Archive for March, 2006
In October 2003, I was sat in the waiting room at my eye doctor’s surgery and started scribbling notes about a story about a bench. I scribbled some more notes on the U-bahn journey back to my flat. That night, I did a few quick drawings in Photoshop:
The next day I draw a background and thought about the story a bit more:
Something else came up, and this bench story got put to one side. About a year ago, I did some more work on the background, but not much else. So it’s with no small amount of pleasure and relief that I’ve actually done it now. I changed the shape of the characters, made them a bit more human-shaped; I tinkered with the story a little, too. On the whole, though, it looks pretty much how I imagined it would two and a half years ago.
So here it is: A Bench.
I was born 12,971 days ago.
But was I born:
… In The USA?
Nope. Born in the UK, in the harsh badlands of Lincolnshire, livin’ life in the ghetto, on the streets of North Hykeham.
… On The Bayou?
Like I said: Lincolnshire.
Oh yes. Slippy and attached to placenta.
… To Be Wild?
Not in the slightest.
… To Run?
Again, no; I was born to get the bus.
… Under A Bad Sign?
Is Virgo a bad sign?
Depends on your definition of free, I guess. As a citizen of the United Kingdom and resident in Germany I have freedom to a certain extent. And, of course, my brain stops me doing things that I might want to do because it gets all embarrassed.
… To Make You Happy?
See Flip Flop Flyin’ and make up your own mind.
I woke up this morning to find it was an hour later than I thought it would be. Were it not for my computer automatically re-setting itself to European Summer Time, I doubt I would have found out for days. But it means that spring is kinda officially here. And it’s beginning to become obvious from the weather too. At least it was until it began raining yesterday morning (it’s still raining now).
On Friday, I could smell smoke. Not my own cigarette’s smoke; real, proper, something’s-burning smoke. I dunno where the smoke’s was coming from, but I knew it existed cos the weather was nice enough to have the window open and I could smell the smoke. So, after nearly five months of winter, the end of the tunnel seems to be just a few yards away. For some reason it’s been a particularly rough winter. Probably absolutely nothing to do with this huge climate change myth, eh?
Anyway, my first Berlin winter was an adventure, cos I’d not really known sustained periods of snow in England. Each winter since then has ground me down further and further. This winter has seen me retreat from life completely and cocoon myself in central heating. It doesn’t help that I want to permanently leave Berlin as soon as I can sort it out, the winter only carves those feeling deeper into my brain.
I’ve cleared my desktop of all outstanding work in the last week. No new projects to do, so in a week or so I’ll be going on holiday to New York. By the time I get back, spring should be in full flow. And, hopefully, I’ll come back with a new lease of life, cos my brain has been toying with me of late, making me feel things I don’t wanna feel, making me blue. But it’s been nice to not wear gloves when I’m outside this last few days. Strange how a little thing like that can make life more palatable, huh?
And I don’t think I’m alone. Berlin stretches its limbs and sips a latté on the pavement when the sun comes out. That’s the first sign of spring here: restaurant owners diving into their cellars to get the extra chairs and tables to put out on the street.
People seem to have a spring in their step. There seems to be a massive sense of joy that the winter is nearly over, and this is evident in what I see as I walk around the park with Billy. I’ve seen two seperate, seemingly normal people singing out loud; hordes of people outside a local ice cream shop; some middle-aged twins roller blading; a man flying a massive kite; a man practicing his fighting moves with a big stick (not sure what it’s called, but it was like you’d see in a martial arts film); and, as a way to perfectly describe the joy of spring, I saw these three primary colour-wearing people hanging out behind a basketball arena.
The contrast between behaviour now and a couple of weeks ago, when the streets were still covered with snow can be best summed up with these two examples. Back then, in the Ice Age, I was walking Billy and this woman was walking towards us. As we were about to pass each other, she spat in Billy’s direction – she missed, thankfully – and began shouting at us: Fotze! Fotze! (the English translation is an anagram of ‘cnutie’ without the I and E). She went on to rant about dog owners and dog poo everywhere. She was loopy. But a couple of days ago, I was cleaning up Billy’s mess, and a little boy looked at me and said Danke. That was nice.
So, spring is here. Hurrah for that. And the goodness of that is only heightened by Liverpool beating Everton. Not only did they beat them by playing most of the game with 10 men after Steven Gerrard was sent off, but Everton’s ex-Manchester United player scored an own goal. Not only that, but he’s also Barry Neville’s brother. Ha! Couldn’t be better.
There is, of course, a black lining to this springtime silver cloud: tis now the season for hippies to play their damned bongos in the park.
Why it is, I don’t know, but lately I’ve become a little bit obsessed with the stickers on the side of cars that indicate that they are some sort of special edition: This isn’t an ordinary Golf, oh no, it’s a Bon Jovi Golf. Anyway, last Sunday when I took Billy for a walk, I took a couple of photos of these stickers. The next day I took some more. Yesterday, I took my 50th photo. All of them within ten minutes walk from my front door. I present them to you now: Special Editions.
Here’s a bit of advice: don’t play football with your cocker spaniel’s tennis ball in your office if you’ve got an open tub of nails on the edge of your table: it’ll take ages to pick up all the nails should your skills not be Ronaldinho-esque.
It’s been a long time since I last went to a concert. Partly because there’s been little I’ve wanted to see, partly because bands I might want to see often play at a venue which I really don’t enjoy going to, partly cos I’m lazy.
Last night I went to see The Darkness. You can laugh if you want, but I like them. I guess they’re not as popular now as they were a couple of years back, (by the way, anyone who liked the first album, but couldn’t be bothered to buy the second one: go buy it. Honestly. It’s just as good, if not better than the debut album), so the venue wasn’t too crowded.
And what an interesting selection of people were there. Blokes who looked like they were Status Quo roadies in the 1970s, women who looked like they were Status Quo groupies in the 1970s, woman who looked like they were planning on being Darkness groupies later that night, lots of rock fans (t-shirts: Fear Factory, Turbonegro, Metallica, Korn, Motörhead, Rose Tattoo), lots of kids who looked like regular business student-type humans, and me: looking like I’ve been living in a hedge, gettin all my vitamins and nutrition from eating Pringles.
An odd phenomenon was the Metal Threeway. I don’t know why this is, but I saw several middle-aged rockin’ men escorted by pairs of middle-aged rockin’ women. Is there some special Mormon-style plural marriage thing in the German rock fraternity that I don’t know about? Was I in a metal version of Jan and Dean’s Surf City?
So anyway, the support band came on and chugged for a while. They were Australian. And they were called Doomfoxx. There’s something about rock bands like this that I kinda admire. Firstly, they chose to call themselves Doomfoxx. ‘Let’s have a double X!‘ they must’ve thought. ‘Yeh, man, that’s fucking cool,’ they would’ve drawled, nodding to each other as mental images flashed through their minds of Robocop-esque armoured, laser-eyed foxes prowling the Sherwood Forest of Robin Hood-era Olde England picking off stray badgers with their foxxy cock bullets. I also admire the corkscrew-hair-and-no-shirt look that lots of guitarists sport. It’s just fantastic seeing a bloke up there so into this ideal of rock that he can’t help but want to be Slash. That’s something that was missing from The Darkness’ show; while it’s perfectly good for them to kinda know that they are vaguely ridiculous, the earnest devotion to rock is something I still admire.
The house lights go down, Abba’s Arrival (nice touch) comes through the speakers, and we’re off. The fella in front of me looked a bit like he was Jurgen Klinsmann’s dorky younger brother and was clapping right from the beginning, (and you know how much I enjoy that), but he seemed to be clapping to a different song by a different band. There waas a bloke dancing like he was at Hawkwind show, plenty of women doing that snake-hipped lava lamp dance, too.
The band were great. Justin Hawkins, looking like a meerkat dressing up as Rik Mayall in Comic Strip Presents… More Bad News, showing his plumber’s arse for much of the show. All the hits,
a bit of karaoke a couple of covers where the bass player sang AC/DC’s Highway To Hell and Thunderstruck, and at the end Hawkins got on a roadie’s shoulders and played his guitar walking triumphantly through the crowd.
Then it was over. The sound system, had it have been human, would’ve raised its eyebrows as it found itself playing (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes (nice touch no.2) as the lights came on and folks trudged out into the nippy Berlin night. I had a good time, so I celebrated by having a kebab on my way home.
I’m not sure how many of you can see the Quicktimes films I occasionally put up here cos they never seem to get as many comments as other stuff; either that or, 1. you can’t be bothered to look at them, or 2. you think they’re rubbish.
Anyway, another one today. This one is called On God’s Earth (14MB, Quicktime). It’s the director’s commentary on a film about our planet, by the Creator himself.
I’m sitting here desperately trying to remember something. It’s an awful state of affairs. Last night, as I lay in bed watching telly, I was writing some notes about the FFF Atlas: jokes about specific nations, scribbles of possible illustrations, etc. After I’d switched off the light, I though of something else, something BIG. So big in fact, that I didn’t bother to reach for my notebook, thinking instead: of course I’ll remember that.
Several hours of sleep later and I’m dressed and taking Billy for his morning walk. The same idea pops into my head again. Aaaah, that’s a good one, I think to myself as I drag Billy away from a huge pile of another dog’s poo.
We return home, I give Billy his breakfast, I even sweep the floor in my office, then switch on my computer: what was that idea again? The one about the music thing you wanted to put online? No. The one about drawing yourself in a pith helmet holding a dead tiger? No. Damn! damn! damn! damn! fuck and damn!
I know that at some point today the idea will eventually come back, but right now my brain won’t let me rest. So I’ll take my mind off it by going through some stuff I’ve been meaning to write about for the last few days:
I recently watched Guerrilla, a documentary about the Symbionese Liberation Army and the Patty Hearst kidnapping. It’s a good film if you’re into that kinda thing. All seems quite dodgy to me, though, how she managed to get out of jail so quickly and (eventually) receive a full pardon from President Clinton. I wonder if that would’ve been the case were she not the daughter of an exceedingly rich and influential family…
Last night, going through some links I’d bookmarked and not bothered to look at, I found this one on WFMU’s wonderful blog: the magnificent machines of Arthur Ganson. I could watch his machines for hours, especially this one.
If you like Pink Floyd (and especially if, like me, you adore David Gilmour’s voice and guitar playing), you’ll probably enjoy his new solo album, On An Island. Quite frankly, I can’t get enough of it at the moment. I love it to bits. Of course, it has its muso old-men-a-jammin’ moments, but on the whole it’s a belter that, at times, sounds like bits of Meddle and Wish You Were Here. Any album that has a lyric about feeding bread to swan can’t be bad, can it? What with it being 2006, there’s a David Gilmour video podcast, so you can see if you’ll be as enthusiastic as I am or whether you’ll begin to think I like listening to your dad’s music.
And, finally, I’m sure there was a collective sigh of relief in Washington last night as Japan beat Cuba 10-6 at PETCO Park, San Diego in the World Baseball Classic final. How galling it would have been to not only see the USA team knocked out in the 2nd round, but to see Cuba win the thing on American soil; especially after the Bush administration had denied Cuba a licence to play on US soil. Not until the people who govern baseball threatened to withdraw their sanctioning of the tournament did the government capitulate. But, Cuba didn’t win. Neither did the USA: now they know how England fans feel every time they don’t win the World Cup.
Still can’t remember my idea… I wonder if I’ve got Alzheimer’s…
It’s been a few weeks since an Atlas update, so I gone done one today. Five new countries for you: Faroe Islands, Tuvalu, Mongolia, Vatican City and the United States. The latter was one of the more difficult ones to write. Countries that I already know stuff about are always a bit more of a challenge, so I hope you like what I did. All in all, what with the Witham and Woodhall and Arthur things, a pretty busy few FFF days. I like it when things come together quickly like this, the momentum is good.
Witham and Woodhall are back with a new venture today. They’ve taken in abused and neglected teddy bears, dusted them down, given them some sessions with a counsellor, and got them dressed up to star in… Witham and Woodhall’s Bruised Teddy Bear Zoo. I’ve quite enjoyed making this stuff, which is pretty good, cos I’m not really enjoying much FFF stuff at the moment. Perhaps this is the thing that might spark a revival in my head.
You reckon Billy can get avian flu from chewing up a little toy bird?
I’ll admit that with every passing day I’m getting more and more afraid of it. Dead birds found not so far away from Berlin isn’t helping. I’m even wondering if I should begin stocking up on tinned food and bottled water for both Billy and I, cos I have absolutely no faith in the government being prepared if things take a turn for the worse.
Anyway – distract yourself, Craig! – another Wikipedia Relay for you. (Amended rules, suggested by people in the comments: no clicking on dates or countries, that’s cheating.) Bill Murray to Mark Spitz.
As I’ve said before, I love Wikipedia. It’s replaced Google as the site I first go to for most information. And I like playing with Wikipedia too. I enjoy seeing how far I can get away from subject X by just clicking on linked words. Sometimes I set myself Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon-style tasks, for example: get from subject X to subject Y in less than ten clicks.
So I thought I should share my little Wikipedia Relay game with you.
Give it a go: from Jon Bon Jovi to Napoleon. You can only click your mouse on links within the page; no using your keyboard. I did it in five clicks. Anyone do it quicker? Anyone got any good Wikipedia Relay challenges?
They say a change is as good as a rest. I need both. I’m gonna have to wait another month before I can have a rest, so I’ve changed the way I work and live. I am virtually a hermit. I’m really not exaggerating. And I’m not talking about this type of hermit. Aside from taking Billy out and buying groceries, I live my whole life in this flat. For reasons I’m not going into here, I’d moved my bed into my office in the latter half of last year. I’d intended to eventually move it back into the other room, but it never happened. And the walls closed in. And my life got smaller and smaller. It got too much a couple of days ago, so I changed things. I moved all my office stuff into the spare room. This has lifted the clouds slightly, and I feel a bit better knowing that there’s a room with no work stuff in it, where I can just sleep and watch TV. (Plus I’ve banned myself from smoking in the bedroom, so I don’t sleep and wake up in a cigarette fog.) I’m still a hermit, but a hermit with an extra option.
Here’s a picture of my new office room.
Have a good weekend.
Good Morning. I’m throwing myself into my work at the moment, just wanna sit here and draw all day cos it keeps the demons satiated. So there’s some new Minipops and Normalpops for you to look at.
New Minipops are mainly TV and film stuff, including a bunch from the super BBC series The Mighty Boosh.
The Normalpops are all over the place: a showjumper, a Muslim woman, a Golf Sale chap, a stripper, a stereotype of a Frenchman, a Mevlevi ‘Whirling Dervish’ (above), and a Cheesehead (Green Bay Packers fan).
Hope you enjoy.
Of the possible follow-ups to the last post, this is the one I’ve gone for.
Country, house and jungle.
From top to bottom: blue, midnight blue, navy blue, cobalt, cornflower blue, azure, powder blue, ultramarine, and my favourite International Klein Blue.