Me Other

hable despacio por favor

I’ve been trying to learn a little Spanish before going on holiday. I have no illusions that a few weeks of cramming will enable me to walk alongside the Rio Guadalquivir reading Lorca in the original – or even make small talk about the weather – but at least it might give me a starting point when reading menus and trying to find the right bus. My vestigial French and Latin seem to be even less useful than I expected, although trying to learn the verb forms in the present tense did give me flashbacks of doing my amo amas amat, amamus amatis amant.

I’ve been using an excellent open-source javascript flashcard program called jMemorize. You gotta love the open-source people.

EDIT: I just realised I that I even got the title of this post wrong. That doesn’t bode well for me developing mad skillz in conversational Spanish.

Culture Other

MAKE, folk art, and

I love MAKE: Blog. Not because I actually want to make my own automated cocktail dispenser or LED tank-top that plays Conway’s Game of Life, or even an iPod Nano arcade cabinet. But I love the fact that there are people who do these things. A while ago, I went to the Folk Archive exhibition at the Barbican, and said:

It was an exhibition of contemporary British folk art, but that term was interpreted extremely broadly; the exhibition includes (some of these are photos rather than the actual object): trade union banners, graffiti, prison art, modified cars, costumes from traditional festivals, prostitute calling cards, sectarian murals, shop signs, painted false nails, football fanzines, protest placards, crop circles, sand castles, flower arrangements…

The sheer range of objects makes it hard to know what to say. Many of them were complete tat – unremarkable examples of mundane objects – but seeing them all together one did get a sense of a huge wealth of amateur, unofficial creativity. I enjoyed it and found it curiously cheering.

Whatever you think of ‘folk art’ as a category, and whether or not you think an iPod Nano MAME cabinet fits that category, what does apply to the stuff at MAKE is “a huge wealth of amateur, unofficial creativity”. People making stuff, in their spare time, because they want to. Love it.

I admit I find it harder to be so cheerfully enthusiastic about the reams and reams of bad poetry on the internet; but even if I don’t want to read the stuff, I’m glad it exists.