another excuse to write by Ian Kay.
It’s all just nonsense, really.
(No, not this. I mean, Life.
Well, I suppose this too, by extension.)
It’s all just nonsense, really.
(No, not this. I mean, Life.
Well, I suppose this too, by extension.)
On becoming a father for the first time, I got the gouache out and faithfully copied and painted a picture of Spot, the dog, from one of those cardboard storybooks for little children. The story was my daughter’s favourite. The picture hung in the nursery, though this was really just what new parents called the box room where the baby sometimes sleeps and gets changed.
I’m sure we still have the picture somewhere, amongst all the other memorabilia: photographs; early birthday cards; first pair of shoes; an envelope containing locks of our second daughter’s hair from the day they played at hairdressers and clients; without our knowledge.
I never knew what kind of a dog Spot was; I was never any good at breeds. Clearly, he wasn’t the type you’d see tugging a shaven headed, tattooed youth behind it on a lead. But then it wasn’t the type you’d imagine sitting on an old lady’s lap and being carried about in her handbag.
However did we end up with so many different types of dog, and how come dogs know other dogs are dogs despite these significant differences in stature and appearances?
Something in Spot’s favour was he was always smiling. As far as we can tell. It’s not easy to show a wagging tail in a caricature of a dog, and, besides, little children haven’t any tails to wag themselves to know.
10 more words from Thoughts and Theories this Friday. Alternative definitions for some common words provided by the moon is rising’s staff lexicographer.
A #fibbingfriday writing prompt.
A device for keeping an eye on the family at dinner from the kitchen.
Really floppy ears on a sad bunny.
How Maud comes into the garden when called.
What mathematics does to the brain.
An ingredient used to make exceedingly rich beer.
A little drink to get you in the mood for a night in the pub.
Erotica in less than 100 words.
Putting a subtle curve back into a straight cucumber.
A device for seeing fore and aft simultaneously on a submarine.
The id which lies under an inflated ego.
I’ve never before seen such a scattering of small bodies of water defining a place: a pockmarked wilderness, like descending into an alien planet.
Alaska is green. I hadn’t recognised it from the satellite: I’d imagined it was mostly white, as in a Baked Alaska, probably the most oxymoronic name for a dessert (though in French it is inexplicably called a Norwegian Omelette – “omelette norvégienne” – they’re getting their own back over “French Fries”).
It’s incredible to think you can walk from the USA to Russia via Alaska. Solid ice forms on the sea surrounding two islands in the Bering Straits just two and a half miles apart. Big Diomede is a Russian island (but they know it as Ratmanov) and Little Diomede is American.
But don’t imagine you can get further to Moscow, or to New York going the other way from Moscow, by way of Alaska. Fifty-odd extra miles of frozen sea is a long way by foot, and in the perpetual darkness of Winter, and there is no established ferry in between.
top image: satellite view of location.
middle image: Diomede Islands via Google maps
bottom image: map view of location – What3Words occupy.bitter.bridge
Five things I might do to reduce stress or anxiety? A prompt from Dr. Tanya at Salted Caramel.
1. Drawing (or painting)
Or doodling. I’ve always drawn. If I see a pencil, I pick it up; it feels good in my fingers. I find there is nothing quite like drawing to take my mind off and away into a different sphere of consciousness for a couple of hours.
I first started to walk as a teen, having to wait for buses which never came. This is London’s suburbia. You’d take a chance walking on to the next stop, the fare would be cheaper. Then, if still no sign of a bus, on to the next stop. Occasionally, you’d arrive at your destination before the bus. Then you’d work out there were shortcuts the bus couldn’t take. It was enjoyable. You’d start to walk everywhere and at anytime: homewards from parties, well after midnight, the streets were safer back then.
Though it’s better here in the countryside. Nature, fresh air. A two hour walk can get a lot of weight off your mind.
3. Getting it down on paper
Working it out; order; making a list; sketching it out; any graphical representation of a problem. Seeing it more clearly. Owning it. Mastering it.
Most rigorous exercise will help, I find, but there’s something intensely focussing about yoga practice which makes you forget about what’s happening elsewhere.
Often, if I just say, “I’ll at least do these three things today”, no matter how simple they seem, the satisfaction of having crossed them off the to-do list is tremendous. It might be tackling the unruly garden hedges, it might be tidying a neglected room, or a workbench or a desk, it might be making that important call, it might be remembering to do one of those things above.
image: “The Desperate Man” (self-portrait) by Gustave Courbet
Paula Light has prompted a game based on Six Degrees of Separation called Carnelli. Six books, films, songs and/or poems, linked in some way.
I have chosen one of Paula’s six choices to begin with, as I think that’s the idea, and followed on with six of my own. Leaving Las Vegas, begins like this,
Leaving Las Vegas. This is a 1995 movie starring Nicolas Cage and Elisabeth Shue. The story centers on the relationship between an alcoholic man who has lost everything that mattered to him and a prostitute. Sad, but great.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a novel by Hunter S. Thompson, a journalist and writer. Thompson was supposed to have inspired “gonzo” journalism, a less objective form of journalism. It isn’t clear how the word “gonzo” defines this style of writing; some say it came from a 45 single, Gonzo, by Louisiana Rhythm and Blues pianist, James Booker.
James Booker, described as “the black Liberace” and by Dr. John as “the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produce”, also spent time as a session musician. He performed on Ringo Starr’s third solo studio album, simply titled Ringo.
After The Beatles, Ringo Starr took to acting. One of the first roles was in the film, That’ll Be The Day, about the rise of an aspiring rock and roll singer played by David Essex. The cast also included two other renowned British pop musicians: Keith Moon and Billy Fury.
Billy Fury, born Ronald Wycherley, initially considered working as a songwriter and went to sell some songs to rock and roll impresario, Larry Parnes . Parnes saw a different potential and thrust the boy on stage, giving him his new stage name, Billy Fury. He was a success, mainly for his provocative movements whilst singing, in imitation of Elvis. He had as many hits as The Beatles in their day though never had a chart no.1. His biggest UK hit was a ballad, Halfway to Paradise, written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin.
Paradise Lost is possibly the most well-known title of a poem very few people have actually read, me included. Probably because it is an “epic” poem, in other words “very long”. Written by John Milton in the 17th century, it tells of “The fall of man”, Adam and Eve, and Satan in the form of a serpent, and the couple’s expulsion from Eden after disobeying God.
East of Eden, a novel by John Steinbeck, was considered by the author to be his magnum opus. It tells the saga of a Californian rancher, Adam Trask, and his two sons, Aron and Caleb, whose story reflects those of Cain and Abel in the book of Genesis. Steinbeck’s chosen title comes from the verse, “And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the Land of Nod, on the east of Eden.”
I think it would be fun to have a postal address, The Land of Nod.
What will finally break the Internet? Do you believe it can be broken at all?
I’ve been reading some disturbing stories about the Earth’s magnetic field. Apparently, scientists believe that the north and south magnetic poles may be about to switch over. What will happened in that fraction of a second in between? Will we have a neutralised magnetic field? The internet may go pop!
What are some ‘red flags’ to watch out for in daily life? (take it as you want)
That dystopian sci-fi trope where everyone develops a compulsion to inflict indiscriminate violence on their brothers, sisters and neighbours. It’s begun to happen for real.
What’s the silliest thing someone has argued with you about?
I had to stop arguing once because it was silly and the other person then said, “oh, it might be silly to you, but not to me”, and I said, “just because you think so doesn’t make it so”, and so it went on.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve found lying on the ground / side of the road?
In my teens, I found a fencer’s epee in a hedge by the side of a road once. I got £2 for it by taking it to the “junk” shop (a cross between a pawnbroker and a secondhand store – what we had in England before antique shops and charity shops). Does a hedge count?
In our first year moving here, I was asked to go on a litter picking patrol to tidy up the village and surrounding roads. The biggest and oddest thing someone had dumped by the side of the road was the back seat of some old car, together with a soggy pair of jeans lying across it and empty cans of Coke and beer. Now there must have been a story.
Please feel free to share your photos, stories, poetry, or memes that promote gratitude!
The more I think about things, the more grateful I am to have been born and lived when and where I was, within a few years here and there: a bubble of relative calm bookended by periods of global crises.
Answering these five set questions about the author.
1. How do you like your eggs: fried or boiled?
Ever since reading a Jack Nicholson tip, I’ve always fried my scrambled eggs in a hot pan with a bit of butter. That’s all: simply beat the eggs, heat the pan, pop in a little butter before the eggs and stir; stir quickly because it doesn’t take long. If you have it on toast, get the toast ready first.
But at times you can’t beat a soft boiled egg between two slices of buttered bread, and the egg still warm. The eggs need to be at room temperature and the water on a simmering boil. Lower the eggs in gently with a metal spoon to lessen the chance of a shell cracking. Shells will more likely crack if the egg is old. The shell is air permeable and as the albumen gradually looses water, it shrinks and draws in air. When the air expands rapidly, it cracks the shell.
I boil eggs for two minutes then take the pot off the heat and leave the eggs for about five minutes sitting in the hot water. Then run them under the cold tap so they cool enough to peel comfortably and mash it on a slice with a little salt and black pepper.
2. Which object in the Solar System would you visit, assuming you could?
I found this old black and white sci-fi film on the web: A crew of astronauts set down on the surface of Uranus (I think it was), and they found themselves in a Garden of Eden. They couldn’t believe it.
They made their way over to the edge of the garden and discovered they were inside some kind of force-field, whereby one crewman thought to stick his arm through and it froze clean off. I mean, it was like when they freeze a balloon in liquid nitrogen so it shrinks hard, and then some wag strikes it with a ball-peen hammer and shatters it like glass.
It’s the coldest planet in the system: it gets right down to -224°C (-371°F). Much lower and it wouldn’t get up again.
I’d fancy Saturn: that ring is beautiful, and incredibly thin in relation to its diameter; it would make a sequin look fat.
3. Have you ever thrown your toys out of the pram; thrown the baby out with the bathwater; or thrown in the towel?
Yes. Though never to my knowledge on the same day.
I’m a perfectionist, and I can be tenacious, but I feel there’s a case for throwing in the towel for the sake of our sanity. Live to fight another day.
I wonder what they did in those days to arrive at the expression, “throwing out the baby with the bathwater”. I mean, it’s idiomatic now but it must have crossed someone’s mind as a reality then. We don’t throw water out so much now though I believe there’s a song about a baby going down the plug hole. Maybe it’s borne out of anxieties of parenthood.
We’ve all thrown our toys out of the pram. Literally. I just think the baby does it with more intelligence: it’s experimenting with its environment: what happens if I do this?
4. Is a chair still a chair even though no one’s sitting there?
Next to the wheel, the chair seems to be the most reinvented device ever. You’d think someone might have got it right by now: the best chair.
The worst of the famous chair designs is made of a single piece of plywood, steam moulded into a seat and back, and fixed on metal legs. It’s the one Christine Keeling was photographed astride of, sitting back to front to hide her feminine bits. I think it’s by Arne Jacobsen.
If you’ve ever had to sit the proper way around on one, you’ll find yourself slipping off the front after about five minutes. Someone suggested this was the purpose of it: you see them a lot in corporate meeting rooms and conference centres.
We use an empty spare chair to rest a tablet or laptop on when we Zoom meet for a lockdown quiz. So, to answer the question: no, it’s an occasional table.
5. When was the last time you checked down the back of the sofa?
February 2, 2019.
I know that for a fact as I had to reassemble both our sofas that day following a house move. I found two unmatched buttons, a piece of Lego, and 23p in change. I didn’t count the lint, the dog’s hairs, and any unidentifiable objects. I especially didn’t want to identify those unidentifiable objects.
One time we found a dead rabbit down the sofa. It was a spare sofa and two armchairs we hadn’t room for so we stored them temporarily in a garage. When someone else wanted them, we thought we’d give them a clean first and that’s when we discovered the rabbit. Well, it wasn’t the whole rabbit by then, just the outer rabbit: the fur and the skin. We could have easily had it stuffed but we didn’t see the point at the time. It’s just as hard to see the point now.
I opened a Pinterest account some years ago as it looked a good site to collect inspirational images. I was taking painting and printmaking classes, but also rekindling my interest in art generally.
As with most of these things, I got to the point where I’d saved all the things of interest and fewer additions were being made. I still go there from time to time and the email notifications and suggestions keep coming in.
But what’s this!, and what possibly could I have done on the web recently to warrant it?
It’s tough being a man in today’s world, then. I suppose they’re grateful advice is readily on hand these days, unlike before when you had to resort to a letter to some Agony Aunt (never an Uncle) in a tabloid paper or dodgy magazine.
Let’s see, the top left depends on whether you’re the man answering the police detective’s questions or asking them. And the state of your socks.
The top right is easy: it’s his shoes! A gentleman never wears brown in town…
(all right, second go: the lady’s handbag is vulnerable to snatch thieves on mopeds and the bloke is unprepared, slouching along with his hands in his pockets, anxious about his shoes. He should be Sir Galahad, taking up the right side, sword hand free. Unless he’s left handed, whereby they’re no doubt walking in the wrong direction and he should take her gently by the shoulders, turning her 180° and going back the way they came.)
The number 1 grooming mistake is having your temples shaved. That’s a give away. When has any man asked for a short back and sides and a little off the temples, please? That’s bound to be in 10 grooming tips every man should know. The others include avoiding barbers who wear Dr. No style thick black rubber gloves (maybe okay in the pandemic crisis only).
No. 1 easy thing to do to become more attractive is to wear a crash helmet when riding a motorcycle because no one finds brains on the tarmac a turn on. Unless he wants to attract sirens, though not the kind who draw sailors to their death.
The one which has “be the best dressed but never overdressed” has a head for a logo sporting a waxed handlebar moustache. Irony?
My curiosity is up but I dare not click on any of those links else what will they suggest for me next.
Five quotes and Five questions provided by Pensitivity’s101, and explained in depth by the moon is rising’s Oracle of Knowledge, Mr. Fryland P. Stiles esq..
1. ‘All the world’s a stage, and men and women merely players…………..’
Wow, wouldn’t that be a big theatre! and I still get given the only seat with the restricted view.
I’m not sure it wasn’t the same guy who said, “if there’s a gun on the set in scene 1, you know by the final curtain someone’s gonna get it”. Hence, the idiom, “it’s curtains for you!” which is what mobster Fancy Al Panetonne said about Al Capone’s office soft furnishings before swimming with concrete galoshes.
2. ‘Stay away from negative people, they have a problem for every solution’.
Jordan B. Peterson’s former life coach, Mary Contrary. She’s still on medication and now living under a secret identity.
3. ‘I’m not overweight, I’m just nine inches too short.’
The shortest ever recorded person was Beatrice “Betty” Mantlepiece, measuring a little under two feet, three and a half inches in stockings. The top of the stockings came over her head. She wasn’t at all fat but she was jealous of her cousin, Martha Moreover III, who towered over her at a whopping three feet and one inch.
4. ‘A lie told often enough becomes the truth’.
I said that, a million. billion, squillion times. It’s now an undeniable fact. There’s even a Wikipedia page on it. I know, I wrote it.
5. ‘The only reason people are nice to me is because I have more money than God’
Someone who thinks people are nice to God, and it’s because He has money. Sure, God has money but has He small change enough to buy a Big Issue, or is He caught out like the rest of us? Now, that’s assuming God reads English. Where did He go after the Babel Tower came down?
and five random questions:
6. What is a gramophone?
A smart phone for a close and elderly lady relative who will never get to grips with it.
7. Where will you find a giblet?
In a plastic bag up a turkey’s bumhole. How the bag got up there is an interesting question, rarely asked.
8. What makes corn pop?
Ah, a question with an omitted comma. It happens all the time. What makes corn, pop? I dunno, ask your mother.
9. What is a meme?
An annoyingly demanding person. Possibly a viral celebrity. Other symptoms to look out for are, “look at me!”, “I demand to speak to your manager”, and taking endless selfies.
10. What is meant by lollygag?
What’s is a fun colour, very cold and found on a stick?
Donald Trump on a stick in the Arctic.
“Is the concept of “you” continuous or does the past “you” continually fade into the present and future “you”? Considering that your body, your mind, and your memories are changing over time, what part of “you” sticks around?”
The concept of me is, I think, the only part that sticks around. The “idea” that something identifiable as “me” is moving through a short space of time uninterrupted. Everything else is perceived and probably illusional.
We can’t trust our memories, or the memories others have of us. That’s disappointing, and maybe shocking to start with, but it’s true. What’s really disturbing is the propensity for false memories slipping in unawares. As the molecules of our bodies change over time, memory is the one thing that links the previous versions of us with the present version.
I feel there are two ways around it without going bananas: accept the truth you’ll never really know who you are (and it doesn’t matter) or just ignore the question entirely.