Just a few short, but pithy items…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s architectural term is Slype – a covered way or passage, especially in a cathedral or monastic church, leading east from the cloisters between transept and chapter house. Oh, I do like the idea of sauntering down a slype!

Excuses for being late. No. 460.
I’m sorry I’m late, but I became engrossed writing my new mission statement.

A single overheard remark:
‘Terry, what are forget-me-nuts?…’

‘Did you just mutter, “Fuck off Franz!”?…’
‘Yes I did!’
‘Franz Schubert – he’s on the radio, classical music station – I don’t like his tunes!’
‘Ah, right ho… Fuck off Franz it is then.’

From outer space!… From outer space!…
Do you like really old, strange odd music? I do!…
This piece is from 1959, and it’s a lot better than Franz Schubert!
Click here to hear.

Well, I shouldn’t be complaining I suppose, but lately I’m getting a lot less spam dropping into my comments box than I used to – and what I do get is pretty anodyne stuff. I used to receive crazy items that described, in very broken and misspelled English: life in a dysfunctional and heavily religious family; plenty of guidance on cosmetics and skin care; recommendations for the best companies for office cleaning in New York; pages full of tips for urban gardens, badly translated from some foreign language…
But still, dear reader, let’s see what maybe left kicking about at the bottom of my almost empty spam tub.
How about this from someone with the unlikely name of Nellitine:
I loved as much as you’ll receive carried out right here.
The sketch is tasteful, your authored material
stylish, nonetheless, you command get bought an impatience over that which you wish be delivering the following, unwell questionably come further formally again as exactly the same nearly very often inside case you shield this increase…
My dear Nellitine, thank you so much for getting in touch! Perhaps the next time you communicate, and I hope that you do, you might consider sharing some hilarious details of your troubled relationship with religion, or even a few novel gardening hints for the coming season. I really do like your style, whatever the subject matter – so let’s have plenty more of it!

Yes, I am thinking of changing my name to, Hercule Ian Task.

A single overheard remark: (A mother to her child in the supermarket.)
‘Don’t get clever Daisy!… Look! I’m telling yer!…’

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Shall we get locked down with the revenants and spooks?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s lost plectrum is the one eventually found in the left leg of Henry VIII’s suit of armour in the Tower of London.

You know, you’ve got to be really desperate to watch tat like this!
Yes, I know, you can happily strum your guitar at the same time, but you could have something more sensible and entertaining on the TV – something like football, snooker, or economics, or world news, an in-depth British political discussion programme with lots of shouting…
Actually, no, just a minute! Do keep it on – look, the plucky psychic researchers are sneaking down those worn old stone steps into the Stygian murk of the basement – see, they are brushing the cobwebs aside as they go – could you just stop twanging for a moment – you are ruining the atmosphere! Anyway, your second string is half a semitone flat… Pass me that pen, I want to write down some of the voice-over and chat between the investigators as they…

Hello? – it smells weird in here – what is that stink? – we’ll use the Tri-Field reader! – oh, my hand feels electricity! – How Do You Know My Name? – they were probably conjured from the other side – should we pull back and let the spirits rest in peace? – Shit! – I saw a shadow figure under that arch! – there is a creepy vibe now – I’m suddenly aware of energy! – a door banging upstairs! – we have not met this energy pattern before in all of our… – my body, suddenly became drained – a black monk? – an entity that is truly inhuman – a case of demonic presence – I just got dizzy too! – Are You Upstairs? – Is There Some Secret? – look! – the audio device! – she said she saw solid figures – try the Geo-Port – I can’t even think now – I was just pushed by an evil presence! – Oh no! – fuck! – spiders!…

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Well, that was an odd dream!…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s interesting fish names are: the Airsac Catfish, the Sacramento Splittail, the Ocean Sunfish, the Sand Stargazer, the Sharpnose Puffer and the Ziege.
If you found yourself on a fish appreciation chatroom, which of these would you try to slip into the conversation?

Have you been having odd dreams during this self-isolation thing that we’ve all been doing? I have, but I usually wake up knowing I’ve had one, but can’t remember the details. I can remember last night’s though!
When you have an unusual vivid and detailed one, you wonder what might have caused it – something you ate or drank the previous evening? I put last night’s down to a few drops of Tesco Light Soy Sauce (A taste of China) I sprinkled on my evening meal, or was it that half-bar of Green & Black’s Organic 37% Cocoa Milk Chocolate that I ate before retiring?
When I woke up this morning I jotted some details down on my bedside notepad:

I know this is London – but it looks like hilly Bristol – a lovely warm bright clear day, everything is sharp and dazzling. Down there, surrounded by the brightly-coloured cars must be the river – I don’t think it’s the Thames though – here is that long-established art supplies shop – how nice, it is next to an art gallery with big wide steps leading up to the open doors, there are thick grey granite columns each side. But what I need to buy are some Swann-Morton scalpel blades for my lino cutting work – I’m sure this place will sell them – they come sealed in silver foil with ‘non-sterile’ printed on it – oh, but what a crisp day it is! One can see for miles, and the fine detail! What an unusually steep steel hill that is to the right, it is covered in houses and shops rising up and up – you’d think that they’d slide off – this must be Muswell Hill. Who is this man approaching? He’s like a character actor from 1950-60s British  films – he looks like Vincent Ball or is he Duncan Lamont? He is wearing a long dusty grey warehouse coat – I say to Duncan – ‘I need a Swann-Morton blade…’ ‘Which model?’ he says. ‘Look, I’ll draw it for you,’ I say. ‘Oh, that one,’ he says, ‘follow me!’ We walk through the bustling streets – he spots a man on top of a pair of aluminium steps doing something to an awning on a shopfront. He runs over and starts shaking and rocking the steps, and laughing uproariously as the man on top shouts in panic. People stop and gawp as my companion continues – a small crowd is following us now – ‘Here’s the art supplies shop,’ he says, pointing. There is a narrow door, a very narrow door, but made of thick wood painted a dirty pink. We squeeze through into an equally narrow passageway with a low curved roof of bricks – the walls are of rough orange-brown stone, and it looks like a dead end, but now there appear to be some well-worn ascending steps off to the right – they curve away – we go up into an airy well-lit room. ‘Where’s that drawing of yours?’ Duncan says. He goes behind an old polished oak glass-fronted display cabinet, opens a drawer in it and takes out a five-pack of blades and throws it across the counter towards me – it slithers as it comes. ‘These are the ones that you want!’ he says. ‘ How do I know?’ I say, ‘The model number isn’t on the wrapping.’ ‘Slit it open, and look, these are shaped like bird’s beaks, these are shaped like the sharp end of a French curve, you know…’
Duncan was correct… Number 12… 

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Mail Art Postcard. No. 4850…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s carefully selected adjectives are: bushy, gratulatory, syenitic, podophthalmous, ventral, armgaunt, and rocky.

Yes, it’s just another mail art postcard from the long-running grand series! Number 4850!
Bloody hell, that’s a lot of cards made and sent over the years!

Just a simple collage using a couple of clippings from a trashy British TV listings magazine, probably What’s On TV.
Isn’t it funny how one can simply juxtapose what looks like an advertisement (probably for home furnishings), and a chunk of unrelated text, which I expect was promoting some dreary crime series, and create, in that juxtaposition, something packed with so much meaning and drama?
Gosh! You don’t often get juxtaposition used twice in the same sentence, do you?
Of course, it’s the closed-lipped smile on the lady’s face!
Is that a ‘knowing smile’?
I’m not sure if I’d spot a ‘knowing smile’ even if one was directed straight at me – you know, perhaps over the top of a newspaper on a long boring train journey, or across a buzzing posh cocktail party. Have you ever been to a cocktail party, dear reader?
I haven’t – am I missing out on something?

‘Well, the police did call, and they had a really good look around – under all the cushions, under the kitchen sink, even up the ladder and into the loft – I did feel a bit nervous at that point – but they didn’t find the… Well, at this point I won’t say, of course. They have taken my phone, my diary, and my laptop away, I expected that, but they won’t find anything incriminating. I think I might have a stroll around the garden shortly, I have some loose earth that needs patting down, just beyond the compost heap…’

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What’s that, on your amp?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s unusual china teapot is the one shaped like the Andromeda Galaxy – very stylish, but a particularly poor pourer.

On my amp?
Oh yes, it’s a rough pencil sketch for another lino print.

Yes, it’s a ‘Peavey Bandit 75’ from 1988, it’s a solid-state 75 watt amplifier with a good quality 12 inch speaker in it – it does do overdrive, but transistor amps never seem to do it as well as valves, or tubes, as the Americans called them, but playing with the distortion switched off it sounds surprisingly classy and rich – I used to use it a lot when I was in bands – it is quite a heavy thing, but good amplifiers generally are, I attached a pair of sturdy folding inset steel handles, one at each side, so one didn’t have to lift it in and out of cars or vans, one-handed by its handle – I never liked get-ins and get-outs for gigs – oh, one could only dream of having roadies to do it for you, while you flopped onto your posh hotel bed with a calming cup of cocoa, or went to a local hot trendy nightclub to dance the night away to rave and Goth music, until sun up…

Why don’t you tell us about the drawing?
Oh… Right…
Well, after messing about with those capital letter stencils in the recent ‘DUX’ print, I wondered if I should keep them handy and use them again, and maybe grab a French curve, but a different one from the one that I used for the bird-heads, and cobble something new, and unusual, together…
Do go on
Ah, I thought – what if I picked a letter from the stencils, say a ‘W’, drew round it, and then turned it upside down, and put it underneath, like a reflection – but with the black and white reversed, it might look…?
Might look?
Oh, it would sort of have the feel of one of those early 20th c. prints, perhaps a wartime one, that Paul Nash or Edward Wadsworth might do, you know, perhaps with sort of ‘shading’, warships and sea, and reflections, in it – it could even be a bit austere looking… You know, a bit angular, 1940s poster style… Perhaps the French curve could have a reflection below it like the ‘W’ has? We might have a silhouetted cruiser, or a destroyer, included somewhere too…
What do you mean, ‘Hm’…?

