A few short, but pithy items…

But first…
Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s elephant in the room is the one drinking cappuccino out of a bucket using her trunk.
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Excuses for being late. No. 427.
I’m sorry I’m late, but I had to scrape a Banksy off my front wall.

A single overheard remark:
‘It’s not me who’s got the fucking problem, it’s everybody else…’

‘Hey!…’
‘What?’
‘Were you just smiling at me?’
‘Eh?… Oh, was I?’
‘I think so…’
‘Sorry, I must have been inwardly laughing at your loud and coarse conversation, and your silly, but obviously expensive haircut.’
‘Oh, well… That’s alright then…’

A note for future art historians:
A week or two ago, as I was finishing off the last of my charcoal and pencil ‘smudges‘ drawings, I listened to a full B52s compilation album on CD, and then a very old radio half-hour version of The Hound of the Baskervilles on BBC Radio 4 Extra. Carlton Hobbs was Sherlock Holmes and Norman Shelley was Dr Watson. I expect you will be able to see how these two works subtlety influenced the imagery in my drawing.

‘You must have a much better time, if you have an expensive watch…’
‘I suppose so, it stands to reason… Time, it’s a funny thing, is time…’
‘Yes…’
‘What time is it?’
‘What?… Now?…’
‘Yes…’
‘Dunno…’

And then, there was spam!…
Spam in my comments box again! Great! Come on dear reader, let’s have a look!
Aha, here’s a nice lively piece from someone with the unlikely name of George-Q:
Cautiously consider the place you opt to herb trees and shrubs. Understand that your bushes will probably get huge. Make certain trees and shrubs are certainly not planted also near any structure or basis. The price included to get rid of a tree and origins that have gotten into the components, might be astronomical. To avoid you should not reveal yourself to specific family cleansing products. If you have to start using these goods, put on a face mask.
Well, George-Q, thank you for getting in touch and sharing your pith with me, I will most certainly take on what you have uttered, (I am wearing a new and expensive face mask as I write). As you cleverly predicted, my bushes have got huge and there is a basis nearby – and, just before I read your piece, I was about to reveal myself to those things that you warned me of. Don’t hesitate to get in touch again!

Yes, I think I’ll be changing my name to Stu Piditty-Reins.

A single overheard remark:
‘I went to the toilet, and then I watched some football…’

Posted in academia, animals, archeology, art, conversation, cool, creation, drawing, dreaming, Dulltown, existentialism, history, Hull.UK., humour, information, learning, music, observations, overheard, radio, serendipity, spam, surrealism, swearing, words, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Shall we pop into the garden now?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s carefully selected adjectives are: boxy, armipotent, wranglesome, sequacious, mancipatory, ratheripe, and bedevilled.
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Here’s a picture I took back in September this year.
Is there enough green in it for you dear reader?
Well, we do have a tiny bit of russet (‘Russet’ is good word, isn’t it?) to perk things up, and some relief from the greenery can be had with a narrow horizontal slice of blue sky – which strangely, for some reason which I can’t put my finger on, doesn’t quite look real. We could have done with a seagull or a pigeon flapping across to animate it a bit. I suppose I could Photoshop one in? No, no, that would be cheating!
Yes, this was taken in the garden of an ‘old folk’s’ care home that I was visiting to try to make one of the inmates (Oh, you shouldn’t refer to them as that Dave!) slightly less miserable – I’m not sure that I succeeded, but I did manage to take this snap.
It’s not really a very interesting photograph, is it? But I suppose the predominance of green at least makes it unusual.
That corrugated metal wall must be part of the factory or warehouse next door, I suppose the garden will look a bit more pleasant when those firs grow and completely hide it. Still, it was a good idea to paint the wall with a foliage-colour paint.
Do you like my framing though? How it forms a big ‘V’ shape?
Does this picture say something?
No, I don’t think so…

Posted in adjectives, architecture, art, colours, composition, creation, Dulltown, green, Hull.UK., humour, information, observations, photography, seeing, serendipity, words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Mayonnaise on the long table…

