Archive for June, 2006
So, it only took one day without football for my view of Berlin to return to its pre-World Cup stance. I’ve gotta go.
I’m at a stage where great things can happen, but a couple of small instances of frustration will black-cloud my day.
When I think of Berlin as an abstract thing, I think of a great city. A city I enjoy walking around, a city with big parks, lovely wide pavements, and some interesting things to see and do. But my Berlin isn’t that Berlin. My Berlin has become a city where I find myself angry and grinding my teeth.
The World Cup was/is a plaster over the wound. Suddenly there was a feeling of overt joy around the place. And despite finding the black, red and yellow of the German flags hanging from cars and windows all over town to be the aesthetic equivalent of being cattle-prodded in the ribs, I’ve enjoyed seeing people being surprised and happy with their team’s performance.
I have to accept, though, that my Berlin is over. My Berlin is one where someone cutting me up on their bike makes me really angry; a Berlin where holding a door open for someone with a bicycle illicits a look of disgust not a smile or a thank you; and a Berlin where someone will be watering the plants on their balcony just as I’m walking underneath. These things happen in every town, but Berlin has ground me down too far, and these things linger like the taste of beer and cigarettes from the night before. I need to get out as soon as I can. And once my work schedule reveals a gap, that’s what I’ll do.
You may remember this thing about Coke, and how they seem to be supporting a different team in different countries. Well, here’s an update: Coke loves Mexico too. Thanks Naomi.
Any more Coke ads, people of the world?
Did anyone in England got a good photo of that Coke loves England poster that someone mentioned in the comments?
On a slightly related note, this Coca Cola ad from Argentina has a fan himself supporting multiple teams (only really clear if you speak Spanish, I guess).
And here’s a great TV ad, again from Argentina, featuring some of their World Cup stars. It points out that there may be other sports, but football is Argentina’s game. I love Sorin’s dive.
Thanks to Patrick for both of those links.
Finally, while I’m in a Argentina-loving mood: the best song sung by any of the fans at the World Cup is the one the Argentinians are singing. Couldn’t find any video clips from this World Cup, but here’s some River Plate fans singing the same melody.
So, Brian, we’re three quarters of the way through the cumbersomely-named Round of 16, let’s have a look at the results:
Adidas 2-0 Umbro
A great result for the home nation against their under-par opponents.
Adidas 2-1 Nike (after extra time)
Meddling with the purity of the pale blue and white stripes by introducing the weird pale blue collarbone area didn’t affect the favourites’ performance here, despite going a goal down to the beautiful green-with-white-chest-stripe-d underdogs.
Umbro 1-0 Marathon
A dull match for two dull kits. Maybe the crass, desperate gold star was the difference here, Brian.
Nike 1-0 Nike
The classic kit match-up of the Round of 16: the glass of red wine versus the gorgeous retro diagonal stripes. An ill-tempered game sending the much fancied, wonderfully-typefaced team home.
Puma 1-0 Nike
The chiselled handsomeness of the players in Puma almost deflects from an underwhelming kit, as they spawned their way into the quarter finals against the slightly weird yellow and green combo that are the sporting colours of the plucky nation from the other side of the universe.
Puma 0-0 Lotto (aet, Lotto win 3-0 on penalties)
Two indescript kits bored their way through 120 minutes of football, until the Sunday pub team look of Lotto won out.
The last two games of the Round of 16 see a less-than-convincing Nike kit in a game with the incredibly sweaty-looking Puma kit, and a tantilising all-Adidas clash.
I’m predicting a win for Nike and Adidas, and ultimately, my money’s on an Adidas v Adidas final, Brian.
Back to Alan in the studio.
Commiserations to the Swedes.
Err, *gritted teeth*, congratulations to the Germans.
Here’s a Mini World Cup update, with a new player from all the teams in the second round.
Two things I forgot to mention about the game I went to yesterday:
1. A ball – sorry, not just a ball; an Adidas +Teamgeist ball – went into the crowd after an errant cross by a Tunisian player. Someone caught the ball, and just like at a baseball game, all the people around him clapped and cheered. A ball boy comes up to the edge of the stand and gestures for him to return the ball. The fan, wanting a souvenir, gestured no. Ball boy went to a steward, who used his orange-jacketed authority to gesture at the fan to return the ball, which he did. Boo to Fifa for this. Why not let someone keep the ball? It’s not like they’re made of plutonium, it’s a ball… let him keep it. Geez…
2. One of Fifa’s partners is the American brewers Anheuser Busch, makers of Budweiser. This caused a bit of a stink when announced, which you might remember, cos Germany is a beer loving nation, with plenty of good beers of its own, thank you very much. Only Bud was on sale at the stadium yesterday.
The King of Beers.
If, that is, your definition of king is exactly the opposite of the usual definition of king.
Beyond the steamroller effect of advertising, I really do wonder what Anheuser Busch hope to achieve by the monopoly in the stadium. Cos all I can imagine happening is 70,000 Germans at each game thinking to themselves, “I’m never drinking that again!”
This is what it was like:
A scarier-than-usual Ronald:
Of course, the whole area outside the stadium – which at the Olympiastadion is a very large wide open space – was full of Fifa’s Official Partners’ stuff. Most of them, for some reason, seemed to involve children kicking footballs at miniature inflatable goals. The Adidas one, though, cut to the chase: get your photo taken with foxy birds:
Ooh, some free kick action. I had a pretty good seat right down by the corner flag. Sadly, though, the game was a fairly dull affair. Only two real interesting moments: a Tunisian getting sent off, and Schevchenko scoring a penalty. I even missed the sending off, cos I was doing a wee at the time.
I wonder if to be a steward, one of the requirements has to be no interest in football.
So, Ukraine 1 Tunisia 0.
Time for one more souvenir photo before you leave:
And some mingling with the other fans:
And time to take those suede shorts off, chaps; you must be sweating like hell down there:
Top: The real me.
Middle: Me as Hitler; me getting butch at the Man 2 Man club; me as a Beatle; me as the slightly tough one in a boy band.
Bottom: Me stood outside your supermarket telling you that God loves you and you should love Him back; me going to an office everyday with a gun in my car’s glove compartment ready to fuck you all up; me as a Lynyrd Skynryd t-shirt-wearing, Harley Davidson owner; me going for that mid-eighties Bono look.
I thought it might be vaguely interesting to go through the process of drawing a pixelly head like the ones I’ve been doing this week. It’s a process that is applicable to all pixel-style drawing: begin with the form and sketch out where the details go, then a trying things out until more and more bits come together. Let’s look at the drawing I did of Franz Beckenbauer:
It begins like this, finding a few good close up photos of the subject:
Photo agencies like Getty Images are always better than Google Images; especially if the subject is, or has been, in the news recently, cos there’s generally a lot more pictures to choose from, with lots of slight variations which helps gain a more rounded view of what the person really looks like.
Then it’s a pretty simple beginning. I always use the same skin tone for Caucasian people, because it could get to be an obsession to pick the exact skin tone of each individual. Plus it’s difficult to tell exactly from photos cos you don’t always know the lighting situation of the reference images; so someone might look more tanned, but it may just be an overcast day.
I begin with a block, just like a sculptor; chipping away to create the vague head shape, then chuck in a couple of details to try and work out the distances between the key parts of the face and their position on the head:
The next bit is kinda the opposite of what art teachers tell you at college (to slowly build up form and structure and leave details til the end), but I like to get one detail looking nearly perfect early on, cos it keeps my enthusiasm going. With Franz, it was the sunglasses. Once they were right, they helped me work out the other parts of his head. (Sun)glasses are useful for that: their size helps with measuring the proportions of the rest of the head.
So now, the eyes, forehead, hairline and hairstyle are fairly close to being sorted:
But the nose, mouth, chin and cheeks are rubbish. He looks too jowly, too old. So a gradual process of chipping away at the face shape begins. It’s all tiny changes that come to these three variation which show how each step is heading in the right direction. Plus I’d focused too much on the creases at the edges of his mouth and coming from his nose; when to portray him correctly, a little bit of lying is needed – making his mouth a bit too small and ignoring those creases in favour of some shading:
Pretty close at that point, all it took to finish it off was to re-add a bit of weight to his face, and add the shadows that infer the creases in his face, rather than making them too strongly defined. The final Franz Beckenbauer:
And here’s a little recreation of each of the steps, animated to show how it works.
Oh, and I should point out that the drawing below is the real size; everything else you see is enlarged for clarity and to stop you being as blind as I am:
For ages I’ve known that a friend of mine who no longer lives in Germany would be transferring his ticket for the Ukraine v Tunisia game to me; but that ticket never arrived. So we checked out all the paperwork and found out that I had to go to the ticket centre at the Olympiastadion in Berlin at least the day before the game to go and pick it up.
Naturally, I chuntered to myself about the clash of the twin titans of unnecessary beaurocracy – Fifa and Germany – but all in all, it was an incredibly painless process. Train journey there, well ordered process of shuttling you in to get your ticket, then back home. Kinda ruined the planned blog rant I’d hoped I’d be able to write, really. Bastards!
The ticket itself, though, is the highest density piece of card I’ve ever touched in my life. I’m convinced it’s just a thin wisp of ink printed on iridium.
So, anyway, I’ve got a ticket and I’m silly happy about it.
Just had a haircut – a bit off the top, please, and shorter back and sides – and now I look like this:
Maybe tomorrow I’ll do ‘Self Portrait with Hitler Moustache’ and ‘Self Portrait as Leather Guy Out Of The Village People’…
I quite enjoyed doing the more detailed drawings I did of the German footballers, and I’m glad you Germans like them too.
Last night I did one of me… and I look like this:
After goat/man Beckenbauer yesterday, I did another drawing. Then another.
So, especially for you German readers, a kind of holy triptych of Fußball experten: Franz Beckenbauer (again) and Günter Netzer (a man who looks like a Thunderbird puppet) and Rudi Völler (flat hair).
Every time I see Franz Beckenbauer in the comfy seats at all of the World Cup stadiums, I can’t get it out of my head that he looks like the ghost of a goat.
There’s a weird potential scenario for the England v Sweden game next Tuesday, cos I imagine – with all due respect to Ecuador, who’ve looked pretty tasty so far – both England and Sweden would rather avoid Germany in the next round. If Ecuador were to get a result against Germany in their last group game and finish top of Group A, could we possibly see a game where both England and Sweden would rather lose?
You may remember my rant about Coca Cola last week; getting annoyed with them pretending to be a Germany fan:
Well, I got an email from a fellow called Andy who lives in Argentina telling me that they’re doing something similar over there:
Apparently that says ‘this poster supports Argentina’ (although I do enjoy the Google translator version: this poster swells for Argentina).
Anyway, Andy and I would like to find out if Coca Cola are being fickle supporters in every nation involved in the World Cup. So, we need YOUR help.
If you live in one of the other thirty nations involved, and see a Coca Cola poster that is supporting your nation, please take a photo of it (preferably fairly hi-res, preferably not a camera phone picture), and email it to me (craig AT flipflopflyin DOT com) and I’ll make a page where we can see what sluts a soft drink company can be.
Sound like fun?
Okay, so I’m to assume that you don’t enjoy all the football-related blogging, right? Virtually no comments about any of those things, so either a) I’ve gone crap at blogging, b) you’re out having fun instead of sitting in front of computers, or c) you’re bored of all the World Cup chatter. I’m genuinely interested to know what the answer is.
Here’s another drawing, called Banana. I’m quite into the idea of doing more of these one-off composed pixelly drawings like this and yesterday’s (which, just to be clear, has a sarcastic title; I don’t really think English thuggery is glorious). It’s quite enjoyable to have an idea and not feel the need to constantly expand it into a story or series of animations.
Here’s a drawing I did called England’s Glory.
And to any of you readers that don’t like football, I’d like to apologise for the past week’s overdose. Sadly for you I fear it’ll continue for another three weeks.
The World Cup truly arrived in my life yesterday. Up until now I’ve watched every game on TV in my flat, but yesterday I watched the Czechs trounce the Americans in a park with a few beers and a currywurst; and in the evening I went to the Adidas World of Football thing in front of the Reichstag to watch the Italy-Ghana game.
To their credit, the Germans seem to have done a fantastic job organising the fan areas in Berlin. There’s the Fan Mile which is a bunch of big screens on the long straight road leading towards the Brandenburg Gate, where TV channels broadcast from. Then around the corner is this World of Football thing.
Next to all the mini football pitches and places to eat and drink there’s the main part: a temporary stadium seating maybe around 5 or 6,000 people with a big screen at either end.
In the centre, on the Astroturf pitch, there were some Ghana supporters who, I think, had won a competition. They got to watch the game from that sofa, with a big crate of beer. And midway through the game, some high-heeled and short-skirted ladies brought them McDonald’s meals.
After my ranting about the corporate nature of the sport we love, it was quite enjoyable to feel that such things can be good. This mini stadium was a really great thing. Loads of Italians and Ghanaians there; supporters from Sweden, Brazil and Croatia all here ready for their forthcoming games in the city, and a smattering of folks from many of the other nations involved. It was a genuine fan festival, and it felt amazing to be surrounded by it all. We even got to see foxy lasses in football kits dancing to a Bon Jovi song at half time…
Any German speakers out there who can help me out? Here’s a van I saw recently with words on both sides. Letters are missing from both sides, too. I’m incredibly curious to find out what it is trying to spell out.
And here’s a kinda composite of where those letters would occur:
Any ideas, mein lieblings? Bitte! Ich braucht dein hilfen!
adjective – having parts that fail to correspond to one another in shape, size, or arrangement; lacking symmetry.
noun – engagement in or the activities involved in war or conflict.
verb – render obscure, unclear, or unintelligible.
The most interesting thing for me about that fairly turgid England performance in their 1-0 victory over Paraguay, was how the Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez looked like he should be in Kraftwerk: