Archive for November, 2005
Here’s some cobbled-together photos from my trip to Wales.
In other news, it’s really bloody cold in Berlin and that new Kate Bush album is ace.
The Beatles fans amongst you will know how Abbey Road was the last album they recorded, but Let It Be was the last album they released.
I have a similar tale. Early on in 2004, I put together a book called Fun Fun Fun, but for one reason or another, it got delayed. The Minipops book was then put together, thrust out into the world, sold quite well (thank you!), and the Fun Fun Fun book was still sat in boxes in a warehouse somewhere in Taiwan. Fast forward to now and that book is finally hitting the shops. Yay!
It makes me happy that it’s coming out just in time for Christmas. It’s been quite frustrating knowing that the copies of the book were printed and ready to go, but, like I say, for one reason or another, it hadn’t come out.
But it’s out now. Not sure exactly how many shops will have it, but here’s a list of those that the distribution company have told me should have it. It should also be available from the European Amazon stores soon, too. For those of you in North American or anywhere else non-European, I’m afraid I don’t have much info. Sorry.
So, what’s this book about? Well, here’s some pictures, then I’ll explain some more…
It’s based on the Fun Fun Fun part of Flip Flop Flyin’, except it’s not animated, and has been re-drawn, cos I wanted to make some things nicer than they are on the site. The whole idea is to just offer up thirty ways to make you smile; make your day a tiny bit nicer, were you to need such help. Twenty of the double-page drawings are from the site, ten of them are brand new, ‘specially for the book.
Like all pop stars who’ll tell you that their latest album is their best, I have a lot more affection for this book that the Minipops book. That’s mainly cos it has more of my ideas in it, rather than representations of famous folk which is basically one idea multiplied by 800. So, yeh, I’m kinda proud of this book. The publishers, PPBook, did a wonderful job with the printing, the colours look great. All in all, it makes me smile.
Hopefully it might make you smile too.
Hopefully you might buy it.
Or at least have a flick through in your local book shop.
Anyway, advert over.
Thanks for your attention.
Maybe it’s time to explain a little more about them. Each episode is a snapshot of the lives of those in a community. Each one takes place during a decade. This one is the 1970s; the previous one the 60s, and back to the first one being the 1930s. The music is from those decades, too. The plan was to make a story that all fitted together like you were re-visiting a community, so you could see how their lives had developed, but also as a vague representation of something from that decade. It doesn’t always fit perfectly, but it’s close.
Anyway, hope you like this very minimal fifth episode. If you think to yourself, hey, this animation is broken, well, it isn’t; like I say it’s very minimal, but it’s worth waiting, cos stuff does happen eventually. And it’s minimal for a reason, that most Craig-ish of reasons, too: Kraftwerk.
That was a very nice relaxing week. No using a computer. Very little mobile phone use, either. Hurrah. I think I’ll be doing an FFF Does type thing about my trip to Gwynedd, so not gonna go into too much detail here. Here’s just some random stuff from my time away.
Lesson learned: in future, don’t take a Zippo lighter with me whenever I want to fly. The security chaps at Berlin Tegel airport asked me to take it out of my bag. Then open it. Then remove the cotton wool-ish stuff. This was a royal pain in the arse, cos it’s crammed in there pretty tight. All good, I’m thinking, I’ve proved that I’m not The Zippo Bomber, but the security guy takes away the fuel-soaked cotton wool stuff, leaving me with a shell of a lighter. Balls.
But it’s weird how security is different in different places. When leaving and entering Berlin, security is tight: they give your passport a good going over and everything. When entering and leaving the UK, you might as well be getting on a bus.
London is still London. Still a place I’m glad that I don’t live in. The amount of utter meaningly shite in newspapers and all around; the no-talent celebs (who, I’m glad to say, I recognise less and less of); the hoards of threatening-looking teenagers; everything looking the same (new buses look like they were inspired by mobile phones which look like they were inspired by cars which look like they were inspired by trainers); and the Tube – it’s still rubbish.
Despite my open-mouthed fascination with him, having a few days off from listening to Bill O’Reilly is very good for the soul. As is being in the middle of nowhere surrounded by hills, cows, sheep, and being able to see all the stars without any street lights getting in the way.
Christmas is here.
No matter how old I get, I still find things like this amusing:
And getting home, back to my own bed, would’ve been a lot nice had I have not been woken up by a massive migraine, lying there for a couple of hours moaning and groaning with a throbbing head. Still feel a bit shit after that, to be honest, but at least I woke up to a snowy Berlin…
I’ve just had a nice long weekend away. Away from computers, mobile phones, and all my other everyday crap. I went to Wales with four mates, staying in a cottage in the middle of nowhere. All very lovely. Anyone who remembers my previous problems with driving a car may be surprised to know that I drove all the way from central London to the Welsh coast without any problems at all. It was good to do it, too. Every possible road condition encountered: the stop start jams of London, motorways, A roads, thru’ small towns, along winding thin country roads, all the way down to crossing a cattle grid and going up a mud track to the cottage itself.
Mainly, we were there to hang out with each other. These are mates that live in England so I don’t see them as often as I’d like to. So we did the required amount of drinking, giggling, eating Jaffa Cakes, and playing Scrabble. We played Headers and Volleys on a cliff near the sea, we went to a slate mine, and we spent a day in Portmeirion.
For those of you who’ve never been to, or heard of, Portmeirion, it’s a village built from scratch by this old posh fella. It’s nicely eccentric and probably most famous as the setting for the sixties TV show, The Prisoner. Well worth a visit if you happen to be out that way.
Anyway, one more day in London, then I’ll be properly back to the world of computers, drawing stuff, blogging, replying to emails, deleting spam, and generally wishing I was back in Wales.
I’m having a get-stuff-done day today: going to the post office, bank, sorting out stuff for my accountant, burning CDs that were promised to friends but are long-overdue, laundry, and I’ve got to wax my Barbour coat; thus, no time for this blogging lark…
I was out at dinner last night with a bunch of people. All very lovely. Anyway, long story short: dripped wax, picked off table carefully, slowly carved with thumbnail into the shape of a little doggy, placed in the cellophane wrapping of the cigarette packet to keep it safe, brought home with me in a taxi, put on desk, forgotten about while I slept, remembered when I smoked my first cigarette of the day, photographed, uploaded to computer, resized and Photoshopped a little to make the colour contrast a bit better, saved as jpg, uploaded to server, written about [these words], image placed beneath text directly after this colon:
If I was properly paranoid, I’d think that somewhere down in Bavaria, in a forest, deep underground, a big, whirling, throbbing, mainframe computer that has a nice big red light on top has my name and details in it. And when anyone who has to offer any kind of customer service types my name into their computer, electrical fizzes go down the wires, connect with the big über-computer, and back comes a flashing message on their screen: Please Fuck With His Mind, It Is Amusing. He’ll Get Frustrated And Start Chuntering In English Because He Can’t Remember The Words To Argue Back.
I’m not that paranoid, though. I just find that some German customer service is woeful. Sure, it can be bad in the UK, too; I’m not making a point about Britain being great and Germany not great, cos I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to be. It’s just that sometimes, there’s a complete lack of humanity. No willingness to offer a sympathetic apology if certain situations are uncontrollably unhelpful, and a seeming willingness to jump straight in and get chippy when reasonable thought is presented to them.
Two examples from the last couple of days.
My video camera had broke. The tape wouldn’t eject. So I make the long journey (two trains and a bus) to the Canon Service Point, explain the problem and they say it’ll be a few days. Fine. But I forgot to take the guarantee card with me. Fine, again, they say, you can just fax it to us in the morning. Good. The next day, they call me: my camera is ready, the problem was simple to fix, but they need me to fax the guarantee card.
“Can’t I just bring it with me when I come and pick it up in the next hour or so,” I reply.
“No. You have to fax it to us.”
“But I’m gonna come straight away.”
“No. You have to fax it to us first”.
Leaving me mumbling to my self …shit… all the way to the …fuck… copy shop where I get a photocopy, then pay for it to be faxed.
I understand that they need a copy of the guarantee, but, y’know, don’t Canon make photocopiers? Couldn’t they quite conceivably do a copy themselves? I’m pretty sure that they might have a copier in their office… Or is this a big clever plan, where they get people to use other photocopying machines so they break sooner and have to be replaced, thus potentially increasing sales of Canon products?
So, about an hour later, I’m stood there picking up my camera from a woman far more interested in getting back to the cigarette that’s burning away in the ashtray than she is about me getting any kind of good service. She plonks it on the counter, and shoots off back to her fag and her desk. I have a question, I say excuse me, and she just bellows “What?” from fifteen feet away, absolutely not gonna get out of her chair again, nowaysiree. I shout my question. She shouts her reply, I slink off chuntering.
Example number two, and this one is purest Curb Your Enthusiasm.
The ear infection that I keep getting (third time this year, hu-fucking-rrah) is back. So a trip to the ear nose and throat doctor is needed.
Now, I like the doctor a lot. He’s a very very nice guy. Really friendly, we always have a lovely chat and teach each other medical words in English and German.
His receptionists, though, are cunts. Utterly. Put lipstick on a prize-fighting pitbull, and that’s the level of service you’d expect. Now, I can never remember the hours the doctors keep. It seems quite random for doctors in Berlin. Some days it’s mornings only, some afternoons, other days it’s both or parts of both. You have to fall ill at specific times of the day, anyway.
So I go there, and notice I’m ten minutes after they’ve stopped practising. But I go in anyway, on the off-chance that he might see me, do his usual two minute inspection and give me some drops.
The first words out of the pitbull’s mouth, after she’d given me the you’ll-be-lucky-pal glare, “Feierabend” (meaning, in an ideal world, “I’m terribly sorry, sir, but we’ve closed for the day”; but she says it like she means “Go fuck a cement mixer, shithead”).
Okay. I try a little pleading, “Any chance…?”
“Feierabend. We’re open again on Monday.”
“Is there another ear doctor in Prenzlauer Berg [my district of Berlin] that might be open?”
“Then where is the nearest one?”
She writes down an address that, while not in Prenzlauer Berg, is actually closer than the far-side of Prenzlauer Berg.
“So, can I make an appointment for Monday anyway, just in case this other place is feierabending, too?”
Without missing a beat, “Nein, we’re fully booked on Monday. In fact, all week. No appointments next week.”
In my head the scene now plays out with me trashing the place. In reality, I chunter under my breath in English, leave and cycle to the other place, which, as it happens, was also Feierabending.
But, it’s not all bad. A couple of weeks back I was in the car and got stopped by the police for a random check. I shit my pants cos I knew I didn’t have my driving licence or car regsitration details with me. Two policemen ushered me to park up near their van. I managed to stall the car in the middle of the street and splutter my way to the desired location.
They asked for my papers, I acted out a little play for them, like “oh, they must be here somewhere…”
When I came up from the glove compartment empty-handed, I got the sound of two policemen sucking air through their teeth and shaking their heads saying, “Not good… not good.”
I’m shaking now. A bit nervous. Me. Driving. Police. Not a good salad.
But, as it happens, I managed to get stopped my two friendly coppers. They were kinda toying with me. I think they noticed my German wasn’t superb, and that I was a bit confused, and decided to be lenient. One went to his van, the other asked for my name and address. They had a little conference, and after a “hey, next time, take your papers with you, dude,” I was back on the road. Yay!
So, that’s the end of today’s blog post. It was more an exorcism for me than an interesting tale for you: sorry about that. By way of an apology, here’s a link to the very pretty mascots for the Beijing Olympics. I especially like the panda and the fish.
Guten morgen, heute ich schreiben Deutsch. Wieso? Ich weiss nichts, aber es ist an gut examplar von meine Sheiße Verständnis von der Deutsche Sprache. Die vierte Oog ding ist online. Ich hoffe jeder Palästinensisch ist beleidigen nicht, es war nichts für ungut! Es ist heir im niederländisch und englisch.
Okay, I can’t keep it up… Quick re-cap:
Good morning, today I will write in German. Why? I dunno, but it shows you how rubbish my understanding of the language is. The fourth Oog thingy is up now. I do hope any Palestinians out there aren’t offended, it wasn’t meant that way. Here it is in Dutch and English.
Here’s something I’ve been wondering about: white uniforms.
Lots of professions have white uniforms, most of them have white uniforms for understandable reasons. Doctors and dentists and other medical folk, there’s the cleanliness issue. Same goes for people in catering.
I’m imagining the various naval folk of the world wear white in case they fall overboard and are thus easier to see and rescue.
But painters and decorators: they wear white too. Why? This has got to such a point that I can’t help seeing these blokes wherever I go. It’s like spotting left-handed people. If there’s one nearby, I’ll zone in on him and once again beginning my wondering. Any ideas?
A bunch of new and slightly-less-new Minipops for you today.
The new ones: Tip-top short stop for them wonderful New York Yankees, Derek Jeter; a new version of Franz Ferdinand; eighties band that I always disliked, Eurythmics (although I do like Stevie Wonder’s harmonica solo on that song about the angel playing with my heart); Bruce Willis as John McClane in Die Hard With A Vengeance; and Japanese PM Junichiro Koizumi.
The slightly less new ones, ie. ones that I did to go in frames that helped decorate the Yahoo! Music penthouse when I was in Miami, including Diddy, Jay Z, Kanyé West, John Legend, and the Einstein of pop, Jessica Simpson.
Also, as you might suspect from all the hoo-haw I made about it the last couple of days, the third On This Day piece for de Volkskrant is online today, in Dutch, on their Oog page (English version here). Today’s is my favourite of the five that I’ve done for them, so it’s all downhill from here, kids.
Finally, a nice fellow over at londonist.com wrote such a nice piece about Flip Flop Flyin’ the other day that my rampaging ego demands that I link it.
So, it’s 9/11 today. At least it is in these parts of the world that use the numerical date in a logical way. Never did understand how the people who decide these things in the US thought it’d be good to have the date read month/day/year. How does that make sense? Surely the date should read in increasingly sized sections of time. Shouldn’t it? Do other countries use the month/day/year style? Hmmm…
Aaaaanyway, 9 November is also the birthday of Lou Ferrigno and more importantly, it was the day in 1989 when whoever was living in my flat, and all other East Berliners, could go over to West Berlin for the first time since the Wall went up; which is my way of saying the second On This Day thing for de Volkskrant/oog is online.
Dutch version English version
Back in September, I tried to hide my desire for some birthday wishes within a post about those On This Day things where newspapers tell you what happened in the past on today’s date.
At around the same time I was asked if I’d like to do something for top Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, for a feature on their website called Oog. This area of the site is where artists do something about news/politics/current affairs.
I decided to do something based on, and named after, these On This Day things. Online today is the first of those. There’ll be a new one online every week day ’til next Monday. Click this link to see the Dutch language version on the Oog page. For the rest of you who don’t understand Dutch, clickity here.
Last night, at around 1.30am, there was a bit of a commotion outside.
Like many of my neighbours across the street, I twitched my curtains. I was expecting a few drunken lads to just be making a bit of a racket after leaving the awful drunken lads-type bar just down the street (my God, I hate that place, totally dragging the neighbourhood down… he said, signing up for bringing back corporal punishment (joke)). But, no.
I was genuinely shocked by what I saw. From my second floor window I was looking down on a group of about forty – no shit – lads shouting, pushing, arguing, fighting in the middle of the road… well, this was as close to the LA Riots as my life has ever got! It was amazing.
Bathed in the orange street lights, it was a heaving mass of sportswear and fake tans. (An aside: Berlin ‘lads’ seem to have a style of dress quite different to the laddish types in the UK. It’s kinda hip hop seen through the eyes of a 1980s Pet Shop Boys video, but recreated in the sub-H&M; bargain fashion stores of east Germany.) For some reason this mass of boys totally reminded me of seeing a tub of fishermen’s maggots writhing around.
A few lads broke off from the group hear and there; drinking Beck’s, talking on mobile phones. A few were ushered away by screeching girlfriends. Screeching girlfriends were ushered away by screeching boyfriends, too.
And after about ten minutes of this (which seems like a really long time when there’s violence in the air), five police vans turned up. Just in time to see some lads sculk away. Some got stopped by police, some not. Some slinked off and hid silently in souped-up Volkswagens until they could drive off unnoticed. The majority just hung around until the police had shouted and questioned a few of them, and it all ended.
Come morning, the only sign of any action was a nice big pool of vomit right outside the front door to my house.
I have a confession to make to you, dear reader. After laying into Coldplay’s X&Y; album back in June, I’ve slowly come to realise that I really really like it. I still stand by what I wrote, but the grrr in my words has left me.
I left it alone for a while, then listened to it again a month or so later. Then again. And again. Each time was like a sneaky fag hanging out of the bedroom window so your Mum doesn’t know you’re smoking (actually, she knew all the time). But now I feel I can come out as an X&Y-liker.; The lyrics still suck beyond belief, I’m still a bit disappointed they didn’t try harder, but, thems some nice melodies.
While I’m here, I’ll also confess to a few other things.
Number one, my favourite song at the moment is Kelly Clarkson’s Since U Been Gone. I’m not sure how that happened, what with it being TV-bred Avril Lavigne Lite, but it did happen.
Number two, Cartoon Heroes by Aqua is a song I love.
And thirdly, probably the biggest crime of all, We All Stand Together by Paul McCartney and The Frog Chorus… it’s just lovely, it makes me melt.
I like those time-lapse photography things they do in wildlife documentaries. So I made one that documents autumn giving way to winter. It’s the view from the staircase up to my flat, looking out over where the bins and bicycles live. Don’t get your hopes up: it’s nowt special and is exceedingly short. But somehow the month’s worth of daily photographing sums up my evening’s slightly melancholy mood perfectly. Here you go.
When I first saw the video Michel Gondry made for The Chemical Brothers’ song Star Guitar, I immediately felt that pop videos would never be bettered, it being absolutely perfect and all.
After finding this Sony Bravia page (via The Simple Life) and watching the Quicktime, I’m kinda convinced I’ve seen the peak in advertising beauty now, too. I’ve been looking forward to seeing this ad since a few photos appeared on Flickr a while back, but the clip itself way exceeded my expectations. It’s truly stunning. And the site’s got a nice fadey colour thing going on too, which can only be a good thing. If only my crappy Sony hi-fi was as good as their advert…