Archive for the ‘Blah blah’ Category
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.
I took the covers of the three self-titled colour albums by Weezer (The Blue Album, 1994; The Green Album, 2001; The Red Album, 2008) and changed the opacity of each depending on how much I like them: Red gets 10%, Green gets 35%, Blue gets 100%.
Also, looking at the RGB colour values, with the top amount of colour being 255, I turned the above percentages into comparative amounts of R, G, and B: R-26, G-89, B-255. This is colour those values produce:
This is a photograph I took at a friend’s house in Oregon in 2008. I was looking through my photos the other day, skimming through quickly, and as I passed this one, it kinda said “favela” and “Kowloon Walled City,” so I dragged it into the Brushes app on my iPad and drew apartments on top of the chopped fire wood.
More finger painting here.
In April 2005, my then-girlfriend and I went to Denmark. While we were there, we went to Legoland, and I bought this keyring. I’ve had it in my pocket pretty much every day since then. This is how worn and smooth a Lego brick looks after eight-and-a-half years in my pockets.
The man who created the Toblerone was called Theodor Tobler. The “-one” part of the name has a boring reason for being there, but I like to think he was just a Swiss chocolatier with a healthy ego and after creating it, was singing to himself, (in English for some reason):
Theodor Tobler is Number One!
Theodor Tobler is Number One!
Number One! Number One!
Tobler One! Tobler One!
Shortlist of the possible titles for an MC Hammer album, one of which was eventually chosen.
• Hey Hammer, Would You Like To See My Kittens?
• What Are You Doing, Hammer?
• Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em
• Please Hammer, Stop!
• Oh My God, Hammer, No!
• Hello, Police? Hurry! Hammer Is Hurting ‘Em
• Yes, Officer. I Came Home With My Kittens At 6.30 P.M. And He Just Went Crazy
• Thank You, Officer. I Will Stay At My Mother’s Tonight.
Go here (Wikipedia page on train horns) and play all 10 embedded audios players at once.
It’s a nice experience.
For quite a while, there’s been this thing in the back of my brain. I like looking at complicated road interchanges. The most obvious examples of which (mostly because there are photos on Wikipedia) are the Gravelly Hill Interchange in Brimingham, England and the Tom Moreland Interchange near Atlanta, Georgia. Here’s photos of those interchanges, taken from Wikipedia:
The thing I have in my head is trying to imagine such an interchange with four roads where one could drive and change direction to each of the cardinal and ordinal directions of the other roads; that is, if you are on a road travelling north, you could change directing and go northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest, west, and northwest.
Why is this interesting? I dunno, it’s just something I’ve been thinking about. But it’s a fine example of why I feel the need to do infographics and organise information. What goes on inside my brain is a big fucking mess. It’s a rubbish dump. And this specific thought, about creating an image of these interchanges demonstrates that brain junk quite well.
Last night, I was messing about with the Paper app on my iPad, drawing each of the off-ramps that would be needed to change to every direction. This is what that looks like:
When I finished drawing that, I was kinda happy, but knew that it’d make more sense if I tidied it up in Photoshop. So that’s what I did this morning. But in the process of drawing it neatly (making sure each road was straight, the same width, had a different shade to denote the height off the ground, and had a border that would aid seeing where the roads overlap or meet), I noticed that I’d been thinking about it in a way too complicated way. The solution for the cardinal and ordinal junction was ridiculously simple: a big roundabout:
Normally, when I do an infographic, it’s the topic that interests me, and I want that information to be clear so I can understand it better. But doing this interchange, it’s shown me that taking something out of my brain is cathartic; it untangles the cables behind the back of the TV. And understanding things—sometimes things that don’t actually matter—is very pleasant for my brain.
Stop asking me the same bastard question, computer.
Here are all of the embedded images from the last 24 hours of spam emails that got past my email’s filter. Granted, this is not particularly interesting right now, but if you make a note and come back and look at this post in ten years time, it might be.
A car just drove past, the stereo was playing Grease by Frankie Valli, and just as it went past me, it hit the brassy part right at the end just before the backing singers sing the “is the word.. is the word… is the word…” fade out. And that fade out happened as the car drove away from me. It was quite beautiful.
Back in Lincoln at me mum’s house. It’s not the house I grew up in, so there’s no actual childhood memories here, but being in Lincoln on a sunny summer Sunday with the curtains closed and the men’s singles final soon to be on telly, it does feel quite like being a teenager again. All I need really is some orange squash (Asda own brand, not the dear stuff) and Mike from next door to play tennis with (against a wall) afterwards. You be Becker and I’ll be Lendl.
