The Moon Is Rising…

a blog by bladud fleas esq.

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Luke, La Main Froide

I try to add a photo in my posts because it’s something to gawp at if my writing doesn’t appeal. Also I like sourcing images and playing around with them. I admit it, that’s the real reason.

For the previous post, the car wash scene from Cool Hand Luke immediately came to mind. It’s a favourite film of mine. Of course, in the present climate, and probably any climate, I think it inappropriate. Still, they came up in the searches and, honestly, I include this demure one in this post only because I found the French version of the film title funny. Talk about lost in translation.

My schoolboy French, long obsolete, doesn’t inform me of the likely French word for “Cool”. I suspect it’s “Cool”. Luke La Main Froide is Luke, The Cold Hand, which I doubt would have impressed any woman, least of all Joy Harmon when she had a lot of exposed flesh.

Miss Harmon is the actor from the scene, a former Miss Connecticut though she hails from Flushing, NY.

Lately, she is in the cup cake business.

Aunt Joy’s Cakes – Made Specially For You

The Car Wash

It’s flipping freezing out. The proverbial brass monkey. England is experiencing a cold snap right now, forecast to last all next week. Still, the sun is shining brightly and, if you find shelter from the wind, you can actually feel its warmth. I walk into town to buy some more loose leaf tea.

My return takes me past a local garage with a car wash, one of the automated types you put a token in and drive through. There’s a line of cars waiting, about five, and the machine is running so there must be a car being washed inside. I wonder how long it takes to wash each car; if it’s five minutes that’s not going to do a good job but ten minutes means the guy at the back has an hour’s wait on his hands. Who waits an hour just to use the automated car wash?

The fifth car doesn’t look that dirty to me. I’d pass it, for sure. The only time car washing is on my to do list is if there’s a wedding or a funeral. All other times I’m happy to let the rain do it. It works out that I’ve probably washed a car less than once every five years. No doubt I’ve had cars that I’ve never washed, until it was time to sell. It takes ten minutes going round with a bucket of hot suds and a nylon bristled hand-brush, then a couple of cold buckets worth thrown over to rinse. Job done.

Cars are funny possessions in the way that they affect our otherwise normal behaviour. I can’t think of any other possessions that do so as much, not even our homes. They affect our behaviour towards others we meet on the road. People are known to pamper cars like pets. And incidentally finding the tiniest scratch on the paintwork has been known to ruin people’s lives.

Don’t let it control your life, it’s only a heap of tin. Just good, natural dirt and tin.

And if you’re still not convinced, here’s something else,

Thinking about…

Silence

I asked a friend last week how he listened to his music collection, hoping for a lift into what’s new in technology. He said he doesn’t listen to much music these days; he prefers sitting in silence.

We imagine my friend putting on a John Cage record, 4′ 33″. It’s a piece composed for any instruments, none of which are played. I wonder which version he has; the electric one or the acoustic stripped bare? Maybe he prefers baroque, not hearing a church organ or something.

But Cage’s work is not about the absence of sound but what’s heard in the absence of instruments playing. Ambient sound, if you like, though not the kind that Brian Eno noodles with.

Silence. What is it exactly? Does it actually exist?

I put the word into the Reader’s search box to get a blogger’s ear on it.

A lot of photos of tranquil landscapes came back. A lot of moody landscapes, trees partly dissolving into mist and fog. Most had been “prompted ” by the very word, Silence. It’s a shame they didn’t have the mic on because I don’t believe a scene, however tranquil, is silent.

Calm is not silence. Silence can be powerfully disturbing. Have you ever spent time in an anechoic chamber? Again, this is not free of sound but free of echo or reverberated sound. It’s eerily quiet, disconcerting. After a while, you begin to notice your own heart beating.

Silence, an abstract, a concept difficult to visualise. It’s the wrong sense for a start.

In the permanent display in Bath’s City gallery hangs, in a discreet corner behind you as you enter, a painting by Howard Hodgkin (1932 – 2017). He called it Silence because, it explains, that’s what he experienced whilst painting it. I suspect it was peace but calling it Peace would have presented a different connotation. I find it a fairly noisy abstract. The brushstrokes look like they were applied with some force, frenetic, a predominance of shouty orange, and what’s with that swipe of green bombing the whole?

