Jun 30, 2010

Inside Outside; (I love a fake Haiku)

and the child friendly version :)

Like Russian Dolls, one inside the other,
Or Roman Sarcophagi;*
Cherry Blossum

A quickie For Mr  Spoqui. Inside Outside 
Challenge One.
Thank for the heads up Roberto Marin and Amba.
Doyourselfafavour * and have a look at their work. Intelligent and fresh and thoughtful.

*A sarcophagus means "flesh-eater" in Greek. Isn't that amazing?
*Apologies   for the 'poem'. I love a fake Haiku.
* "Doyourselfafavour": an Australian expression meaning "do yourself a favor"

Jun 28, 2010

Illustration Friday: Satellite

Robert Jordan Junior was eleven years old when he first read about Laika.
Laika, a stray dog plucked from obscurity by Russian Scientists, had been propelled into space on Sputnik 2 in 1957.
Most people thought that for Laika it was a one way trip.
But Robert Jordan knew better. 
Even though the Russians had claimed that Laika had either suffocated or died a painful overheated death in her small metal container, Robert Jordan knew the truth.
You see, the very night Robert Jordan first read about Laika, he had a dream.
In that dream he was an astronaut sent by Nasa to rescue Laika.
As so often happens in dreams, the details were hazy; but in his dream Robert found himself suddenly surrounded by light, tugged from his bed by invisible hands, then catapulted through the earth's atmosphere on a beam of light.
In seconds, and with a great sucking sound as the beam of light vanished, he came to a sudden halt, suspended in space, three feet from the rusting hulk of Sputnik 2.
And there she was, the   dog Laika,  staring at him through a porthole, grinning and panting with happiness, her breath fogging the glass. She was still alive after all these years, suspended Robert knew, by the Russian's  super secret  hyperchromatic barium refrigeration. She'd been left to circle the world for ever and ever, as one of mankind's first satellites. 
But did Robert rescue her?
I'm afraid that's still classified ---- but I can say that I saw young Robert the other day playing ball in the park with a dog that looked like a part-Samoyed terrier.
One thing I did notice though: the dog barked an awful lot.
Of course Laika, in Russian, means "barker."
But it's probably just a coincidence. 

What follows is a few variations on Robert's dream. Thanks for looking! Please pardon the layout... I'll get it right one day!

Jun 25, 2010


This is the grandfather out of the book I have sitting in the drawer.

I pulled him out today and gave him the 'new' treatment- some lost and found edges, a bit of an outline in places, some ambient light to fill in the shadows, and less reflection off the corneas. Generally trying for a more illustrated look and less CG.

 I hope you like him. I've given him a bit more style than he had originally. He used to cruise around the house in his overalls. Now he has a 'nice' jacket. For want of a better name, I've called him Grandpa Oliphant. He's actually a bit of a clown - like me.

I don't know if I like him better with hair, or without? What do you think?

Thanks for looking and if you click him he gets bigger. Old rascall!

Jun 20, 2010

Illustration Friday: Paisley

Paisley: An Ancient Swirling Pattern from a Town With Celibate Brythonic Origins?
Or a Green Summer Leafy Vegetable?

from our National Geographic Consultant, George Carrey-Urdu in Urkanistan

Well, for a start, why celibate?

 Hmm --- my personal feeling is that paisley (the design) is what people who are inordinately attractive to the opposite sex wear, to ameliorate the possibility of them reproducing.

That is, to me a 'paisley' design on any item of clothing - especially if it has the colour green, or red, or yellow, or blue - is the ultimate anti-aphrodisiac. Unless of course, you were into "gamete fusion" in the swinging sixties - then paisley is 'hot' - especially when combined with LSD, mari-juana and BEX.

Meanwhile, back in the swinging 400's (AD) in Britain just south of
the Firth of Forth, apppeared a group of languages called the
"Brythonic languages" - which eventually evolved into the Welsh,
Cornish, Breton, and Cumbric dialects.

"So," you ask, "what's that have to do with Pailsey?"

Well, it just so happens that Pailsey means paddock in the Brythonic lingo.

So if someone comes up to you and asks you in Brythonic, "Where are my cows? (Tá áit mo bha?). A great answer would be "In the Paisley." (sa Pailsey) - assuming the cows were actually in the "Pailsey'.

"Okay, okay, but what's this have to do with 'pailsey' design?"

Well, if you've researched this weeks illustration prompt as I have, the first thing you would have googled is 'paisley' (well I actually googled 'parsley' because of my dislexia -which made me was very confused for a while).

If so, you probably already know that the paisley design originally came from Titszxatasgan in Persia where it was known as "mankolam". For some reason, historical design kind of people think paisley designs from Titszxatasgan resemble a mango.

Consequently they relate the paisley pattern to Hinduism (the Kalasha – coconut circled by mango leaves on a pot - is one of the ten most important symbols in Hinduism.) Wow, what a jump in thinking.

