The Portrait Portrays

Or betrays. Then it is known as a betrait…

We are all accustomed to internet posts that have an image of the author at the introduction. The facility with which an actual photo can be added to a social site is marvellous – but few people realise what they are either showing or seeing. Frequently the picture trips up both poster and viewer.

I use a construct – a picture taken of myself in the studio wearing my dad’s old khaki shirt ( 60+ years old and still going strong ) a freebie hat I got from Nikon – with their trademark struck out – a pair of binoculars, and a 1:18 scale plastic fighter plane. You are encouraged to think I am an admiral on an aircraft carrier. I particularly admire the resolute look on my face. I think it is most probably wind…

Other people use pictures that have been sliced from phone cameras or worse. They are lucky to be recognisable. A phone selfie in a bathroom making a duck face is a poor advertisement for a duck, let alone a person.

One person I’ve noticed, an internet troll, uses a quasi-mysterious selfie with roiling edges and the expression of a dyspeptic llama. It’s ugly, but damned accurate. He cannot be accused of deceptive trading.

As opposed to these travesties, some people use genuinely beautiful images as their trademarks. It’s a wise move, and even if they do not match up to the image in real life, the picture is so much more with us that we remember it instead of them. It’s a mistake to steal someone else’s beauty, but if you can pay for at least one good shot of yourself, it’s money well spent.

The no-image introduction, or the cartoon character presented in lieu, are as telling as any real image. The person does not wish to give anything away – either of themselves or of their time. Whatever they write is not backed up with any veracity of personal presence – and can generally be flicked over instantly. You can brand yourself well or badly and get the attention of the populace, but when you are a faceless opinion you lose most of your credibility. Even if all you post is a picture of the either end of your alimentary canal, you are making a genuine contact.

I must show you my collection of orifices some time.

 

 

 

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The Terrible Yamina

If you were looking for an internet columnist who will write mean things about people, I’m your man. I’m available 24 hours a day to bang out copy telling the world how dreadful your enemies are – no target goes unscathed. I charge reasonable prices for scandalous writing, and I have an ABN number so you can get a tax deduction.

Except today – this is the one day of the year when I write nice things about people – and today it is about Yamina, the Samba dancer.

She was kind enough yesterday to buy me a ticket to the movies during the Festival Of French Cinema and accompany me to the show. As a French teacher, she could get a lot more from the film than I, but fortunately there were very good subtitles. And as it was a show about music and dance, the soundtrack and visuals spoke for themselves.

Totally not what I thought it was going to be. The title was Le Grand Bal, and I expected opera or theatre costuming, sweeping staircases, and Offenbach. As it turned out, it was a doco on one of the festivals of folk music and dance held in the central part of France in the summer. She had been to many of these in similar circumstances and this was the connection. Apparently it was a very accurate as well as charming film.

 

I found it fascinating seeing people dressed as ordinary tourists but doing extraordinary things – dancing for 7 days and 8 nights while taking workshop lessons and getting 2 hours of sleep in the interim. Performing intricate art for their own enjoyment. Acting as an impromptu corps du ballet – perfectly controlled, and all to folk instruments. Amazing.

After the show another member of the audience recognised her and rushed over to find out if this sort of dancing ball would ever be held here in Perth.

Note: it is very much of advantage to have an experienced French wine-drinker looking at the wine list in a restaurant when you want something good to drink.

But Terrible? Why have I written Terrible? Easy…

I teased her that I was going to write a column with this title, so I know she is now going to read the column assiduously. I am not ashamed to get my readers by subterfuge and sneaky tricks…Of course there is nothing at all terrible about her – quite the contrary – but now she’s reading.

Mwa Ha ha ha …

 

The Proper Use Of The Nose

I always used to take my nose for granted until I started to think about it. Consider:

a. Most people in the ancient world did not know what their nose looked like. They were poor and could not afford mirrors of any kind. If they lived in dry places that did not even have pools of water to look into. The only thing they ever saw of the organ was a blob on either side of their eyesight when they looked cross-eyed. Short-nosed people probably missed out on that.

b. This did not stop them from picking the thing pretty efficiently. The finger has a self-guidance system for the nostril.

c. You just tried that, didn’t you?

d. The nose smells everything until it hits on something that is so pungent that it cancels all sensation for a period. This might be natural naphtha emissions, rotten fish, or one of the Trudeaus. Cold weather in Canada right now, so a lot of the citizens are safe, eh?

e. You can find out things with your nose, and not all of them need to be where the drains are up. You can locate flowers, fresh rain, and a new car.

f. You can express emotion with your nose – disapproval with a sniff, contempt with a raised nose, etc. Some people can imagine sexiness in a twitchy nose, but then if they are reduced to getting their rocks off with that they might as well look at armpits or boils.

g. Phoooarrrr….armpits…

h. You can poke your nose into other people’s business pretty effectively these days and if you are a multi-billionaire media controller you make it sound as if you are doing something of public value. After you’ve snuffled around long enough you can sell the information you get for more billions. Eventually you’ll go to jail, but the more billions you have the longer away this can be.

i. Fill out this internet form, play this game, tell me all your details. I ‘ll scratch my nose while you do.

5 Seconds of Fa

Aw, shit. I typed too slow. The social media stopwatch ran out and the screen shot off onto pictures of kittens. I never got my five seconds of fame. Now I’ll never be a Kardashian.

