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3,232: Middle-aged Fanclub

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The venue was smaller than I remembered. But the walk from the U-Bahn station was a big longer. I went to see Teenage Fanclub last week at Columbia Theater. Last time I went there it was called Columbia Fritz (after a local radio station). Getting to the venue on the other side of town felt like muscle memory, but once out of the station, my brain expected to be at the venue in a few metres. It was about 200 metres, at a guess. After being in Mexico, it felt really nice not to be searched when we entered the venue. Here’s my ticket, person at the door wishes me “Viel spaß!”

I can’t remember the last time I went to Columbia Theater. Might’ve been for a Phoenix show. I think I saw The Mission (yes!) and Franz Ferdinand there, too. Difficult to clearly remember others, cos there’s another venue a few metres along the street called Columbia Halle. That one is bigger and the place where I saw more concerts in Berlin than anywhere else. Always loved that venue. It was a functional box, with a fairly small balcony area.

My mate and I got a beer, caught up on six years of our lives. And it was nice. It is nice to see a band that are not as popular as they once were, and where most of the people in the audience are in the same age bracket. Indeed, there were several moments there where I saw people whose faces I recognised. Not friends or acquaintances, just people who went to the same sort of concerts that I went to back in the day.

People seemed cool to have a wee bit of personal space. There’s a wee door to the left of the stage, and we nipped in there to watch the band. Middle-aged audience so no mental crush down the front, and we hung out, enjoyed the old songs and didn’t know the new songs. Feet were tapped. Hands clapped.

Obviously Teenage Fanclub (and let’s pause for a moment to salute the greatness of that band name) have a sound but when they are filleting 22 songs out of their back catalogue, there’s a samey-ness in terms of tempo. Here’s the setlist.

The last song they played was Everything Flows, their first single from 1990. I wondered how it must feel to be 27 years into a career and still ending a show with the first song you released. Then I thought about Minipops for a second pushed that thought into the knot in my stomach.

A wee bit of artwork
An iPad drawing of the boxes.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Wow and Flutter by Stereolab. Five days in a row for Stereolab now, which seems a lot, but looking back at my records, there was a time in May 2015, where I had the songs of Taylor Swift in my head for sixteen consecutive mornings.

On this day
Hermosillo, 14 February 2013

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Aircraft boneyard

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Written by Craig

February 14th, 2017 at 3:15 am

3,198: A nice walk

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For a few days, I’ve been feeling like I’ve not left Prenzlauer Berg much, especially in daylight. I’ve been to other parts of the city (mainly Kreuzberg, though) in the evenings, but I’ve not done anything that would amount to sightseeing. (I don’t need to do sightseeing in a city I lived in for eight years, but you know what I mean: it’s just nice to remind yourself of the details, innit?) After a walk around the park and a trip to the art store to buy a sketchbook, I kinda realised it would be a nice day for a longer walk. It was cold, yes, but it was also a clear blue sky. Get some daylight and sunshine in me. In the end, that longer walk was four hours and eleven kilometres long. Three stops along the way, which is why it took longer than it really should’ve: book shop, pub for a quick pint, and supermarket on the way home. Listened to David Bowie the whole time, which was nice.

One of the remaining guard towers from the Wall

Double fuckyousun

Stood here looking at the colours of this reflection for a couple of minutes. It was lovely

This part of the city between Hauptbahnhof and the Reichstag is one of my favourite bits of the city, especially when it’s snowy. It’s just blank and empty and I like that

A wee bit of artwork
I stood next to the window the other day and drew the view.

Other business
Well worth a listen is Limmy’s techno remix of the Fry’s Turkish Delight advert that was on telly in the UK in the Eighties. I guess “well worth a listen” only really applies, though, if you were around in the UK in the 1980s and also like Limmy.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Station to Station by David Bowie.

On this day
An old thing, 11 January 2011. Simple thing, combining the idea of that phrase “there’s no I in team” and that thing I learned when I was a kid, how to spell Mississippi, like M-I-double S-I-double S-I-double P-I

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Street punk

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Written by Craig

January 11th, 2017 at 3:43 am

3,173: Xmas

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This feels like a cheap post to do, but I’ve done plenty of Xmas-themed stuff over the years, and it’s not that easy to find* on the FFF site, so let’s have a wee look, eh? In chronological order:

* There is a redesign in progress, just not sure how long it’ll take to do. Hopefully it’ll be online by spring, though.

Fun fun fun: Christmas style (2000) was a follow-up to something that had been mildly popular. So taking the same idea of 10 ways to have fun, I applied it to the festive season. Pretty basic stuff, but I really enjoyed doing all of the Fun Fun Fun stuff.

