#SaturdaySix March 2018: #Sketchulence, Jaws, Shandling’s Zen & more!

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Beware the #SaturdaySix of March! This is my latest monthly round-up of six things that are inspiring me right now. And I’d love to know – what are you finding inspirational, right this minute?

1: Sketchulence

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Introducing #Sketchulence, a home for sketches, scribblings, scrawlings, art, photography and musings, created or curated by – in a very real sense – me! Over the past year or so, I’ve been delighted to get back into regular drawing, after way too many years with just the occasional doodle. “Better to keep the creative muscles moving rather than sitting and waiting for the great stuff to arrive.” So says David Byrne in a great Guardian interview this week. This is definitely true of my return to frequent drawing. The more I sketch, the more easily the lines flow out. 

The idea occurred to me to set up a feed for sharing my drawings – my #sketchulence, if you will. This being the social media age, within an hour or so I’d drawn the logo (see top of post) and set up the following two accounts:

Please do consider checking them out! 

2: The Tao of Shandling

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“Give more. Give what you didn’t get. Love more.” I love these words. You could live your entire life by them and not go far wrong. These words were scrawled in the journal of dearly departed comedian Garry Shandling, and shared recently on Instagram by his close friend, the filmmaker Judd Apatow. I’m excited that Apatow is about to delve deeper into these journals via a new HBO documentary: The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling.  

I first heard about Shandling’s journals via a 2016 podcast chat with Apatow. I wrote at the time:

Judd Apatow says of Shandling: “Garry was a Buddhist and really believed in trying to get rid of your ego and non-attachment. His writings are all about that. It’s about letting go and being in the moment. As a comedian, he wrote about that. The most important thing you can do is to not be self-conscious.”

I particularly like Shandling’s simple mantra for overcoming stagefright:

“There’s one page where he wrote: ‘Stage fright.’ Basically what he said was – I’m paraphrasing: ‘There’s no reason to be afraid onstage, because your goal on stage is to be Garry Shandling. Even if you’re nervous, you’re already Garry Shandling, so you’ve attained your goal. So just be Garry Shandling. That’s all that you can do, so why do you even have to think about it? Because you are Garry Shandling.’”

While it is unlikely in the extreme that you are (or anyone that might be reading this is) Garry Shandling, you are most definitely you. All you are is you. All you can do is be you. And that is all that you need to be.

3: Burgess birthday selection

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The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess is one of Twitter’s good guys (and no doubt one of life’s good guys, too). His Twitter feed is an endlessly good-natured celebration of the joys of music, coffee and life in general. Every morning he shares a #TimsBreakfastBanger music selection. Last Sunday (4 March 2018) was my birthday. I was delighted that the good Mr Burgess responded to my request for a birthday music recommendation (not necessarily birthday themed). He selected The Charlatans’ lovely 2017 song Spinning Out, describing it as a “mellow Sunday kind of sound.” Thank you, sir!   

4: JAWS: Impossible to overpraise!

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The genius that is Jaws can never be overpraised. The excellent Bitter Script Reader revisited this theme just the other day.   

Here’s a good experiment. Watch JAWS. Track all the light moments, the humor and the levity. Notice it in no way disrupts the tension of the man-eating shark.

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Bitter Script Reader’s tweet struck a chord with me. I replied:

Yes! I finally got to see Jaws on the big screen a few years back, and was delighted and surprised by the experience of seeing it with a large audience. So much more humour and laughter than I remembered, but expertly balanced with the tension and horror. Cinematic perfection.

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If you’ve not seen Jaws in a while – or, even better, if you’ve never seen it at all – please consider giving it a rewatch (or a first-time watch). Jaws is never the wrong answer.

5: Mysterious Lewes Sketchulence

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Returning to #sketchulence, I found this lovely example of the artform in a junk shop in Lewes the other day. This dog-eared print depicting a curious and inspired take on the history of military uniforms is delightful to my eye. The playful line, the gorgeous colours, the improvised and unfinished feeling to the whole thing. As if the artist’s hand was guided by nothing save purest inspiration in the moment. If you zoom in very closely, it appears to be signed by one Janet Archer. Information about an illustrator named Janet Archer can be found online, but it is sketchy in the extreme. It may not even be the same Janet Archer. I’d love to find out when this #sketchulence was produced. My wife reckons mid-1950s (as it’s reminiscent of fafshion illustration of the era). I’d go late-1960s (the focus on militaria; touches like the decidedly bright colours and the hussar’s plumage make me think this was produced in the psychedelic era, possibly while Small Faces or Cream albums spun in the background). If anyone out there might know anything of this mysterious Janet Archer, please do get in touch!

6: Of Brexitulent stampage

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Twitter chats can take you in the most unexpected and most wonderful directions. Typically late to the party, a few weeks back, I came across the Brexit stamp pictures (do these qualify as what some might term a “meme”?). I thought one of them (the bottom right stamp) looked not unlike my friend Russ Jones’ former avatar. I tweeted him about it. Russ’ reply took us straight to the world of Frasier, via the lovely Peri Gilpin! What’s the most interesting unexpected direction in which a Twitter chat (or even a real life one) has taken you of late?

#SaturdaySix March 2018: Done! Now please let me know – what is giving you inspiration in the here and now?

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