Archive for the ‘Blah blah’ Category
Somewhere along the way, my site lost its links page. It seems to me (based on nothing but a hunch and a minor amount of clicking) that the Internet changed when we stopped adding links to our Web sites. Sure, the whole Web 2.0 thing was massive, but in my corner of the Internet, that is the corner where people do their own little projects without overly trying to monetise things too much, and where having your own Web site is a cooler thing than just having a Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, etc., in that corner, having a links page was a great thing. We linked to things we liked, sometimes those sites linked back, and all those sites linking to each other benefited in a little way.
But, somewhere along the way, my site lost its links page. I vaguely remember deciding to not have it as a separate page and just have a bunch of links at the bottom of the menu on the homepage. (Aside: you don’t hear people say “homepage” much anymore, do you? This is how slow and gradual being old takes hold.) And then there must’ve been a bit of a re-jig of the home page and now there are no links on that page. It was never intentional to remove them, not that I remember, anyway. It’s possible I cut and forgot to paste them whilst redesigning. Why I would’ve needed to do that, though, I have no idea.
When I noticed this last week, I made a decision. I could just go and find the old HTML pages that I try to keep semi-organised on my hard drive and recopy and paste those links back in, but it also felt like an opportunity to do a blog post, too. So below are sites (that still exists) I have ever linked to on a Flip Flop Flyin’ links page. If nothing else, this post is worth bookmarking for a bored afternoon when your Feedly is light on new things to click on. They are in alphabetical order. Should you be a stalker and have archived copies of my site, you may well notice that there are some new links in there, too. So 100% of you won’t actually notice that.
From a purely rooting point of view, I want the Diablos Rojos to win tonight. It’s game six in the first round of the playoffs (that is to say, the quarter-finals). The Diablos won the first two games at home last Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Toros de Tijuana won their three home games over the weekend. It’s a best-of-seven series. The Diablos absolutely need to win tonight. And if they do that, game seven will be tomorrow night.
This season, the Diablos’ stadium is a lot smaller (less than 5,000 capacity), and getting tickets is a pain in the arse. They have an online ticket sales but my non-Mexican credit card doesn’t work on their site, so when I want tickets for playoff games, I have to go to queue up when the tickets go on sale. For the first two games of the playoffs, my pal Samuel and I arrived 75 minutes before the advertised start time for ticket sales, and we were about 130th in the line.
Once the Toros won game four and assured us of a game six, they announced the sale of tickets on the next day. I was there about an hour and a half early, and the line was a whole lot shorter, but crucially, when I was choosing which section and row to sit in, I could see on the screen that way more people had used the online booking. Not so many tickets still available in my preferred section.
Which brings us to tonight’s game. There’s a part of me that kinda wouldn’t mind if the Diablos lost. When I am there in a couple of hours, I will of course want them to win, but right now, the thought of the Diablos winning, and not knowing what kind of time suck and ballache will occur tomorrow when I want to get a ticket for game seven… well, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if they lost. The thought of getting tickets for game seven, and if they win that, the next two home games in the semi-finals, stresses me out, too much. (I’ve typed about ticket stress before here.) Plus, it’s my girlfriend’s birthday on the same day as a possible game one of the semi-finals, and her birthday party on Saturday, the same day as game two. And if the Diablos were to get to the Serie del Rey (that is, the final) then, gosh knows how tough it’s gonna be to get non-online tickets from the ticket booth.
All of this comes down to my semi-ambivalence to the idea of playoffs. The Diablos were by far the best team in the Mexican League. So there we go. End of story. Diablos were the best team. But no, we have to endure the idiocy of playoffs where an eighth best team in the league could still conceivable be “champions.” In my head, I know that my team were the best team this year, yet we still have to go through this charade. Last season, the Diablos were the best team in the regular season, and won the championship in the playoffs, too. My joy – and it was proper joy – was partly because the coin toss-iness of the playoffs had not got in the way of proving what I already knew. And it’ll be the same tonight. I just want them to win so that what I already know will be confirmed by the record books. And if they don’t, well, the record books in my head will keep a note, and I won’t have to stress about tickets anymore.
Update, 26 August: Diablos won 14-1. There will be a seventh game tonight. Tickets go on sale at 11am. I will, of course, traipse over to the stadium to buy a ticket, return home, then go back to the stadium for the game. I’m not gonna say it’s a hard life, just, y’know, it’s essentially 2-3 hours wasted in the middle of the day.
I was moderately ambivalent to New Order’s music until seeing them live at the Reading Festival on 25 August, 1989. I didn’t dislike them, just not really a massive fan. Until this show.
This was the setlist:
Round & Round
All the Way
Every Little Counts
Your Silent Face
Bizarre Love Triangle
The Perfect Kiss
Aside from New Order, it was a pretty good line up that day. I saw everything on the main stage: Gaye Bykers on Acid, Spacemen 3, My Bloody Valentine, That Petrol Emotion, Tackhead, Swans, House of Love, and the Sugarcubes.
A couple of weeks back, a friend and I went to the Cruz Azul vs. Venados game. Cheap tickets because it was a Copa MX game. The Mexican cup is very much a second tier competition here. After the game, I was in a local bar with a pal. We finished chatting, got the bill, paid, got the change, left a tip, and stood up to leave. Very literally less than 10 seconds after doing so, the flat screen telly mounted on the wall above our table fell off its bracket thingy, onto the seat that was still warm from my delightful bum cheeks. Therefore, I have found Jesus*. Vote Ted Cruz**.