This little doggy (2001). An illustrated story about a dog all alone in the woods at Xmas.

We wish you a Merry Christmas (2002) is just a piece of audio, chopping up words from other songs to send a greeting. Originally just sent to friends attached to an email.

The ex-mas tree (2002) is a pretty obvious piece of anthropomorphism.

Christmas country life (2002) is another thing that was just an Xmassy version of something else that existed elsewhere on the site. It’s fun to remember that the word (animated) GIF back then often referred to something someone had created, not just snipped out of context for yuks (I love that type of GIF too, but you know what I mean). It’s another bit of anthropomorphism, this time with a house.

FFF advent calendar (2003). I really was in my own little self-created world back then. I remember that being a nice place to be. It’s an advent calendar where the windows “open” when you pass your mouse over the numbers to reveal various things I’d drawn made Xmassier.

The Yuletide Owls (2004). This was my version of an Icelandic tale, told via two owls that I used to draw a lot called Pete and Bob.

Around Berlin (2005). A pretty cheap and easy one: just a bunch of photos around Berlin.

The man who loved Christmas porn (2012) was something that came about after listening to Dan Savage say something about how ridiculous it is, which got me thinking, there must be somebody who really likes it.

Wreath (2014). Lots of the apartments in the building I was living in at the time had actual wreaths on the doors. I did this to fit in a little bit. You will notice that there are no overt religious elements in there.

My favourite one, though, was from 2013: 25 December, 13 A.D., a story about one of Jesus’s teenage birthdays.

A wee bit of artwork
Ordinarily, I will read or watch several review-of-the-year type things. Not sure I really want to this year. We mostly feel the same about this right? I guess if you voted for trump or to leave the EU, 2016 must’ve felt like a pretty good year, but just typing those words makes me angry. I don’t want to have an article or TV programme going through it all again. So here’s my review of the year. Short and simple.

Other business
Have I Got News for You is still entertaining enough (never was a top favourite of mine, I still watch it though), but in the modern age, it feels a bit like old jokes cos we’ve all looked at blogs and Twitter all week where a lot of similar jokes about most of the topics have already been made. It has the feel of a show that young people wouldn’t watch. I don’t know this for sure, cos I’m not a young person, and I don’t really know any young British people, but I’m just imagining: would I have watched it if Twitter were around in the early 90s? Nope.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Little Things by One Direction. They’re really embedded at the moment. Five of the last seven.

On this day
Our new film, 19th of December 2005. I was living alone with Billy at the time. (One is never alone when one has a dog, though, right?). I made a couple of little films with him. This one was a silly “horror” film. Again, one is reminded of the differences in broadband speeds, by how small and low quality this .mov is. I have a clear memory of making this film, and how much tape was used to make a really short film. Aw, Billy…

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Montevideo (The etymology part is particularly interesting)

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Written by Craig

December 19th, 2016 at 2:30 am

3,171: Morning views

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As mentioned a few days ago, I’ve been taking a photo of the view from the wee balcony every morning since I’ve been at this apartment. Rather than letting it get out of hand and having a monster post at some point, I’m gonna put the week’s worth in a post every Saturday (not a full week this time cos I did that post on Tuesday).

I’ve been feeling weird about not blogging at the weekend, even though it was a choice I made, to blog four or five times, but only weekdays. There’s always a temptation to save things, to have a few things in reserve just in case, for blog posts, (especially in the A wee bit of artwork and Other business parts of each post) but I’ve found that just doing them and leaving that next post to fend for itself is a better approach. So there’ll be posts at the weekend now, I think.

Saturdays will be the morning views, Sundays will be “embedding the week.” I did that last Sunday, cos y’know, tweets and Instagram posts feel a bit like space trash sometimes, just thrown out there, but they’re sometimes still somewhat worthy of a look, and gathering some of the better ones together might be cool if you don’t use either of those social media thingies. (It does feel a tad hey look at me, I do good tweets, but, fuck: this is a blog full of me blathering on, so it’s not really different is it? And I do sometimes wish that people whose tweets I enjoy would do something like this.) Anyway, that’ll be here tomorrow. For now, though: the morning views from Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and today:

Guten morgen

A photo posted by Craig Robinson (@flipflopflying) on

Guten morgen mein lieblings

A photo posted by Craig Robinson (@flipflopflying) on

Guten morgen

A photo posted by Craig Robinson (@flipflopflying) on

Guten morgen

A photo posted by Craig Robinson (@flipflopflying) on

A wee bit of artwork
In an email, my friend Amanda mentioned seeing someone who looked like a drawing that her partner Ben had done. She said the person had “the hair of a cloud and voice of Brian Blessed.” Such a wonderful description. I’ve not seen Ben’s drawing, but I did my own quick drawing of Amanda’s description.