But first…
Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s confused film star is Jommy Lee Tones.
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When I wandered into the café late yesterday afternoon (I go there late at this time of the year in the hope of avoiding all those miserable, but loud, Christmas shoppers fuelling up on sugary caffeine beverages mid-shop) I spotted Tony Mayonnaise, ne’er-do-well poet from the glory days of the Hull Surrealist League; he was sitting at the long table at the end in the company of a round lady with plenty of ginger hair wearing a bright flowery frock. They had an open laptop and some papers and folders set out in front of them.
I got my tea and scone and, hoping that Mayo hadn’t seen me, chose a table as far from them as possible, and sat at it.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see that he and the lady were occasionally glancing in my direction as they chatted. I nonchalantly buttered my scone.
After a few moments, he got up, crashed his chair around a bit, and sashayed across.’
‘Now then Davey-Boy.’ he said.
‘Hm…’ I said, and then I added, ‘Who’s your friend?’
Arts Council England – They might give me some money!’
‘Oh?’
‘I was just telling Gwendolyn, about the Surrealist Van, and how it…’
‘You haven’t got a van – you can’t drive Mayo!’
‘She doesn’t know that – will you put the latest contents of the Surrealist Van on that awful blog thing that you do Davey-Boy?’
‘Oh, you are such a charmer Tony! And no, do not sit down!’ I said, as he was threatening to pull a chair out.
‘Look, this is what’s in the Surrealist Van at the moment – Gwendolyn will be able to go and look at it online… You’d be doing me a big favour!’ He handed me a grubby piece of cardboard cut from a cornflakes packet with a list of items on the back of it, badly written in pencil:

Two cucumbers fastened together with six white nylon cable ties.
A loud gasp caught in a soap bubble.
A dozen tins of aerosol mushroom soup.
A thick hardback novel that smells of spitefulness.
One of Jocelyn Bell Burnell’s pencils.
Two adjectives fighting in a bowl of soapy water.
An owl pellet resting on the roof of a 1963 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud.
A pork pie hat, with a pork pie in it.
A large cardboard box of lovely possessions.
A piece of gum once chewed and then discarded by Harrison Ford.
A vat of live eels with a clever thought floating on the top.
A message from Her Majesty the Queen written out in raw pork sausages.

Posted in abstract, art, brain, cafe, celebrities, conversation, cool, Dulltown, finance, food, Hull.UK., humour, information, money, poetry, science, serendipity, surrealism, words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Oh, let’s get that lino print out of the way…

But first…
Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s carefully chosen colours are: ragged red, bruised blue, yawning yellow, tired turquoise, growling green, foolish fawn, aching azure, and that funny green-grey that you mixed up to paint the walls of the hall, staircase, and landing, but ran out of three-quarters of the way through.
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Dear reader, you may have noticed that I have been recently posting things about designing a new lino print, the idea for which was sparked (by a previous print) as I sat in a café one day scoffing a panino (mozzarella and tom.); it was all about the borders I put round my images – no, no, it’s alright, I’m not going to start going on about it again!
I have done three posts on this project so far, dear me, this will be the fourth – are you fed up with them yet? I am…
Links to the earlier posts: one, two, three – do click if you are interested enough to want to catch up with this rather ponderous mini-series.
Anyway, here is the final result – an edition of ten on Japanese Kizuki paper about A4 in size.

There we go! What do you think?
Me, I’m sick of the sight of the bloody thing!
See, I think someone has left a window open to the left and the draught is sucking all those fascinating things (are they fascinating?) out of the… er, the funny-shaped ‘container’.
The composition looks like it could be a puzzle, doesn’t it? Perhaps it’s called, Spot the Round Thing? It’s alright, there aren’t any – they are harder to cut than rectilinear ones.
Or even Spot the Swastika? It looks like there ought to be one in there amongst that lot! Those bloody Nazis ruined the swastika for everyone, didn’t they? What a lovely ancient and striking shape it is – for the Hindus it’s the symbol of light, prosperity, and good luck – oh, those bloody Nazis! What a bunch of twerps they were!
How did I get round to this topic? There isn’t one in the print anyway!
What about the holes in the bottom of the container? They add a bit of tension, don’t they? As if a couple of the shapes are going to drop out, or even stay there and block up the holes, so the air can’t get drawn in. Do you like the way some of the objects are three-dimensional and some are flat? And what about those little round holes in the centres of the crosses?
Phew! That’s enough…

