Flip Flop Flying

Archive for November, 2012

Five answers

without comments

One of the vaguely fascinating things about the way we communicate is how there are different ways of expressing the same thing depending on where you are, what the situation is, and how specific you need to be. So I tried to express that in a drawing:

Slightly bigger version here: http://www.flipflopflyin.com/fiveanswers/index.html

Written by Craig

November 30th, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Cloud story

without comments

This, if I recall correctly, is an idea I had in 2008 when I was on a bus in southern Brazil. I’d been travelling by bus a lot, looking out of the window, thinking, letting my mind wander. It’s unsurprising, then, that I should’ve had this idea at that time. I seem to remember it being an idea that came almost fully formed when I woke from one of the bus naps, where you slowly nod off, but wake up a couple of minutes later. In 2009, I tried drawing pixel version of this story, but it wasn’t working, so I left it in a folder. It would likely have stayed there had I not noticed it the other day when I was looking for the Beagle Channel drawing I’d started. Something about doing old ideas feels like cheating, but, of course, it’s not. It’s the good thing about having a backlog of ideas: when there’s nothing in the head now, you can get to clearing out the attic. Anyway, here’s a short eight-panel story, Cloud Story.

http://www.flipflopflyin.com/cloudstory/index.html

Written by Craig

November 30th, 2012 at 10:24 am

Posted in Artwork

Yesterday’s music, No.8

with one comment

This is the blog post that I’ve been waiting to happen. The recent spurt of writing has been good, and using the idea of writing about the records I listened to as a clothes hanger upon which to hang some typing has worked pretty well. But today… I dunno, can’t really think of anything to type about, so what follows is just coming out of my head without any real thought.

I woke up with “Me and the Farmer” by the Housemartins in my head, planned to listen to one or both of their albums, then found, unexpectedly, I didn’t have them in my iTunes. So I settled for what I still think of as Paul Heaton’s “other band,” a band that were going for almost four times as long, The Beautiful South. And this is the first day since I’ve been doing this that I’ve listened to a best-of compilation. I listened to two of them: this one, and the Erasure one.

I’m a fan of best-ofs. That wasn’t always the case. I still am to a great extent, but I used to be more of a music snob. And the idea of best-ofs used to rub me up the wrong way. One should hear songs in the context the artist had designed them to be heard. Singles are an artificial way of hearing music. Those songs are supposed to be heard as part of a collection of songs written and recorded during a period of time. That, of course, is horse shit.

It’s the album that’s (mostly) a fake concept. A musician writes a song. Can be two minutes or five minutes or 20 minutes, but it’s a song that starts, middles, ends. Then when he or she has a bunch of them recorded, that’s an album. The album is a great idea, I love it, but it’s just a convenient way for record labels to sell something first and foremost. And this is the great thing about best-ofs: we get no rubbish songs on there just because they were written around the same time as the few good songs. B-sides are (were?) b-sides for a reason: they were the crappest songs written and recorded during the album sessions. And, while it’s a massive generalisation, you can say the same about three or four of all album tracks. I’m not talking about albums like Pet Sounds or What’s Going On, albums which we have collectively appreciated for being great works, but there are very very few albums which couldn’t have at least one song removed without the overall thing being affected adversely.

I’ve bought a couple of other Beautiful South albums in my life. I can remember virtually none of the non-singles from those albums. I always got the feeling that when a band was described as a “singles band,” it was said with a slight sneer, like they weren’t substantial. Fuck that. There’s 14 songs on Carry On up the Charts, and all but a couple of them are fantastic songs. There’s a lot more enjoyment to be had with that album than any of their proper records. Similarly with the Erasure best-of. That one is an absolute cracker. And Erasure, looking back with an, at times, faulty memory, possibly the first time in my life that I actually noticed a gay singer using the word “you” all the time instead of being specific about gender. It’s nice to be inclusive like that, and it’s kind of clever in a way that back then sexuality wasn’t talked about as openly as it is nowadays, but it’s kind of sad that there’s probably still a great chance that a gay singer is lunikely to have massive hits and sing lyrics about a “he.”

For a moment, let’s just pause, sit back, (and in my case, listen to it again as I type), and reflect on how absolutely lovely “A Little Respect” is. Such a pretty song. One of the 100 best songs of my lifetime. (This is something I really should write down one day. I’m so wont to say it’s this, it’s that, but I don’t really know. Perhaps this is in the top 50, or maybe it’d be number 101 on my list.)

And here, embedded in the page for your enjoyment, is my favourite Beautiful South song, “Prettiest Eyes.” I’m such a sucker for a pretty melody and lyrics about the sort of couple one would love to be half of.

