Monday, February 21, 2022

Not, Not, Not Recommended

A moderately useless post here because even in this community, few (that is none) of you were going to be checking out this podcast anyway. I wanted more British/European archaeology after listening to all the Prehistory Guys (previously Standing with Stones) podcasts. Those are recommended, with only occasional complaints from me. But now it is updated only intermittently.  They have a YouTube channel.  I haven't seen it, because walking even on rail trails while watching videos is dangerous, but I will bet it is fine. When I go for my advance week of looking at archaeological sites that no one in the family is interested in, I will watch all of the ones pertinent to my choices beforehand. When the others come we would then go to Newgrange, Waterford Crystal, and Giant's Causeway, if Ireland.  England would be taken up with places Harry Potter was filmed, I imagine if we go there. I keep murmuring "Orkney, Orkney" and "Durrington Walls" in hopes of getting others interested.  We'll see. The new daughter-in-law has been on one walking tour in the north of England already, and the girlfriend of Son #5 was born near Leeds and goes back often.  So there is hope they will have influence where I cannot.

I am not doing well in my search for new podcasts. I thought piggybacking on Time Team, a very popular British series that ran for twenty years, about archaeologists who have to do a whole dig in three days - usually because something significant was discovered when a building was going up. I'll keep trying. First up was the cutely named Chronology Crew, a commentary on every episode in some of the later seasons. I may fight my way through a second trial episode just for the information. I doubt it.  The male host seems to be a professional archaeologist who is also a comedian, having performed at the Edinburgh Fringe. He was unexciting, but seemed to know a little something.  The female host I cannot find a certain description of.  She may be the Sarah Jones who is a performer doing historical recreations of multiple characters for TED talks and similar. To give you an idea on that, she does six Elizabethan characters, including a sex worker - and does sex workers in other eras as well. I imagine it sells well.

But...perhaps not her.  The podcast Sarah Jones has a PhD in something, though I couldn't figure out what. Dear God, I hope it's not in history or anything like it, because she asked "what is a mercenary?" I thought at first it might be a modern philosophical discussion around the idea that all soldiers are mercenaries anyway, which would be tedious but not infuriating. But no, she did not know what the term meant. Strike one. Then at minute 15 she is asking the other host "A barrow? What is a barrow?" She is hosting a British archaeology podcast. Strike two. And at minute thirty she hears about Crecy, and wants to know how it's spelled - is it the same as that donut company in Wales, she wonders? Otherwise had no knowledge of Crecy. Strike...

They did like telling us they were hung over this week at the beginning, and liked to make jokes that the earlier Britons were sort of UKIP-y because they didn't want the Saxons coming in. Sarah thought it was completely inappropriate that one of the Time Team members didn't have respect for the dead, as he referred to the 6th C skeletons that they had found and needed to figure out as "stiffs." Seemed mildly funny and not offensive to me, thanks.  Exactly the sort of thing a person who had seen lots of them might say. It's not as if it's your Granny, Sarah. They also had a debate as to whether the developer that owned the property was a prat or not.

I thought the other podcast, Time Team: Unearthing the Past would be better, but so far only intermittently. I care about archaeology, not archaeologists. I put myself in their shoes and I get it. "You are having a podcast, the 2-3 of you with guests, on the following subject.  So develop what you like, other people will probably like that. Plus, you have to develop an audience that likes you."  And many probably will. What I dislike about these podcasts may be what most people enjoy, the group-belonging feeling. It is reminiscent of the recipe sites, where you are scrolling through the photos and stories about this woman's ethnic grandmother, and her early years of marriage with small children and no money or time, or her food allergies, and ads for ordering this at Whole Foods, trying to get to the damn recipe. They are trying to build a loyal audience.  If they can get 1% of the readers to want to follow what they say they can get paid more from their advertisers.  They are trying to make a living, I get it.  Yet I am also aware of the woman who wryly noted "If I ever commit a murder I am going to confess it in the text of a recipe I am putting up on the internet, because no one will ever read it there." The same is true with podcasts

But dear God I hate it.  "I loved working with Robin, who is a fine old fellow - a throwback, really, who likes his cigars and wine and tells wonderful stories at the pub in the evening while we are out on a dig." I don't care. Please, please stop.  

This happened to me with the "Pints With Jack" podcast about CS Lewis as well. It was five minutes, then ten, and now fifteen minutes every episode of chit-chat of how much fun it is to be CS Lewis fans and get to talk to all the others. Walter Hooper was so gracious to us when he had us over for tea.  His cat is named Blessed Lucy of Narnia..." As I said above, they have been given permission to talk about what interests them, and thus their recent engagements, their travels, their work schedules, the teas they like, their name-dropping...all of this is what comes to their mind, so they believe you will care as well. Except I tuned in to learn things about CS Lewis or hear discussions of his work.  I like a bit of personal interest here and there, but it can't be the focus. It smacks of "The Inner Ring," actually.  William O'Flaherty's All About Jack is better.


Douglas2 said...

I had a boss who was fond of saying "television without pictures is much better than radio without sound".

I'd bet that there is a good chance that 99.95% of the content of the the Prehistory Guys videos comes through over the headphones just fine with the phone or tablet securely out of sight in a pocket or bag.

A sure way to 'wind up' people from Leeds is to ask them about visiting Leeds Castle -- the castle is in Kent some ~250 miles from the city of Leeds in Yorkshire.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

Likely true about the video not helping much for most people. I may be a slightly different case. I have learned late in life that I do not visualise well, which is likely why description in books is largely opaque to me and I skip over it - or don't choose that sort of book. I avoided watching the LOTR movies for many years, despite the urging of my children, who grew up having it read aloud to them multiple times. I worried that Jackson would get the voices wrong, which he somewhat did. But his capturing of scenes and scenery (I love landscapes but had none in memory for LOTR despite multiple rereadings) was magnificent, and I felt I benefited from that experience, even though I objected to some editorial and artistic decisions.

So I think it would be an advantage to see these places in advance and not be thoroughly surprised by them. The historical knowledge of the neolithic structures and their use in the Bronze age? Sure, the video is not going to help at all. Reading or hearing or discussing are my preferred methods of learning. Yet I am terribly weak in that one area.

JohnB said...

I have been to Orkney, first alone in the 1970s and then with my family in the 2000s. Luckily my family likes history and "old rocks". I later went to the Shetlands with my wife and got to see more Neolithic remains and the still-intact broch of Mousa ( You can go inside it and climb to the top!

You should work hard on persuading people to go. Where else can you go to two rings of standing stones and two chambered tombs in an afternoon?

james said...

I wonder if Sarah Jones was trying to play Everyman, the way Tony Robinson did when he asked the archaeologists questions as though he hadn't heard the answers for a dozen seasons before. Of course he's an actor, and probably plays Everyman better.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Theoretically possible, but I didn't get that impression, and still don't even after reviewing it in my head. I think she is not that smart and consequently has a low store of general information.