* Not really.
** Please don’t.
I was in the park, the Columbus Circle edge of the park. I had a long walk through the park, ended up in a part of the city that I didn’t recognise. It had that 70s cop movie feel, this part of the city. I took a photo of a tall building with my phone and put it on Twitter. While I was tweeting, a kid told me he liked my baseball cap. I was happy. Maybe I could finally meet some of the people I’ve had contact with since I started the baseball site. I took a short cut down a few steps into an alley. The alley was full of tiny tiny cafes, each with one or two tables at most, all decorated like old fairground rides. Nice colours and lettering on the signs. A waiter told me there was no exit at the end of the alley, but I could get to the other end through his cafe. I climbed up the stairs, and there were lots of low low tables and cushions and people drinking tea. I stumbled as I went out of the door. Stumbled kinda into a table. Two women and a man, all way cooler than me, were sat at the table smoking. I apologised. They asked me “what’s your life?” I told them, “I live in Germany, well, not Germany anymore, I used to, I, I live in Mexico City now.” The woman with short hair told me I was living the dream, and they all got up and jumped onto the bus that was passing. And I was lying in bed, thinking, don’t wake up. You’re in New York, you’ve gotta meet those people. Don’t wake up. And I slowly realised — slowly, like you swim back to the surface after diving into water — that I was awake. And, goddamn it, I wasn’t in New York. Fuck.
Fun thing I learned about Welwyn Garden City last week from Wikipedia: it’s both a garden city (like, duh) and a new city. Thus, Venn:
This song still sounds brilliant, doesn’t it?
I’m not a massive fan of superhero stuff. When I was young, I liked the old Adam West Batman, and I remember that I loved the old Spiderman cartoon, too. I watched an episode of it recently on YouTube: the animation is bloody awful. I’ve seen some of the new Batman films over the years, a couple of the Spidermans, obvs, the three 70s/80s Supermans. But on the whole, superheroes aren’t really my cup of tea. I don’t hate them or owt, just, y’know, put your underwear on first, dummy.
Saw a poster for something called Ant-Man the other day. Now, I have no idea if Ant-Man is a good character or a good film or whatever, but jesus, it’s very hard to work up any enthusiasm for a bloody ant. What are his superpowers? The ability to be burned by a magnifying glass? The power to not be able to cross a line of talcum powder?
Yep, the only Ant-Man I care about is this one. I’d deffo go see a film about that superhero.
Thanks to the generosity of a couple of friends (gracias Pepe y Samuel), on the last day of June, we had guest list tickets for the Flaming Lips concert at the Auditorio Nacional, a big concert venue with: (1) a capacity of around 10,000, (2) Latin America’s largest pipe organ, and (c) some woefully under-staffed bars. Queues of 50-odd people waiting for plastic cups of beer. Fuck that shit. I’d rather not drink than participate in such business. The show was general admission within each of the various price categories. Guest list tickets were, it seems, all up on the balcony, about 35km from the stage.
It was a weird night for me. My girlfriend and her pals seemed to really enjoy it. All around us seemed to enjoy it. All of the people downstairs seemed to enjoy it. Me? Not really. There were some pretty lights, I’ll give them that. But all of the dancing creatures, it was a bit Teletubbies meets “Stonehenge.” It kinda felt like all of the theatrics were covering up for a set of songs that were, on the whole, sounded fairly average.
But, a good night of post-concert boozing hanging out with friends, chatting, listening to music, was kinda the perfect way to start a mini holiday: three nights in Real del Monte. It was a perfect start in an unexpected way: because of the drinking and the late night, it kinda forced me to not wake up and rush around in the morning. The plan was to be up, out, and at the bus terminal for about 9am. Tired brain told me NO.
I was a bit stressed about work stuff, so a few days away seemed like a good idea. I would be revisiting Real del Monte (or Mineral del Monte, not sure which is the proper name, but you see signs for with both names in the area), a place I’d first visited a couple of years back. It’s just outside Pachuca, which is about 90 minutes on a bus northeast-ish from Mexico City. It’s a pretty simple journey: subway to one of the main bus terminals in Mexico City, have a look at the bus times, find one that is going soon, buy a ticket.
The guy checking bags and metal detecting asked where I was from. I told him Inglaterra, and he asked, in English, how was the correct way to say “Tott-eng-hem Ho-spor.” I told him he was close and pronounced it as clearly and English-ly as a member of the Royal Family. The bus journey is nothing special, really: no particularly nice landscape or owt. I listened to Marc Maron’s interview with Barack Obama over the sound of a dubbed version of the Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis film “The Campaign” blaring from the bus’ TV speakers.
Once in Pachuca, there’s a dude directly outside yelling the destinations of various small combi buses. I told him I need to go to Plaza de la Constitución, he pointed at a combi. I squeezed into the tiny van that waited until it was rammed full of people (that is to say, had about 10 people inside) and we were off. I’d made this journey once before so kinda knew where I was going, but I was sat in the middle and couldn’t really see out of the window. By the time that everyone else had got off, I asked him where the plaza was, and he took me a few hundred yards further and told me to nip through the market and there it is.