Posted in abstract, academia, art, brain, cafe, colours, composition, creation, design, fine art prints, food, history, humour, information, irony, lino cut printing, lino printing, puzzle, seeing, style, surrealism, thinking, words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Indifferent fish and smeared guns, avoid excitement…

But first…
Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s wrinkled old black and white snapshot is the one of me and Hedy Lamarr in a Hollywood bar – you can see she’s becoming angry trying to get me to understand frequency hopping. (HL)
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This is another of my musty old junk shop books. Yes, it is definitely musty – I just opened it up and sniffed into the pages for you dear reader, to make sure that I wasn’t about to inadvertently lead you up the garden path. It may be musty, but it is also pithy – musty and pithy, is what this volume is. (Do you like today’s old-fashioned prose style?)
The tatty broken-spined book in question is the Daily Express Enquire Within from 1934, it hails from Daily Express Publications, London. Would you like to see a photograph showing the title page before we proceed?

This book has everything in it!
Well, everything that a nice middle class family living in the UK in the 1930s should have readily to hand; from dealing with troublesome servants, to the avoidance of carriage accidents, to preparing a nice gigot of mutton for dinner.
Across the head of each page are some words of wisdom or a proverb – I will include some of these with today’s selection:

Page 10. (A wise physician, skilled our wounds to heal, is more than armies to the commonweal.)
Mackerel must be perfectly fresh, or it is a very indifferent fish; it will neither bear carriage, nor being kept many hours out of the water. The firmness of the flesh, the clearness of the eyes, and the general brightness of its appearance, must be the criteria of fresh mackerel. If the gills are not red the fish is stale.

Page 443. (Play not with edged tools.)
Vaseline for the Household. – it is an excellent anti-corrosive, being an efficient protection against rust, when smeared over guns, bicycles, arms, knives, tools and steel goods of any kind. A high quality boot and shoe paste is prepared from it, which renders boots and shoes absolutely waterproof, and over which ordinary blacking may be used to produce a polish.

Page 14. (If you want a thing done, do it yourself.)
Lamb.– is cut into fore quarter and hind quarter; saddle; loin; neck; breast; leg; and shoulder. Grass lamb is in season from Easter to Michaelmas; house lamb from Christmas to Lady-day.

Page 280. (Let truth be our guide.)
Faintness.– Effusion of cold water on the face, stimulants to the nostrils, pure air, and the recumbent position; afterwards, avoidance of the exciting cause. Avoid excitement.

Page 439. (At night, nature is in mourning for the loss of the sun.)
Honey Soap. – Cut thin two pounds of yellow soap into a double saucepan, occasionally stirring until it is melted, which will be in a few minutes if the water is kept boiling around it, then add a quarter of a pound of palm oil, a quarter of a pound of honey, threepennyworth of true oil of cinnamon; let it all boil together another six or eight minutes; pour out and let it stand till next day. It is then fit for immediate use.