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But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s joke is the one about the cost of the Prime Minister’s wallpaper… (click)

‘You seem a little pensive…’
‘Pensive? Do I?…’
‘Not a little pen sieve though?’
‘No… Not the noun, the adjective.’
‘Are there such things?’
‘The noun? I expect so… So, what were you…?’
‘Looking pensive about?’
‘I was considering getting a fob.’
‘A job?’
‘No, a fob.’
‘A fob?’
‘Yes! A fob! A fob, fob, fob!…’
‘Is it a noun or a verb?’
‘I think fob can be both.’
‘It was Tuesday. I was walking along. It was an unusually chilly day.’
‘Yes, Tuesday was.’
‘I had my hands in my pockets…’
‘Would you like a bottle of stout?’
‘Oh yes, thank you. Is it dark stout?’
‘Yes, darkish – but do go on.’
‘And as I walked, I started to feel, uneasy.’
‘No, uneasy.’
‘Oh, how so? Would you like a glass for it?’
‘No, no, the bottle will be fine. You see I was feeling as if I’d forgotten something.’
‘And had you?’
‘Had I what?’
‘Forgotten something?’
‘Oh no, but I felt like I had, you see… Aren’t you having a stout?’
‘No – well, just pour a bit of yours into this paper cup for me. Thank you…’
‘You see, it was a matter of keys.’
‘No, keys… The keys, in my pocket, at the tips of my fingers.’
‘In your pocket?’
‘Yes, they didn’t feel right.’
‘Yes, too light in weight – so they didn’t feel right. Hence, the unease.’
‘Hence the unease?’
‘Yes. You see, I had recently found that… Another top-up from my bottle?’
‘Thank you… But do go on.’
‘Are you gripped by my yarn?’
‘Your yarn? Yes I am!’
‘I found that I was carrying around too many keys, needlessly.’
‘Keys, needlessly…’
‘So you thinned the not-often-used ones out?’
‘I did, I thinned them out. Off the ring they came!’
‘How many were left on your ring?’
‘Just two.’
‘And being used to the weight of the old bunch?…’
‘The presence, the haptic weight was different.’
‘The haptic weight?’
‘Yes. It felt like something was missing – triggering a feeling of…’
‘Mild anxiety!’
‘Oh?… Another stout? My, you do drink quickly!’
‘Yes…  So, I was pondering on purchasing a fob, to make up the weight.’
‘To make you feel more at ease with the world?’
‘Correct! Shall I fill up your paper cup, as I did before?’
‘Why not! So, could you think of any fob shops?’
‘That is what I initially pondered on – possible fob shops. There are quite a few types of fobs you know.’
‘I didn’t know.’
‘Ladies seem to like bright fluorescent fluffy fobs, so they are more noticeable…’
‘Easy to spot, when left on the arm of a large black leather chesterfield?…’
‘That’s right, and gentlemen, they prefer cast metal ones with BMW or Ferrari stamped into them, even if…’
‘They haven’t got one?’
‘Ho ho ho!’
‘Ho ho ho!… In the end, I went to a…’
‘Let me guess… A shoe repair and key cutting shop?’
‘That’s it! But, I didn’t like any of the ones they had on offer.’
‘No wonder you were looking pen sieve! Whatever will you do?’
‘I’m going to put a couple of the old keys back on the ring…’
‘What?… After all this!…’
‘Yes, I’m afraid so.’
‘Bloody ‘ell!…’
‘Life is such a trial!…’
‘You said it mate!… How about another stout?…’

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How about some spattering?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s quotation is from Flann O’Brien’s very strange 1930s novel, The Third Policeman:
He was very fat and circular, with legs and arms of the minimum, and his large bush of moustache was bristling with bad temper and self-indulgence. The Sergeant gave him a look of surprise and then a military salute.
‘Inspector O’Corky!’ he said.

Some time ago, probably at least five years, I had a period of chucking brightly-coloured, sometime fluorescent, acrylic paint around, sometimes onto the floor, but mainly onto big sheets of white paper.
I called them my ‘spatter paintings’.
The process was half carefree random serendipity and half careful close stuff using a fine black pen – yes, after the paint had thoroughly dried I’d go round the wiggly wayward shapes, including all the tiny dots and drips it had made, to isolate them and make them ‘separate’ from the surrounding white ground.
I think It’s about time you looked at one of them, don’t you, dear reader?

