Me, I blame Clint…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s dance is the Bagurumba. Come on! Let’s bagurumba around the kitchen… Oops!… Mind that pile of dirty crockery Stella!… (Bagurumba)

I was sitting on a bus that had stopped at the traffic lights.
A chap on a bicycle whizzed past my window, slowed a little, then rode through the lights, still at red, and weaved in and out of the traffic crossing the junction and continued up the road ahead.
Nothing very unusual there then, but I started to wonder why people did this sort of thing; have they always done it or is this a relatively recent trend? Perhaps I have only just started to notice it?
Thinking it over, I decided that no, people haven’t always done this, and that really it is all the fault of Clint Eastwood…
I’m very tempted to leave that statement hanging there in the air, and leave it to you to work out where-I-am-coming-from
Alright then, it’s all to do with those very popular obsessive anal-retentive characters our Clint used to play – the moody unshaven lone cowboy without a girlfriend, the mentally unstable cop Dirty Harry, and there are probably some others cast in the same mould that I haven’t spotted. These are self-confident testosterone fuelled men who live exciting lives, ignoring the conventions of society, going their own way, damning those torpedoes, and cheerfully breaking all the rules to achieve their ends, no matter what…
Yes, Dirty Harry, the heroic figure, the outsider, the closet fascist, the cool role model with right on his side (in both senses of the word), and a sizable gun in his hand… gee whizz… what a guy!… It’s the American way!…
Would Harry stop at a red light when he was out on his bicycle?… Hell no!

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“A quick dip will be almost as effective…”

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s elephant in the room is the one annoying everyone by trumpeting along with music on his headphones.

This is one of the more interesting ones from my collection of cheap old junk shop books; it’s The 1954 Gadgets Annual; specially compiled by W. N. Shaw from features published in the Gadgets Magazine. Here’s a snap of the title page dear reader:

DSCN39001954 – those were that days when money was short and people mended things instead of throwing them away as we do today; they also devised and constructed useful items for the home, garden and workshop. Here are few items picked at random from these crumbling yellowed pages: A Modified Coat Hanger, Long-Seam Soldering Simplified, Repairing Cracked Linoleum, A Magnetised Hammer-Head for Handy Nails, Restore Lustre to Necklaces and Bangles, Rejuvenate Dry Paste. etc.

‘Yes dear?’
‘I was just looking in my current Gadgets Magazine, and…’
‘I thought we’d agreed that you’d stop buying that silly thing Albert!’
‘…and as Christmas is approaching…’
‘Yes Madge dear, I’ll bet you didn’t know that cotton-wool snow, you know, that we have around the Christmas tree, and on the mantelpiece with the cards, can be highly inflammable!’
‘Yes, and if it were to…’
‘Perhaps we won’t have any cotton-wool snow this year, it doesn’t look that convincing anyway and…’
‘Ah, but all is not lost – the magazine has a solution, and a solution –  see Madge, I made a small joke there…’
‘Do we have any Ammonium Sulphate in the house?’
‘I shouldn’t think so.’
‘We don’t need much… how about some Ammonium Carbonate? We only want three grams of that…’
‘Is this your little joke Albert?’
‘No dear, my joke was a pun on the word ‘solution’.’
‘I don’t think it was a pun Albert…’
‘Oh?… What was it then?’
‘I don’t know, how about a cup of tea?’
‘Right ho… I’m parched…’

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Money well spent Dave?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s unusual pencil sharpener is the one shaped like the sound of rustling in the undergrowth.

