29 September 2007

Song for the day

More here.

Some good advice from Steve

In any given situation just think 'What would Caravaggio do?'

I want the t-shirt.

26 September 2007

Opening conversations

A local version of this would not be too hard to do, not that there's any point.

24 September 2007

The best bands in the world

The best band in the world is the Fall. The second is the Terminals.

These are indisputable facts. Get used to it.

More background notes

  • The avant-garde costumes and masks used to repel the Mayan soldiers are based on those designed by Sophie Taeuber and Marcel Janco for the Cabaret Voltaire in 1916. The nonsense poem is by Hugo Ball, founder of the cabaret (which was the start of the Dada movement).
  • The Taino (who I probably should've called the Arawaks, which is the name they're more commonly known by) did trade with the Mayans, and the Spanish established primitive communication with the Mayans using them as translators.
  • Marina is very loosely based on Cortes's mistress. Of course, the historical Marina was part of a group of female slaves Cortes got as part of some dodgy deal in a completely different Mayan city (the Spanish were too wussy to land at Tulum), whereas I've made her an independent woman with a gift for languages (just because I can).
  • The Totonacs were Cortes's main ally. The Mexica (the Aztecs) ruled their empire by leaving the local rulers in place but exacting a large tribute, which the Totonacs (who had to provide a particularly large tribute) bitterly resented. They lived on the coast, and were a lot more relaxed than the puritanical Mexica.
  • The Mayans were very receptive to foreign influence. Many cities show the influence of other cultures on their art and architecture.
  • A smallpox vaccination programme would be very easy to set up. All you need is a sharp stick and a sample of smallpox.
  • I'm pushing it a bit to set out in 1482, discover the New World and do all that stuff, and still get back before Leonardo da Vinci set off for Milan, but hey.

Fourth instalment

Here is a link to the third instalment. When we last saw our heroes, they were doing the bolt from the Totonac city of Cempoala after failing to persuade the priests out of human sacrifice. Click on a pic to see it full size.

23 September 2007


22 September 2007

Yay Spring!

20 September 2007

For posterity (in the unlikely event there is one)

I'm sorry. I'm really, really sorry, but what can we do? The world's run by idiots who believe in fairy tales.

18 September 2007


A friend of mine pointed me to this post (yeah, yeah, so it's getting a bit hall of mirrors). It's nice to see that whoever-it-is has been thinking about these things.

For the spooks

The form also asks 'Do you wish to discuss your answers to any of the questions in this form with an officer of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service?'

I ticked 'Yes' and 'At work'.

16 September 2007

Nazi victory!

The Commies reinforce Moscow

Successful Nazi blitzkrieg!

The invasion begins

11 September 2007

Third instalment

Here are links to the first instalment, the second instalment, and some background notes. When we last saw our heroes, they'd been invited to dinner in a Mayan city and then attacked. Click on a pic to see it full size.

06 September 2007

Reading in the crazy tiled room

Steve is reading Philip K Dick, 'Nazism and the High Castle', 1964.

Andy's show

Andrew McLeod has given us another visionary show, lifesize waxwork figures of him and Liz Maw:

We also checked out Matt Hunt's recent work:

05 September 2007

Some crappy pics

A mix of old and new, in various stages of completion (click on a pic to see it full size):

04 September 2007


I went to see Waxworks, a silent German Expressionist film from 1924, last night. I really enjoyed it, especially the sets and costumes. Basically, an out of work poet is hired by the proprietor of a fairground booth to write stories about his waxworks figures: the Caliph of Baghdad, Ivan the Terrible, and Jack the Ripper. In the first story, he's a baker and married to the proprietor's daughter, the most beautiful woman in Baghdad. While the Caliph tries to woo the wife, the baker tries to steal the Caliph's wishing ring. Baghdad looked like a cross between Gaudi and Dr Suess. In the second story, the poet is a nobleman about to marry the proprietor's daughter. Ivan the Terrible, paranoid about assassination, gets the bride's father to take his place on the way to the wedding, and doesn't like it when people seem to be upset that the bride's father got killed. He abducts the bride and arrests the groom, but ends up going mad. The sets are very constrained, evoking the paranoid atmosphere very effectively. The last story was a dream sequence where the poet dreams that Jack the Ripper comes to life and chases him and the proprietor's daughter around the fairground. It was all multiple exposures and very cool.

