Saturday, 30 June 2007

FOLD YOUR ARMS (seating)

"So what did you think of the music?"

I couldn't say. I wanted a table.

And here I return belatedly to the text "It's not their job to not look stupid." (Although the easier option will always be to do what I did in the last post ie. throw some old, recently unpacked English exercises up on the net… Actually here's another:

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You see, there is such a thing as having too many apples. Apparently if you start attracting tigers then you know... And what was Mrs. Burnside doing while I churned out this unchecked, speculative drivel? Counting apples. I've lost my thread now. I mean it's barely worth returning to but I might as well.) Two points really. The first:

Last Wednesday in the Shunt Lounge (an increasingly common point of reference in these posts, though not - I sympathize - a Common Point of Reference) three musicians sat improvising in a tunnel on a raised concrete plateau before a lit bank of about 200 no-frills, pull-out, flip-up seats. I think one or two of them were making exploratory noises with instruments while the other processed these on laptop. Anyway it was packed. People were blocking fire exits.
If you wanted to listen to this music, you had to watch it. (Or else stand at the side and watch other people watching it.) You couldn't sit at a table or lie on your back. You had to place yourself in the socially awkward position of noisily clambering over well-dressed strangers to sit still on a hard seat, fold your arms and watch three men variously scratch, drop and tune things or stare at a laptop. Which as a performance, if you think about it, looked stupid. But only because of how everyone was seated. Do you see?

2nd point: In that same Lounge I was reunited with Silvia and Gemma who had just returned from Sardinia. They'd been invited to perform a show based on Pinnochio up in the hills. Here the paying audience were seated in a mini (and driven around) while an unpaying, unseated audience of neighbouring Sardinian hillbillies heckled, threw rocks, threatened arson and finally went to the priest who recommended a sentence of death by hanging for witchcraft. At any rate that was the verdict that reached Silvia and Gemma in a black Pinto at two o'clock in the morning. So they moved on.

I don't really know what conclusion I meant to draw from this except that, I don't know, between these two points there surely exists a happy medium. 

(originally posted on myspace here)

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

The Man and the Ant

(originally posted on myspace here)

The man met an ant.
The man had a gun.
The poor ant had been run over by a car.
You can sit there and dry in the sun.

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met wet let get
run gun sun fun
man ran can


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It was dark so I took my lamp out.
We can't light the camp fire.
My dog's always damp.
My mother will stamp her foot if she's angry.
Our tent has fallen down.
I spent 40p. on a pencill.
I'll have to spend 40p. on a sharpner now.
I'm tangled in string.
An airoplane's wing has fallen off.
Tarzen will swing into that tree.
A scorpion has a sting.
I hope my mother will bring a hanky

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Saturday, 23 June 2007

the infinite (continued)

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It was nice to see Billy Bliss behind the bar again. We got talking about Science and Religion but I think he started it - Actually no, it was a lady waiting to be served (this is in the Shunt Lounge) : "Science just the new religion" says he and her. "No," I go, moving onto "Science does HOW, Religion does WHY" - a little mantra of mine so watertight it really is a mystery to me why this matter is still up for debate - noting also that Science can never, for example, answer the most fundamental question "Why is there something instead of nothing?" because Science is only concerned with What Is. Religion on the other hand can at least contemplate - if not investigate - What's Not. I don't think it can give us The Right Answer either, because it's just people making stuff up and people are only wee and that's why I'm an atheist and that's why I make stuff up, but it's still a question worth making up answers to, and that will never be Science's job. (Freud was the only scientist who actually replaced religion, and he wasn't even a proper scientist. Ergo.) Billy Bliss also argued something about matter and energy and how nothing can ever be said to disappear, so I blew out a candle.

Which may be why I'm not called Billy Bliss.

Did I start it? It certainly tied in with my grumpy ideas about Richard Dawkins' defense of atheism - which smacks so much of a man completely out of his depth, like those Phillip Pullman deans that used to get wheeled on to attack The Life of Brian. And I'd been thinking about space again. Because just before you hit the bar there was a board on the ground in front of a screen, and on this board a cross, and next to the cross the familiar sign "One at a time". The board had been there a few nights now and I thought it was some sort of tiny dance floor, but that's because the projector hadn't been turned on. Now it was, and the screen showed a virtual - not landscape - sky-scape of, well, shapes, like in space. And it was 3D. So you had to put on some specs provided. And you stood on the cross, and if you flapped your arms, you went forward, and if you bent back, you looked up, and if you bent down, you looked down, and if you banked to the left or right you turned left or right.

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And you probably looked stupid doing it, but it's everyone else who's missing out. And it's not your job to not look stupid.

Which is something I'll get back to when I return from work (painting myself white and applying false injuries at the London Dungeon, coincidentally bang next door to Shunt. On the train in yesterday I noticed a man with a huge bruise running from his eye to his ear and though "Ooh, might use that." Surely that's wrong...) 

Twee but twue

Home late Wednesday evening to find that, despite the 24-hour place selling nothing but Stork, the undersides of every plate in the drainer were inexplicably covered with butter. On the bright side, this landed on my shoulder while I was out drinking by Blackfriars Bridge:

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As having large bugs landing on you goes - given that this wasn't going to bite, sting, scuttle or be sick on me - it was pleasantly like meeting a cat.

Walking into work Thursday morning, I pass a half naked man slowly crossing a busy Borough High Street by shuffling along on his bum like a class of infants asked to move forward to make room for another row in assembly. "There's losing yourself in the moment blah blah," my friend Hannah once observed, "and then there's just being off your nut on crack." 

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Heaven's Full of Machines (doing a comic)

Idea for film...


Norrin Radd, the SILVER SURFER thrashes about the ionosphere, trapped in what Dylan Moran once called in an interview with Jonathan Ross "The washing machine of your own mind"

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Hello, pal.

Who are thee? Thou? (Art thou?)

I am... the human porch!

The human torch?!

Torch, yes. Thank you.

But who is that mortal hanging from your flank?

God, eh? What a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak!

It's Richard Dawkins, buster! I'm trying to give him a glimpse of the ineffable. Pang!

What a vindictive, bloodthirsty, ethnic-cleansing, misogynistic, homophobic, racist, genocidal, capriciously malevolent bully!

And I thought the heavens might be just the crazy, wing-ding place!

I defy anybody to disagree with any of those epithets.

He's got a point.

Also, have you ever noticed - right - how...

Okay. Do you know Galacticus?


Sorry. Yes. Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds. Size of a planet. Big hat.

And the cosmos, eh? Bit overweight!

Yes. He's so tall though, why does he need the big hat? Chiwawah!

He's big, but he's not tall. Actually he's quite squat from a distance -

Why he's such a hit with the Hindus.

- of about five hundred thousand miles.

Ganesha, eh? What an elephant-headed, rat-riding...

Yes, but the hat if anything just makes him look more squat. (baby)

Okay, but anyway, if thou lookest over there. Thou seest all those - well, those worlds?


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Bloody Hell!

Cheers, Norris.


Bloody, bloody Hell!

Okay? Now piss off back to the lab, Dawkins.

The end? 

Monday, 18 June 2007

"Haircut?" "Antlers." (The Book of Names)

Looking up Native American names for a shop sketch about a faulty dream-catcher, I found a rather pleasing (and indeed performable) abstract epic for those of you interested in that kind of thing. It exists accidentally down the right-hand side of where the English translations are listed. Here, for example, are the "A"s:

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Sight-of-day stays at home (stays at home) yellow leaf. Wildcat, keeper of the flame-mouse (spirit) lives in the woods, listener: "Tree... Tree... Large tree... Tree... Blossom!"
He laughs. He fights. (Restless one. One who lives below.) Wings ambush. Fighter looks up: "Elm branch... Grove of cottonwood... Pea?"
"Valley of flowers... Haircut?"
Spiritual guide independent forest-water. (Rainbow-worker superior another day. Crow Mother Spirit.)

(Repeat dance.)

"Chief! Chief! Flint necklace worthy of trust?"
"Lance where the wind blows down the gap. Child stars?"
"Stomach ache."
"Stay! Large elk? Crow?"
"Sacred child? Holy child?"
He keeps watch... Pitched trees he interrupts. (Wigwam-blacksmith pitched trees, Lean Bear somebody.)

My home, morning:
"Fawn, fawn, little one. Little one. One who follows orders."
(Actually this is quite a hectoring interpretation, possibly because I missed the Shaolin Monks on Clapham Common, possibly because I've been staying up too late watching "The Legend of Hell House"... see? 

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Blue stars

In other words, these:

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Actually I'll get to those later. Sorry. I'm determined to keep this blog going daily but I'm very tired. I fell asleep in the Tate after work. I queued to see some parrots - in the Tate - (not for long, that's fine, all the fun of the fair, no this isn't Mike Timeout's wry-and-sideways gutless whinge I'm just tired) - and then queued again to get into a "one person at a time" shed among some banana trees. The piece was an example of "Tropicalia", a seventies Brazilian art movement. "It's not all just parrots and banana trees" yelped the signage. There was also some gravel. And once I finally got into the shed (again, didn't have to wait long, all the fun of the fair etc.) and - spoiler warning - turned right four times in the dark and through some beads, I arrived at a badly-tuned telly showing one of the live action Scooby Doo films (I haven't seen either so couldn't say which one... Velma was threatening to quit). I tried to see if you could change the channels. You couldn't.

I didn't stay long, there was a queue. However it struck me that that hadn't stopped others before me. Some of them must have been in there three or four minutes. Watching Scooby Doo. Possibly going Hmmm. And to be fair I was going Hmmm. I was going Hmmm, I wonder what all these people are doing loitering in a shed in the Tate watching Scooby Doo. Maybe that's what everyone was wondering in there. Then again I had just missed the bit where they unmask the ghost, so probably not.

On leaving the shed and seeing the queue I thought "Shall I tell them?"... I didn't of course, all the fun of the fair. But then again it's far less easy to calculate the most public-spirited option when you're dealing with installation art, or indeed any art. (All of which I suppose goes back to a quarrel I had with a friend last week which I have to say she forfeited by branding my wrist with a cheese fork - "Ow! I win!": that old story.)

So anyway, yes, that was Tropicalia - I'd forgotten by the way how terrifying a macaw is once you get beyond the feathers: basically raptor talons jammed into the face of a drowned tiger - and then I fell asleep. And then I went to the Oval House to catch the last night of Steve King's play "Yellow Lines", a play I had sort of helped midwive into being over the course of four years by continually attending readthroughs of drafts in the central role of Colin and then OFFERING! SUGGESTIONS! So it was great to finally see it happen, despite the small, deceived, unhelpful voice that would sound in my head whenever the lead actor was onstage giving his interpetration of an ill-fitted, dyspraxic control freak, "You're playing me. You're playing me. Well, you've got the walk right anyway."

And then, knackered, I got the tube home, demanding an explanation for something.

So here is what I demand an explanation for: Those stars.

Does anyone have any ideas? Please contact me if so. Thank you and good night. 

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Get thee behind me, Edna (The Willow Bible)

Look, I found this. I must have made it when I was six or seven. It's a small, illustrated Bible that incorporates - not, let's be honest, that successfully - characters from the Kenneth Williams-narrated children's cartoon "Willow the Wisp". Note the David Shrigley-like crossings-out. Note also that I've made David ginger. Here it is in its entirety:

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And there, sadly, it ends. No New Testament. No illustration of Willow on the cross - Of course Willow the Wisp didn't have any feet and his hands always floated in mid-air quite free of his body making him completely uncrucifiable. Which may have been why I abandoned the project. Still... 

Friday, 15 June 2007

SHOOTING AN ELEPHANT in the ass: A rite of passage

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Two important crossroads reached today... the first, when I was suddenly asked if I wanted to play on the Girl's Team for the Works Do Five-aside (in many ways a dream appointment, ideally kept in a raffishly unbuttoned tux) only to back out because of a prior engagement to wargame over at Friend Ned Mond's. I am a boy.

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The second, upon the field of conflict: an "abandoned holo circus" (hollow circus?) beautifully stocked by said Mond. I have fought only once before. My gang "The Henmanunatics" (mutant fefugees from the subterranean Tim Henman Project), have met rival clown urchins "Hammertime" on their own turf. My general, Joyce "George, don't do that" Grendel (in foreground above) - oblivious to anything but showmanship, has raced ahead into the centre ring, stormed the podium and shot a giant wind-up lion in the ass, sending it charging into a dormant, military-issue firework which in turn blasts off to land at some as-yet-unspecified point in our midst in thirty seconds time. She then delivers a mortal wound with "double-barreled stump-gun" to some garish homunculus lurking behind the legs of a trampoline, BUT on turning to deliver a similarly fatal volley of whatever "stump" might be to his neighbour Pogo, her gun jams. So Pogo shoots her in the spine and she explodes. This is my first experience of a fatality. My gibbering, parthanogenic wrestler "Cupasoup" and inside-out werewolf "Mammal Night-Rate" both flee the field of battle in despair. Then the rocket lands just shy of my enemy sending up nothing but sawdust...

Now, surveying all this from atop a stunt ramp is my hopping mutant lieutenant, Jimmy 3-Knees. Joyce is dead, her murderers sheltering beneath a trampoline. So Jimmy - determined to take up the flame of Joyce's Romantic recklessness - bounds onto the back of an artificial elephant, from which - although totally exposed - he has a clear line of sight to the enemy's own hastily promoted commander, Dirtbox, whose gunning down would most likely provoke a rout and certain Henmanunatic victory. He shoots once. He misses. He has one shot left... Joyce would have taken it and hazarded whatever unobfuscated flack the enemy had to return. But Joyce is dead... And in that second, the cloud of Jimmy 3-knees' grief clears and he realizes: He's in charge now, it's not just his own life he's responsible for any more.

And can I just say, all these were emotions GENUINELY GOING THROUGH MY MIND as I sat on that mat in Ned Mond's flat faced with the following choice: Gamble my last shot on an act of typical, self-destructive, mutant panache, OR Shoot the elephant in the ass and send it - and me - charging out of harm's way.

Faced with this choice I turned a corner. Faced with this choice, I found what seemed at the time a perfect model of maturity... Reader, I shot the mechanical elephant in the ass. And nothing happened. I am now a man.

None of which, as I see, brings me any closer to completing my radio play about Frida Kahlo.

Below you can just make out, between the legs of the trampoline, Jimmy perched like Sabu on the elephant's back before the inevitable enemy flak sent him flying limply onto a tusk. Joyce Grendel lies fallen on the podium to the right.

Thursday, 14 June 2007