I had heard of such things of course, but had never considered getting a pair.
‘What is he talking about? Jodhpurs? Silver candlesticks? Lycra cycling shorts? Duelling pistols? Thigh waders? Boxing gloves? Staffordshire pot dogs for the mantelpiece? Plastic angel wings?’
My neighbour, the engineer, who regularly travels the world doing very clever engineering things mentioned them; he spends hours and days sitting on aeroplanes; he said that he’d tried them and was seriously thinking of getting a pair.
‘Egyptian cotton pillow cases? Ornamental bookends in the shape of a dachshund? Lead weighted divers’ boots? Skis? Maracas? Diamond cuff-links?…’
No… ‘Noise cancelling’ headphones! He said that he had tried a pair, (was it during a wait at Hong Kong Airport?) he said that they were a revelation!
Now, as you can probably guess, I am not one for whizzing around the world on aeroplanes, but I do occasionally go on trains and more regularly on buses, and I do frequent cafes which are sometimes very noisy, and the hubbub is especially annoying when I am trying to write the first drafts of these blog pieces in my little notebook. I went online and bought a pair – TDK N60NC ones at about £150 from Amazon.
I am sitting here in my favourite cafe as I write this; it is about 5pm on a Friday; there is Amy Winehouse and her surprisingly coarse voice issuing from the speakers up on the wall, there is a party of men, from their language sound to me like East Europeans, who are having a caffeine-fuelled jolly shouting match at a nearby table; oh, and one of the cafe staff has just decided to enthusiastically drag some squealing chairs and tables around the wooded floor.
Right, now for it; headphones out of bag, slide the little switch, green light comes on, headphones on head… Oh joy! Amy and the East Europeans, and even the furniture dragger have suddenly receded into the distance, as if they are all now doing their stuff in a well padded room next door…
I might even switch my MP3 player on and listen to some quiet tasteful blues music, how about Tommy Johnson? Yes, it was a very good idea buying these headphones, well worth the expense – and a lot better than a pair of thigh waders… or plastic angel wings… (TJ)

Posted in cafe, conversation, Hull.UK., humour, information, music, overheard, surrealism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Just a few titchy items…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s Raymond Chandler quotation is from the novel The High Window (1943):
‘Somebody had just opened the door of the outer office…
It was a slim tall self-satisfied looking number in a tropical worsted suit of slate blue, black and white shoes, a dull ivory-coloured shirt and a tie and display handkerchief the colour of jacaranda bloom. He was holding a long black cigarette-holder in a peeled white pigskin glove and he was wrinkling his nose at the dead magazines on the library table and the chairs and the rusty floor covering and the general air of not much money being made.’

Excuses for being late. No. 314.
I’m sorry I’m late, but I had to cut up some sheets of Kizuki 4 Monme. (K4M)

A single overheard remark:
‘And she went, “What you do your chin?”…’

An observation:
I was looking out of my front window the other day and observed a middle-aged woman walking down the street, she was holding a shiny new frying pan by its handle, it was pointing downwards and swinging to-and-fro a little as she strode along.
‘There you are madam, that will be £5.99… Would you like it in a bag?’
‘No, no, I don’t mind carrying it exposed, it’s only a frying pan after all.’
‘As you wish madam… only, some people would…’
‘Would what?’
‘Oh, nothing… Thank you, good morning…’

Heard on the radio – an architect talking about her new building:
‘Yes, our thought was, can we turn up the volume on the uniqueness?..’

The use of rhythm in classical music:
Well, J S Bach and Prokofiev did it pretty well; Stravinsky, John Adams, and Philip Glass had a stab at it, but their attempts were a mess, they just didn’t get it did they?… I reckon they should have listened to more Bo Diddley… (Bo)

Yes, I’m thinking of changing my name to Misty Meanor.

‘Why have you got so many of those gadgets and things on your phone?’
‘Because it makes me appy…’

An observation:
Oh look, there’s Scarlett Johansson and Robert De Niro sitting on a bench sharing chips and peas from a plastic tray in Dulltown centre – they must be on location here doing a film.

A single overheard remark:
‘So you see, I’d have to shave my finger…’

Posted in art, blues, books, brain, conversation, cool, Dulltown, food, humour, information, music, observations, overheard, reading, serendipity, surrealism, words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Creative things against the green wall…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s existential angst is centred around the sound of the word logodaedaly.