Yesterday’s albums. Left to right, top to bottom:
Carry On up the Charts – The Beautiful South
Storytelling – Belle and Sebastian
Rumours – Fleetwood Mac
About A Boy – Badly Drawn Boy
Pop! The First 20 Hits – Erasure

Written by Craig

November 30th, 2012 at 8:30 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

Onashaga

without comments

New drawing that I began in 2009, and finally finished this week. It’s a drawing of a section of the mountains on both banks of the Beagle Channel in Tierra del Fuego. It’s called Onashaga because that’s what the indigenous people down there called it before the British ship turned up. What you see above is just a small section of the whole drawing. There are three versions: day, moonlight, and pink.

Written by Craig

November 29th, 2012 at 10:57 am

Posted in Artwork

Barnet and Hampsteads

without comments


More finger painting here.

Written by Craig

November 29th, 2012 at 8:55 am

Posted in iPod drawings

Yesterday’s music, No.7

without comments

A good day yesterday. A good, productive day. The lack of bothering to choose music to listen to makes it apparent to me that my brain was occupied. I started with one Bruce Springsteen album, and listened to four more. That’s not choosing music, it’s letting the Bruce Springsteen section of iTunes keep going after the end of one album. A few notes on Bruce Springsteen. When I was fifteen or so, I never really formed it as an actual thought in my head, but I kind of viewed him as a cool, American, uncle who I’d never met. The first album I got was Born in the U.S.A., obviously. I don’t remember ever hearing of him before that. I don’t really think he was that popular in the U.K. before that. The second album of his that I bought was The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. I seem to remember his first two albums were a bit cheaper than the others at the time. It seemed so different to me than Born in the U.S.A. But it became and remains my favourite Springsteen album. All the details made the United States seem both normal and exotic and the same time.

The reason I was occupied was I was working on the Beagle Channel drawing that I mentioned the other day. To save you going back and reading that, I started a drawing in November, 2009, worked on it a little that day, and used the mountains I’d drawn in the banner at the top of Flip Flop Flyin’. The intention was always to do a 360˚ panorama of all the mountains visible either side of a section of the channel near Ushuaia, in Argentina. The northern side of the channel is Argentina, the southern side is Chile. I went there in 2008. My memory of the place, as with most places on the trip I took that year, is that it was simply lovely. And it was. When I look at the place in my head, though, it’s a small, ordinary town in an extraordinary location. But, I think of my time there fondly.

Blog posts about Ushuaia from the time:
http://flipflopflyin.com/g/2008/04/frio/
http://flipflopflyin.com/g/2008/04/halfway-at-the-end-of-the-world/
http://flipflopflyin.com/g/2008/04/glaciar-martial/
http://flipflopflyin.com/g/2008/04/sea-urchins-and-gold-satin/

I took a boat trip to look at seals and to go to one of the islands in the channel. I took lots of photos, but just tourist photos, I had no plan. A year or so later, though, I thought about the pixelly panorama thing. I had a root through the photos and found that I more or less had photos of every section of coastline that could be seen from the island and/or Ushuaia town. I got excited, and worked on it for a little, and didn’t bother doing any more. In the space I’d allocated for the full panorama (over 3,800 pixels in width), I’d drawn 14.4% of the mountains. And there it sat in a folder for three years. On Tuesday evening, I did some more, bringing the total up to 25.6%. And yesterday, I really rocked it: 72.5% of the mountains are done. Barring any accidents or power cuts, I should finish it today.

I’m still undecided, though, on how to present it. I could play it safe and present it naturally, with daylight (first example), or with slightly-exaggerated moonlight (second example), or the one I’m leaning towards, with a totally-unrealistic pink sky (third example).

The one thing I really need to stop doing is referring to it as “the Beagle Channel drawing.” It had a name before the pesky Europeans turned up, and, apparently, the Yámana people who lived there called it “Onashaga.” Which is what I will probably call it once it’s finished because it means channel of the hunters, which is a lot cooler than being named after an admittedly lovely dog breed.

Yesterday’s albums. Left to right, top to bottom:
Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen
Darkness on the Edge of Town – Bruce Springsteen
Nebraska – Bruce Springsteen
Born in the U.S.A. – Bruce Springsteen
The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle – Bruce Springsteen
#1 Record – Big Star
Grand Prix – Teenage Fanclub
Songs from Northern Britain – Teenage Fanclub

Written by Craig

November 29th, 2012 at 8:46 am

Posted in Artwork,Blah blah,Music

Yesterday’s music, No.6

without comments

No Marvin yesterday. Didn’t feel the need, and goddamn it, I’m not gonna listen to it if I don’t want to. The main thing of note yesterday was that I listened to one album twice. Got to the end, and started again. The new-ish Dexys album. The last Dexys Midnight Runners album, Don’t Stand Me Down is one of my favourite records. It’s a beautiful piece of work. I even liked the Kevin Rowland solo covers album My Beauty. But, it’s thirteen years since that solo album, and 27 years since a Dexys album.