Junction in Coyoacán, Mexico City
It was about $500 cheaper to fly British Airways from Cancún to London than from Mexico City to London, even when you factor in the extra domestic flights between Mexico City and Cancún. Even though I should’ve guessed, I wasn’t really expecting the flight to be so full of Brits. I’ve never before been to a foreign place where British people go on their holidays. Never been to Spain or the Greek islands or whatever, places where one would expect to be surrounded by my countrymen. And in Mexico, I rarely come across British people who aren’t at least a little bit like me: vaguely arty, intellectually curious, backpack-y types. During my four hour layover at Cancún International airport, I saw some of those, but mostly sun worshipping folk. This can’t help but sound snobby, but there were lots of people – and when I say people, I mean men – who looked like they would happily kick my head in. Lobster-coloured skin, ill-advised tattoos, football jerseys of shitty teams, pasty flabby skin around the skull with sad, angry eyes.
I wore a suit for my flight because, well, I wanted to feel like an adult. This seemed like a good decision when I was in my room in Mexico City. It seemed like a terrible decision when I was stood outside the airport terminal in Cancún smoking. And sweating. I am clearly British. Nobody in a Mexican airport is going to mistake me for a local, so to the handful of British tourists I glanced eye contact with, I was one of them, but untanned and not wearing a t-shirt and shorts and flip flops.
Things watched: Identity Theft which was, like Due Date, just a crappy version of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I saw about half of The Mosquito Coast (fell asleep around the time the religious dude came to visit Harrison Ford’s village). Started watching that Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand film, but it seemed terrible after ten minutes so I abandoned it in favour of Jack Reacher, which I enjoyed more than I assumed I would (and really, it’s the sort of film that’s perfect for watching on a plane: a movie I would never ever ever consider seeing in the cinema or renting or even, for that matter, downloading illegally). And as we came close to the British Isles, I noticed Crossfire Hurricane, the Rolling Stones documentary was there. The sky was getting light outside and we were getting close to Gatwick, so by the time the captain told us to not use headphones and stuff, I’d got as far as the Exile on Main St. era. Must make an effort to watch the rest of the film…
Coming back to the United Kingdom is a weird thing in my head. It is home, clearly. I am British. A friend of mine in D.F. recently commented, negatively, that I was “so European sometimes.” But I have found, over the last five years, that I half dread coming back. There’s a part of me that very much looks forward to it, but another part that is incredibly nervous. It is home, thus it has expectations in my head. Expectations it may fail to live up to. Or, possibly worse, expectations that will be exceeded. Last time I was back, at Christmas 2011, I had a wonderful time and was very sad to leave.
What seem like too romantic views of my home country kicked in very quickly. As the plane flew across the south coast, and the watery-milky clouds became fewer, there was the sight of all those green fields. Such a green and pleasant land. A greenness that is only really noticeable when you live in a orange and dusty part of the world. Cars driving on the, what I have come to believe since living the last third of my life outside of the UK, wrong side of the road.
The miserable fucker at the passport control immigration desk told me to stand in front of her desk, not at the side. I wonder if her job description is “be a humourless cunt to citizens of the same country”? Would it kill them to be, y’know, at least a tiny bit nice; to say “welcome home”? Within five minutes of being on home soil, I had already muttered to myself, “this is fucking bullshit.” Immediately after passing though passport control, there are display boards telling passengers which carousel their baggage will be at. A paperjam of people all looking at the name of their flight’s origin with WAIT next to it. It took 30 minutes for CANCUN WAIT to turn to CANCUN 2.
A friend picked me up from Gatwick and we came into the centre of town. Through Croydon, Thornton Heath, Streatham, Brixton… my old “manor,” really. I lived in south London for four years. It’s changed but it hasn’t changed. There are more money-lending places, more betting shops, more coffee places, but the faces are still the same.
I’m typing these words sat in a pub, the Green Man, in central London on Wednesday afternoon. I’ve been awake for over 24 hours now. The obvious things: it looks like a pub, not a bar. There aren’t meseros hovering around my every need. A pint of beer is nearly five fucking pounds. But the music is low in volume and there’s no television showing whatever football game is happening somewhere in the world. The same friend who thinks I’m “so European sometimes,” also thinks I’m an alcoholic. I don’t think that is the case: I just like drinking. And even though this pub is a vaguely fancy pub, it’s incredibly nice to have a pint glass in front of me and to hear English accents chatting away at the tables around me.
But this post will have to wait until later to be posted. This pub has free wifi, but you have to give them your mobile phone number to get some sort of code to give you access. They tell you it’s for security reasons. Not at all cos they want your data, oh no.
Overheard at the next table, no context: it was just a burger. No bun, no lettuce, no tahmaaah’er, no nuffink, just MEAT.
There was a thing on a big avenue that runs through the centre of the city called Reforma. It was the Feria de las Culturas Amigas, which, is something like the fair of cultures and friendship. A friend and I went yesterday. Along each side of the avenue were stands from a whole bunch of countries. Mostly it was a bit of food to eat, liquids to drink, some trinkets and clothes to buy, and some music playing from that particular country.
We had a Russian drink that was a mix of cola and non-alcoholic beer. (I presume that the lack of alcohol was mainly because of the laws about not drinking on the streets here.) We had a small potato-y thing (a bit like bubble and squeak) from Portugal. We were gonna have a German sausage, but they looked kinda skinny and useless, and a bit further up the road was a Polish place which had great sausages. At this point we kinda decided to try and eat a little food from each continent. Not before we had a fantastic brie sandwich from the French stall.
On a side street near the European section is a big hotel. Can’t remember the name. But it’s the hotel where One Direction were staying. They were playing in the city. Loads of screaming. Especially when people, one assumes band members, popped their heads out of the windows on the fourth floor.
One of the good things about going on Sunday was that Reforma was closed to regular traffic, as it is most Sundays, because they allow people to cycle there without being injured or killed by this city’s terrible motorists. Sadly, though, at around 2pm, the roads were opened and the whole fair got super busy when pedestrians were forced back onto the pavements.
The stalls were all vaguely grouped by continent. Apart from, it seems, countries that have issues with each other. Pakistan and India were pretty far apart in the Asia strip. Israel was grouped together with the Europeans, way away from Palestine. And the Koreas were kept apart, too.
I was looking forward to seeing the Reino Unido stall. Mostly, and lets not be coy, to giggle at what crap Britain would come up with. And they didn’t disappoint. It was awful. You know those gift shops you see at the London airports? All beefeater teddy bears, Tube logo t-shirts. There was that, a thing promoting Strongbow, another thing promoting Walkers shortbread, and the area where you could buy food was seemingly just about Knorr. You could get chicken bits and chips. FISH AND CHIPS, you fucking morons, not chicken and chips! That’s the Britishest thing.
In Africa we had some fantastic lamb balls, couscous and salad in a flat bread from Tunisia. Balls of lamb flesh, btw, not lamb testicles. And a very refreshing lime-y mint-y drink from Algeria. (Interestingly (?), Algeria in Spanish is just an anagram: Argelia.)
Heading into Central and South America, I bought a baseball cap from the Domincan Republic stand for just 60 pesos. Had I have wanted to, I could’ve bought a Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, or Albert Pujols t-shirt, too. At the Brazil stall, we eat pão de quiejo and drank guaraná. I cheered a little when I saw the Belize stall. I cheered a lot when I saw that they were selling Marie Sharp’s hot sauce which, dear reader(s), is the best hot sauce on the planet.
Outside the US embassy, there was a huge gap in the fair, mostly, one assumes, because they want to remind everyone how important and how party-pooper-y they are. A bit further along, was their stand, which seemed to be designed to remind you about all the crassest parts of American culture: Jack Daniel’s, Harley-Davidson, hot dogs, chilli dogs, apple pie, a cut-out of Obama, and lots of plastic flags. Plus the chance to have your photo taken with people in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes. United States of America, you made it very easy to mock you.
Seemingly all the Arabic countries offered your name in Arabic as a henna tattoo. The UAE stand was decorated way better than most. Comfy sofas and carpets. And framed pictures of sheiks. There was a dude at the Saudi Arabian stand who stood near the back, aviator shades, legs crossed, inhaling deeply from a cigarette, for all the world looking like he could not only sell me some fabric, but some uranium, too.
Just one more continent of food remaining, and we had a shitty spring roll-type thing from the Phillipines (the only really bad thing we ate, actually.) And then on to what I was looking forward to the most: La República Popular Democrática de Corea. North Korea. There was an amazing-in-its-badness painting of two dogs and a football. Lined notebooks for sale. Bought one of those. And we tried the food. What we had was a flat fried vegetable thing with some soy sauce. It was okay. Kinda better than I imagine most North Korean food being.
It was a nice afternoon. And a great reminder that there’s way too many countries out there that I will never get around to visiting.
Apologies for the crappy quality of the photos, I only had my iPod with me, which is a piece of shit. Here’s a picture of some Russian chocolate and my North Korean notebook.