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That’s the remains of the bomb that went off in the tube station this morning. It was a dud, though a number of people were superficially hurt. It could have been lethal.

There’s something very effing weird about this one. Initially, they didn’t raise the terror threat level at all. Then suddenly May comes out and cranks it up to the highest. I heard she sounded shook up. Who knows? We’re safe as anywhere, down here in our rural corner of Old Blighty. Nobody bombs sheep.

By the way, that’s a bucket in a ‘forever bag’. Do you have these things? Supermarkets are forbidden to give us free bags now; they’re required to charge 5p (which they pass on to charity, I think). Or, for 10p, most sell a much sturdier ‘forever bag’ that they will replace when it wears out.

This boneheaded move put at least one bag manufacturer out of business, adds a definite level of pain-in-the-assery to our weekly shop as we are forever collecting bags and moving them around, and means we have to buy bags for our small kitchen rubbish bin instead of re-using shopping bags. It’s just so emblematic of what’s wrong with our nannying classes.

A bomb on the tube in a forever bag. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Britain 2017.

Have a good weekend!

September 15, 2017 — 9:01 pm
Comments: 22



Here’s a bit o’ fun that came across my FB today: an interactive map of spooky London stuff. Hauntings, disasters, unsolved murders. It’s worth clicking around – some of the short items have links to longer articles. Very interesting, if you like that sort of thing.

Where we used to live, near Crystal Palace, is off the map. That is, the map isn’t there, but there are still markers in the general area. Looks like we’re all clear. Nobody’s dug up the bodies in the back garden yet.

They’ve gotten the data from a variety of sources, many of them worth checking in their own right. Like the Paranormal Database and Mysterious Britain (which appears to be down for maintenance at the moment).

I love a good ghost story. Not sure why; I’m not a believer. I’m as psychic as a potato. I guess maybe in the back of my mind, if one inexplicable thing is possible, they all are.

September 14, 2017 — 9:00 pm
Comments: 9

What’s this? What’s this?


One of the particular pleasures of this show (the one we went to over the weekend) are the old tools. Several long rows of vendors selling old carpentry tools, car parts, gas cans, garden seats. Bunch of rusty junk, but often cheap and lots of fun.

The farm tools, like the ones above, are particularly interesting. They tend to be regional, locally manufactured (perhaps even by a village blacksmith) and intended for a very particular job. Like…I dunno…prying ant nests out of fields whole (that is a real tool I saw once, though I don’t see an example there).

Problem is, with many of these tools, nobody has the slightest idea what they were intended to do. The old boys have died out. We often ask, we sometimes get an answer, but more often not.

See if you can figure any of these out. Don’t try it from the little version: here’s a color pic (about a meg). The handles often provide the best clue.

There won’t be a quiz later, though. Just to break the suspense, I only know what a couple of these things were for.

September 13, 2017 — 9:24 pm
Comments: 21

I’m a steamroller, baby


Not just one steamroller. I bet there were ten, at least. Great big things.

We stood and watched them pass and the earth — I swear — dipped under a couple of them, like a fat man moved across a wood floor. This is solid ground that has been passed over by these things dozens of times, and they still left tracks.

This was the last country show of our season. Weather was predicted to be rainy, so some of the exhibitors ducked out at the last minute. That’s kind of worrying, to be honest. When these events decline, even for perfectly explicable reasons, sometimes it causes a chain reaction of decline. Several of our favorite events have vanished in the last few years, and several more have shrunk.

Expecting a big blow tonight. Not Irma-sized, obviously, but chilly and miserable. We’ve had fires at night for a week. September, huh! Glad everyone from Florida is still with us…!

September 12, 2017 — 8:38 pm
Comments: 12

This again.

Ugh. September 11 falls on a weekday again this year. I don’t usually post on the anniversary — I’ve already said everything I wanted to say about it. On the other hand, it feels wrong to post about silly things on this day, so I just give it a miss.

Don’t mean to be a drama queen, though. Feel free to talk about Irma or your weekend or whatever in the comments.

September 11, 2017 — 8:50 pm
Comments: 22

Dead Pool Round 101: I think. It goes so quickly these days.

Carl takes dick again, this time with Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, once head of the Roman Catholic Church in Britain. I think I speak for us all when I say we welcome Carl in our midst and aren’t the least put off by his spooky-ass lifetime streak of dick-winning.

Queue up! Queue up and pick your favorite! And could somebody please explain why that’s not pronounced “kyoowee-yoowee” or “kayway” or “kweeyoo” or something?

0. Rule Zero (AKA Steve’s Rule): your pick has to be living when picked. Also, nobody whose execution date is circled on the calendar. Also, please don’t kill anybody. Plus (Pupster’s Rule) no picking someone who’s only famous for being the oldest person alive.

1. Pick a celebrity. Any celebrity — though I reserve the right to nix picks I never heard of (I don’t generally follow the Dead Pool threads carefully, so if you’re unsure of your pick, call it to my attention).

2. We start from scratch every time. No matter who you had last time, or who you may have called between rounds, you have to turn up on this very thread and stake your claim.

3. Poaching and other dirty tricks positively encouraged.

4. Your first choice sticks. Don’t just blurt something out, m’kay? Also, make sure you have a correct spelling of your choice somewhere in your comment. These threads get longish and I use search to figure out if we have a winner.

5. It’s up to you to search the thread and make sure your choice is unique. I’m waayyyy too lazy to catch the dupes. Popular picks go fast.

6. The pool stays open until somebody on the list dies. Feel free to jump in any time. Noobs, strangers, drive-bys and one-comment-wonders — all are welcome.

7. If you want your fabulous prize, you have to entrust me with a mailing address. If you’ve won before, send me your address again. I don’t keep good records.

8. The new DeadPool will begin 6pm WBT (Weasel’s Blog Time) the Friday after the last round is concluded.

The winner, if the winner chooses to entrust me with a mailing address, will receive an Official Certificate of Dick Winning and a small original drawing on paper suffused with elephant shit particles. Because I’m fresh out of fairy shit particles.

September 8, 2017 — 6:00 pm
Comments: 92

One that got away


I’m going to propose a law — let’s call it Weasel’s Law — which states that the very first time you look for something on eBay, you will find a splendid example of that thing, better than any subsequent example you will see, even if you look and look. And the Corollary: it will go for reasonable money and, like an idiot, you won’t buy it.

When I was grinding up old watercolors over the weekend, I got to wondering how much mullers were going for on eBay, and I found this beautiful little object. It is a tiny Georgian hand blown blue glass muller, about three inches high. In the days of powdered wigs and beauty spots, it was used to prepare makeup at m’lady’s dressing table.

Here’s the description from the seller:

This little glass muller is two and three-eighths inches high and the base is just under two inches in diameter.

It was hand blown from Bristol Blue-Glass and dates from 1700s England. The dead-flat base is honed to create friction during the grinding, and the top where the pontil was is simple cut off and polished.

Some types of pan make-up were made in the household of the lady who wore it, and the ingredients (often containing white lead!) would be put onto a small glass or marble sheet. The muller would be placed on the ingredients and spread with downward pressure and circular movements until it formed a fine paste with the base medium, which was some type of fat. The make-up could then be applied immediately.

This would go nicely with the patch-stand already in your collection!

Yes, you may see it in color. Isn’t it a pip?

When I first spotted it, the price was hovering around £14. Later, though, someone must have put in a pretty high bid, because every time I upped mine his automagically topped it. In the end, I let it go for £27. I just couldn’t see paying so much for a tiny, precious object I’d be terrified to use. Even though it’s less than most brand new ones.

Okay, that’s enough art sperging for one week. Tomorrow, we have Dead Pool Round Whatever. Back here, 6 sharp, getcher favorite soon-to-be stiff!

I leave you with this picture of Cornellisen’s painting grinding room back in the day:


September 7, 2017 — 9:17 pm
Comments: 28

You’re welcome!


Do we use the word “japanning” in the States? See, I’ve always been a Winsor & Newton kind of gal, and they’re a British company that sells japanned watercolor boxes, so I’m unsure of the origins. Well, anyhoo, it’s a durable, waterproof, shiny black coating on (usually) metal. Early car parts were sometimes japanned, for example.

It’s called ‘japanning’, by the way, because it was in imitation of Japanese black lacquerware. Proper lacquer is done with sap from the lacquer tree, duh. Here’s how Wikipedia describes it: “The sap of the lacquer tree, today bearing the technical description of “urushiol-based lacquer,” has traditionally been used in Japan. As the substance is poisonous to the touch until it dries, the creation of lacquerware has long been practiced only by skilled dedicated artisans.”

My new watercolor box is japanned (Brit style), and before it came, I had no idea how damaged it might be, so I set out to see if I could learn the secrets of re-japanning.

Viola! I give you A Handbook On Japanning, 1913 edition. It turns out, it’s just shellac and pigment baked in a 300° oven. No, I haven’t tried it yet. My box doesn’t need it. But I’m itching to japan something.

I’m a huge fan of shellac. Big, big fan. Shellac is not as common here, go figure, but I do have sources. It has a bad reputation among artists because it’s yellow, but I have samples that are upwards of 35 years old and, yes, they’re yellow…but no yellower than the day I first applied it. Same is certainly not true of linseed oil or damar varnish.

Anybody want to japan a thing and get back to me?

September 6, 2017 — 9:52 pm
Comments: 18

The grind…


My paintbox came with some old watercolor pans. I hadn’t intended to rehabilitate them — they were dusty, crusty old bricks — but I started totting up how much it would cost to replace them and I relented.

Some of the pans were nearly used up. There were paints from several different manufacturers spanning many years. In other words, whoever owned this box before me painted a lot. Like, a real lot. That makes me feel a bit funny. I wonder if this box will land back on eBay some day, anonymous again.

Watercolor, in theory, is infinitely re-wettable. Some people even believe the old materials are preferable. Not me; we’ve gotten better at manufacturing all sorts of things in our day, and I believe artificial pigments are among ’em. Particularly during and just after the War, there were some pretty shitty art materials on the market. But, hey, a half pan of cadmium red alone was going to cost £7, so let’s grind.

I sperged at length about making paint earlier this year. To rehabilitate watercolor, you really only need to smash it up with water but, since I decided for some reason not to bring my muller across the pond, that was easier said than done. All’s I had was a palette knife. I managed it in the end but it took some elbow grease and bent my favorite knife.

The recipe above is from L. Cornelissen and Son, a good old fashioned mid-Nineteenth C. London colorman. That’s what art shops were called back in the day, when you bought pigments and made your own. The paint tube (and therefore pre-manufactured paint) was invented about the time Cornelissen opened his shop and it took a while to catch on. (Incidentally, no paint tube, no Impressionism. Probably).

Well worth looking around their site. They still sell all the stuff! More paint recipes at the link, too.

Notice honey is one of the ingredients. It adds wettability and a certain slight gooiness. I had to add a bit to my grind, as these sad old paints were…whatever the total opposite of gooey is. Desiccated, I guess.

I suspect that Winsor and Newton, at least, still uses honey (or sugar syrup) in some of their colors, because I once had cockroaches attack a painting of mine back in my student apartment days. They neatly ate off the burnt sienna parts and left the rest. Weird.

p.s. That spooky bastard Carl has won another dick. That means a new Deadpool this Friday.

September 5, 2017 — 5:43 pm
Comments: 8



My new paint box. Why, sure you can see it in color. Hey, I had to have one to fit into my nice new leather map case, nay?

Yeah, given the choice between making art and fooling around with art supplies GIVE ME ART SUPPLIES! GIVE ME! NOW!

It’s not new, of course. I had to have something appropriately old and funky. Somehow, this was my first foray into the sinkhole of “vintage” art supplies on eBay.

I mean, there’s some awfully cool stuff in there, and some awfully old stuff, and some terrifyingly expensive stuff, sometimes all three at once. And then there was the pockmarked old Winsor and Newton field painting box that some dang fool was trying to get hundreds for. Because vintage.

As if. It looked exactly like one I bought in the Seventies, but more banged up. (Hm. I wonder where my one got to?)

Anyway. This one wasn’t too expensive and — YES! — it fits perfectly, with room for a watercolor block.

Pff! I guess I have to paint stuff now.

September 4, 2017 — 9:33 pm
Comments: 6