That’s a long time, isn’t it? It can be an odd experience as a fan when a band you like puts out a new record. It seemed like such a long time when we were all waiting for the second Stone Roses album. But, really, five years between albums doesn’t seem that long now, does it? A three year gap these days seems pretty normal. And five is just a couple more, isn’t it, maths fans? But, I suppose with Dexys, nobody is talking about them, they’re not in the music press regardless of their absence, like the Stone Roses seemed to be during their five years. With the Stone Roses, it was like waiting for a bus that you know will come at some point, but the act of waiting is a very front-of-your-brain thing. With Dexys, I wasn’t actively waiting. Maybe there’ll be a bus at some point, but, the radiator is on, and I’m quite happy sat here in my living room watching Trading Places on DVD.

It would be wrong to talk about time between records without taking about Kraftwerk, of course. Seventeen years between 1986′s Electric Café and 2003′s Tour de France Soundtracks. Seventeen years and the occasional rumour that something was going on. That seemed like a long time, but, it’s nine years now since Tour de France Soundtracks and that hardly feels like any time at all. Time is all stretchy and interesting.

The other end of that is too many records. I used to quite like Ryan Adams. Saw him live one time in a church in Berlin. Lovely, it was. But: too many albums, dude. I just couldn’t get to know a record before a new one came along. Looking at Wikipedia, he’s done thirteen albums since 2000. And the time that I was into him, he did eight albums between 2000 and 2005. When he put out three albums in 2005, I kinda gave up after the first of those.

Blah blah blah, all in all, it seems like one album every 18 months to two years would be just about perfect. There: sorted out the music industry. Next!

Yesterday’s albums. Left to right, top to bottom:
Electra Heart – Marina & the Diamonds
The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do – Fiona Apple
Arular – M.I.A.
Red Apple Falls – Smog
One Day I’m Going to Soar – Dexys

P.S. The new Dexys album is pretty good. Enjoying it.

Written by Craig

November 28th, 2012 at 10:38 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

Yesterday’s music, No.5

with 2 comments

Brains are great. I love how certain things can conjure up memories. Stuff you’d forgotten about. Sometimes in Mexico City, there will be a whiff coming from the sewers. A nasty smell, but a smell you get used to after a while. I could be walking somewhere, get the whiff, and right there, my brain double-clicks a memory of being in Chiapas, on my first visit to Mexico. The first time I smelled that Mexican sewer smell. I like the sense memories. When something comes back that you can’t fully describe. and music is very good at that sometimes. I’ll hear a record that reminds me of the coldness of my un-radiated childhood bedroom in January. And Josh Rouse’s album, whenever I hear it, makes me think of peacocks. Just peacocks. And if the image in my brain has to be expanded, it’s peacocks on a chilly, sunny day. I had a look through a bunch of old photographs to find out exactly why and where those peacocks came to be associated with Nashville, and that album came out the month before my ex-grilfriend and I took a day trip to Wörlitz, a town about an hour and a half southwest of Berlin. And there, in Wörlitzer Park, were peacocks. Here’s a couple of photographs of the ‘cocks, and one of Billy checking a ‘cock out.

Similarly, the Elbow album will always bring back the coldness of standing in Battery Park, New York, looking out at the Statue of Liberty in December 2008. Everybody already loved that album by the time I bothered to listen to it, and it seemed to fit my trip to New York perfectly at the time.

The Grizzly Bear album is an album I don’t particularly like. But yesterday, I figured I’d give it another go. Still a bit unimpressed. Some good songs, but overall, it’s just not for me. And it reminds me entirely of the first time I listened to it, in my room in Berlin at the end of 2009, starting work on a drawing of the mountains that surround the Beagle Channel. Part of that drawing ended up being used in the banner at the top of Flip Flop Flyin’. The idea was to draw a 360˚ view of the mountains. Every last one of them. This is the space I’d allocated in the image for those mountains:

And this is how much I’ve done of it. I never got beyond that part of the drawing that was used on FFF. But, listening to Grizzly Bear has reminding me that I should finish it. I’ll be working on it today, in fact.

Yesterday’s albums. Left to right, top to bottom:
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
Nashville – Josh Rouse
Nothing’s Gonna Change the Way You Feel About Me Now – Justin Townes Earle
Blue Horse – The Be Good Tanyas
Sweet Heart Rodeo – Dawn Landes
The Seldom Seen Kid – Elbow
The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do – Fiona Apple
Veckatimest – Grizzly Bear
All Quiet on the Noise Floor – Jason Falkner
It’s Heavy in Here – Eric Matthews
The Lateness of the Hour – Eric Matthews

And, yes, I did copy and paste the title of the Fiona Apple LP.

Written by Craig

November 27th, 2012 at 11:24 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

Yesterday’s music, No.4 (or Yesterday in Mexico City)

without comments

Well, Sunday was interesting. Before we get to the interesting stuff, though, let’s talk music: forever, forever, ever, forever, ever?

I was reading an amusing account of Rihanna’s recent flounce around seven North American and European cities to promote her new album on Popjustice. It’s worth a read. In the account, the writer mentioned a Swedish pop group called Icona Pop. I am not as up on my Swedish pop music as I should be. So I Internetted around a bit, and found a place that was streaming their six-track Iconic EP. I have since found out that I am totally behind on this, but damn shit, their song “I Love It” is utterly fantastic. I listened to that one song a ton yesterday. I’m listening to it again as I type these words. Just in case you are out of the loop like me, here’s the YouTube thing:

While we’re on the topic of ace pop music – and really, is there any type of music as good as really good pop music? I’m all over some Pink Floyd, but gimme a “Holiday,” “Better the Devil You Know,” “Never Ever,” “Push The Button” any day of the week – here’s a couple more that I’ve been listening to recently. First, Sky Ferreira’s “Everything is Embarrassing”:

And here’s the amazing amazing amazing so-damn-awesome “Losing You” by Beyoncé’s sister, Solange Knowles.

Incidentally, “Dirrty” by Christina Aguilera was number one in the UK this week ten years ago.

And while she’s damn hot in that video, she looks even better nowadays:

Right, let’s get on with it. I should first explain a little about my living situation. I live in a strange building. There’s a salon de fiestas directly beneath my apartment, and on the ground floor, an out-of-business restaurant. The function room can be annoying at times. There are often parties on Friday and/or Saturday, but on the whole, it’s tolerable because they usually finish at 2am and there’s plenty of Fridays and Saturdays when I’m not even home at that time. But this Saturday night’s party didn’t finish until gone 2.30am, which would not be a problem were it not for the regular thing that happens every Sunday morning: a church group. You don’t see many black people in Mexico City. I see more if I walk down the stairs while the church group is arriving or leaving than I will the rest of the week. Not sure where they are from, but they all speak English, and the service is English. The leader of the group is always yelling “Jeeeeeeeeeeee-zus!” They aren’t particularly loud, apart from the first 30-45 mins when they have a drummer and they sing some songs. So, if I’ve been out, I’m woken up, without having had enough sleep, by Christians. Does nothing to make me feel any warmth towards the church, quite frankly. So: late party noise, six-ish hours sleep, early church noise, and then a mid-afternoon party going on upstairs. My upstairs neighbours are complete and utter cunts. I’m sorry to use that word. I’m not actually sorry, because I can’t think of another word strong enough. We need one, actually, that doesn’t apply negative vibrations to a slang word for vagina, don’t we? We need the strongest swear word to be one that isn’t about a female body part.

So anyway, they started having their party which was a little frustrating, so I upped and went to Starbucks for a bit (see previous post). When I came back, I saw about fifteen people arriving. Sigh. That means this is a proper party, not just a loud gathering. It felt like my cue to go out for the evening, and hope that, being a Sunday, it wouldn’t go on too long into the night. So I went out, to a place called Tortas Jorge. It’s a nice place. They usually have a guitar player singing all night. There’s loads of bullfighting posters on the walls. And the service is terrifyingly slow. But, you can sit down at a table, mind your own business, and have a few drinks. It’s nice. So, I did just that: had a few drinks, had a torta, listened to the man singing, wondered exactly how young the girl across the way was, who was caressing a man who was knocking on sixty years old (she couldn’t have been more than 22 or 23). Generally, a pleasant Sunday evening. I left there around 10pm.

With the optimism of a Belieber asking for a retweet, I walked down my street towards my apartment. From about 100 metres away, even though the lights from the apartment were dim, I could still make out figures on the balcony, and from about 50 metres away, I could hear the thud-thud-thud of music. Of course it was too much to hope that it would be over, regardless of the day of the week. So I went to a bar in my neighbourhood that I’d walked past, but never been into before, called Micheladas el Camellito.

