This is not art. No. 16…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s carefully selected adjectives are: brackish, raffish, unifilar, opprobrious, dissilient, xenogenetic and blunt.
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This is not art…
Well, I suppose my photograph of it is, but not this piece of architecture itself. When it was designed and put up by the builders, I suspect that there was zero aesthetic consideration involved. Mind you, I’ll bet back in Victorian times if a doorway this size was to be constructed, even in an industrial area, the people doing it would have automatically put a bit of ‘style’ into its design – perhaps a nice bit of curved brickwork each side, with an semi-elliptical arch composed of voussoirs at the top? We can’t afford that sort of thing now, can we?…
Anyway, here it is, in all its glory…
Two things caught my eye and persuaded me to snap the picture; the horizontal stripes of light and dark blue as the bulges in the metal slats catch the light, and of course those black and yellow steel ‘corner protectors’ at each side. You often see such things on warehouse entrances, a sloppy driver could easily knock out a few bricks going in and out with his/her truck – it wouldn’t take much to bring the whole bloody lot crashing down would it?
But isn’t it gorgeous!…
See how that great area of buzzing blue is perfectly balanced by the relatively small, but eye-catchingly bright, wasp-like (‘wasp-like’ is nice isn’t it?) features at each side, the whole thing framed by the neutral white wall. Oh, and don’t forget the little touch of green nature sneaking in bottom right…
Blue… Yellow… Black… White… The term colour field painting springs to mind – I sort of wish it didn’t… Eat your heart out Mark Rothko!…

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Something on the grassy knoll…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s elephant in the room is the one standing in front of the TV when everyone else is trying to watch the football.
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When I did my one-year foundation course in art at the local college many years ago it was a time when the people who taught on those courses were actual artists, who produced art – unlike the current people, who haven’t bothered learning any skills, other than those of reading about, keeping up to date with the latest trends in, and talking about, art.
One great thing I took away from the course was the importance of looking at stuff, the world around us, everything. We were encouraged to look at colour, form, line, texture, not just in art works, but in everyday life: the colour of the moss on a broken down brick wall, the orange/brown rust on the otherwise brightly coloured tin can, the ripped smiling poster on the hoarding at the end of the street – get the idea? It changed the way we went about in the world, as if we had just opened our eyes for the first time – I suppose it was all a bit Zen really. All great artists have been great observers, Turner, Picasso, Leonardo… well, all of them really, even Kandinsky (my spellcheck wanted that to be clean skin).
So, last Wednesday afternoon I was out and about keeping my eyes open as usual; I was actually sitting on a bus which was waiting at some traffic lights, when I spotted, lying on the raised grass verge by the road, a piece of dirty plywood. It was rectangular in shape about, oh, ten inches long and four inches wide; it had some letters roughly painted on it in white. I was mildly curious as to what the letters said, but unfortunately it was lying upside down from my vantage point and was difficult to make out. It seemed to be just a few letters, perhaps one word; the first letter, upside down of course, seemed to be a ‘Y’ and the last one was possibly an ‘H’…
Hm… what a puzzle. As the lights changed and the bus moved off my brain was busy trying to come up with a word which would fit – the only one I could think of was ‘Yahweh’. But why would anyone write ‘Yahweh’ not very well on a piece of plywood, and then discard it on a grassy knoll?…
I pondered for another moment and then all became clear – of course, it didn’t say ‘Yahweh’ at all, it was a surrogate car number plate someone had made, and tied on with a piece of string, to replace the proper one that had fallen off their vehicle, and of course that one had fallen off too. Good! Problem solved…
However, I did now have the word ‘Yahweh’ floating and bobbing about in my head – (a form of the name of the Hebrew God, a word too sacred to be spoken, nor should it be written on a piece of plywood and left by a busy road – so it is written.) As the bus trundled along the word jolted about and ended up dropping into a handy hole, in a joke, in my brain, and the whole episode ended up being featured in a new blog post. See, that’s the value of keeping your eyes open!

‘What is God’s favourite song?’
‘I don’t know, what is God’s favourite song?’
I Did It Yahweh…’
‘Doh!…’

(I D I M W)

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Choosing a suitcase…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s joke is the one about the small smear of tomato sauce on the shoulder of the Prime Minister’s best pale blue suit. Oh, how we guffawed into our cupped hands in the corridors of power!
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‘Excuse me, is this the suitcase department?’
‘What do those look like? Grapefruit?’
‘Quite… Oh… that’s a quote from a film!’
‘Yes, it is, what of it?’
The Big Sleep… nineteen forty… six?’ *
‘It might be… Do you want one suitcase, or a matching set… sir?’
‘Er, well, just the one I suppose… only…’
‘Only what?’
‘Well, it has to be the right size.’
‘And what size would that be?…’
‘Difficult to say…’
‘Oh, why?’
‘Now, you seem to be an authority on cinema, and the media.’
‘Do I?’
‘Yes, well, you know, in films…’
‘Yes?…’
‘…and in episodes of Columbo, and er…’
Murder She Wrote?’
‘Yes… No! Never watch those! Too cosy for me!…’
‘What then?’
‘Well, most of the crime solving cases that you see on the…’
‘Look sir, I do have other customers waiting.’
‘No, but you see, when a person has been kidnapped…’
‘Kidnapped?’
‘Hm, or perhaps in a spy thing, the pay-off for the secret plans…’
‘Or for the location of the vial of deadly bacteria, that’s heading for the city’s reservoir?’
‘Why yes, now you catch my drift…’
‘No, I’m afraid I don’t. Do you want to buy a suitcase or not?’
‘Not really, but I am interested in such things.’
‘Alright… perhaps I’ll give the security man my secret wave, he’s just over there by the door, he’s the big chap sniffing the perfumes…’
‘No, don’t do that… You see, in films of this kind…’
‘Thrillers?’
‘Indeed, thrillers, when they demand the cash.’
‘For the ransom?’
‘Yes, or for the deadly strain of bacteria – the money always comes in a really stylish suitcase!’
‘I suppose it does.’
‘But, have you noticed that when the case is opened, it is always packed full of currency?’
‘Of course it is.’
‘But there is never any spare room in it – it is always full to the brim!’
‘Our suitcases don’t have brims.’
‘Oh, don’t nitpick!’
‘Sorry, do go on.’
‘So, I was wondering…’
‘If suitcases come in different sizes to accommodate different amounts of ransom or pay-off?’
‘Exactly! You are so inciteful!’
‘Thank you.’
‘So, do you sell cases like those?’
‘No.’
‘Oh…’
‘But we could order one for you, if you really wanted one.’
‘Well, I might…’
‘I have a catalogue of such cases here…’
‘Oh, it’s quite a thick catalogue isn’t it?’
‘Yes, let me flick through… now… your ransom money…’
‘Or pay-off…’
‘Yes, or pay-off… Will it be in dollars, pounds, euros? You see where I’m going with this?’
‘Goodness me yes, who would have thought it would be so complicated? They’ll all require different sizes of case!’
‘And we haven’t considered the amount of cash, or in what denominations it will be in yet.’
‘Does the catalogue have pictures of the cases filled with cash?’
‘Of course.’
‘Can I have a peek?’
‘Well… I’m not supposed to let customers look at this book, but… Alright, I’ll just hold it under the counter like this – don’t let the security man see what you’re doing though…’
‘Oh, those pictures are wonderful! In colour too! Just look at those wads of tightly wrapped Euros, and those packets of thousand dollar bills!…’
‘Nice eh?’
‘Oh, dear me… Yes… Yes… Could I just…
‘No touching!…’

* (Grapefruit)

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Chair and Razor Barb…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s unusual pencil sharpener is the one shaped like the sound of Vladimir Putin’s voice when he has a cold.
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‘Dave!…’
‘Yes?’
‘Are you deliberately showing us the most boring picture in your collection?’
‘Well, that’s a little bit harsh, don’t you think?’
‘No, it isn’t! Just look at it! It’s dreary, dull and… and…’

This photograph is from of my days of old-style, black and white, 35mm film and darkroom photography – it’s was probably taken in the 1990s.
Not much going on in it is there? But nevertheless, I do quite like it; I think it has a nice sense of brooding melancholy.
‘”Brooding melancholy”? Oh, shut up! What utter twaddle!’
Don’t you think there is a kind of compositional and textural tension pervading the scene? This is stark punchy monochrome surrealism right here in Dulltown!
To the left the ‘easy chair’ made ‘difficult chair’ by its position hard up against the fence – you want to go and sit in it, relax, and nod off, but you can’t – no room for your knees and legs I’m afraid… It also looks like it’s exploding…’
‘No Dave, it doesn’t!…’
Yes it does, see the creeping climbing plant, its leaves are the bang, the detonation, the concussion, the con-cushion, frozen in time… Now look up! What do you think those nasty coils of barbed wire are saying?
‘They are not saying anything.’
…and on the right there, the rectangular sign, it says – ‘Razor Barb Danger!’ ‘Razor Barb Danger!’…
‘No, it doesn’t – you are making something out of nothing…’
But that’s exactly what art is!… What about anthropomorphism?… Don’t you think our chair looks like it’s sulking, and it has shuffled off into a corner to turn its back on the world? That’s how I feel sometimes…
‘I’ll bet you do Dave… But it’s no good trying to engender our sympathy, it’s still a boring photo…’

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Just a few small, but pithy items…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s parsnips are the sad ones in the bottom of the fridge that have gone soft and bendy, not hard and unyielding as they ought to be.
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Excuses for being late. No. 333.
I’m sorry I’m late, but my parrot kept me up all night discussing stuff.

A single overheard remark:
‘Oh, daft Kevin wouldn’t know!…’

An observation:
A chap was walking through the city centre; he had a Jack Russell dog perched on his shoulder. At first glance, and from the side, I thought that some jackal-headed ancient Egyptian God was visiting. (God)

How about a new range of nicely packaged, expensive, gold-wrapped, chocolate-covered biscuits in unusual shapes? They could be called: ‘Arias’, ‘Concertos’, Scherzos’, ‘Nocturnes’ and ‘Fugues’ – that would attract the posh customers!…

Oh, this looks interesting! It’s an item of spam just landed in my comments box; it seems to be from someone called Raleighbinc:
The Puma ambassador donned a pair of its new Ferrari assortment ankle boots and companion sweater on Friday when she greeted supporters at her short term life-style keep in Canoga Park Calif. at Topanga Westfield buying plaza. Kim Kardashian featuring Ray J looks like here Jenner who has been dating rapper two many years manufactured confident to flaunt her artwork assortment as well. Amid her famed pieces.
Well thank you Raleighbinc, I will certainly bear in mind what you have said, and thank you for the update on the companion sweater and the famed pieces. I do hope to hear from you again soon.

Yes, I’m thinking of changing my name to General Electric.

I don’t know why, but an ancient song suddenly popped into my head, and I felt that I had to look it up and hear it again. (USA) You don’t get songs anything like this now.

A single overheard remark:
‘So you see Chantelle, when he has a bad week he has to break into his good week’s money…’

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The Dream Drawing (Part Three)…

But first…
Dulltown, UK: Today’s elephant in the room is the one ignoring all the guests and listening to Barry Manilow albums on his headphones.
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Well, there wasn’t supposed to be a ‘part three’ to go with the other two posts about my dreamed drawing; I thought that dragging it out to two separate posts was pushing it a bit, but three! (Part One) (Part Two)
However, (I love the word ‘however’!) however, a day or two ago I was walking past the drawing, which was still clipped on my drawing board, and the thought struck me how odd it was that a tiny bit of random bubbling cell activity, a couple of silly neurons sparking away in the old brain in the early hours of the morning, producing a dream in my fuddled sleeping mind, composed from dredged-up memory mixed with a teaspoonful of lurking deeply buried anxiety, was the tiny seed from which some pencil lines on paper eventually emerged out here in the real world. (I think that is the longest sentence I have ever written in my life; this is like bloody Dostoyevsky!)
Just think, if I had not remembered that dream, I don’t remember them usually, (‘Thank god!…’ I hear you murmur) and had I not bothered to grab my little bedside notepad and pen and sketch the thing that I was busy working on in dreamland, this piece of art would not exist, and people all over the world (I flatter myself) and you dear reader, would be totally unaware of it.
It’s good to have little pads and notebooks scattered around the house, or to have one in your pocket when you go out. It is surprising what these quickly jotted words or roughly sketched things, these ‘seeds’, can sometimes grow into. Picture old Leo da Vinci fishing in his trouser pocket for a small coin to flick at a beggar in the filthy streets of 16th c. Florence, coming across a crumpled piece of paper, a note to himself – Tuesday: Go and ask Mona Lisa del Giocondo if she still wants that portrait doing. ‘Oh yes,’ says Leo, ‘I’d forgotten about that job… I’ll pop round there right now on the way to the butchers…’
Or Napoleon swigging back a glass of wine and noticing something scribbled on his shirt cuff in red ink, Monday afternoon: Don’t forget to invade Russia – remember to take snow shoes!
But, that’s the thing about great events being serendipitously sparked isn’t it? Things in the real world that people can see, and possibly like, or hate, can have their origins in the tiniest of spontaneous brain flickers –  the flapping of a butterfly’s wing in Whanganui can result in something large pretentious and trite being exhibited in The Turner Prize show thousands of miles away a few months later.
But you get the idea… Ah, here I am sitting in that same cafe a week or two later still writing about something in a silly dream… Part 3…

And then, here’s yet another photo…

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The forensic time fillers…

But first…
Dulltown,UK: Today’s dictionary words are: cooee, coomb, coontie, copple, copula, coquelicot, and bufflehead. 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 for the lesson wearing a wispy ghost of Hamlet’s father costume and croaking through a tin megaphone you should allow this distract you from your studies.
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You have to be pretty bored and desperate to watch them I suppose…
I’m talking about those ‘real-life’ forensic detective things on the TV. There is, after you’ve shared the rapid (deliberately wobbly camera) montage of grisly blood-spattered crime-scenes – feet sticking out from under sheets, with the stern-faced cops, a reasonably uplifting ending where the spotlessly clean finger of science points unerringly to the ‘perp’ – they are Hands behind your back Buddy! arrested, and then tried for their crime – it’s that ‘goodness and logic triumphing over evil’ thing – it’s always been appealing hasn’t it?
Anyway, the other night, as I sat on the sofa, Telecaster electric guitar on lap, twanging quietly away, I thought that I would from time to time drop my plectrum, pick up a pen, and jot down the occasional phrase from the voice-over to share with you dear reader.
By the way, American police officers do seem to be an odd lot don’t they? Most seem to be overweight, if not portly, have bad skin, funny hair or shaved heads, outlandish names (both first and last), and the ones in the country regions all wear big hats indoors, even when sitting at their smart desks. Big hats… indoors? The only people I can think of who look anywhere near cool doing that are John Lee Hooker and Bo Diddley.

Spectacular coastlines – seriously hurt or killed – the spectacular view – rushed – horrified – five hundred feet – no way could have survived – then things happen – died in this manner – local police called – autopsy – foul play – a visit to the insurance company – much different from their account – the sequence of events – the photographs from the camera – on the victim’s left shoulder – a clearly visible shadow on the ground – investigators now suspect that – thirty-five-thousand dollars just the day before – he was in prison at the time – they thought that it was a pretty incredible story – prove it or disprove it – he was not a trained forensic pathologist – off to the lab for testing – gas chromatograph mass spectrometer – at least you wouldn’t be alert – but there was no way to prove it until – consistent with a struggle – they were shocked by what they found – tragedy after tragedy – denied signing it – it raised some red flags – then she changed the slant – arrested and charged – the Pythagorean Theorem – to enjoy it over and over again – an experienced con-artist over the years – fell into a spider’s web – died in jail – first degree murder…

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