Archive for February, 2006
One of the highlights of being in Mexico was going to see some wrestling. Up close it was kinda exciting, even though a lot of it is very obviously choreographed. All very athletic and theatrical. A great night of entertainment.
Here’s a sports channel-style highlights package (Quicktime, 7.5MB).
And here, in full, is the best moment of the night (Quicktime, 7.6MB).
Back to the Atlas stuff. Nine new entries today. Argentina, Bangladesh, French Polynesia, Isle of Man, Kenya, Liechtenstein, Oman, San Marino and Vanuatu.
I apologise in advance, there’s nothing particularly funny this time. Didn’t really have my jokey head on properly, a bit like when you put the ketchup lid back on a bit wonky.
Anyway, those of you who might be following the adventures of French colonialists Jacques et Pierre might be interested to know that there are some English colonialists – James and Peter – on the seas, too; ensuring chuckles a-plenty.
A couple more Mexico films today. I’m not sure if these are interesting to other people or not. For some odd reason, there’s a difference looking at a Quicktime I’ve made off- or online. For example, the little film I put online yesterday seemed quite nice when I viewed it on my computer. Once it was online, though, I saw it with different eyes and realised that it’s pretty dull and only really of interest to me.
Today’s clips are probably similarly uninteresting. First there’s one of Zoomat, Tuxtla Gutiérrez’s marvellous zoo. It’s special cos it only has animals that are native to southern Mexico, so there’s no penguins wondering why the ice has been replaced by a swimming pool painted white, etc. (Quicktime, 7.7MB)
And the other film today is called Driving To Palenque (Quicktime, 5.7MB). About 60 km of roads in the middle of nowhere covered in a minute.
More of this crap tomorrow.
Over the next few days I’ll be putting some little films online here. I’ve finally got around to sorting out the video stuff I recorded in Mexico. For some reason, most of it is video of car journeys. So I’ll begin with one such car journey clip, on the road from San Cristóbal de Las Casas to Tuxtla Gutiérrez. This was a crazy winding road, so we spent about fifteen minutes behind a lorry going about 20 mph. But it was a good lorry with a cool load. Here’s the clip, I call it A Lorry and Christopher Cross (Quicktime, 6.4MB). And, yes, I do like Christopher Cross.
(Technical question: any Mac users out there know of a way to make Quicktime clips a smaller file size without too much loss in quality? I do it all in iMovie HD, which I’m beginning to find isn’t perfect when it comes to compression options. Is Quicktime Pro any good for this sort of thing?)
So anyway, I had a nice weekend. I know it’s Thursday and virtually another weekend, but I’ve not really arrived back in Berlin yet in my head. I went to the UK with the girlfriend to see friends and go to an old old friend’s wedding.
Quick summary: boozing with mates, eating at Garlic and Shots (everything on the menu has garlic in it. Even the beer. No, really. It’s well tasty, too), bumming around Brighton, going on a rollercoaster in the rain, fish and chips, watching the BAFTAs on telly, buying stuff in HMV…
The wedding was the first I’ve ever been to as an adult, (either I’ve got no friends or none of my friends get married…), and it was quite enjoyable. It was in a lovely little place called Arundel, quite near to Brighton. I got to wear a suit, I saw old pals, I witnessed the bride crying as she did her vows, and I saw the groom’s mum get incredibly drunk.
Every time I go back to the UK, stuff has changed. People who I’ve never seen before are really famous, the cost of cigarettes is well over a fiver, and I feel like a lonesome freak for wondering why the hell everyone is going doolally about the Arctic Monkeys when they’re quite clearly average at best.
At least I got to continue proving my own Laws Of The Airport to be correct:
1. You will always see an African man dressed in bright clothes with a matching hat.
2. You will always see an Arab wearing the gear you see Sheikhs wearing.
3. You will always see an East European woman in a fur coat.
4. You will always see a British man wearing a cowboy hat or sombrero.
5. There will be a car on display at the airport and only men will be stood near it.
6. If you’ve eaten at a Burger King or McDonald’s in the airport, no matter how well you wash your hands, the smell will haunt your fingers on the flight.
But this time I disproved my own personal law about reading on a plane. This law is simple: it could be the best book ever ever in the world ever, but I’ll still read the complimentary Daily Mail or magazine I bought at the airport on the flight rather than the book. This time, I read my book. And boy am I enjoying it. It’s Moneyball by Michael Lewis, if you’re interested. It’s about baseball.
Since I came back from Mexico six weeks ago, I’m finding writing stuff here a bit of a slog. Not really got back in the swing of things. Hopefully that’ll change soon. I keep saying this, but I might start doing some more Ohrwurm-y stuff here, cos I used to enjoy that, and it’s a never ending topic.
The one I’ve got in my head today is The Mavericks’ song Dance The Night Away. I like this song quite a lot. I didn’t used to when it first came out, and I’d hear it all the time. But then one night, coincidentally a night out in Brighton, I’d been doing the unthinkable: dancing in a nightclub. I was in a good mood, a bit worse for wear at the end of a long sweaty night, and went into a shop to buy some water on the way back to my mate’s house and this song was being played. I was in a sufficiently good mood to start enjoying the song and believing the song’s sentiment. Yes, actually, I do want to dance the night away. Since that day, I’ve enjoyed this song. But I’ve rarely danced the night away. Maybe the song has sucked up my dancing and re-focussed it on the song. Maybe.
Time for the penultimate episode of Valley Of The Cnuties. Not much to say about this new episode really, so I’ll let you watch it in peace.
On top of trying to learn Photoshop properly, reading that big pile of books, and learning how to do the CSS stuff I need to do to make FFF an über-fantastic user experience; on top of all that, I really really want to learn how to use Adobe’s other swanky program, Illustrator. I’ve tried several times before but never get past the basics before I get annoyed with it. This is my first effort on my new learning path. I call him Mucky Mouse.
Anyway, some random stuff.
Why, on TV show title sequences, do they get specific with certain actors. Why does it say Jerry Seinfeld … Julia Louis-Dreyfus … Michael Richards … and Jason Alexander as George. Why does Jason Alexander get an as George after his name?
Does a Baby On Board sticker really make people drive more carefully behind the car with the sticker? And why does a baby deserve more consideration that a normal human? I want those stickers to be banned and replaced with Human On Board.
I wonder how much crisp grease (I mean chips, America) ends up along the seams of our trousers. After eating a few, I always swish my fingers quickly up and down the edge of my trousers to clean them. Am I doing serious harm to my wardrobe?
Could record companies please cut down on the amount of packaging on CDs? There was a time when a jewel case was enough. Now everything’s got a cardboard slip case around it, which always end up getting crushed in my pile of CDs, and that bloody polythene around it that is perculiarly annoying.
And I wonder how many tiny T-shaped bits of plastic end up lost in carpets. I’m talking about those tiny plastic tags that attach the price tag to a shirt that you have to cut off. Those things bug me.
Finally, here’s a tip: when making a tuna sandwich, add a touch of mustard. It really does make your sandwich sparkle with flavour.
God, the stuff that I need to empty my brain of is very very inane…
Okay, so it’s St. Valentine’s Day. And I done gone found a love song for you. Not wishing to big myself up too much, but I think I’ve produced something quite quite special. You might even come to think of me as your own Phil Spector or something (without the spook hair and murder charges, of course).
I’d like to present to you the singing talents of Phyllis Knopfler, a wonderful pop/rock vocalist, fresh out of prison, with a sultry smokey voice destined to get all you fellas aroused in your trousers.
I was so impressed with her that I immediated got her into my studio to lay down some tracks. With a little bit of help from GarageBand, some sweat, a few tears, and several packs of fags, we came up with this scintillating version of Bryan Adams’ wonderful ballad (Everything I Do) I Do It For You.
I know you’ll love it!
It’s been a while since I’ve re-designed the main Flip Flop Flyin’ site, but it’s something I’ll begin working on in the next few weeks. It’s something I’m looking forward to and dreading at the same time. It’s nice to do something fresh, but a daunting task. Plus, I’ve probably gotta learn some new technical stuff too, which is something I’m so very much not looking forward to.