If i told you it were a gay bar, and you had a peek inside, you wouldn’t be shocked by my description. It wasn’t a gay bar, though. There were no women in there, just a few tables occupied by dudes. A late middle-aged dude in a sweater sat on his own near the back, and two pairs of husky dudes sat at separate tables near the front, and a couple of guys sat outside in motorcycle leathers. The walls were black, the lights were red, the music was trance-y, and the TV was showing the Packers-Giants game. I ordered an Indio. They had no bottles, so it would be “barril.” Fine. Half litre or a litre? I guess I’m gonna be here for a while, so litre, por favor. It came in a plastic cup, the sort you get at sports events or concerts. The beer was shit. And I was starting to get a headache. Could do with going home. The game had finished, so the bar staff had fired up YouTube and we could see what they were choosing on the TV screen. Sound and picture quality: not good. It was nearing 11pm: no way the party will be over. But the bar was grim. Colour photocopies of caricatures stapled to the wall: Bono, Michael Jackson, Will Smith, Tom Cruise, Lady Gaga, Mr. Bean, Barack Obama.

Then things got interesting. One of the pairs of husky dudes got up to leave. They stood for a while outside near a parked taxi. And then they got in. One of them in the driver’s seat. As he pulled out to drive away, he rammed into the car parked in front of him. As it happens, a bar employee was stood outside smoking while it happened. They had a wee chat through the driver’s side window, and being a nosey bitch, I went outside to “have a cigarette.” As I lit up, the car pulled away, and the barman ran down the street thumping on the window for as long as he could keep pace. One of the other husky dudes from the bar came out. As did the other barman. This barman grabbed his keys, and opened the door of the car that had been rammed. The husky customer grabbed his keys, too, and went to his car. They both sped off. Like, way too fast. TV car chase fast. It was kind of thrilling to watch. It didn’t happen at the time, but for the sake of this re-telling of events, let’s just pretend that the “Starsky and Hutch” theme tune was playing in my head as it happened.

The other barman and husky dude stood around talking, peering down the street in both direction, and I went back inside to finish my beer. The sweater man coughed. Then cleared his throat. Then I heard him spit on the floor. Then I heard the sound of chunks being blown. He’s not-? Is he? He is! He was sat there, throwing up all over the floor. No attempt what. so. ever. to get to the bathroom. I couldn’t smell it, but it still made me retch a little just knowing it was there on the floor a few metres away. I glugged down beer a bit too quick. Didn’t taste good. Thankfully, to distract me from vomitty man, the husky dude and the barman’s cars came back around the corner and parked outside. And so did the taxi. At this point, I got money out of my wallet, put it on the table, and got ready to leave: I don’t want to be a part of a bad Mexican scene.

And this is the amazing thing: everyone was really calm and amiable. When the cars pulled up, I was half expecting the taxi driver and his pal to be dragged from the car, taken out back and given a good going over. Didn’t happen. The taxi driver was all, hey sorry about that. The barman whose car had been pronged was all like, whatevs. The husky dude came back inside to get his beer, caught my eye, and we raised our beers towards each other and “salud!”-ed. He went back outside and told his husky pal about what happened. I didn’t hear it, but could see his arms indicating a pincer movement. The vomiting guy got up, struggled with the one step in the bar, and stumbled out into the night. I asked the barman for the bill, and if his car was okay. He told me it was fine, in a manner that sounded like, “yeah, we do this all time.”

I walked home smiling, desperate to write this all down. The party was still going on, so I put on my big headphones and listened to Daft Punk. It’s 1.30am right now. The party died down about an hour ago. There’s still house music going on, and there are still loud shoes clomping around, but sleep is definitely possible. Good night, y’all.

Yesterday’s albums. Left to right, top to bottom:
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
Stankonia – Outkast
Iconic EP – Icona Pop
Since I Left You – The Avalanches
Pesents Author Unknown – Jason Falkner
Congratulations – MGMT
Let England Shake – PJ Harvey
Homework – Daft Punk
Discovery – Daft Punk

Written by Craig

November 26th, 2012 at 1:39 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

“Craig”

with 2 comments

It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it’s time to rejoice. My name gets spelled incorrect a lot in Mexico (see Wreck section of FFF for more details), but this afternoon, it was spelled correctly. Not only that, when I told her my name, she asked “Greg o Craig?” Be still my beating heart.

I think she used a fake name for herself, though.

Written by Craig

November 25th, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Posted in Blah blah

Talc

without comments

Talc cystals, from which we get talcum powder. Image from Wikipedia. And who knew that crystals have cleavage? Geologists, probably, but not me. Hello, crystals..

Written by Craig

November 25th, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Posted in Blah blah

Yesterday’s music, No.3

without comments

I messed up the order a bit yesterday. I woke with “Reptilia” from the Strokes’ second album in my head, so listened to that one before What’s Going On. The Nik Kershaw album… I loved that when I was thirteen. That record was a present from a friend of my father’s. He was working in a town called Skegness, a town on the coast of Lincolnshire, about an hour away from Lincoln where we lived. Can’t remember whether it was a work-related connection, but he was friends with an Indian family. I remember going there once. They had a nice house. And the daughter, Varsha, who I guess must’ve been in her twenties, bought this album as a present for my sister and I. And she wrote a greeting on the front of the record sleeve. In blue pen, on Nik’s face. At the time, that was a real bummer. I was very particular about my records. Plus, the thought of having to share one with my sister was horrifying. It was incredibly nice of her, though. As with a lot of pop records from the 1980s, it hasn’t aged well once you get beyond the singles. “Wouldn’t It Be Good” is still amazing, a really lovely song. “Human Racing” also holds up, mostly because it’s a well-written song with a pretty melody. That time in music, that time when we were all waiting to be obliterated by a nuclear war, was pretty good for catchy, slightly-melancholy, pop songs.

I have kept a thought in the back of my head that if I ever meet a woman who loves Nilsson’s The Point! record, I would be a fool not to woo her and spend the rest of my life with her. Hasn’t happened yet, but there’s still time. I own three copies of this album. It is my dream – a dream I will never realise because I don’t have the patience – to draw and animate a new version of the The Point! The original is great, but it’s so of its time, as, I guess, is the story; a story that, apparently, Nilsson thought of whilst high on acid looking at some trees. It’s such a lovely story, wiith some heartbreakingly lovely songs, that it could really do with being popular again, and somewhat egotistically, I reckon I could do it. But I never will. The idea is filed away in the folder in my brain with all the other too-much-work ideas.

Here’s the full original animated movie, narrated by Dustin Hoffman. Watching it will enhance your Sunday. And the rest of your life.

Title TK isn’t the best Breeders record, but it’s got “Huffer” on it, which is aces. Not got owt to say about the David Bazan album (I bought it from him after his show in Berlin a few years ago, and he seemed like a pleasant chap). Or the Bill Callahan abum. Or the Gillian Welch album. Underworld, though: of course I’ve got stuff to say about that puppy. Beaucoup Fish is a stunner. Not a bum song on there. I was pretty into the Tomato aesthetic at the time as well, so it was perfect. “Jumbo” is, of course, the best song. Can’t hear it without thinking about my friend John. There’s one moment in the song near the end, five minutes and 47 seconds in, when it has broken down, and there’s a little shuffle-y bit of drums before it kicks back in. John and I both love this moment of the song. One time, around the time when they were touring this album, they played live at Brixton Academy. We went along, took what people take when they go to see Underworld, and danced the night away. There was one point in the night, though, when my legs gave up on me, so I sat down at the side, back against the wall, dancing in my head. There was a woman in front of me who was really going for it. She had delightful calves. And because of my heightened state, I leant forward, tapped her on the back, she leant down, and I told her she was a great dancer. She smiled so big at that point, thanked me, and told me she was studying to be a professional dancer. I smiled back, probably did something dorky like a thumbs up, and she got back to dancing on her legs, and I got back to dancing in my head. It was a beautiful moment.

Yesterday’s albums. Left to right, top to bottom:
Room on Fire – The Strokes
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
McLemore Avenue – Booker T & the MGs
Human Racing – Nik Kershaw
This is a Pinback CD – Pinback
The Point! – Harry Nilsson
Title TK – The Breeders
Curse Your Branches – David Bazan
Sometimes I Wish We Were an Eagle – Bill Callahan
Time (The Revelator) – Gillian Welch
Beaucoup Fish – Underworld
Into the Great Wide Yonder – Trentemøller

It is, by the way, entirely a coincidence that for the first three days of doing this, I’ve listened to twelve albums each day. I’m happy about the coincidence, though, because it fits into the three-by-four grid nicely.

Written by Craig

November 25th, 2012 at 11:00 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

Why are atheists so angry?

with 2 comments

I’m finding that my atheist thoughts regarding the lack of an afterlife and my desire to get three stars on every level of every Angry Birds game are at odds with each other. Finite time available, and I’m pissing it away smashing drawings of birds into drawings of pigs.

Note: title of this post is used ironically, of course. When I typed “why are atheists” into the Google thingy, it autofilled “so angry” as the top search option. I love that Christians have their own way for centuries, but if an atheist gets into a discussion about science and logic, they are “angry.”

Written by Craig

November 24th, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Posted in Blah blah

Yesterday’s music, No.2

without comments

I figure this is possibly a good way to keep up the recent spurt of writing. I like writing, but sometimes I just can’t be arsed. And once I get going, I feel like I should keep going, keep pushing along. So, with the lack of daily baseball podcasts to listen to at this time of year, it makes a wee bit of sense to listen to music and maybe write about it. After Thursday’s day-long enjoyment of album after album, I did the same thing yesterday. Once again, I began with What’s Going On. Figured it could be good to start with the same record and see where it took me. In a way, it took me to a similar place as Thursday. Then, it was Blue Lines by Massive Attack, today a vaguely related album: Raw Like Sushi by Neneh Cherry. That album’s best song, “Manchild,” was co-written by Robert Del Naja, and the album was co-produced by Cameron McVey, who also co-produced Blue Lines. The album as a whole hasn’t dated particularly well. Still enjoyable to listen to, but aside from a few songs, mostly for nostalgic reasons.

I’m already coming across a problem with writing about these albums: how do I do it without just saying “it’s great”? Got to try to avoid that. Got to push myself to go beyond that and see what my head can come up with.

Even though Morning Dove White came out before I met him, it always reminds me of an old friend called Darren. He loved One Dove, especially their singer, Dot Allison, and who can blame him? We worked together at a record distribution company in the late 90s. It was a beautiful time. The music industry in the UK seemed to be going great guns. People still went to record stores and bought records and CDs. And we’d get awesome bonuses if the records we were distributing reached their targets (£100 bonus for getting this record into the top ten, £500 bonus if that record gets to number one; that kind of thing). Best of all, though, was the atmosphere in our part of the building. We did telesales. Not telesales in the sense that we were calling random people about double-glazed windows; we called the same bunch of record stores every week. You get to know people on the other end of the phone, and generally, it was an incredibly enjoyable job. You’re talking about music all day: what’s not to love? I was there for three-and-a-half years, and I’m still friends with many of the people I worked with. In a way, it was too much fun. It was my first office job, and no office job could have a hope of living up to it.

Dancing comes back to me when I hear certain records. If I listen to the Happy Mondays, I find myself shuffling around in that late eighties/early nineties white British man way. And listening to either of the first two Prodigy albums has a similar effect. If I walk to the kitchen, I won’t walk, I’ll end up doing some ridiculous rave-y hoppy skippy dance all the way. And it’s not just when I’m on my feet. If I’m sat at my desk, my work rate slows significantly. My hands are too busy dancing to hold a mouse or do keyboard shortcuts.

When I worked for the aforementioned company, I had the chance to go to the offices of the record company that released the Gravediggaz’ second album, and briefly met the two members of the group that weren’t RZA or Prince Paul. I forget their names. I’m useless in such situations. They were just two dudes, but, really, what the heck of interest did I have to say to them? And why would they give a shit about what I had to say? I can’t remember what I actually did say, but I can be fairly certain it was a whole load of meaningless nonsense.

I’m at a point in my life, I think, where I’m finding it pretty much impossible to sing along with David Bowie songs without slipping into a bad impression. And there’s a certain amount of Rolling Stones songs where I’m pretty much doing an impression of other people’s impressions of Mick Jagger. It’s strange that Let’s Dance was Bowie’s biggest selling album. Beyond the first three songs – “Modern Love,” “China Girl,” “Let’s Dance” – it’s not overly consumer-friendly. I can’t help but imagine that a lot of the people who bought this album after hearing those singles were probably quite disappointed with the remaining five songs.

I saw Brendon Benson live in Berlin in 2003. I think the venue was called Magnet. I remember enjoying it, but I don’t remember much of the event other than it was the night that the Iraq War started. The next day, on Viva – a German MTV-ish channel – instead of the usual happy smiley VJs, there were serious-faced VJs, sat around wearing CND t-shirts, discussing war with German teenagers. That’s nearly ten years ago now, but the images from that first night of the war are still really fresh in my mind. I’ve had very little hardship in my life. It’s been a relatively normal life so far. There have been a few small earthquakes that have rocked Mexico City since I’ve been here, and the first time, I was like a baby. It didn’t feel nice at all. And the aftershocks for the next couple of days weren’t fun either. It was difficult to sleep. The rumble of a big truck going down the street would nudge me awake: is it another earthquake? I would be so utterly terrified and crying and useless if a war were to happen in my city.