03 September 2007

Something in Wellington to go to

On Wednesday, 5 September, at 5.30 pm at the Peter McLeavey Gallery, there is the opening of an exhibition of new work by Andrew McLeod.

To be precise, it is an exhibition of 'exciting new things and madnesses'. How can you go past that?

Graphic novel background notes

  • Picabia's wealth did come from a Cuban sugar plantation. He was very successful until Dada fell apart in the early 20s. He did indeed end up poor and critically maligned, though his reputation has been rehabilitated somewhat recently (one day I'll set out why I reckon he's the greatest artist of the 20th century and why I reckon Duchamp stole all his ideas). Several of Picabia's contemporaries remarked that he was a physical coward (except for when he was behind the wheel of a car). He much preferred egging other people on than doing things himself.
  • Claiming that Piero invented double-entry book-keeping is a bit of a stretch. History records that it was Luca Pacioli, who was Piero's pupil. However, Pacioli was accused of plagiarising Piero, and so I've assumed Pacioli stole the idea for double-entry book-keeping from Piero. It's also possible to interpret Piero's Baptism as being about the mystical significance of accounting.
  • Columbus fluked the right route to the New World. You need to hit the right latitude for the right prevailing winds.
  • We do indeed get barbecues, hammocks, and smoking tobacco for pleasure from the Taino. According to Peter Martyr, 'It requires so little to satisfy them that, in that vast region [Hispaniola, which I've named Libertaria], there is always more land to cultivate than is needed. It is indeed a golden age, [for] neither ditches nor hedges nor walls enclose their domains; they live in gardens open to all, without laws and without judges.' They were completely wiped out within decades of the Spanish's arrival.
  • Caciques (chiefs) and bohiques (priests) would take cohoba to cure illnesses, see the future, and talk to the gods. Before taking it, they would ritually purge themselves using specially carved wooden sticks. On cohoba, things appear upside down, movements and gestures are reversed, and you see shifting and intense kaleidoscopic colours. At the beginning of time, the gods overlaid the world with layers of geometric design that can only be seen on cohoba. Destructive spirits rip holes in this fabric and cause illness, crop failure, and hurricanes etc.
  • Although the Classic Mayan civilisation had collapsed a long time ago, there were still Mayan cities when the Spanish arrived. The Spanish did, on one occasion, get invited to dinner and then attacked. You'll find out why in the next instalment.
  • My working title is The New World: A revenge fantasy.
NB: If you click on the label 'graphic novel' you'll see the first two instalments. The third will probably not be posted till early next week, the way things are going.

02 September 2007


I've added some labels to posts. Of course, for them to be of any real use, I should go through and label every post. However, as this is the 599th post on this blog, that may not happen any time soon.

Practical matters

I had a very good day yesterday: out for breakfast, up the Coast for a friend's kids' third birthday party (barbie and bubbly), out for dinner, off to the flicks, and finally to Happy for a Stumps gig. It was all good.

I had a couple of conversations, one at the barbie and one at Happy, about artistic practice. I am convinced that the most important thing is that you do what you want to see, not what you think other people want to see.

This year has been a dead loss for painting. If I were to only count finished paintings, I'd've done bugger all all year. However, I don't only count finished paintings. I see the graphic novel I'm working on, the book I did for the twins, the lecture at the Film Archive, this blog, and various other activities (even aspects of my day job) as all part of a whole. That whole is my practice.

I'm only just starting out. But I hope that, when I'm done, that whole will have a well-defined shape – and that other people will get something out of it as well.

There's only one way to find out...
visitors since 29 March 2004.