Gouache and glossy magazine paper on cardboard. 

The original painting was way darker and somewhat grotesque. I had to cover it up. I felt ill looking at it. It took me a week but I managed to unburden it with lighter colours. Can you can feel how heavy it is? That was my point of conflict. This is angst. x SB


Pecs Bowen tagged me to answer the Questionnaire for Imagineers and I agreed to do it even though I’m an uptight control freak. I can’t imagine what will happen after I post this, and that terrifies me. Christe, eléison.

(☄ฺ◣д◢)☄   ::::::  (ʘ言ʘ╬)

1. If you wanted to name yourself again, what would you call yourself?
Savannah Westmore, after two parishes in my home country. Or the more androgynous Pritchard Douglass.

2. If there is one, what would be the last line of your biography?
“She was always going to do whatever she felt like.”

3. Would you kiss a complete stranger in the rain or an old friend on the shore?
A complete stranger in the rain, under an umbrella. Wait… Does “in falling snow at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day in a crowd of thousands” count towards this? The clocktower bells were clanging and it seemed like the appropriate thing to do.

4. If you had to choose two famous/historical figures to have coffee, who would they be?
Kublai Khan and Attila, just to see how they’d react to my hair, right now.

5. If you could pack your bags, leave all behind and be forgotten for a year, where would you go?
Iceland. It’s a remote island with a small population, plenty of book stores, spas outdoors and nature that’s still unspoiled (but not for long if GE has their way).

6. People with a particular talent that you don’t have and wish you did?
I would feel really happy if I could play the piano well and enjoy it. I would be a concert pianist, since I would practice compulsively and want to do nothing else.

7. One thing that always fascinated you and you know it always will?
Marc Jacobs’ kilts. He looks great in them.

8. If God exists and you had to give Him one piece of advice, what would it be?
{Null set}

9. What is the sexiest place you can imagine to do it on?
Floor to ceiling window glass of a 28th floor hotel suite, which has a panoramic view of the grounds of a certain palace. I thought the tinted glass was one way, but I realised the next morning, walking back from Tully’s, that if the living room and hallway lights are on… Right. Et cetera.

10. If you had only one hour to live before the world comes to an end, how would you spend it?
I’ll comfort the people dearest to me and in silent prayer, send requests ahead for the afterlife. In a different star system.

11. If you could go back in time and meet yourself for an hour, which year would you go to and how would you spend the time?
September, 2000. I would say, “Say yes. He is a great travel companion and conversationalist with refined manners. He will give you all of your space. He’s also aged well. And … this is the formula for the 100% Pure super fruits moisturiser I’m using. Make. Patent. Sell. When you finally tie the knot, you’re going to live in Fort Lauderdale. Which is perfect because there’s this huge outlet mall … ”

12. If you had to destroy yourself, how would you do it?
Bare my soul to someone and have that person respond with the frozen, smelly cod fish thwack of indifference.


Psycho Fan

Psycho Fan

 One is a crowd.

My addiction of choice is your past.
Its powerful spell makes me anxious, creates a tension.
You’re cocky and terrific. Grinding right there is the hardest thing in the world.
And the consummation was a thing of enchantment. I genuflect under control.
The second half makes me want to get squelched so fast into several pews.
The three part thing was so spontaneous. You are a pretty raw wonder.
You did something really special with your stick. It took a minute for it to sink in.
But your stuff was beautiful. How beautiful to know it all works inside me.
I think I’m pouting, yet taking it painfully is so humbling.
That is so deep. Just love to picture it inside me.
Morality is all stupidity and foolishness.
Truthfully, strong man.

xoxo Psycho Fan xoxo

What she said


Condescension is manufactured self praise. Two things might happen. Sometimes a person wants to say “I’m great” but for that to work, the others must be low impact. (I discussed this in Envy and GOYA). Or, one insignificant aspect of the other person is used to judge them as wholly incompetent in all matters.


Case in point? A fine arts conference I attended this past week. After surviving a two hour planning meeting, which I co-chaired and missing a painting session in the park, it occurred to me I was only a ten minute drive from the restaurant of two friends. It is a visual spectacular stuffed with beautiful antiques.

I invited a colleague to join me. I’d met her at the previous year’s conference. She was nice to me at that time. She hadn’t decided where to eat, so I thought she’d appreciate a delicious meal in an antique store. Five minutes after I’d invited her, I knew I’d made a huge mistake. The first face slap came after I told her I confirmed the reservation, so I couldn’t rescind the invite.

Joy's kitchen

I used a PLUG for the rude remarks but she was a slinky on an escalator. What she said, the highlights.

12.40 You drive?!?!?!

12.41 Do you want me to drive? Are you okay driving a car??!

12.44 Where are we going?!!! Do you know where you’re going?

12.45 Did you get your license HERE??!?!??!?

12.48 You are driving like a wild person. (The driver in front of us has swung out in front of me and I am forced to brake suddenly.)

13.25 You’ve started eating already.


13.30 This restaurant is so beautiful. I feel bad eating here because we are attending a work conference.

13.43 You’ve finished already.

13.47 That’s a take away dessert. You must not eat it now!!

13.59 This biscuit is delicious. You can’t have flour? But it’s yummy. Mmmmm…. Hmmmm?

14.01 (I quietly pay for lunch. This causes her to feel guilty about something).

14.02 Oh!!! No. I …  It’s …

14.06 (I realize I’ve left my umbrella). You’re a careless girl. People are inconvenienced by you.

14.09 You are able to paint? (NB This is an art conference and I co-chaired the morning session)

14.20 (End of ordeal and time for a walk.)


Thrust in spells, fire irons were cast
Wild minds centre, great hands are clasped
Feathers fret round von Hoven’s draft
There’s much to fear where Rosen’s in craft

Plated in sheaths, impressions wrought steel
Thorn’s tender roses are flocking in teams
Verita’s lapels shall bind at the mast
What burdens we’ll bear if Rosen’s this craft

Swimming with roses by Stephen Day via Iconophile

Special thanks go to the spectacularly talented artist and photographer, Stephen Day. I found an inspiring story in his photograph, Swimming with Roses, and my poem practically wrote itself. Stephen blogs with the equally fabulous Jennifer Day at The Iconophile.

How to be shaded? Use a PLUG

We’ve all received unprovoked hate: Backhanded compliments and passive aggressive put downs, or “shade.” When people choose to be unkind without provocation, it might be a force of habit or hard wiring. Before I continue, I should say that like Britney, I’m not that innocent. I enjoy throwing shade at human energy drinkers, but only after they start with me.

In case someone you didn’t start something with goes out of their way to stomp on your joy, I wrote this post for you. By now you’re SMART (Sombre, Masterful, Attentive, Respectful, Tyrannical) about being hated. Often, tyranny is not the best option when in combat with Darth Shader. This post introduces a positive, self affirming response. To PLUG, we play, laugh, understand and grow from interactions with H8Rz.

Here we go? Let us PLUG.

Stay calm and PLUG
I love this meme. x SB

Play along
When the shade hits the fan, there are three ways you can play along. If you ignore unwelcome remarks, H8Rz will take this as a sign they’ve struck a nerve and dig in. So first,  keep a neutral expression and ask for repetition. (My neutral expression is a smile). I have a “third time and it’s yours” rule. I ask for repetition two times to see if the person will hear how their words sound.

If the person does not give up after the second repeat, I ask for clarification. Neutral expressions again. Defending yourself won’t work, either. If they haven’t given up at this stage, or try again later, they’ve owned it by default and I can do the third thing: Deliberately misunderstand, or get tyrannical.

For the former tactic, rephrase the statement to mean something positive about yourself. Toss it back. You will hear, “I didn’t mean to compliment you.” Say, “Thank you.” As in, “This interaction is over and thank you for your attention.” If the behaviour is repeated, that is hate and it’s time to put the T in SMART.

Laugh at yourself
Embrace the things that are uniquely you. See “shade” as acknowledgment that someone finds you interesting. Your sense of humour could win you admirers and defenders. One day, someone teased me with, “Hey, you’re walking like a pigeon.” It’s true, but that detail is inconsequential to anything happening in my day.

I played along by pretending this was a compliment. I laughed and said, “Thank you!” A different person piped in with, “Actually, she’s catwalking.” When you laugh at yourself, others may feel encouraged to warm to your side. Shine in confidence and leave haters in the shade.

You “love thyself” and your emotional set points are high. People who put you down without provocation have lower emotional set points. They may feel they’re doing you a favour. They believe that by pulling you off your perch they’ll help you avoid disappointment.

Resist the urge to adjust your emotions or responses to the lower setting. Also understand that H8Rz notice and admire your natural talent. Instead of doing their own work, they sling mud to throw you off your game. Stay focused.

Grow from it
Hanging on to unkind words can set you back. However, reflect on unpleasant interactions and think about how you want to be treated.  Then, set a better example by doing unto others. Make the effort to recognise negative characters and avoid them. Sometimes, you need to shine light on a person to see them for who they are.

I hope you’ll never need this advice. But if someone tosses shade your way, your objective is to firmly push back the disrespectful behaviour while keeping your hands clean. Play along and laugh to yourself but show some compassion and you will grow from the experience.

Guinness, Rich girl greatness

Photo credit: “Mick O’Connells pub, Utrecht, The Netherlands”
from Tiberiu Ana via Flickr/Wylio

I’m on a journey …
(In a taxi at the airport)
It started 3 months, two weeks, 5 days, 7 hours, and 1, 2, 3 minutes ago
I’m in this line
My friends say TMI’s annoying
But I’ve come too far
Too far to stop the hysterics
Too far to consider being discreet
Too far to flash less … than Kate
25, 26, 27, 28

The socks for my honey
Wrapped up by my scarves
You know where the store is…
(And now we’re boarding)
They’re both proof that I’m rich
Right now I’m starved
My flight’s in the air
My bags are on the floor
41, 42, 43, 44

I’m on a gurney
After I stubbed my toe ..
In the restroom
49, 50, 51

Airport Sheremetyevo."Aeroflot" Night.
Photo Credit: “Aeroflot” from Aleksander Markin via Flickr/Wylio

TMI version inspired by the Guinness, Reach for Greatness TV “Spoken Word” commercial for the Caribbean.

Guinness: Reach for Greatness (Original)

Tomorrow, I’ll publish a post based on this Guinness commercial. The original is fantastic and I thought you should see it first before reading my version of it. This content does not belong to me and this video is posted temporarily for context only. Thank you for viewing.

60 second ad for Guinness, for the Caribbean.
By Asterix 1759 via YouTube.


Hygiene, or a sense of professional decorum, is important when communicating with readers. In this post, I discuss my personal blogging hygiene. I am not the most appropriate person around here, but I have guidelines for being “professional” even while I’m acting out.

The Emperor’s Nude Hose, courtesy The Daily Mail.

There’s a follow button around here but I’m not Yeezus. I prefer to say subscribers or readers. Frankly, no-one is hanging on my every word. Everyone visits willingly and this makes feedback immensely valuable.

Calling cards
Right, so when someone gives some feedback on a post, I never assume they’re in love. They’re not getting carried away in the fantasy of us. In return for their kind support, I don’t suddenly post missives about my happy family life, my husband, wife and three point five children, my happy engagement, my hot muscular boyfriend, my busty girlfriend or announce that I am in fact, gay, asexual or bisexual. I don’t conclude that attention from a blogger means they want, you know, a relationship. Like, for real? That’s whack.

To begin with, I try to post things that readers might enjoy. If I invite feedback, I look out for it and respond as soon as I see it. If I have objections to post content, I quietly leave. WordPress is not a bistro, so ordering authors around is not on. Conversations and continued attention are the best ways to develop rapport with other bloggers. Self-adulatory messages along these lines don’t count: “Hello, Good on you for recognising my genius. I’m grateful for every minion…”

Taylor Swift needs eye drops

Humblebrag or brag-brag? I can’t decide.

Command prompts
Showing up on blogs like the Supreme Queen of the Universe and commanding bloggers to “read, like and follow” is poor form. Occasionally, I point bloggers to posts I’ve written but when phrasing my requests, I remember how someone snarled at me, “Obviously you didn’t memorise read my (PhD thesis) proposal.” It had taken him six years, on two scholarships, to write four pages. It was a full two minute read. I promised to never talk to anyone like that.

When someone visits my catalog and exclaims that I’m “strange”, I’m reminded of the recording artist (you’ve never heard of him) to whom I was almost engaged. He had spent his career in the tabloids, on stages and in bathtubs with models in a drug induced haze. He called me, “stuck up” because I said that in our future together on Paradise Island, I would like to spend Sunday mornings watching polo. Think about this for a minute. To what was this person’s assessment of “fun” calibrated? Thank you.

Image credit: Behance

I’m not a judging panelist, but a member of a community. So, when commenting on posts, I’ll say how much I enjoyed reading. I’ll read as if I’m watching my favourite Russian pianist live in concert. I call out from the balcony. Brava! Bella! Then, backstage, I shower her with kisses. I offer the same to you.



Gouache and collage on Saturday, outdoors … in the shade.

Shine a light on it.
Close inspection will hand you the details.

Darth Shader

While enrolled in the Jedi Glampion School for Dark Side Arts, Darth Shader learned a few brilliant strategies for getting away with passive aggressive put downs and backhanded compliments, otherwise known as “shade.”

Kenya Moore Photo credit: Lovely Tumblr Person. x

In this post, I will reveal four fancy tricks that Darth Shader (DS) uses to put you down. The tricks are fancy because they could pass for honest to goodness expressions of opinion from people who aren’t shading you. Most of us wouldn’t catch on that these comments are put downs because they’re ultra Grade A passive aggressive.

That’ll do, pig. Photo credit: a Google pigeon. x

(1) I’m, like, so busy right now…
This is true of most people you ask to pay attention to you. However, this becomes a Jedi trick when used by DS to dampen your spirits. The more enthusiastic you are about something, the less interest DS will show in it.

But don’t be fooled. Darth Shader is interested in you. Showing an interest would make you feel good about yourself, and that will not do, pig. (Sorry, I had a hearty cackle writing that. It’s from the film, Babe. Please get the joke. I don’t want to edit this out.)

I put this theory to the test, recently. I invited a shader to look at something I was interested in. She says she couldn’t because she’s busy and blah. However, later, she sat next to me so she could read the fine print (Calibri 11 pt) off an Excel document on my screen. She interrupted me to say that the deadline for this form was later, on … I looked right in her face while she was babbling. Gotcha!

I often use the reverse of this strategy. If I want nosy parkers to stop paying attention to something, I’ll ask them to look at it and pretend I’m super excited. This is what we were talking about, Abyss Brain, hiding in plain sight.

(2) I don’t get it
Misunderstandings are a normal part of communication. We’re all prone to them and that is why conversations are necessary. This trick is used to put you on the defensive and cause you to feel that you didn’t do something right. Beware. Everything you say to justify yourself will be used against you in a court of law.

Subsequently, you will be charged with rambling in the first degree. You’ll know this trick is being used on you when the person tunes out of your explanation to check their Instagram, gives disinterested responses, “Mmmmm. Mmm, hmmm,” or abruptly changes the subject. Or says they don’t understand a word you’re saying.

You know you’re making a lot of sense when shaders insinuate that you’re making stuff up. It’s all for show. Don’t fall for it.

(3) I don’t like…
If someone says they don’t like something you can’t force them. We are taught to respect choices. This is unassailable. However, DS will use this expression of preference to inconvenience you or make you feel as if you’ve done something horribly wrong to them. You’ll know an expression of dislike is shade because of the timing.

I was having dinner with my wine club at a friend’s bistro. A new guest apparently didn’t make the connection between the French food and our gathering to celebrate a new culture. He disdainfully poked at the chef’s signature dish, which had taken days to prepare. The chef has a Michelin star, so go figure (but our guest doesn’t get it).

Instead of reading the atmosphere and enjoying the conversation, he thought he’d offer some haute critique. He said, “I don’t like meals with too many different ingredients in it.”

I’m sure our guest also feels his light sabre is most impressive.

Catherine Tate isn’t bovvered. Photo credit: Best of all my days

(4) I’m not looking/I’m not impressed
Most people don’t notice you and are not impressed by you. That’s great, not to worry. However, DS will go to great pains to demonstrate that they’re not paying attention to you. Shaders will use this trick when they feel their opinion matters to you.

This trick is similar to, “I’m busy” except that you may not have invited them to pay attention to you in the first place. The purpose of this trick is to make you feel that your existence is insignificant to them. Smile at the storm. You loom large in DS’s mind.

You’ll know you loom large when DS starts emulating you or showing off their trophies. All of a sudden, you notice signs that you’re influencing them to achieve bigger and better things. “Hey, look at what I did. I bet you wish you could, too.” Take this as a compliment. DS display shiny new trophies and work to elicit envy to show how much they care about your opinion.

Wendy Williams, Darth Shader Super Supreme Photo Credit: The Wendy Williams Show

Let me wrap up here for the moment and ask you to remember that Darth Shader cares what you do, understands what you’re trying to say and has a healthy respect for you. Keep a smile on your face and notice the next time DS practices arts from the Dark Side.

Later, I’ll show you how to respond to shade like a Champion. Stay tuned.

Maximum Dolōr

Maximum Dolor

and dark as dawn
there sleeps Narcissus
wrapped up in flor

In that greener garden
were Venus rests
Piaget found us
romping with Faun

cloaked in silky feathers
bound tightly did she
his powder dreams
in her life long tethers

We feel his screams
and harken
In silence we uproar
No, not again
Maximum dolōr


As icy ponds
where pelts the rain
how crushed we are
to hear his pain

May marvels end
no subtle cue
or she’ll come here
to look for you

Here Vera grins
in peace she reigns
on wine filled sacks
o’er toasted grain

she beams
but silver tears will flow
and while Narcissus sleeps
her music belts
the streams
as they go


She fought glamour wars
During office hours
In cropped pants
Of size… six?
Yes, better take notes
And get in the mix

Delighted to spread
In fashion less sense
With plumped up pride
What a skirt should hide

