Saturday, 26 September 2009

Hoarse - Burning Man 2009

I'll write more about my full experience of bring Art to the playa at Burning Man in the fullness of time but here are some notes regarding the Art itself I installed in Deep Playa this year at Burning Man. What an experience!!!

Project Name:

Death might as well shout itself hoarse for all the attention we pay it before its often untimely arrival.
An eternal loop video installation depicting a decaying horse, disturbing at first glance as the image is grim and predominantly about death. Yet the longer one watches, the more one notices the life in the image - flies, bugs, birds, grass, butterflies... All part of the beautiful and natural cycle of life and death. One hears the flies and wind. And every now and then the alarming roar of someone in a car whizzing obliviously past this roadside moment.
The natural lighting in the scene changes slowly
yet dramatically from grim overcast to bright, cheery sunny. As one watches so one’s mood changes with this lighting shift. The longer one sits with the piece the more one recognises the certainty yet peace of death, understanding its place within nature and our own lives.

I love life but i am glad that one day I will die. To die is the greatest adventure. And death, a threshold we cannot peek over before our time. I am content to wait a while longer for that day happily knowing it will come.

Shot in Botswana.

Hal Couzens aka Doctor Lobster

Art placement:
Deep playa – 12:45 and 5000’ from the man

Friday, 28 August 2009

Riding Into the Sunset on a Dead Horse

Hello All,

I am recently finished filming in New Mexico and happy to be returning to London shortly in metaphoric cowboy disguise but before THEN its that time of year again – when I go back to Black Rock City – Burning Man. Home! Yay!

And normally I write a whole long thingummy thang about my mood and expectations for the coming adventure... However this time I will not and mainly because I am super tired as I have been hammering, bashing, plotting, planning and creating Art. I am fulfilling on my last year’s promise to put Art on The Playa this year... There were many moments during the year that made me think I would not do it but at the last (ish) minute I got it all together and an doing it.

Its the video installation piece I exhibited in London in 2007 at the Climate of Change exhibition on London’s Southbank. This time it will be in Deep Playa - out there in the dark awaiting any who dare to stop and listen to its secrets. Its called Hoarse because Death might as wellshout itself hoarse for all the attention we're likely to pay it before its oft-too untimely arrival...

If by any chance you are at Burning Man keep your eyes peeled for this piece I expect it will be out beyond the Temple somewhere...

And other than this I anticipate I will have a totally different experience of Burning Man this year as I will be there with a project. Report on THAT to follow...

Much love

Hal aka Doctor Lobster

In the meantime attached are 2 snaps ... One is of the walk in closet door in my room in Santa Fe. You will clearly see that there is a sign saying ‘Mind the Yeti’... The other is of that very Yeti inside that same closet... I had set this up as a silly joke/trap for curious folk to discover while on the way to the toilet...

Well we had a rather large and good party at this house (very well attended at 430am by the Santa Fe police department) and someone still managed to throw up on the Yeti! I mean there was a sign and everything to just not to that.

More to the point though – what fool would risk throwing up on a Yeti... Not only can they tear you limb from limb but as a shamanic god able to ramble through your sleepytime they can also rip your dreams to shreds... Show them respect! Fear them certainly!

Notes from the Yeti Overlord... Well – every Doctor has a darkside, Dr Jekyll had Mr Hyde, and Doctor Lobster has the Yeti Overlord...

Did I mention I was tired? Yes I am... But if I go to sleep then I might dream and then the Yeti...

Monday, 22 June 2009

Wish Theory Expounded

Wish Theory Expounded

In what seems to have been another equally wonderful lifetime though was only about a year ago, I wrote a small item entitled Something is Going On (and Wish Theory see here). In this, I detailed all the ways I could think of that one could get a wish. It was a pitifully short list. And as I completely believe in the twin powers of Wishing and Bureaucracy I wished to know a) as many ways in which one could have a wish granted and b) what problems, hurdles, red tape and sub-clauses there might be associated with these methods generally and individually.

I opened the forum for audience participation and requested from the readership more suggestions. The response was overwhelming! I’ve lost track if I have any wishes in the bank at the moment but if I do then certainly my wish is to share this list with all you lovely people. Wish moments are more common than faeries but can provide much delight. So if you are on this list I think a lot of you and want you to be equally aware of all the wish-possibilities!

I do love a list. But beyond a list I love sub-dividing it into categories too (this does not apply to my to-do lists)! So, I have, more for my own entertainment divided them into a few substrata. I admit too that I taken a slightly judgemental approach in some of the assignations. By this I intend to cast no aspersions on what may or may not work for others. I am an infant in understanding Wish Theory and merely offer these as the point from which to digress … and as ever I am intensely interested in hearing each of your opinions and more methods.

These are all methods by which, in an instant a ‘Wish’ is attained. It does not really refer to the type of events that occur when one of us mortals says, “Your wish is my command”. Though you might certainly hear that said by a Genie (Djinni) or some such.

As the devil is in the details it is of my opinion that each and every sub clause no matter how minor it may seem should be treated as accurate in achieving a wish’s successful resolution. For example - Traditional #6 does indeed require YOU to kiss the person who found the eyelash and not having them kiss YOU!

1. Evening Star – And you have to sing “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight!”
2. Birthday Wish – There are a lot of sub clauses to this one eg The candles need to be blown out while your eyes are closed and all of them must be extinguished in a single breath. Similarly it will only come true if while cutting the cake the knife makes no noise on the plate. Some people add that one must scream while cutting the cake – though I suspect this was added in order to lessen the chance of the knife being heard on the plate.
3. The Wishbone in a chicken. Two people each wrap a pinky around one bone and pull it apart. The person who has the largest piece gets a wish.
4. Shooting Star.
5. Cutting the wedding cake. You have to do it together of course! Though each of you get a wish.
6. You get a bay-leave in your serving of a meal.
7. Someone finds an eyelash on your face. One version holds that you close your eyes, make the wish, and blow the lash off the person’s finger then to make it come true you have to kiss that person. Assuming the found eyelash is now on the finger of the person who found it… well, others suggest that you and this person press fingers together, pull them apart and whoever’s finger the eyelash remains on gets the wish.
8. a. Throw a penny into a fountain (or wishing well)
b. Throw a penny into a fountain and make a wish when the water clears so you can see your reflection. I subcategorised this because some fountains and wishing wells never clear in this way…
9. If you catch a dandelion ‘parachute’ in your hand, you make a wish then open your hand and blow the seed away. Not as easy as it may seem and the person to offer this added that sometimes they’d discover when they opened their hands that they had not caught one at all! Then spend the rest of the day chasing them trying to make good.
10. What you can also do is pick a dandelion that has bloomed and gone to seed and blow its seeds off… the sub clause on this is that you have to blow ALL the down off it in one puff or else your wish will not come true…
11. Finding the sixpence in the Christmas Pudding.
12. On the first Robin of the Spring
13. On the evening of your birthday, look at the moon and make a wish. A crescent with its tips pointing up means that the moon may withhold your wish. If the tips point down, your wish will spill forth. A full moon signifies a year of good luck.
14. Others claim that you can just wish on the moon… but never through glass and the authority behind that is also someone’s mother so beware this sub clause. Mother’s know much more about wishes than they’re given credit for!
15. This tradition of the Afikoman during Passover is not 100% clear as being a wish but some say it is… you see… a fragment of matzoh is hidden. The children then have to look for it, as they look they may make a wish and the kid who finds it will have his wish granted.
16. If you find a black feather, stick it in the ground so it stands up, and make a wish. If the feather you find is white, stick it into the crack of a tree trunk and walk around the tree as you make a wish. As long as the feather stays in the tree trunk there's a chance your wish will come true.

1. If you sneeze 8 times in a row.
2. If you see 11:11 or 5:55 on a clock. But you have to avert your eyes from the clock until it has changed.
3. a. A ladybird lands on your hand
b. A ladybird lands on your left shoulder
c. If a ladybug lands on you, say “Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home.” If it flies off you wish.
4. If you see a kedyon (I was asked not to reveal this one so I have made an anagram of the ‘thing to be seen’ so you can figure it out for yourself…)
5. When you see 3 birds on a telephone wire.
6. Put a watermelon seed on your forehead and make a wish before it falls off.
7. Make a wish on a new pair of shoes before you wear them for the first time.
8. Hold your breath and make a wish while crossing a short straight bridge (and why not a long straight one if you can hold your breath a long time?)
9. If you see a white horse, you can make a wish, but only before you see its tail!
10. When the clasp on your necklace is turned all the way around to the front, someone else can turn it back for you and tell you to make a wish. This doesn't work if you do it for yourself, so it's a good idea to train all your friends to keep an eye out. Oh and you should kiss the clasp before returning it to the back.
11. If you find dew on a morning glory, wet your lips with it and make a wish.
12. If you lose an earring, make a wish on the remaining one.
13. If you find two nuts in one shell where there should only be one, share the twin with someone, and you can both make a wish. The first one who remembers to say 'lucky nut' the next morning will get the wish.
14. When two people say the same something at the same time.... they get to link little fingers and wish...

Fairy Tale
1. If you find Aladdin’s Lamp and rub it, a Genie will come out and grant you 3 wishes. Rumour and legend maintain that there are more receptacles and more Genie’s than the one that was within Aladdin’s Lamp… old bottles and oil lamps make for good rubbing …
2. One’s fairy Godmother might grant you a wish.
3. If a fairy loved your father, you might have 3 golden strands of hair on your head. If you strike these with a matchlock what you need for the next stage of your journey will appear… this effectively amounts to a wish though in general it is one of those non-cynical wishes that do not bring into question the ‘fairplay’ or ‘word-trickery’ possible with wishes. For example: In The Reed Girl - the Prince strikes these 3 hairs and a winged horse that has eaten glowing coals appears, it is just such a horse that he needs in order to cover the incredible distance to the island on which resides the most beautiful girl in the world (England as it happens…). The island is of course shrouded in such a darkness that a spoon would stand up in it and the horse that appears knows this so instead takes the prince to visit the Sungod’s daughter in order that he may acquire a ray of Sun to bring light to the island when he gets there… story continues…
4. The Ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz – click your heels together. This was hard to classify and I’m doing it over a cup of chai with a biscotti in Santa Fe making a movie. I think for a moment I held the Oz film (no matter its excellence) against this method but have resolved that this is really a fairy tale so it is categorised here.
5. A circle of grass that's greener than the rest is called a fairy ring. Stand in the centre, turn around three times, and make a wish. If the fairy ring stays, it can be wished on once every three days.

Location/Country Specific
1. If you walk on dogshit with your left foot (strictly Parisian)
2. You can get 7 wishes from Yemanja (Goddess of the Ocean) at New Year in Brazil – you have to jump over 7 consecutive waves in the sea though.
3. In Sri Lanka, if you throw a penny at a particular Buddha statue and it lands in his hands your wish will come true…
4. In Japan there are certain trees you can tie your written wish on.
5. Kiss the Blarney Stone in Ireland and then go up some wishing steps.
6. Rotating your thumb in a hole in one of the columns of the Aya Sofia in Istanbul (see picture of this in action – yes all true!). But the 'sweaty column' part remains a mystery.
7. Senhor do Bonfim – The lord of the Good Endings. In Bahia, you can have three wishes if someone ties a string onto you as if it were a bracelet. As they tie it they say, “You can have 3 wishes”. However you have to keep it on until it falls off…
8. On Catalan New Years eve parties, one writes one’s three main wishes for the New Year on a piece of paper. This is then folded and set afire if any of the wishes survive the flames they will not come true.
9. In Hungary you may get a wish If you see a Green Trabant (an old-school little car from the communist era) then you need to nip the arm of the person next to you and THEN wish... The Trabant needs to be moving - a parked one doesn’t count and it’s only valid if its green. (I wondered about putting this into spurious but who am I to say and it is definitely country specific – if only it were possible to trace the magical origin on this one!)

‘Real World’, Complex and Spurious
1. If you drive through a yellow light – you touch the ceiling and make a wish… bad behaviour I think - encouraging errant driving! Unless of course the wish is not to have a crash.
2. If one sees a car with one headlight, one can put his or her thumb on the ceiling of the auto saying "padiddle" and make a wish.
3. Tooth fairy… I’ve always believed that what they do is leave some money under your pillow. I remain uncertain that the Tooth Fairy has the power of wish-granting – opinions please… However the offerer of this method added that as a child he was told to put that tooth under the pillow and as you go to sleep make a wish and the tooth fairy will make it come true – ie “ stop your crying and believe in powers outside of yourself to make your desires come true…” He also added that perhaps the tooth fairy is to blame for climate warming which is definitely funny enough to mention. But perhaps the “mother” clause ought to be applied to its veracity… and see picture… do you dare open the box above?
4. Make a wish each time you eat a green M&M. I’m convinced this has been made up as my sister and I used to pretend we’d be transported to the Wonderful City of Oz every time we ate a green Smartie. I guess in a sense we were…
5. Wish List for Santa – I’m a little concerned about this one as being a ‘wish’ as opposed to a list of ‘stuff’. I’m not sure Santa can bring you a kiss from that lovely girl you met, or world peace and all that. But I’m open to re-categorising this into traditional.
6. Pick your feet up over a railway track and make a wish – don’t be too long as it can be risky… make sure you wish a train doesn’t come along.
7. This is a little complicated but if achieved is meant to be well worth it!
You need a piece of recycled paper (recycled notebook paper works fine).
On the paper, write a short poem or chant to the Goddess and God that states your wish. It is all right if you aren't the best poet on earth! But it is very important that you say exactly how you feel and what exactly you need. Do your best and say it from the heart.
Close the poem with thanks to the Goddess and God. Fold it in half with the words inside it.
Draw a triple goddess sign on the outside.
Now fold it in half again with the symbol on the inside.
Now draw a pentacle on the paper: Finally, flip it over and write your name and birth date on the other side. Put this aside in a safe place and your wish will come true in due time.
If you change your mind before it comes true, burn the paper and put the ashes in the earth.
8. Making a Faustian pact – effectively a deal with the devil to get Earthly wishes in exchange for your eternal soul.
9. An interesting offering from one reader was the case of the fortune cookie. It is not normally a wish-granting item. Yet he posed that the accurate way to address a FC is:

a. Finish the Chinese food (fortune cookies eaten other than at the conclusion of a Chinese meal, preferably a bad one laden with MSG) has no bearing on destiny whatever.
b. Break cookie. Ignoring the piece of paper, eat one half of cookie.
c. Read fortune.
d. If you want that fortune to be true/applicable to your own case, then eat the remaining half of cookie. If you don't want fortune it to be true/applicable, leave that half of cookie on table.

If this system is applied, the fortune cookie does become part of a larger wish-machinery.

Of course your opinion might also change if you add “…in bed” at the end of the fortune.

Near Misses
1. Being poo’d on by a bird. This is just considered lucky and does not really give one a wish.
2. Catching a leprechaun – this is just lucky but one has to be bloody careful as they’re actually quite ornery in their trickiness. And I don’t recall any good ever coming to someone who caught a leprechaun. Feel free to remind me though…
3. Magic whiskey… it might help you see and hear things but they’re not wishes – you are just getting drunk.
4. Wishful thinking.

Additional Sub clauses
1. Touch blue and your wish will come true. This one strikes me not as a wish garnering method but more as being a sub clause that can aid the outcome of any other previously acquired wish.
2. Wishes made on Midsummer's Eve (in accurately reported as being June 23 – I expect its really 21 June – my lovely Mum’s birthday so I’m going with that one) are most likely to come true. And damn I posted this just too late!
3. KEY KEY KEY and general injunction is to NEVER reveal what you wished for!

There are a few views on why a wish ought to be kept secret. Naturally the sceptic and cynic would claim it was just so that there was no way for anyone else to refute someone’s claim that a wish came true.

But why one should never reveal it is a difficult thing to describe or put one’s finger wholly on. As Jess wrote very beautifully back to me in association with this was:

“Would it be accurate to say that our wishes--true wishes, not daydreams, not lame notions that something like a lunch bag containing 50,000 euros would be the solution to all our problems, not hopes such as that our favourite dog will not have to be put down--true wishes are profoundly intimate connections between us and our selves?
We have to keep them to ourselves for reasons not so unlike the reasons that we hold inviolate our true loves' sexual predilections, or hope our confessions are not passed around the rectory.”

My own view on keeping the wish secret is also to maintain a level of modesty. After all it should be enough merely to have the wish come true and not also get to claim the credit of bringing about this great fortune (worldly or other). That and by retaining the wish entirely within we allow ourselves to delve deeply into our unfulfilled parts to be as shallow and self-serving as we like free from judgement or fear thereof. Free to be unbridled ‘us’ within the sanctity of ourselves. Liberating in a sense.

It is also generally understood that you cannot do something deliberately such as make sure you serve yourself a bay-leave or buying a pair of shoes simply in order to have a wish. Wishes are capricious, like little fireflies and they prefer to pop into and out of existence according to chance and the mysteries of the universe. That said it does benefit to know you have a wish in the bank … idle ‘thinks’ thought while being unaware one has just acquired a wish are a significant contributor to the vagaries of the universe and the way in which the most extraordinary things often do just occur. The ill affects of “Murphy’s Law” are in fact more often than not really an unknowingly applied and inappropriately made wish. But of course there are exceptions to this rule – you can for example pick and puff as many dandelions as you like wishing on each and every one subject of course to the one puff a weed clause.

As much as I love a wish I despise the charlatans who invent methods of attaining wishes in order that they may further some selfish or negative end of their own eg chain/spam letters and all that. People who wish under these circumstances and do not have their wishes fulfilled start to lose faith in the power of a wish. It’s this reduction in belief that undermines the power of the worldwide wish web. This lack of belief is quite contagious and wishes share another similarity to fairies. You see every time a child says they don’t believe in faeries then somewhere a fairy falls down dead! And anytime someone scoffs and does not believe in a wish, then for someone somewhere else in the world a wish goes ungranted! Which by the way explains some of those wishes of your own that have gone ungranted…

On idle days I wonder about the background bureaucratic red tape underpinning the wish economy. Can one can have more than one ‘active’ wish at any moment. Should we always wish for the same thing until that thing transpires or can we compound them? You see if I wish for something and then get another wish before the first is fulfilled and I wish for a different thing, does the Wish-meister think to him/herself “aha – he does not really want what he asked for first...” and then perhaps not grant either or wait until it becomes perfectly clear what it really is I want or just deal with the last one in the fullness of time ignoring the first. A case study providing some evidence, though by no means conclusive, is that of the 3 wishes granted in most fairytales. These are generally employed one after another and often used to counter the undesired effects of the ill-conceived wish made previously. Hmmm… makes for good wonderings for me… I rest easily knowing that The Universe knows which of our wishes to grant.

But here is my favourite quote on the matter, by that man Goethe.

Destiny grants us our wishes, but in its own way, in order to give us something beyond our wishes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this lightness – I look forward to hearing more ways from any and all of you!

