‘Skinny’ will be on the receiving end…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s carefully selected adjectives are: apagogic, aplanatic, anouros, antiscorbutic, apodal, and umbrageous.

It’s alright, this is just a nicely done drawing on page 98 of my battered and tattered copy of that junk shop ‘boy’s’ book the Lion Annual 1956. I think while we are at it, we had better have a quick look at the rather colourful ‘futuristic’ front and back covers it has – it was the style and quality of those which originally persuaded me to fork out the fifty pence or so for it in the first place.

So you see, back in the 1950s, the kids who read the weekly Lion comic, would have, at the end of the year, the Lion Annual wrapped in colourful paper and slotted into their Christmas stocking; if only to keep then occupied and out of mischief over the (back then) two-day festive period.
Comics and annuals like this were very popular with working class kids – though the worlds and characters portrayed in them bore no similarity to those in their own lives.
Of course working class life was almost invisible in the popular arts and literature of the time, apart from fleeting glimpses of servants and the odd cheery Cockney taxi driver – Britain had to wait until the 1960s for it to tentatively start to show its common-as-muck face. These stories were written and drawn by posh folk, people whose fathers always wore suits and ties at home, and the kids were got rid of to distant boarding schools at the earliest possible age.

So, poor ‘Skinny’ under his bed, trying the conceal his newly constructed smoke bomb – by the way, I notice that ‘Skinny’ seems to have a room to himself – I thought he’d be mucking in with the other lads in the ‘dorm’, but what do I know of such establishments?
What an interesting drawing this is when viewed with 21st c. eyes. An enclosed world where kids who had been forced to leave home were living under a strict all male hierarchy which gave power to the older kids to boss around, and physically and mentally assault the younger and vulnerable ones as much as they pleased. As time went by, and the young kids grew older they could now take over and become the scary bullies and the punishers themselves – so a model was created in their minds of how society should work – this was what life after school was to be – and they all grew up to be dodgy selfish arrogant right-wing politicians – possibly…

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One or two short but pithy items…

But First…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s quotation is from Vladimir Nabokov’s short story Music (1932):
They lived neither in luxury nor in poverty, and went swimming in the sea almost all year round. The jellyfish, washed up onto the shingly beach, trembled in the wind. The Crimean cliffs glistened in the spray. Once they saw fishermen carrying away the body of a drowned man; his bare feet, protruding from under the blanket, looked surprised. In the evenings she used to make cocoa…

Excuses for being late. No. 353.
I’m sorry I’m late, but I had a shield beetle on my leg. (click)

A single overheard remark:
‘The toilets stink of it, don’t they Jeff?…’

Ring ring:
‘Mr Whatt?’
‘This is Margaret at X & Y Servicing.’
‘What’s that?’
X & Y Servicing, we service Dyson vacuum cleaners, do you have a Dyson vacuum cleaner Mr Whatt?’
‘I’m not telling you…’
‘Any particular reason why you are not telling us?’
‘Because it’s none of your business?’
‘Oh… Thank you for your time Mr Whatt…’
‘You’re welcome…’

An observation:
I just spotted Hilary Clinton poking through the display of loose carrots in the supermarket. Gosh, she seems unusually picky about her root vegetables does Hilary…

An observation:
In town today, all the women had pale moon faces and all the men were gaunt and morose.

How about anther item of spam from my comments box? This one appears to be from someone called Williamb:
In conclusion, there is little more that can help you inside your more aged yrs other than having a excellent solid foundation on how to finest put together and take care of on your own. The recommendations given to you in the following paragraphs is supposed to assist you and enable you to take pleasure in all of your leftover several years. Straightforward Methods About How For The Greatest Jewellery.
Well, thank you Williamb, I will certainly bear in mind what you have said, especially the part about my leftover several years – I do look forward to hearing from you again soon…

So yes, I’m seriously thinking of changing my name to Eileen Tutha-Lepht.

Today’s old record that it’s really uncool to like is ‘Toast‘ by Streetband (1978) (click)

A single overheard remark:
‘You should have said that you had a free asterisk Tom!…’

Posted in books, celebrities, conversation, cool, drama, food, history, Hull.UK., humour, information, music, observations, overheard, people, reading, seeing, serendipity, surrealism, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

So, what is it that those TV ads are trying to tell us?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s quotation is from Vladimir Nabokov’s short story Orache (1932):
The lamplight, which on winter mornings seemed always of a dull tawny tint, shone on the rosined linoleum, on the shelves lining the walls, on the defenceless spines of books huddling there in tight ranks, and on the black gallows of a pear-shaped punching ball. Beyond the plate-glass windows, soft snow kept densely falling with a kind of monotonous and sterile grace…

Just-washed freshness! – the formula finds your weak spot – an air-light foam! – it’s not what it looks like! – clothes not coming out clean? – twenty-eight days in a row? – refresh your summer! – 3.5 billion women on the planet! – liven up lunch! – the best start in life! – the rush of the elements – a unique blend of ingredients! – take your pork pie! – get thirty free spins! – love can be intoxicating! – silky soft skin every day! – all your favourite games! – we refund your cancellation fees! – qualifying purchase required – sponsored by American Assassin! – straight-up skin care! – baby summer event! – for sensitive skin – prices may vary – I’m on a quest! – stunning length and gorgeous body! – it’s out of this world!

Posted in advertising, art, books, dreaming, existentialism, information, instruction, money, poetry, reading, serendipity, style, surrealism, TV, words, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Do you mind if I sit here?…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s ancient Egyptian deity is the one appearing as a man with a Nemes headdress, or double crown and snake, the god Atum. His cult centre is Heliopolis and his associations are: totality, creator, and solar. (Atum)

‘Excuse me, do you mind if I sit here, at your table? The cafe is quite quite full.’
‘Oh, er, no, of course… Go ahead.’
‘I could go and sit over there, next to those chaps chatting in boisterous Arabic… if you are expecting someone to join you, I…’
Are you expecting someone to join you?’
‘Well possibly, but possibly not.’
‘Oh? Don’t you know?’
‘Look, do sit down, at least for a while, you are blocking my view of the window, standing there with your tray, like a tentative leaf in a late October breeze.’
‘A tentative…? Oh, right, thank you.’
‘You’re welcome, allow me to slip your tray under the table for you.’
‘Thank you… So…’
‘So what?’
‘So, do you think your friend might be coming?’
‘Who said the person was my friend?’
‘Well, I assumed…’
‘It could be anyone, but as it happens, there is a friend of mine who does walk past here on her way home from work, round about this sort of time… daily.’
‘What does she do?’
‘At work?’
‘Nobody knows.’
‘What do you mean, Ah…?’
‘Nothing I suppose… Oh! Did you just spot her outside? I saw your head twitch!’
‘No, I thought that I did, but it turned out to be Prince Philip.’
‘What? The Duke of Edinburgh? Where?…’
‘There! Just ambling round the corner by the news-stand…  Ah, you missed him!’
‘Oh, right… So…’
‘So, no-one knows what she does then?’
‘No, they don’t… Hang on! Look! Who’s that sloping along behind the ornamental shrubs?’
‘Is that her?’
‘No, no, much too tall – it could have been Sylvester Stallone though.’
‘I don’t think so, apparently he is unusually modest in stature for a Hollywood star – shorter than Prince Philip I’m sure, even with his stoop of age.’
‘His stoop of age?’
‘Yes… So this will be about the time she goes past then?’
‘More or less, give or take a minute.’
‘Well look, if you do see her, I can easily move – see, those noisy chaps have gone now.’
‘Thank you, you are most obliging.’
‘Could that be your friend? The one in orange waiting at the crossing, carrying a pink plastic bucket of kitchen utensils?’
‘No, it’s not her. Just look at her awful gait now she’s moving – my friend has a much nicer gait than that.’
‘Good, a nice gait is a boon.’
‘Indeed it is… Aha!’
‘See, standing rubbing at a lottery scratch card with a coin, by the concrete litter bin.’
‘Who is it? Is that her?’
‘No, it’s ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair.’
‘Oh, yes… you can tell by the staring mad eyes – should we go and ask him to come and join us, he looks so sad – just in case your friend doesn’t show?’
‘Do you think he would? Oh, too late, he’s disappeared into that black armoured limousine just stopped for him at the kerb.’
‘Yes, damn! That could have been fun. I wonder who else is out there today – it’s unusually busy for a Tuesday. Is that an Americano you’re drinking?’
‘Good, what’s the time now?’
‘Don’t know.’
‘Haven’t you got a phone with you?’
‘Me neither – look, your cappuccino is getting cold…’
‘It’s not a…’
‘Do you know what the Montgolfier brothers look like?’
‘The ballooners?’
‘Hm… Only I think that might be them just getting off the Withernsea bus.’
‘Oh yes, that’s definitely them – what style and panache they have! Look at the fine cut of their jackets! They’re French chaps you know…’
‘Yes, of course – and see who’s getting off the bus after them!’
‘The tall man in the three-piece black suit, spats, and the jaunty trilby?’
‘Yes, that’s my friend, she’s incognito, but I could tell by the gait, I expect he’ll come in and join us.’
‘We’ll pull up another chair – no no, there’s no need for you to move, you’ll really like him, he’s a great raconteur! You two will get on like two houses on fire.’
‘Two houses?…’
‘Yes… Here he comes… Wave him over and amuse him whilst I’m at the bar. Another espresso? That one must be cold by now…’
‘Yes, alright… Er, thank you..’

Posted in cafe, celebrities, conversation, drama, existentialism, humour, people, religion, Royalty, serendipity, style, surrealism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Still life with rubber band…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s instruction is to sit cross-legged chanting the vowels of the alphabet (you may include the letter Y if you wish) with your eyes closed. Wiggle the fingers of your right hand and the toes of your left foot for two minutes, and then the fingers of your left hand and the toes of your right foot – repeat until you feel that it’s time to stop. Should you find yourself floating up into the air, you must open your eyes and ground yourself immediately…

Here’s a beautiful photograph I took last year.
Yes, I did say ‘beautiful’ – what more could one want? There’s colour, composition, social comment, dynamics, mystery, observation, texture, and even a touch of the natural world sneaking into the urban realm…
‘Urban realm’ Dave?…
Oh, you know what I mean!…
I have an old yellowing paperback from the 1970s called Zen Flesh Zen Bones, a short compilation of things Zen by Paul Reps. As you may be aware I’m not at all a religious type of person, but there are some nice pithy things in this book:
Sozan, a Chinese Zen master, was asked by a student: ‘What is the most valuable thing in the world?’
The master replied, ‘The head of a dead cat.’
‘Why is head of a dead cat the most valuable thing in the world?’ inquired the student.
Sozan replied: ‘Because no one can name its price.’

It’s a funny business is photography. There seems to me to be some confusion about what constitutes a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ picture. You’ll hear people say,’The photography was wonderful!’ or, ‘Oh what a beautiful photograph!’ as they look at a picture of: a colourful sunset, a lovely human, a crystal stream running and gurgling through the deep green fecund forest, the moon over a calm flat sea, or some cute animals, or… well, you get the idea, but what they are looking at is perhaps really a pretty ordinary photograph, but one of a beautiful thing
Photography is of course ‘art’ – when it was invented there was a bit of a shouting match about whether it was or wasn’t, but I think we’ve finally decided, after over a hundred years, that it is. Just like a painting or a sculpture a photograph does what art does – it’s about looking at ‘life’ and ‘the world’. Me, I’d rather see a good, aesthetic, and meaningful photo of rubbish, than a poor one of something ‘beautiful’ – that photo sharing site Flickr is packed full of those.
Anyway, here’s my picture of some cigarette ends, some moss, and a bright elastic band (?) on the top of a Dulltown city centre waste bin with its top bashed in – I hope you think this is a ‘good’ photo…

Posted in art, brain, colours, composition, creation, Hull.UK., humour, instruction, learning, observations, photography, religion, seeing, serendipity, style, surrealism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ puzzle…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s colours are: boiling black, fizzy fawn, magnificent mauve, gob-smack green, peppermint pink and brackish blue.

