Better than sculpture…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s special guests on the show are the Sylvester Stallone look-alike twins Martin and Barry Mude. (applause) (S.S.)
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EPSON scanner imageHere is a picture (a digitally scanned negative) from my days of old-style black and white film and darkroom photography – it is probably from the 1980s or 1990s.
Oh, that’s funny… Why do I feel slightly embarrassed when looking at this one?…
Ah, I know! It’s because it looks like the sort of picture that you’d see in one of those old-fashioned amateur photography magazines – crisp black and white prints with copious notes underneath them that go on about shutter speeds and aperture settings, and which film stock and which developer was used, and for how long it was in the developing tank, oh, exactly nine-and-a-half minutes at twenty degrees – see how the depth of field has been calculated to leave the background water slightly out of focus, to give the subject more separation from the… blah, blah… Confident middle-aged men in tweed jackets and well polished brogues, puffing on pipes…
As you see I have cheekily called this post ‘Better than sculpture’ – I suppose what I’m saying is that this piece of old dockside engineering, with its beautifully designed practical forms in cast and machined steel, has a beauty that sculptors could only dream of achieving in their work…
Just look at the thing – sitting there… smug and elegant, resting its hook and its shackles on the concrete, its giant heavy heavy ring, sitting upright at a jaunty angle for us to admire, and to make us want to reach out and touch it, to get a smear of red rust on our soft finger end…

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Hubbub and misheard lyrics…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s popular, but surprisingly boring artist is Damien Hirst.
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There was a lot of hubbub in the cafe. The cafe was hubbuby. The hubbub and the poor diction of the singers made the words of the songs coming over the loudspeakers quite difficult to make out, but I did my best…

Oh, tempa barsa…
the river in my mind
this dove I’m feelin’
Oh, oh, oh…
two beta gether, yay…
a weekend mandible yeh yeh…
there I go… a chew…
you’ll find, but never forget…
our shave railing adventure
some wan, some wan… oh!
fried rice, yes, to happy night now
one ni-ight, one ni-ight…
up tight mushee-ee…
satisfy your oh-oh…
it rain away-ay!
mapey signals at some again
understand, with the hammer now
shoulder me duck get over you-oo…
with my heart so many places
places, faces, whoo to you-oo
I tried to hide, da-da, da-da…
sigh-light, step away, sall-a-laa…
the brightest smile, the kitchen light
lerve, lerve, Persian kiss to me…
I fall inside, yes… a heart daisy
I’m not nepnay, whaa…

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Decalcomania mania…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s existential angst is centred around the sound of the word ‘moil’.
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DSCN3192Yes, folks! It’s decalcomania time again!…
‘Yes, but what the hell is decalcomania Dave?…’ I hear you ask.
Well, it’s a form of fine art printing where crisp striking monoprints can be made by gleefully slapping sloppy paint around on a glass plate and dropping a sheet of paper onto it, to allow nature and serendipity to produce ‘interesting’ effects. For more on this you could have a look at an earlier blog post of mine where I explain in a bit more detail and also encourage you to try this technique yourself! Click!
This print was done in 2010 and is on white drawing paper about 16″ x 12″.
So, what’s going on here? I know, it’s just a couple of rough-looking triangles, but it is difficult to not ‘see things’ in them…
I suppose the initial impression might be that of a couple of humans – one male and one female – see, the chap has wide masculine shoulders and the woman is wearing a long skirt or dress. Is he saying, ‘Look veronica… I’ve brought you a bunch of nice flowers!…’? But Veronica is having none of that, especially after last night’s goings on, and has slapped one of his offered blooms onto the floor…
Or does the work depict a couple of pyramids, one of which has become very bored with sitting immobile in the sand for millennia and has taken up gymnastics and is doing the pyramid equivalent of a handstand?… Please make what you will of the image, it doesn’t really matter does it?…

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Some more smallish items…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s expletive is ‘Zooterkins!’ – a mild oath, often used by ladies of the court in Elizabeth I’s reign.
Why not employ this nice expletive the next time someone bashes a trolley into the backs of your legs at the supermarket checkout?
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Excuses for being late. No. 230.
I’m sorry I’m late, but a subduction zone opened up in my front garden. (S.Z.)

A single overheard remark:
‘You stay in all the time – you’re like a fuckin’ Druid!…’
(I think he meant ‘hermit’.) (D.)

Gosh look, a pretty teenage girl with a thick black Zapata moustache! Oh no, I’m mistaken, she’s just holding the handle of her umbrella up under her nose…

‘Are you seeing anyone at the moment?’
‘What, you mean wraiths, apparitions, dead departed souls?…’
‘No, you idiot! Are you going out with anyone?’
‘What exactly do you mean by ‘out’?’
‘Oh, shut up!…’

Walt Disney was well known for having animated conversations…

‘So, what sort of neighbourhood do you live in Dave?’
‘Well, the other day I noticed a chap on a big loud motorbike coming down the street. He slowed down, turned, and went across the pavement and through an open gate onto the front path of a house; he got off his bike, went into the house and came back out with a wooden plank. He laid the plank up the front step of the house, got back on his bike and drove it up the plank into the house, switched the engine off, came out and got his plank, went back inside with it and shut the door behind him…’
‘Nice!…’

A single overheard remark:
‘He didn’t have a corner to stand in!…’

‘What are all those strange insubstantial things flopping about on the cafe floor Dave?’
‘Oh, they are just the voices of the young singer songwriters whose songs have been playing over the cafe speakers.’
‘What?… So why…?’
‘Well, didn’t you notice? The track that played after theirs happened to be by Aretha Franklin – the power of her voice sucked all the life out of their feeble efforts, and they could do nothing but fall out of the speakers and wallow in their mediocrity on the cappuccino-stained cafe floor…’
‘Oh, the poor young things!…’
‘Indeed!…’

