Archive for June, 2011
My friend Joe took this photo in a branch of Chapters in Toronto. Although the official publication date of my book isn’t until Tuesday, July 5th, it’s on sale up in the Great White North.
Chicago has come up a couple of times in email conversations with different people today. Time to break out this animated self portrait, I think, made from photos I took when I was there all-too-briefly in June 2008.
Some work-in-progress today. I’m enjoying drawing with the Brushes app on the iPad more and more. At first, I was a little underwhelmed. I’ve been using the app on the iPod since the end of 2008, and when I bought an iPad, pretty much entirely because I wanted to use it for drawing, I didn’t enjoy the larger canvas as much as I thought I would. But now I am. I’ve started to use it as a sketchbook, trying stuff out. Anyway, these three drawings are from a series I’m working on: just a fat green man on vacation.
Quick drawing of one of baseball’s greatest moments: Carlton Fisk’s game-winning, series-tying home run in game six of the 1975 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds. This moment:
CONCACAF Gold Cup Final: Mexico 4 United States 2
More finger painting here.
There’s something very strange about seeing your face again when you are used to a beard. I’ve worn a beard since 2003. Sick of shaving, I just let it grow, bought the now-dead beard trimmer and didn’t look back. I’ve shaved off my beard temporarily probably six or seven times now. Only once was it a choice. The other times, like Thursday night, it was a trimming error that left me with no choice.
But one thing I’ve noticed each of those times was how my face looks different underneath the beard each time. I look older. It’s a weird thing about shaving off the beard. At a quick glance, I look younger, as most people tend to do when they lose a beard. But a long, hard, self-loathing filled gaze in the mirror, and I notice the ageing that my beard ordinarily hides. It doesn’t hide it completely, of course; there’s an ever-growing amount of grey hairs in my beard. I don’t really find that a problem, though. It’s not that I’ve actively looked forward to having grey hair, but I always liked my grandfather’s hair when I was a kid, so I’ve always thought that grey hair looked good.
I am, though, very much aware of being one of those guys who has had a beard all his life. There are two types, I think. The first type, is the Alan Sugar type. One of those people who had a fairly neat beard in younger life and kept it. Now it’s grey and a kinda pointless thing on his face. It’s so short it might as well not be there, but – and this is my fear – it’s a facial crutch. Nope, I’m not going down that road. The road I will go down, I think, once the beard is mostly grey, is the big pottery-making, trawler-sailing, beard. My friend Kraig has a big grey beard, and it’s something to aim for. Barring other trimming accidents or a run for political office, I can’t foresee me ever not having a beard for the rest of my life.
Good-bye lower half of my face. Forever.
When people think about good commercials, not many people mention baseball teams. When fans of the sport, though, think about good commercials, the Seattle Mariners are somewhere near the top. For years now they’ve been making excellent commercials. Here’s a few of them.
But the reason for all of this blah de bloody blah about baseball uuuuuur-gain, is one they did earlier this year:
I’ve done drawings of the characters featured: Felix Hernandez and his, err, colleagues.
More drawings of baseball players here.
I didn’t expect my day would end the way it did. And nor should I have expected it to end the way it did. Nobody should. Friday morning, I have to be up fairly early, and go to an art school and do a workshop. Minds need moulding. So I figured I’d have an early night. I was in bed by 11.30, firing up an episode of Men of a Certain Age, then I realised that maybe I should give my beard a trim. It wasn’t too bad, but a bit more neat and tidy wouldn’t go amiss. So I trundled off, walked the two metres to my en suite bathroom, and plugged in my trusty Panasonic beard trimmer. Setting number 3, and away I went. Trim, trim, trim. All good. This cheek, that cheek, the neck bit, the goatee and moustache areas. Done. I should just tidy up those stray hairs along the bottom, then we’re done. I took off the plastic thingy that regulates the trimming settings, so that I’ve got the bare blades to catch those stray hairs.
