Archive for October, 2008
I’ve been very much enjoying the Sketches app on my iPod Touch. It’s ace fun scribbling away with my fingertip while the train trundles along. For example:
I’m one step closer to the just-invented-in-my-head goal of seeing a live sport event on 10% of the days of 2008. Nineteen baseball games, eight soccer games, two softball games, and one each of bullfighting (yes, I know), lucha libre, horse racing, and American football. Can any Belgians suggest any weird sporting events going on in your country in the next few weeks?
So, that 33rd sporting event was seeing Crystal Palace v. Nottingham Forest last night. I went with my pals Steve and Mark – both Forest fans – and it was the first time I’ve been part of a big throng of away fans at an English football match. And it was fun. An impressive amount of people there, too, considering it was a midweek evening game. Forest won 2-1. Hurrah for them.
I’ve been in London for the last few days, over here for one main reason: to see the San Diego Chargers v. New Orleans Saints game at Wembley Stadium. I got the Eurostar from Brussels, which is just a superb way to make the journey. As cheap as one of the low cost airlines, and way more convenient, taking you from the centre of Brussels to the centre of London. I know this won’t be a revelation to Londoners, Parisians, or Brusselsonianites, but it was to me. Super fast, super smooth. Yay.
I was sat next to a lass who was in her late teens, early twenties. We didn’t talk or anything, but she spent the whole journey sending SMSs on her cutesy-sticker-covered cell phone. The next day, I walked past her on Regent Street, arm in adoring arm with an equally handsome young fellow. Aaaaw nice.
My regular iPod Classic broke down last week, stranding me without any music. The music mainly exists on CDs that are currently in storage in Berlin. I rescued a few songs that I happened to have on a USB memory thingy, but really, twelve albums isn’t much. I’ve asked a couple of friends to donate a few albums, but if any of you have it in your hearts to make illegal copies of stuff you think I might like, and burn them onto a CD or DVD, that would be greatly appreciated.
To replace my deadPod, I bought myself an iPod Touch which, the more observant of you may have noticed has meant a bit of Twitter action in that column on the right. We’ll see how that goes, if anything interesting happens there.
Anyway, American football was back in the UK for the rather-absurdly-named-considering-it-was-just-one-game “International Series.” Even though last year’s Giants-Dolphins game didn’t turn me into a football fan, it was a fun day, and when my mate John asked if I wanted to go again, I was well up for it.
As with last year, there was a big pre-game “Tailgate” party. Not very tailgate (no cars with BBQ-ing people), and not particularly party, either, considering that they decided to put it outside in a car park on a rainy afternoon. Some New Orleans-y style music, some Coors Light, some long queues for food, long queues to buy NFL merchandise, and the opportunity to throw a ball through some holes. I had a pop at that, and can assure you that I’m not really gonna be a quarterback any time soon.
After my Summer o’ Dogs, I feel qualified to tell you that the hot dogs at Wembley suck ass. The sausage itself is okay, but the bun was way too cold and wide. Too much blandness around the sausage. Flip Flop Flying (kinda the Which? magazine of hot doggage, I’m sure you’ll agree) says a big fat NO to Wembley dogs.
That was the only food I had inside the stadium, but several people sat around us ate pies. The waft of pie stink was kinda nice, but the weirdest thing was the waft of heat that came off of something as small as a pie about the same diameter as a CD. Gosh knows what that heat was doing to the insides of the consumers of said pies, but it felt to me, a few seats away, like someone with a flaming torch was sat nearby, like walking past a fancy shop on a winter’s day when the doors slide open. Something that amused me throughout the game was how the Chargers cap that this guy is wearing looks like a man with a blonde moustache. (Let’s just ignore the fellow with cheese on his head, shall we? Paying attention only encourages such behaviour.)
The game itself was pretty good, a few touchdowns, that kinda thing. Plenty of cheerleadery goodness to keep the spirits up, too. Oh, the Saints won 37-32 by the way.
Afterwards, after the crowded walk out of the stadium, and after a pizza in a local restaurant, waiting for the area to be a bit less crowded, John and I got a cab back to his place. For the last couple of weeks I’ve had fairly tight knotty muscles in my shoulders. It’s not particularly enjoyable, but nothing severe enough to warrant a trip to the doctors. Anyway, as we travelled home, I drew a really crappy comedy penis in the condensation of the window. I tapped John’s thigh and we had a little chuckle. A few seconds later, John tapped me, and he’d done a great big comedy spunky cock on his window, and I lost it. Could not stop laugh. Wave after wave of chuckles, and just when it seemed to be over, it’d come back again. By the time we got home, the aches in my shoulders had completely disappeared. Seems all I needed was a good laugh…
Drawn on 22 July, in the sky above California.
This is my granduncle Harold (my grandfather’s sister’s husband). His job was making sure things were vertical. Have you ever seen someone so erect? (C’mon, stop sniggering; “erect” can refer to other things as well.)
More baseball shit… Here’s a very flattering drawing of Kevin Youkilis of ALCS losers Boston Red Sox. He has what I think is a truly horrible stance when he’s at bat, like an elephant balancing on a beach ball.
As you were.
A bunch of characters. Drawing for drawing’s sake from various points over the last six years.
And here’s a photo of the wall in a little chamber near the door of my old flat. The imperfection of the plastering from a certain angle looks like a dog, I think.
Here’s some stuff, of varying quality, that for one reason or another (clients pulling a project, different directions being taken, that kinda stuff) has never made it off of my hard drive.
From August 2004, an idea for toilet signs. This is the male toilet sign idea. I didn’t do one for female toilets, but I’m sure it won’t surprise you to know it would have featured two cats discussing men.
From June 2004, a drawing of Billy the Kid
From November 2003, some drawings of popstars as babies. Didn’t really develop them much more than these drawings, but there were some nice ideas for what they could be doing in animations, ie. him out of The Darkness building Lego speaker stacks; 50 Cent being shot with toy guns; Eminem dissing his mum; etc. etc.
August 2003, a drawing of Dave Navarro on a beach.
And just a lil’ piece of nonsense; in April 2007, returning with friends to Ghent from the Dutch town of Terneuzen, I was a bit worse for wear in a car, and took a bunch of pictures trying to get the sun right in line with the edge of the car window. Stich them all together and this is what you get.
I miss it. I miss it so much. It feels like a broken heart. I wish I was back in the Americas, in a town I’ve never been to before, checking out the bus times to go to another town I’ve never been to before, to a place where I have no idea where I will be sleeping. Every day, it’s there in my head, and I can’t stop comparing what I’m doing now to what I did then. There are plenty more fish in the sea, but she was the fish I wanted. And no matter what, to continue the analogy, a day trip to Ostend is just a snog in an alley with some girl I have no lasting interest in.
But, for the last three weeks, my three post-season, nocturnal-life weeks, I’ve seen very little daylight, and with no game on Friday night, I managed to get to bed relatively early, and wake up around 11am, so after a quick shower, I went to the train station, intent on visiting Bruges. Looking at the timetable, Ostend was only about 20 minutes further, so I changed my plan, because coast trumps old buildings every time.
And Ostend seems quite nice, in a seaside-y way. Plenty of people taking advantage of what may well be the last chance at a sunny day. I saw very little of the town itself, sticking solely to the beach and the pier where lots of men were fishing and smoking cigars.
Dogs ran around, children flew kites, and despite it being better than sitting indoors all day, this place isn’t Brazil. And a sad song shuffles up on my iPod and, well, y’know. Here’s some photos of Ostend (the Dutch spelling is Oostende, which I find myself saying like, Oooh!-sten-der).
I’m enjoying getting to know the non-pixelly parts of Photoshop at the moment, so this kind of still life work is the sort of thing I hope to find myself doing more often. All “painted” with the brush tool, with no use of filters or Photoshoppery. I put the ball on the table next to my mouse mat, and it took about three-and-a-half hours to “paint” (including a pizza break and one trip to the loo for a number one).
Recently, you may have noticed I’ve been doing some drawings (I still call them drawings, even though they’re in Photoshop; is there a different term one should be using?) that are a bit more painterly. In the comments of the previous post, Dana asked how this technique was done. That’s as good a reason as any to do some sort of Tony Hart/Bob Ross-style tutorial. Cursors at the ready, here we go.
First, choose the brush tool in the tool menu. Then go to the Options bar and click on Mode and choose Overlay.
Essentially, what that does is, for want of a better word, make the paint applied by the brush more like watercolour paint, in so much as every “layer” of paint applied adds more colour, not just adding to a flat plane of the same colour. In the next picture, you’ll see I’ve drawn a circle, not taking my finger off the mouse at all so it has a solid plane of colour.
Every subsequent application, with separate brush strokes (that is, every time I take my finger off the mouse and then do it again is a separate brush stoke) changes the colour. In centre right, you can see that it’s getting lighter and lighter from every brush stroke going out from that point.
Here’s the circle completely filled in.
I’m never really precise about it, but to get the skin tones I’m mostly using, I stick the Saturation on -40 and the Lightness on +20.
Which leaves the circle looking like this.
Because of the odd way that some colours work in this Overlay mode, I often use the Hue slider (back in the same pop-up Hue/Saturation window) to change colours. For example, here’s four colours created from the same base colour above.
As I mentioned above, colours in Overlay mode are often a bit odd. I don’t know the scientific reason why colours work like this, but the application of more “layers” of colour sometimes turn colours darker, sometimes lighter. So I made myself a palette just to save myself a bit of time searching through various reds, blues, whatevers to find one that works the way I want it to.
That’s pretty much it. You end up with something like this.
I drew this last night, lying in bed, watching the Phillies beat the Dodgers. I didn’t have my mouse, and drawing with a laptop’s trackpad can be a pain in the arse, so I tried to draw a picture with easily-done elipses. It was fun to do. I added the painterly bits this morning.
After doing it, I kept thinking that there’s a professional artist/illustrator who does portraits solely using circles. No idea what his/her name is, though. Anyone know who I’m talking about?
You know when you get an image in your head, and much as you try, you can’t get rid of it? For some reason, I had the thought of John McCain dressing his penis in a doll-sized shirt and tie, sat on the toilet, holding his cock, and pretending to interview himself. Maybe he calls it “my friend.” Maybe his cock says, in this interview, that he’s a maverick because he pisses in the sink. I already had the image of John McCain’s cock being all jowly like his face, and this just makes it worse. I have no idea why I spend so much time thinking about John McCain’s cock.
Anyway, here’s an animated reconstruction of the process.
Debuting today on ace German website Spreeblick is the first of a weekly comic strip I will be doing. The strip is called Pigeon. It has nothing to do with pigeons. It’s not got much to do with anything in particular. Yet. Pop on over there and have a look if you have a chance; hope you enjoy it. There’ll be a new one online every Monday.
Update: here’s an RSS thingy for future Pigeons.
I’d forgotten what it was like to turn my daily schedule upside down, but that’s what I’ve been doing since the start of October; the start of the MLB post-season. Every night, my housemates say goodnight, and do what they should be doing (sleeping) and I commit to watching baseball games deep into the morning. Last night’s Red Sox-Rays game was the longest; starting at 2am, my time, and finishing at about 7.40am. Thankfully, the Red Sox lost.
Of course, I’m lucky; I don’t have to go to an office, so I can shift my life around like this. But it was a strange feeling waking up at 5.30pm and dashing out of the house to try and experience a tiny bit of daylight before my noctural life resumed. Still, sitting here and watching baseball is a nice way to spend the early hours of the morning, and I’ll miss it once the post-season is over, and there’s no more baseball ’til March. And I’m not the only one who’s awake, either. There’s a rooster in the neighbourhood who really can’t work out what time of day it is. He’s cock-a-doodle-doo-ing right now and it’s nowhere near daytime.
As streaming video goes, the MLB media player is pretty good. And good value for money, too. And when it does buffer or go a bit funny, it throws up nice things like this. I’ve only managed to screenshot a couple of them, but I think they’re quite pretty.
A quick word about the new top bit. For a while now I’ve wanted to have a bit more harmony with this blog, the main Flip Flop Flyin’ site, and the Atlas, Schmatlas page (which, if I can get my arse into gear, will evolve over the next months into a going concern rather than just an ineffective advert for my book).
Hope you like the drawing, and, should you be wondering who/what all the people and things are all about, maybe I should explicate a little. Everything up there kinda represents an element of what I’ve been blogging about for the past few years, and particularly this year.
From left to right: Hot dog vendor: here representing the glorious world of processed meat in buns. Kraftwerk: German pop group; here to represent the world of music. Mickey Mantle: a not-very-good likeness of a New York Yankees legend; representing baseball. Tube dancer: also called an air dancer; here representing silly things. Dolly birds holding a graph: representing the (hopefully not mutually exclusive) worlds of information graphics and hot chicks. Subcomandante Marcos: spokesman of the revolutionary Mexican organisation, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, and subsequently, the coolest man on the planet; representing trying. Jamie Carragher: Liverpool FC’s central defender; representing football. Diego Maradona: best footballer ever; representing Latin America. Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs: Metro-Dade Police detectives; representing the worlds of fighting drug trafficking and alligator ownership. Billy: a lovely cocker spaniel; representing dogs and other animals. Me: representing myself. Tessa: the dog I had when I was a teenager; representing mawkish sentimentality. Rio de Janeiro: most beautiful city I’ve ever been to; representing a desire to go back there soon…
Thanks, Grandad; you did me proud.
Not very often you see a man taking his dog and his parrot for a walk, is it? (Apologies for the crappy photo, I was trying to walk fast to catch up with him, whilst carrying my groceries and taking the picture.)