Wednesday, January 27, 2010

frank sinatra

My ring for the Haiti auction is now complete. I am pretty pleased with it:

Frank Sinatra - Ring For Haiti, 6

The top part spins and is set with sapphires in groups of 1 - 6, so it can be used as a "dice". The name comes from the fact that every time I set to work on this, I could hear Frank himself singing Luck Be A Lady Tonight in my head!

Sunday, January 24, 2010


One of the things I really like about metalsmiths as a group is that they seem to be especially inventive in terms of new ways of doing things. Perhaps it is something to do with the combination of malleability and intractability of their chosen materials which gives them this mindset. One of my colleagues, Tomi, has come up with this project to raise funds for the Haiti relief effort: everyone she knows is making a ring which will be auctioned to this end. I'll be starting one this week. Other details are here and the auction is here.

I'll post some pictures of my work as the week goes on.

Friday, January 22, 2010

surrogate morality

For all that I bitch and moan about the Scottish parliament, it has to be said that on social and moral legislation, it is doing a rather good job. We have some of the best child protection legislation in the world, we have a proper human rights agenda and that brings with is a commitment to equality. So far so good.
Yesterday, a woman for whom I have previously had little time - Margo MacDonald - presented a bill to the parliament, suggesting that it is time that Scotland has a properly thought-out policy on Assisted Suicide or Voluntary Euthanasia or what ever you care to call it.

Today, the catholic church in Scotland said that it would do everything in its power to prevent this bill from becoming law. Once more, a minority of religious fanatics think that they have the right to dictate morals to the majority... Worse, this is the same church which tries to defend priests who lie to the police when chopped up bodies are found under their church floors; which refuses to acknowledge or punish systemic child abuse; which advises people not to use condoms in the face of AIDS and other STIs; which condems homosexuality whilst ignoring the fact that enormous numbers of their priests are homosexual; which indoctrinates children and; which is headed up by an unapologetic ex-member of the Hitler Youth.

If the catholic church don't want Assisted Suicide, that is fine. They don't need to have it. Should I ever want it, however, I don't want some prissy frock-wearing hypocrite with dubious "morals" telling me that I can't.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

acj conference

I've been invited to teach a workshop at the ACJ conference this year! Very pleased about that one... I'll be working with Bob Ebendorf again, which is great news.

Details here.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

more unintentional poetry

near submarine
amorously toward
radioactive somnambulists

I'm now determined to find one which is actually a haiku!

the return of spam poetry

Years ago, I read some work by a woman who was creating poetry from the subject headers of the spam in her email. This morning, I recieved this near-Haiku:

for apartment building
for ostensibly flatulent cowards

Sunday, January 10, 2010

white trash food!

On account of some sort of annoying dermatitis, I've been endeavouring to keep my diet cow's milk-free, not an easy thing to do for someone who LOVES cheese and yoghurt. Poking about on the internet, I found a recipe for "Bread Machine Peanut Butter Jelly Bread", something which sounded so horribly trashy that I had to try it. It turned out to be absolutely delicious! Here is the recipe:

1 cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup jam (jelly) - I used the apple and bramble jam I made during the summer
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup wholewheat flour
2 cups bread flour
1.5 teaspoons active yeast

Put everything in the bread machine and set it to "Sweet", 1.5kg, "Light".

The bread ends up quite dense and nutty, sweet but not overly so.

Finished re-reading Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four. As with Brave New World, I'm surprised at how much of it I had forgotten. I'm also amazed at how much Orwell predicted. Everyone goes on about CCTV cameras being like "Big Brother" but to do so is to miss the point: things are far worse...

2 Minute Hate - Daily Mail, hysterical anti immigrant articles in The Sun, Jeremy Kyle, etc;
The instigation of a lottery to placate the "proles";
Thoughtcrime - the hysterical condemning of ideas. Try denying "man-made global warming" or "multiculturalism";
Doublethink and Minitruth - political spin;
Phony wars and invented enemies - "the war on terror", Iraq, Falklands, etc;
Newspeak - "The War on Terror", "Axis of Evil", "Five A Day";
The training of the population to marginalise and reject the unorthodox and outsider;
Oceania - The alliance between the UK and the USA, complicit in state-approved torture (Guantanamo Bay and "extraordinary renditions");
Prolefeed - Junk television aimed cultural anaesthesis such as... "BIG BROTHER"

I wasn't frightened by this book when I read it at school but it is a terrifying book, moreso when it can be read as a catalogue of what has already been happening.

Friday, January 08, 2010

great literature

I recently downloaded Aldous Huxley's first novel, Crome Yellow for my ebook, more out of curiosity than anything else and with a vague memory of having read (and enjoyed) Brave New World at school. Crome Yellow is an interesting enough first novel but the most interesting thing about it are the suggestions and hints of what would come in Huxley's later and more famous book, which I then decided to re-read after what must be 30 years, leading me to wonder: 1) in what way I had understood the book when I read it at school and; 2) why we had been guided through the text so poorly.

We read Brave New World with Mr Ross - the tiny man on whom Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen must surely have based his sartorial style - a marvellous and enthusiastic English teacher whom I really liked. It is surprising, therefore, that we seem to have skipped over some of the essential elements of the text - such as morality - focussing instead on the social aspects of engineering a society (genetically) to be "perfect". What Huxley does so elegantly in his book is create a complete picture of how this ghastly society operates and then sets about pointing up the flaws with an outsider character. That elegance was lost on me until this re-reading.

Eyes wide open, I now approach another book from school which I haven't read since: Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four.

The cold spell continues. My beard froze:


Tuesday, January 05, 2010

2010 - New Year

And NOT a "new decade" as the media pundits keep bleating on incorrectly, driving me to pedantic distraction.

Just got back from Brighton, where I spent the festive season doing nothing much but moaning about everyone banging on about the "new decade"!

Had a lovely time relaxing with Dingo, watching old films, eating things, going for walks and taking photographs such as this:


with my new 20mm f1.7 lens.

Snow everywhere.