I think Mrs West is my icon and I’m, like, you know, following her on Instagram. I liked, you know, all of her posts yesterday. She wears see through tights with jackets. Now everyone is doing it. So I wanna be, like, the first person to, like, wear all capri pant suits. Just suits! I want that one and that one and that one…

OMG, did you see the Queen of Spain
Whose canary fail
Was a faux pas in vain
For Trendi bought them in bale
And flips that mane

Minutes after noon
She’ll toss
A meal in trash
Then dab of gloss
To soothe lip rash

Caused by (vitamin) deficiency
But not to worry
FB is telling me …
Capsules heal with efficiency

Haughtily she swipes past
Sucking all your energy
Pretending to have a blast
There goes Trendi
On a pepsicola fast

Machine Gun Meow’s remarks for Nadia Monsengo

Guest post by mGm on Nadia Monsengo’s essay
My thoughts on Africa’s Image Problem

The way they feed on the negativity of Africa is disconcerting. The media only shows negative images of Africa … They take advantage of the negativity of Africa and take advantage of the positive light it shines on them for giving generously.

Excerpted from “Nadia Monsengo” by Nadia Monsengo of African Artista

What an interesting and completely relatable post. Having lived in Australia for more than a decade, I am still surprised and stung by off the cuff remarks such as, “Oh, as an African, you must be used to the heat”; “Do you have tarmac roads?”; “Is your family safe from Ebola/ Al Shabab violence” and …

“But you can’t be African, you aren’t black?!”

Some of these are general ignorance mixed with polite concern. It is the ignorance that I take issue with. During my schooling years, we learned not just about ourselves as a country (Kenya) and a continent (Africa), we also learned our place in the world and about the rest of the world with equal focus.

I feel sorry for those who never learned about other countries and continents so that their view of the world now is rather self centric and skewed. They missed out on so much. African history and current affairs, as Nadia rightly mentions, are overly represented by the negatives, which every corner of this world has some form of.

I take great pride in educating anyone who will listen about the origins and richness of Swahili as a language; about the pioneer microfinancing innovation, M-PESA; about English being one of my first languages and how most people where I am from are trilingual; about the indescribable beauty of Africa; the unsurpassed warmth and comfort of a community-based outlook.

Everyone belongs.

Africa is more than a game-watching destination or a dumping ground for last-season’s-disposable-fashion-disguised-as-charity. I devote considerable time during such conversations to dispelling ignorant myths, most of which are laughable. But real change can only come from two sources: a shift in the media perspective so that it is not all doom and gloom; and a fair and reasonable inclusion of African history, geography, culture and civics (preferably with considerations for the diversity in the same) in mainstream Western education.

Of course, the audience must listen with open mind and heart.

I, for one, am proud of and grateful for the fact that my formative education was undertaken in Africa. I am so much richer and well-rounded for it.

Loud expatriate talking loudly to his date (20 ft away)

So we went skiing … We went up one side and came down the other side.

(1 Inaudible)

Are you running every day?

(2 Inaudible)

You only run one time a week?!

(3 Inaudible)

How far is your long run? …

(4 Inaudible)

In the bushes? Or… The shade?

(5 Inaudible)

I like to wake up in my house for a change…

(6 Inaudible)

It’s fun and I enjoy it … There’s a huge mess everywhere. All your food is gone… Dishes are in the sink.

(7 Inaudible)

I’m taking a break … We just destroy his house.

(8 Inaudible)

Yeah… Thanks for having a …

(9 Inaudible)

I was surprised that you were … I was GLAAAAAD.

(10 Inaudible)

Keep in touch alright?

(11 Inaudible)

How about this … Let’s go for a …Don’t be shy… I’ll shop around… Just text me … If I finish shopping and I’m ready to go …

(12 Inaudible)

Don’t. Be. Shy. If I’m ready to go … and it’s too early for you … Don’t be shy. It’s OK. I’ll shop and …

Spearmint Notes
I felt compelled to transcribe this after the volume of the man’s voice interfered with me. This happened one Friday night at the book store. There was elevator music in the background. The ceilings reached to infinity and the floor space is open. That and forty plus simultaneous conversations did not drown him out. When I couldn’t find any music to block him (Rammstein couldn’t even), I stopped reading and started transcribing. At 23.00, on my way out, I walked by him talking LOUDLY in another part of the store. Oi.

PS: I’m not the date police but, dude, did you take the woman on a date to a location where people are lolling about in their pajamas, so you could advertise that you were on a date?

Update @ 13:48: The Beleauguered Servant was sweet enough to complete the conversation so please read it. It’s hilarious.

x SB