Monday, May 29, 2006

Da Vinci Code, Poussin, and Arnold Wagner

I haven't read the book, and I won't be going to see the Da Vinci Code movie. It's mainly balderdash and besides, do you really think we Scots want you lot to know that the Holy Grail is buried in the fake wall at Roslin Chapel?

I have very few connections with Roslin, apart from the Robert the Bruce death mask inside the place. My ancestor, McKie, shot the Bruce standard of two crows killed with a single arrow. It's a cute little place, but basing the company that made Dolly the Sheep a stone's throw from the Chapel that boasts the DNA-Helix inspired Apprentice Pillar seems a little, well, stage-managed. Don'tcha think? And isn't it odd that The Queen's bodyguard, at a time of tensions with some Middle Eastern factions, should be a member of the St Clair family, owners of Roslin Chapel?

Anyway, I digress, when I was younger (a long time ago) I read The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail and it had the same imaginitive leaps in the narritive as the Da Vinci Code. I was interested in Rennes Le Chateau, not least because a relative has a house in Rennes, but because that really was an interesting little tale, but 'Et in Arcadia Ego', the painting by Poussin was the thing that most caught my eye because I like that strange painting. I mean, a Sheperdess standing beside two men in Masonic poses pointing to the inscription 'I too am in Paradise' - what is that all about?

So, anyway, Celts, and things mystically Celtic, and my chum, cartoonist Arnold Wagner, author of The Idiots Guide to Cartooning. Where does it all tie-in? Well, Arnold told me a while back he was reading up on the Celts, and I just wondered if he had any room inside that head of his for any more knowledge. If you want to know anything about cartoonists, about cartooning, about pens, about nibs, about just about anything in this business you can ask Arnold and if he isn't too busy, and even often when he is, he'll tell you what he knows. He is a mine of information, and tremendously good-hearted about sharing it with you.

So anyway, Arnold's ill at the moment. Despite this he managed to pop round the boards he frequents and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he even updated his blog (he's that kind of guy). Why, he even apologised to me for not getting round to doing his Cartoonfiend interview on account of - his being ill at the moment. I tell you, they made human beings from better stuff in those days.

I'm about as sure as I can be that this is just another little test that Arnold will come through with flying colours, and just to help him on his way I'm sending modern-day digital prayers and good wishes, and ancient Celtic mystical fluences all the way to the US to wish Arnold a speedy recovery. You know, the www is already a lot duller while he's offline.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Time to Vent

I haven't really had a good rant for a while, so I've stored up one or two little niggles. I'm pissed on behalf of the English at the moment, and their hose-pipe bans. The Blair government privatized the water companies and then did nothing when property-developers were allowed to buy reservoirs which has gone on to cause...yes, a water-shortage, in one of the most miserable rain-soaked little islands on the planet.

Looking after the shareholders first, of course, puts added pressure on the profits and the half-wits haven't reinvested in the basic infrastructure so the tatty old pipes loose hundreds of gallons of water a day - so they impose a hose-pipe ban, whilst continuing to charge the same water rates. Man, this is a great country in which to be utterly incompetent, lob a big FU at the people who pay your wages, and still make a chunk of dough.

My other big bug-bear is those bastard loan companies who try to screw the gullible and the poor into signing away their own, and possibly their children's, future. Day-in- day-out they try to sucker people with unsecured debt into consolidating their loans by putting up their houses as security. I've started muting the TV when those ads come on, for fear of putting my head through the screen.

Don't think I'm not as annoyed as hell about the worsening situation in Iraq and Afghanistan, or this Mexican border business, because I am, but I'm trying to remain calm in order to get some work finished. My one glimmer of hope for international affairs is that it is now just as difficult to find anyone who voted for Blair or Bush, as it was to find anyone who voted for Thatcher, and in a few short months her own people kicked her the hell out.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Spectator Cartoons get worse.

Let me make my position clear on this; I know exactly where I fit into the cartoon firmament. I get paid $800 a cartoon, but often work for less, especially in my home country. I've got work in collections and museums. I have nothing left to prove. I have no need to work for the Spectator, and have nothing to gain from criticising their cartoons - but I'm going to do it anyway.

Mike Heath is the Cartoon Editor of the Spectator, so he ultimately must take the blame for the risible crap they publish, but the cartoonists themselves are actually producing the crap and cashing the cheques - so they aren't blameless. Here's a link to the cartoons: Spectacularly unfunny stuff.

Clearly, there's a problem, or two. Well, they don't pay well - that's a given. But I think there's another problem, and that is the closeness of the Cartoon Editor to the crowd at another direly unfunny publication; Private Eye. The majority of the Eye cartoonists stopped being funny years ago, around about the time most of them hit retirement age, and yet they are nodding to indicate they wish to 'stay on'. And all the same unfunny-cartoonists' names crop up with depressing regularity in the Spectator. The effect of this is similar to the problems the British sit-com experienced when Terry and June was given air-time, namely, that aspiring youngsters mimicked what was already being bought. So not only is the Spectator stuffed with crap old cartoons, but it's also attracting crap new cartoons as the 'beginning' cartoonists out there copy both the look, and the parochial humour of the publication.

Here's the sort of cartoon you won't find in the Spectator, that is until one of their favourite 'cartoonists' produces a variation of it:

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Defrag My Puny Brain.

My God! I forgot my password to this blog all day yesterday. I keep all my passwords in my head. For some reason they store in that normally safe area I reserve for literary quotes and allusions 'She was an outstanding light heavyweight with a commanding eye and a square-jaw' (Mulliner Nights, P.G. Wodehouse). But it vanished completely. I was flumuxed.

I am doing quite a bit extra these days, but it can't be work-related. The Cartoon Fiend blog (brilliant interview from Brian Fies, author of Mom's Cancer) isn't really work, it's fun, and although I'm faffing about with Java to turm my Mezzotint adaptation into an actual online book (literally), I didn't write the code, I'm just tweaking the easy to manipulate bits.

So I reckon all the information is just becoming a little more jumbled-up in the old noggin, so I need to defrag it. I'm going to write down everything I know (it'll take hours) and see if that helps compartmentalise everything back into place. Lord knows I'll be forgetting my own name next.


Aubrey Bottinghole III.

Here are a few static Mezzotint pages for you Ludites:

(You know the drill, click to see larger pics)