And as ever much love

Clear Skies


Incidentally I am extending this further with figuring out the verbs associated with Wishes. Eg does one get, have, be granted, grant, use or so on a wish? And if anyone knows the collective noun for wishes please offer it up…

Special thanks to wish respondees:
Mongolian Mel, Jess, Peter W, Deborah, Taylor, Yann, Hollie, Gemsta, Taters, Spaleytrax, Laura, Kalahari Mark, Meda, Yum-Yum, Cas, Tania, Roma, Jayman, Serena. Debbie, Eva, Jeu

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Sweet Dreams From All Over The World

Beddy Byes,

Last year I had the fortune to spend parts of my fortune in all the corners of the world… this year is different. This year the flying carpet was pulled from under my feet. But I landed in the Sparrow-wings of Love and a period of stability beckons. Stability is a relative term, especially in my life but through every stroke of bad luck, fortune has shone brighter than ever. Almost to the point that I welcome bad luck as the harbinger of greater things! And I’ll write more about THAT in time. And I guess tempt Old Murphy and his ‘Law’ too.

The short story is that I am in back in London after a couple of months prepping a lovely film in South Africa (Heaven & Earth). The finances fell through on the film and we were diddled out of 3 weeks pay on top of what was a monumental disappointment. So it goes. The result was that I was able to return to London and now get to work on the film “Paul” which I guess is the next installment in the Shaun of the Dead / Hot Fuzz series. Its very exciting but I can’t write anything about it as its top secret – so top secret in fact that we have to go and shoot it in New Mexico for 3 months June – August.

So where’s the stability in THAT you ask? Well afterwards I spend an entire year in London doing the post-production on it. This dooms me to a full English winter! My first in 6 years!

And to honour that I feel like sharing a piece of ‘art’ with you all…

On that trip last year I photographed (nearly) every bed I slept in. So here they are below in movie form. Assembled to proportionally indicate the amount of time I spent in each. Occasionally I missed a bed so I substituted it with some other relevant image. But do not read too much into the image – the meaning is normally more obscure than expected and generally implies a back story of some description. And one is missing in entirety as the story may never be told.

I prefer to think of it as a form of art-film rather than a 90” commercial selling beds of the world but as ever, I’d love to hear what YOU think and promise any reply will be personally responded too! But in time, as tomorrow I am off to pad around my pad in Kas, Turkey for 10 days in the company of the excellent Anette and I am planning to keep the old internetty spaghetti machine off the entire week! We'll see how my communications-addiction holds up!

Its also been one year since I had a Hot Crusty Bun - I hope they have them in Turkey - its my favourite tradition in all Christendom (except for Easter Egg hunts OF COURSE!).

Much love

Doctor Lobster.

Thursday, 22 January 2009


Year of the Ox

The rat is abandoning us! At least it does on Monday 26th as that is when the Ox rolls on in under the eerie auspice of an annular eclipse (*see below). The Rat was a year of perseverance and gave reward according to one’s energy output. The Ox also rewards in great abundance but only to harder toil. And this concerns the labour's of life rather than the endeavours of employment.

The Ox is a year to approach all tasks with intent and sincerity. Everything should be considered and everything can be done or at least begun this year. What you set in motion this year will bear you profound fruit in future years but it is things that you yourself set in motion. Things already in motion (started by you or others) will benefit from the broad generosity this year offers as a year of momentum.

So keep it going, this year you’ll find that easier. And if that direction is up then expand the goal at every ridgeline you cross, pausing to admire the view of the road both ahead and behind. If something dips or feels uncomfortable, shift yourself and realign your load. There’s no sense in imbalance in a year this solid.

But be certain to feed the furnace, refill the well, sleep to dream and dream long and deep.

Abandon vanity for it is in the mirror you’ll stumble and fall.

Anyway much love wonderful people

And note that this year coincides with an annular eclipse viewable in the Southern Hemisphere from 08.15 ish South African time for an hour or so if you happen to be in the neighbourhood. Pinhole projection or proper viewing glasses only!!!

Previously on Dr Lobster's blog:
Wallowing In It
Woof Hey