I suppose it’s all for the best. I looked at my bottom in the mirror and it has none of the appeal that makes it to tabloid covers. I put it away.

And I haven’t got a message for humanity – or at least the one I have is only likely to be of service locally; ” Get off my lawn! “. Actually, given the state of my lawn, most sensible kids detour around it.

I would probably be able to claw a better toehold on the social media ladder if I included more cats or children injuring themselves on light poles in my postings. But our cat is such an obnoxious animal that it refuses to be cute, even for tuna. And we live in a suburb with underground power. Unless I get my own light pole along with the video camera I am out of luck.

Could I host a summit meeting between horrible world politicians and get the locals to riot outside the house for the camera? Possibly…I’ll send off letters to the various embassies in South America and Africa to see if they can dig me up some dictators willing to fly to Perth for a chance to shout at each other. No fear of them trying the old political asylum trick as there is space opening up at Manus Island for new residents. Plus the New Guinea CWA has just published a new book of traditional recipes…

 

 

A Side Order Of Lingotto To Go – Hyde Park Part Three

I thought I knew all the different types of pasta – spaghetti, linguini, tagiatelli, etc. Today I discovered a new variety – this sort is shaped like a Fiat racing car.

Given the recent record of FIAT cars here in Australia – the FIAT 500 and some of the other cooking-quality sedans that have been briefly seen on the streets of Perth before retiring and expiring – you might be given to thinking that this Italian car maker is not one of the icons. Not a Ferrari or Lamborghini. But remember that long before F. or L. were feuding, FIAT was racing all over the world. They were also making fighter planes and giant locomotives.

This FIAT 502 may yet be on the ground for a closer inspection at future car shows – I am going to go to them to see if more can be seen inside it. The outside details scream of the period and promise a great deal of interesting design inside.

Oh, to see it in operation on a track…

I must look out the next Italian Car Show day here in Perth and hope. Wheel ’em Danno…

The Jeans Shop – Retail Clothing Part Five

If ever there was a tale of good taste manipulated, good sense circumvented, and good business pursued, it is told in the blue jeans business. Also add hype, mindless conformity, and slave labour to that last sentence.

I’ve seen blue jeans become jeans and progress from farm worker wear to kid wear to teen wear to mainstream trendy wear in my lifetime. I regret that I will not live long enough to watch the garment travel back down to the start of the circle and largely disappear from sight.

I do not decry the basic thing – but I have become mightily sick of the sales gimmickry that has accompanied each stage of the progression. It was like watching fake-wood plastic veneers take over every surface of every product in the 1960’s and 70’s. I long to see the denim become as rare as the walnut*.

Mind you, I do appreciate a good joke and more so when I can get it and the persons upon whom it is perpetrated remain ignorant. The ripped jeans sold from a shop – in some cases ripped beyond garment to rag – are one facet of this. The dull colour is another. The excessive studding a third. The list goes on, and you can be sure that if some garment worker has made a drunken bet that they can make an uglier design and sell it to the vapid, they will collect their money.

Note the garment that was given to me – a denim photographer’s jacket. Actually a very good idea, but unwearable in any dimension save the Alt-70’s.

*  I actually owned an air-powered dental unit made in Oregon in the 1970’s that was faced with stick-on wood veneer and aluminium knobs. In my defence, it was all I could afford…

To Cook The Dinner You Must Be The Dinner

Professional food people – chefs, fry cooks, army chow sergeants – can cook anything at any time, whether they want to do it or not. That is a trait shared with other professionals – the ability to do a job in spite of everything. Amateurs can barely do it when conditions are perfect – pros can do it under fire. I know – I used to be a professional in a profession and I could indeed do the dance.

But back to food – the amateur cook may be feeding themselves alone or may be doing it for the family as well. There may be good facilities or bad ones – lots of ingredients or very few – but there is one thing absolutely necessary for success. The person making the food must want the food.

Not just want it to succeed or look good or taste good for others. They must want to eat it themselves. If they commit to that, they can do it.

Take a simple fried egg…possibly the most complex food known to man. Escoffier deeply feared eggs. Brillat-Savarin would never allow one to cross the road in front of him. And I have heard it said that eggs swear at Gordon Ramsay…

To make a fried egg you need an egg. And heat. And something that prevents the egg, while frying, from adhering to the hot surface. The egg should be fairly fresh – it need not be warm from the chook’s bum, but likewise do not attempt to cook it if it is already pecking at the toast crumbs on the floor. You can check for freshness by floating an egg in a container of benzene, but do not light a match while you are doing it.

The non-stick frying pans work well while the coating is new but become egg-traps as they wear in. Generally you can figure that when the egg slips around and fries with no grease whatsoever, it is because the coating is new and dinner will taste like Love Canal. When the nerve agents and dead cat extract that comprise the non-stick coating wear off the eggs will taste better but you’ll need to get them out of the pan with a wood chisel.

Spray-can release agent is fine and helps many people to make fibreglass canoes from moulds. They can also be used to free that egg.

I favour bacon grease that is leftover from cooking in the pan just before you crack the egg. It’ll let the egg slide about at a certain point and then you can capture it with the egg-slice and get it onto the toast. Best trick of all is the non-stick pan that has tall, heavy sides and bottom, and can be heated in an oven with a griller element above it. You heat the pan, cook the bacon, transfer this to a warmed dish, and then crack the eggs into the hot fat.

Pop it back under the grill and the eggs cook from both sides in half the time. No more slimeys. No more sticking.