To me, as a post modern abstract expressionist, I find paisley designs look like, not so much a bunch of mangoes, but a bunch of dried eggplants that have been flattened by a bulldozer then ornamented with a pattern of flowers sprinkled artfully over the remains, the whole lot being coloured in Neo Magic Textas by a colour blind chrom-satyriasis, (from the Greek σατυρίασις, from σάτυρος - meaning an unatural excess of colour-lust).

Leaving the Hindus aside and fast forwarding to the 17th century,
when the East India Company bought paisley and other Indian
patterns into Europe. There they became so popular that the poor starving Capatalistic East India Company was unable to import enough to meet the demand.

Hence, on 7th May 1640, smart locals in Marseilles hopped on the 'paisley' bandwagon and began to mass-produce the patterns via early textile printing processes. England, then Holland, soon followed (in England it was the House of Lords attempt in population control by way of introducing the "anti-aphrodisiac paisley pattern for poor people act" - AAPPFPPA for short).

So, in keeping with the AAPPFPPA, exactly 100 hundred years later, on 2nd March 1859, the overpopulated Scots stepped into the 'paisley scene.".
Not content to just let their men wear dresses or get slaughtered by the
English at  Battle of Culloden, the Scots actually volunteered to make
cloth in paisley design.

Hence, in honour of their sacrifice, the sleepy town of  "Swamp-ben-loch" in Scotland was renamed "Pailsey', after Sir Ian Pailsey, who invented the washing machine - and hence made washing garmets like Paisley less of a nightmare for the modern child less woman......

And so history was rewritten on my blog.

Tommorrow I'll tell you how, on the 12th March 1964, the world famous "Chinese Gosberry" was grabbed by three wily New Zealanders, who after a remarkable marketing strategy which lasted fourteen days and fourteen nights,  released it back into the world as --- "The Kiwi."

Stay tuned, and thank you for looking. Sorry about the formatting.

Jun 17, 2010

Illustration Friday: Ripple

Well I never knew that!

Well, in keeping with the Australian theme, I present to you the duck billed Platypus.


The Platypus is what is known as a monotreme.
It's strange looking creature - a furry web footed
duck billed mammal that lays eggs.
So strange that when Europeans first saw it in
the 18th century, it caused quite a ripple in
Scientific circles.

Strange or not, as a mammal, it's one of our distant relatives.
It's called a monotreme because in it's rear end (posterior to
be polite) it only has one opening. The monotreme part is
kind of like a USB port on the computer.
It comes in handy for everything -including laying eggs.

I guess they are mammals because they suckle their young.
But apparently they have no nipples - which caused another ripple.
Neither do they have teeth - they kind of gum their prey to death I think.
(Lucky they only eat worms.) Apart from that the males have posionous
spines on their webbed feet - which makes them lousy pets for your
children; unless you like children as much as I do -------
But the most interesting thing about monotremes is their lack
of corpus callosum - which basically means that the connection
between their right and left brains is fairly minimal.
That means they have trouble doing things like playing the piano
or sewing on buttons.

I guess I should also mention that platapii (platapussys?)
spend most of their time in the water. When they swim
they keep their eyes closed, and that they detect their
prey by sensing the animal's electrical field..

Strange but true - I read it in Wiki.

The other most popular monotreme in Australia is
the Echidna.
It's a pointy nosed creature which, instead of fur,
has long quill spikes.
Echinas are well known for creeping into your
bedroom at night and crawling into any
trousers that might be lying on the floor.

So if you ever come to Australia, just remember,
always put your trousers away on a hanger
before you go to bed.

And if you ever see a platypus, don't forget
that they have an all purpose USB port in
their rear end and with this solitary titbit
of information, you will be ableto impress
your friends (and anyone else who is in
 hearing distance.)

You may even get invited to a Platypus

Thanks again for looking. I'm sorry I have been away so long and thanks to everyone who commented on my last post. Be back tommorrow and thank you personally.
 PS: if you click the pictures they get bigger.

Jun 2, 2010

Ned Kelly: Oz Icon

It says much about Anglo Saxon Australians of my generation that we pride ourself in either being of Irish descent (like myself), or of Scottish descent (like myself) or, treasure of treasures, the descendants of convicts (my great great grandfather and my great great grandmother).

It's odd that I don't tell many people that my grandfather was an honest and hard working man who worked in a tannery all his life. But I might tell them that my great great grandfather was sentenced to death in 1817 for escaping from the prison boats on the Thames - but escaped his sentence and was transported to Australia. (see footnote*) by the evil English.

In fact Caucasian Australians will claim to be descended from anything wild and wooly - as long as it has nothing to do with the good upstanding English middle class who had invaded (seemingly) most of the known world by the time Australia was being settled..

So it follows, given our true fore-bears  (we were brainwashed at school in the LBJ era to believe that we are English/Americans)  that one of our main folklore heroes is an Irish Australian Bushranger called Ned Kelly.

Now our Ned (as we call  him) started his 'criminal career' in 1869, when at the age of 14 he assaulted a Chinese pig farmer named Ah Fook." . (Yes, Ah FookI kid you not). Ned and his brothers and later his gang
had a tendency to play rough with the police - and the police returned the favour. According to Wiki:

 "In September 1877 Ned was arrested for drunkenness. While being escorted by four policemen he broke free and ran into a shop. The police tried to subdue him but failed and Ned later gave himself up to a Justice of The Peace and was fined. During the incident Constable Lonigan, who Ned was to later shoot dead, "black-balled" him (grabbed and squeezed his testicles). Legend has it that Ned told Lonigan "If I ever shoot a man, Lonigan, it'll be you!"."

In the end Ned and his gang killed three policeman, and a few civilians, not to mention robbing two banks and distributing the proceeds to the poor. So as his reward, apart from hanging him and giving him  an umarked grave, we have made him into a national icon.

 Tells you a lot about us  wild colonial boys, aye?
What follows is a small excerpt from Wiki. Glenrowan was the tavern that the Kelly Gang made their last stand in. ( I have taken the liberty of removing the more boring bits)


""The gang discovered that Aaron Sherritt, Joe Byrne's (a gang member) erstwhile best friend, was a police informer. On 26 June 1880, the same day their outlaw status expired, Dan Kelly and Joe Byrne went to Sherritt's house and killed him....... The four policemen who were living openly with him at the time hid under the bed and did not report the murder until late the following morning. .....

The Kelly Gang arrived in Glenrowan on 27 June forcibly taking about seventy hostages at the Glenrowan Inn. They knew that a passenger train carrying a police detachment was on its way and ordered the rail tracks pulled up in order to cause a derailment......

The gang members were equipped with armour that was tough enough to repel bullets (but left the legs unprotected).

The armour  was likely forged from stolen or donated plough mouldboards. Each man's armour weighed about 96 pounds (44 kg); all four had helmets, and Byrne's was said to be the most well done, with the brow reaching down to the nose piece, almost forming two eye slits. All wore grey cotton coats reaching past the knees over the armour.

The accounts of who opened fire first are contradictory. According to Superintendent Hare he was close to the inn when he saw the flash of a rifle and felt his left hand go limp. Three more flashes followed from the veranda and then whoever had first fired at him stepped back and began to fire again after which the police opened fire. Kelly testified in court that he was dismounting from his horse when a bolt in his armour failed. While he was fixing the bolt the police fired two volleys into the inn. Kelly claimed that as he walked towards the inn the police fired a third volley with the result that one bullet hit him in the foot and another in the left arm. It was at that moment he claimed his gang began returning the fire.

 Kelly now walked in what police called a "lurching motion" towards them from 30 metres (98 ft) away. Due to the restrictions of his armour, and now only being able to hold his revolving rifle in one hand, he had to hold the rifle at arm’s length to fire, and claimed he fired randomly, two shots to the front and two shots to his left. Constable Arthur fired three times, hitting Kelly once in the helmet and twice in his body, but despite staggering from the impacts he continued to advance.

Constables Phillips and Healy then fired with similar effect. Kelly's lower limbs, however, were unprotected, and when 15 metres (49 ft) from the police line he was shot repeatedly in the legs. As he fell he was hit by a shotgun blast that injured his hip and right hand.

The other Kelly Gang members died in the hotel; Joe Byrne perished due to loss of blood from a gunshot wound that severed his femoral artery as he allegedly stood at the bar pouring himself a glass of whisky, Dan Kelly and Steve Hart committed suicide (according to witness Matthew Gibney). No autopsy was done to determine cause of death, as their bodies were burnt when the police set fire to the inn. The police suffered only one minor injury: Superintendent Francis Hare, the senior officer on the scene, received a slight wound to his wrist, then fled the battle. For his cowardice the Royal Commission later suspended Hare from the Victorian Police Force.[20] Several hostages were also shot, two fatally.

Ned Kelly survived to stand trial, and was sentenced to death by the Irish-born judge Justice Redmond Barry. This case was extraordinary in that there were exchanges between the prisoner Kelly and the judge, and the case has been the subject of attention by historians and lawyers. When the judge uttered the customary words "May God have mercy on your soul", Kelly replied "I will go a little further than that, and say I will see you there when I go".[21] At Ned's request, his photographic portrait was taken and he was granted farewell interviews with family members. His mother's last words to Ned were reported to be "Mind you die like a Kelly".

He was hanged on 11 November 1880 at the Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Constable Lonigan. .... two newspapers (The Age and The Herald) reported Kelly's last words as "Such is life".....

Sir Redmond Barry died of the effects of a carbuncle on his neck on 23 November 1880, twelve days after Kelly." End Wiki Quote

Killer Carbuncle? Well well.   

Footnotes: *

1)You can read the 'true' history of Ned Kelly here. Or an eyewitness account here.
2)As far as myself? You can read about my convict Great Great Grandfather here: Benjamin Harmer
3)You can also read about my convict Great  Great Grandmother here: Mary Budd
4)Also available are transcripts to their trials from Old Bailey. Mary Budd, Mary Budd , Benjamin Harmer, Benjamin Harmer.

PS clicking for big removes carbuncles. Thanks  again for looking!

By the way, I am not here, so don't read this. I'll be offline for a while for reasons that poor old Ned would understand - if he hadn't been hung.