Archive for the ‘Blah blah’ Category
It’s been a few days since one of these, but I kinda wrote a lot about watching the World Cup in the post I wrote for NotGraphs yesterday.
Anyway, England are out, which you know already. Here are two Mexican newspapers after the Uruguay game:
Now’s the time for two things: rooting for Mexico and letting the dark side take hold, so:
Please lose, Russia.
Please lose, Italy.
Please lose, Portugal.
Please lose, USA.
Fuck Arjen Robben.
And here’s something I remembered. In 2006, when I lived in Berlin, my local pizza place did pizzas for every nation in the World Cup:
Don’t let the title of this blog post put you off, non-baseball lovers.
I wrote a post for top baseball site NotGraphs about this very subject, but, between you and me, *stage whisper* it’s hardly about baseball at all. It’s most about being in a different city. Travel writing, I guess.
I’ve been watching a Brazilian feed of a few of the games so far. I like how the Portuguese language sounds. I especially like the “-ão” sound. And I keep finding myself altering players’ names to include an -ão…
Robão vão Persão
And while we are here, it’s good to remember the best word in any language is a Portuguese word: saudade.
Wanna see an animation of a mutant Cristiano Ronaldo head on a pixelly snake set to a MIDI version of “Walk of Life”? Clickity click: http://flipflopflyin.com/ronalves/index.html
I mentioned the reason for the mutant head thingy in a post earlier today, btw.
First World Cup day without alcohol. A victory.
Saw this photo of Chicharito. Seems as if he’s morphing into Sylvester Stallone:
After the Germany-Portugal game, it was nice to see someone slowing down the film of Cristiano Ronaldo making a weird face.
The proximity of Bruno Alves behind Cristiano, though, kinda made me want to do a quick Photoshop job. So I did:
Seeing Ghana’s flag reminded me of a quiz drawing I did for my third book Atlas, Schmatlas (probably not available in all good book shops any more, but worth trying, I guess). Name the flags. Answers at the bottom of this post.
Inspiration for the United States of (the Part of the) America (s between Canada and Mexico)’s kit:
And that USA-Ghana game wasn’t Kyle Beckerman’s first appearance at this World Cup, y’know:
Flags, left to right: Senegal, Burkina Faso, Bolivia, Cameroon, Ghana, Togo, Benin, São Tomé and Principe
There have been times when I’ve tried not to give a shit about England. Good players playing boring football. And it has been easy. I made a concerted effort during the 2010 World Cup. Problem was, though, as soon as the England-USA game started, I couldn’t really stop myself wanting my home nation’s team to win. So this time, aided by such a big Liverpool presence in the squad, I’ve given in and will be pro-England. Not in a UKIP way, obviously. Look:
Three two lions on a shirt:
Day two and the time zones and game times were already taking their toll. After the opening game and beery celebrations, getting up and ready and prepared for being at a bar at 10am to stake out a decent seat for the Mexico-Cameroon game was tough. We went to a local place, arrived while they were still mopping the floor, sat down and ordered from their special World Cup special offers menu: a cubeta (that’s an ice-filled bucket with six bottles of beer in it) and one kilogram of campechano (a mix of beef and chorizo with beans and onions and tortillas).
That first beer was a good hairy dog. The bar started to fill up with people in green Adidas jerseys. Mexican TV spent a lot of time focussing on the Mexican people in the stadium. Wet Mexican people in the pouring rain. Wet Mexican people with huge sombreros: check. Wet Mexican people in Mariachi costumes: check. Wet Mexican people wearing Aztec headdresses: check. Wet Mexican people in luchador masks: check.
It was fun to be in a room full of people who cared about the result of a game that I didn’t care as much about. I absolutely want Mexico to do well, but I’m not Mexican, so I can’t care as much as they do. And the game was kinda how I’d expected. Mexico having chances but not scoring. Eventually when they did score, people went nuts. Relief. Then it was a matter of praying that somehow Chicarito might be able to score a goal (he didn’t) and Cameroon don’t get an equaliser (they didn’t).
On to a friend’s apartment for the second and third games of the day. I have nothing against the Dutch people. I have enjoyed their football in previous championships, but I can’t stand Arjen Robben. And Robin van Persie either, really. And now that their coach is gonna be the next Manutd manager, well, fuck the Dutch. But, of course, they had other ideas and made Spain look ordinary.
After that, the Chile-Australia game seemed to continue the fun for a bit, then petered out. We ate snacks, drank beer. And now, on the morning o the third day, I’m knackered, and thankful that after this afternoon’s England game, there’s a couple of days off the booze before Mexico-Brazil on Tuesday.
Couple of things: the goal line technology that Fifa is enjoying showing us is utterly ridiculous. They’ve only ever shown it for actual clear cut goals. That’s not why we need technology. It’s for goals like Lampard’s against Germany in 2010. That’s where it’d be useful, Sepp. But showing that you have the technology when it’s not needed just seems a bit desperate.
I drew an England badge. It’s pretty good, no?
Yesterday – WORLD CUP DAY! – we went to see an exhibit at the Museo Nacional de Arte. It was an exhibit of male nudes. There was an early-ish Picasso, a couple of small Cezannes, and some other stuff. It was okay. But a trick was missed. They totally should’ve tried to get sponsorship from a gym, who could’ve had a stall or something next to the exit, cos, I tell ya, there’s nothing like an exhibition full of male ideals to make you feel a bit not-ideal.
Art, though, of course, was just a wee snack before the main meal of the day. Brazil v Croatia. We’d given some thought to going to Zócalo, the big main plaza downtown where there’s a big screen, but in the end, hunger took us to Salon Corona. Some tacos, a couple of beers, and, “shall we go elsewhere?” “no, let’s stay here.” Pitbull on the telly, coming out of a ball, dressed like he was on holiday in Cancún. People around us in Brazil jerseys, cos everyone loves Brazil. Even the employees had fake Brazil jerseys with “Salon Corona” printed where the Nike logo would normally be.
Like a contrary bugger, I was rooting for Croatia. We got stiffed by the waiter who definitely overcharged us. Just like Croatia with the referee. I decided that we should make a stand, and rather than make an actual stand, we actually just didn’t tip him. On to El Jarrito, another bar. Yellow walls, a jukebox playing Spanish language stuff, and plastic garden chairs with Sol logos on them. Each chair was actually two chairs. Stacked. Not sure why. Girlfriend said it was because too many big dudes ended up breaking them.
Subway and a pesero microbus back to our neighbourhood. Another couple at a local bar. Some tacos at the stand across the street from the apartment. A great day. World Cup Day. And in about an hour, it’ll all start again. Back to the local bar where we’ll watch Mexico v Cameroon. People on the street below are in green jerseys and honking airhorns. It’s not even 9am.
Let’s see if I can keep this World Cup blogging up, eh?
Another of the animated GIFs I did for IBMblr is up:
Links to my other stuff for them:
Yesterday, I did a post and wee graphic about proportions of flags, and how when designers need to use a lot of flags (like next to World Cup games and tables), the designers, understandably, standardise the flag proportions. This inevitably creates a wrong Switzerland flag.
After putting the post up, Twitter user @AMR_MN made a good point:
@flipflopflying I'm surprised none of those countries are that close to the Golden Ratio. 5:8 would be very close.
— AMR (@AMR_MN) June 11, 2014
Here’s that graphic again, with the golden ratio marked as a black line:
This got me thinking. At the World Cup, the closest flag ratios to the golden ratio (1:1.618) are those of Costa Rica, England, and Germany which have a 1:1.666 ratio. The only nation’s flag that has the golden 1:1.618 ratio is the flag of Togo.
So I decided to re-jig some flags to be golden rectangles. First thing to note was it was a thoroughly absorbing exercise. It’s great to look at flag design and see how changing the ratio is a big step, cos you are messing with things that the original designers deemed important. So at this point I should note this is not me trying to improve on flag design. I’m just tweaking the flags so they are golden rectangles.
I didn’t look at every flag. I looked at a selection that cover most of the basic flag designs. A few tribands, vertical and horizontal, a Scandanavian cross, and some others. I wanted to not just look at the easy-to-manipulate flags. In that sense, the most difficult ones were the British, Australian, and American flags. In reality, unless you’ve got an extensive knowledge of flags, you probably wouldn’t even notice that the tweaks had occurred.
Some flags were a lot easier than others. Germany, for example, was easy. It’s close already, only being 0.048 away. Sweden, too, which is 1:1.6.
Others, it was just a matter of keeping the proportions of the flag parts as close as possible. Here, the Canada flag and Mexico flags, vertical tribands with a thingy in the middle, I kept the triband proportions the same, and re-sized the centre bits so they were the same proportional size horizontally. Same with the rhombus on Brazil’s flag. Israel and Switzerland were relatively simple, too: just adding space at the edges and extending the colours. The Switzerland flag now feels wrong. The Swiss flag’s squareness seems such a huge part of the flag.
Portugal wasn’t too hard. The green bit is two-fifths of the width in the actual flag. I kept that proportion and re-sized the coat of arms and centred it where the green and red meet. With the United States flag, there’s a few more changes that are needed. The blue starry bit is two-fifths of the width and seven red and white stripes deep. Not rocket surgery, but when you do that re-jiggery, you need to re-space the stars within the blue canton. Such stuff makes me nervous. You are messing with things that people view as important. But, the US flag has changed so many times over the country’s history, if such a thing as a golden rectangle re-design were to happen, it’s an issue that would need addressing. So, USA, I’ve dang well gone and addressed it.
With flags that have diagonal elements, you have to fundamentally alter the flag. The flag of Trinidad and Tobago has a band where the top left of the band begins in the top left corner, and the bottom right edge of the band ends in the bottom right corner. The angle of the band only changes by a couple of degrees, but a couple of degrees is a couple of degrees. Flags with chevrons, like Cuba, change too. The triangle-y bit has a shorter peak bit poking out into the bands. Of all the golden triangle re-designs, this is the style of flag that suffers the most, I think.
Just a couple more, both of which feature the UK’s Union Flag: the United Kingdom, obvs, and Australia. Leaving aside the discussion of whether Australia should get rid of their Britty flag and have a properly Australian one, these re-jigs were by far the trickiest. And kinda the most fun to get my head around. I don’t wanna underestimate your flag knowledge, but just in case you don’t know, the UK’s flag is kind of a composite of three flags, an English one, a Scottish one, and a Northern Irish one. The Welsh, you ask? Well, the flag overlords of the UK deemed them fuck-off-able. Changing the British flag from a ratio of 1:2 to 1:1.618 means changing angles like with the Cuba chevron. Not too tough with the English part (the red symmetrical cross), but tougher with the Scottish (a blue and white saltire) and Northern Irish (a white and red saltire) bits. To have the Northern Irish red diagonal stripes correctly touching the corners of the flag, I had to approximate the proportions. On the real flag, the white and red diagonal parts are split into six equal imaginary stripes. In the top left quarter, for example, going from left to right, it’s one-sixth white, two-sixths red, and three more sixths white. Mine isn’t perfectly correct. But it’s close-ish.
The Australian flag has the British flag taking up the whole of the upper hoist quarter, so that’s that sorted. The rest of it messes up a bit. I kept the proportional size of the stars the same and the proportional placement the same, but their placement ends up looking different in the fly half of the flag. Because of the thinner horizontal size of the flag, those stars all look a bit more squished. I imagine, should a golden rectangle version of this flag ever be done, the size of the stars may be altered so that the relatively placement of the stars is the same as the current flag.
Anyway, that was a fun way to kill a couple of hours.
And while we’re on the topic of flags, Scotland is voting on independence on September 18th this year. Should they leave the United Kingdom, I think we, the British, should have a new flag. It’d be wrong to keep the Scottish part if they are not a part of the UK. Plus, now’s a good chance to give Wales some flag presence. This is what I’d do: simply swap the blue for green. It’d be fun to have a new colour in there. Plus, y’know, red, white, and blue… yawn. 26 countries have red, white, and blue flags; only nine have red, white, and green flags. Come on, Queenie, you know it makes sense. (More post-Scotland flag designs here.)
More flag factz:
88 sovereign states have flags with a 2:3 ratio. 54 states have a 1:2 ratio flags. That’s 142 of the 195 countries. Kinda nuts. In my opinion, 1:2 is an ugly ratio.
