Archive for May, 2009
That’s not a typo: there really is two-hundred-and-seven Minipops added to the site today. That’s because while Matt and I have been working on the iPhone app, I got to thinking that there might be a bunch of them lying around elsewhere.
There’s a bunch of footballers from the Mini Euro 2000, Mini Euro 2004, and Mini World Cup 2006 pages; there’s a bunch of design and fashion Minipops from the I Love Colette site; and a fair few done for clients. And one new Minipop: Freddie Ljungberg in his Seattle Sounders kit to go with the three other Freddie Ljungbergs.
Another thing to note is that I re-ordered the Minipops to go alphabetically by first name. It’s something we decided we’d do for the iPhone app, and thus I felt it should be done on the site, too. A couple of notes: if the person has a title or a definitive article (in any language) at the start of their name, that is ignored; and if the person’s name isn’t the most commonly known name, I’ve gone with the common one.
For example, George Herman “Babe” Ruth, is known to more people as simply Babe Ruth, so he’s listed under B. Same for General H. Norman Schwarzkopf; he’s listed under N for Norman cos that’s how most of us would refer to him.
I’ve also gone through the list and tried to add diacritics where they were missing due to earlier laziness. So now, amongst many others, Lech Walesa is listed as he should be: Lech Wałęsa. There might still be a few missing, so if you spot an absent caron, cedilla, circumflex, or umlaut, please drop me an email.
While I’m talking about the app, we’ve pretty much got it done. Matt’s been working his plums off on the technical side of things, I’ve been doing the same writing a sentence or two about all of the 1,000 Minipops it’ll feature. There’s still a couple of bugs that need sorting out, and it has yet to be approved by Apple for selling on their App Store, but, fingers crossed, that should happen soon. Have a good weekend.
Most days, just as I check my email, check out the Twitter people I follow, and check out the RSS feeds that have stacked up over night, I have a look at my photos from 2008, to see where I was this time last year. I was on a bus from Curitiba to Rio de Janeiro on the 8th May 2008. The day before, I’d taken some photographs of the beautiful Brazilian flag dancing in front of the sun outside a government building in Curitiba. At the time, I thought that I should animate it. I’d never got around to it until now. Funny, I can still feel the warmth of the Brazilian sun when I look at the photos. Especially when I look out of the window at the grim weather here in Bellingham. Anyhow, it’s an animated GIF and over 4MB, so it may take a while to load.
I realise it’s completely egotistical and self-aggrandising to feel that it’s somehow a special moment when I’ve done another little drawing of someone in pixels, but I wanted this personal landmark, this 1,000th Minipop, to be someone good. I didn’t want it to be just somebody that I liked. I didn’t, for example want to choose someone who plays sport for a team I like. I didn’t want to choose a musician. Or an actor. Or a politician.
It’s something I’ve been thinking about way too long, really. I’ve been thinking about it since around the 950th Minipop. No-one ever seemed perfect. Then on one of those afternoon-swallowing Wikipedia sessions, the kind where you start by looking up the population of Prague, and end up finding out about Argentina’s leading transvestite; on one of those afternoons I ended up on the Wikipedia page about a Canadian man who I’d never heard of before. Maybe it’s purely my ignorance that has kept me from learning about him until my thirty-ninth year. Maybe he’s just not that well-known outside of Canada. But from everything I’ve read about him, and the YouTube clips I’ve watched, he’s certainly one of the most well-known people in Canada.
So, the 1,000th Minipop is of Terry Fox.
I’ll summarise briefly: he lost one of his legs to cancer at the age of 18. With an artificial leg, and in an effort to raise money for cancer research, he set off on what he called the “Marathon of Hope,” aiming to run east to west across the whole of Canada. He set out to run about 42km (26-ish miles) a day. He went from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Thunder Bay, Ontario before being forced to stop when cancer spread to his right lung. He’d ran 5,373km (3,339 miles). He died at the age of 22 on 28th June, 1981.
Oddly, when I began thinking about someone for the 1,000th Minipop, I wanted someone worthy. Now I’ve done that, I don’t feel like my dumb pride at having drawn a thousand Minipops is worthy of being thought about at the same time as someone as inspiring as Terry Fox.
The other day, my pal Dana and I were discussing how much fun it is to watch Ichiro Suzuki, right fielder for the Seattle Mariners. He’s fantastic, one of the best players in baseball. Last night, the missus and I went to see the Mariners play the Texas Rangers and for a portion of the game, we sat in the upper deck in right field, above where Ichiro was playing. He’s so fascinating to watch, even when he’s not actually doing much baseball-playin’. He’s a fidgeter. So I took a ton of photographs and made some animated GIFs. Wish I had the time and will to put these to some nineties Euro dance music, but, y’know, you can imagine the soundtrack in your head.
In an effort to delay putting the 1,000th Minipop only for just one more day, I thought that today I’d show you some examples of how they have evolved. When I first started drawing Minipops in July 1999, I was using Clarisworks to create them because it came free with my iMac. The following year, I switched to Photoshop, which allowed for more colours to be used. An aside: funny how just ten years ago, “web safe” colours was something one needed to be concerned about. Visually, though, the big difference is how clunky they used to look. Here’s a couple of examples, comparing the first two Minipops I did (the Beach Boys and the Beatles) with the re-drawn version done in 2003.
I look at these old ones and kinda feel like a teenager looking at his baby photos. There’s no effort to really make the heads distinct, and I hate the outlines I used to use. Nowadays, though, I use a naked Minipop template for every one of them, so there’s a bit more uniformity. One vaguely interesting thing that I kind of forgot about is that before the Beach Boys -the Minipop I’ve always maintained was the very first one – was a drawing of five random blokes in brown suits. I found this while digging around deep in the bowels of my computer’s hard drive. This was probably done the same night, but it did come before the Beach Boys. Here it is; they seemed to have no hands, or suits that needed alterations.
Anyway, all of this is serving to delay the ridiculous announcement of the 1,000th Minipop. I mean, it’s hardly waiting to find out what is the Christmas number one, is it? But, I’ve started the farce now, so I will continue. Feel free to keep on guessing which male, non-British, non-American the 1,000th Minipop will be. I’ll put it online tomorrow.
I’ve got two pairs of shoes with me here in the United States. A pair of Nike Air Terra Humaras, and a pair of Adidas Stan Smiths that I bought a few weeks ago in Portland. A couple of days ago, I put the Nikes in the washing machine. Yesterday, they were still drying on the window sill, so when I decided to go into town I had to wear the Stan Smiths. I’ve only worn them a deformed handful of times and, as often seems to happen with Adidas trainers, they’re taking a while to break in. But, I had my plan, I wouldn’t be walking much, so it didn’t matter. Take the bus downtown, hop on another bus out to the mall, same journey back home: easy. What I wanted was a cafetière. Since we moved into the house, we’ve had no means of making coffee at home; so every morning I have to make the half-hour round trip to the local store to get one of their crappily-made cappuccinos. Plus, the wife works at the weekend, so I thought it’d be nice to get one so we didn’t have to go through the same rigmarole this morning.
One thing to note: I would much rather have bought a cafetière downtown. If ever I can buy something there, I try to do so, but the only shop that sells any kitcheny stuff is one of those over-priced places that sells “modern” stuff that’s mostly very ugly. Once I got to the mall, it was surprisingly difficult to find a cafetière. I went in all of the big stores that might’ve had it – Macy’s, Target, J.C. Penney, Sears. No luck. So, I bought a DVD (Wonder Showzen season 2) and a cap (Colorado Rockies) and, on my way out, saw one of those ugly little shops crammed with crap. They had one. I bought it, and went out to the bus stop. A bus was just leaving. A few minutes early by my watch. So, I sparked up a fag, and waited for the next one. On the next bus, a thought entered my head: what time does the last bus to Sudden Valley leave the downtown station? I think it’s 6.40pm, but it’s a Saturday, so it might be 5.40pm.
It was 5.40pm. And the bus from the mall got to the station at 5.45pm. Fuck. At this point, it’s worth pointing out how fucking ridiculous it is that the buses stop at 6.40pm, or 5.40pm on a Saturday. They don’t even run on a Sunday. Good job, Bellingham, you fuckwits. That’s really gonna help cut down on people driving home after one too many beers, isn’t it?
So, anyway. It’s eight and a half miles from the station to my front door. Thankfully, a quick look around the bus station, and I found one last bus that was heading part of the way. It took me two and a half miles along my route before turning off. I’d always felt like it was only about four miles total into town, so I was a little shocked when I checked on Google Maps this morning.
You know how your dad or someone always has a go-to joke or phrase for something? Well over the past year mine has become, “At least, it’s something to blog about.” After walking a few hundred yards in the wrong direction to go and get some Tarantula Piss and Ritz crackers from the petrol station, I took a photo of my Stan Smiths, pressed the stopwatch on, and set off; and one of my first tasks was to ford the mighty Hanna Creek. It wasn’t that tough, really; there’s a road bridge over it.
About fifteen minutes in was when my feet first start to hurt. I re-tied my shoelaces to stop them shifting around so much. After a little while longer I began to realise how little I pay attention to the journey when I’m in a car. There’s whole chunks of road which I do not recognise. I eventually hit a long downhill stretch – about a third of a mile – and my feet really started to hurt as the downhill walking scrunched my toes up in the front and the stiff leather bridge bit of the trainers really digs in. I tried to distract myself by waiting for gaps in the traffic and throwing one cent coins onto the road at a 45° angle and seeing if they would roll and hit the curb on the other side. The closest I got was one that made it all the way across only to fall down a drain just inches from the curb.
“The Outdoor Type” by the Lemonheads shuffled up on my iPod. Seemed quite apt as I hobbled along the road that skirts Lake Whatcom. At the start of my trip, I thought about getting a cab home. But I decided against spending the thirty dollars. Thirty dollars I’d happily have spent forty-five minutes in when I felt a couple of blisters appearing. I passed a parked Ford pickup truck. For Sale, $1500 ono. Now would be the right time to own a Ford pickup.
Still lots of houses along the edge of the lake, so I know I’ve still got the majority of my journey ahead of me. Still, it was nice to get a close-up, lingering look at the lakefront cabin that I would love to own. So simple, so pretty… so much closer to town if I miss the bus.
It amazes me that, in this day and age, people still throw rubbish out of their car windows. There were so many McDonald’s bags, cartons, cups, etc. along the verge of this country road. And it also amazes me at how few people observe the speed limit, and – most annoyingly – how many people still use their cell phones whilst driving. Walking along the pavement-less road at dusk, seeing these cunts using their phones only heightened the thoughts of Stephen King’s accident that were floating around my head.
A car that looked very much like my friend Lisa’s car pulled up about fifty yards in front of me. For a moment, I thought my luck was in, then the car did a three point turn in the road and sped off back into town. An hour or so in, and I was glad I bought the drink and crackers. Car after car drove past me. I started putting on an exaggerated limp. The blisters were making me walk a bit funny, but I started playing it up when I heard cars coming behind me. For a nation that claims to be full of Christians, not one of the fuckers stopped to help an invalid.
It sounds too much like something that would happen in a film, but it happened. I paused for a moment to light a cigarette. Just as I did that, a drop of rain hit the end of the cigarette turning the white paper grey. And just as that happened, the lovely Pet Shop Boys song “Home and Dry” came on my iPod. I wasn’t at home, and with the rain starting to fall, I’d not be dry either.
A guy scampered out of his house, head tucked into his shoulders, face scrunched up, shielding himself from the rain. He flashed me a smile, raised his eyebrows as if to say, “Rain, eh?” I grabbed a nearby rock and smashed his stupid car-owning head in. On and on and fucking on. Does this bloody road never end? Dead squirrel. Patroitic house number. And a road sign with a deer on it that, every time I pass it, brings a chuckle as I imagine drawing an erect penis on it.
As I get closer, to a point where I know that my journey will be over in the near future, I think about the coffee, the cafetière, and… oh for fuck’s sake: I forgot to buy milk. My feet by now, a good hour and three-quarters in, are just a numb throb
. I know what you’re thinking, “Craig, this very much sounds like your own personal “Touching the Void,” perhaps even MORE difficult!” And you’d be right about that. In for a penny, I take the extra twenty minute detour to get some milk from the shop.
“How’s your day?” says Chirpy McFucknuts at the store. I seethe out a “I’ve had better,” pay for the milk and the six pack of Rolling Rock, and crack open a beer for the final leg. Two and a half beers later, I’m trudging up the steps, key in hand, soaked to the skin.
Two hours, twenty-one minutes, and twenty seconds after I’d started walking. A fifteen minute bus journey. Oh, how I hate you, Whatcom Transportation Authority.
I opened the door and there was Ghostface, running towards me, pausing for a moment to allow herself to be stroked, then dispassionately staring at me like, “Right then, human, where’s my food?”
I kicked off my shoes, got out of my wet clothes, fed the cat, then rewarded myself with a hot dog. We had some sausages and buns left over from our midweek barbecue. It was a good hot dog, and a pretty one too.
This morning, we woke up knowing we had coffee, milk, and a cafetière. I’m sad to report that the coffee was shit; as a great poet once said, “Coffee… looks like they scrape it off the bottom of the Mississippi River.”
These new Minipops are the 991st through to the 999th. Coming next week is the 1,000th Minipop. For now, though, there’s: Babe Ruth; Sir David Attenborough; M.I.A.; MGMT; Alaska’s best-known comedian Sarah Palin; Japanese architect Shigeru Ban; West Indian cricketer Shivnarine Chanderpaul; German band Tokio Hotel; and (rather unsubtley done because of the forthcoming Apple iPhone app) Steve Jobs.
Which leaves us with one question: who’s gonna be the 1,000th Minipop? I’ve already drawn it, so I know who it is. I know it’s not much of a prize, cash-wise, and I know it’s virtually impossible, but if anyone can guess who the 1,000th Minipop is gonna be, I’ll do a Minipop of you*. If you wanna guess, and if you comment anonymously, be sure to tell me your name along with your guess.
* If the winner is a man who wears glasses and has a beard or moustache, a Minipop of you will look a bit weird. Sorry, that’s just the way things go; there’s not enough space on the 4×6 pixel head to fit them in and leave a space for a nose. If more than one person guesses correctly, I’ll flip a coin.