Spatter Painting No. 13. 2015.
Acrylic paint and black ink on paper, about 29″ x 21″ (74 cm x 54 cm)

A lot of work went into this one!
Not the paint chucking of course, that was very quick, but the going around all the shapes with the fine black pen later on. Just look at the complexity of the thing! It took hours to get every little speck surrounded – as I was standing at my drawing table doing it, my wrist aching, I kept thinking, Dave, if you do more of these, keep your paint blobs big, and avoid making all these little fiddly bits and these bloody fine lines!
This is an abstract piece of work – I suppose it’s about as abstract as one could get. But then, people do seem to like to spot things, animals, islands, fjords, and faces in things like this. If you fancy that, please – do go ahead!…


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Some snatches of overheard and misheard café conversation…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s instruction is – to first flick open the shiny brass catches marked A, B, and D with your thumbs and raise the metal lid slightly; slip a sliver of stiffish paper inside and waggle it to and fro to check whether there are any dangling fibres present, if all is clear proceed and raise the lid fully; if you become aware a foetid earthy odour, quickly close it again and seek online advice; press the red and yellow plastic buttons in alphabetical order as marked, and give the knobbed lever ‘L’ a good firm tug; the whole mechanism should now start to shimmy and wobble on its castors and a pleasant and reassuring humming sound should be emitted as the two large glass thermionic valves warm up.
Leave the device to ‘settle’ for a few hours before returning to type in your chords and melodies.

‘A baby hybrid?’
‘A woolly technical?’
‘What?… Merge myself?’
‘So, you have rigging now?’
‘Jenny, it was fireboard cloak!…’
‘You say Julie got a mess-blister?’
‘But I remember the sun… yeah!…’
‘Was it like when you are on a nap?…’
‘But it’s the same when you fly, Thomas!’
‘Just file them, and like them!… It’s just an app, Jo!’
‘I’m probably going to forget it, and hate it, behind a bush!’
‘It was an interesting cattle-ride George – it was to soak them in.’
For some information on how these lines are compiled, you could click here.

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I suppose it’s a row of Dux then, Dave?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s architectural term is Saddle Bar: In ‘casement glazing’, one of the small iron bars to which the lead panels are tied. I feel that I should say something about this, but it is far too dull, and I’m afraid that I can’t really be bothered.

Yes, a few days ago I was trying to set the stage for the revealing of another of my lino prints (one which would use some capital letters from my set of old metal stencils) by showing you a pokey little preliminary sketch for it. (Do click here!)
As you can see below, the print has turned out pretty much like the sketch.


Lino print. 2020. Oil-based ink on nice thin Japanese Kizuki 4 Monme paper, about A4 in size.

Hm, dux dux dux!
I don’t think ‘Dux’ is actually a proper word in English, but apparently those ancient Romans used to use it to mean ‘leader’ or something – oh, and I hear that it also might be the origin of the word ‘duke’.
See, in this artwork, after a lot of bother and careful chiselling, I have definitely managed to get my dux in a row.

Do you like the way I have left the cutting marks visible on the areas that should really be white? It gives it the look of those lovely early 20th c. German Expressionist woodcuts – those folk seemed very keen on giving a deliberately stark and ‘scrappy’ look to their prints – let’s see if I can find some photos of some of them for you, dear reader. (Click here)

What do you think?
Me, I really like this one – it looks like a work that was done pretty quickly – and executed with a bit of carefree and sloppy enthusiasm. The ‘bird-shapes’ are the end of one of my French curves, with an eye added, of course.
Dux eh?… Ha ha ha ha!… Look at the buggers frowning as they go past!…

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Workmen watching England and Scotland go by…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s quotation is from Flann O’Brien’s very strange 1930s novel The Third Policeman:
The Sergeant’s face clouded and he spat thoughtfully three yards ahead of him on the road.
‘I will tell you a secret,’ he said very confidentially in a low voice. ‘My great-grandfather was eighty-three when he died. For a year before his death he was a horse!’
‘A horse?’
‘A horse in everything but extraneous externalities.’

Oh, and speaking of old books…
I thought that today we might dip into the pages of a very different book, one published some twenty years after the above-mentioned one, dear reader.
It’s the Lion Annual from 1956, a book for a child, probably a male child, going by the absence of cheeky grinning rabbits and blonde ponies in it. It’s front and back covers are rather nice too:

How about this image from page 62?

Well, I think this is pretty impressive to have been done back in 1956!
Those illustrators have made a pretty good job of this image – even the sky is black, the right colour for space sky. We see a couple of nice spacecraft bobbing around, that big one doesn’t look too dissimilar to the Space Shuttle, which didn’t appear until 1981 – see, it has just arrived with more bits for the construction work – there are chaps in spacesuits, workmen, busy floating in zero gravity, building a space station – and look, it has its communication dishes fastened on already!
This artwork was done five years before plucky Yuri Gagarin nipped up for a quick look in 1961, and a good fifteen years before the very first space station, Skylab, went up!
And yes, the workmen could watch the world rotate below them – look! I think, if I’m not mistaken, that’s England and Scotland just gliding past under our dangling feet!…
‘Come on you chaps!… Get that last curved plate screwed on – then we can all get inside for a nice brew of tea, and to eat our sandwiches!…’


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Ugg and Lugg in the morning…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s lovely word is lemniscate. (click here)