I followed his instructions, bought a new cable for my phone in the market (it’s pink with tiny blue UV lights inside and only 35 pesos!) asked another guy where to get the Real del Monte combi and was soon in an almost identical tiny vehicle heading out and up above Pachuca. It’s a nice wee journey. I like the contract of arriving in Pachuca, seeing a relatively decent-sized city from street level, then a few minutes in the hills and the same place looks pretty small.
The combi stopped at various points in Real del Monte before getting to the central square and church-y bit, where I got off. I knew there were a handful of hotels, but I didn’t bother booking a room. It was a Wednesday, not really tourist-y season, no special festivals going on, and most importantly: I love arriving somewhere and not knowing where I’m going to sleep. I wandered to the hotel I stayed in last time. Door was locked. It was about 2pm. Knocked on the door. No answer. Knocked again. No answer. So I asked the security guard at the museum next door and he said they’re probably having their lunch.
So, I just went to another hotel instead. I was very thankful that I only bothered to pay for one night in advance, cos when I got to the room, the view was of a breeze block wall about 30cm from the window. Ho hum. I couldn’t be arsed to make a fuss, so I just dumped my stuff and went back out to get some food. And food, dear readers, is pretty much the main reason for visiting Real del Monte.
When one lives in a foreign land, as some of you might have experienced, food from your home country is one of the things you miss the most. There’s a level of comfort that dribbles through the mind, like a slow-moving river of melted white chocolate, when I think of British food like Marmite, Branston pickle, scotch eggs, pork pies, Cornish pasties. And in Real del Monte, they have pasties. Oh yes, muchos pastes. (Eff why eye: the Spanish spelling of pasty: paste. Plural: pastes.)
Real del Monte has a strong English–specifically Cornish–influence. Back in the day, when the people in this area found stuff in the ground, they need to mine it. Load of Cornish people came over to work in the mines and they brought three things in particular with them: well-good mining techniques, pasties, and football. Real del Monte was the first place in Mexico where football was played. I saw several ceramic tiles painted in bright colours around the town celebrating the football history and there was a big advert painted on a wall for a football museum which I couldn’t find, sadly.
The pasties are great. It’s been two-and-a-half decades since I was in Cornwall, but the “tradicional” variety of pasty in Real del Monte is as good as I remember any being in Cornwall. I say “tradicional” because pasties come in lots of varieties in Read del Monte. At Pastes el Portal which is, in my opinion, the best of the pasty places in Real del Monte (and have no fear, I tried several) you can get mole, beans, chicken, sausage, tuna, and “Hawaiian.” They also do sweet pasties: peach, apple, pineapple, strawberry, coconut, chocolate, and vanilla. (I tried the vanilla one and mmm, mmm, mmm, delish.)
I had a couple of traditional carne con papas pasties, then had a wee walk around. I went to the tourism booth outside the town’s indoor market and asked the nice people there a few questions. Specifically, about the opening hours of the English cemetery. On my last visit, we walked all the way there and found that the gates were locked, so I wanted to be sure. They were friendly, so I signed their guest book thingy and got a wee map of the local area.
It started drizzling, so I stopped for a beer in bar. The bar had Old West-style saloon doors. Inside there were lots of pictures of two things: Club América football team, and naked women. The toilet had no door, it was simply a urinal in the corner of the room with a curtain for privacy. It looked like you might vote there, not piss.
Another bar, this time with insanely loud music (yeah, grandad…) and I was soon back at the hotel, in bed, and asleep well early, and having a dream about getting back to Mexico City to find my apartment had been burgled. Joy.
I tend to wake up early quite a lot anyway, but on holiday, it’s pretty much a given. 7am is late for me on holiday. 7am, though, is still very early, it would seem, for the cafe owners of Real del Monte. So was 8am. Basically, it was 9am before anywhere was open for any breakfast. I went to a place around the corner, ordered the desayuno Realmontense from a bored-looking owner, a man whose who being screamed “the waiter/waitress isn’t here yet, so I’ve gotta deal with this shit.”
The breakfast was shite. That weird concentrate orange juice that is way too sweet, coffee that comes pre-sweetened, even the bread was sweet. Of all that, I had a few sips of the orange juice. The main part wasn’t sweet, thankfully: chilaquiles verde with chorizo.
I went back to the first hotel that I tried and there was someone there. Yes, he did have a room for two nights. Do I want to see the room? Normally, I don’t bother with that business, but after the breeze block view, I did. Lovely big room, lovely view over the town. I paid, went back to the other hotel, packed my stuff and checked in to the new place, where, incidentally, the lobby was full of pictures of Marilyn Monroe.
I asked the guy where I need to go to get the bus to a nearby village called Huasca de Ocampo, and traipsed off in the direction he told me to go. Up and above the main part of Real del Monte, to the main road that runs by the town. There was an old lady waiting there. I asked her. She told me to wait for the green bus. Plenty of buses went by, vaguely slowing when they saw someone stood at the corner. The sign on the front of the bus was really small, so I was squinting. Is it… is it… yes! I stook out my hand, the combi screeched to a halt, and I sat on the only available seat. The teenage girls sat across the way kept glimpsing at me, the gringo. The driver’s CD player was blasting out eighties hits. Arthur’s Theme, I Wanna Dance with Somebody, and Careless Whisper. As we bombed around the curvy mountain roads, I looked down and figured that, if I was gonna die in a bus accident, I’d quite want George Michael to soundtrack my demise.
Huasca de Ocampo seemed to be a smaller version of Real del Monte. A perfectly lovely little Mexican town. As far as I can tell–and I’m obviously no expert–small villages fall into two categories here: Pueblos Mágicos and non-Pueblos Mágicos. An explanation: the Magical Villages Program is something that the tourism board do to promote, err, tourism around the country. There are 80-odd of them, of which I have visited ten. Some are better than others. Some are indeed magical. Some, well, you get the feeling that the mayors of some of them used their influence to get the magical status. You can see it straight away: the streets are cleaner, the town squares are tidier and there’s generally an air of expecting tourists.
First thing I did was have a wee look inside the church in the town square. Tick. Yep, that’s that done. A nice cup of coffee (that is to say, not thick with sugar) and I asked a taxi driver how much it was to go to the nearby Basalt Prisms. Just 60 pesos. Muy bien. The Primasa Basálticos are these tall colums of rock in a ravine kinda thing, with a waterfall that does its water-y business there. It was quite lovely. Here’s some photographs:
50 pesos entrance fee. Impressive stuff. Not too crowded with tourists. I was pretty much the only non-Mexican there as far as I could tell. Half way around the ravine, there were a couple of souvenir shops and a place selling drinks. I saw other people with cocktail-y kinda things, and assumed they must be just fruit punch or something, but no! Actual alcohol. I asked if they had a beer. Yep. 50 pesos. Okay, seems steep, but it’s a tourist place, and it’s hot, so sure. It wasn’t steep. It was a caguama, a nearly-a-litre bottle. So I had this huge beer, and I’d kinda seen everything, so, well, I wandered around again, just with a massive beer in my hand. And boy was it worth it. It was nice to look at everything a second time, notice things I’d not seen before. I don’t know how it’s taken me this long in life to look at things twice at a tourist attraction, but I will be doing it again, caguama or not.
At the entrance/exit area, I asked the ticket woman if I could wait around here for another taxi to drop someone off, so I could jump in and go back to Huasca. She told me I needed to call for one. I had no credit on my phone, so asked if she could call one for me. 50 pesos. Bloody hell, that’s a bit steep to make a phone call, but, pfff, I guess it’s better than just waiting around for ages. When the taxi driver arrived, I saw the woman give him 50 pesos. Aaaah, my suspicious mind was embarrassed. It was just paying in advance for a taxi. I felt bad. The driver and I chatted all the way back to Huasca. He asked if we spoke ingles in Inglaterra. I confirmed that we did. And he said, “”aaah, like the United States…” He, like seemingly every taxi driver I talk to in Mexico, was a Chivas fan.
Back in Huasca de Ocampo, I had lunch: trucha al a diablo. Trout in a spicy sauce. Bloody lovely it was, too. Dead tomato-ey, spicy, and served with rice and tortillas. After lunch, I made a half-hearted effort to look more at the town, but really couldn’t be arsed. I’d seen the basalt prisms, which was why I went in the first place, so found a parked combi, and sat inside with a load of locals until it was full and we were heading back towards Pachuca. I got off at the junction where I got on in the bright afternoon sunshine, and by the time I was back at the hotel it was cloudy and a bit rainy. It’s another lovely thing about Real del Monte: the English weather. I know it’s a crappy thing that ex-pats always say when they live in hotter countries, but it’s true: I miss the British weather. And it is nice knowing that when I get bored of the sunny-every-dayness of Mexico City, I can nip up to Real del Monte and wear a coat and wipe the rain off my glasses.
I spent the evening in the hotel listening to podcasts and drawing. As you might have noticed on the blog recently, I’ve been doing a lot more simple things, brightly coloured. Not sure why this has been happening. I’ve been specifically doing a lot of things that I refer to as mountains. They are not, I guess, what one would normally consider mountains, but they were mountains to me. I kinda think they are drawings that combine some of the colours of living in Mexico, with shapes or landscape, balloons, and stuff. I dunno, they feel really Mexican to me. I’m enjoying them. You can see a whole load of them here.
And while we’re talking about drawing, here’s one I did of the Prismas Basálticos. I did a pen drawing in my notebook while I was there, photographed it, and then drew over the photograph in the Brushes app on my iPad:
It was a bad night’s sleep. Not sure why, cos the bed was ace. I love those hard mattresses with big plump pillows where you can make an inverted V shape around you head so that every time you turn over, there’s still a load of pillow there. It was all perfect, but I was awake a lot. It was nice, though, when I heard the rain on the tin roofs outside. Rain on tin roofs: second best sound in the world. (Best is obvs rain in a forest or jungle.)
Another breakfast debacle the next morning. This time I asked what type of coffee they had, and specifically was it pre-sweetened. Yes it was.
Do you have it without sugar?
“No.” He told me they had Nescafe.
No thanks, what type of tea do you have?
“Camomile, mint, green.” They had no black tea.
Sigh. Okay, nothing thanks, just orange juice, please.
