Category Archives: Culture

The accidental hypocrite & the fake plants that died because he didn’t pretend to water them…

Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine…

Thomas Aquinas

Nikon026x600Just as my wise and decidedly erstwhile therapist once neglected to tell me voluntarily, if you ain’t got none then fake some— something which was no doubt passed down from one learned bejacketed chap to another and then to him in order to band-aid folk in desperate need, for reasons both earth shattering or as erroneous as whatever mine happened to be at the time. Now just happens to be time to water the plastic tree and I don’t even consider myself to be overly sceptical. But I must confess to considering such sandwich-filler philosophy to be some kind of joke that few, of which I wasn’t one of those who were in on; or that perhaps this was his idea of faking it, and in some round about way, was him subtly demonstrating how to use the prescription.

Whatever it was, I accepted it and have attempted to use it many times since with varying degrees of success and failure I might add— all with the exception of sincerity, since I’ve found it’s the one thing that if you can fake, you can fake anything. As for me, my hypocrisy only goes so far and since I have so few opportunities to be genuinely sincere these days, I much prefer giving it a go the old fashioned way. Besides, it also seems to be something that becomes rarer with the passing of time. I suppose a lot of the ‘pretending’ nonsense is much better suited to young folk and their flexible skin, as my walrus-like derma gives the game away with far too much swift to be considered fair game— and I’m not one to be deliberately foolish, any more than I am to be accidentally hypocritical.

Enough as they say is quite enough. I’ve reached that unfortunate point in any period of sub-par-ness, whereby I’ll actually start rewinding moments and days in an attempt to fathom the unfathomable, or at the very least, the invisible bottom which deserves my unreserved wrath to be turned spittoon and crazed. It’s imprecise, futile and impossible to spank. Nope, it merely adds to the joylessness of something which belongs confined to the golf course. I’ve even begun harbouring ill thoughts concerning my recent trip— that if I hadn’t gone everything would’ve been fine, I’d still be sleeping and working and perfect— but that’s B.S. as well. For starters, I don”t believe it, secondly, I needed a break and had a wonderful time— I’m not much of a drinker these days and nothing quite validates the conscience like a change of scenery whilst corking a splendid Pinot Noir in the late ante meridiem on a school day. Nope, it wasn’t that and I bear nothing but resentment for even thinking it.

What I needed yesterday was some perspective and if I couldn’t muster any, I just had to fake some. I needed to lash my resentment and throttle my ill thoughts with a dash of fake perspective and put away all that reflection nonsense, because the last thing I needed was for my last trip to be the last I ever have— that just won’t do— I like a large glass of wine before lunch from time to time; and since the issue at hand isn’t really all that complicated: mainly sleep with perhaps a few pre-operation nerves thrown in for good measure, I decided to get some sleep-aids to knock me out, so at least I might be able to start unreversing the bollocks. If I can’t sleep, I might as well fake that too.

Anyway, I took a few of them last night and must’ve nodded off pretty quickly, because the next thing I remember is coming to, at least feeling like I’d had a good nap— gave a little nod to gods— and got up to make a cup of tea before realising it was still only 12.25.

And that was twelve hours ago—

 I’m going to shower and go shopping for something a bit stronger I think…
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Ted Bundy Action Figures, Ad-venting; the Cultural Favouropath & incestuous literary flux……

The Alternative Advent: Day 13

shipman on paperA boy’s best friend is his party planner—

Norman Bates was OK, but his mother was a bit of a bitch…

There are always positives to be to found in a situation, no matter how gruesome it might first appear. There are also strengths, weaknesses, advantages and threats. It’s a pretty simple process once you get the hang of it the trick is to treat all these things as situations likewise and then repeat the process; because no matter how shitty things may seem, there’s always a happy smile in there somewhere for the more stubborn of you to find.

If however dogs, pigs and bulls are a little mulish for your tastes; or for the rationally ignorant: and it seems like far too much effort there are always more heuristic methods to blag happiness back and plenty of places to download a mask with one if the inclination to think your way merry is a revolting proposition. With that in mind, I’ve always thought some kind of Eleanor Rigby themed site would be perfect for such a thing and if not masks, then at least second-hand cellos of funeral planning.

Anyway, it’s how I know I can be certain, more or less to a point, that strengths can also be weaknesses, or at the very least contain them and versa vice.

Take the last couple of weeks for instance: I’ve yet to establish any form of satisfactory schedule with work or sleep which depending on how you look at it may or may not actually constitute a schedule. On the plus side, it hasn’t prevented the development of advent material but it has stalled its publication. I haven’t been able to type freely, but I have been able to concentrate on visual content as a consequent and because of this, ideas which haven’t been codified have matured off-shoots and follow-ups that typify the tangentlemen I describe in a piece as yet unpublished but started to elaborate on, with the series which stemmed from Martian Shock Therapy.

The only problem with these tangents is that they have the irritating nature of post-modifying the pieces from which they sprung, causing the originals to become somewhat leaky from the top as opposed to seeping from the bottom, in a drip fed manner which almost demands revision of everything else. It’s a kind of incestuous literary flux I find most bothersome, since I tend to store a complete picture of whatever I’m working on in my head until it’s ready to be typed. The fact I have a dozen now that want to be bedfellows, not to mention thematically related is not as saucy as it sounds. It’s positively exhausting.

It still irks a little that I failed to fully explain ad-vention when I had the chance, but it’s been one of those painfully disruptive months where the mere mention of routine is enough to break out in bruises or cause it rain. I first conceived of Ad-venting in 2002, primarily as a verb that described a set of very particular thought processes and their end product. It had nothing whatsoever to do with Christmas at first, but since the concept had been fully developed, I couldn’t resist giving a full Alternative Advent a go later that year. December has subsequently become a month I’ve indulged almost exclusively in ideas, creative supposition and hypotheticals.

Now, the ideas that provide the most mileage if they’re not immediately put to pen are typically the ones which have an underlying theme that can be shifted contextually and as a result allow for a flexible exploration of it.

Fine lines are always interesting in this respect.

This is one of those awkward ones which I’m in no doubt would tempt the path of polite conversation across that mark and back across them again. It just seems a pity it didn’t come about around the time the local idiot children thought it’d be wise to start knocking on doors expecting Halloween chocolate. I say ‘idiot’ with all the respect they’re due in regards to those of them specifically, who couldn’t wait until it was Halloween or dress up as anything other an ‘idiot’ child.

I am in all fairness to them: understating and feel great sympathy for whomever made them. I only wish I’d made good on my efforts and had a bowl of nail-clippings at the ready to out-post-modern them. Maybe next year.

In the meantime it’s worth noting that the genesis of ideas sometimes stem from slightly unrelated observations in this case, the blur between news and entertainment, something as old as newspapers themselves, but also the difference between ignoring the nature of a particular content and being programmed not to see it.

At least ignoring something requires a degree of personal or intellectual intervention of some kind: a nice set of muffs or a door to close on cue works pretty well; whereas the other does not. And those afflicted by the latter are also an easy bunch to spot.

By using a slightly less sophisticated version of a Voight-Kampf test it’s possible to identify them with none of the  fancy equipment and silly questions.  All you need is a piece of shitty journalism and a set of ear plugs: simply stick them both in and wait for an emotional response or depending upon the subject; any response what-so-ever.

My idea for today then is really just taking advantage of this media induced scotoma just to see what would happen if the next step towards bringing the ‘blur’ into the home was taken. We design a new set of Halloween costumes and accessories.

newspaper ad killertoysThe Real Killer Costumes & Props Range

Because a lot of us have favourite serial killers or criminals: fact or fiction.

Norman Bates wasn’t all bad, once you get past the whole kill, exhume, stuff stuff— I once did a presentation on the horror genre dressed as Mrs Bates, complete with wig and scary knife and not only did it make for a riveting half-hour, it doubled to demonstrate the nature of this particular idea: the trend of bringing horror into the home, or classroom, Halloween, whatever.

