Friday, 31 December 2010

Random Art Wibblings

This has spun off from a conversation happening online about creative people and has a big chunk of all ready seen material :-)
NAturally, I have artists chums and I wouldn't hang out with them if they behaved in the way I talk about. So basically, if you are an artist and reading this, you can 99% guarantee I'm not talking about you.

The thing is, I genuinely see no difference between artist-as-a-job and plumber-as-a-job. It baffles me that there are no fansites for good plumbers. Not just plumbers, but anyone who does a good job. I mean, whenever we've had people round to do the plumbing, electric, roofing, I've been totally in awe. It's something I'm not capable of being done well with a skill I don't have and it's fascinating to watch.

So what is it about 'creativity' that makes people behave in such a way? I don't do art for fame (which is just as well, haha!) nor did I do music, radio and theatre for fame. Whenever I approached 'recognition', I sort of imploded and self-destructed. When I worked in bands, I'd wear masks and/or make-up, same with theatre; on radio I couldn't be seen and I completely freaked out if, as happened a couple of times, someone recognised my voice. As a job, puppetry offered me the best blend of creativity and hidden-ness but te bottom dropped out of the puppeteering market a long time ago.

I suppose what I'm saying is that creativity is a job.




I find it intensely sad that I'm drawn to 'creative' environments only discover that most creative types haven't a brain cell to share between them. If they do have one, it's usually devious and self-serving. Creativity attracts knob heads. Worse yet, it attracts people without an ounce of talent who exploit those that do have some. I find it virtually impossible to work with creative types as most of them haven't a clue how to navigate the 'real' world. Creativity is brilliant, but the structures that surround it and the attitudes that are attendant with it doom it to failure.

I'm always pissed off that Art doesn't get more money from our government(s), but in many ways I"m sympathetic to that because you give a stack of cash to an artist and it usually gets pissed away. Until art has structures in place that, say, sport has, artists won't get money. When it does have such structures in place, it will signal the death of art, much as 'sport' is now less about the playing and more about making money. Ooooh paradox :-)

Modern Art is essentially a sham. It's a tradition based on misinterpretation. When you go back to the origins of art you find out some interesting things about how this misinterpretation happened. What most people consider to be art had a function other than making a space look nice. Take, for example, Greek statuary. In situ, these pieces had a function; they told tales of gods;how to behave; what would happened if you crossed the gods or the authorities. They were created not by 'artists' but by technicians using the principles of 'techne'. It was only when these statues were removed and placed in a big white room that they became 'art'. What should have been the last laugh - MArcel DuChamps 'Fountain' turned out to be an inspiration fro million people without a clue . . .

Painting were status symbols. There's a language to portraiture that speaks of class oppression; it's undeniable. They were designed to boast; not as an expression of art, but as an expression of wealth and dominance. It's possible that artists did non-figruative/non-portrait/landscape works prior to, say, expressionism, but it being non-commisioned, the chances of prolonged survival were slim.

So people emulate the things they see in galleries. Things that are out of place and out of time; misinterpreting the motives for producing the pieces and adding their own spin, thinking they're part of an ancient tradition. But the functional aspect, the raison d'etre, has been eliminated. So what is art for, now? Given the element of the grotesque that has crept into modern art, it's not to make a place look pretty . . .

Art seems to exists for artists to justify being a bell-end. Which is fine. I"m fairly certain that there are plenty of people who think I'm a bell-end, too. That doesn't mean I have to do the matey, camaraderie thing with other artists. I live for the day I can stomach working with another artist, but it might be a long time coming. . .

I have a peculiar relationship with galleries and museums, too. I’m not sure I really like them much. There are so many reasons to like them; reasons of accessibility, culture; beauty, entertainment, education…. and all of these as well as the sheer joy of immersing myself in the world of art is enough to keep me going to them. However, I get this uncomfortable niggling feeling in galleries that despite the beauty and wonder, what I’m seeing is false, or at best, only half of the story.