Here it is shown above, see what you think.

I don’t do abstract. But if I did, I would come up with something like this on the right. It borrows something from old Hodgkin’s. Grey is the colour, and order its structure, along with simplicity.

I think it’s a compromise, a failed effort. It’s just calm again. I’ve imagined tranquility. The truth is that no one knows what silence is. The brain won’t allow it.

4′ 33″ by John Cage

So do you wanna dance?

I’ve been looking through some old telly music vids on Youtube, mainly from the 60s. Some of those guys and gals could really move, and seemingly in a natural way.

Dance is not an essential life skill. I remember two generations before mine all knew how to dance: the waltz, the foxtrot, quick-step and likely the cha-cha-cha. The generation after pretty much knew how to jive, lindy-hop and twist. By the time the 70s came, dancing was relegated simply to doing your own thing. Doing your own thing looks neither elegant nor clever.

Dancing is liberating, I think. For starters it requires less negative self-consciousness and more positive self-confidence. It’s also physically demanding and, I reckon, psychologically beneficial. Maybe it should be taught in schools.

The Four Tops, looking great in their 60’s fashion (another thing which went West in the 70s – style!) See Lawrence Payton on our far right, not the group’s slightest physique but a smooth mover. It’s a simple shuffle, minimal choreography but they’ve obviously compared notes. It looks like they’re into the groove. I think this is my favourite Four Tops number too, thanks to Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland.

Bacharach and David wrote great songs, I don’t have to tell anyone that. Dionne Warwick was one of their choice singers. Here she is performing Walk On By with a dance group. All singer hosted telly shows had one of these, they were always called The New Whateveritwas or The Britney Holmes-Stoares Steppers. Something like that. Superficially, they appear to be just walking – obviously inspired by the title – yet I reckon it’s deceptively difficult. Even Dionne joins in but her steps, probably restricted by her dress, are not as expressively exaggerated as the pros – there’s a risk of John Cleese breaking out at one point. It’s a fun routine though, and a nice comic book colour palette, typical of the 60s.

Daft Punk came a lot later but someone’s used an old Soul Train clip for this video, dubbing over their song, Lose Yourself To Dance. It seems to work though those cats in the studio do seem to be doing their own thing as the song title suggests. A total dearth of behavioural inhibition with the proverbial knobs on. It looks a bit of a sartorial car crash too; or quite possibly someone stole the light bulb from the communal dressing room. I think it must have all gone pear shaped from around that time on.

Life drawing #5

This was the last lesson before half term. A good model with a sarong worn or draped across to add a bit of difficulty. I don’t feel I’m getting to grips with the classes yet, I may have left too long a gap since I last practiced life drawing. Clearly you need to be doing it continuously and often.

The quicker poses below were done with 6B and 9B graphite pencils, the top two were with a Sanguine Oil pencil. WH Smiths are selling little tins of sketching media half price which include sanguine oil, carbon, sepia and charcoal pencils, a compressed charcoal block, graphite stick, and red conte stick. Pretty good price.

Blog Angel

What does a Blog Angel look like?

I’m sure I have one. It’s probably the case, though your stats page won’t tell you, that there are as many posts and comments that never see publication as those that do. For me anyway. That’s down to the Blog Angel.

In its real life manifestation it acts as a timely distraction or interruption. Great words are pouring forth like mad, or maybe a pithy comment is on the verge of completion, and a phone rings, or there’s a knock on the front door, the postman with a parcel for an absent neighbour, please would I take it in?, or the dog whining to be let out into the garden.

Maybe the wife reminds me the tea has been stewing in the kitchen probably for far too long, or an intimidating spider has been spotted scuttling across the carpet of some room. It could be anything really; the angel’s ways are nothing if not ingenious and inventive.

Returning to my writing I find it’s crap, unfit for publication. Or I simply wouldn’t want to. No, no, no, not that. Too downbeat, too miserable, too smart arse, too opinionated, too critical, just too negative, too wrong. The worst gets binned, the least worse gets saved as draft, I’ll bin it tomorrow…

Good Blog Angel. Mind, in reading a lot of blogs, I imagine some folk have a Blog Devil too. Now I’m wondering whether I have too.

Thinking about…

Wisdom and Knowledge

I find I’m on a kind of accidental journey in finding some interesting blogs to read. Not knowing any other way of doing this, I’ve been putting likely words or phrases in the Reader search box and seeing what turns up. Yesterday a blog turned up with the following quote, attributed to the Tao Te Ching.

To attain knowledge, add one thing each day; to attain wisdom, take away one thing each day.

It reads well enough on a superficial level, but what do you think it really means? Taking what away, exactly?

Then I thought of Socrates, the philosopher – literally a lover of wisdom. He told how he was wiser than all thinkers because only he seemed to know he knew nothing. Surely, he can’t have literally meant nothing? He did. Wisdom, I guess, isn’t the same as knowledge.

Richard Feynman told the story of his father teaching him the difference. The boy Feynman had been ridiculed by his peers because his father hadn’t taught him to identify a certain bird (according to him it was the brown throated thrush). His father then recited the name of the bird in all the languages under the sun. Having done this, he told his son he now knew all the names humans had given the bird yet still they knew nothing about the bird itself.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle gave his detective, Holmes, the mind of a genius. But on certain issues he remained complacently in ignorance. His companion, Watson, was staggered to find him unaware of the fact that the Earth orbited the Sun,

“You appear to be astonished,” he said, smiling at my expression of surprise. “Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it.”

“To forget it!”

“You see,” he explained, “I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skilful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that that little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it there comes a time when for every addition of knowledge you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”

“But the Solar System!” I protested.

“What the deuce is it to me?” he interrupted impatiently; “you say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work.”

Arthur Conan Doyle (A Study In Scarlet)

I hope you liked this post but if you choose to disremember it, I shan’t mind.

Overwhelmed

Do you ever subscribe to stuff?

I am probably on the verge of being overwhelmed by online news subscriptions. My inboxes are full of the stuff, half of which I simply don’t have the inclination or time to read. The thing is, if I unsubscribe what will I miss out on?

In the days before the internet, I subscribed to nothing. Occasionally, for several weeks at a time I might have popped into the newsagents for a Melody Maker, or once a month an edition of Q magazine. Later, for just over a year, I regularly bought the Sunday Times and the Saturday edition of The Times, until I noticed the articles were repeats of articles published twelve months before. The news, like history of course, repeats ad infinitum and we simply forget. Then I once had a gift of a year’s subscription to National Geographic, but that was all. It was so much harder in those far off days, and that made things so much easier. I lived a life relatively free of third party concerns.

Today it’s too easy to sign up to a newsletter online. Most are free of charge because they’re cheap to produce and sell advertising space. A lot, too many no doubt, I must have signed up for on a whim. The New York Times and Huffington Post must be two. Maybe I had considered it appropriate to broaden my news horizons but right now I’m not that interested. Also Channel 4 News (aka Snowmail) seems a tad late to be relevant, I’m already aware of its contents before it arrives.

Amongst the others I have Issuu, Artfinder, Oxfam, Winsor & Newton, Reprieve, Brain Pickings, Goodreads, Youtube, Bookbub, OSLeisure, Flipboard, Pocket, Lifewire, and one from the BBC. On top of all this, I’m now receiving about twelve notifications daily from WordPress about the new blogs I follow.

I also get these pesky Facebook ones. Facebook isn’t a place I’d be interested in normally but our local arts centre scrapped its newsletter in favour of a Facebook page. The trouble is you can’t view their pages without signing up. This I did, jumping through the usual hoops, in the name of so-called security – aka personal data harvesting – getting an alias past them, a random date of birth and declining to inform them of my other email address, and definitely not my phone number, for the love of god! Finally, I got to see the page only to find it wasn’t that interesting after all. So I mouched around, joining a nostalgia board about my birth town, exhausted that too quickly, made a few long-distant friends, and that’s that. Hardly worth the three or four daily emails I get imploring me to visit to see what I’m missing! I have, they tell me, 63 notifications waiting. I’ll wait.

I’ve also noticed I’m getting Instagram emails and for the life of me I don’t remember ever signing up for that! What’s happening to me?! I’m just overwhelmed.

Reading

Does anyone subscribe to Bookbub?