Other business

The 15.10 Lufthansa flight from Berlin Tegel to the moon.

A photo posted by Craig Robinson (@flipflopflying) on

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
The Things That Dreams Are Made Of by the Human League. For most of my adult life, if you’d’ve asked what my favourite album is, I’d probably have said something by the Beach Boys. Surf’s Up, Sunflower, or Pet Sounds. Over the past couple of years, though, I’ve begun to realise that Dare by the Human League is an album I now think of as my favourite. Not that it matters, eh? We put so much effort into building up this presentable ideal of who we are. Favourite song, album, film, TV series, book. Those are the adult versions of colour, number, football team. My favourite albums means NOTHING to you. And why should it? It could only possibly be of interest if you, a) it’s your favourite album too, or b) you fucking hate the Human League. For the 99% of other people: it’s not an issue. It is a great album though.

On this day
I had a wee look through some old blog posts last night, and noticed that on this day in 2008, it was snowing a lot. (It was hardly a big post, just a sentence and this embedded 23-second video clip.)

I was in Bellingham, Washington at the time. That was a good time. Things didn’t turn out perfectly in Bellingham, but to be somewhere snowy for Xmas was really good.

I always enjoy on this day-type things. I enjoying finding out that such-and-such record was released 20 years ago. I even did a thing for a Dutch newspaper about this very idea in 2005. So maybe I’ll keep this up, looking back at old posts from this day in the past. Maybe it’ll work, maybe not. We will see, eh?

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Revolución Libertadora

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Written by Craig

December 17th, 2016 at 2:55 am

3,159: Russia’s greatest love machine

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Back in October 2006, a whole ten-years-and-a-few-weeks ago, I took a photo of a bit of spilled paint that, to me, looked kinda like Rasputin. I walked down that same street again yesterday. The spilled paint is not only still there, but has hardly worn away at all. Look! (2006 on the left, yesterday on the right)

A wee bit of artwork

Other business
I bought a “mouse mat” yesterday. It’s a pretty modern thing. Bleeding edge tech stuff. What it is, right, is a rectangle of kinda foamy plastic with rounded corners, about 22 x 18 centimetres. It’s dark red. Almost burgundy. (It was also available in black, yeller, and a nice calming blue.) And you use it because it helps the laser light thingy inside your mouse register a surface more smooothly. And it cost just €3.49. I don’t often give tech tips, but this “mouse mat” is a steal. Get on it, brothers and sisters. It’ll change your life.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
I had a fitful sleep last night. There was me thinking I’d been cool and tough, sorted out my jetleg on that first day. Nope. Fell asleep watching YouTube around 9pm, woke up at 2.30am, awake til 5, asleep until 11am. Even within that time, I was tossing and, indeed, turning. And all of that time, there was a megamix of LCD Soundsystem songs in my head. The one in my head, though, when I actually got out of bed was Drunk Girls.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Wedding-cake style

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Written by Craig

December 1st, 2016 at 4:39 am

3,155: Cruz Azul

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I was gonna write about Cruz Azul today. Last night was the beginning of the Liga MX 2016 apertura liguilla, that is to say: the playoffs. (We have a split season here, each half of the season has eight-team playoffs at the end. Clearly this is absurd.) Just before I started typing, I figured I should check the blog, and yes! I have done it before. But that was two years ago. Things have changed a bit since then. Cruz Azul were quite a good team back then. They didn’t make the playoffs, but they played well. Just seemed to be missing a good solid goalscorer. It was quite tight that season, they could’ve made the playoffs but finished 13th. Since then, since I’ve been going, they finished 9th, 14th, 9th, and in the season that finished last Saturday, 14th. The fifth championship of five since I’ve been going that they failed to make the playoffs.

Relegation here is a strange thing. Because of the split season, they do this thing were three full seasons’s points are averaged out, and the lowest one gets relegated. This sucks, though, if you are a newly-promoted team. You only have one season’s worth of numbers. All dreadfully unfair, and in place, one assumes, to kinda make sure none of the big names accidentally gets relegated. The season before I started going, Cruz Azul were top of the relegation table (ie. furthest away from going down), with an average of 1.7059 points per game. Now, they are 13th, with an average of 1.2588. (The team currently heading to the second division are Morelia, with 1.1059 points per game.) In that same time period, Cruz Azul have gone from an average attendance of 18,090 down to 16,928. In the 2016 Apertura, they had the worst average attendance in the league. For Saturday’s game, it was just 10,573, which is pretty crappy, and looks bad in a 34,000 capacity stadium. Look (image is bigger if you right click):

I moved a bit further away from the stadium this season. I was on the same street, just one block away, but now it’s about 30 minutes walking and public transporting. Still really close, but it has meant that I’m less inclined to just think, at the last minute, “fuck it, I’ll go.” That sentiment was easy when I lived on the same street. The street would get busy with fans, the floodlights would go on, and inevitably, I’d be tempted because it was happening right there. (Plus, watching games on TV when you live so close is annoying: there’s about a 10-second delay, so I would know Cruz Azul had scored long before seeing it on the telly. Especially annoying when a penalty kick has been awarded: I’d be stood in front of the telly with my fingers in my ears, singing to myself so I couldn’t hear any cheering, or indeed, a lack of cheering.)

Aside from the lowering footballing standards over the past couple of seasons, the owners seem to be doing everything they can to piss off supporters. Notably, the porra, the hardcore supporters behind the goal. Tickets used to be 65 pesos, and they were raised to 100 pesos. That’s a significant increase. And I read somewhere that the porra used to get group discounts which aren’t as big as they used to be. The upshot of that was, the end of the ground where the noise and flags were is now fairly free of that. I sit there now, because it’s the cheapest part of the ground. But I shouldn’t be sitting there. I’m a middle-aged European chap. I shouldn’t be in the part of the ground where the shirtless kids with drums should be.

And after the 2017-18 season, the landowner has decided to sell the land to build yet another fucking mall. No news yet where Azul will be playing, but the rumours are that until they get a new stadium, they will play in the enormous Estadio Azteca. An 85,000 capacity stadium for a team that draws between 10,000 and 20,000. That’s gonna be rubbish. It will also be the end of centrally-located sports stadiums in this city. The Azteca is a fair old slog in the south. Estadio Olimpico, too. The baseball stadium went from being in the middle of the city (now a mall, obvs) to near the airport. And Cruz Azul’s future stadium… the chances of that being anywhere as central as it currently is are pretty much nil, I’d imagine.

But, I’ll probably still go. Even if they continue to be shit. I enjoy being there. I enjoy watching live football. I enjoy watching Cruz Azul, even if they have only won one of the last ten league games I’ve been to. So yes, I was gonna write about Cruz Azul today, and, er, I did.

A wee bit of artwork
Another one of the cactus drawings, and one of Kraftpunk.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Walk You Home by Super Furry Animals

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Konrad Adenauer

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Minecraft Project Day 64
Here we go, the obsidian blocks in place. And once I use a flint and steel to spark it up, we will have a portal that takes us to the Nether, an underworld kinda thing with some decent useful stuff to be mined.

The portal is kinda pretty, innit?

I decided that the nice idea of not having a fence along the river edge is silly. Fuck it, I want to feel secure, especially now there’s a portal close to the river.

Yeh man, a Nether portal looks good at night. Tomorrow, let’s get down there.

Written by Craig

November 24th, 2016 at 9:12 am

3,154: Some drawings

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Playing around with some more of the late 80s/early 90s Adidas design work. I did the West Germany away kit from 1990 the other day, so here’s three of the others: East Germany ’86, USSR, ’88, and the most iconic one, the Netherlands ’88

Clearly, one of the best jerseys ever is the 1990 West Germany one. Here’s a version I drew (copied), which, out of context of the jersey, looks fantastic I think

A bit more playing around with that.

And the German 1992 away, again taken out of the context of a piece of clothing. I’m gonna play around some more with this stuff, I think. Maybe just Adidas stuff for the time being

Here’s a drawing of a Berlin U-bahn ticket

And a doodle of a dog that’d been working out

I did some scribbling of lines, then – bored – cut them up and stacked them on top of each other, and they kinda looked skull-shaped, so I cut some eyes out

This next one was another of those mindless doodles, done in front of the telly. Kinda ended up okay

So I did another one, with a more limited palette. I’m working on another, so I’ll show you that tomorrowwwww.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Another LCD Soundsystem one after seeing them at the weekend. this was their second-to-last song of the show, Dance Yrself Clean.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Hague Congress (1948)

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Minecraft Project Day 63
Down back to the obsidian where I found the diamonds.

Dig dig dig…

And back up, going home, with a load of obsidian, so that I can make a portal to the Nether!

