdays of Culture-Historical archaeology, it involved myself and my chums filling our Webley and Scott revolvers up to the gunwales with bullets and blasting the living shit out of any cattle who had a problem with our normative model of culture (which was all of them.) Then as twilight approached we hightailed it inside a stately home and ravished a Duchess - or Duke - depending on how many cows we had plugged that day.
It was sheer heaven . . .
Then, one fateful Sunday, we shot a Bishop for a laugh and all our weapons were confiscated, after that all the fun went out of our exercise . . . so I drifted off and in 1970 joined a 'New Archaeology', Processual basketball group. . .
Truth be told I found it very unusual. These people had rules, they had guidelines and  they demanded data every time a ball went through a hoop. Rather dull really, AND there was a bit too much nudity in the dressing room afterwards for my liking . . .  AND, to cap it all, when I suggested we all wander out and find a stately home they accused me of being obsessed with diffusion. I assured them all I had on my mind was 'bumping uglies' but they wouldn't listen . . .
So in the 1980s I moved on and joined a Post-Processual Yoga group where I was advised to attend wearing only a sackcloth. Which I did, despite the bedamnable draughts. The lesson began with our instuctor (although he claimed he was an instructuralist) telling us to adopt the 'desk-based academic' pose. That was reasonably easy (fig.1) - the fingers extended as if typing, the eyes staring blankly towards a dilated pension.
After that the game was afoot and we tried out the 'mumbo jumbo' pose (fig. 2) -head inverted so our words came out backwards and meaningless, the hands dangling, evincing nothing.
At this point our instructor ordered us into the 'humanocentric' posture (fig. 3). I have to admit my back did a wobbler and this led to the instructor furiously accusing me of rank subjectivity.
Finally, with the aid of a dollop of snake-oil, we adopted the 'suspension of disbelief' pose (fig.4). In this dark fragrant position foregrounded cosmologies danced before my eyes as I became one with myself and the universe, everything seemed possible as the Gods of materialities swam before my eyes and questioned what I was seeking . .
 . . . and I answered . . .
'My old Webley revolvers, a dozen sacred cows and a Duchess please.'
Yoga my arse!

So there you have it. To summarise my thesis, I suppose the Culture-Historical school of archaeology had guns and fun, the Processualists were a bit dull (but at least they had balls) and the Post-Processualists? ahem . . . I refer you to fig.4 again (now I can sit back and enjoy the death threats rolling in.)


Allow me to stitch a final 'experimental' cartoon into the fine tapestry of this blog:
Until next week my liver spotted quadrillions!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

FASHION TIPS FOR ARCHAEOLOGISTS No. 10

HIDEY HOLES / CONCEALING ANTIQUITIES


Many years heretofore, when I was a dewy cheeked student of archaeology, the importance of keeping a furtive compartment within ones nethergarments was often impressed on me by my doting mentors. Such pockets of concealment were seen as imperative should one be desirous of smuggling a choice antiquity (or two) out of foreign lands to help swell the national cachet of purloined overseas goodies.
Although Doctor Franc Myles is now no more than a withered prune on the swelling heap of coffin-dodging archaeologists, his own underclothes were, at one time, seen as a textbook example of what an educated gentleman's kegs should look like. To this day Doctor Myles still has a strapping bruise across both buttocks from the legendary smuggling shelf he installed in his nylon Y-fronts. See fig.1 above. He still gamely displays this bruise as a party piece. (To rapturous applause - it might be added.)
The trade in smuggled antiquities was (and this is a fact attested by several friends of friends of mine) initiated by impecunious Egyptians in the late 1700s. These shameless cads came in their busloads to Ireland and began remorselessly thieving precious monuments from the Emerald Isle. Our limited resources were plundered as the Cairo Museum bloated itself with crannogs, stone circles and passage tombs. Part of this nefarious trade involved taking log boats and grinding them up as an aphrodisiac for impotent potentates - see fig. 3.
At this point the British Government (always a stalwart supporter of Irish Nationalist Interests) stepped in and decided it was time to show Egpyt a thing or two about misappropriation. So in 1910 the legendary antiquities 'mule' Mike the Museum Cat, was dispatched to Aswan (at the behest of no less a man than E.A. Wallis Budge) where he began smuggling 'sugar' back to Blighty in his own body cavity. 
Mike's reign of terror among Egyptian customs officials was however, cut short in 1929 when Budge stuffed him with a Mummy case not realising it was of the rare 'Cairo' variety (see fig. 5) and the case accidentally sprang open renting poor Mike asunder. Mike's pelt is, to this day, still proudly displayed at the entrance to the British Museum (albeit as a doormat.)

Today, such unfortunate internal eruptions are no longer to be feared among artefact 'mules' thanks to cutting edge 'Shrinky Sphinx' technology: The artefact to be filched simply has all the ego driven theories (stuffed into it by pompous archaeologists) freeze dried out. This reduces the object to a conceptually small size and it can be downed easily with a gallon of fig syrup. Speaking of figs, see fig. 6.
To finish, seeing as we are already in Northern African climes, a few words about Gordon of Khartoum. Quite a chap, wrote frequent vitriolic dispatches to the British newspapers regarding the Egyptian withdrawal from the Sudan, indeed, when one thinks about it, it could be suggested he was a Victorian Era Blogger!

And the name he gave to his ill-judged, malicious, jaundiced, badly structured, smug dispatches?

You know for a second there I thought this blog was never going to end.

TOODLES!


Tuesday, 6 March 2012

DECONSTRUCTING TYPOLOGIES

Salutations fellow earth stabbers. I begin this post with the glad tidings that I have taken the king's digital shilling and am now running adverts on the site. Google offers anyone who runs a blog the chance to 'monetise' their work by littering it with juicy promotional nuggets - in the hope that the weak minded among you will run out and buy a lorryload of generic viagra and perhaps a lovematch from Thailand too. In the heel of the hunt I stagger away with pockets full of wonga and you have your life 'enriched' with Moshy Seamonkey Teenage Muppet Transformers - or similar. All the adverts they have provided me with are carefully aimed (like consumer Exocets) at archaeologists - such as this one:
Anyway, without further ado, let us proceed with the blog, it's all about typologies today. Surely, as seasoned pros, (see last week's posting,) we are all familiar with that veritable chestnut, the bronze axe typology such as the one shown below -
The question is, do typologies assist in the derring-do, spunky cut and thrust of modern archaeology? Or do they serve only to further blacken the Stygian darkness we all grope and fumble through - what I'm getting at here is . . . Oops! Ding dong! Here comes another advert.
Returning to our subject at hand - typologies. The standard typology is, I feel, (and I am sure many of you would agree,) no more than a pseudo-Darwinian attempt at codifying systems so complicated, the hope of applying a simplistic linear format to them is utterly preposterous. If one takes, for instance, the familiar pottery typology shown below:
Now, if I could just wiggle my typologies to one side while I shoehorn this next advert in.
Do you sit at home wishing you had someone to wash your dishes? Why not try:
Now, to return to my thesis regarding pseudo-Darwianism. To further my point just take a look at the standard 'Ascent of Man' illustration -
If we deconstruct the visual aesthetics of this Darwinian model, clarity rings forth and we notice how tremendously flexible it is, but also how it allows for an overly-generous lateral approach - exempli gratia:
Oh dear, time for another advert, it's making my argument a tad complicated. Well, lie back and think about the money.(See last week's posting.)
And now - are you feeling a bit on the sprightly side? -
Where was I . . . something about Darwinian models was it? Hang on, until I see if I can find a picture of Darwin . . .

No, that's not Darwin, but it's close enough.
Oooh wait, I think I do have a picture of Darwin . . no sorry . . . it's a picture of Conor McDermott upside down. I'll just keep looking . . .
While I'm doing that - have a look at this:
No, no Darwin. Oh yes -another advert. Wonderful. - stay tuned and we'll be back right after this helpful message:
What was this blog about? Adverts or something - My train of thought seems to have become undone. Taken apart. Second World War, with cheese. Thank you nurse.
Good Heavens! My attempts at deconstructing typologies have backfired and the blog has taken it up the jaxie instead!!
So there you have it chums, in summation, look at anything hard enough and long enough and it will disintegrate - particularly if that something is trying to flog you moonshine - and I should know, because I used to be a Roman Catholic. (Gott in Himmel! That last comment has just lost me hits all over Ireland, Italy and the Americas - my advert income has just plumetted through the floor.)


FAREWELL AND IF YOU CAN MAKE ANY SENSE OF THAT PILE OF COBBLERS 'YOU'RE A BETTER MAN THAN I AM GUNGA DIN.'




At this point in my sordid career I feel it is incumbent on me to acknowledge all those lovely boys and girls over at the BAJR forum. Over the past few months I've mined many ideas out of their high horses and their low humour.
Absolutely tip-top totty.
http://www.bajrfed.co.uk/forum.php
Although they may not thank me for being associated with this smutty blog.

Hello

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Ireland
I am a descended from a long line of conga dancers. I occasionally wear shoes. I gave up going to the toilet twenty years ago - it's a filthy habit. I have a pet bunny called Mucky - he's a filthy rabbit.

AND NOW FOR SOME SHAMELESSLY DIMINUTIVE FACES IN SMALL SQUARE BOXES