Aside from Switzerland, Vatican City is the only other 1:1 flag.
Nepal’s flag is bonkers. Two triangles on top of each other, with a 0.820 ratio.
The only flag with a ratio longer that 1:2 is Qatar’s, a mammoth 1:2.545. Bully for them, eh? Let’s hope they get stripped of their World Cup and have to take solace in having a fancy flag.
All original flags from Wikipedia.
Group A: Brazil, Mexico, Croatia, Cameroon
Group B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia
Group C: Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Japan, Greece
Group D: Uruguay, England, Italy, Costa Rica
Group E: France, Switzerland, Ecuador, Honduras
Group F: Argentina, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nigeria, Iran
Group G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, United States
Group H: Belgium, Russia, South Korea, Algeria
Round of 16:
Brazil v Netherlands
Colombia v England
Spain v Mexico
Uruguay v Côte d’Ivoire
France v Benson and Hedges
Germany v Russia
Argentina v Switzerland
Belgium v Portugal
Brazil v England
Spain v Uruguay
France v Germany
Argentina v Belgium
Brazil v Germany
Uruguay v Argentina
Brazil v Argentina
Argentina wins, Brazilian people explode.
Every morning, I wake up around dawn.
I get out of bed, go to the kitchen, fill the kettle with water and turn it on.
I get a mug out of the cupboard and put coffee in the cafetière.
I go to the bathroom and then turn on my computer and check email.
When I hear the kettle click, I go and fill the cafetière and wait for a bit.
Some times longer than other times.
I’m never really sure how long I should wait.
Normally it’s two or three minutes.
I pour a cup of coffee.
And she is there.
She is there.
Hair pulled back into a ponytail.
White sports bra top thing (I don’t know the actual word, sorry).
Grey sporty trousers.
She looks at me and melts my heart.
A slight smile.
She smiles while I drink coffee.
She knows I should probably go to the gym with her, but she never says anything.
She knows I like to drink coffee, stare out of the window as the sun comes up, she knows that those first couple of hours are the most creative hours I have in my day.
She’s not a cow in a field.
She’s not text.
She’s not an illustration.
She’s not an industrial farming process.
She sees me at my worst and she doesn’t judge me.
Then I put her back in the fridge.
Last year, I went to this thing called the Feria de las Culturas Amigas. It was on the big main avenue in the centre of Mexico City with lots of stalls from different countries. There was food, crafts, other stuff. It was a nice way to see and taste things that you might not ever get to see or taste. This year, it was at the Zócalo—formally Plaza de la Constitución—the huge empty square downtown which has some federal buildings, the Catedral Metropolitana, and the Palacio Nacional on three of its sides. The other side has some shops and people selling stuff, and yesterday, a terrible saxophonist busking.
It was a far better location for such a thing, not having to walk along the packed pavement by a big road. Just like last year, the food was good. We had a nice wee brie sandwich from France, bacalhau from Portugal, a big fat white sausage and mustard from Switzerland (the queue for the German sausage, like last year, was big, so we gave their neighbours a go: it was tasty), mate cocido from Paraguay, and pão de queijo from Brazil.
We boycotted the Russia stand. I tried some North Korean food last time. It was greasy and grim. This year, there was no food at the North Korea stand. The USA stand sold hot dogs and popcorn. Exotic food which many Mexicans have never tried before, obviously. There were a few gringos stood chatting behind some books about jazz, comic art, and a few great novels. It was like they were a little bit too desperate for people to know that there is culture in the US. The UK stand was possibly even worse. They had a red telephone box, cutouts of the future king and his wife, and the Beatles. And you could buy Strongbow, Weetabix, and One Direction t-shirts. So proud of my home country.
At the Argentina stand, they were selling tickets for a football game. Boca Juniors vs. River Plate at Estadio Azteca. How had we not heard that this was happening? Argentina’s superclásico in this city. So we bought tickets and come Saturday evening, took a couple of peseros down to the Azteca. Peseros, as I’m sure I must’ve mentioned before, are cheap small buses. They have about 20 seats, and with standing passengers, can easily carry double that. Mostly because they are death traps and the drivers care more about getting an extra few pesos than not killing people in a horrific accident. It’s easy to joke about these buses, but, really, it’s not that funny. Every time I take one, I realise that I’m in the hands of someone who isn’t a good driver. But, they exist, and they cover parts of the city where taking the subway isn’t possible or would be a long convoluted route.