Something I’ve done many times. I start, and for some reason, I decide to tidy up in a line along the edge of the beard. Mistake. Big mistake. My first trim was a bad one, cutting a V shape of hair out of the side of my neck. I washed my face. Dried my face. Inspected the damage. No way around it, captain: you’ve gotta shave your beard off. So I keep trimming in the same bare blade fashion. This will take me down to a five o’clock shadow all over. Not the worst thing. One cheek done and, the trimmer stops. I remove it from my face, it fires up again. Put it back. It stops. I disassembled the top bit, and with my Swiss Army knife blade and a bit of blowing, get rid of as much clogging up beard trimmings as possible.
Same thing happens again, though. I gave it a bit of oil. No difference. Okay, gonna have to shave properly. I have a disposable razor in my washbag, no problem. I soaped up my face, and started shaving. I might as well have been using coin for all the hair that was being removed by this blunt razor. Fantastic. Face in various levels of shavedness. Bullet bit: shirt, trousers, and shoes on. Shuffled to the 7-Eleven to buy a new razor. They didn’t sell them. Shuffled further – oh how I wish I’d bothered to put a belt around my trousers – to Oxxo, a Mexican convenience store chain. I bought a two pack of razors with an ominous brand name: Perfect Max. Bound to be shit. And they were. I went through both of them to get rid of the rest of my beard. And there’s still the odd bit of stubble hear and there. So now it’s 1.15 in the morning. I’ll have to get up earlier to go to a pharmacy to buy a proper Gillette or something, so that those minds are moulded by someone whose face doesn’t look like an abandoned plot of land. (Yep, I realise I’d already be in bed now if I wasn’t writing and publishing this post. Ich bin ein idiot.)
Last September, when I flew from Toronto to Mexico City, I referred to the journey (to myself) as the America Burger. I was flying between countries that sandwich the United States. I began this drawing before I left Toronto, got about 80% of it done in the hotel room I stayed in when I first arrived here. It has sat unfinished within my iPod for nearly nine months. But finally, it is finished. All that needed doing was a couple of slices of onion. I am a lazy bugger. I tried to draw the contents of the burger to resemble the shape of a map of the contiguous United States.
More finger painting here.
A friend of mine was recently in Iceland on vacation. Pleasantly, I received a postcard a couple of days ago. On the front of the postcard was a beautiful, beautiful canyon with lovely mountains and clouds. The best thing, though, is the stamp on the card. You’ve gotta love a country that chooses to put a photo of a volcano on a stamp. Particularly if the photo of the volcano (called – copy and paste – Eyjafjallajökull) was taken when it was spunking a load of ash into the atmosphere, and disrupting a whole continent for many weeks. That’s some funny stuff, Iceland. Very impressive indeed.
I went with some friends to Guadalajara at the weekend. Sat in the back seat, I did some sketches using Brushes on my iPod touch, trying to do them as quickly as possible.
More finger painting here.
It shouldn’t annoy me because having an elevator in the building is very handy, but it annoys me that the arrow on the button isn’t the same colour as the display above it.
You may be aware that ESPN’s Bill Simmons has started a new web site called Grantland. It’s more of a culture site than a sports site. It promises to be good. Chuck Klosterman, Dave Eggers, and Malcolm Gladwell are also involved. They asked me to do an infographic to accompany an article by Andy Greenwald about HBO and their recycling of actors for various shows. So I did. You can see it bigger, and read the article, over at Grantland.
It’s been a whole three weeks since I’ve been to a Diablos game. Doesn’t sound like much, but I was kinda used to seeing at least two or three games a fortnight. Nice to be back there. I’ve had an underlying bad mood for a the last couple of weeks, and while I’m not blaming a lack of live baseball (which would mean my winters would be awful), the lack of baseball, that lack of emptying my mind of its daily crap, well, I don’t think it helped. But, hangover intact, sunglasses on, steaming hot subway journey to the park, and it was free New Era mini cap day.
As you can see from the flyer that they put up on Facebook, there’s a wee bit of misdirection going on. They do say it’s a New Era mini cap, but the photo of the Diablos caps made me assume I’d be getting a mini Diablos cap. Sadly not. It was just a New Era cap. Still, it’s a new one for the tiny collection of mini caps. Here is a photograph of that collection.
And here’s a photo of my flatmate’s cat clearly signalling that she is a Rockies fan.
The weird thing about it being a New Era promotion day was there was very little stuff going on. Some minor league between innings games for children a couple of times was about it. The strangest thing was the lack of caps for sale in the store. They had no official on-field caps. None. All they were selling was the fashion-y caps, which, as we all know, are wrong.
Because I’m rather twitchy about these giveaways when they are limited in number, I got there 90 minutes before first pitch; in time to see the visitors taking batting practice. I rarely get to the park early enough for that sort of thing. Sitting there, drinking a hair of the dog Corona, it occurred to me that batting practice has a very similar dynamic to one of those silly, world record achieving, gang bang porn films: lots of dudes stood around swinging their bats impatiently waiting their turn to bang away in the cage.
The DJ, if that’s the right word, at the ballpark seems to have found some new records. He played a song by Muse. I’ve not really heard a Muse song all the way through for about ten years. I was genuinely a wee bit flummoxed at how ridiculous they sound. I wonder if they realise. I wonder if they do that music as a kind of huge money-making joke. And the DJ played that awful “Umbrella” song by the Baseballs. I see what you did there, Señor DJ. And still on the topic of music, the cheerleaders were dancing to the Rihanna song “Only Girl in the World.” I got to imagining what that would be like if a woman was in fact, the only girl in the world. I imagine it’d be quite a stressful situation, to say the least.
I was very self-conscious at the game for some reason. Actually, I know exactly why I was feeling self-conscious: I’d been watching a guy while batting practice was going on. He was probably in his mid-forties, wearing a Diablos cap, a Diablos jersey, which was tucked into his knee-length black shorts, and calf-high white socks. Generally, a pretty dorky look. And he was stood with his back to the field near the top of the seating area, throwing a baseball against a seat a few rows higher and catching it in his glove. I watched him for a few minutes. All the time, he had no idea I was watching and planning to blog about him later. That made me self-conscious. I noticed that I have a habit of setting my beer down on the floor, and re-setting it two or three times. Just moving a few millimetres, not much, but it was unnerving to notice it. I also got bored of score-keeping in the second inning and wanted to stop, but because a guy who was sat a few seats away had taken a lingering look at what I was doing on a couple of occasions, I was too embarrassed to just put the cap on my biro and relax.
As with games in the other two-thirds of North America, the vendors try to drum up trade as they walk around the park. Lots of stuff to buy: buy, soft drinks, popcorn, nuts, ice cream, iced coffee, esquites, and tacos de cochinita. The taco de cochinita vendors were wearing new tabards. At least, I think they were new; I’d not noticed them before. Someone had cleverly noticed that the name of this particular snack has the same initials as appear in the cap logo of a major league team. And, well, it seems like they’ve ripped off the Minnesota Twins’ logo completely.
While we’re talking about vendors and logos: the souvenir guy was selling small plastic batting helmets. Not just Diablos helmets, but Yankees helmets too. And interestingly – well, maybe not – it seems like the logo on these mini helmets is the jersey logo, not the logo that normally appear in the helmet or cap. Topic already addressed here.
There was, though, one vendor who caught my eye. He wasn’t shouting about his wares. He didn’t walk up and down the steps touting his goods. He just walked slowly, looking hopefully up at the spectators, holding a large hardback book in his hand. I watched him for a while. He didn’t seem to have any takers. Sadly, I didn’t get a photo, and I have no idea what the book was.
The Saraperos, last season’s champs, aren’t doing so great so far this season. Heading into the game they were 26-37, second from bottom in the Zona Norte division. The Diablos, though, were 37-26, half a game out of first place. The Diablos wore their red alt jerseys, Saraperos wore their turquoise. It was a bit softball, but quite a nice colour combination, I think.
After taking the lead off a Carlos Valencia home run in the bottom of the first, the heart of the Saraperos order crushed it in the second and third, taking a 5-1 lead. But coming off the back of six straight wins, the Diablos chipped away, gave up a couple more, and eventually prevailed, off of two solo homers in the seventh. 8-7 final score. Seven straight wins. Huzzah. (And they won today, too.)