Posted in academia, archeology, books, brain, celebrities, food, history, humour, information, instruction, learning, reading, serendipity, words, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Do you like films or plays?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s unusually long quotation is from Vladimir Nabokov’s 1928 novel King, Queen, Knave, which I recently finished re-reading – oh, and jolly good it was too!
Now the room was empty. Objects lay, stood, sat, hung in the carefree postures man-made things adopt in man’s absence. The mock crocodile lay on the floor. A blue tinted cork, which had been recently removed from a small ink bottle when a fountain pen had to be refilled, hesitated for an instant, then rolled in a semi-circle to the edge of the oilcloth-covered table, hesitated again, and jumped off. With the help of the lashing rain the wind tried to open the window but failed. In the rickety wardrobe a blue black-spotted tie slithered off its twig like a snake. A paperback novelette on the chest of drawers left open at Chapter Five skipped several pages.
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Aren’t films great?
Well, not all of them of course. Maybe what’s great is just the idea of films? What clever things they are! What a marvellous art form! You drift into a different world for a couple of hours, see people, and things, learn of ideas and activities that you are very unlikely to come across in your everyday life.
Some people really like plays though.
Me, I’m not too keen on plays. I think I’d rather see a bad film than a ‘good’ play any day. You don’t feel too bad walking out of a film you are not enjoying, but with a play you have to get up and almost walk past and in front of the poor bloody actors – you can feel their sneering eyes drilling into your back as you pass.
In plays, you are pretty well stuck with stories about people and their awful problems, aren’t you? But in a film there’s room for other things too, meaningful, pithy, perhaps symbolic things – sometimes you get a shot of something, or a moment, that has you on the edge of your seat, or something that takes your breath away. How about that desert mansion unexpectedly exploding in Zabriski Point?
Yes, films are generally bigger and wider than plays. Plays require more imagination, demand less shuffling in your seat, and usually centre around people getting emotional about something or other, or valiantly repressing it. Usually the people in plays end up loving each other, or killing each other, or just sitting around in despair on carefully-chosen nice prop sofas. Good old Bill Shakespeare was fond of this sort of ending – it’s either very sloppy with smiles and wide grins, or very messy with blooded actors lolling about the stage in stiff poses.
Perhaps we should now think about aesthetic efficiency. (Is there such a thing?) I have worked on plenty of plays in my time (just for the money you understand), nothing big-time of course, just for local theatre companies; I have seen the amount of time, money, and energy expended on actors, stage managers, costumes, scenery, administration, publicity, lighting, etc. But after the thing has been performed for a week or two, it’s completely gone. It then exists only in a few publicity photos, posters, and perhaps, if memorable, in the memory of the people who turned up to see the bloody thing.
I’ve been involved in quite a few productions over the years, and I can hardly remember anything about any of the actual shows. As a theatre designer and set builder I came up with the rather pithy (I think) statement – ‘Theatre is a waste of wood!’
If they’d have spent all that effort and money on making a film instead, it would still exist now, and it would work just as well as it did at the time.
In these digital days you can find and watch all sorts of famous or obscure films from the past, even the distant past – but all the plays have gone, except for a curled typed script sitting gathering dust on a shelf somewhere. I think I could still enjoy watching the films Nosferatu or Metropolis, and they are really ancient – but they still exist, and yes, they are dated, but they still work.
The last play I saw, was when I happened to be in London several years go – Gosh, I thought, here I am in London, I’ll go and see a play by someone famous, in a proper London theatre! The one I happened to choose, because seats were still available, was a quite well-known one called No Man’s Land by Harold Pinter, with Pinter himself playing one of the main characters in it. I can’t remember anything about it – except that there was plenty of talking and sneering and angst – oh, and that Pinter could write plays, but the poor chap couldn’t act to save his life…

Posted in archeology, art, books, brain, celebrities, drama, Film, history, humour, money, observations, reading, seeing, style, theatre, thinking, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

That lino print, and how it’s coming along…

But first…
Dulltown, UK/Europe: Today’s existential angst is centred around the sound of the word, barnacle.
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Doh! This morning I have had a migraine jumping up at me and demanding my attention, so I shall make this a short post and then go and have a lie down with curtains closed and eyes shut.

Here’s a quick update on how my latest lino print, mentioned a few days ago, is coming along, (click here). The design has been added to and improved – the lino is now marked out and as you see I have made a start on the cutting.

I do like those pointy bird-beak style blades one can get for one’s Swann-Morton scalpel,  it’s the type of cutter I use most. The red sticky tape on the handle is so that I can spot it amongst all the other stuff cluttering up the bench.
This picture shows the lower part of the block – it’s  looking alright so far, don’t you think?
Hm, I’m reasonably optimistic…

Sorry, that’s all I can manage this morning.
See you tomorrow dear reader.

Posted in abstract, art, brain, composition, information, lino printing, linocut tools, prints | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments