Category Archives: Art

Killing to-die-for Food

Killing To-Die-For Food

I’d like to eat a butterfly.

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Let’s be honest, if I wanted to have open and truthful conversations about myself, then I wouldn’t be sitting here writing a blog. So being nominated by *slurps (go there for tea with Odin the octopus, you’ll enjoy it) for a Liebster Award brought some difficulties for me.

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As part of the nomination process, *slurps allowed me two options: answer a list of personal questions (what’s your favourite meal?, etc) or answer just one big question (If you had only one day left to live, where would you go and what would you do?). But my answers bored even me so much that I couldn’t see the value in inflicting them on others. However, the questions did get me thinking of another bastardised mutant mash-up of a question.

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What would you eat if there were no consequences to it?

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I don’t just mean eating loads of chocolate or chips if you weren’t going to get fat or sick from it. What I mean is, is there something that you’ve always wondered about how it tastes but that you can’t eat, like … music, or light, or a cloud, or the colour blue, or stripes, or sadness, or a memory? Or is there something more material that you would eat if it wasn’t going to hurt or do damage, like a lightbulb or a dvd or a ship?

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Or is there a thing that can be eaten but that you’re never going to eat in real life?

Everyone’s got different cut-off points about eating things. Most of us discount the potential pain of plants when considering food but then have very vague rationales behind what animals we will and won’t eat. (I have blogged before here  about the moral awkwardness of eating a chicken sandwich while watching birds eat). I’m generally against the idea of eating horse but I once had a casserole that was gorgeous and only found out afterwards that it was horsemeat. So I know that there are things that I don’t want to eat out of confused principles which are, nonetheless, possibly gorgeous to taste.

But if I could eat something and not have to worry about the consequences, eat it as if it was only happening in a dream and would not result in harm to either the creature or myself, then I would eat … a butterfly.

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Not SO strange, you may think. After all, insects are eaten across the world in many forms, it’s really only cultural traditions and financial considerations that prevent some western societies from snacking down on deep-fried little-things. (For some odd reason, prawns have fallen through the crack of those sensitivities despite looking like slugs that have been skinned by a particularly depraved serial-killer).

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And you might even accept that the majesty of a butterfly does indeed create an enticing prospect, were colour and pattern in some way to be transposed into taste.

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And then there’s the fact that I am a butter-fiend. As a kid, I would take a pound of butter from the fridge, grab a knife from the drawer, and wander round lopping off chunks of butter and popping them into my gob and letting them melt there. (I could eat half-a-pound in one go). So the implied notion of the buttery-ness of butterflies has always had an appeal*.

So far, a lot of you might be thinking why not do it, if only the once? It’s only one small butterfly and I squash flies and eat meat anyway so, what the hell, it’s not that much of a moral leap and it probably won’t kill me.

But here’s the kicker. …

When I imagine this delectable combination of colour and beauty, there’s one more detail …

… the butterfly is still alive.

You see I want to imagine the buttery beauty fluttering around inside my mouth, as if delivering the colourfully creamy sensations to different spots in a random and tickly manner.

And, bad and all as I am to be an insect-squashing carnivore, eating some beautiful defenceless thing ALIVE is just a step too far for me.

But I can still dream of tasting the beauty.

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And this is why you shouldn’t ask bloggers questions about themselves. But apparently the tradition of the Liebster Award is to take the opportunity of your nomination to in turn nominate some other bloggers whose work you enjoy, particularly bloggers who are relatively new to the blogosphere.

So I’m not sure if these good people would like to be associated with someone who wants to eat live butterflies, but you should check them out anyway and, if they don’t object, I am nominating:

 Honest to blog

She didn’t have any of her brilliant cartoon-drawings in her last post but we’ll presume that was a one-off aberration and forgive her for now. From ‘sub vaginas’ to ‘old-woman cats’ in one week, she’s not new to the blogosphere or in need of awards but this is one of the best things on the internet so have a look.

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“I am here”, she says, in small letters. And, sure enough, there she is. A wonderfully mordant wit with a taste for the ghoulish and a vocabulary to die for. As dora puts it: “and i digress. extremely.”

word constellations

The Griff makes a wonderful, if ultimately doomed, attempt to keep me abreast of what happens in young people’s lives – gaming, graphic novels, music, drugs and orgies (I may have made up the last two but it’s still good). More big words here too.