dscn4347‘Now, what was that funny chord?… Hang on a minute, the phone’s ringing – I’ll just lean my guitar here for a moment while I… ah, it’s just another cold caller from India, I don’t think I’ll bother to… Oh, look, what a pleasing combination of objects, perhaps I should take a quick photograph…’
It’s a nice looking guitar isn’t it? It’s an Epiphone Casino, a popular guitar from the 1960s – John Lennon and Howlin’ Wolf, the great bluesman, used to play them (HW) – this isn’t an original one of course, they cost thousands of pounds. No, this is modern ‘made in China’ version of it; some of the fittings are a bit on the cheap side, but it does feel nice to play and the sound is really rich and classy. Note how there are a few inches of inaccessible fingerboard up on the body, this means that some of the high notes are impossible to get to without wrist acrobatics, but that’s really not that important when it sounds so good is it?
So what about the artwork?
Well, these two pieces would be a future art historian’s joy, if I were ever to be famous and worth writing about; you see the charcoal and pencil drawing at the back, has some fluffy cloud-like things in its dramatic sky, and if you look closely you can see that I have gone around their edges with a fine pencil giving them a hard outline to deliberately take the edge off their fluffiness. I have been doing this little trick in my drawing for years, but after finishing this one I tried some new drawings making random smudgy charcoal marks and then using this same ‘outlining’ technique on them. After enjoying that for a while I wondered what it would be like applying it to painted random marks too; and so I drifted into doing my ‘spatter paintings’ with black ink outlining instead of pencil; and just by chance here is one of them standing in front of the original drawing (spatter). Oh, what fun it has been…
Now let’s get back to that funny Captain Beefheart chord I was trying to figure out when the phone rang… (Chords)

Posted in art, blues, brain, composition, creation, drawing, existentialism, guitars, humour, information, learning, painting, photography, seeing, serendipity, style, surrealism, words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Spatter painting No. 17…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s instruction is to cut the four strips of yellow and black tape with a sharp craft knife, slide the device horizontally out of its packaging and lay it on a table, peel off the transparent protective membrane and discard it, press in lugs A, B, and D, (but not lug C) until they click home, connect to the mains supply using the cord provided and switch on the power, lean over and sniff close to the vents in the top to check for any smell of burning plastic and rubber which may be emanating from the inside. Have a couple of buckets of water placed nearby before pressing and holding the red ‘go’ button…

spatter-17-26-x-20Acrylic paint and black ink on drawing paper about 26″ x 20″

Yes, it seems ages since I forced you to look at one of my spatter paintings. Gosh, these are fun to do, I love to work closely with that flighty serendipitous lass Mother Nature – perhaps I should do some more of these when I finish my current run of linocuts, which are of course more carefully planned and much more slowly executed.

What do you make of this one? Can you look at it and just see the shapes, blobs, and spots, or do you start reading images into it? A couple of fabulous creatures having a rough and tumble at bedtime? Scary huge tropical insects fighting over the ownership of a particular area of forest floor? A pair of alien beings involved in a dance/performance piece at a trendy London venue? Some startling gymnastic ectoplasm at a hippy séance?…
I care not… Me, I just like the shapes and the colours…



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Some overheard and misheard snatches of cafe conversation…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s dictionary words are: amerce, weasand, purim, lubber, riparian, sudder, and menhaden. Please have these words looked up and placed in suitable sentences ready for Professor Mouldie first thing after breakfast tomorrow morning. Should the professor turn up and conduct the lesson wearing a fancy dude cowboy outfit and twirling a lasso you must not allow this to distract you from your studies.

‘Look! You see my ear lobes?…’
‘Da-da didn’t…’
‘A palm hat and the full orange?’
‘He was dellaway diamond Tony.’
‘He was natural-born behind her back.’
‘Comrade Pea – same song, same doggie!’
‘You should put your turkey on now Stephen.’
‘Jesus for a second, but not fully attached.’
‘The ladies with crossed legs?’
‘Relationships are built on white lies anyway.’
‘Lucky lucky zero!…’
‘There was a gryphon on the table.’
‘Yes, a fish-shaped face.’
‘Oh dear Chris, Irish straw?’
‘A disposable cleat?’
‘Pamela, it’s just a smoke you know!’
‘A vendor rhythm it’s not!’
‘Breath in for Bordeaux George.’
‘It was sky-high-high you know.’
‘Gipshon tededda?…’
‘You know… Down on one knee?…’
‘Nathan, it’s only me rolling about!’
‘But that’s just decorating the sharp end!’
‘Kiss me, kiss me!’
‘Are you really eating that?’
‘Julian always kept things on his own cake.’

If you are curious about how these items are collected you could click here.


Posted in brain, conversation, cool, drama, humour, information, mind, misheard, observations, overheard, poetry, surrealism, words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments