Archive for the ‘Blah blah’ Category
Fifteen years ago today, I got home from working at a record distribution company and as I’d done quite a bit in the previous six months, sat down in front of my (first generation) iMac. After a couple of months of reading a book about HTML and drawing stuff in ClarisWorks, and animating stuff in GifBuilder, I was ready to put my Web site online. I’d chosen the name Flip Flop Flyin’ (from a Beach Boys song), I had a Virgin account which came with a wee bit of Web space, and thus – hurrah! – I put the stuff online. That Web site was live! Live at http://freespace.virgin.net/craig.robinson1. Snappy URL. And then I emailed some friends to say, hey, go look at my stuff. Please. And a few of them did. And after a couple of months, people I didn’t know started looking at the site. And then more of them. Then I started drawing small pixellated popstars. The Beatles, Beach Boys, Blondie, Kraftwerk. And I kept on doing them. The more I did, the more people started looking at them. My Web site was a little bit popular.
Back on the 12th of May, 1999, the site had hardly any content. But it did have a splash page. A splash page for each section, in fact. Splash pages were a thing back then. And it had a clunky navigation system.
It’s interesting (for me, anyway) to look back at the work I’ve done here in the past decade-and-a-half. I’m way better at drawing now. But I have less patience for animation. Last night, I watched the Pete & Bob series that I did between 2002 and 2006. It seems to be a perfect example of everything I’ve done and still do. It’s a bit silly and a bit melancholy. For anyone else looking at 15 years worth of drawings and stuff, it must just seem like a fairly large amount of content. For me, it looks like a diary. Looking at the stuff totally takes me back to where I was, who I was, and who I was with at those points in my life. I can see the points where I was happy, and the points where I was really miserable.
I can’t really say that I’d want it any different. A few tweaks here and there. Fewer wilful destructions of popular things. Stopping doing Minipops, for example, was entirely about being contrary. This is popular: kill it! I think the biggest regret, though, of all is the way this blog has developed. It was going swimmingly in 2006, then I posted something about my dislike of a popular British artist. It got a load of comments. A lot of them assumed it was just professional jealousy. (It wasn’t. Banksy was and continues to be a shit artist.) That post soured me a bit. And after a couple of months of only posting sporadically, it took a while to build it up again. Things were going great when I was doing my travelling around the Americas in 2008. That was when my blogging was actually quite good. I was writing long posts virtually every day. It kept on going well until the middle of 2009 when my then-wife and I split up and, well, there was a horrible time when I was on a train between Portland and Seattle, and got to my friend’s house and saw that there were 50-odd comments on a post I’d written about that split. It wasn’t pleasant. That experience, without really making a conscious decision about it, soured me to the whole idea of writing about my life. The blog slowly got less personal. Then I had another “I don’t wanna do this anymore” mid-2010. Sporadic posts again, mostly just promoting other stuff I’d done. That seemed to be the final nail in the coffin of it being an active blog, where there’d be comments on every post. Since then, and to this day, I’ve neglected the blog. I put up drawings, write the occasional thing, but it’s being kept alive purely out of habit. Twitter and the Facebook page have also made the blog less important for letting people know about new things. I regret this. And right now, it feels like it’d be a shame to throw it all away just because Twitter and Facebook are easier.
Looking again, as I did yesterday, at a ton of my old work, I’m kinda proud of what I’ve done. And I want to keep doing it. And that includes blogging more. I used to enjoy it so much, and I want to enjoy it again. And after looking at the Pete & Bob stuff, I want to get more fun stuff going, too. It’s possibly a coincidence, but the stuff that happened in the middle of 2009 was at the same time as I started really doing a lot of baseball-related infographics. I wonder if infographics were just a way for me to keep doing stuff, having ideas, but without having to put any heart into it. Statistics don’t hurt you or make you think about how your life is going. Right now, I’m a wee bit bored of doing infographics. I’ve done some really good stuff at Flip Flop Fly Ball, the baseball offshoot of Flip Flop Flyin’, and I’d like to keep doing it. But really, it’s time to get back to doing more of the stuff that I love the most. Arty silly stuff. So fingers crossed I can keep all of this in mind.
I had an email recently from a woman called Emily. She said that she and her brother “absolutely loved Flip Flop Flyin’ when [they] were kids.” It was genuinely heartwarming to get an email like that. It’s very nice to think that people like what you do.
Anyway, thanks for reading. And should you fancy looking at what Flip Flop Flyin’ looked like fifteen years ago, here’s that first version of Flip Flop Flyin’.
Also of note, the incredible Saul Steinberg died on the 12th of May 1999. One can only dream of being as good as him.
If you’re going to San Francisco, is it still a visa requirement to wear flowers in your hair?
It’s good that a print shop (in Walthamstow, London) lets you know up front that they will put apostrophes where apostrophes don’t belong.
Kids these days! They don’t know they’re born. Or that their mum’s milk is used to make the cheese in my salad.
They say other peoples’ dreams are boring. But I would also suggest that they are also boring. Saying other peoples’ dreams are boring is boring. Not sure that entirely means we’ve come around to dreams being interesting again, but, well, er, this post is about a dream I had a while back.
I’d read a story on a news Web site about the Queen (that is, the Queen, Queen Elizabeth II) running out of money or something. Boo hoo. And I ended up dreaming about that and the way the BBC is always getting shit from the Daily fucking Mail about anything they feel they can stick the boot in about. So in the dream, the Queen was given a chat show on BBC One, to, y’know, earn her keep. In my dream, she was interviewing famous British people. And the first interview was with Robert Smith. Him out of the Cure.
Here’s a drawing.
I flew back from London on Wednesday. British Airways. Decent enough airline. Departing from Heathrow Terminal 5, which as airport terminals go is pretty good. It’s a post-11th September 2001 airport, it anticipates all the security stuff, and it’s relatively painless.
Going through the departure lounge, I went into World of Whisky and spent a decent chunk of money on a good bottle for my girlfriend’s father. It was nice to feel like a proper adult human being: not saying, “I’m fine, thanks” when an assistant asks if I wanted any help, instead asking if I could taste the whisky I was interested in. Delicious stuff. 16 year old Balvenie. Credit card and boarding pass out.
Before I went through security, I had a look in the newsagent/sweets/water/books shop and saw they had a buy-one-get-one-half-price thing going on. Saw a book I wanted. But not a second book so that I could take advantage of the offer. I’ll try the one in the departure lounge, I thought. Had a look, saw a second book! Yay. Now where is the first one I was interested in? They didn’t have it. I checked the final WH Smith after the wee ride on the shuttle train thingy. Their selection of books was crappy. Bummer. No new books for me. So I bought some Rowntree’s Fruit Gums to eat on the plane. Gave the dude the cash and he wanted to see my boarding pass. Why is that? It’s a packet of sweets. It’s not duty free fags or aftershave. Just some fruit gums. Why does he need my boarding pass. Anyway, the argument I was having with him in my head ended quickly, I said thank you, and went to the Starbucks where THEY SELL BEER. So I had a Peroni rather than a cappuccino. I listened to a podcast about football. Then realised I’d lost my boarding pass. Went to the desk. The nice woman there printed me off a new one. I waited and allowed myself to imagine that Aston Villa would beat Manchester City while I was in the sky.
Soon after they called all the rich fucks and people with kids to board. And then it was just like, “everyone else.” Not people in rows 180 to 225, etc. “Everyone else.” I’d chosen my seat online the day before. Window seat, front row of the cheap section. Needn’t have bothered, really. Of the ten front row seats in the section, only three were occupied. In fact, the plane was only about 20% full. It was lush. Nobody in the two seats next to me.
I got stuck into some Heinekens, took my shoes off, flipped up the telly screen thing. (BA planes, by the way, still have pretty crappy screens. Touchscreen, yes, but the sort of touchscreen where you really have to dig your finger in to choose something. I watched Anchorman 2. It was shit. (Apart from Kristen Wiig, who I seem to love in everything.) Two hours I’ll never get back, but I was on an aeroplane flying from Europe to North America, so it’s not like it was a real waste like if I’d've gone to the cinema or owt.