Estadio Azteca is a wonderful place. I like stadiums in general, but this one is huge. I’ve been to four or five games there, and each time I’m impressed by its size. It’s the seventh largest stadium in the world. But that’s not the impressivest thing for me. First, there’s a big Alexander Calder sculpture at the entrance. Second, it’s where Maradona beat England in 1986. Every time I’m there, I look at the goal at that end of the ground and can see both goals happening in my head.
Stood around the Calder sculpture were lots of people in Boca and River jerseys singing and chanting. Touts asked if we wanted tickets and stalls sold bootleg jerseys, t-shirts, scarves, bags, pins, earrings, whatever. They had Boca stuff, River stuff, and stuff from other Argentine teams. Club America, Pumas, and Cruz Azul stuff (those are the three teams in Mexico City). World Cup jerseys from Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, Netherlands, Germany.
Going through the turnstiles, a security guy indicated for me to turn around and hold my arms out. He frisked me. He told me I couldn’t take my lighter in, so I lobbed it into a nearby bin. A few yards later, there was a line of policemen. One of them asked me to stop. He did the same frisking. We walked around the side of the stadium to the gate where we were supposed to enter. Our tickets were scanned again, and another line of coppers was frisking everyone. Up the giant concrete ramps to the top of the stadium. We looked at our tickets to see which entrance we needed and walked around to the right. Again a bunch of police there, frisking.
We went in, and realised that the section where our tickets were was right in the middle of where the hardcore fans were, behind one of the goals. When we bought the tickets, they asked if we wanted the Boca or River section, I said Boca because I’d been to see a game at their stadium in Buenos Aires. Girlfriend, who had lived in Buenos Aires for a while, confessed after we’d got the tickets that she preferred River. What we didn’t bank on, though, was our tickets being right there amongst the people who were the most passionate. Jumping up and down, constantly singing, aping what happens at games in Buenos Aires. We decided to look for seats elsewhere, and one section over, there wasn’t riot police around the edges of the section, and other people seemed a lot calmer.
The other end was where the River fans were. Not as many as in the Boca end. Along the sides seemed to be neutral. Down in the lower level of the stadium, the expensive seats were all wet. The roof only covers the top tier, and it was raining. Most of those seats were empty. And actually, most seats in general were empty. Of the 105,000 seats in the Azteca, according to Marca.com, only 25,000 were occupied.
The teams came out to much cheering and chanting. Then they both lined up next to each other and unfurled a banner which read “VAMOS ARGENTINA.” The cheering turned to boos. The game kicked off, and to be frank, it wasn’t all that much of a superclásico. River took the lead in the 36th minute. Boca equalised in the 70th. At the end of the game, because of some fake trophy being given away by the sponsors they had a penalty shootout. Boca missed their first two, and River won 4-2. So far in 2014, the two teams have played one league match and four friendlies. Four! River won the league game and the last three friendlies.
All in all, it was a tad disappointing, but then, I don’t know why I expected one country’s biggest game to have the same intensity as it would in their own city. It was, though, good to see them playing each other, if only for the fact that aesthetically it’s one of the world’s most beautiful sports fixtures. Blue with a yellow band vs white with a red sash. Magic.
(Apologies for the crappy photos. My camera is bust and I kinda have to just use my iPod, which has a shitty camera. Thanks, Apple.)
In 2010, when I lived in lovely Toronto for one lovely summer, I would often walk past a restaurant called Buddha’s Vegetarian. I liked that it was a statement as well as a name. Buddha is vegetarian.
I guess technically the name is Buddha’s Vegetarian Restaurant, as their Web site makes a wee bit clearer. But maybe he was like Colonel Sanders. I dunno.
