The Emotional Support Caterpillar

I am locked down in viral-fear prison and look to be so for weeks, if not months, to come. I can’t afford an expensive dog and the cat provides no support at all. Yet I need someone to talk to.

How fortunate for me that I found Curley. He was out on the brick pathway yesterday between rain showers roaring along toward the bushes. When I saw him he stopped dead. I think that’s a defence mechanism – apparently a successful one as Curley is about the size of a Volkswagen. I have no idea how big a butterfly he’s destined to become but I’ll bet he needs a thick runway to take off.

As I watched him I noticed that he did not move at all, though exposed. Once I picked him up he rolled into a ball and when I deposited him on the surface of the photographic table he still stayed curled. I reckoned he couldn’t stay that way forever so I turned the nice warm lights on and readied the camera. Eventually I got bored and went to put on a cup of tea.

I was only gone a couple of minutes  but when I got back Curley was headed off the edge of the table. He’d seized his chance. As soon as I saw him, he froze again – and didn’t move at all, even though he was half off the surface.

Not wishing to terrify the grub any further, I rolled him up and put him into the bush he was first heading for. He’s welcome to eat it all and eventually fly away. My only regret is I shall not see him do it.

Who says they are mindless? Curley knew what he was doing.

Easy Does It

I have discovered that sex, photography, and building model airplanes have a great deal in common – leaving aside the question of what you do with the tube of glue, the most noticeable thing is that when you find you are doing something that is hard work, expensive, and makes you feel bad….you are doing it wrong.

I don’t decry hard work in the sun, sweating and heaving, with the crack of the overseer’s whip lashing your back. This is how things should be in the retail trade, after all. And there may be a certain amount of whip cracking in the sex business, or so I have been told. But the other two endeavours can be done without pain or sunburn, surely.

Expense attaches itself to everything we do. You can hardly go for a walk in the park without fending off beggars showing you their open sores. As much fun as this is, and you’d be surprised what you can do with a sharpened walking stick, it all adds up to money spent. Trips to the shops are even worse. Stroll through Burlington Arcade as casually as you might, and avert your eye as you will, you find eventually that you are bearing home a diamond bracelet and bang, there’s sixpence gone.

As for feeling bad, this is not as much fun as it used to be. One used to be able to give oneself over to fits of melancholy and either moon about the manse or sit drinking in the study. You could roam the countryside on dark, stormy nights savaging things. Now you are pestered by do-gooders who want to wrest every corpse from your hands and ply you with cups of tea and cheerful memes. God’s Sake, People. Can’t we feel vile without having to feel bad about it.

The answer to all this is to relax the iron grip of ambition and do things for pleasure at a leisurely pace. Do not try to cram avarice, debauchery, and madness all into one afternoon. Take one horrid act at a time – give it several days to play out, and don’t sully the mud with water.

 

Has You Been?

No, I’m not talking about today and the All Bran. Your digestive tract is none of my concern. I’m talking about your career and your past successes. Things that you may legitimately cherish.

But a hint: Cherish them to yourself, in private. You’ll do far better in the social scene if you keep up to date with what is going on and don’t hearken to or harp upon the past. Others may know of your history and celebrate it, but as soon as you join in the praise of you there is a danger that they will fall silent. And eventually so will you, in shame.

It will go even worse for you if you come and cry your decline. It may be real, and if so people will perceive it. You need not tell it like a tragic opera.

I was reminded of this at a trade fair where I met several former practitioners of professional photography who have settled into a pattern of retailing their past business history and bewailing their current retirement and/or failures. I feel for them, but if they continue to tell of the woes of getting old I am tempted to feel for a sharp knife to cure that problem.

It was exactly the same for me after my retirement from dentistry – now when I meet an old colleague I try to celebrate our hard-won escape from the profession and I do not go on as if I pine for it. In truth, I do not, and am pleasantly surprised to find that most of my old classmates are of a similar mind.

I find I can bore people wonderfully with new topics and do not need to use the old ammunition. Most of it was duds anyway.

What Exactly IS Fashion?

I ask myself this a couple of hours before attending a fashion parade – this one organised as part of the publicity and foo faw associated with a commercial trade expo. The basic event is promulgated by the local camera shop I used to work for, and I am going along to get material for the weblog column I write for them.

I think it will be a theatrical event designed to give the wannabees the thrill of seeing themselves as pro photographers. In the real thing there are pro photographers looking to give themselves the trill of getting paid. I have no idea from whence the thrill is meant to come for the models who stride the catwalk.

I have been mean to these model ladies and gentlemen before by referring to them as the slim, grim, and dim…but maybe I should be prepared to turn round and look at the audience as well. Why are they there? I can’t believe that they have any intention of buying the clothes on parade – either for themselves or for other people. They are forbidden by law from buying the girls and boys who walk the catwalk…though they may be rented occasionally. The only people there who have some hope of getting a benefit are the photographers and the owner of the venue.

Well, wish me luck. I’ll be the chap in the back with the reporter camera and the notebook hoping that there will be a fight or animal attack. And snacks. At least I know what I want…

Addendum: It was great. There was beer and snacks and rescue greyhounds in pyjamas. Also a crowd of camera people snapping away like mad. When I left early to write for my deadline they were still going great guns. But the business of snapping fashion sounds like a hard grind for a meal ticket.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

” Lookin’ For A Good Time, Big Boy…? “

Yeah, I am. And I have learned to be damned careful where I look.

Recently a friend on Facebook shared a small essay about doing things for fun – as opposed to doing them for money. My mind, being what it is, instantly linked up the concept to the title and it all went downhill from there. But I thoroughly agree with the original essay – there is a limited time and a place for monetization of our lives – and an increasing pressure to judge everything we do by the standards of the cashbook and journal. But there is an equal time and place for it all to be done for love.

We stand in danger of becoming Jacob Marley in our spare time.

These essays I write are for fun – I find them so, even if you may not. I do not expect to be paid for them, as payment comes as soon as the words hit the screen. It is in the form of pleasure and satisfaction…and I do not need to do double-entry bookkeeping to appreciate that.

I have had hobbies that earned money – and I pursued them diligently enough for years. In the end the money that they brought has evaporated, as all money does, and the only thing  left is a sense of satisfaction or otherwise when I think back on the times spent sewing, developing, shooting, drawing, or whatever. I could equally have this final pleasure if no money had been sought. Indeed, it may have given me more time to seek pleasure, rather than profit.

Well, I learned. I now build model aircraft, take photos, and write to please me. I share some of this and if you are pleased as well, good times are rolling. But they do not need to roll with an on-line shop, etsy, or business model. They have other wheels to run on.

One Of My Better Ones

I have ideas, you see. Well, it’s only to be expected – I’m retired and my mind is not required to worry about other people’s money or health – so I’m free to fret about my own.

But I don’t.

I have long realised that mostly it all proceeds on an even keel if you do not go to excess in anything. I’ve even cut down on my moderation. It’s meant a loss in income for the gin joints and the gals of easy reputation, but on the other hand I can spend the money on toy cars and model airplanes. The lady at the hobby shop is starting to wink at me as she operates the till…

Now back to the idea. I have a collection of model airplanes on model airfields. I know a number of flashy females who dance, pose, and generally glam it up all round the shop. So I have decided to combine the two by making the ladies into WWII ” nose art ” on the airplanes. There’ll be an exhibition in June at the belly dancing convention and then I’ll post the pictures on the toy and model photography pages.

Already I have 8 images completed and I haven’t even started shooting the fresh material – good glamour is ageless and older pictures are just as good as new ones when you make them into posters.

Of course, there are sacrifices. I am now compelled to go to the hobby shop and buy more model kits so as to have enough noses for all the girls. I shall have to spend my waking hours chained to the model bench or the studio shooting for the exhibition. I will only take time out to eat, drink, sleep, and read racy novels.

After all, I have a duty to culture, eh?

Living Your Own History

I have given up pretending to be other people; I have commenced pretending to be myself. Whether I will be more successful at it remains to be seen, but I know one thing – the clothing bill will be considerably lighter.

Do I have enough life accrued to have a history? And is it notable enough to be worthy of re-enactment? I’m not Dwight Eisenhower or Jim Carrey…so I don’t know whether anyone else will want to see me playing me. But I will still pursue the idea for my own purposes.

What was I? A little kid, then a teenager, than a young man, than a middle-aged man, and now an oldish sort of man. I have never climbed a new mountain, nor discovered a new cure for anything. Equally, I have never murdered people nor stolen money from them. Just an average Joe.

But an average Joe who had a great good time doing several things; taking photographs, reading books, and building scale models. If I re-enact what I did then I will not please or harm anyone else, but I can still please and harm myself…hopefully in equal portions.

This column, and the others I write, are part of the re-enactment I do of success in school. That petered out early, but these WordPress posts are going along nicely.

The Little Studio continues to take dance pictures as well as commercial illustration to the satisfaction of the customers.

The Little Workshop is spooling up to produce more and more scale models that please and delight me. And keep me agile of mind and hand. The activity is totally beneficial.

I may decline to wear the clothing of my childhood – the Howdy Doody vest is a difficult garment to integrate into normal day wear – but I’ve noticed recently that I can rock the flannel shirt and work trousers…and as a retired man I can wear them in more places than you’d think. The white moustache and flat cap help as well.