‘Wake up Ugg! Wake up!…’
‘Come on! It’s no good you squirming there in the back of the cave!’
‘What’s up Lugg?’
‘You know what’s up – the lads got a fat mammoth yesterday – we’ve got to go and help with the chopping up and the disembowelling this morning…’
‘Oh no! Lugg, you know I don’t like that sort of thing – it’s so disgusting and smelly!’
‘No it isn’t! Look, the sun is up and shining into the cave – grab that nice flint axe of yours, and we’ll…’
‘Don’t you think it’s a bit funny?’
‘Eh? Funny? What’s a bit funny?’
‘Well, the way the sun only shines in – in the mornings?’
‘No, I don’t…’
‘And it slowly goes upwards, and then later on, it drops down and disappears behind Nugg and Smugg’s cave…’
‘Well, where’s it go, Lugg?’
‘Look, are you coming to the disembowelling, or not?’
‘I’ll be with you in a minute, or two – I’m thinking…’
‘I don’t know…’
‘Ugg, what are you thinking about?’
‘Does the sun go round us Lugg?’
‘Of course it does, everyone knows that! It happens every day – Holy-Man Gugg explained it all to us, ages ago!’
‘Yes, I know, but…’
‘But what?’
‘Ugg!… It’s very simple!’
‘Is it?’
‘Yes, the Mighty Glowing Disc-Bird-God wakes up, and flies over – watching us – as He searches for the Holy Resting-Place.’
‘Behind Nugg and Smugg’s cave?’
‘Er, yes – and He glows red for a bit, and then swoops down for a nap after His long journey, across the…’
‘Yes, I know… but…’
‘And as He passes over, He’s always on the look-out for people who won’t get involved in the disembowelling – so that he can later smite them, asunder.’
‘Yes… That’s what Holy-Man Gugg says… Are you coming with me, or not?’
‘I’ll be with you shortly Lugg… You see, I was thinking… Suppose the sun…’
‘The Mighty Glowing Disc-Bird-God?’
‘Yes, suppose it doesn’t move at all…’
‘Ugg! You are an idiot! Everyone can see it move!’
‘But suppose we all live on a great big thing that goes round the sun – so it just looks like it goes round us?…’
‘Ugg, don’t let Holy-Man Gugg hear you say things like that! You’ll be in for some smiting!’
‘Smiting asunder?’
‘Yes Ugg, we don’t want that, do we?’
‘No, you are probably right Lugg… But after the disembowelling I might go and look at what’s behind Nugg and Smugg’s cave.’
‘To witness the Mighty Glowing Disc-Bird-God setting?

And so, a really great idea was successfully nipped in the bud.

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What fun it is – making your own tools!…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s very silly sounding word is farthingale. Click here.

Yes, indeed! What fun!
I hope today’s post isn’t going to be a bit too technical and dull for you, dear reader – there’ll be no pictures of very cute fluffy big-eyed pets, or of colourful tasty dinners steaming on plates, or young folk jumping up and down to music on their beds, I’m afraid. I know that is the sort of thing that people do like to look at on their screens – but, as I was sitting here for a good half-hour fidgeting, drinking tea, and pondering on what the hell to write about this bright April Sunday morning, I suddenly wondered if I had mentioned the new device I made fairly recently, something for cutting reasonably accurate curves in lino blocks – you know, to do my lino prints.

I did make such a device about five years ago, and it has worked pretty well. It was basically a chunk of hardwood with a lot of holes drilled in it, holes where a pointy thing could go through to act as the centre point of the curve – it had the tip of a small sharp blade sticking out at the other end, the moving end, which did the actual cutting. Perhaps an old picture of it in operation, might be of interest at this point?

As I said, it worked alright, and I did quite a few prints using it, but because the radii of the curves it could cut were governed by the spacing of those drilled holes, it wasn’t adjustable to cut any other radii. It did very well though, but for a good while I’d had the urge to design a ‘universal’ one, which could do cuts of any radius – so I could have a mix of both thick stripes and skinny stripes in my prints!
Oh, I do love an interesting and challenging project!

I had a good poke around in my junk boxes to look for possible components for the thing’s construction. What I needed was some sort of metal rod, or thin flat bar, which could have a sharp blade fastened at one end, and a slider which could go up and down it, which could be locked in place to provide a firm pivot, a centre-point for the proposed curve.
Oh, let’s have a picture of the finished thing!

Happily, I didn’t have to buy anything for this! All the parts came from bits of scrap kicking about the workshop. The long member is a piece of steel bar which used to be a stay underneath an old  folding wallpapering table that I had chopped up years ago. That ‘sliding member’ is made from part of an old metal pole-clamp – I have no idea why I had a pole-clamp in my junk box! But it was a really good fit to slide evenly along the steel bar.
Sticking out underneath, you can see the sharp point which acts as the centre of the curve, and on the upper side a black plastic knob, which has a steel screw thread built-in, which can be tightened to secure the ‘slider’ – I don’t know where that knob came from either!
The other end has a hand-friendly wooden block with a little metal (aluminium) plate which screws down to secure the cutter, the scalpel blade – the tip of which you might be just able to make out, dear reader.
So, there we go! And I must say, it works really quite well – hence the inclusion of plenty of largish diameter curves in my current prints!
Oh, what fun!…

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What about a short word, in capital letters, using those old stencils?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s carefully selected moths are: the Barberry Carpet, the Fox Moth, the Pale Eggar, the Lichen Button, the Map-winged Swift and the Satellite.
If you had just finished writing your hot sexy novel, which of the above names would you choose as its title?

Hm, lino print designs; I thought that it was about time I got out my set of old metal letter stencils that a friend once gave me; they are the kind that were used in the old days for stencilling destinations onto wooden packing cases in factories or down at the docks – ‘RANGOON’, ‘ADELAIDE’, ‘GALVESTON’, etc. The letters produced are about 50 mm or 2″ high and are ideal for adding a bit of mystery and strangeness to a lino design.
Hm, how about a print featuring those nicely shaped French curves again, but juxtaposed with a simple short bit pithy word using the stencils?

Yes, the word looks very much like it will be ‘DUX’.
Oh, look, there’s a pile of initialled and dated prints – it’s a design that I showed you a few weeks ago. Don’t they look nice on that thin handmade Japanese paper? It’s called Kizuki 4 Monme, you know.
On my sketch, see how, for some reason, I put the lettering on back-to-front, they way it would be marked out on the lino block – I don’t know why I did that.
‘DUX’ eh? It sounds suitably mysterious…
Hm, I think I’ll leave all discussion of the word until you can see the finished print dear reader – not that there’ll be much to say about it…

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Of course the English language does evolve, but…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s carefully selected adjectives are: crumpled, goustrous, spoffish, debentured, bold-beating, trothful, and spotty.

Well, I hope this doesn’t turn out to be an irritating and pompous rant, dear reader.
I suppose it is quite a minor issue really – but once I’d noticed it I can’t seem to ignore it and get used to it. Every time one of these suddenly pops up on the TV or the radio I feel I have to shout my annoyance out at it – I usually include a few rich mocking expletives with my shouting too.
Perhaps it all goes back to my schooldays when we all had the rudiments of decent English drummed into us daily?
When you wish to form a few sentences, and you want to be understood, and want to employ this lovely rich language of ours, as well as you can, it is best to stick to at least some of the established ‘rules’.
Different English-speaking countries, the USA, Australia, NZ, Canada, etc., have their own versions of English, which of course is a jolly good thing.
So, what is it that I’m going on about?
Well, amongst other linguistic atrocities, the one that really stands out for me is the pronunciation of the indefinite article – ‘a’.
In American English it appears to be quite acceptable to pronounce it as if you were naming the first letter of the alphabet – the capital ‘A’. But British journalists and presenters, oh, and of course their pushy and confident interviewees, politicians, scientists, economists, sports personalities, civil servants, etc., have now universally adopted this too.
Here are some quotes from BBC radio and TV over the last week or so.
‘And as A result…’
‘In A built-up area…’
‘It’s A open question.’
‘There will be A before – and there will be A after…’
‘It is important to get A overview...’
Do you think I’m a bit over-sensitive, being annoyed by all this jumped-up media twaddle?
It’s as if these awful people are trying to speak IN CAPITAL LETTERS all the time, as if they’d really rather be shouting than speaking.
Perhaps the English that has developed over the centuries just can’t cope with modern trends in speech, and its rules need to be tweaked to include such tosh as this?
I expect they’ll be teaching it in schools and colleges soon.
‘Right ho Bubbles, read out this sentence I have just written on the blackboard – and do try to put some life into it!’
‘There will be a before – and there will be an after…’
‘Hm, that’s not too bad Bubbles, but it is a little bit bland, you certainly won’t get anyone to buy your product if you present it like that… Do try it again…’
‘Oh, alright Ms Cumpy, how about, – There will be A before – and there will be A after!’
‘Ah, that’s more like it, very good!’
‘But, excuse me Ms Cumpy,  shouldn’t it be ‘an after’ – as the word ‘after’ starts with a vowel?’
‘No, Bubbles, that’s how it used to be A few years ago – thankfully English has now moved on!’

Dear reader, would you like a couple more snatches of current usage from the BBC radio and TV?
By the way, did you know that the BBC was once world-famous for its pronunciation, good English, and the fine diction of its announcers and journalists?
‘It’s A evolutionary response.’
‘Yes, for me, it was A epiphany!…’

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Moist bills and muddy throats…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s quotation is from Flann O’Brien’s very strange 1930s novel The Third Policeman:
‘When a man lets things go so far that he is half or more than half a bicycle, you will not see so much because he spends a lot of his time leaning with one elbow on walls or standing propped by one foot at kerbstones.’

Ah, but another book from that period – it’s that rather thick, slightly tattered 1934 one, that smells for some reason, of old-fashioned cough medicine; it is my copy of The Daily Express (a British newspaper) Enquire Within. Perhaps you’d like to have a look at the title page with the nice globe emblem on it?

