Skulking Through the Gallery

As I shiftily made my way through the Art Gallery of New South Wales, disguised as a mild-mannered reporter from a great daily weblog column, I employed the arts of deception to steal valuable paintings.

Well, not steal, as such, but appropriate their essence. In other words, I took pictures with my digital camera of the stuff on the walls.

I like to think of it as an innocent act, but there are those who would accuse me of theft – of images, of intellectual copyright, of visual blood, sweat, and tears. Or turpentine, as the case might have been. Both views of the thing are correct in some sense. I am left ot defend myself as best I might.

Firstly, I don’t seek any recompense for taking the pictures, writing about them, or showing them to you. If you wish to slip money or pizza under my door that is another thing, but it doesn’t depend on my art gallery images. Indeed, whatever money was to be made or traded has already happened between the AGNSW and whoever supplied the canvases. Sometimes I suspect that there is swizzling going on but then I am suspicious about a tram ticket…

Secondly, I don’t treat the artworks with disrespect. I don’t touch, interfere, or deface them in the gallery. I don’t decry them here in the column – save when they are patent rubbish that anyone might see. For the most part I take pictures of things I admire, not hate. Here’s a picture that looks well, of a person who looks wonderful.

I’m not above sentiment. Here’s another delightful and peaceful image. Those who would decry the status of the woman and children pictured may do so – they are long gone and cannot be injured by current bad manners.

And I don’t even sniff with disdain at what seem to be flights of fantasy or self-indulgence – as long as there is a particle of entertainment or beauty in the image.

So don’t condemn me too harshly, nor be too protective of what you consider someone’s intellectual right to some arrangement of shapes and colours. If you wish to keep your artwork as a safe as dragon keeps its’ gold hoard, do not sell it to a public gallery and do not let me in the door.

 

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Facebook’s Community Standards

Or Hold The Stainless Banner High…*

I’ve been scolded by Facebook for posting a story in my column that deals with scale model building – a story in 8 or more parts. It’s the history of the Royal Ruritanian Army Air Force and Facebook thinks it is spam. And says that it contravenes Facebook community standards.

I have to admit, it doesn’t contain:

a. Sneering memes about an American President or Australian Prime Minister.

b. Thoughts and prayers.

c. Sneering references to thoughts and prayers.

d. Cat videos.

e. Advertisements that have been paid for by businesses based upon my browser history.

f. Games that seek to find out people’s preferences so that the information can be sold to advertisers.

So, yes, my columns do not conform to Facebook community standards. If they did I should be deeply ashamed.

I wonder if Facebook is ever deeply ashamed…?

*   I was listening to the old Civil War song of this name…but I can’t be sure if the lyrics mentioned ” stainless ” or ” brainless “… which would explain a great deal about the current problem.

 

 

 

Politics – It’s All Their Fault

Or alternately…It’s All Their Responsibility.

Rarely, It’s All Their Honour.

That last’s a pretty unusual thing to hear from the electorate these days, as the culture or habit of public politeness seems to have been laid aside in a camphor-wood chest along with the heritage linen and the tintype portraits.

In fact…I cannot remember one unpaid posting on my social media screen during this last election that lauded anyone – and I certainly do not expect to see them in the coming months as the new old government and opposition continue to turn up at the office each day and do their business of government and opposition. I cannot say that no-one in my social circle will be happy, but I’ll bet that they do not express that happiness publicly. The risk of angry outbursts from the readers will prevent it.

I often wonder about the disappointed in elections. I mean the disappointed voters and supporters – not the candidates. I wonder whether there is not always a culture of wrecking and schadenfreud afterwards for some considerable time. I’ve seen it in the USA with the last two presidents’ terms of office. Perhaps it exists in Australia, and perhaps to a greater extent due to the evenness of our vote spread.

Who knows how many things will be awkward now because people want to make difficulties for the party that won. And then complain that the government has failed them…

And that, folks, is the last of the Australian Federal Election that I’ll write about. It is done and dusted and while the aging millenials are still whining ( or is that the bearings on the refrigerator going out? ) I feel we can get back to normal next week.

 

Shopping For A War – Part Four – Sex

Are you in favour of sex?

Do you have one? Do you have several? Are any of them for sale? Do you give receipts?

The topic of sex, however it is raised, is bound to cause attention, ire, and desire to lecture on the part of nearly every reader. From those who refuse to consider the topic to those who refuse to stop talking about it, the entire social site circle is involved.

For the record, I am generally in favour of sex. I have never actually been able to set a record, however, but it is nice reading about those who have. The illustrated accounts are the most interesting…

If you write about THE TOPIC you must choose early whether you are going to be explicit, implicit, or illict. All three approaches work, but if you change you in the middle of a post people become confused. A Tut Tut turning into a Toot Toot never looks good. And please refrain from sending Toot Toot pics through the email system. You never know who isn’t looking.

Most sex readers will respond well to a few salacious words. This was the secret to success for the old British radio show ” I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again ” when either Kenneth Horne or Kenneth Williams used words like ” nadger ”  and ” gruntfuttock “. They were innocent enough but sounded dirty and that was what we wanted. If you can develop words or phrases that eventually act as salacious triggers you’re well away. Nudge, Nudge, Wink, Wink. Know what I mean? Eh, eh?*

Say no more.

Final note: If you are a woman you can spark delight from other women with any posting that decries or belittles men, and get away with it scot-free. Today’s social media supports this entirely.

What is not realised is that there are places and sites on the internet that reverse this culture of scorn quite effectively and with a good deal of devastating humour…but the outraged and virtuous female social warriors are not granted access…

*  I have no idea what I mean.

 

Shopping For A War – Part One – The Battleground

Nothing to do with politics or the military here, folks. Everything to do with human relations on the internet.

I count 224 souls on my Facebook list but have no idea whether some of them are really still there. There are a couple of greyed-out profiles that may indicate that they have signed themselves off – one hopes only from the social site. A few more are on semi-permanent do-not-follow status that is only breached when I get bored and curious. In some cases they have always rewarded me with the same behaviour that got them unfollowed in the first place and have been hung back on the rack.

Several more are popped into snooze mode during special occasions like the current federal election. Once this is over and their sense of electoral outrage simmers down they will be worth looking at again.

Note: I have no idea how many people have locked me in the social media bathroom at any one time. I just write and broadcast these little essays and hope for the best. If I get the worst it is just part of the game. If I get the wurst I make sauerkraut and boiled potatoes.

The social media site is a wonderful thing – there is such falsity and barnumistic advertising on it as to suggest that it has no value whatsoever. Yet every day someone makes a valuable contact or comment somewhere and it doesn’t do to remain completely ignorant about what is going over the net. You can ignore Harry Potter and the Game Of Thrones and benefit greatly but you still need your daily kitten fix on Facebook.

Unfortunately for the more modest of us ( And I am always making Modest Proposals. I’m swift with that. ..) there are people who deliberately bait, goad, and entrap on even the kindest of social sites. And we do well to realise it and shape our actions accordingly.

Tomorrow: Picking sides is like picking noses…

 

Are You Drunk, Sir?

God, I hope so.

I’m lookin’ at you, Jimmy,  and if that’s what you look like a’ the time I dinna want to sober up.

The business of being drunk is a curious one. At one time it seemed to be the most frightening and disreputable state of being that you could experience. It was not hard to get to the edge of it when I was 17 –  a small glass of 4.7% Swan Lager was enough to do it to a youth unused to alcohol. Fortunately my parents were smart enough to pour this for me before or during a family dinner and I could be induced to recognise the effects without being out in public or on the road.

Drunk is a relative word – as the police are not your relatives, they apply a more stringent definition of it than the family at a Christmas party, but the basics of it are an altered sense of balance, perception, and thought. When you have altered these enough to be herking on your shoes, you have gone too far, but it is possible to stop before then. And at the prices that they demand for rum these days, you will be straining to get anywhere near the footwear.

I value the afternoon tot of whatever is in the cabinet as a release from the cares of a morning spent not caring about anything in particular. That is the benefit of retirement – you can hand the need to worry to others and then wander off. But that little burst of ethanol opens the hatches and lets the air in and the fumes out. It must have been dreadful when the Royal Navy stopped the rum ration. I’ll bet the Russians issue vodka from a tub to this day.

There are a lot of posts written post-tot. They tend to be brilliantly funny at the time but are censorable the morning after – that is why I never send them while they are fresh. Some survive the editing process next morning and can be transmitted. Some are trashed.

Both you and I are better for that.

My Hobby, Sir, Is Below…

No, not that far down. That’s a different hobby. Stop staring.

My hobby is what you are reading right now. I write now.  I write four weblog columns each weekday and three on the weekends. I get paid money to pen one of them and the other three pay in joy.

I did not realise this was going to be the case when my friend Joanne suggested over a café breakfast that I look up WordPress. She, like many young people, is somewhat of an expert on the social media and connection side of things. But she doesn’t make the technical side of things sound as hard and confusing. Nor was it, once I had picked up a couple of simplistic books on the WordPress blog experience.

My first efforts were crude – like my first engagement with Facebook – but gradually the business of telling a story ( and that is all I am doing when I write ) started to flow and it has gushed ever since. I’m a photographer with my own studio so I can make pictures to enliven the print and as much as the graphic designers amongst my readers may quail, I can dot them with words. Generally the words I choose try to be funny. Sometimes they succeed, but only sometimes…

So I finally have to admit I like engaging you in this one-sided conversation – I look upon it as a Catskill monologue. Hence the title of this first weblog column. I’m here all week – try the pasta surprise.

The chef was absolutely surprised. He was aiming for bacon smoothies.