I had a go at the Lego Movie. Really enjoyed the first ten minutes, but soon figured that I’d rather watch it on a proper telly not on a tiny fuzzy aeroscreen. Gave some music a go. A few songs off the Ultravox greatest hits they inexplicably had on the system. I’d forgotten that Lament is a pretty nice song. Got the 7″ clear vinyl gatefold sleeve in a box somewhere at my Mum’s house. (Sorry, Mum.) Here is a link to a clip of them doing it on Top of the Pops. Here. Warning: Jimmy Savile introduces them in the clip. Listened to that recent Beyoncé album (good), and the Blood Orange album (alright). But I couldn’t stay focussed on one thing for too long. Had a wee flick at Sleepless in Seattle, a film I do rather love a lot, but couldn’t be arsed. Watched some of Her, which I’ve already seen, watched a bit of the Walter Mitty thing which I saw on the flight to London and enjoyed way more than I thought I would. Plus, y’know, Wiig’s in it. (Also note-worthy, cos of course, all of this blog post is scintillating stuff, I flew to London with Iberia. Now they have great screens. Totally modern. It’s like an iPad or somefink.)
I gave up on the telly and got a book out of my bag. “How I Escaped My Certain Fate” by Stewart Lee. I read and read and read and read. I read loads. It’s an enjoyable and funny book. I looked at the time, and we were over halfway to Mexico. Time flies when you’re enjoying a book. I pulled up the window flaps and there was the eastern coast of Quebec, looking snowy and pretty below.
The stewards and stewardesses seemed in good moods. One dude with nice specs kept asking if I wanted another beer. Yes please. I wonder if that job is actually fun. I mean, to me it looks like you’re a waiter in a crappy restaurant where people are constantly farting, wear ugly neck pillows, and take their shoes off.
Soon enough, just as the sky was starting to get dark, we were above Mexico City. I could see my neighbourhood as we got close to landing. As we queued to get off the plane (for a wee while cos the door wouldn’t open) a European guy lined up in the other aisle was chatting up a woman behind me. He asked where she was from. Veracruz. Are all women in Veracruz as pretty as you? She giggled.
Through immigration, I got my bag, and met my girlfriend outside. We exchanged hellos, hugged, etc. “What was the Man City score?” “4-0,” she said.
So, as I mentioned, I had an exhibition at the Euphoric Trumps in London. Here’s some photos.
As well as the printed stuff, I drew with a marker on glass:
Should you be interested, there are limited edition prints available. Top quality stuff, my friends. Very good. Please buy. https://www.coningsbygallery.com/shop/artist/Craig+Robinson
Sometimes I have to write stuff down for other people to read (that is, like in the title of this blog post) so that I can clear it out of my head, so that when I flick through my notebook, I don’t pause, briefly tempted to work on it, turn it into a drawing or a story or something.
If it sits there, it’s a distraction. And this one, Away in a Pret a Manger, is dumb. I want it gone. But it’s not so dumb that I can entirely dismiss it. My brain will spend a short amount of time wondering, maybe it could be good… they do nice Christmas sandwiches in Pret… maybe it could be a drawing of Jesus and his parents in a sandwich shop… eat in or take away? But here it is. Right now. In May. Not at Christmas. Get rid of it now, Craig, cos if you don’t you’ll be tempted in December.
Age is a funny thing. I am 43, but I don’t feel it. I have some grey hair in my beard, but I’ve got a full head of hair, I have no children, and I live an artist’s life. Then something happens, and I feel 73. My girlfriend and I were at a wedding reception on Saturday night. All going well. Looking as sharp as can be hoped for in a black suit, white shirt, and black tie. (I can do weddings, funerals, and reservoir dogs in this combo.)
We drank some, and they had tacos. The reception was being held in the house of the groom’s parents. It had a garden with a tent and stuff. Inside the house on the ground floor was a bathroom, with a pink drawing of a woman on it. Ladies loo. Upstairs were two. Another for women, one for dudes.
Now, I had been drinking, but in moderation. If I drove a car I would’ve been over the limit, but I could walk and basically do stuff in a non-slurring, non-stumbling state. I’d been to the toilet. And as I left the room, saw an old lady (the groom’s grandmother) coming out of one of the other upstairs rooms. She was tiny. Grey hair, grey skin, grey pyjamas. She looked at me, I smiled, she didn’t smile back.
I continued looking at her as I walked down the stairs. She shuffled at a snail’s pace towards the bathroom. In my head, I joked with myself that maybe she was a ghost. Poor old dear, shuffling along dead slow. I came to the bend in the stairs where each step goes from being a rectangle to a wedge and, still looking up, felt that one of my feet wasn’t where it should be: it wasn’t touching a step.