It is a compendium (what a very nice word that is!) of information that the average middle class family living in Britain in the 1930s might find useful. The contents range from legal information (say, how to dismiss a lazy and sullen servant), through recipes, how to play various indoor and outdoor games, information on home-made medical preparations, history, the keeping of animals, etc., through to how to spell and write decent English.
Across the head of each page there is printed a line or two of wisdom, or a proverb – I will include some of these with today’s selection:

Page. 13. (Honesty is a strong staff to lean upon.)
Woodcocks and Snipes.
When old, have the feet thick and hard; when these are soft and tender they are both young and fresh killed. When their bills become moist and their throats muddy, they have been too long killed.

Page 415. (That thou mayest injure no man, dove-like be – and serpent-like, that none may injure thee.)
Brunswick Black for varnishing grates.
Melt four pounds of common asphaltum, and add two pints of linseed oil, and one gallon of oil of turpentine. This is usually put up in stoneware bottles for sale, and is used with a paintbrush. If too thick, more turpentine may be added.

Page 373. (Be not the first to quarrel with a friend.)
Accentuation of Words:
iii. It is very important to bear in mind that there are  many words having a double meaning or application, and that the difference of meaning is indicated by the difference of the accent. Among these words, nouns are distinguished from verbs by this means; nouns are mostly accented on the first syllable, and verbs on the last.

Page 300. (Cunning men’s cloaks sometimes fall.)
Tamarinds are generally laxative and refrigerant. As it is agreeable, this medicine will generally be eaten by children when they will not take other medicines.
Dose, from half to one ounce. As a refrigerant beverage in fevers it is extremely grateful.

Page 105. (Sleep is better than medicine.)
Milk Lemonade.
Dissolve three-quarters of a pound of loaf sugar in one pint of boiling water, and mix with them one gill of lemon juice, and one gill of sherry, then add three gills of cold milk. Stir the whole well together and strain it.

Page 279. (No lock will hold ‘gainst keys of gold.)
Baldness caused by ill-health or age.
Rub onions frequently on the part requiring it. The stimulating powers of this vegetable are of service in restoring the tone of the skin, and assisting the capillary vessels in sending forth new hair; but it is not infallible. Should it succeed, however, the growth of these new hairs may be assisted by the oil of myrtle-berries, the repute of which, perhaps is greater than its real efficiency.

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Festive Mayonnaise…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s walrus is the one sitting smoking a cigar at the wheel of his Range Rover, parked half on the pavement, with the engine running.

Here in the UK when someone sends you a letter or a package with insufficient postage on it the postal worker slips a card through your door which explains the situation and suggests that, if you’d like to receive the item, you put £1.50 in stamps on the card and post it to the local post office. I followed this procedure about a week ago, and this morning I got a shabby envelope, with grubby fingerprints, and with ‘Paid’ stamped on it, through my letterbox.
On opening it I found a Christmas card – a colourful one depicting a grinning fat rosy-cheeked Santa, on a fully-loaded sleigh, whizzing over the snow sprinkled chimney pots, pulled by several enthusiastic wild-eyed reindeer. Yes, a Christmas card – and here we are at the end of April!
I’ll bet, dear reader, that you are wondering who sent me this.
On opening the card, instead of a festive greeting, there was, at a rakish angle, a block of dense prose in a spidery hand, one that had employed an intermittent green ballpoint pen:

Season’s greetings Davy-boy! How do you like Father X’s version of the surrealist van?
Though unsigned, it was obvious to me that this card was sent by Tony Mayonnaise, ne’er-do-well poet from the glory days of the Hull Surrealist League.
He went on:
Here is a list of some of the things that are currently in the back of the Surrealist Van!
You must, must, carefully copy this out and put them on that dreary blog thing that you do on t’interweb.
(click) I want it copied accurately, and centred on the page, and don’t you dare fucking alter anything!

A small grey cardboard box of Marcel Proust’s nail clippings.
The smell of onions constrained by a red rubber band.
An audio recording of a toddler screaming in Room 11 of the National Gallery, London.
A large vat of melting ice with a turnip lying at the bottom of it.
A long jazz trumpet solo nailed to a rotting wooden fence.
A one tonne block of sincere encouragement.
A stainless steel bucket filled with warm sweat collected from a posh gym.
The Mona Lisa tattooed on the belly of a live pig.
A long YouTube video of former President Trump smiling peacefully in his sleep.

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Just a few short items…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s interesting moths are: the Mullein, the Twenty-plume Moth, the Red Carpet, the Mother Shipton and the Ground Lackey. Which of these would you choose for the name of your online death-metal band?

Excuses for being late. No. 459.
I’m sorry I’m late, but decided to take charge of my own narrative.

‘Why has your radio just started shining and glowing like that?’
‘Eh? Oh, it’s tuned to BBC Radio 3 – they are playing an hour of ‘reflective music’ to mark the passing of Prince Philip…’
‘Ah… Right…’

A single overheard remark:
‘Admittedly that is one of the most volatile ones Peter…’

‘So, how do you think that Britain’s carmakers will respond to this?’
‘Britain’s calm acres?’
‘I think they will remain calm.’
‘Good, that’s what I thought…’

I suppose I’ve always been drawn to strange and unusual music – even as a kid I was intrigued when I heard something that sounded – oh, you know, that was deliberately odd, and that possibly stretched the genres a bit. Later on in my teens I had a few listens to Luciano Berio, and Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Screaming Jay Hawkins, dudes like that. Then later on there was Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band of course. I’ve always been attracted to things which stood out from the crowd. Isn’t it sad that music is so horribly bland these days? It is all so ‘nice’, acceptable, undemanding, and anodyne now…
How about this?
Click here to be stunned.

