Friday, February 25, 2005

The Door

Last night I took home one of the toys (Yo-ho Diablo) from our store to practice with using its CD-ROM. I put some big cushions on the floor to dull the thud of each time I dropped it. My brother wanted to have a go. We shut the door so the noise wouldn’t bother anyone else. I found the CD ROM to be completely useless for this toy. In a huff I went to open the door.

The study door has given us trouble on and off and this time we can’t open it.

I thump on the door so someone will open it from the outside. No reply. So we yell a bit and thump some more. Help arrives but The Door won’t budge from outside. We’re stuck.

My brother tells our Dad to get some wire from his desk – he has been making chain mail using copper wire – but he comes back empty handed saying he doesn’t know what to get. Then our Dad fumbles about with a few screwdrivers in order to get the door knob plate off - not sure what that would achieve – while my brother tells him to leave it alone and starts trying to undo the string from the Diablo to somehow get the door open. I offer to sacrifice a copper, wire bird skeleton* I made some time ago, in order to pick the lock. That isn’t what he had in mind for the wire though, so he keeps on loosening the string for the Diablo. I sit there looking on patiently then…

…My VM tool box! Thank goodness someone moved it in here. I’d left it in the hallway from doing windows the day before. It’s here on the fireplace hearth. There must be something in here to get us out. I’ve got some string already so you don’t need to pull the Diablo apart, I say, and a screwdriver (our Dad is still fumbling away with screwdrivers complaining that all our good ones aren’t available). How about some steel picture cable? Excellent!
[cue music from McGyver!]
My cluey bro fiddles and threads the wire around the door striker, pulls and tugs and slips the striker out to open the door.

I’d been wearing a ‘guardian angel’ pin a friend gave me recently, to work yesterday. It could be just luck but I can’t help thinking maybe the little, golden fella helped.

Bytheway, that credit card trick that you see in movies to open doors is pure nonsense. That would only work if your carpenter is a thickie and forgot to put the door jam in (the thing the door butts up against when you shut it). We already knew this for a while of course - we’re a savvy family, especially my bro, when it comes to these things - but did you?

*Bit of semi-crappy sculpture I did. I could probably do better now :)

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Mark Ryden

Loved Mark Ryden's work from the first time I encountered it on the cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Dangerous’, and pirated on nightclub passes. Excellent stuff, great artistic technique, fantastic juxtaposition of the sweet and innocent with perverted ideas and black humour, would put something of his on wall if I could afford that extravagance*.

*Mark Ryden's work is available at The Outre` gallery on Elizabeth Street, Melbourne.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Natural History (Dead Stuff)

After the storms on Wednesday, my brother and I went beach combing at Williamstown. He has a skull collection, and was hoping to find something more to add it. I looked for interesting objects that I could use in a sculpture or jewellery, like driftwood and shells.

There were lots of washed up blue jelly fish. I rescued beached sea slugs and a couple of shrimp that were still alive.

There were two dead rabbits near the beach. Not clear how they died. The first one had one hind leg ripped off and bits of entrail poking out. We found the limb nearby. No blood but maybe that was washed away by the heavy rain. The second rabbit was bigger with a little blood on one nostril so maybe it had some kind of head trauma. It was near the car park.

Amongst the flotsam and jetsam across the beach, were about six dead comorants. No idea why there were so many dead birds of the one species. Perhaps they were juvvies who didn’t know a storm until it hit them, and got washed up afterwards.

So my brother got two new skulls for his collection. It’s not as gory or morbid as it sounds. Sure, you can’t be a squeamish type to collect this sort of thing. Skeletons and skulls are beautiful in their structure and form. We like to approach it from a layman’s scientific point of view. I like attempting to figure out how the animal died by examining the body. It’s more of a post mortem prod than autopsy (I wanted to be a vet once upon a time).

It’s very interesting to makes comparisons between species of bird, to observe to difference between a fox skull and a cat skull (much longer and more intricate nasal cavity in fox), the fusion lines and eye sockets can be compared between a cat and a brush tail possum which have similar sized heads and eyes. Placental versus marsupial, canine versus feline, parrot versus finch.

Answers to some of your possible questions (yes I know, adding this means some people may not comment):

No, we do not, nor ever will, kill anything to obtain these skulls.

Yes we avoid pulling things apart when it’s a fresh corpse. Although we only want the head, most of the time it’s just too much bother to pull/cut it off plus it could get damaged in the process.

Yes we have brought dead bodies home in plastic bags but that isn’t how it started. The first skulls were found in our backyard (birds and a rat) and under the house (semi-mummified cat).

Yes, we’ve seen and smelt animals in the process of decomposition that made us grimace about how disgusting it was. Which is why we try to be as patient as possible with the earthworms and bugs who process the bodies/heads. Recently we were lucky enough to get a small population of the type of beetles used by museums to clean up a corpse. A bird had died in our backyard so we were able to introduce these naturally occurring bugs to some extra material. We avoid touching any of it with our bare hands, until it’s thoroughly cleaned/washed.

No, our parents don’t have a problem with this. They respect that we have enquiring minds. In fact my mother is the one who spotted the fox on a morning walk

No, we would never process the skull of an animal we knew when it was alive / a pet / a failed rescue.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

A lemon isn't a lemon

All pith and no juice, what a dud this particular lemon was!

However, I think to call something a lemon when it's disfunctional, isn't very accurate since lemons are one of the most useful fruit around. You can cook with them in so many styles of cuisine in sweet, sour, savoury. Used as cleansing agents, fresh smelling. Lemonade, lemon tea. Get rid of fishiness from a frying pan, cutting board, or onion/garlic smell, any bad smell on cutting board, knife, or hands by rubbing with fresh lemons. It's all good.

Any suggestions of what a dud thing should be called instead of a lemon?