Jason Falkner is one of our time’s most underrated musicians, I think. He’s written and recorded some wonderful solo records, and he’s also been involved in lots of other great things. He was in Jellyfish, he’s worked with Jon Brion, Paul McCartney, Air (he sang on “Radio #1″), Eric Matthews, Beck, Aimee Mann, Ben Lee, Daniel Johnston, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Glen Campbell, and he co-wrote five of the songs on the Brendon Benson album. He is aces. If you have babies, and you wanna get them enjoying the Beatles early on in their lives, you could do a hell of a lot worse than buying Falkner’s two Bedtime with the Beatles albums, on which are his instrumental versions of the band’s songs, arranged as lullabies.

The last song on Jason Falkner Presents Author Unknown is called “Untitled” (YouTube). It’s one of my favourite ever songs. It’s incredibly beautiful. For about two minutes it goes along, being all lovely, with a few strings coming in here and there, and pretty much exactly halfway through, it shifts into a fully string-laden coda (not sure if that’s technically the correct word) with the same two lines repeated over and over again: You may not have been able to change the world/But at least you changed my world. I was listening to this album a lot when my mother’s second husband died after having had cancer for a while. My relationship with him wasn’t always wonderful; he was, after all, not my father, and that was a difficult thing to get my head around for a while. But he was a good man. And when he died, those two lines from the end of Jason Falkner’s song went through my head a lot. Like most of us, he wasn’t important in the grand history of the planet, but he was important to the people who knew him. Which is pretty much what we can all hope for, really.

And on that somewhat sombre note, here’s the names of the albums pictured above just in case you don’t recognise some of them. Left to right, top to bottom:
What’s Going On – Marvin Gaye
Raw Like Sushi – Neneh Cherry
Morning Dove White – One Dove
Space Is Only Noise – Nicolas Jaar
Actually – Pet Shop Boys
Music for Jilted Generation – The Prodigy
Queens of the Stone Age – Queens of the Stone Age
Niggamortis – Gravediggaz
Viva! La Woman – Cibo Matto
Let’s Dance – David Bowie
Lapalco – Brendon Benson
Presents Author Unknown – Jason Falkner

Written by Craig

November 24th, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Posted in Blah blah,Music

Yesterday’s music

without comments

Yesterday was one of those magical days. I woke up, made coffee, and put on Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On. It was a joy to listen to first thing in the morning. Next I played Massive Attack’s Blue Lines, and it just continued. Every album I decided to listen to was brilliant. And I listened to every song on every album, too. Can’t remember the last time I did that with more than a couple of albums in a row. It was a fine time, Lucille.

A couple of days I mentioned on Twitter that I was happy that I lived in a world where “Little Red Corvette” was a thing that exists. And these albums make me happy to be alive right now, too. But, of course, I can’t help but think of the music I will miss once I am dead. That really great album that will come out one day or one month or one year after I die. And it will come. And then there’ll be another and another and another. I’ve often thought of all the great music my father would’ve liked had he still been alive. I think he would have loved Supergrass and Wilco and Richard Hawley and Baxter Dury and Super Furry Animals, and probably stuff that I wouldn’t even imagine he would like. Ho hum. It awaits us all.

Anyway, sometimes it’s nice to not let music drift by your ears because it’s just there in your iPod and on your journey. It’s nice to listen to things and be thankful for all the great musicians and songwriters out there.

This is what I listened to yesterday. Great albums all.

Written by Craig

November 23rd, 2012 at 7:21 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

Sock fun

without comments

If a sock has come to the end of its life, you can have fun before you throw it away. For example…

Written by Craig

November 22nd, 2012 at 1:05 pm

Posted in Blah blah,Silly

Goodbye, Yankees

without comments

When, at the end of last week, reports began to surface that Rupert Murdoch’s hideous News Corp would be buying a 49% stake in the New York Yankee’s own TV channel, the YES Network, it became clear that I could no longer be a Yankees fan. Some things are more important than sticking with a team.

I made what can only very loosely be called a chart for the Getting Blanked site regarding this, and the process of choosing a new team to root for:
http://blogs.thescore.com/mlb/2012/11/21/flip-flop-fly-ball-losing-my-religion/

Written by Craig

November 21st, 2012 at 11:36 am

Candle

without comments


More finger painting here.

Written by Craig

November 21st, 2012 at 9:58 am

Jelly cross thingy

without comments


More finger painting here.

Written by Craig

November 21st, 2012 at 9:58 am

Trunk

without comments

Written by Craig

November 20th, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Posted in Artwork,Music,Silly