So why not have the Berkowitz mask accompanied by a plastic .44 and a dog that barks commands when you pulled the string in its back; or the Bundy mask complete with a fake arm-cast and a rubber crowbar? bundy toy and accessoriesshipman toy and accessoriesWho would you choose?

Because I can’t wait for the year I have a hundred Dr Harold Shipmans come to the front door with their giant inflatable syringes followed by a hungry pack of Ed Geins wielding shovels and waste-coats made from other peoples faces.lots of little shipmans2

Chianti?

Or an Action Figure?

bundy toy an box on table1

It’s just a matter of taste…

Test-tube Tribute Bands & The Ultimate Encore…

The Alternative Advent: Day 7

zztop advent postThere’s nothing remarkable about it—

All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself…

Johann Sebastian Bach

We live in an elegant universe, which according to some is composed almost entirely of a very large string section, indefatigably riffing out an eternal coda without rest. It has absolutely nothing to do with what it eats, no matter the Bard’s avowal that if music be the food of love— because it plays on regardless of physicists harping on about attraction.

It certainly has nothing to do with love … or sandwiches...

It is what it picks, plucks, taps, sweeps, shreds and strums— and it does it without a single fret, which might I suppose, render certain things inexplicable but at the same time, it would explain why the world goes round as it does.

It does it for us, so we can play ourselves; or with ourselves: ultimately it all depends on how enlightened or blind we want to become.

If you’ve ever heard of The Boys from Brazil or The Second Coming Project, you’d know that neither of them have anything to do with the universe, football or sex— unless of course, you count Pele’s Viagra commercials, which in a delightful quirk of the universe working in harmony to connect my vagrant ideas, I can ingeniously, albeit inadvertently have it all my own way and cover all the bases.

No, they are in fact about the cloning of a bunch of baby Hitlers and a bunch of baby Jesus’.

Now far be it from me to question the dedication of either party, since I regard such endeavours purely as entertainment first and then  just expect the inevitable ridicule to turn up at some point or other. However, as hypotheticals go, it’s an amusing one and all well and good until somewhere along the way someone has the notion to have them doing something together.

This would be problematic for some, because they’d probably get along— Jesus got along with almost everyone after all. But to do it, just to do it, would pose unique ethical problems, so they probably wouldn’t. The fact of the matter is, they couldn’t be trusted to get it done right.

Cloning should therefore, be left where it belongs— in the only place where ‘ethics’ is still a dirty word: reality television. And they should treat it with the levity it deserves.

The format would be the primary hurdle, but I was thinking along the line of something really quite simple. Something like:

The cloning of famous historical figures to create the ultimate tribute bands…

Take these guys for example:

Untitled-1 Robert Engels, Karl Marx & Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin

Sure, they were instrumental thinkers, but if we brought them back— I’d much rather see them with instruments. It could just be me but I think their resemblance to ZZ-Top is uncanny.

But why stop there when we could have:

jfk as bowie1x1JFK as David Bowie

grant flyn bogart gable 2 1x1Cary Grant, Errol Flynn, Clark Gable & Humphrey Bogart as The Beatles

malcom x jackson 1x1Malcolm X as Michael Jackson

miller and joyce do the proclaimers1x1James Joyce & Arthur Miller as The Proclaimers

The potential for abusing the genetic material of luminaries is boundless— and if I can have this much fun with google and photoshop, imagine how much fun the universe could have with a bunch of test-tubes and a T.V.

Half the game is 90% mental…

Yogi Berra

Concerning socks…

The Alternative Advent: Day 5

socks gps etcStrange things are afoot—

And far far stranger than feet…

The disappearance of socks is an enduring mystery for sure. As far as phenomena go, it is quite simply the Linear B of domestic curiosities. I’m not sure if it’s a complex which manifests as frustration owing to the bewilderment that surrounds it; its very odd ubiquitousness that gives it its general appeal thus adding to an already confounding character; or the fact this vicious cycle is in some-way exacerbated by the spinning nature of washing the things in the first place. Whatever it is, it is the exception to the rule of what goes around, comes around, because all too frequently, socks forget to do the latter.

It certainly isn’t an occurrence isolated by a dip in landmass, since no mater how far from the edge of whatever body of water one may loiter, the chasm of lost socks is a deep and peculiar one.

It’s so peculiar in fact, that I couldn’t possibly hazard a say as to where they go either— not even if I was in the mood to inkle readily; and this despite years of spying on them. It’s an embarrassing thing to admit: being outwitted by foot-sheaths, but there you go— I can say it’s been a trait of my own laundry-blues where ever I goand it is this, above all else which seems to be its most irritating irony.

How is it that lost socks seem to follow a person despite being so utterly incapable of staying in the one place?

It would be all too convenient to dismiss the disappearance of socks after a good spin in the same way we do the the appearance of bright lights in the sky— you wouldn’t normally associate high jinx with an item of clothing after all; but there is something otherworldly about it. So much so, the thought of attaching GPS to something meant to comfort you whilst walking, instead of causing unrest by walking off— would be pointless, particularly when there are far more useful ways to examine the limits of these devices.

I’ve often wondered what time is it at the North Pole exactly, and whether there is something about 90 degrees North that’d cause the signal to malfunction. It’s the romantic in me that’d like to believe these devices would think of this latitude as an infinite.

In many ways, it’s thought trains like this that’ve always had me wondering whether there are more practical uses for such equipment. For instance, I’ve long imagined modifying underwater sonar technology to produce the world’s most powerful, independently targeted loud speakers. Just the thought of being able to pick out a particular person with a focused packet of sound that remained inaudible until bouncing would be highly jinxing indeed…

But such a fleeting mention seems a waste of an Alternative Advent to me, and unless I’m very much mistaken nothing whatsoever to do with socks.

Five minutes with a laptop however is quite adequate to put that right— and there’s nowhere more chuckle inducing than a quick browse of the patents pages, as the lengths that some will go to describe their ‘inventions’ is truly comic…

There are radiation-free boat socks; two-way socks, described as a sock structure with two sides both capable of being worn; shoes with socks which may have additional miniature stylish designs; toe-independent antibiosis and stink prevention socks which describe the ‘processing process thereof’; outdoor waterproof non-slip Pet Socks;the antibacterial warm-keeping wearable sock; latex toe sock; Acupoint therapy socks, which you could be forgiven for thinking they’re to be recycled after use in the kitchen

However, in keeping with the issue of hungry white appliances with a taste for tubular threads, I did find a device for keeping paired socks and similar before, during and after washing, imaginatively called: A device for keeping paired socks and similar before, during and after washing.

But no mention whatsoever of GPS…

A noted poet was once asked in an interview if he could explain one of his poems, in ordinary terms. He replied with some feeling:

If I could say what I meant in ordinary terms I would not have had to write the poem…

I feel exactly the same way about blogging

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A lot of people chew up the scenery. I’m a firm believer in less is more…

The Alternative Advent: Day 2

alternative advent day 2bThe object of art is to give life shape & something to chew over—

It also works the other way…

Skill without imagination is craftsmanship. Just as, imagination without skill gives us modern art. Tom Stoppard made that observation, no doubt with, The Prudence and the Pill in mind: Nothing unites the English like war. Nothing divides them like Picasso.

Modern Art, it’s true— is considered with derision by many and as absurd by most, typified by nothing better than The Turner Prize. It is greeted each year with anticipation and enthusiasm, but for all the wrong reasons. With a glint in their eyes and half-baked chuckles wrestling in their throats, our newsreaders announce the short-list and their creators’ achievements, knowing full well that that we: the unenlightened ones, will be hooting and cursing in equal portions wondering what on Earth it’s all about?

Rachel Whiteread won the award in 1993, with her creation “House”. You may remember it: a Victorian Terrace was filled with concrete then its outsides were taken away, and so astonishing was its impact, the local council waited an entire year before tearing it down.

More recently though we had my personal favourite: Simon Starling, who ingeniously turned a boat into a shed, then back into a boat. Imaginatively titled: Shedboatshed (Mobile Architecture No 2). It was supposed represent the, slowing of things down, and about trying to retard the incredible speed with which we live.

The only thing I could tell was being slowed however, was the boat’s ability to float.