Part One:
A couple of evenings ago I watched on TV the 1986 film Jumpin’ Jack Flash starring Whoopi Goldberg. I enjoyed it, it made me smile, there was plenty to like in it – some bits were outrageously over-the-top and crazy-crazy though. (I particularly liked the scene with a couple high-ranking staff in the back room (the secret code room) of the British Embassy chuckling away whilst watching old Benny Hill shows on their TV – perhaps the director of this film was inspired in her work by Benny Hill?…)
Whoopi was great in it, she did plenty of running, dancing, and jumping about and she also regularly came out with some very colourful and snappy expletives.
It is a comedy spy movie involving a stranded British agent’s attempt to be rescued by contacting Whoopi via her office computer (mostly nicely voiced-over 1980s green text on a dark screen). The title of the film refers to the ‘secret log-in key word’ – the key being the musical key the song Jumpin’ Jack Flash is in – B-flat, which she desperately needs to discover. A jolly good very daft film, I recommend it…

Part Two:
Jumpin’ Jack Flash – I do like that song! I even twang through it occasionally on my guitar. The thing is though, I usually play it in the key of B rather than the original B-flat – it’s only a semitone difference – but who’ll notice? Who cares?  I do generally tend to avoid those messy (between the dots on the guitar neck) keys with flats in them – I leave all that for the jazzers – oh, those trumpet and saxophone players with their B-flat and E-flat twiddling… It’s a good job that the Stones’ original wasn’t in B though – that would have made a nonsense of the whole film – you couldn’t have a secret password, a vital log-in code, of just one letter, could you? Really I suppose it’s pushing it a bit having a password as simple as ‘B-flat’…  But who cares? It’s still a good film…

Part Three:
At the end of the film, as the credits roll they play a version of the song performed by Aretha Franklin, which I see is produced by Keith Richards himself, (it seems to be in the key of F-sharp by the way, but that is of no consequence). As I listened, I thought, Oh, now, that’s odd! It is a very nice version, but what’s happened to the really powerful and catchy repeating riff that runs throughout the song? Hm… It’s not quite right…
But there’s something ‘similar’ in its place, but I don’t think it’s a patch on the original…
Oh, and come to think of it, if you see the Stones performing the song in one of their big concerts, they don’t play the original riff either – now that is odd! I was only remarking on this to my friend Joe (a very good guitarist) who visits occasionally for sessions of nerdy guitar talk. I reckon, for some reason, those Stones have replaced the A-flat note in the riff with a sort of D-flat chord! What a puzzle!…
Would you like to compare the versions of the riff dear reader? I won’t be upset if you say no, and you say that you have better things to fill your time – however, here are some links so that you can compare the new with the original one used in the film:
Stones in concert.

I am writing this sitting the cafe… Oh, I wish I had a guitar with me so that I could… Oh, I know, I’ll jot down in my little notebook the way I play it, and photograph it for you.

This looks reasonably accurate to me – also you’ll find there’s a nice bit of subtlety and dissonance going on with those ringing strings at the seventh fret – this is missing from the new version. Get your guitar out, give it a twang, and let me know what you think…

Posted in cafe, celebrities, colours, composition, cool, Film, guitars, information, learning, music, observations, puzzle, smiling, thinking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Mail Art Postcard. No. 4578…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s heraldic term is point – the base of a shield cut off by a horizontal line. I had my coat of arms done with a point, but I got fed up with it and had the piece glued back on again.
(I can’t seem to find an online picture of such a device – it’s definitely mentioned in my heraldry book though!)

How about another of my Mail Art postcards dear reader?

Just another simple collage on bright card using clippings from that awful UK TV listings magazine What’s On TV – what a dreadful gaudy dumbed-down rag that is!

Now, let’s have a look at this…
Whoa! He is a bit unsettling isn’t he?…
Yes, just imagine walking down that pleasant grassy path through the forest, the one that leads to the corner shop – to get a pint of milk, oh, and a packet of bourbon biscuits, when suddenly, it all goes very quiet, except – except for a rustling in the bushes behind you, you stop, and turn, and you look round, the green fronds tremble slightly, and then they slowly part, and there he is, fixing you with his, er… Oh, how did William Blake put it? Well, actually he didn’t put it, but what I was thinking of was that jolly nice phrase “frame thy fearful symmetry.” Anyway, you get the idea!
Look at those eyes! Well, you can’t help it can you? It’s difficult to avert your gaze once you’ve locked on; they’re like a couple of fried eggs…
Whoa!… No, no, It’s alright – he’s probably just as surprised as you are – best not turn your back on him though, just walk backwards slowly, still heading towards the shop of course, be careful, and for goodness sake mind you don’t trip up! He’d be on top of you in a second – purring, wanting his belly rubbed…

Posted in art, brain, composition, cool, drama, heraldry, humour, information, Mail Art, poetry, postcards, seeing, serendipity, style, surrealism, words | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments