Archive for June, 2005
Today’s been a day of bad news. Nothing life changing or anything, just a shitty day. The work I’ve been doing for the last week has been shelved for one reason or another. I’m sad about that. Not only cos I’d put in a lot of hours to get it done on time, but I was proud of it. The people I was working with on it liked it a lot, but ultimately the client said no to it going ahead.
Then I was looking at Brian Wilson’s website and trawling through the (mostly tedious) message board, and noticed that someone mentioned the Berlin concert on Saturday. La la la, I thought, I’ve got 5th row tickets- oh, balls, it’s cancelled. Seems he’s in town, playing at Berlin’s Live 8 in the afternoon, but has cancelled his evening show. Black clouds gather over my head.
Quick find the music that you listened to this morning when you were in a bad mood: scroll scroll scroll Pantera click.
I’m not sure that I understand why someone would have to cancel a concert beginning at 8pm when the venue’s about a kilometer away from Live 8. Pffff, but that’s life, I guess.
Maybe I’ll just cut out the above drawing, tie it to a piece of string, and go and stand outside the venue and listen to a live album on the iPod.
As promised a couple of days ago, here’s some stuff that is either a) just a sketch, or b) an idea that I’ve not had time to work on. I quite like the idea of putting more non-FFF drawings on here, kind of like how I used to on the old Technically Perfect Hair site; so maybe there will be more of this in the future.
This little fellow is waiting for a story. I kind of see him being a bit dim and giggly.
I think that’s the mum on the left, sort of half balloon half whale, (a Walloon, ho ho!). The others are her children. Absolutely no idea what they’ll do.
These came about after I’d wanted to do something about spat-out chewing gum, like they had some sort of life after being used; at least the lucky ones who didn’t get trampled under shoes.
I would like to do this one: it’d be a film moving around my flat in the dark, where the camera would occasionally come to rest on the glowing LEDs or whatever that punctuate the darkness. Each of these items (computer, printer, VCR, etc.) would whisper a secret.
Finally, this is the one that’s most likely to go somewhere. He’s called Grimpen, he’s a pipe-smoking cat, and he likes to draw cars. He’s proud of his drawings, even though they are rubbish.
That’s show-and-tell over with for today. If I have time over the next couple of days, I’ll dig up more mothballed stuff.
Whenever I see one of those On This Day things, I’m always momentarily interested. I’ll go, “huh, well well well,” raise my eyebrows then forget everything I’ve just read. On this day in 1880, France annexed Tahiti; in 1944, Gary Busey was born; in 1974, Isabel Peron was sworn in as Argentina’s first female president; in 1986, Richard Branson broke the world record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic.
Of course, all of these things are insignificant compared to what happened in my life on this day. I’ve just checked the diaries I used to keep and, well…:
Sunday 29 June 1986 – Went to Ben’s party. (Ben was a mate at school. His house was great. It had a huge garden and we used to play croquet and listen to Dead Or Alive records.)
Monday 29 June 1987 – Simon and Karl came round. Then we went to Karl’s. (We went to Karl’s to drop off sleeping bags, cos we were gonna stay at his house a couple of days later after we got back from a U2 concert.)
Wednesday 29 June 1988 – Learned about the greenhouse effect in Geography. Watched M*A*S*H* on telly.
Thursday 29 June 1989 – Dave and I gatecrashed Charlotte’s party. (Aaah, that was a good party. I pulled.)
Friday 29 June 1990 – DJed a party at the Technical College. Knackered. (I used to do DJing every week at a nightclub in Lincoln, and occasionally at parties. This one, I seem to remember, was in the daytime, probably an end-of-term thing.)
Saturday 29 June 1991 – Went to Gran’s.
Thursday 29 June 1995 – Dreamt of hiding in a market garden with Björk. Wrote a letter to [my then girlfriend] apologising for what happened on Tuesday. Bought Life by The Cardigans. (..and prompty developed quite a crush on Nina Persson.)
Saturday 29 June 1996 – Had a dream about [way too weird to tell you, frankly]. Spent the day having to tidy up at work. (My boss at the time was a very untidy man. I adore tidying.)
And you know what all this tells me? It tells me that my diary-keeping was a crap at the age of 25 as it was at 15, but not as crap as it is at 34 (non-existent). So, I’ll do today’s diary entry here:
Wednesday 29 July 2005 – Got up at 11am. Finished the last drawing for the job I’m working on. Not the best one I’ve done, but my hand is hurting a bit from all the clicking. (I’ll tell you more about that job in the next few days.) Then I wrote some stuff on my blog about what happened on this day in history.
I think I’ll listen to The Cardigans and gaze adoringly at the sleeve…
I’m currently spending a lot more time doing this blog than typing stuff on the Flip Flop Flyin’ homepage. And although I set out to use flipflopflying.com specifically as a seperate blog, I wonder if that was the best idea. Maybe I might try and find a way to combine FFF and FFFg so the home page of the former incorporates this blog. I wonder…
So, I wondered what you, the readers, thought of this. Do you like having the blog as something that’s seperate to all the pixelly silliness, or would you rather have them combined? Comments, please.
Anyone who read my post on shopping will know that I hate bad service. I would always just moan about things, but over the last year or so, I’ve made an effort to do the only thing that would affect the store in question: not go there.
I felt very proud of myself when I first began this operation. It began around the corner in a little shop that sells everything: cigs, booze, newspapers, plant pots. The guy who runs that shop was so uninterested and miserable everytime I went in there, that I couldn’t take it anymore. So I bought my cigarettes and plant pots elsewhere. This is good, I thought, customer power!
My replacement convenience store was fine for a long time, then one day, the bottled-up rage of the woman in there came out: don’t bring your dog in here when it’s raining outside, it makes the floor all dirty! So I calculated the aprox. amount of money I would spend on cigs and other goods in there annually (around 1,500 euros) and decided to spend that cash in a different shop.
Then a bakery was rude to me when I went in there with Billy. I stopped going there.
Then another bakery was rude to me when I went in there with Billy. This one hurt, cos up until a month before that, I loved going to that bakery. The man and woman who owned it really liked Billy, and we had little chats in faltering German. They even lent me money one day when I locked myself out of my flat and didn’t have my wallet with me. Then the woman got married, moved to Turkey, and they sold the shop and another owner took over. They were fine with Billy during the transition period, but as soon as they took sole control: an abrupt, unfriendy, no dogs allowed. (And, I know, most food-selling places don’t allow dogs for hygiene reasons, but y’know, courtesy…)
The next bakery that bit the dust for me was the heavy metal bakery. The one outside of which I got beaten up. (Still not heard anything from the police about that, by the way.) I’m deflated and sad about losing this shop. Their bread is delicious. I can listen to Black Sabbath whilst buying the bread. What more could one need? Well, maybe a little support when one their regular customers gets the shit kicked out of him on their doorstep, rather than shrugs of I-don’t-wanna-get-involved.
Why am I telling you all of this? Well, as of this morning, I’m half-adding another shop to that list. It’s a coffee shop. A very nice coffee shop. I’m only half-adding it, cos I’m only not going there when one specific woman is behind the counter. Most people who make cappuccinos in this coffee-addicted world stick to the almost universally accepted recipe: one third espresso, one third steamed milk, one third frothed milk. But this woman does it without the steamed milk, so it’s just coffee and froth. Now some would say this is too an acceptable cappuccino; I’m not a fan of it, though, and it’s so rare that coffee places do it like that. This morning I asked for her to add extra milk, as I wasn’t in the mood for an espresso with a bit of lace on top. And, oops, I think she took my request badly, and got a bit stroppy. I got stroppy back. She moodily plonked my coffee on the counter, I dropped my 2 euros on the counter and stomped out.
The problem now, of course, is I’m running out of local shops. The map above shows where I live (blue X) and the verboten stores (yellow Xs). My damn stupid decision to stop going to places that piss me off is gonna leave me hitchhiking to Munich every morning to get a bloody cup of coffee if I don’t calm down. So, I’m still gonna go to this coffee shop. I’ll just have to peek through the window everytime to make sure it’s not her who’s working.
This is almost perfect for a nice hot day like today. Don’t know much about it other than a link arrived in my inbox and it’s a 58 minute mix by Air. It’d be perfect if it was an mp3, but it’s not, it’s only a Real player file. It’s got some lovely stuff on it: Gram Parsons, Elton John, Dolly Parton, Harry Nilsson, Glen Campbell, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, some lass singing in French, and Air themselves.
Yesterday evening, we went to the in-laws’ house to water the plants in the garden. They live in Bernau, a small town on the north-east outskirts of Berlin. There’s fields and stuff all around, even a nice little wood that Billy enjoys a lot.
Stood there on the lawn, fag in one hand, hosepipe in the other, I felt like a proper man. And it was so relaxing. Playing with the settings of their techno-hose (jet! mist! cone! fan!), and watching Billy try to catch the water. Pointing the hose upwards so it fell like rain on the roses; the beautiful, fragrant, intoxicating roses. Accidentally breaking a spider’s web, returning an hour later to check on him/her and finding that the web was completely rebuilt, and then seeing an insect fly into the web and get quickly wrapped in silk. Butterflies fluttering by.
And I thought of a buuuuurrrrr-illiant invention. One of the neighbours had a lawn sprinkler. And while it was making its ptsss-ptsss-ptsss sound, I thought it could be good to have the sprinkler linked via a computer to your hi-fi. And something could regulate the ptsss-ptsss-ptsss so that it was in sync with the music. Perfect for 50 Cent’s garden, don’t you agree?
Annyway, being there made me realise how much I’d like a garden of my own. A lawn to mow, seeds to sow, tomatoes to grow, using a hoe, dandelion clocks to blow, watching a crow, seeing a neighbour and saying hello, leaving footprints in the virgin winter snow, sitting on the patio, drinking a nice Bordeaux, listening to Status Quo, having a wasp, err, sting my toe…
I quite enjoy washing up. I’m rubbish at other housework, though. Virtually everything in my office, apart from my keyboard and mouse, is dusty; the floor has Billy-hair-tumbleweed in all the corners; and the windows have antique dirt on them. Washing up though is good. There’s that fairly instant gratification involved. Sink is a mess – wash wash scrub scrub wipe wipe: sink now clean! But there’s one thing that I can’t get to grips with: getting rid of the washing-up bubbles. Is there a more efficient way of doing it than this? (Quicktime .mov, 1.4MB) All that extra water to flush away the bubbles. I don’t ever remember seeing my mum do it like that. When she did it, the bubbles miraculously disappeared with a quick splash of water, not the bucket’s-worth I have to use. Anyone get any tips?
It was the longest day, so I guess now it’s the shortest night – or maybe that was last night, or maybe they’re both the same.
And I can’t sleep. It’s a hot sticky night in Berlin, and there’s a bar just along the street with loads of noisy young folk outside. So I got up again to read a bit, and of course, got dragged into ‘just checking my mail.’ Now I’m here. At just gone 2 o’clock. I like the word o’clock. It’s so not-of-2005. Nobody would invent that sort of word now, would they?
Anyway, I’m going back to my book, so I’ll leave you with a photo of my street at 2 o’clock on (possibly) the shortest night. (I’m reading A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, by the way. I bought it last October in London when I was with Mark and he picked it up and said, “this looks good.” I was hunting for an extra book to fall into the store’s 5-for-4 marketing trap anyway, so I bought it. Just a couple of weeks ago Mark said “I’ve just read that James Frey book, it’s great.” So I got it off the shelf and got stuck in. If Mark tells me to stick my hand in the fire… well, I’m buggered.)
Unless it involves music or films or books or magazines or cigarettes or coffee, shopping’s not something I enjoy doing. I don’t like buying clothes, I don’t like buying presents, but most of all, I don’t like shopping for groceries in supermarkets in Berlin. There are exceptions to the rule cos occasionally I’ll find a nice supermarket. This is a topic I’ve moaned about before; many times in my personal life, and quite possibly several times on FFF. All my moaning blurs into one supermarket-hating lump.
But the moaning makes me feel better. In fact, there was a time when I (anonymously) did a site that I whacked up on one of those free Geocities domains called “Mmm..Kaiser’s, I love you” (archived here). At that point the whole Kaiser’s supermarket thing was bugging me so much, I decided that keeping the diary would help get over it. And it did. It made me a lot more tolerant of the people in Kaiser’s cos it was all good fodder for the site. So by the time two months of doing it had passed, I found my hate had gone, and stopped doing it. That was a good thing.
But now I see it’s like taking Prozac or something: you can’t just choose when you wanna do it, you gotta do it as consistently to keep the calm. So today, I’m gonna moan moan moan about motherfucking Kaiser’s. You see, I dislike going to Kaiser’s so much that I once told Hanni that I’d never go there again. This, of course, is a bit unfair, cos it’d mean she’d have to go there all the time on her own. But now we’ve got a car, we tend to do a fortnightly big trip to Extra – a far nicer supermarket, but a bit further away – and get enough of the basics so we don’t have to go to our local Kaiser’s. Aaaanyway, today I had to go to Kaiser’s. Here’s my hate list:
1. Where do they keep the salt? It’s a basic human need. If we don’t have salt, we die! But in Kaiser’s it seems to be hidden, like it was some sort of freaky oddity, like pipe cleaners or something. Up and down the aisles. Up and down. Up and down. Nowhere. (When she got home, The Knowledgable One said they keep it next to the sugar, not the pepper as I’d logically imagined. That’d be fine if they were colour-coding the whole supermarket, though…)
2. No baskets, only trolleys. So, unless I have a one euro coin in my pocket, or am willing to interrupt one of the cashiers to change a 50 euro note just to get a coin, I have to hold my shopping in my arms, and it becomes a bit like being on Crackerjack (a reference you won’t get if you’re not British and of a certain age). Carrots, a bag of onions clutched in one hand; toothpaste, mouthwash, spaghetti all balanced on the forearm; Persil box in the other hand. After that, the shopping got difficult, I have to put down the Persil every time I want to pick up something else.
3. Customers. This is not a German-bashing thing, but since I’ve been in Germany, I have never ever experienced what seemed quite common in the UK: letting someone with a few items in front of you in the queue if you’ve got a trolley-full that could feed half of Ethiopia. I was behind a guy with only three items. In front of him was a young mother with the aforementioned food mountain. They even made eye contact at one point, and still she didn’t get it. This is probably not just a German thing, but God, do some people have no heart?
I feel a bit better now I’ve got that off my chest.
I found these when I was looking for something else on an old disc full of crap that I’d once cleaned off my hard drive. They’re from about four years ago, when I first got a sound editing program on my computer. As you’ll be able to tell, I was just mucking about. Not clever, not really very interesting, but they make me giggle: sped (or should it be ‘speeded’?) up versions of Teenage Kicks by The Undertones and Close To You by The Carpenters.
Tall people, clappers, and now… me.
This is one major improvement that could happen at concerts. I could have a better attitude. I need to stop getting annoyed by other people. I need to relax more. And I need to stop wanting to go home after a few songs. Last night, we went to see Antony and the Johnsons. It was in the Volksbühne, a very nice sit-down theatre type of place, so all of Berlin’s beautiful people were out in force for Berlin’s, ahem, hot ticket.
I was looking forward to it, and I was quite enjoying it. But I was tired, it was hot. My mind kept wandering: the new Batman and Robinson tenth episode … the work I’m doing this week … that story about the weather that I want to do … if I look over the top of my glasses then through my glasses, back and forth, the spotlights go blurry clear blurry clear blurry clear … hmmm, that guy next to me, when he’s tapping his foot, his leg’s rubbing against mine … oooh, and now he’s whistling VERY LOUD and very close to my ear instead of clapping … ooh look, that bloke down there’s got a beard, too, he looks like my mate Johannes … argh, that couple who sat in someone else’s seats during the break are pissing me off … must stop mind wandering, Craig, enjoy the music … hey, can’t see much of Antony, no lights on him and his hair’s all covering his face … I’m a bit bored … oh, but this song is good … the exit signs are bright … who invented the sound “woo” as an appreciation call? … can I go home soon? … please, no encore, please! … okay, just do one song … thank you.
I need to learn how to just enjoy myself and stop my brain. Maybe it just wasn’t the right time for me to be at a quiet sit-down show. As Hanni said afterwards, it’s the sort of music that’s more enjoyable on your own, anyway. There was one exceptionally lovely moment, though, when he asked the crowd to hum a one note drone to accompany him. (I, of course, was way too self-conscious to hum along.) The sound of several hundred hummers was wonderful, and the first time I’ve heard group-humming since my school days.
Aaaah, concerts; will I ever truly enjoy thee?
As is the custom on sunny days in Germany, we went and sat by a lake yesterday. It is, of course, a mountain of fun (especially if you ignore all the wind blowing sand into your eyes). Reading a book, drinking fizzy drinks, eating some gummi bears…
I paddled a bit, too. And, snigger, there were ladies there, tee hee, with no tops on! Obviously, I wasn’t looking cos I was too busy throwing sticks into the lake for Billy to go and fetch. That and ignoring Hanni’s, and every-dermatologist-in-the-whole-wide-world’s, advice to put sun cream on. Today my calves are so red, so painful, so like having itchy, crispy bacon superglued to my skin. I think I learnt a valuable lesson about skin care.