It used to advertise itself as the best kept secret of book lovers. (That would be ebook lovers.) I don’t know how I came across it, maybe from that advert though adverts and me don’t seem to connect much. I have to say that after a few good titles early on, there’s been a chronic dearth of tempting offers.

But today I’m taking a chance on this novel. I don’t know anything about it or its author only I’m a sucker for a long walk. I’ve read quite a few books involving long walks, I don’t know how I haven’t yet created a shelf for them over on Goodreads.

Yes, I’m on Goodreads, the one other platform of social media I do now I’ve abandoned the vile, ego driven, now practically useless Twitter. (Why would they even allow politicians accounts?)

I did a reading challenge in 2016 when I read only women authors for a year. This was to address my natural reading bias towards men. I didn’t do one last year. This time, however, I thought I’d try to read more authors who are still breathing. To address my bias towards older “classic” books. I may even attempt to stick to those published after the millennium.

Also, I like to throw some non-fiction into the mix. I think it’s important not to read too many older books with non-fiction as, ironically, facts – what we think we know for sure – are in the habit of changing over time. It’s that toxic blend of knowledge and opinion.

I spotted this book this morning. A “international best seller” for 99p. Why We Sleep by Professor Matthew Walker, Director of Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab, University of California. It should be interesting and vital, but I already know why I sleep: I’m too tired to do anything else.

Good reading! And no sleepwalking!

chess in the parc

This is prompted by an email notification I received days ago from Flickr. Someone has kindly liked an image I uploaded in 2008, though not the one below.

You obviously know that Flickr is a photography hosting website. I joined it many moons ago, prior to the Yahoo! buy out, while I was doing photography. But the image that got a “like” is actually a drawing.

It’s a bit of a cheek putting drawings and the like on a photo site, and some photo nuts were a bit huffy. It was done as part of a social media challenge with nine (I think) other artists and amateurs using those sketching notebooks known as Moleskines. The challenge was to fill three pages of a book and send it on to the next person in line. At the end of the year, I had my book returned filled with a diverse range of work contributed by all those involved. I still have it on my bookshelf, it’s a treasure.

I haven’t used Flickr for nearly a decade, as the dates show. I stopped using it for photography too; in fact, I stopped photographing altogether. I certainly can’t remember my password. So I used the email notification link to have a sneaky peek at the sketches I did. It’s odd how the “views” ranged from four figures to just a tiny few – presumably folk are searching “tags” assigned to individual images rather than accounts – but mostly in the low hundreds. It was really a niche group.

I was pleased to find that drawing above had gained a couple of likes. It’s an idea I had meant to work up in oils using the glazing technique. Obviously, it’s an idea I forgot about. From the notes I added, it was drawn in carbon pencil and watercolours. And I was listening to S.E. Rogie – ” [a] sweet, laid back man & the great sound of Danny Thompson’s bass! “

I titled it, Chess In The Parc. It’s intentionally the French spelling as it was inspired by some photos I snapped in Paris one Autumn. We were strolling through one of the parks and came across two old men in a square, deeply engaged in a game of chess. It was remarkable as they both looked as if they’d been to the market buying their daily groceries before the challenge of a game distracted them from their homeward journey, each had a shopping bag beside their chair, brimming with vegetables and one had a huge baton of bread poking skywards. I remember it was quite chilly and leaves were occasionally falling all around, and these two solitary men sat intent on chess and oblivious to everything else.

But also from my notes I see I’d been,

” somewhat inspired by Herbert Bayer’s sheet music. I’d been admiring his photography for some time and hadn’t realised he also painted! “

I must check up on Bayer. I think I remember something about it, vaguely; maybe it’ll be a renewed delight. So much here that is a memory not exactly forgotten but terribly neglected. I haven’t played S.E. Rogie – now the late S.E. Rogie – for too long, and Richard Thompson’s double bass! aah. And Bayer, and the oil glazing technique I once loved. Not forgetting romantic Paris, and Autumn leaves in the parc.

I mustn’t forget, also, my last note under the drawing, if I do attempt it again,

oh yeah, I can’t count – too many squares on that board…

S E Rogie – Dead Men Don’t Smoke Marijuana (youtube)

Danny Thompson – He Can Play A Bit… (youtube)

Danny Thompson – playing a bit (with John Martyn) (youtube)

Herbert Bayer @ MoMA