The design history of the site is one of slowly finding my feet. The first 18 months of the site was, looking back, all about that. Changing things constantly. I never stuck with a layout for more than a few months. Plus it was easier to re-design the site when there wasn’t a huge amount of content to wibble with.
Once I got to Berlin, though, things started to calm down. I stuck with the above version (green and pink versions) for ten months. Sideways scrolling, though: not a good idea.
This next one was where I began to feel the site was looking how I wanted it to look. And it’s still the basis of what the site is now. Anyway, that lasted for nearly a year and a half.
Now we begin to get closer to the current site. Things looking good there for another year and a half.
A bit of a tweak brings us to the site as it is now. It’s been like this since August 2004, (another year and a half, perhaps that’s just how long it takes me to get bored of looking at the site as it is…), but the big change, and the reason I want to change things again, is this page you’re on now. I used to write a heck of a lot more on the front page of FFF, but since this FFFg thing came along, it’s sucked all the words up.
So I’m gonna try and incorporate this into that. Make everything whole again.
But first, I’d quite like some feedback. How do you feel about the way FFF works? Is it easy to find everything? Anything you really like? Anything you really hate? Any techy folks out there with tips on what I could learn that’d make my life easier in the long run? Feel free to be brutal. Thanks.
I’ve set myself a task this year: to finish reading all the books that I’ve begun reading over the past few years. It’s a terrible habit of mine. I get excited about reading something, get about 50-or-so pages in, then get distracted by something newer and shinier. So I’ve built the partially-read books into a pile (about 70 cm high), and I’m gonna work my way through them. This is quite a challenge, as that’s about the same amount of books I’d normally read in a year. And it assumes I won’t buy other books or read the books that I’ve not even started yet (a similarly sized pile).
The first of the half-read pile I re-read last week was I Was A Robot by Wolfgang Flür. I initially began reading that about four years ago, and put it down cos it was incredibly boring. Boring boring boring. As boring as Driftwood by Travis. As boring as the Merchant Ivory film Howard’s End. And on picking it up again, it hadn’t got any more interesting in the intervening years. One would’ve thought a book by an ex-member of Kraftwerk would be one of the most interesting books I could possibly read, but no. I don’t know whether it’s all the legal stuff he went through with Ralf and Florian (who apparently wanted parts of the book removed) or whether he should just stick to tapping electronic drums instead of typewriters.
It was all a tad underwhelming. Perhaps, though, it’s a good thing not to know too much behind-the-scenes stuff about Kraftwerk. Perhaps Kraftwerk is best left being four robots beavering away for years and years in a studio in Düsseldorf. There’s something pure and lovely about the lack of sleeve notes, or website information, or DVD extras in the Kraftwerk Welt.
While I’m on the subject, that Minimum-Maximum DVD is ace. Here’s something that should be boring, but isn’t. Four blokes stood still for two hours with films behind them that, on the whole, are no more complex that animated gifs. There’s only a couple of moments in live DVDs/videos that I’ve ever seen that are genuinely excited.
One is the beginning of the AC/DC Live At Donnington DVD where the camera is behind the stage and you see Angus come out onto a podium above the drummer and begin playing the twiddly diddly bit at the start of Thunderstruck in front of a sea of pale denim.
The other is on this Kraftwerk DVD, when they’re playing Numbers and they’re fiddling with the computer-y voices that read out ‘eins zwei drei vier fünf sechs sieben acht’ bits. Not sure why that’s so exciting, but it is.
An aside: Minimum-Maximum is the first live concert film I’ve seen where you can see how many people have camera phones. Weird to think that not too long ago security dudes would be confiscating all cameras. Now they’re powerless. Hurrah.
I guess long-time FFF visitors might know how I like Kraftwerk a lot. Indeed, part of the appeal of moving to Germany was that Kraftwerk come from here. Not a particularly good motive, but there you go. And when I arrived, I’d not really learnt many German words. In fact, my knowledge of German was virtually entirely based on Kraftwerk lyrics. I couldn’t ask for a courgette in a grocery store but I could tell the shop assistant that I was a musician with a pocket calculator in my hand.
And I mentioned this very briefly before (back in the days when the front page of Flip Flop Flyin’ existed as a proto-weblog rather than the rather dry update list it has become over the past year): I met a member of Kraftwerk once. It was a meeting that, for the weeks after it happened, I winced every time I thought about it. I made a fool of myself.
It was in the German town of Oberhausen at their short film festival where the video I’d made for Giardini di Mirò was nominated for an award. Karl Bartos, ex-Kraftwerk member, was one of the judges. I didn’t win, sniff, but all the nominees got to go to the aftershow dinner thingy. Those of us who hadn’t won went there first and sat around one table; the winners, organisers and judges all sat around another table. I wasn’t feeling too well that evening, and not to put too finer point on it, needed the toilet quite badly. All through the awards thingy, I was trying to keep my, err, wind in. So by the time I got to the dinner thing I was full of gas. So full, in fact, that I decided I had to nip back to the hotel to relieve myself.
Once back at the dinner, I was giddy with joy: wind-free and in the same room as One Of Kraftwerk. So I began to drink. And drink. And drink. Slowly getting closer to the moment when I would say something to a man who’s creative output I’ve enjoyed immensely. Finally, as I was preparing to leave, I was drunk enough to say something. I mumbled something about loving his music, thrust my hand into his surprisingly un-robot-like and quite podgy hand and shook it. He looked at me blankly and didn’t really say much. Deathly silence. I let go of his hand and retreated, feeling the sensible brain cells kicking the shit out of my drunk brain cells for being so stupid.
Anyway, my liking of Kraftwerk is very noticable on Flip Flop Flyin’. I’ll leave you with a handy bunch of links to all the Kraftwerk related stuff I’ve done:
Minipop 1: Die Mensch Maschine
Minipop 2: Expo 2000
Minipop 3: The Mix
Minipop 4: Trans Europa Express
FFF Boy’s Tour de Berlin
FFF Boy and Billy pretending to be Kraftwerk
Kraftwerk visit my old kitchen Flipcam
The Kraftwerk Kam
Ralf meets Florian
Bob’s electronic performance
My drawing for the Observer Music Magazine advert
My ‘cover’ for shift.jp.org
Episode 5 of Valley Of The Cnuties
I realised when I was updating my portfolio that a lot of you might not have seen the adverts for Yahoo! Music that I worked on. There’s five of them now. Scripted by the lovely people at Ogilvy in New York, animated by the lovely people at Nexus in London, drawn by the me at my desk in Berlin.
Here they are: Missy Elliott, Green Day, the UFO one, sweet and lovely Shakira, and Pharrell.
Hope you like.
About ten years ago, when I was having a little crisis in my life, I was finding it difficult to get to sleep. One night I began imagining my own little village (more about that here). And I’ve often imagined being the ruler of my own nation. A nation where graffiti ‘artists’ are punished severely, where shopkeepers and cashiers are bound by law to be helpful and friendly… your basic run-of-the-mill dictatorship, really. Now those fantasies have taken on a visual form.
I was asked to do something new for Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant‘s Oog section. You may remember the On This Day stuff (Dutch / English) I did for them back in November.
This time I made The Kingdom of Robinsonian Antarctica, or Robinsonia for short. A nation where I am King Craig I. Hurrah!
Aside from the rampaging ego apparent in my desire to be a king, it was kinda inspired by those adverts promoting Wales you see on British Airways flights before the films begin. When doing some research for the FFF Pictorial Atlas, I found out that the only land on Earth not claimed by any country is between 90 and 150 degrees west in Antarctica.
That land was calling me. It was saying, ‘Come here, Craig, and build a nation!’ That nation is Robinsonia. Please come visit.
Every time I watch Arrested Development, I can’t stop seeing Buster as a mixture of the last two Liverpool FC managers, Rafael Benítez and Gérard Houllier.
Aaah, I’m enjoying doing this stuff… Today on the FFF Pictorial Atlas there’s entries for Brunei, Comoros, Lesotho, Montserrat, Central African Republic, Switzerland and Serbia & Montenegro. There’s one thing in the Brunei entry that is such a good joke, but, sadly, it’s not one of mine: it’s a real actual proper fact. And apologies to the Swiss: I’m just muckin’ around, honest.
Today, for some reason, I’ve got Rain Or Shine by Five Star stuck in my head. Not heard that song for blooming ages, but I seem to remember most of the lyrics, especially the slightly odd lines, “Do I am love you/yes I do do”. I used to like them when I was a teenager. Got both the Luxury Of Life and Silk & Steel albums. And Doris was my favourite. She was lovely. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s probably for the best.
Guten tag Deutschland. Du bist Deutschland, oder? Ha ha ha. Diese blogeintragung ist nur für Sie (und den Schweizer und die Österreicher, schätze ich). Ich bin glücklich zu verkünden, daß das Buch Minipops jetzt in Ihrer Sprache vorhanden ist. Ja ja ja. Es wird von Eichborn veröffentlicht und sollte in den Geschäften jetzt sein. Wechselweise konnten Sie es direkt von Eichborn bestellen. Danke schön, mein lieblings. Mein Deutsch ist sheisse, oder?
Quick note to everyone else: The Minipops book is now available translated into German. Hurrah.
Okay, a lil’ quiz for you, cos I know that Friday afternoon is skiving time. Following on from the brief thing about Experimental Jetset t-shirts and the rip-offs they’ve spawned: name the bands.
Some are easy, some difficult…
1. Ed & Colin & Phil & Thom & Jonny.
2. Billy & Frank & Dusty.
3. David & Stephen & Graham.
4. James & Ian & Zac & Mark & Derry.
5. Dean & Gene.
6. Jim & Sharon & Caroline & Andrea.
7. Brian & David & Britt & Todd.
8. Vince & Mick & Nikki & Tommy.
9. David & Jerry & Tina & Chris.
10. Bernard & Johnny.
11. Ron & Ronnie & Rod & Ian & Kenny.
12. John & Gary & Scott.
13. Ron & Tim & Michael & Carol & Paul.
14. Julian & Nick & Albert & Nikolai & Fabrizio.
15. Lee & Kim & Steve & Thurston.
16. Richard & Adam & Graham & Clint.
17. Gerard & Mikey & Frank & Ray & Bob.
18. Mickey & Michael & Peter & Davy.
19. Bill & Jimmy.
20. Simon & Andy & Paul & Paul.
The taking-down of Christmas decorations on 6th January – the Twelfth Day – signifies that normal, non-festive daily life is back. That the drudge of school or work is biting hard, and you’re wondering how soon it is until half-term or the Easter break. Similarly, for me, the post-holiday version of this is the day my duty-free cigarettes run out. I can no longer live on the fading perfume of a foreign nation. I’m back in Berlin. And, as of later today, I will no longer be able to scoot a couple of metres in my chair to grab a fresh pack of fags from the nice duty free pile, I’ll have to trudge down the shops. Oh, the trials of life…
Anyway, after seeing this and this on Boing Boing about tilt-shift photography, I fancied having a go at trying to fake it in Photoshop. Before I go on, you should know that the use I get out of Photoshop is similar to using an articulated lorry to go to the shops to pick up some chewing gum. Doing pixelly drawings doesn’t really use more that three or four tools. One of the things I want to do this year is learn how to use Photoshop properly; to, if you will, shop my photos. So I spent some time Gaussian blurring parts of digital photos I took on various holidays, and it was fun.
Tenam Puente, Mexico:
New York, USA:
The weather here’s getting a tiny bit better. The pavement glaciers are melting leaving behind three weeks of – continuing the glacial thing – ground moraine: dirt, dog poo, dog piss, cig butts, fireworks left over from New Year’s Eve, etc. Just a few days ago, the park was still frozen over. Slight dips in the landscape were filled with ice; enough for people to skate on. Enough for dogs to slide around on too. Roll the tape.