Just like a no-hitter in baseball, you don’t want to mention it while it’s going on. I don’t even really want to acknowledge it to myself. If it is going on, I try and keep it together: like a casual glance at the Galaxian high score that you are close to beating, but not constantly checking. I can write about it now, because it’s not happening anymore.
When I hit a purple patch, and I’m doing loads of drawing, (specifically drawing I’m happy with), and having new ideas, there’s nothing quite like that feeling. Everything comes together nicely and the brain is skipping along the street in technicolor, while everyone else is drab bowler-hatted men walking across a black and white London Bridge.
Sometimes these spurts happen just for a few days, sometimes they can be for a sustained period. I don’t really know if there’s any way to prolong them. It would obviously be great to control them, but I somehow feel that’s not gonna be part of the deal I’ve made with my brain.
I just came out of a brief one, though. A nice two-week patch of drawing, decent ideas, writing, and—somewhat importantly—feeling good about my work. It began here, actually. When I looked at stuff that I’d drawn while I was in London, wrote up some notes, filled the blog up a little bit. The London trip was average. It was nice, as always, to see friends and family. And, on the surface, it was nice to have an exhibition, but that exhibition itself wasn’t really a success. It didn’t get much publicity, I hardly sold anything (but, a massive heartfelt thank you to those who did buy something), and tapping numbers into a calculator of the cost of it all, there’s a minus sign in front of the numbers at the bottom of the in and out columns for the trip. And when that happens, I don’t feel like an artist. I feel like someone wasting money trying to be an artist. Especially when, in London, I went to see other shows by real artists who seem to have that side of their lives figured out.
That feeling, plus the inevitable post-London blues that I always seem to get when I return to Mexico, and it’s amazing that this purple period happened at all. I had two weeks of good stuff. The drawings I’ve done have made me relatively happy. I’m not gonna say they are great, but they’ve at least shown me a possible way forward. I was surfing and I was upright. But I hit a rock at the weekend. And it all stopped. Which is why I can write about this now. Couldn’t write about it while it was happening. When I’m in a good patch, I like to go to my Ideas and Sketches folder, a dumping ground for things to do later, and have a new look at something. The air dancer story came out of that. It was an old idea, from early in 2013. The Bill and Ted infographic, too. That’s been hanging around for three or four years, just some notes and dates in an Excel document.
Hitting the rock, though, isn’t often as obvious as it should seem. It happened at the weekend, but I didn’t realise it until yesterday. I started working on this thing that’s gonna be a short 30-second animation. I got about halfway through the drawing stage, and then yesterday morning, things just didn’t happen. I looked at what I’d done and realised I don’t have it in me to do it right now. I tried to continue, but it wouldn’t budge. So back in the Ideas and Sketches folder it goes, waiting for a future purple patch.
But “waiting” can’t happen. There will be some days of feeling a bit glum, but I will keep on drawing. Gotta work my way out of this opposite-of-a-purple-patch, which, I guess, looking at complementary colours, makes it a yellow patch.
There’s the billboard poster just around the corner for some theatre thing. Two big faces and some words. But every time I walk by that poster, I can’t help but wonder why Pat Butcher is performing in Mexico.
A couple of infographics today. First, one looking at the time travelling done by Bill and Ted in their Excellent Adventure. And the other one is only really of interest to me and my ego. It looks at the results of searching my name in Google Images. There are more famous Craig Robinsons than me.
Vivica A. Fox
Susan B. Anthony
George C. Scott
John D. Rockerfeller
Mark E. Smith
John F. Kennedy
Warren G. Harding
William H. Macy
Mary J. Blige
Philip K. Dick
Samuel L. Jackson
Charles M. Schulz
David O. Russell
Huey P. Newton
Robert Q Lewis
Edward R. Murrow
Hunter S. Thompson
Booker T. Washington
George W. Bush
David X. Cohen
So, we’re missing I., N., U., V., Y., and Z.
Can you help?
Special for the World Cup: Mexican-flag-coloured Tic Tacs! The green ones are apple flavour, the red ones are cherry flavour, and the white ones are orange flavour which doesn’t make sense, but I can appreciate that mint would be kinda grim when mixed with apple and cherry.
I am, though, wondering if Tic Tac is doing this in every country? Are there black, red, and yellow Tic Tacs in Germany?