Are ready for a nice slice of Spam dear reader?
Let’s see what gem is lurking at the bottom of my comments box. How about this piece from someone with the unlikely name of CasinoPendant:
I’m gone to say to my little brother that he should also pay a visit this weblog on regular basis to take updated news. Fantastic goods from you, man. I have bear in mind your stuff previous to and you’re just extremely excellent. I actually like what you have obtained right here, certainly like what you are stating and the way you assert it and you continue to take care of to stay it sensible.
Aha! Thank you CasinoPendant! You have made my day – I do try to stay it sensible – and you have cheered me up considerably! I love the inane twaddle that you write! And do give my regards to your brother! Oh, and do not hesitate to get in touch again! Love your style! Do you like Captain Beefheart by any chance?

Yes, I’m thinking of changing my name to Wanda d’Streets.

A single overheard remark:
‘I told him to fuck off, and to just wash it away!…’

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Lino Print with intriguing vertical forms…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s unusual word is unusual, in that it has three ‘u’s in it.

Here is that lino print I mentioned a couple of days ago, the one where I forgot to take an introductory photo of its small rough preliminary sketch, if in fact there ever was a small rough preliminary sketch for the thing.
Look out, dear reader! Here it comes!…

Lino Print. 2020. Oil-based ink on Japanese Kizuki 4 Monme paper, about A4 in size.

(I only mention the name of the paper because I like the sound of it and like the look of the words – I have no idea what they mean – it’s probably just the name of the paper company and the style of paper. I sometimes get the urge to open my front upstairs window in the middle of the night and shout out ‘Kizuki 4 Monme!’ several times, as loud as I can, to the empty streets.)

But back to the print.
What do you think this one is about?
No, no, don’t ask me – I’m only the artist!
It is probably a bit more subtle that you’d think at first glance though.
‘What do you man by that, Dave?’
Well, I’ve just spotted that those pairs of vertical, er marks, er, lines… the ones placed in the middle of the tilted rectangle, get a bit smaller, as they proceed off to the right.
‘So what?…’
They look a bit like mathematical ‘equals’ signs, but upended.
‘Upended, Dave?’
Hm, yes, you know, these things ‘=’, but upended.
‘You seem to like the word ‘upended’ don’t you?’
Yes, I do…
There’s plenty of suggested depth in this one isn’t there? Of course if you are going to have a couple of ellipses in your composition, you might as well have them placed one at each side – the human eye and brain are well-programmed to search out things that suggest eyes – watching you… Of course the tilted rectangle is much closer to the viewer, but it doesn’t present as much of a threat, does it?
‘No, none at all… And those ellipses don’t scare me, in the least…’
You can’t feel them looking at you?
Not even now I’ve mentioned them?

Right ho…

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It wasn’t meant to be a ‘puzzle photograph’, but…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s lost plectrum is the one eventually found on the floor in front of the Mona Lisa in the Louvre.

Yes, when I took the picture I had no idea that it would turn out to be so confusing – well, it’s not confusing at all if you just quickly glance at it, but if you start examining the thing more closely it does have a couple of inherent oddities.
I’m not suggesting that there is anything ‘supernatural’ about this though, I don’t believe in such things – but, then again, I…

I’ve taken pictures of things in this builders’ yard before; it’s the yard that you can see down into as you trudge over the big concrete flyover above the railway lines.
But why would I take such a picture? There’s not much of interest in it, is there, dear reader? Just a couple of stacks of timber sitting on their shelves, waiting there, in the February rain.

Ah, of course, I see it now!
I must have noticed that the tyre-tracks in the wet muck (made by the fork-lift truck that shifts the heavy stuff around) look a bit like wood grain, particularly because they are brown, a colour not unlike that of the timber above, and they are swirly, and they form woody-looking lines and stripes.
So, what about the ‘puzzle’ that I mentioned in my title?
Well, what do you think is going on in the top of the picture?
A lot of what we see is just a reflection in the pools of rainwater.
At first glance it looks like those bundle of timber are fastened high up on the steel fence, well above head height, perhaps about ten feet?
But if you look carefully, you can see that the water level is actually only a foot or two below the bundles. What gives the game away are those small sticks, and that white rectangle, floating on the surface, they appear to be hovering in the air in front of the fence!
Also, if you were aware of the water, you might expect to see reflections of the two stacks of wood – which seem to be absent – but in fact what you can just make out are vague reflections of their dark unlit undersides! Ha!…

Yes, Dave, but even with all that optical stuff explained, it’s still not a very interesting photo, is it?
Well no, it isn’t. You are quite correct, this is a pretty dull and boring picture.
In fact, I shouldn’t really have bothered taking it…
Nice colours though…

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