So, as I ouch-ed along the street with Billy this morning, trying to stop him from sniffing every “doggy message” on the way to the coffee shop, this middle-aged bloke came up to me and asked me something. I told him I didn’t understand as my German isn’t very good. He seemed to not care, and motioned for me to follow him across the street. So I followed him to his car, and he opened the back door behind the passenger seat and mimed that I should push the seat forward. He went and got in the driver’s side. I was confused. Then he scooched over to the passenger side and eins, zwei, drei, GO! I pushed the seat forward as he pulled it forward. And that was it. He said danke a lot, scooched back to the driver’s seat, and drove off.
And, huh huh, talking of cars: the ninth episode of Batman and Robinson.
The third Witham and Woodhall thing is online today. It’s, well, a bit stupid. Sometimes I make these things and I’m totally enthusiastic about them, then the minute they’re finished I wonder what the hell I’m doing wasting my time. So, anyway, after that stunning build up: why not go and visit Witham and Woodhall’s Atomium Crumb.
There’s a bunch of new Minipops on Flip Flop Flyin’ today. Including such greats as Terry Wogan, Dixie Chicks, Kid Carpet, The Lohan, Prince Harry, Don Quixote, the ugly-brain US soldier, Lyndie England, and that fellow above these words, Napoleon Dynamite.
So, Coldplay live last night. We drove all the way to Hamburg to see them, but the weather was okay, we had an iPod in the car, so woo hoo. The venue was really nice, a big open air thingy. Sadly, the support act was Richard Ashcroft. After we’d endured him, it was time for the main act, the most charistmatic, inventive, imaginitively-named band of the 21st Century: Cooooooooldplaaaaaaaaay! And, oooh, they were actually really really good. I held up my cigarette lighter at the right points and I clapped along LOADS! And I take back everything I said in my other Coldplay review, and we travelled home smiling and happy.
Okay, I told a bit of a lie in the above paragraph.
Actually, I told lots of lies.
We, err, didn’t go. We kinda got our days mixed up. I’d written it down as being on Thursday 16 June on my iCal. When I looked at the tickets magnetted to the fridge yesterday, I noticed it said 15 Juni 2005. I made a confused face like Joey off Friends, cos even my poor German can translate Juni to June. Then I spoke to Hanni: “Err, Coldplay is tonight.” After much discussion about the logisitcs of getting there, we organised a plan to get there, and thought: fuck it, can’t be arsed…
So we stayed in, ate liquorice allsorts, and watched Germany v Australia on the telly. (Germany won 4-3, by the way.)
Following on from the height-based system for concert-going that I’d like to see implemented, there’s something else I’d like to see, errr, changed: clapping.
Urrrgh, I wish people didn’t clap at concerts. Do I need to explain why? Maybe this little something (Quicktime .mov, 1MB) I filmed at the Duran Duran concert should explain things.
Okay, this should be the very last time I mention my trip to Istanbul. It’s FFF Does Istanbul; the latest in the now traditional-on-FFF post-trip horizontal-scrolling thingy.
It’s better than some of the recent FFF Doeses, but, on a Mac, there’s an animated bit that looks a bit crappy in Internet Explorer. It looks fine in Safari and Firefox, but I’ve not checked it in any browsers on a PC. So if you’re a PC user and the animated bit looks shitty: sorry. (And if you’re a computer wizz and know of a way to fix the problem… please let me know.)
I’ll tell you a bit about the young fellow in the picture above. I was taking a photo of some house on a side street, and soon as I whipped out my camera, this lad ran up and stood there in front of me, smiling that lovely big smile. It was one of life’s nice moments. Aaachh, but maybe you had to be there…
On Friday there was Eagles Of Death Metal…
Supporting Queens Of The Stone Age…
Then on Saturday, Duran Duran…
(and if you’re not a fan of Duran Duran, look! the toilet signs are pointing to Simon le Bon!)
Followed by doing some karaoke.
I was, of course, MAGNIFICENT singing Sweet Caroline. Better than Neil Diamond, in fact. Oh yeh. Me. Better than The Diamond.
For no real reason, here’s a photo of my favourite Sopranos character.
I just like him, that’s all.