He looked pissed off with me for being a picky English prince. He brought me some good chilaquiles (I don’t eat chilaquiles often, so when I’m out of town, I like to indulge myself) and asked if I wanted an Americano. Yes, I’d very much like that, please. He came back with a mug of dark liquid that tasted exactly like Nescafe. Cheeky bugger was trying to trick me. But I drank it.
As mentioned above, last visit, we’d tried to go to see the English cemetery, the Panteón Inglés, but it was closed. It’s a long uphill walk because the cemetery is on top of a hill. Nice place for a cemetery, no doubt, but it was quite a warm morning, and I couldn’t be arsed, so I got a taxi. Best 35 pesos I spent.
A fifteen peso donation for upkeep. It was kinda nice, kinda odd, to see so many English names in a Mexican
graveyard cemetery. (Update: I just read on Eamonn Griffin’s wonderful Benches of Louth blog that “if it’s got a church in it, it’s a graveyard. If it hasn’t, it’s a cemetery.”) Specifically, loads of Cornish surnames. You don’t have to spend long in the panteón to learn that mining wasn’t good for the health back in the day. Lots of graves of people in their 20s and 30s. It was a nice place, though. All the graves bar one were facing England. I don’t usually feel any swell of patriotism, but I did when the woman who took my donation told me about that. There is one grave, though, that doesn’t. The grave of an English clown who lived in Pachuca, who specified that he wanted his grave to not face England.
Still sunny, a very pleasant downhill saunter back to the town. I’d kinda done all the tourist-y stuff I wanted to do, so after lunch (pasties!) I went back to my room and did a simple sketch of a drawing I wanted to do while I was in town: a drawing of the view from my hotel room window:
Line drawing complete, feeling good about what I’d done, I went out for a beer. Not really in the mood, so it was just a beer. It was raining like billyoh. Kinda soaked, I saw a beautiful sight: an actual coffee shop. A place with a proper machine. I sat down, listened to the wonderful selection of 1950s rock ‘n’ roll they were playing, and had two wonderful Americanos.
I accepted the internal shame of having the same thing again and again and had pasties for dinner, did some more mountain drawings, and sleepy sleepy slept.
I woke with a plan: start working on the drawing of the view out of the window before I go out for breakfast, then finish the drawing afterwards, hopefully quick enough to be out of the hotel before the 1pm checkout time.
It was Saturday morning, and bloomin’ heck, Real del Monte felt totally different. The Pueblo Mágico-ness was kicking in ready for the weekend tourists. Cafes and restaurants that had been closed were suddenly open and I had a lovely load of eggs and coffee at one of them while an absurdly-loud-for-the-time-of-day TV blasted out the sound of three woman yelling and cackling interspersed with pop videos. This type of TV show seems very popular in Mexico.
Back to the hotel, I packed up my stuff, then dragged the chair back to the window to continue drawing. I’d finished with 40 minutes to spare, so went over to the good coffee place, had another Americano ready for an afternoon of travelling. This is how the drawing turned out:
And here’s a wee clip of the process of drawing:
I checked out and went to Pastes el Portal and picked up what I had ordered earlier in the morning: a box of pasties to bring home.
The reverse journey–two combis–back to the Pachuca bus terminal was dominated by the smell of the warm pasties on my lap. Oh my. It was a delight.
On the bus back to Mexico City, the woman in front of me was one of those people who reclines all the way just because they can. Those people need to be made extinct. It’s a 90 minute journey not an overnight flight to New Zealand, luv, calm the fuck down with the selfish behaviour.
I did another iPad drawing on the bus, which was fun. I started drawing quick doodles of things I saw along the roadside at various points. Basically, I was making notes, but as I did more and more, I realised I was doing a composite of what the roadside outside of Pachuca was like, and, y’know it ended up like this:
Y’know, it’s kinda hard to believe that when I was doing my travels in 2008, I used to write blog posts like this every day. I’m out of practise. This one took ages.
Last night, I was lying in bed, watching an old episode of Carpool that I’d not seen before.1 It was one with Richard Herring. And even though I am still very much aware of him (that is to say, I listen to most episodes of RHLSTP), I stopped reading his blog several years ago. I used to read it every day, and it was an inspiration to actually blog about daily mundane crap myself. But until I saw him talking about it on Carpool, I’d not even thought about his daily blog for a long time. I had a wee look and yep, he’s still doing it. And I kinda felt like a failure. This blog, the one you are now reading, used to be like that to a certain extent. I would write stuff all the time. And then at some point, I kinda stopped. I now why that was, (and if you were around back in the day, you may have an idea), but it tailed off in 2010 and once I bought an iPad and started drawing on the iPad, iPad drawings basically replaced the typed word. Occasionally I’d write (most notably when I was in Belize last summer) but the desire soon went away again.
I’m not gonna promise myself that I’m gonna do it every day again, but I should, and I want to. I want my early morning ritual to be writing, not clicking things I don’t need to look at on the Internet. I always felt that the writing on the blog helped the artwork. Things came up in words, and came out as drawings or picture stories. I need that back in my life. And “my life” is something I’ve been thinking about a lot of late. The realisation that my work is nowhere near — nowhere! — as popular as it used to be a decade ago is slightly crushing. My ego isn’t enjoying it, so the other parts of my brain have to do something about it. One of the things that happened to the blog was Twitter. When that came around, things that would’ve been 100-200 word blog posts, ended up as 140 character tweets. That’s a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. Economy is good, but not fleshing out sometimes feels like a missed opportunity. And this past year I’ve become less and less happy with how I use Twitter. Right now, I feel like I need a break from it. I’ve not tweeted at all for three days now, and every time my mind has a thought that needs tweeting, I stop myself, make a note, and maybe that thought will be a blog post tomorrow or next week.2
As I posted a couple of months back, we got a cat. She is called Cyndilauper. She went through a few names before she became Cyndilauper. Even before a cat occurred in my life, I liked the idea of calling a cat John Paul III (or Juan Pablo III en español). When it became clear that the cat was female, she was Juanita for a while (a name of an Underworld song and a Flying Burrito Brothers song whilst hinting at the JP3 idea). I really wanted her to be Britneyspears but that was poo-pooed by the girlfriend, so she ended up as Cyndilauper.
When I was watching Carpool she jumped up onto the bed, ran over my belly and stood next to my shoulder and looked at me. This isn’t the look of “stroke me, Englander!” it was the look of “move your cup of tea from the bedside table because that’s where I like to sleep, dude.” I complied, she took her place and I drank my tea faster than I’d’ve liked just cos it’s boring constantly holding a mug. It made me realise how, despite my desires for a minimally decorated apartment, you always need things like bedside tables.3 I do, though, kinda miss that student-y thing of just having a mattress on the floor. Even though at the time I was very keen on having a real bed. The next time I’m single, I’ll be going for the mattress on the floor again, though. No need for a bedside table then.
Anyway. Let’s see how this blogging thing goes, shall we? Right now I’m dead positive about doing it, even though a good friend of mine, whose finger is way more on the pulse of current Internet than mine, tells me that nobody reads blogs any more. It’d be nice to prove her wrong.
1. It’s interesting how we’ve come to this place in TV, huh? Small cameras and cars equals dead cheap telly. There’s the Jerry Seinfeld one where he showed off his collection of lovely vehicles. There’s the James Corden karaoke thing,4 there’s the Carpool one mentioned above, and Peter Kay’s really quite enjoyable Car Share.
2. This one doesn’t need to be a blog post, but: that one black cornflake in a box of cornflakes. Is that just a missed moment of quality control or is it there just to creep us out a little bit?
3. There’s a note in a notebook that I made earlier in the year to write a story about someone who lives as minimally as he possibly could. The main thrust of this was to get to the idea of him not having chair because if he wanted to sit, there was a toilet. I had the idea that is pretty horrible: him watching TV, eating pizza, and shitting at the same time.
4. If I sing along to “Fancy,” I kinda feel that the concept of fanciness must sink a little in its heart and mutter to itself, “no, you’re bloody not.”
An update to last year’s GIF to include the 2015-16 season.
Not an infographic, rather an animation that uses data.
Basically, since the 1958-59 season, English football has had four top tiers. Prior to that, there were the first two divisions and two third divisions: a north division, and a south division. Since that season, of the 92 teams in those four divisions, between 11 and 14 of them have always been London-based teams.
This animation uses the places of those teams within the four tiers and the colours of those teams to create an animation. The longer a team is in a specific division, the closer to the edge of the circle that team is.
It’s difficult to watch any clip of Rolf Harris these days without the knowledge of his crimes kinda filtering what you are seeing. But, even if we try to ignore that, it’s pretty clear here that he is a bit of a dick.
This thing from 2006, when he did a portrait of the Queen is interesting. I’m not a monarchist in any way, but my feelings towards the royal family have changed over the years. I don’t really dislike the Queen or Prince Charles so much these days. Regardless of how I feel about their jobs, they do come across as relatively nice people, I think.
And next to Rolf Harris, the Queen comes across very very well indeed. Obviously this is edited, so we can’t be 100% sure of the events, but he spends an awful lot of time talking about himself.
And, bloody hell, his painting is awful.
This guy went into space. On his own. In a cute little space ship, a totally kawaii space ship. This guy–I can’t remember his name, but it was really normal, like Phil Bates or something–lifted the helmet visor. As soon as he did this, small yellow bumps quickly broke out all over his head. Hundreds of different-sized, yellow-as-egg-yolk hemispheres, slightly furry, like mould. He opened his mouth to scream, but the yellow bumps spread into his mouth, onto his tongue, down his throat, into his lungs. Moments later he was dead. The ship circled Earth for a day or so, then re-entered the atmosphere and crashed in a forest in Poland. The yellow bumps killed a man walking his dog in the forest. The yellow bumps killed a farmer. The yellow bumps killed the farmer’s brother and the farmer’s son. The yellow bumps killed all the men in the farmer’s village, then all the men in the farmer’s voivodeship. People in bordering countries started to worry. Only men were dying. Of course, women were shocked, sad, concerned for their loved ones, but, y’know, it was only men that were dying. Some people took selfies holding yellow round things next to their faces, pulling a “I’m dying” face. It was a meme on the Internet. There were reports that men could survive being exposed to small amounts of yellow bumps. But it was too late for me. Maybe some men survived, maybe not. I didn’t.
I often wake up with a song in my head. Pretty much every day. Most days in fact. Probably not alone in that.
It’s not like I skip out of a bed with a song in my heart. Quite the opposite. I get out of bed feeling grumpy. I put water in the kettle, turn the kettle on, then go to bathroom, always wonder why I don’t just go wee first cos the filling of the kettle does make me wanna go a bit too much. It takes a while to get myself feeling normal. I look out of the window at the people working at the taco stand on the other side of the street, preparing some stuff for the early morning diners. If it’s a clear day, I’ll have a look to see if there’s any smoke coming out of the top of Popocatépetl, the volcano on the outskirts of the city. Part of that process of waking up is to do my “daily tasks.” This is a folder on my computer desktop. In it are some files that I update every morning.
I make a note of how long I sleep. I’ve been doing since September 2006.
Since January 2008, I’ve noted ever time I’ve been to a live sporting event.
I keep track of the baseball caps I wear every day, which I’ve been doing since May 2009.
I write down every creative thing I do (drawings, writing, whatever) every day. I’m on my third year of doing that.
And for the last six months, I’ve been keeping a note of the song that’s in my head when I wake up. There’s been a lot of Swifty recently. Here they are:
20/11/14: Brenda – The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
21/11/14: Each One Dub – Augustus Pablo
22/11/14: King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown – Augustus Pablo
23/11/14: No Scrubs – TLC
24/11/14: King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown – Augustus Pablo
25/11/14: Either Way – Wilco
26/11/14: Your Song – Elton John
27/11/14: He’s On the Phone – Saint Etienne
28/11/14: Skin & Bones – The Sundays
29/11/14: He’s On the Phone – Saint Etienne
30/11/14: A Certain Someone – The Sundays
1/12/14: Hobart Paving – Saint Etienne
2/12/14: Hello It’s Me – Todd Rundgren
3/12/14: Hobart Paving – Saint Etienne
4/12/14: Skin & Bones – The Sundays
5/12/14: Paradise – Coldplay
6/12/14: Princess of China – Coldplay
7/12/14: Hurts Like Heaven – Coldplay
9/12/14: Cubic – 808 State
10/12/14: Peg – Steely Dan
11/12/14: Block Rockin’ Beats – The Chemical Brothers
14/12/14: You Stole the Sun from My Heart – Manic Street Preachers
16/12/14: Sunshine of Your Love – Cream
17/12/14: La Tristessa Durera – Manic Street Preachers
18/12/14: The Littlest Birds – The Be Good Tanyas
19/12/14: Motorcycle Emptiness – Manic Street Preachers
20/12/14: Adagio for Strings – Samuel Barber
21/12/14: Power – Kanye West
22/12/14: Merry Christmas Everyone – Shakin’ Stevens
23/12/14: All I Want for Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
24/12/14: Overload – Sugababes
25/12/14: Santa Claus is Coming to Town – Bruce Springsteen
26/12/14: Old Ned – Ron Grainer
27/12/14: Crazy – Gnarls Barkley
28/12/14: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day – Wizzard
29/12/14: Don’t Stop Movin’ – S Club 7
30/12/14: 4st 7lb – Manic Street Preachers
31/12/14: Feel It – The Tamperer feat. Maya
1/1/15: Que Nadie Sepa Mi Sufrir – La Sonora Dinamita
2/1/15: It’s My Life – No Doubt
3/1/15: Flash Delirium – MGMT
4/1/15: Let it Bleed – The Rolling Stones
5/1/15: It’s Working – MGMT
6/1/15: Someone’s Missing – MGMT
7/1/15: Here Comes the Summer – The Undertones
8/1/15: Wednesday Week – The Undertones
9/1/15: Flash Delirium – MGMT
10/1/15: It’s Working – MGMT
11/1/15: Flash Delirium – MGMT
12/1/15: Song for Dan Treacy – MGMT
13/1/15: Siberian Breaks – MGMT
14/1/15: Song for Dan Treacy – MGMT
15/1/15: Siberian Breaks – MGMT
16/1/15: Flash Delirium – MGMT
17/1/15: Flash Delirium – MGMT
18/1/15: It’s Working – MGMT
19/1/15: Have a Day/Celebratory – The Polyphonic Spree
20/1/15: Boom Clap – Charli XCX
21/1/15: Baby Love – Petite Meller
22/1/15: Have a Day/Celebratory – The Polyphonic Spree
23/1/15: Baby Love – Petite Meller
24/1/15: Don’t Leave Me This Way – The Communards
25/1/15: I Fink U Freeky – Die Antwoord
26/1/15: Die Roboter – Kraftwerk
27/1/15: Baby Love – Petite Meller
28/1/15: Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke
29/1/15: Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
30/1/15: Everything is Awesome – Tegan and Sara
31/1/15: Ohm Sweet Ohm – Kraftwerk
1/2/15: The Life of Riley – The Lightning Seeds
2/2/15: Como Te Voy A Olvidar – Los Angeles Azules
3/2/15: Shake it Off -Taylor Swift
4/2/15: All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor
5/2/15: Baby Love – Petite Meller
6/2/15: Push the Button – Sugababes