As I mentioned, I have often wondered what this artwork would be like ‘in situ’, that is in the place that the work was actually designed for. Caravaggio’s paintings in the churches they were commissioned for, Rothko’s Four Season paintings in the correct location, even the Mona Lisa in the home of Francesco del Giocondo. Instead, we get an ‘art zoo’; a collection of pictures and objects divorced from their natural habitat, their appropriate surroundings, and given a new context in the aggressive environs of a white cube gallery where multiple pictures vie for attention.

There is, of course, a clear delineation between art that has been taken from it’s natural habitat and art that has been made specifically for galleries and it is of the former where my malaise sets in. Galleries have become cathedrals of art where silence and reverence rule. No one can get excited; just nod in sage appreciation. Frankly I want more than that from my art experience.

Galleries are simply ‘Art In Captivity’.

Art should not be an elitist endeavour, nor it’s appreciation. It should, to my mind, be completely and fully integrated into society and be a part of its essential fabric. In ‘Towards a Situationist International’, the text seems to advocate creating ‘art ghettos’ – no better than the art zoos - in what they consider to be the ‘basic unit’ of unitary urbanism, the architectural complex. It is unclear whether these complexes were to be ‘purpose built’ or whether they were simply to be the subject of Situationist interventions.

These concepts and ideas appear to arise from the atmosphere of left wing politics and petty factionalism of the time and seem to be contradictory and confused. The argument about the necessary purging of their organizations and associates is highly reminiscent of Reg ousting members from the ‘Judean Popular Front’ in ‘Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”’

Enough. More wibbles later. HEaven forbid, I might even come up with a conclusion...

Movies of the Year.


This is a difficult one as, tragically, I've not been to the cinema much this year; a mix of not much cash, not much time and not much I've fancied seeing. To be honest, I'd be hard pushed to make a 'Top 10' I've not really seen that many more and I didn't like all of those.

In no order:

Iron Man 2
As much as I loathe Mickey Rourke and his randomly inflating face, I have to admit he was good fun in this. Sam Rockwell, who I usually like, was pretty awful. Not the best comic based movie ever but good brainless fun.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part one

Remarkable. Much derided for the dancing sequence and much bitched about the lack of plot, but what do you expect from half a book? You're not going to to get any kind of resolution, so look at it for what it is which is a great first half. It more than adequately portrays the lose of innocence and dislocation felt by death of Dumbledore and the decision to abandon Hogwarts for a life with consequence. It shows that although being forced to grow up, Harry, Ron and Hermione are still children struggling to fit into an adult world. There are some great set pieces and genuinely moving end to a previously un-liked character and it sets up the next movie beautifully. Strangely, though, my favourite section was the telling of the Deathly Hallows story from Beedle The Bard. Beautiful Shadow Puppetry!

Howl

Brilliant. Not actually out in the UK yet, (innocent whistle) but a fascinating account of the obscenity trial surrounding Ginsbergs epic poem. Cut into dramatisations of the court case are animations of the poem. Marvellous.

Prince of Persia

The phrase 'based on the videogame' is rarely a good omen, but with a huge amount of surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed this strangely old fashioned confection.

Alice in Wonderland
Clash of the Titans
Tron Legacy
Voyage of the Dawn Treader


3D is a double edged sword. In theory, it makes perfect sense to try and achieve the kind of realism 3D offers but in practice it means a lot of unnecessary things being thrust at the viewer. At least with Tron:Legacy and Dawn Treader, they were creative with the 3D and it was never less than interesting. Those two, of course were made in 3D, Alice and Titans were '3D-ised' later on. It shows. Post-prodection 3D simply doesn't work. Personally, I'd rather see a well made 2D movie than a half arsed 3D movie.

I rather enjoyed Alice, despite having little to do with the source story, but as usual with Tm Burton movies, the design is the thing that enthralled. Even Planet of the Apes, dog of a movie that it was, was beautifully designed. Neither were particularly satisfying as movies, although Alice was about 40,000 times better than POTA. But they looked lovely.


Kick Ass

Had it's moments. Sadly the ones that annoyed me outnumbered the ones that thrilled me. Didn't know whether to pitch itself as a brutal gangster movie or a comedy superhero movie and got the balance wrong on almost all counts. Some great performances - Cage's Adam West pastiche was a thing of Joy - but rather cruel and bad tempered.

Book of Eli

Humanity is heading this way. Try and stop it, there's a love.

Human Centipede

Found myself fast forwarding through this to get to the 'gorey' bits only to be disappointed when I got there. Dull, dull, dull.

Nowhere Boy

I'm a sucker for a movie about Lennon. This is a particularly good one. Not quite as good as the Eccleston one on BBC4, but a fascinating account of the women who shaped Lennons life. Definitely worth a watch!

Exit Through The Gift Shop
Catfish


Two documentaries that may or may not contain fake elements. Being a huge fan of Banksy, I have to be honest and say I found the movie extraordinarily dull. POstmodern self referentialism is all very good, but for gods sake make it interesting! Catfish was a much more fascinating movie. The makers insist it's 100% real, but the beats and dramatic events do seem a little too perfect. Essentially, it a story about a facebook relationship between one of the filmmakers and someone who clearly needs help. She has set up a number of false identities and manages each one so well that they filmmakers thank that they really are talking to discrete individuals. When the truth is revealed we discover a disturbed woman and a house of cards. Amazing. Which reminds me . . .I must watch The Social Network. And Monsters. And Skyline.

Actually, looking back, there wasn't a lot of merit happening, was there?

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Earworm #1


The Ultravox sample in Take That's "Eight Letters".

How annoying is that? I didn't notice the sample until I checked the writing credits on the album. "Eight Letters" was listed as being written by Take That/Ure/Currie/Cann/Cross. I re-listened and spotted the very obvious keyboard riff from the 'this means nothing to me" section of Vienna.

I really don't like Eight Letters. I think I'd like it more if the 'eight letters' bit was excised and replaced with something that's not a cloying, sickly, diabetic coma inducing cliche.

I really love Vienna and now it's sort of tainted by Eight Letters. Either way, that bloody piano run has been rattling round my head for the last two days.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Overheard Bus Conversation #32


Not actually from a bus but an hospital A&E reception desk:

Receptionist: What religion are you?
Patient: Pagan.
Receptionist: Hahahahaha! I'll put you down as C of E.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Mad Comic Ramblings

I was once briefly stalked by Chris Claremont.

This was way back in the 80's when he was gaining godlike status for writing The Uncanny X-man, a comic that I was extraordinarily fond. The Dark Phoenix Saga had come to a conclusion - well, I say conclusion, it's been rewritten and resurrected so many times it's actually pretty much negated the emotional punch it once had - and Claremont was doing a tour of the UK. I'd never engaged in fandom of any sort at this time, but when I saw he was going to be making an appearance at the Sheffield Space Centre, had to go! The Space Centre had not long moved to it's new home on The Wicker from the far too convenient spot in Meersbrook; convenient to me, anyway. It was directly opposite the post office I cashed my giro at. My dole money didn't last long, but I digress.

Claremont arrived, The Space Centre was packed out and I was not exactly first in the queue, but certainly near the front. Claremont spoke. He introduced himself, sat behind a desk and then addressed his subjects. At length. I don't think I've ever been in the presence of someone who was so far up himself, so arrogant and egotistical. Two hours of him telling us how fabulous he was. Tragically, the shop was so packed, there was simply no method of escape. I had to endure this appalling talk for it's entire duration.

When he finally finished, the assembled hordes went mental; cheering, whooping and sycophancy being the order of the day. I just wanted to get out. Finally, I escaped and went on to the rehearsal space for a theatre group I was working with. It was maybe 20 mins walk and I just had to drop something off and leave. So ,45 mins later I walking past the Space Centre again and bloody Claremont is just leaving. To his credit, he didn't have an entourage, but he recognised me. Probably because for two hours, I'd been standing in front of him with this incredulous aghast look on my face which he had clearly misinterpreted as awe.

Anyway, he decided to talk to his fan. And continued talking. Asked if I knew where his hotel was and could I give him directions and then said ' well take me as far as you can'. Now, other than turning round and declaring I was going in the opposite direction and thus away from my own destination, there was little I could do. So I ended up walking him into town. I made my excuses and said I had to leave now as I was meeting my friend. He asked where ; as I wasn't, I just wanted to ditch him, I just pointed at the nearest pub. "Oh, I'll wait with you 'til he comes" was the response. Fuck.

This is before the days of mobile phones, so I couldn't fake a text, make a call or whatever. In those days, you waited until your friend arrived. Or until you go bored, but Claremont continued talking and telling me how fantastic he was. After an hour of waiting for my mythical friend. I got up and said I had to go. He looked really hurt.

But fuck him. I wanted to go home and rid myself of the most tedious man I'd ever met.

Still love the comics, though. Can't say I've read much Claremont stuff since. The last time was his atrocious run on Exiles. I'm not a huge superhero fan anymore, but every now and again something comes along that I enjoy. In the case of Exiles, it was inexplicable. It was really soap-y nonsense but would actually make a neat TV show, but for the attendant baggage, but when Claremont took over, it became unreadable. Hey Ho.

I'm sure he's mellowed . . .

Friday, 24 December 2010

Why I don't do Christmas.


A number of people have asked me recently why I don't do Christmas. I usually say 'because I'm not a Christian' and leave it at that. For the most part it's true and certainly the major constituent of my reason for not doing Christmas.

Thing is, I don't get why it's such a big thing. When I was a kid, it was an important part of the year, but then I didn't really know any better but as I grew up, I became more and more uncomfortable with it.

It's partly because of the increasing commercialism and the unrealistic expectations people have about it; partly because I will never understand why people get themselves into appalling debt for the sake of one day where expectation is so great that it will inevitably be a disappointment; partly because you're made to feel like a freak if you don't do this massive celebration and getting drunk thing; partly because the effect of all this supposed goodwill is to increase suicide rates, increase calls to support services like The Samaritans but mostly because I don't believe in the whole birth of Jesus thing. I did for a while and had some lovely meaningful Christmases with friends but I don't anymore.

My personal morality makes it impossible for me to celebrate Christmas simply because of the Christian connection. I'm aware of it's meaning to Christians and would feel completely hypocritical celebrating something so meaningful without having the belief.

Similarly, I don't do Easter, Valentines Day, etc., because of the Christian meaning and having no specific spiritual beliefs anymore, I feel uncomfortable celebrating Saturnalia, Solstice, etc. From a pragmatic point of view, solstice does at least have some meaning outside of spirituality. If I celebrated anything, it's probably be that, but being so unconnected to the seasons and the cycles, celebrating that seems a bit weird. If I were connected to the land in some way, it would have a point, but my connection to the seasons these days means the occasional visit to a farmers market and watching birds migrate.

Also I don't see the point of one day where you are expected to be nice to everyone and give presents. I prefer to give presents to people I like when I see something they'd appreciate, or when they need cheering up. I don't like having to fake appreciation of presents given by someone you only see once a year and doesn't know you from a hole in the ground.

"It's a time for family" you cry. Well, yeah, but we're not a close family. I love my Mum and Dad but for a variety of reasons, we don't see each other often. Maybe once every five or six years. Other than my parent's, I've not seen any of my other family since I was 13 - I've recently been in touch with some of them for the first time in 30 years via Facebook/Friends reunited, so yeah, not close. Family is where you find it.

Now if you do Xmas, and aren't a Christian, I"m not accusing you of being a hypocrite. Your reasons for doing it or not are completely valid too. But that's your choice. I don't want pity. I don't want people feeling sad for me because I don't do it. I just don't do it. It's not a big deal to me. Obviously it is for other people. I like that people enjoy it, although I hate the panic and bad moods it elicits. But I don't do it, thanks.

I do like a lot of the foods associated with Christmas, though.

Happy Kwanzaa!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Music of the Year


This year has been a bit weird. During the first half of the year I didn't have time to listen to music, during the second half of the year, I didn't have any money to buy any. In terms of what I've had time or money to listen to, it's probably been thinnest musical year I've ever experienced. That's not to say the list below is in any way sub-par as some of the albums are without doubt the finest the bands have come out with....not all of them, but some...

So. In no particular order....well, except the first one.

Take That – Progress

A blinder and a career best. Returning Robbie to the fold has really made the band up their game, take risks and produce a fabulously subversive pop masterpiece. With the exception of the execrable "Eight Letters", an unwelcome throwback to the mawkish Barlow ballads of yore and completely out of place here- Progress is astonishing. The bonus track "Flowerbed" is breathtaking and probably my favourite ever TT track; the America/Kinks referencing Kidz, Pretty Things and the anthemic single The Flood -which had me at the northern pronunciation and Star Wars reference - are simply wonderful. Album of the Year. No contest!


Shriekback - Life in The Loading Bay


A strange one, this and oddly sedate with a lot of the usual spikey edges ironed out. This both works and doesn't. It might be because for the first time since about 1987, Carl Marsh is back. Somehow, the more obvious Marsh tracks don't sound like Shriekback, but they are still fantastic songs. Simpler Machines, The Dreamlife of Dogs and Semi-Delicious are the standouts here.

LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening

The final album? What a way to bow out! Drunk Girls, for all it's Lodger era Bowie pastiches storms along beautiful and out classes The Sound of Silver by several miles!

Brian Eno – Small Craft On A Milk Sea

Eno is God. That is all.

The National - High Violet
Kasabian - West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Steve Mason – Boys Outside


Albums I've only listened to while travelling to and from Leeds. I should really sit and listen to them properly. I can't think of a better way to travel, though.

Jonsi – Go


I love Sigur Ros, I loved the Jonsi and Alex album and this tops them all. Tornado is achingly beautiful.


Scissor Sisters – Nightwork

Yes, I'm gay. I've had many an odd look while listen to this. I get lost in in and start dancing down the high street when I"m listening to it on my iPod. Nightwork, Harder You Get and Fire With Fire stand out, here.

Amplifier - The Octopus.

Have to be honest, I only got this today and I know nothing about the band, but the first listen blew me sideways. As did the second. Astonishing rock/prog/ace-ness.


OMD – History of Modern

Now this is an odd one. I couldn't not like this despite it obvious flaws and it's inevitable weaknesses.
This is something of a concept album but I"m not even sure the band are fully aware of that. it's never been mentioned in interviews about the album, anyway. They have a vague idea about the title being "what happens when modernism is no-longer modern", well, there's post-modern, then alter-modern, if you bothered to do your research, but...they've actual managed to pull off a pretty neat postmodern trick here. Each song, to great of lesser degrees, contains an element or allusion to an old OMD song and self-referentialism is the epitome of post-modernism. In some tracks, it's a slightly submerged phrase or an atmosphere or in the case of Save Me, pretty much the entire song with a new melody and lyric.

The down side is that it does sound a bit like a greatest hits album and I really hoped that they would return with new stuff as inventive and as groundbreaking as the first couple of albums and particularly the still magnificent "Dazzleships" oddly the only album not specifically referenced on A History of Modern. Still, a reminder of my New Romantic/Futurist clubbing days and welcome for that.

and finally, two soundtracks that were much better than their accompanying movies:
OST - Prince of Persia - reminds me of Ann Dudley and Jaz Coleman's 'Songs From The Victorious City'. Never a bad thing. The movie was brainless fun.
OST – Tron:Legacy - Daft Punk at their finest. Strangely Phillip Glass-y in places but never less than enthralling. The movie was very pretty, sounded amazing but would have benefited from a plot. . .

Review of the Year (1)


It's been shit

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Community


I feel somewhat diminished.

I'm a big fan of community and have active sought to be part of one at almost all points in my life. Post-school, I was part of a couple of communes, a spiritual groups - including a buddhist gompa, a couple of covens, a christian church, etc. - and thinking back, it was the community aspect, not the 'dressing' that was important to me.

Where ever I am, the sense of community is important. Even a good work vibe can be enough to satisfy this need. It doesn't take much to transform a dour office into a community.

University confounded me. There wasn't so much a lack of community as the feeling that I wasn't allowed to be part of it. Age, you see. Being the only 40+ year old in a group full of 18 year olds is tough. Being the only gay person in the group further alienated me. I mean, jesus. A Fine Art degree and only one gay person? What is the world coming to?

But anyway, the point is, I feel really lost without a community. I have Andy, and he's fab, but other than that, I have to fight to see anyone. The longest conversation I've had since moving back from Leeds has been with a barista in Starbucks. He was on his 10 minute break. Lovely bloke, but isn't that just a bit sad? it gets worse. The second longest conversation I've had is with people from a yahoo group, even that's down to six people and most of those I've never met. Wouldn't want to be without them, mind you.

But having been back in Southampton for about 5 months now and for all intents and purposes been stuck on my own, I'm reaching breaking point. I need people. I need community.

I may have to try and start something up.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

THESE THINGS CONFUSE ME #0048/49


I'm watching TV.

On BBC News, there has just been a documentary about Elle MacPherson. They play ed out with Air's "Sexy Boy". Have I missed something?

**********

Tesco Ad:

Graham Norton says something along the lines of "Christmas and Kids. Why not get them quality DVDs? Sorted!"

The visual shows a selection of 12a, 15 and 18 movies.

What's wrong with this picture?

I like food.


I'm not vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination, but I don't like meat for every bloody meal. Possibly a throwback when when I was a vegetarian and then briefly a vegan. I've since switched to being a happy meat eater believing the argument is not so much about eating dead flesh, rather how the animal lived and died. Where possible, I liked to know the provenance of pretty much everything I eat and I like to cook as much for myself as possible.

Even now I find most veggie cookbooks are so horribly *worthy* and joyless; they seem to be more about ramming a point home than showing you the absolute delight that a vegetarian diet can offer. Yotam Ottolenghi's book 'Plenty' isn't one of those books. It's an absolute joy. I've had the book a short while now and made a few things out of it; the Surprise Tatin being the favourite; the leek fritters and black pepper tofu (both recommended by my good chum Tru) were a spicy treat.

Now, I'm not going to give you any recipes from that book here; instead, I'd urge you to buy it. Your tastebuds will love you forever. Instead, I'm going to give a couple of slightly adapted recipes, one from Ottolenghis "New Vegetarian' column in the Guardian and another from Waitrose Magazine. Further veggie Treats, with notes.

With the first one, you’re supposed to use butternut squash but we forgot to buy it and substituted sweet potato. We then did it was half and half and eventually with all squash. All variants work really well, but I think the half and half is best. Also, we used canned corn once and that was just as good as fresh. The recipe is for four people but halves really easily.

Baked Squash, corn and goat cheese with pumpkin seed dressing.


1kg Squash/sweet potato
Olive oil
3 corn cobs (or two cans)
2 big garlic cloves, chopped
2 chillis, finely chopped
200g goats cheese, crumbled
Juice of one lime
Chopped coriander

Dressing
80g pumpkin seeds
2 cloves of garlic
2 green toms if you can get them, if not red are fine
2 crunchy lettuce leaves (romaine or cos)
1 tsp coriander leaves
2 green chilli
2 tbspn olive oil
salt and pepper

Chop up squash in two 1-2cm chunks. Put it on a roasting tray and mix in oil and salt a pepper. Roast at 190C/375F Gas 5 for about 30 minutes until the bits are just going brown..

Shuck corn cobs and boil for 10 minutes (or open cans and heat up)
Mix corn, squash, garlic, chilli in an oven proof dish and put back in the oven while you make the dressing.

Toast seeds, add all dressing ingredients into a liquidizer or goblet of one of those whizzy wand things. Add a bit of water and re whiz if it’s too thick. It should be fairly thick, but pourable.

Take stuff from oven and fold the goats cheese through it. Whack it back in the over for about 10-15 mins until the cheese oozes. We like it to cook ntil the cheese just starts going brown, but it’s not essential.

Sprinkle lime juice over, drizzle the dressing over and sprinkle with coriander leaves.

Trough!




Roasted Vegetable salad

2 red peppers cut into chunks
I large Sweet Potato cut into chunks (we did batons)
1 Aubergine cut into chunks
Olive oil
1 Lemon Juice and zest
2 tablespoons pesto
2 cans of lentils
100g spinach.



Roast veg for 30 mins at 200C/gas 6 with oil, lemon juice and Seasoning.

Heat Lentils.

When the vegs are ready, stir drained lentils into veggies. Add the pesto and zest and stir well.

Fold in the spinach leaves so that they just begin to wilt. Serve NOW!!



We did this a couple of times with different lentils. We liked it best with puy, but brown works well. Red go mushy and unpleasant. You could used dried lentils but I wouldn’t know the ‘conversion’ rates. Experiment!

Also, it makes enough for 4, so we successfully reheated it for lunch the day after. We also stuck some grated cheese on top and put it under the grill for a couple of minutes to brown the cheese.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

eh?


So, I'm still unemployed and finding it very difficult given the level of debt I"m in. University is bloody expensive, especially on a Fine Art Degree where you get no materials given to you. If you want to do, say a bronze statue, you pay for it yourself. I wanted to do a steam bent wooden sculpture; the cost of hiring the equipment, buying the wood, receiving the training to use the equipment would have amounted to about £8K for six week work, so I simply couldn't afford to do that. I hated having to compromise my work to suit my budget. It made a lot of my stuff look shoddy. Okay most people didn't notice as they did know what I had planned in the first place, but you take my point. I don't have a cheap imagination unfortunately and even with the compromises, I found myself in unfathomable debt.

But I've already deviated from what I wanted to say here.

So back on track...

Being unemployed, I find myself signing up to a lot of job agencies and recently found one online called 'Staffbook'. it's every bit as rubbish as any of the real world agencies. They take you through a complex process that involves you assessing you skills, pointing out your strengths and weaknesses, etc and it all seems terribly well thought out.

So why, when I've put down a million and one office skills, an aversion to public facing jobs and bloody awesome management skills and expressed a wish to work in the Southampton Area, have I been Offered a Front Of House/Bar job in Nottingham???

I despair.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Carbonara.


My current Facebook status reads "A Proper Carbonara is a thing of exquisite joy".

And it really is.

Thing is, most people are only aware of the stuff you get in jars which contains cream, cheese, and other weird shit. I mean look at the ingredient list of Asdas Cabonara Sauce.


Water, Double Cream (15%) (Milk), Single Cream (15%) (Milk), Cooked Smoked Streaky Bacon (11%) (Pork Belly (98%), Salt, Sugar, Dextrose, Stabilisers (Tri and Polyphosphates), Antioxidant (Sodium Ascorbate),preservative (E250)), Pecorino Romano Medium Fat Hard Cheese (8%) (Milk), Grana Padano Medium Fat Hard Cheese (8%) (Milk), Mascarpone Full Fat Soft Cheese (7%) (Milk, Citric Acid), Modified Maize Starch, Garlic Puree, Cracked Black Pepper (0.1%).

Where are the eggs? Where all that cream and cheese comes from is beyond me and instantly negates the name 'carbonara'. Call it something else. Creamy Bacon sauce, maybe? And isn't it slightly disturbing that the main ingredient is water??

Now, it's a fairly recent dish, 1950's by all accounts and came about when American Miners requested Bacon and Eggs in an restaurant while working in Italy. The restaurant misinterpreted the request, adding pasta and mushing it all up. Adding black pepper was partly to disguise the coal soot the miners brought in, partly as homage to the miners.

What you need for an authentic carbonara is this:

Pasta
Eggs
Bacon
Black pepper

You cook the bacon, throw in the cooked hot pasta along with a little of the pasta water, throw in the eggs and stir like crazy until the eggs are cooked. Grind black pepper over the top to taste.

If I'm feeling inauthentic, I'll throw in a bit of garlic with the bacon, but if you have a good pancetta, this is completely unneccesary. Cheese isn't essential nor is it authentic, but I do sometime sprinkle a bit of parmesan or gran panado over the top if I'm feeling saucy. But really, try this. Don't be put of by the lack of cream or a conventional 'sauce'. And don't over cook the eggs.

Yum.

Sorry vegetarians, there is no substitute for bacon, how ever you might attempt to convince yourself.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

THESE THINGS CONFUSE ME #0047


Why, when we're all so concerned about high definition, super clarity and seeing things clearer than ever before are so many movies made with hand-held, out of focus wobbly-cam?

Why do we need to see blurry things so sharply? Personally, if I pay to see a movie, I like to be able to see what I'm paying for. Cloverfield epitomised the crapness inherent in wobbly-cam. It's fundamental flaw that we saw what the characters saw. Now, okay, the immediacy of the hand-held was a fine idea, but for most of the movie, Hud was simply looking in the wrong direction, swinging round to just miss something that had already passed and focusing on the relationships between a group of largely unlikeable people.

We got mayhem, we got destruction, (believable and well executed), we got a bunch of people I had little empathy for and all the while Monsters were eating Manhattan, mostly off-screen. I know what I wanted to be watching!

But yeah. Wobbly-cam sucks. HD is a good idea. Never the twain . . .

Friday, 10 December 2010

THESE THINGS CONFUSE ME #0046


So. Apparently, there are now 5 signs of fatigue. Along with 7 signs of Ageing.
What L'Oreal haven't made clear is whether or not these 5 signs of fatigue are actually 5 of the 7 signs of ageing or whether we're actually now supposed to look out for an astonishing 12 signs of not looking a hot as we could?

Does anyone actually look in the mirror and think "Oh no, I appear to be exhibiting the 7 signs of ageing" and what the hell are they anyway? Are they actually skin damage things, like crows feet, or wrinkles or tumours? Or is it simply behaviourial things like, a lovely early night, wearing slippers, effecting a comb-over and taking joy in a big mug of horlicks? Nothing is clear.

Quite why this annoys and confuses me is also unclear.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Whose Forehead is This?


Okay. I haven;t slept.

Last night I got a text. A photo was attached and the number was unknown. The photo was blurred and not displaying properly, so I bluetoothed it to the computer to see if I could make it any clearer and got the picture you see. I texted back asking who is was and got back "It's me, Dell. Just posing for you".

The only person I know called Dell died in 1996. So you can imagine, I'm a bit freaked out. I texted back and said, I think you have the wrong number. I got a reply saying, sorry, he was trying to get a picture to his friend Will.

Even more freakage. I haven't replied as I'm too weirded out. And I don't know anyone who would randomly send me a picture like that.

So, does anyone recognise this forehead? Or know anything about this?

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Art.


Well.

After the horror of my undergraduate degree, I'm actually considering going back for a MA. Not to Leeds Uni, dear gods, no! But Winchester is looking attractive. I've been a bit anti-art of late, thanks to the shit time I had at Leeds and haven't really produced anything since just before the degree show. This is probably the longest I've ever gone without producing art. A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to draw an interpretation of a character from a new and as yet unpublished comic. That's it, to the right, there.
Thing is, I don't draw, or paint. I got through an entire Fine Art Degree without having to do either, which suits me fine. Annoyingly, it's made me realise how much I miss producing art.

The plan was to do an MA after a couple of years working, so that I could save up a bit and get my head straight. With fees set to rocket, I have little option to do it pretty much straight away. I can't afford to do it at £3K p.a., let alone £9K. SO if 'm going to do it, the time is now.

More sonic art is likely. I found my niche there and with the exception of Motet for 40 voices and Phil Hardings silences, most sonic art - including the piece at the Tate Modern - is pretty lacking. I've also go this mad plan including Clash of the Titans and too much velour. And some animation stuff reducing big budget, high CGI movies to matchstick men.

But the big issue is funding. How the hell do I go about funding an MA? Answers on a postcard, please...