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Barbara makes a wonderful, if also ultimately doomed, attempt to keep me fed on more than just crisps and butter.

Vodka, Unicorns, and Lincoln Logs

Short quirky snapshots of kinda famous people in history through a curious lens. For example, here’s Camel-girl and Bettie Page:

 

And in the tradition of the nominating process – but as adapted by *slurps and further mangled by me – perhaps the nominees would answer one or both of our two questions:

If you had only one day left to live, where would you go and what would you do?

Or

What would you eat if it was possible and there were no consequences?

Or make up an even better question that forces you, like me, to reveal things about yourself that will probably lose you followers, gain you haters, and possibly get you arrested.

 

*Apparently, butterflies – or at least one kind of them – taste like dried toast. See here for the scientific research by Esther Inglis-Arkell in io9.

Image thanks: Blue butterfly by Gregory Phillips,  red by Richard Bartz, others by charlesjsharp.  Award backdrop from Club Penguin

 

The Little People Inside The Radio

The Little People Inside The Radio

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When I was small I used to think that there were little people inside the radio who made all the music and sang all the songs. I was reminded of this recently when I found my Grandad’s old transistor radio at the back of a wardrobe. I remember vividly as a kid, staring at it and imagining the orchestra of mini-musicians inside being conducted by a mini-conductor (free joke for scientists there). It had a crackly kind of sound but this, for me, always added some charm, as if the sound picked up interference in being transported from a world where the mini-musicians were a normal size to this world where they were miniatures inside a radio.

Old soviet radio receiver

I turned the ‘on’ knob but of course nothing happened. Nobody had used this for over thirty years. Probably the last time it was switched on was by my Granddad himself on the day he died. And probably either my mother or her mother turned it off for the last time later that day after he had passed away.
I got some fresh batteries to see if it could be encouraged back to life after all this time. I popped open the clasps and prised off the backing. And then I gasped in amazement.
For there, inside, was an entire orchestra of little people. Each of them in their tiny little tuxedo or black evening dress. Each of them holding a tiny but perfect musical instrument And I thought, “This is the greatest thing ever. There is still magic in the world”.
But then I looked closer. None of the little musicians were moving. I looked closer again. And now I could see that there was a sort of greeny-brown slime over them all. I got a magnifying glass and looked closer still. Now I could see that, wherever this slime had touched, it had eaten into them, through their clothes and even right through their skin and deep into their flesh. And now I could see that their little faces were contorted in expressions of total horror and anguish.
And I realised of course what had happened. The batteries had leaked on them and killed them all. Such a horrible ending to lives which had done so much to bring joy and beauty into the lives of others.

So search your home and find all the old little transistor radios your family used to have. Give them a little shake. If there’s a rattle, it’s too late. That’s the sound of the dead bodies inside. But if there’s no rattle, it might not be too late. Rip open the back. Yank out the batteries. Yes, they might be covered in sticky corrosive acidic rust, but there’s no time to worry about petty injuries to yourself. Yank out the batteries and whack in some new ones. Slap the back back on and turn the ‘on’ knob and wait and pray and maybe, if you’re very very lucky, after a little bit of time – faintly at first, but then growing stronger – you might hear some music. Just a little tentative note on a violin to begin with. Then some woodwind joining in. And then gradually all of the instruments coming to life and joining together to produce a full swelling sound of a sort that you won’t have heard for years. Sure, the music might be a little wobbly at first but, remember, these guys haven’t played in years, maybe even decades. But you can stand there and look at the little radio – maybe, like me, it’s one that your granddad used for twenty years – and say to yourself … “The sound quality is really shit actually. Much worse than I remembered. My phone is better than that”. And then you can switch off the radio and go back to listening to music on your phone streaming live over wi-fi and be grateful that nowadays there are younger, fitter, even smaller musicians playing in a tiny box called the internet floating above the earth far away from any leaky batteries.

Shouting on the Inside

‘Shouting on the Inside’: The Art of Non-Verbal Management in Football

Following his post-match interview at the weekend, which basically consisted of him saying “I prefer not to speak” over and over, it has been announced that Jose Mourinho will henceforth manage Chelsea football club through the medium of mime. His decision is partly based on hoping to avoid getting into trouble with the English F.A. for criticising referees but is also a recognition of the fact that his team got beaten, whereas they turned their previous game around after Jose had, according to himself, said absolutely nothing to them at half-time.  “I have also been inspired by Alan Pardew’s embrace of Physical Theatre”, Jose expressed – through a series of fluid gestures – in reference to the Newcastle manager’s recent headbutting of an opposing player.

pic jose mimeObviously no-one wants to be left behind in utilising new approaches which may yield results, so it’s no surprise to discover that other Premiership managers have quickly announced similar initiatives. Liverpool’s Brendan Rodgers has enlisted in clown-school, saying, “Well, I’ve got quite big feet, and you know what they say about big feet … that you may as well get clown shoes”. David Moyes has claimed that his pale vacant gaze is not borne out of fear but rather of the fact that he has all along been managing Manchester United through the medium of Japanese Noh-theatre. While Arsene Wenger has expressed annoyance at Jose’s appropriation of what he considers to be a specifically French artform and has instead had to make do with ‘jazz-hands’ at Arsenal.

pic clown Robert Lawton  pic noh Moyes

Chris Hughton has been talking calmly and rationally to footballers for many years but, after a frustrating season with Norwich, he has decided to give his team-talks from now on through interpretive dance. And Gus Poyet is currently in the process of having himself covered from head-to-toe in plaster-of-paris in order to inspire his Sunderland players through Marina Abramovic-style performance-art.

Many managers claim that non-verbal management is an idea that is of-its-time because of the make-up of modern dressing-rooms. One manager commented, “Half of the players can’t understand English. And the other half are foreign”. Indeed some of the managers are not fluent English-speakers themselves and, in order to cut down on the costs of interpreters, Southampton’s manager Mauricio Pochettino has for some time now been communicating with his players solely through a selection of inspirational images such as a lighthouse withstanding a huge wave and a sky-diving team joining hands in mid-flight. Pochettino admits that one week some photos from his summer-holidays got mixed up with the inspirational pictures, but they won that week so he has kept up the habit of slipping in photos of himself on the beach in swimwear whenever he feels the squad need a lift.

Tony Pulis is derided by many for producing football that, though organised and effective, can sometimes seem rudimentary. But imposing order on the disorganised rabble of players you might find in the lower-half of the league is no easy feat, and this explains why every summer Pulis can be found doing refresher training-courses at sheepdog trials around Britain. The control he exerts through staccato whistles and barked commands is such that it’s suggested he could be a genuine contender if the BBC brings back ‘One Man and His Dog’.

Sam Allardyce, as always, belies his gruff ordinary-bloke exterior by claiming to have been ahead of the curve. “I learn from the best”, says Big Sam, explaining that he has taken on the technique of Alex Ferguson, who for years was expressing his feelings to his players through nothing more than the way in which he was chewing his gum.

Steve Bruce played under Ferguson and realised that, when he made the transition into management himself, he would need a similar technique of his own. And so, for years now, he has been letting his players know how he feels purely by controlling the blood-flow to his head. As his dissatisfaction rises, so too does his face become redder and redder until it appears to be on the point of bursting which acts as an urgent call-to-arms to his players and their positive response will cause his face to return to a paler hue.

At Manchester City, Manuel Pellegrini boasts that he can command his team through nothing more than the wriggling of his impressive eyebrows. It’s well known that Pellegrini studied as a civil engineer, but it’s less well-known that he also instructed those two kids in eyebrow-wriggling for that Cadbury’s ad on tv.

pic cadbury eyebrowsHowever, not everyone is enamoured with the new trend for mixing physical art-forms and football management. Spurs gaffer, Tim Sherwood said, “I may not know a lot about football, but I know what I like. … I mean ‘art’. I meant to say ‘art’, not ‘football. … You’ll put that in the right way round, won’t you?” (before folding his arms in a bloke-ish man-of-the-people manner whose effect was undermined by the fact that he was wearing a shiney sleeveless gilet jacket).

(clown pic by Robert Lawton, Moyes face by Eddie Lennon, BohemianFC)