Fun Monday – my first.

I was this on Wendishness’s’s’s’s’s (sorry, lol) blog and thought I’d have a go.

Here’s the deal. There is an exercise involved, as follows:

(1) Share something which you wish your readers would know about you. It could be something you feel you might need to clarify/ share, etc.

(2) Ask three questions to your readers, and I mean all readers, whether participants of Fun Monday or not. The questions should be generic so that all your readers can answer them and that it will help you get to know your readers more.

So here goes…

1) I have an abhorrent fear of escalators. Yes folks, you read correctly, escalators! It’s something that’s manifested itself later in life and I’m not really sure what brought it on. Perhaps it started when I used to visit my brother when he was working at the NRMA offices in Sydney (nearest station is Wynyard which had a VERY tall wooden escalator). I used to take the escalator out of Wynyard station and because it was such a TALL escalator and I’m acrophobic, it used to unsettle me a little, but I was okay.

Then I heard about a fire that happened at Wynyard station. Just looking now there doesn’t seem to be any evidence for one. But I’d heard there had been one, on the escalators (and if you look at the Wikipedia entry here for escalators, you’ll see Wynyard still have the original Otis wooden tread ones, the ones used at King’s Cross station in London where there WAS a fire in 1987, killing 31 people). From then on, I really started to dread taking the escalators. When I’d arrive at the station on the train, I’d take the escalator up to street level (sometimes), but when I’d return to the station, I’d ALWAYS take the stairs.

My fear is so strong, I actually PREFER lifts! I would gladly take a lift any day over having to ride an escalator. The longer and higher the escalator, the more scared I am, as it then combines with my acrophobia to make me have panic attacks. Just looking at some of the images on the Wikipedia entry for escalators was enough to have me panicking.

London is the worst. Travelling the tube is a NIGHTMARE for me. The escalators are SSSOOO fast, and that is another element of the fear – the faster the escalator, the harder I find it to get on. And if the escalator is going down, and is tall…I just see myself trying to get on and falling all the way down.

It didn’t help things that on my wedding anniversary in 2008, I DID have a fall down an escalator. It wasn’t a very tall one either, but it was fast, so it just helped to heighten my fear.

I can’t describe to you how fast the ones on the tube go. Imagine standing there in front of a an escalator and every time you go to step on, you’ve missed the step. A step goes by within two thirds of a second, and although granted, the steps stay flat for about one metre, because my fear is SO heightened, I just don’t believe I’m ever going to get on a level step quick enough. Then add the element of endless passengers stepping on/off the escalator, people beside you clambering and running down them to the left of you (something I could NEVER do, even for a million pounds). Most of the time I have to wait until the masses leave so I can try and get on myself as many times I have to abort my attempts and that would be nigh on impossible with a crowd behind me. I let Em go ahead and sometimes when I abort my attempts, she comes back down the stairs to help me.

My favourite tube station is Covent Garden as there is access via lifts and stairs only. The stairs are spiral, and I’ve been down them before, and vertigo sets in…but I *STILL* prefer that to the escalators!

I wish I was healthier, as I’d take the stairs more often. But some of the tube stations are SO far below ground, the stairs would be 100 metres long. I’d never cope!

The WORST is “down” escalators that aren’t working. I had that just recently when we went to Weymouth. We were at Victoria, having something to eat before getting the coach home, and the small escalator inside the food hall had stopped. Luckily it was a small one, but I still very gingerly made my descent.

Enough of escalator talk (before I have a panic attack).

2) Gawd, I’m not sure what questions to ask.

*What was the best thing you did yesterday?
*Who is your hero or the person you most admire in your life?
*If you had the opportunity, would you move from where you live now, and if so, where would you move to?

PS: Whoops. Think I lost the premise there…FUN Monday…oh, well.

The Snobbery of Art – Tracey Bashing!

I read yesterday that there’s a long awaited (for us who love and appreciate her art) Tracey Emin exhibition at the White Cube Gallery in Mason’s Yard called “Those Who Suffer Love”.

Once again, there’s a bubbling undercurrent of controversy, for HEAVEN FORBID Tracey has a piece in it that shows that most women in the 21st century like to masturbate. One of her pieces is a flick-book animation of a woman masturbating. Oh, HOW pornographic!

The first article I read about the exhibition was on the BBC News web site. They mentioned the animation briefly, but seemed to realise there’s much more to talk about with Tracey’s work. They had a comment from Tracey about the piece. She said, “[Masturbation] is not just about self-love, it’s also about self-loathing and being alone and for the act of being alone.” I understand what she means completely. Tracey’s work speaks to me.

I have to say, I’d never even heard of her until I moved to the UK. And even then, it took a visit to Tate Modern and seeing some of her work for her name to REALLY resonate with me. I saw a short film she’d made, almost like a video diary piece. Her art is SO personal and the video work I found very moving. I think I started to become a fan from that point on. If indeed artists have “fans”, like rock stars do.

Perhaps that’s what the critics (and Lord, the woman has her fair share of them) hate about the “modern” artists or as the Brit contingent are referred to YBA’s (Young British Artists – in the early 90’s, when a set of them came to public attention). That they are sort of held up as “pop stars” and have fans and followers. Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas, Sam Taylor-Wood, The Chapman Brothers, Michael Landy are in the ranks of being labelled YBA’s. Hirst and Emin appear to be the “King and Queen” of the YBA’s, given the Wikipedia entry on the subject.

I see Tracey as almost a “today” version of Frida Kahlo. Kahlo was ballsy. She went FAR beyond what was the “acceptable face” of femininity in her art and her life. Her art was deeply personal and although I’m not a BIG fan of her artwork, I am of Frida herself and the things she represented in the art movement at the time. She portrayed herself in her art. She showed us what she wanted us to see, not what she THOUGHT we WANTED to see.

And that’s why I love Tracey. Her art is personal, but it is in no way conceited or self-centred. I’m sure critics would disagree (oh how they would disagree), but that’s how I see it. And that’s why ALL art is good. Critics, I swear, through their snobbery think they must like ALL art. If they don’t like it, it’s not art. WHAT A LOAD OF SHIT! I don’t rate Damien Hirst much myself, but I don’t begrudge people liking his work, or think any less of them.

I do, however, think it’s criminal that art has become SUCH a commodity. I watched a programme recently called “The Great Contemporary Art Bubble.” Revealed in the programme were aspects about how the collectors make the art a bigger commodity than it should be. A couple of examples: Andy Warhol collector Jose Mugrabi and his sons prop up the price of Warhol works, because they own SO much if it. Jay Jopling (the owner of White Cube Gallery – incidentally) and Damien Hirst bid on his own artwork (Hirst’s) to make it sell for what THEY deem it to be worth. But not only that, they also retain a percentage of the work most of the time, as it’ll be bought by consortia in which THEY are part of, therefore reinvesting in their own work, making more and more profit each time.

Most of the critics that criticise Tracey don’t do it because of some morality about the absurd price of art. Quite the opposite in fact. Most of them think she’s just “not worth it” or is not an “artist”. But what is an artist? Someone who is creative? Someone who produces images (be they words or pictures) for viewing? And isn’t art, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder? Should I be pandered to and told what is art and what isn’t? Should *I* be told what I should and shouldn’t like? Am I meant to like a Jackson Pollock, even though (frankly) I think an elephant can do a better job? That’s just MY opinion on Pollock though. I don’t expect others to feel the same. For what his art sells for, obviously most people don’t.

But the critics who critique Tracey seem to think we should all listen to them and stop liking her work.

Here are comments left on a article on the Times Online.

She’s absolutely right when at the end she says others artists will be missed by the media even if they are fantastic, whereas she will not . She’s “lucky”. Job done…but just don’t ask us to accept your rubbish as well. You’re extremely famous and lucky but you can’t draw. You are not an artist.

Bob, from Hong Kong.

I have a good idea for an artwork. Copy some of the crude scrawls from the walls of my local public toilet, add some pretentious titles and pseudo-intellectual explanations, and…

Oh bugger, Tracey Emin has beat me to it.

Chris K from Cheltenham

While Hirst doesn’t seem to be any better at drawing than Emin is, at least it is not what he’s trying to impress us with…. actually the ‘dead sheep’ and ‘pickled cows’ have quite an effect when seen for the first time. I just really can’t see what’s so special about her rather ugly sketches.

Paloma, from London

In response to Paloma, I dare say that what separates Hirst from Emin is that although it could be argued that Tracey’s sketches are crude (by definition a sketch is “A hasty or undetailed drawing or painting often made as a preliminary study.”), they ARE personal. What’s personal about a pickled cow? Yes, it’s very fascinating anatomically, but is it art? Is it something Hirst MADE? All he did was probably design the thing it’s displayed in. He didn’t “design” the cow, or make up the formaldehyde or probably even dissect the animal himself. Tracey’s not trying to “impress” us, she’s telling us her story (and for some of us her appreciate her art), OUR story).

Then there are just absurd, ridiculous statements that are laced with personal attacks.

Good grief! We have all had trauma in our lives – why is this hellish woman who wants us all to know about her tawdry life in a sick visual Big Brother style, taken seriously? Arrgh. She is not an artist but a poor exhibitionist who always makes me want to shower after seeing her work. Eeww shudder

Christina from Edinburgh

“As artistic as vomit. – Tom Franklin, London, United Kingdom”

Geez Tom, don’t give the lady any ideas!

Clickety6 from London, in reply to an earlier statement.

Tracey Emin can’t draw for toffee.
Nice frock she’s wearing though, so she must find a few suckers.

Sara from Leicester.

Maybe an inspirational woman, but an artist!?
You can fool some of the people some of the time…………

Steve Duckworth from Leicestershire.

Steve may have a point at the end, but if you are basing that purely on her drawings, then perhaps you would come to that conclusion. The Times article DOES point out (some people seemed unable to take this information in) that some of the drawings go back a LONG way.

Let’s not forget, they are doodles, sketches. What Tracey does is present ALL of herself. Good and bad. If you only show the “good” art, isn’t that sort of a con? A cop out? Why do people not understand that? That, what is artistic in her is the way she reveals herself. That’s HER art. That, if you like, SHE’S the art. If she left sketches out because they weren’t “good enough” she’d feel she was cheating us. And people can’t see that it’s the revelation of the art, and perhaps not so much the pieces themselves that is the art.

And that’s why I compared her to Frida. And that’s why I want to go and see the exhibition.

He’s a Scot. He’s from Paisley. I love him, but…

He’s NOT David Tennant! What’s going on?

I have a new love in my life. Not exactly in the lustful, pining ways I feel for David, mind. Purely for his artistic ability this time (although he is cute, but WAY too young for me!). My new love is Paolo Nutini.

Yes, only 3 years after he hit the music scene, I know! But I’m slow on the uptake sometimes!

It all started with an appearance he made on the live music show “Later…with Jools Holland” a couple of weeks ago. I’d not really taken him in much before. Oh course I’d heard of him. It was hard to escape hearing “Last Request” as it was a HUGE hit for him. But because it was Top 40, I didn’t take it in. Hardly anything in the Top 40 ever sways me these days. I’m not having my musical influences dictated to me by what 10 year old girls like!! I had just assumed he was a sort of cheesy, middle of the road singer. I wasn’t interested.

But after seeing him on Later… The way he performed, the sound of his voice, I was soon changing my mind. It was like he’d been possessed by a 65 year old African American blues singer. It was amazing! I had to look up how old he was later on and was astonished to find out that he’s only 22!! That’s how I learnt also that he’s from Paisley, home of David Tennant as well. I knew he was Scottish of course, but didn’t know where in Scotland he hailed from.

I went through the back catalogue. Of only one studio album, of course. Still can’t say I’m the biggest fan of the past stuff. But the new stuff he was performing and the matured vocal style have really got me excited about the new CD he is bringing out in just two weeks time. The first single off it was released yesterday and I’ve had a listen. I’m really looking forward to the album. Especially one track which he performed on Later…called 10/10. It was a STONKING track!

The album’s called “Sunny Side Up” and it’s out 1st June.
UPDATE: As of June 7th, 2009, Sunny Side Up is the UK Number 1 album! Go Paolo!

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeazy.

I’ve spent the last 24 hours using a different version of Linux on my netbook that runs “live” from an SD card. It’s a version of Ubuntu for netbooks called Easy Peasy. It’s more meant for the EEEPC, but seems to be working just as well for my netbook.

I sometimes get a little tired of the “kiddie” interface of the Aspire One OS, which is based on Linpus and does look a bit candy store.

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It starts up like lightening, but adding software (even with an IT pro at your side) can be a bit of a bum. The first thing I loved about the Ubuntu version was fab games! I’m easily pleased!! lol

I like the look if it. The desktop is still not conventional, but at least it doesn’t look like it’s aimed at a 8 year old.

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The other part I initially liked was being able to install Adobe Air and use TweetDeck for twitter, thinking that I’d LOVE to use TweetDeck, as everyone else seems to use it. But I don’t really get on with that. I’ve got Spotify installed on here, and I can see thing attached to Wine in a clearer way too.

Pros and cons, pros and cons. Takes a while for the desktop to be up and running and it’s changed my keyboard around slightly, so my quotation makes are where my @ symbol is, and vice versa. Will just take a little brain retrain.

It’s not on permanently yet and I will make sure I give it some more testing before I decide to install fully. I’ll keep you informed.

Update: 10pm

I’ve installed it fully on the system. Had a few little teething probs. After it seemingly being the same, my keyboard (since doing some system updates) has been sorted and my @ and “‘s are in the right place again. Installed Spotify again, but was getting digital interference/cut-outs, which was making me think “uh oh! Maybe I rushed the install”. But all it required was a small change to the Wine audio settings. A click there and an unclick there and it was sorted, and the sound is now crystal.

So far, so good. I’m really getting into Easy Peasy version Ubuntu.
For more info check the Easy Peasy wiki page by clicking here.

Reyne Down Retribution!

I’d just got myself the best of Australian Crawl and I’d tweeted saying that I didn’t really understand some of the words to the songs because of singer James Reyne unusual singing style. He sings in a bizarre accent that makes it hard to decipher the songs lyrics sometimes.

It lead me to go off on a tangent. Firstly to check the spelling of his surname, then onto Wikipedia for some interesting facts about him (like he was born in Nigeria). It said that his son appeared in Neighbours. I clicked on his sons name to see what character in Neighbours he played, and when…when I was presented with this page…

Ooh, that's not nice!

Somebody out there obviously does NOT like Jaime Robbie Reyne. Naughty, naughty 🙂

Just in case you are having trouble reading it, under the description of the article it describes Jaime as an Australian “jerk, asshole, wanker”.

Under “Acting Career” it reads “Jaime is a shit actor”, and under “Music Career” it reads “Jaime is a shit musician”. Whoops!