7/2/15: Baby Love – Petite Meller
8/2/15: Baby Love – Petite Meller
9/2/15: Baby Love – Petite Meller
10/2/15: Party in the USA – Miley Cyrus
11/2/15: Siberian Breaks – MGMT
12/2/15: Thank U – Alanis Morissette
13/2/15: Crazy in Love – Beyoncé
14/2/15: Lazy Sunday – The Small Faces
15/2/15: Diamonds From Sierra Leone – Kanye West
16/2/15: SexyBack – Justin Timberlake
17/2/15: Float On – Modest Mouse
18/2/15: I Don’t Want to Talk About It – Everything but the Girl
19/2/15: Breakout – Swing Out Sister
20/2/15: Something About You – Level 42
21/2/15: A Horse with No Name – America
22/2/15: Wannabe – The Spice Girls
23/2/15: Vision of Love – Mariah Carey
24/2/15: Shake it Off -Taylor Swift
25/2/15: Shake it Off -Taylor Swift
26/2/15: Afuera – Caifanes
27/2/15: Don’t Cha – The Pussycat Dolls
28/2/15: Starlight – Muse
1/3/15: Stand by Me – Oasis
2/3/15: Anaconda – Nicki Minaj
3/3/15: Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
4/3/15: I Really Like You – Carly Rae Jepsen
5/3/15: Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
6/3/15: Four Five Seconds – Rihanna, Kanye West, and Paul McCartney
7/3/15: Happy – Pharrell Williams
8/3/15: I Really Like You – Carly Rae Jepsen
9/3/15: Paradise – Coldplay
10/3/15: Booty Call – All Saints
11/3/15: All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor
12/3/15: Flash Delirium – MGMT
13/3/15: Shake it Off -Taylor Swift
14/3/15: Echoes – Pink Floyd
15/3/15: Leuchtturm – Nena
16/3/15: Shake it Off -Taylor Swift
17/3/15: All About That Bass – Meghan Trainor
18/3/15: Alone Again Naturally – Gilbert O’Sullivan
19/3/15: Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
20/3/15: I’ll Be There – The Jackson Five
21/3/15: Anaconda – Nicki Minaj
22/3/15: Anaconda – Nicki Minaj
23/3/15: Anaconda – Nicki Minaj
24/3/15: Shake it Off -Taylor Swift
25/3/15: Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep – Middle of the Road
26/3/15: Sitting Up Straight – Supergrass
27/3/15: Man I Feel Like a Woman – Shania Twain
28/3/15: Rich Girl – Hall & Oates
29/3/15: Shake it Off -Taylor Swift
30/3/15: Victoria – The Kinks
31/3/15: Do Nothing – The Specials
1/4/15: Stupid Marriage – The Specials
2/4/15: Zion’s Blood – The Upsetters
3/4/15: Ring of Fire – Johnny Cash
4/4/15: So Macho – Sinitta
5/4/15: Funky Town – Lipps Inc
6/4/15: Go Out – Blur
7/4/15: We Like to Party! – Vengaboys
8/4/15: Dead End Street – The Kinks
9/4/15: My Girl – Madness
10/4/15: A Stalawatt Version – King Tubby
11/4/15: Sweat – Inner Circle
12/4/15: Doctor Zhivago – Tommy McCook & the Skatalites
13/4/15: Enjoy Yourself – The Specials
14/4/15: I Really Like You – Carly Rae Jepsen
15/4/15: Doesn’t Make it Alright – The Specials
16/4/15: Enjoy Yourself – The Specials
17/4/15: Enjoy Yourself – The Specials
18/4/15: Architect – C Duncan
19/4/15: Best Days – Blur
20/4/15: Shake it Off -Taylor Swift
21/4/15: Doesn’t Make it Alright – The Specials
22/4/15: Renegade – The Rebs
23/4/15: Under the Pressure – The War on Drugs
24/4/15: El Tango de Roxanne – Ewan McGregor
25/4/15: Roadkill – Pulp
26/4/15: Bump N Grind – R. Kelly
27/4/15: Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke
28/4/15: Crazy – Gnarls Barkley
29/4/15: Shake it Off -Taylor Swift
30/4/15: Parklife – Blur
1/5/15: Himno Nacional de Mexico
2/5/15: Como Te Voy Olvida – Los Angeles Azules
3/5/15: Baby One More Time – Britney Spears
4/5/15: You Oughta Know – Alanis Morissette
5/5/15: Go Out – Blur
6/5/15: Style – Taylor Swift
7/5/15: Style – Taylor Swift
8/5/15: Red Eyes – The War on Drugs
9/5/15: Blank Slate – Taylor Swift
10/5/15: Bad Blood – Taylor Swift
11/5/15: Out of the Woods – Taylor Swift
12/5/15: Shake it Off -Taylor Swift
13/5/15: All You Had To Do Was Stay – Taylor Swift
14/5/15: Wildest Dreams – Taylor Swift
15/5/15: How You Get The Girl – Taylor Swift
16/5/15: Out of the Woods – Taylor Swift
17/5/15: All You Had To Do Was Stay – Taylor Swift
18/5/15: I Wish You Would – Taylor Swift
19/5/15: Blank Slate – Taylor Swift
I took it upon myself to design a stamp for the Mexican postal service, one of the most useless entities on the planet. I am convinced that somewhere near their sorting office, after sorting out the packages they want to steal, they dump the rest in a big hole in the ground. Obviously, there are bigger problems in Mexico, but the postal service is one of the things I hate the most. And even in this digital age, not having a reliable postal service does make me feel a little detached from the rest of the world; friends in Europe for example.