But of course it did. It made perfect sense. It made as much of it as being described ‘eccentric’ did to Mr Starling— which wasn’t a great deal, in fact he took great umbrage at the description— an act I found more bewildering than his former dinghy.

There’s little wrong with ‘form’ of any kind going hand-in-hand with hand and head, but when hands and bloockls become inseparable, even indistinguishable from the bullshit and bafflement which surrounds it; perhaps it’s worth trying to take the intellectual out of the art, or better still, away from it altogether.

How about bringing a little accessibility back? How about something like:

Bubble Gum Art?

I’d have galleries handing out different coloured gum upon entering, to be chewed; there’s a little ‘shaping’ for you right there, where it matters— on the building blocks. It’s contemporary, very pop; and like all art— not everyone’s cup of tea— so it’ll either be chewed over or not—  with verbals or mandibles, it doesn’t matter…

Towards the end of the gallery I would have a canvas for the used gum and a bin for that which was not. I like the irony but none of the significance which could easily be spun— but it’s as close as I can imagine, art for art’s sake, becoming more than a spectator sport, at least indoors anyway; and the kids would love it…

It’s clever—

But is it art?

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A quick introduction to The Alternative Advent, update on the monkeys & an animated tree…

The Alternative Advent: Day 1

day one of aaGreat ideas often receive violent opposition from mediocre minds—

Constantly…

As true as this little ditty may be, I’m a great believer in giving the mediocre mind a voice so their ideas can be violently laughed at by greater ones, just so I can put these awful people in their place, instil a few manners and bring a little order and decorum to world. I would however prefer a little less barracking, a little more embracing; and positively no snootiness at all. Especially, when it is an ideas month.

It is because for the fourth time I have declared it so. Gone are the days once more of the advent countdown where we feast on miniature chocolates and welcome to the 21st Century count up, complete with animated tree. And as before, I intend to invent a brilliant idea per day until Christmas— as Linus Pauling said, the best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas and bollocks to the chocolate.

Update on the monkeys:

It’s been a while since I took leave with the many monkeys I had under my wing and allowed them room to flap into hat shops in search of the perfect fitting trilby. No mean feat— in fact it’s a deliberately assaulting one, since their heads are a little on the petite side.

And post hoc ergo propter hoc— they tend to require certain necessitations previously unheard of in respectable outfitters, as their clientèle are traditionally more evolved. Hat sizes in the 32th inch for instance are a curiosity that extends beyond their woolly bodies and into the vast canyons of their toothy grins. For they must ‘eek’ and ‘akk’ loquaciously and skittle mannequins before catching so much as a glimpse from a tape measure; and though they may hold out for a tickle up the inside-leg, they generally make do with some brand spanking head-wear.

So, with that cleared up and as we’re already on day one, I felt like warming up to the task with an idea that is far from warm but very, very cool…

We’ve had the book, the film and we’ve had the rock opera. But we haven’t had:

War of the Worldson ice

It’s such a novel concept— because we wouldn’t have to wait for the Martians to catch a cold. Just trick them into using the Heat Ray and wait for them to sink!

If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas…

George Bernard Shaw

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I must make packing and ready t’other preparations to trip up North for cricket Down Under…

In a few moments we begin the thrashing over an urn just six inches high—

Sport. Cricket. 1882. One of the most famous sporting trophies, The Ashes. It was in 1882 after the bowling of "Demon" Spofforth and Boyle had bowled England out for 77 and brought off a seemingly impossible Australian victory by 7 runs, that the Ashes we
I may be a few days in the wilderness, just to be social— I have no idea as to how long— a day or two most probably but with the prospect of a long rail journey tomorrow, there’s bound to be something which catches the eye.
I always carry a pen.
I’ve a few pieces just about finished— they’re there or there abouts, so if I have time I’ll get them typed and up; I’ve tangents to fill after all and I’m not in the habit of leaving things unfinished.
It is a pity— I had hoped not to miss a day.
But in-case I do, I really would appreciate it if you didn’t go anywhere…
Thanks chaps!

It’s time for The Ashes…