 

 

 

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At the supermarket checkout…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s instruction is to wet it down completely with a hose pipe, sprinkle goofer dust over the central area, then walk around it six times in an anticlockwise direction with closed eyes, humming Abba’s hit song ‘Money money money’. (G.D.)
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So, I placed my bits of shopping on the checkout moving belt: a nice head of broccoli, three brown onions (large) in their red fishnet stocking, a sliced wobbly brown loaf with many seeds in it, a tube of plaque fighter toothpaste, a single asteroid-shaped dirty orange sweet potato, next week’s copy of What’s On TV, a transparent oblong trough of shiny green seedless grapes, and a moderately-sized block of dangerously strong mature cheddar.
The lady with the nice eyes and the coloured hair whizzed them through the scanner and without looking up said, ‘That’ll be two hundred and thirty thousand and eight pounds, and six pence please, do you have a club card?…’
‘Er, no…I haven’t…’ I said, ‘but surely that can’t be right… Can it?…’
‘Well, that’s what it has come up as sir’ she said.
‘Perhaps you have mis-scanned something? I said.
‘I don’t think so sir…’
‘Well, it seems a bit much to me… Perhaps you’d be kind enough to tell me how many items you scanned?’
She grudgingly examined her screen and said, ‘Eight items sir…’
I looked down at my heap of stuff and did a quick count, ‘Well, that seems alright, I make it eight too.’
‘Do you want to pay by card sir?’ she snapped, I think she was now getting a bit annoyed.
‘No no, not yet’ I said, and added, ‘Could you just perhaps…’
‘There’s a long queue building up behind you sir…’ she said, and for the first time looked me in the eye.
I continued, ‘…perhaps you could tell me which item on the list cost the most?’
She sighed audibly and looked down at the screen again, ‘It’s the Rolls-Royce Wraith at ¬£230,000…’
I responded with, ‘Well, that’s not bad value for money I suppose, but if you’d care to look at my pile of shopping, I don’t think you’ll see such an item there…’
She glanced over and said, ‘Mm… s’pose so…’
Anyway, eventually she called the manager over who frowned at me, and then put her glasses on and pondered over the screen, and then over my pile of goods; she noticed the queue behind me and shooed them off to a different checkout. After a bit of key tapping and umming and ahhing it was discovered that my tube of toothpaste had scanned in as a Rolls-Royce Wraith, and my bill was reduced accordingly. The manager in a bored monotone recited a half-hearted apology and handed me a little badly printed voucher.
Once outside I decided, as the evening was a pleasant one, that I would walk home rather than get the bus. As I passed through the supermarket car park there was a sudden shout of ‘Hoy!…’ behind me. I turned, and saw a man in a suit. He called across, ‘Have you got your voucher?…’
I shouted back, ‘Yes…’ and I took it out of my pocket and waved it at him. He waved back jingling a key fob with ‘R-R’ emblazoned on it and said, ‘Just follow me sir, I’ll show you where it’s parked…’
I chuckled as we walked along because I suddenly realised that they had forgotten to charge me for the toothpaste…

 

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Messing with letters… Oofing?…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s random dictionary words are: proin, prolegomena, proglottis, progne, pronotum, and bummalo. Please have these words looked up and placed in suitable sentences ready for Professor Mouldie first thing after breakfast tomorrow morning. Extra marks will be awarded to any student bringing fruit. A word of warning: Professor Mouldie does not get on with plums or damsons.
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A simple, but annoying puzzle involving the letter ‘R’.
Yes, it does look like a poem doesn’t it? But no, it isn’t one.
I call this the ‘Blocksmith Puzzle’ because its origin was in a keyboard error I once noticed I’d made typing the word ‘locksmith’.
It’s a nice word, blocksmith!…

Some of the letter Rs have been deliberately loosened from this page, please tip all these words into a small bag, give it a good shake, and then tip them out to see if order can spontaneously arise from chaos.

ocket ricicle umour roxen

eality raspidistra hapsody runcle

usty rumpteen ancour runderstanding

ental reditor ye ron

hythmically rontological oyalty rash

ecycled rirritant oofing rearl

amparts reach amblers ryacht

 

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Three faces in Leeds market…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s letter of the alphabet is the capital K – a very spiky letter is the capital K – Joseph K from The Trial… or, oh dear, images of the Ku Klux Klan… or perhaps just a Swiss Army Knife standing up demonstrating¬† semaphore with a couple of its larger blades?…
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DSCN3496Here’s a picture I took, or shall we say ‘captured’ – I notice that on Flickr some people when commenting on someone’s photo will say, ‘nice capture!’ I’m not sure I like that… So, here’s a picture I took, in the nearby city of Leeds a few months ago. It shows a stall in the large indoor market in the city centre.
It was the big growling tiger that caught my attention initially, but I quickly decided that the two humans below would certainly balance the composition nicely.
I must have been feeling unusually confident that day because I actually asked these two if I could take their picture – I’m usually a bit shy on these occasions. They nodded, but I think they’d rather I’d bought a couple of their rugs instead – business seemed quiet that afternoon.
When I upload it to Flickr I think I’ll give it the title ‘Three faces’… or does that sound a bit arty-farty? I do like the way the lady has her hand up to her face and is avoiding the camera. She seems to be looking across to her companion in a ‘meaningful’ way. I’m not sure whether he is smiling or not – am I mistaken, or is there a bit of drama going on here? What do you think?… I think the tiger is at the back of it all…

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