Time, that cliche, slowed down. I’m going to fall, I thought. My other foot lost its grip. I am falling, I thought. I saw people stood near the bottom of the stairs. I am falling down some stairs. I was very conscious of that thought. This is happening. I went head first. Shoulders, hips, knees hitting each step. Somehow I did a half twist before coming to the bottom of the stairs. I lay on my back. I looked up at men in suits and women in dresses looking down at me. Everything below my hips was still there, laying on the steps. I could get up, just cos I couldn’t use my legs to stand. I was a bit dazed. A couple of fellas grabbed my arms and pulled me up. They and the women asked if I was okay. “Si, todo bien. Gracias.” A woman looked concerned and asked again. “Si, si.”
I went back to the table where my girlfriend was sat. I told her about it. And then I felt old. And like a child at the same time. Old, because when you hear of old people breaking hips or arms, they always talk about it like they are annoyed at their failing bodies or the stupidity of the incident that lead to the injury. Young, because I had tore a hole in my suit trousers. Not since school days have I had a hole in my trousers (aside from, y’know, grungy jean holes). That memory of getting a hole in the trousers of your school uniform and dreading showing your mum after school.
I pulled up my trouser leg, women (naturally) swooned at the sight of such delightful pale English flesh, and saw a two-inch gash. I say “gash,” but I’d just skinned my knee and shin. The middle finger on my non-writing hand hurt. But no actual damage, apart from to my ego.
All I’m left with is some ruined trousers, a feeling of stupidity, and the fear that an old lady that looks like a ghost is chuckling to herself about that dumb English fucker who fell down the stairs.
Pink faces, megarider bus pass
Screaming child, judgemental passengers
Grim arses, shapeless clothes
£2.00 a day, hot Lincolnshire sausage rolls
Polish delicatessen, international goods
Please do not abuse our staff
Neck tattoos, shaved head, Super Dry
Pink hair dye, imitation Uggs
Latte or pot of tea for one
Fuck off you cunt, pint of Batemans
Ham and cheese panini, free wi-fi
Charity sweets and cheese sticks
Gym/fitness opportunity, to let
Chewing bubbly, reading All About Soaps
It’ll be a couple of minutes, duck
Red dry skin, it’s fucking cold (sounds like “code”)
“Couldn’t” sounds like “cunt”
Fat leggings, beer belly in LCFC grey sweatshirt
E-cigs and roll-ups, beautiful cathedral
It’s been a while. For reasons I’m not gonna go into, it’s been an odd couple of months. I moved out of my apartment, went back to the UK for a couple of months, had a nice wee trip to Barcelona, and did a lot of drawing. Now I’m back in Mexico City, living in a hotel until I find a new place to live.
But, while it was nice to do all of that drawing, I was a bit lazy and only put them up on Twitter, Facebook, and occasionally on my Tumblr (which is predominantly about baseball, so don’t get your hopes up too much).
Seems kinda weird to me, in a way, that I’ve inadvertently been sucked into that world of online stuff. Flip Flop Flyin’ and this blog used to be so important in my life, but now, they both seem to be at the bottom of the pile with regard to where people see my stuff. Partly that’s my own fault (see the last couple of months), party, it just seems to be the way things have evolved; Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr are where people go. But, I’m not gonna abandon the blog or the site. I would much rather abandon the other things, but that’d be cutting my nose off to spite my face.
Anyway, part of the reason it’s taken so long to start clearing the backlog of stuff and putting it up here and on FFF is because there’s so much, and dealing with it all became more and more of a chore with every passing day. But, now I will begin.
This first chunk of stuff is a few iPad drawings I did in early December before I went back to the UK, and all of the drawings I’ve done on my iPod between then and now.
Happy Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!
Not far from my apartment, this is painted on a wall
Tourism advertising loves a word inside a word, it would seem.
There’s Totally London, the I Amsterdam one, and one I’ve seen on the subway recently, Morelos. (Morelos, by the way, is a state not very far south of Mexico City.) The “Morelos es” (Morelos is) thing is a bit of a stretch, with the “e” and “s” not being next to each other, but hey-ho.
I’m looking forward to the day Scunthorpe uses this idea for their tourism ads.
Found this in a deep folder yesterday. Apparently, this Adobe ImageReady GIF was created on 3 August, 2004. I have no memory of making it. I have a vague memory of that kinda big-block-head figure, but the animation itself: nothing.
I was stood outside Chetumal airport yesterday afternoon, under a wee roof while it was raining, thundering, and lightninging. A beetle or something was walking across the pedestrian crossing. I was rooting for him/her. I filmed it. (Video shot in portrait orientation to annoy those people who like to yell about such stuff.)
I get anxious sometimes. I get anxious about appointments, things that have to happen at a certain time. I’m gonna be flying through the air inside an aeroplane on Tuesday and I’ve been anxious about it for about a week. Will I wake up in time to get to the airport? Will all possible taxi drivers suddenly disappear from the streets of Mexico City? Will someone checking my passport suddenly notice on their computer that I’m wanted for a crime I didn’t commit in Zanzibar?
Last Monday, I saw a friend on Facebook mention that they wanted to go and see Kraftwerk. Kraftwerk? Huh? Kraftwerk!? In Mexico City? A quick look at the Twitter feed of the venue, and yes indeed, tickets go on sale on Friday. Kraftwerk! In 3D! Oh my gosh! Oh my. Okay, erm, let’s double check that. Yes, indeed. Tickets on sale Friday. Through the Master of Tickets and at the box office. What time? Type-y type-y click. Midday. Noon. 12pm. Friday. Because the Master of Tickets’ Web site, rather stupidly, does not accept non-Mexican credit cards, that meant I’d have to go to the venue.
Tuesday morning: niggly stress about getting tickets. Kraftwerk, my favourite active group in the whole wide world. (Gets felt tip out and writes COMPUTER LIEBE in computer-y letters on my rucksack.) Wednesday and Thursday went by, wondering what time I should leave my flat. Box office opens at noon, it’s a relatively small venue (probably about 2,000-ish people), better get there early.
How early, though. This is where I have to balance things in my head: how much do I want to see Kraftwerk (a lot) vs. how much do I want to stand around doing nothing (not much). The second of those involved trying to calculate how quickly it would sell out. How popular are Kraftwerk here? I don’t really know. Best to assume “very.”
So I set my alarm for 9am. Woke up at 6.30am, slightly panicky that I’d overslept. Left the house at 10, got to the venue at 10.30. Only a couple of people stood outside. Sweet, I thought, got time to go and get a coffee. Spoke to the dude stood outside and he told me the queue was actually around the corner. So, it’s not just the couple of people, then. Went around the corner, and there are about 30 people in a line.
I asked the guy at the back of the line if it was the queue for Kraftwerk tickets. He said yes. (Because, what else would it be?) I put my headphones on and listened to an episode of This American Life. Another guy asked me the question I’d asked the guy in front of me. Someone else asked him the same question. And on it went, further and further down the street. In the end, there were 100 or so people there.
The guy in front of me was joined by a friend. They stood there watching YouTube clips of Kraftwerk on a mobile phone. One of them said a few words in German. It was kinda cute. I resisted the temptation to correct his bad German.
My neck and shoulders were tight. Completely tense and stressed about the 30 people in front of me. Would they be quick enough for the show to not sell out via the Ticketmaster site before I got to the front? I weighed that against the likelihood that the majority of those people would be paying with cash, cos if they had credit cards, they’d be using the Ticketmaster site themselves.
Inside a building next to where I was queuing, workmen were cutting wood. There was that smell of burning wood being cut with an electric-powered saw of some kind. I’d not eaten before leaving the flat, so that smell went into my nose and straight into my belly and gurgled and made me feel grim.
Five minutes before noon, a venue employee summoned the people at the front of the queue to form the queue right close to the ticket windows. A fat man in a McCain-Palin t-shirt walked by. The first people went up. Then another pair, then more. One, two, three, four, I counted the heads in front of me. Eight of them. Two windows, thus I’m gonna be at a window in four people’s time. Then two people left the queue. One of them was on the phone, and, I assume, someone he knew had Internetted some tickets.
I got the money out of my wallet and held it in my hand inside my trouser pocket. Front of the queue. Security guy waved his arm towards one of the windows. “Dos, por favor.” And as simple as that, the stress left my shoulders, and I’ll be going to see Kraftwerk again in March. Of course, in the few days before the concert I’ll start stressing again, wondering if I’m gonna get stuck behind a tall person. Will the 3D glasses fit okay over my regular specs? What if I lose the tickets on the way? My brain, man. Fucking useless.