Saturday, March 31, 2012

Geof Huth announces the fifth International Pwoermd Month which begins tomorrow.

I've agreed to participate again - & will try to post one contribution per day.

So expect some more frankinkstains.

(oops, there's one already).


Tuesday, March 27, 2012


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The Fairy Baker strikes again in what is beginning to assume cottage industry proportions. Some 50 or so cupcakes (large & small) turned out this evening to satisfy the insatiable appetites of her 12 year-old school chums.

The current experiments include: drilling down in the centre with an apple corer & filling up with icing; a Victoria sponge-style double decker; a new salmon pink icing that looks rather like taramasalata to me.

Pictured are - so I am told - the best of the batch.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

It occurs to me that ...

... I haven't posted much about poetry of late. Rest assured, gentil reader, I am still smitten by The Muse & all her outpourings. If the challenge has been of late not simply the writing of then the living of (if that makes sense).

Today I dropped into my favourite secondhand bookshop in Brussels off Place St Catherine - site of that once in a lifetime most glorious find some years ago. (You remember ... those Raworths ...). And there snuggling between two far duller companions was this Sun & Moon Press volume:




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From the cover alone I knew I'd like it - a Trevor Winkfield design being a guarantee of quality within. & so it has proved to be - sitting outside on the terrace in temperatures more becoming summer than early spring. Admittedly, I don't get Lineups (the price one pays for not growing up with baseball) but there's plenty of good things besides.

Yes, I'd been aware of the name - why my eye alighted on the title - but never knowingly read a line. So it's great to discover another voice - like finding a new friend - who says things in ways that enlarge the day.

Now that I am seeing myself as a totally different person
whose interests are like a street covered with slush
and whose every word rings like the ear of a spaniel

...

('Poem', from Elizabethan & Nova Scotian Music)

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Back soon with updates on Belbury Poly (The Owl's Map) and Trygve Seim (Oslo-based saxphonist).

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& if anyone knows how to speed up this iMac - page loading is bloody slow these days - let me know. (& there's nothing wrong with the internet connection).

Just a sign of age & impending obsolescence? (Had to check the spelling on that one). & I mean the computer - not me.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

That explains...






Finally Tender Buttons arrives after several weeks' delay and exchange of e-mails with the sender. However, looking at the package it all makes sense.

St John Island, of course.


Monday, March 19, 2012

From the Library of Last Resort


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As promised, some shots from the current Sticky Pages display going on down in Waterloo.

If you're likely to be in the vicinity then let me know.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

To Reading & other things


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Rereading essays in my battered copy of Benjamin's Illuminations & find this old book mark. Eminently reproducible - by definition, that's what train tickets have to be - yet somehow unique & rather poignant. 'To Reading', 'Outward' & 'Return' - of how many journeys may this be said? & which of my many 'Is' was traveling that day, a second day of May?

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The Popul Vuh music to Nosferatu playing as I type. I happened upon the 5 CD tribute to Florian Fricke in the Mediatheque. A soundtrack not simply to the film but my life circa 1983-86. Listening again and again to the second track which (as I recall) accompanied the sailing boat gliding into the harbour ...

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According to K. the blossom began yesterday. I hadn't noticed. I am extremely unobservant in lots of ways.

For four years, my Dad would drop me off at the station to go up to London to school. He'd always talk about the change of year - that sudden sense of Winter turning into Spring, the dawn chorus, lighter mornings. I barely paid attention to it - or him - wrapped up in my own little world of essays, exams, teenage nags & anxieties.

Well, this Spring will happen without him. But I did take the trouble this morning to go out and look at the buds.

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L. insists I give her an acknowledgement for this photo: one of her latest production line of cupcakes. Sunday afternoon is now devoted to baking & the kitchen off limits. It seems she has waiting lists at school & has started to customize each cake with an individual pink monogram.

My very own Fairy Baker.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Article in Thursday's Guardian about introvert tendencies & how they're under-valued in education & society as a whole.

For the hell of it I take the 20 question test. & score 18. Which seems pretty conclusive.

But where does blogging figure on the extro/introvert scale, hmm?

Untitled (Ocean Park) 1971

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A particularly busy week: IB orals, Parent Teacher Conference, an evening lecture at ULB & dinner afterwards, the open exhibition ... & so it goes.

In between times I've been really enjoying ...

... a sumptuous book on Richard Diebenkorn (especially the charcoal drawings and smaller collage pieces - the cigar boxes are great, too).


Untitled 1985

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& here's Diebenkorn's Notes to myself on beginning a painting:

1. attempt what is not certain. Certainty may or may not come later. It may then be a valuable delusion.

2. The pretty, initial position which falls short of completeness is not to be valued - except as a stimulus for further moves.

3. Do search. But in order to find other than what is searched for.

4. Use and respond to initial fresh qualities but consider them absolutely expendable.

5. Dont "discover" a subject - of any kind.

6. Somehow don't be bored - but if you must, use it in action. Use its destructive potential.

7. Mistakes can't be erased but they move you from your present position.

8. Keep thinking about Polyanna.

9. Tolerate chaos.

10. Be careful only in a perverse way.

("Polyanna"? Not Pollyanna I notice ... I'm not sure what he means by this ... other than an eternal optimism?)

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... & a double CD collection of Francoise Hardy songs that we've had lying around the house for years and only now seems essential listening (Trish Keenan again, I'm afraid). Post-Broadcast, Hardy's voice & backings acquire a whole other set of resonances. The very cheesiness of French pop becomes interesting. (Who'd have thought it?)

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... & dinner on Wednesday night with Hermione Lee (biographer of V. Woolf among others). We chat about H.D., Stein & Edith Wharton. She then tips me off about Sherwood Anderson - someone I've never investigated - and Winesburg, Ohio. So I'll have to order a copy and have a look.

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... & making an effort after much prevarication and deciding to collect together the little I have done since last May for the school show. The vernissage was yesterday evening but I couldn't go. I'll take some pictures on Monday and put them up.

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2:47 pm ... so about an hour and a quarter to kick-off. Wales' chance to win the Grand Slam. Given France's lackluster performance last week I reckon they've got a pretty good chance ... but who knows what bizarre decisions a referee might have up his sleeve? Remember the World Cup?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Wales win - quite comfortably by the end - but what a deeply frustrating game. The ref seems intent on interrupting the rhythm of play & there's the predictable dodgy tackle that lands Leigh Halfpenny in the sin bin for 10 minutes.

France next week & who knows?
Currently listening to a Resonance fm podcast - the Johnny Trunk interview with Broadcast. You can listen to it too at: http://ia600404.us.archive.org/8/items/20110115OST/20110115-OST.mp3

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During the week this arrived:



frequently cited by Trish Keenan as a key source & resource for Broadcast's lyrics and music. & it's easy to see why. I've no idea how this one slipped beneath the radar during my gloriously misspent youth hanging out in late night cinemas. Maybe you couldn't get hold of a print in this country? I'll try and upload a few stills once the podcast has finished.

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On another topic entirely ... browsing arty craft and design blogs (as I do) I notice a recurrent type of photo: a downward looking shot of the Blogger's own shoes/socks/sandals. Is there some coded message going on? A specifically sisterly female Blogger tic? A way of stating this is where I stand on such a such a day? Or just: nice shoes?

I ask simply for information. So far, you'll be pleased to know, I've resisted the temptation.

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Wales play Italy in an hour - that time of the year when I feel an almost entirely spurious sense of national identity.

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You've got to listen to this podcast ... we've had clips from Jonathan Miller's Alice, some Brian Cant, and lots of good stuff besides. (Also in the archives is an interview with Jim Jupp and Julian House of Ghost Box).

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Valerie loses her magic earrings

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Valerie's white bedchamber

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The goldfinch under the glass dome

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A strange film indeed ... Svankmayer, The Brothers Quay, Tarkovsky ... those are nearest I can come up with at the moment ...

Monday, March 05, 2012

Surrealist Object


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This was left on the window ledge of the kitchen.

A pair of pliers used to fix a tap and an egg that had gone past its sell by date.

No one had given it a second thought.


Sunday, March 04, 2012

Cy Twombly at the Bozar

Irritatingly, taking photographs is prohibited within the confines of the exhibition but then again perhaps it's a good thing - forcing you to concentrate all the more on what is there before your eyes.

As you walk through into the main salles there's a large, square black canvas (I thought initially it was slate) with a chalked window motif running left to right and increasing in size. Stunning. Approach closer and you see the patina, the erasures and underpaintings.

On another wall among some photographs is an Untitled with - at a distance - little for the eye to grasp onto. Closer up and there is the usual scatter of marks and crudescences of paint. (I used the word 'crudesence' assuming it existed but the SOED draws a blank. Well, it exists now). Off centre is one of those Twombly moments: when paint glob and obliteration and flick of crayon work to play depth with surface. Signature.

In the bookshop they're flogging a catalogue for 34 euros but I've got my bumper book of Twombly at home. Instead, I take photographs in the museum corridors by way of souvenirs.

Walking out onto the street and - of course - the exhibition continues on every wall and paving stone.

The mark of a great artist: he educates your eyes in seeing the world anew.

& it's free entry to that exhibition.

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Saturday, March 03, 2012


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Listening to 'Before We Begin' (off Haha Sound) - quite achingly beautiful for its oh-so knowing simplicity: the purity of Keenan's voice, the drum kicks, the xylophone droplets (Vision On, The Gallery?), & wide-eye lyrics that flirt with every cliche under a 60s sun & yet ... Oh it's in tomorrow/ Fortune or sorrow/ Wait you may win/ I don't need to show/ That I know how this goes/ Before we begin again ... Pure sunlight (sunglight ?) music. Play it again, & again.

Three more from Broadcast ...



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The Future Crayon

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The Noise Made By People

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Haha Sound

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... and one by the Hip Priest himself ...



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Ersatz GB

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Expect further postings soon on Belbury Poly (Jim Jupp's outift) & the film Valerie and her Week of Wonders (key Broadcast source text).

Thursday, March 01, 2012

PS to the previous post


Everyone (or is it just me & a few others) would agree that Mike Nesmith was the 'cool' one in The Monkees - something about the woolly hat and the diffident way of standing there off to the side - maybe where John Squire got an idea or two? Above is a clip of him being 'outcooled' by - who else? - Frank Zappa.

Zappa famously claimed that The Monkees were the best band in LA. Typically, a less ingenuous comment than it seemed: what he meant was that they had the best equipment.

But at this distance of 2012, who's going to split long freak hairs? That there were The Mothers, The Monkees, The Beatles and - you supply your favourites - is something to be thankful for. Imagine hearing for the first time ... .

Happier times in so many ways - & I don't care what anyone says.

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