Flour Power – Make Loaf Not War.

A Man’s Heart.

In the spirit of Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon, this week I’ve made my own version of Banksy’s “Make Love Not War”. The original also conveniently pictures the protestor holding a bunch of flowers, helping me to seamlessly continue my puntastic bread based theme.  It’s not that I am against making love, but if the love runs out you need an alternative to war, and I think bread is the logical choice.

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It is said that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. So I hypothesise, that this in turn leads to love. Subsequently more bread, and then more love. A circle of sustainability, which avoids war and the keeps love alive.

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To those of you that don’t believe that love can run out, I’d like to cite Eddie Izzard’s modern essay entitled “Cake vs Death”. Similar to love vs war, cake is the obvious choice, however the warden clearly says “We’re going to run out of cake at this rate” after only two costumers have chosen cake. I rest my case.

Potentially this is all a half-baked idea, but I think it has legs. On that note, I’ve been wondering this week whether the phrase “It has legs” refers to wine and so suggesting an idea of quality, or actual legs; suggesting the idea has the ability to lead somewhere.  In truth neither are correct, and it refers to stability and endurance. Highly disappointing. Next week we explore the origins of “On that note” and “Pull your finger out”. There’s a cliffhanger for you…

28 Plays Later.

If you’ve read my previous blog posts you’ll know I have been taking part in a challenge to write a play every day of February. I’m pleased to say I’ve not been disqualified yet, and here are some recent highlights…

Last Request – a play that had to adhere to the following rules (which are in themselves better than what I actually wrote):

1. You must have 4 characters in the play – and the gender for 3 of them must be undefined! You can add two more – but only if they are not human.
2. One of the characters plays the banjo – really badly, and one character only speaks in rhyming couplets (can be the same if you like).
3. There must be a minimum of 3 pauses in the play, one of them must be a super long pause (think Pinter to the power of Pinter).
4. One of the characters has had relations with everybody else in the play (as well as characters that are mentioned but not seen).
5. Every line of dialogue must have one of the following: either 7 words, 12 words, 22 words, 29 words, 56 words or 99 words (you can punctuate as you like).
6. The play will contain three acts/scenes, but you can add one more if it’s a dream.
7. At some point, everybody on stage falls down to the ground.
8. Each scene/act must contain one person being told off for shouting (even though they didn’t shout), and another person revealing a big secret (even though it may not be true).
9. Each scene/act must have at least 10 lines of dialogue and 10 lines of actions.
10. Oh – and you must pick one letter of the alphabet (not Q, X or Z) for each character (each one can have a different one or the same) that they are not allowed to use in their dialogue at all.

Gut Wrenchread for yourself.

Date Nightcheck it out.

On the fence – Worrying doesn’t change anything. Is the same true of taking offence? Can you not just feel annoyed by something, rather than having to invest time and energy in taking offence all the time?

March on. 

Next month is all about getting fit. In the absence of having to write a play each day, I have decided to attempt writing a song each day instead. To avoid a collection of musical nonsense there is one rule: no lyrics, no song. And on that note, here is something from this week without lyrics. Let’s just call it an idea.

Bon Iver. 

And in final news, I saw Bon Iver live this week, and it was amazing! People seem to either love them, or have never heard of them. If you are in the latter camp, then here is an introduction for you:

Date Night.

Challenge: Write a play about dates.

ACT I – SCENE 1

JAMES IN A LOUNGE, CHARLOTTE AUDIBLE BUT IN BEDROOM  OFF STAGE.
James: Charlotte, ready to go?
Charlotte: Yes, I will be.
James: So… no? (pause) I’ll have a drink don’t worry. It’s fine. No rush.
Charlotte: You sort yourself, don’t worry about me.
James: That’s what I… (pause) Did you want a drink?
Charlotte: No it’s fine, I don’t want a drink.
James: Ok. (pause) Taxi’s in 10.

JAMES GETS A BEER. OPENS THE BEER AND STARTS DRINKING. SITS IN THE CHAIR. STANDS UP PACES A LITTLE. REPEATS WHILST CHECKING PHONE AND WATCH A FEW TIMES.

James: Charlotte, ready hun? He’ll be here any minute.
Charlotte: Don’t rush me.
James: No, no rush, just… letting you know.
Charlotte: Good. You try having kids and then looking good in your clothes!
James: You look great.
Charlotte: You’re not even in the room!
James: No, but you always look great. I’m sure whatever youare wearing looks lovely.
Charlotte: Lovely, thanks for that. I’ll just wear my underwear shall I?
James: Sounds good to me love. Let’s go!
Charlotte: Shut up. Not helping. Check the babysitter knows about the food in the fridge.
James: Yes, I’ve told her.
Charlotte: Ok, then just the shut up part. I can’t get ready with you in the background nattering away.
James: Ok, ok. Sorry.

JAMES RETURNS TO PACING AROUND. CLEARLY GETTING STRESSED ABOUT THE IMMINENT TAXI. GETS TEXT MESSAGE FROM THE TAXI.

James: Taxi’s here!
Charlotte: Well he’ll have to wait.
James: But….
Charlotte: He’s early.
James: He’s not early. He said he’s been waiting outside for 5 minutes.
Charlotte: You always do this!
James: Do what?
Charlotte: Order a taxi before I’m ready.
James: It’s Saturday night, you can’t just call a taxi. Table is booked for 10 minutes time. I did say.
Charlotte: Tell him to wait.
James: He’s been waiting.
Charlotte: Shhh.

JAMES GETS HIS PHONE OUT AND CALLS TAXI.

James: Steve. I’ll be 5. Sorry mate.
Steve: Fine. I’m here.
James: Ok. sorry. I’ll be quick.
HANGS UP.
James: He’s waiting. But we need to leave.
Charlotte: Fine, guess you get your wish!
James: Errmmm. Ok? What?
CHARLOTTE APPEARS IN HER UNDERWEAR.
James: I don’t know…
Charlotte: Yes?
James: We’re going for dinner. It’s not a strip club! Please just choose something. I don’t care..
Charlotte: Well if you don’t care…
James: Ahhhhh! Seriously!! You know what, it’s fine. Let me put the babysitter in the taxi. We can get a takeaway. You can just stay as you are.

CHARLOTTE WALKS BACK INTO THE BEDROOM WITHOUT SAYING ANYTHING. DAVE ORGANISES WITH THE BABYSITTER AND THE TAXI DRIVER. THEN CALLS THE RESTAURANT VERY APOLOGETIC ABOUT CANCELLING.

James: Ok all sorted., so what do you want eat then?

CHARLOTTE APPEARS BACK IN THE ROOM, DRESSED TO IMPRESS.

Charlotte: Italian. That’s what we booked right?
James: Yeah. Before I cancelled it…
Charlotte: What are you talking about. Let’s get in the taxi. I’m ready, let’s go.
James: I cancelled it.
Charlotte: What? What are you talking about?

JAMES PUTS HIS HEAD IN HIS HANDS. SIGHS LOUDLY.

BLACK OUT.

CURTAIN.

The meaning of loaf, the universe and everything.

This week we go back, way way back. Back to the beginning. Back before there was The Man with Bread on his Face, aka Captain Breadbeard, who was previously known as Doughface, there was a kitchen with some ingredients and God – the baker of all things.

So what do we really know about the beginning? Here are some quotes…

“In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

“In the beginning God created cake and bread. Now the bread was formless and raw. And God said, “Let there be a light and airy dough,” and there was a dough. God saw that the light and airy dough was good, and he separated an egg from the yoke, added flour, yeast, sugar, salt, olive oil and water to create more light dough. God called the light dough “tasty” and the stodgy and dense ones he called “experiments.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” The Man with Bread on His Face, The Baker’s Bible. 

Ok, just one more quote (a little deeper this time) and then photos of me with bread ingredients on my face to balance it out. I’ve been thinking this week about the essential ingredients in creating art and what I can possible contribute of any note – whether that is writing a play, painting a picture or performing a song. Conclusion, if it’s worth anything, it should at least be honest. Beyond that there is a lot of subjective discussion on quality and accuracy, but the fact it is personal and honest cannot be taken away.

“I am calling it the Holy Theatre for short, but it could be called The Theatre of the Invisible-Made-Visible: the notion that the stage is a place where the invisible can appear has a deep hold on our thoughts. We are all aware that most of life escapes our senses: a most powerful explanation of the various arts is that they talk of patterns which we can only begin to recognize when they manifest themselves as rhythms or shapes. We observe that the behaviour of people, of crowds, of history, obeys such recurrent patterns. We hear that trumpets destroyed the walls of Jericho , we recognize that a magical thing called music can come from men in white ties and tails, blowing, waving, thumping and scraping away. Despite the absurd means that produce it, through the con­crete in music we recognize the abstract, we understand that ordinary men and their clumsy instruments are transformed by an art of possession. We may make a personality cult of the conductor, but we are aware that he is not really making the music, it is making him—if he is relaxed, open and attuned, then the invisible will take possession of him; through him, it will reach us.” Peter Brook, The Holy Theatre

 

Honest Ingredients. 

Thanks to Joel, Jackson, Annie, Hannah, Josh, Ben and Willow for administering water, olive oil, salt, sugar, yeast, flour and egg to my beard earlier today. And Andrew for the photos. Official collaborators for this week’s images.

 

Emma’s Dilemma.

And now for something completely different! I wrote a piece a while back about a girl who accidentally turns herself into a sheep. In the name of learning some Abelton basics I brought it to life this week. So, a first draft to share with you…

 

Golden Oldie.

Whilst on the topic (and in a similar vein) next up is the song I wrote for Annie (my wife) before we were going out. I handed it to her on a CD instead of a Valentine’s Day card, and the rest (I’m not sure how exactly!) is history…

 

Phantom Thread.

And finally to say, if you haven’t seen Phantom Thread at the cinema, you should. No spoilers or review here, just to say it is a Paul Thomas Anderson film that you can take your mum to. She might not enjoy it, but you can take her. Unlike his other films, brilliant as they are. Unless your mum likes that sort of film, in which case you can watch those too. To be fair, I can only really speak for my own mother. I should end there, I’m now mostly attempting not to offend mothers. They’re great. I’m married to one in fact. Not my own mother of course, my wife. She became a mother after we met. As one does. Ok, stopping now.

 

 

Gut Wrench

28 Plays Later

Challenge 14: In short, write a play about body parts.

Bonus points: Make the play the most moving, gut wrenching piece of drama ever written, maybe even make yourself weep as you write… but don’t write about illness, decay or death.

Well I got the gut wrenching part at least…

 

ACT I – SCENE 1

 

SCENE TAKES PLACE IN A PHARMACY. SOMEBODY STANDS BEHIND THE CUSTOMER HUGGING HIM BUT IS NOT ACKNOWLEDGED.

Pharmacist: Good morning sir.

Customer: Good (holds breath, and then takes a long breath out). Good morning.

Pharmacist: How can I help today?

Customer: I’ve got this really horrible pain in my stomach. It’s not an upset stomach, so I don’t think it is anything I ate.

Pharmacist: You mean no bowel movements?

Customer: No, I think it would be too painful even if I needed the toilet. It’s quite difficult to move.

Pharmacist: Ok, and who’s is the friend you’ve brought with you.

Customer: No friend. (looks around, not acknowledging the person behind him).

Pharmacist: I see.

Customer: What?

Pharmacist: I see you have a case of the Shawn Michaels.

Customer: The wrestler?

Pharmacist: Very good, you know your stuff.

Customer: But I don’t see how…

Pharmacist: He’s behind you.

Customer: (looks around again, but can’t see him). I really don’t understand.

Pharmacist: It’s more commonly known as gut wrench. The fact it’s Shawn Michaels on your back is not important. It could be any wrestler. Although that does make sense of why it hurts so much.

Customer: But I can’t see him (tries turning repeatedly)

Pharmacist: No, you wouldn’t be able to. That’s kind of how it works. It’s ok though, you’re here and we can get you fixed up and back home soon.

Customer: So what do I need to do?

Pharmacist: Just stand still. (pulls a large wrench from a draw under the counter). Now, this will hurt, but you are already in quite a lot of pain, so maybe you won’t notice? (gets ready to swing the wrench at the Customer, takes a few practice swings)

Customer: Wait! You’re not going to hit me with that?

Pharmacist: With what?

Customer: The wrench?

Pharmacist: Oh right, that. No, I just couldn’t help myself. Plus it makes for a good story with the other pharmacists at the pub.

Customer: (looks blankly).

Pharmacist: You’ve got gut wrench. This is a wrench. Nothing?

Customer:   (in pain, shrugs)

Pharmacist: Hm. I thought it would be funny. Nevermind. All you actually need to do is scream.

Customer: Another joke?

Pharmacist: No joke. Let out a gut wrenching scream and Shawn Michaels will let go of his hold. It’s quite a standard hold actually, so nothing to worry about.

Customer: Ahhhh (screams, but half hearted)

Pharmacist: Again. Louder.

Customer: Ahhhhhhhh (screams, louder but still holding back)

Pharmacist: Once more. This time from the gut.

Customer: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh (screams loud)

Pharmacist: Nearly there, last one. This time not from your diaphragm, from your gut. A gut wrenching scream. Go for it.

Customer: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh (screams even louder than before, then a long pause). Amazing! I feel, feel great again. Thank you so much! What do I owe you?

Pharmacist: Nothing, you’re welcome. Part of the job, I just do it for the gut feeling.

 

CURTAIN.

What are you trying to prove?

Doughface. 

Every superhero has a good back story, and this week we explore the origins of The Man with Bread on his Face, aka Captain Breadbeard. The exact environment and ingredients which lead to the transformation remain unknown, however the process certainly involved our protagonist having to prove himself. Much like being awake or asleep, there exists a transitional or intermediary state, and this is where we discover Doughface. No longer just face, but not quite breadbeard either.

The word doughface usually has negative and political conatations, essentially describing someone who is easily molded by others. However, I would like to claim the phrase back to the light side of the force. Of course, no one wants to be easily manipulated to someone else’s agenda, but I think being open-minded and allowing specific people to influence you is a positive life choice. It is the yeast that can make you better in your chosen discipline, a better collaborator, and ultimately a better human being. Too far?

 

28 Plays Later.

I have continued writing a play each day. I won’t make you read all the plays I have been writing, but here are some highlights…

Femfarce. A play inspired by AC Comic’s Femforce, but written in the style of a farce and in celebration of the 100th year anniversary of women first being given the vote in the UK. The play is called “Femfarce” and the plot is essentially Germaine Greer recruiting a group of women with super powers to finally put men in their place…

“Meet Flush. Forced into a job cleaning toilets but still earning less than her male peers doing the same. But then a freak accident involving a lemon scented urinal block, and she would never be the same again. Superhuman speed and the ability to render any man helpless with her lemon punch, leaving them unable to smell or taste anything but toilet lemon.”

“We will pick up the rest of the team on the way. To the Suffra-Jet!”

Kumma Kia! No quotes, but a summary plot for you… A Korean pop jukebox muscial take on the classic Mumma Mia called Kumma Kia! Staring the music of Britney Spears.

Olympic Services. A new business venture…

Paul: I give you “Olympic Services” (unveils a logo which is essentially the Olympic games logo, but with only 3 of the rings) 

Steve: Right. And what exactly are you going to  be offering?

Paul: Boxing. Fencing. Curling. 

Steve: As in sports training? Equipment? Coaching? What? 

Paul: No, no. Boxing for house moves or gift wrapping presents. Fencing, as in fences for your garden – supply and fit. 

Steve: And let me guess, a hairdressers? 

Paul: Actually no, Curling will be sports training and equipment. (pause) Joking, yes Steve. You’ve got it – a hairdressers. 

 

In other news.

Now to a very first world problem. I’ve been wrestling with which vinyl albums to put up on my office wall. Only eight spaces available. My hipster beard tells me I should choose eight albums that no one else has ever heard of, but Dave Grohl is telling me “I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If you ****ing like something, like it. That’s what’s wrong with our generation: that residual punk rock guilt, like, “You’re not supposed to like that. That’s not ****ing cool.” Thanks Dave.

In truth I would have picked more Bon Iver albums, but I decided 1 album per band. Judge away…

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There’s only one man with bread on his face. 

Thanks to those that sent photos of my potential dopplegangers, spotted this week in Thanet and Annapolis. Have you seen the pretenders? I saw The Proclaimers at Cropredy Folk Festival in 2015, but it doesn’t really count.

 

 

And in final news. 

On Thursday I had a hand sandwich for my lunch…

Captain Breadbeard

A story.

I suddenly became aware of a woman of unknown origami walking towards me. I got as far as a friendly “hello” and she embarked on her introduction. To add context, we were attending a b2b event and although a “work hard, play hard” affair, this was the “work” part of the weekend. Having initially been unable to find me, she had enquired as to my appearance. The description clearly a good one, as she was now standing in front of me.

Said description? She was told to look for a man with bread on his face, and lo and behold, there I was.

Fortunately my bread masked the journey from confusion to wonder on my face. Such a beautifully unintended anagram; a lexicological masterpiece. I’ve oversold it now, but as a lover of words and live art, not to mention a bearded man, it stuck with me.

And hence the title of this blog. Expect more pictures of me wearing a beard made of bread, for now you’ll have to live with the following. Note to Aaron Prentice (aka Beardy Baker) – Fancy a collaboration?  I’ll bring the face if you bring the bread…

 

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A Recipe .

I love cooking (and eating for that matter). Typically I will start with 4 or 5 variations of a recipe, work out the “must-dos” for the dish to retain its name, then experiment with the rest depending on how I’m feeling or what’s in the cupboard.

My plan is to approach this weekly blog in the manner, so I promise not to give a blow-by-blow account of my bowel movements and calorie counts. More of a MOTD2 summary of the week’s events and mind wonderings; a creative journey that begins with me wearing nothing but my pants, much like George and Ben’s journey across Britain in their book Free Country. Just with more clothes, oh and less exercise. And mostly staying at home. Now that I think about it, what I am planning to do is nothing like that all. It’s a good book though if you decide to read it!

 

A week in review.

TFW your colleagues give you a cake in the shape of a gravestone, and it says “You’re dead to us”. Standard behaviour. It is more than a group of employees or even friends, LateSail has become my family over the last 15 years, so a very odd feeling to have left. Feeling the love after a great send off on Tuesday.

What’s next? Well, I have these magic beans… and I’m planning to spend the next few months on a creative journey seeing if any of them are actually magic. I am something of a creative jack-(and the beanstalk)-of-all-trades, master-of-none, so the plan is to hone those skills and see if I can create some financial potential.

 

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The first creative challenge was to sign up to write a play every day in February with 28 Plays Later. So far 3 down, 25 to go! If you are so inclined you can check out my attempt at day 1’s challenge. It’s silly, short and not really ready for to see the light of day…. but here you go.

Next week will include getting my home studio up and running, an audition, more play writing and watching some stand-up. Check back next Sunday.