Written by Craig

November 23rd, 2016 at 1:00 pm

3,153: Weekend

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It was a fun weekend. A Diablos Rojos baseball game on Friday night (won 12-1), a Cruz Azul football game on Saturday (lost 3-2), and on Sunday, the second day of the two-day Corona Capital festival. The whole thing had a pretty great line-up:

Just the Sunday for me, though. And the way my feet and neck feel today, I’m kinda glad I didn’t do both days. It took place in a part of the motor racing track. If you saw the Mexican grand prix on telly a few weeks back, that’s where it was. The entrance was pretty long. You walked along a big stretch of the race track, past a load of stalls selling bootleg merch (¡viva México!), then it started to look a bit more official, with good-looking young people in Corona t-shirts spaced out along the edge of the track like living statues. Not sure what their purpose was. A row of cops, then another, then some more. Then the first entrance. Show someone your ticket, get searched. Get searched again. Walk around a curve in the track. Another gate. Show another person your ticket. Get searched again. Then get searched a fourth time. Every time, the cops doing the searching wanted to take apart my electronic cigarette, check it was what it looked like. The last of the searches, the cop sniffed the liquid in my device, then sniffed the extra liquid I had in a wee plastic bottle. I was there pretty early, before the main crowds arrived, and it still took about half an hour to actually get in.

But, really, once that was over, that was kinda the last of the worries. Once inside, it was really good. Mexican friends thought it was weird that I said this because in general, things aren’t well-organised in the country, but in the two experiences I have had with this festival, it’s been brilliantly organised both times. Loads of toilets, three big food areas, and hundreds of people walking around selling beer and whisky. The single greatest thing about concerts here is the crowds. People are up for it. Even for the first band in the smallest of the stages, the crowd went mental. If there was any downside at all to the festival, it was that the vegetarian options at the food stands were pretty few and far between. I only saw a couple of things that were doable beside crisps/chips or chips//fries.

There were two bands that I was actually there for, Super Furry Animals and Kraftwerk. The rest of my time was pretty much open. Before it was super furry time, saw a bit of the Delorentos (seemed alright, looked like they were having fun), Sofi Tukker (enjoyed them, the aforementioned mental crowd helped that along greatly), and Wild Nothing (meh, not my cup of tea). I’ve not seen Super Furry Animals since New Year’s Eve 2007 when they did a thing at the Royal Festival Hall in London. It was their first time in Mexico. And, yep, great to see them again. There aren’t many bands out there whose setlist, whatever they chose to play, would be fine with me. And it was entirely great and fun, and as good as I’d hoped.

Saw a bit of Eagles of Death Metal, but fuck them. Grimes was good, what I saw of her, cos I kinda wanted to see Galantis, and there was an overlap. There was this moment during their set when I saw someone trying to get their friend out of the crowd.
Her friend collapsed right next to me, so I helped her pick her up, I asked if she wanted help with her pal. She was crying, said yes, and I can’t imagine how she’d managed to get someone as far out of the crowd as she had on her own. It’s not an easy thing to get someone who can hardly walk out of a packed tent full of people dancing. We eventually got outside, and asked a beer seller where was the closest medical tent. He didn’t know. Thankfully, though, one was quite close, and we got her there pretty swiftly. At the entrance, the person there said “one person only!” as medics took the sick woman inside. The other woman gave me a massive hug, kept saying “gracias gracias gracias!” I’m in no way saying, aren’t-I-great-for-helping, cos absolutely everyone would do exactly the same thing, but it was the moment I will remember most of the whole festival. That hug from a stranger who was really worried about her friend. I have no idea what happened after that.

I watched some more Galantis, then went over to another stage for Kraftwerk. And… it was kinda underwhelming. Maybe it was that I’d seen a silly dance act right before them, but it felt really out of place at a festival. It didn’t help that the sound, for the first half of the show was awful. They even stopped playing after a couple of songs. The 3D visuals weren’t working, the sound was shitty, and various non-Ralf members kept nipping off stage or walking over to talk to him. He said they had to reprogram the computers. It was odd to see the Kraftwerkness of Kraftwerk slip away for a few minutes, as they tried to start up again. A few seconds of sound, then nothing. And it took a while to get going, for the sound to get right. Some friends and I decided to nip across the way to the other stage where LCD Soundsystem were gonna close the festival. We had a beer, and Kraftwerk sounded better from a distance.

I like LCD, got their records and that, but I’ve never really had a burning urge to go and see them. (Having said that, I don’t ever recall that they played Berlin while I was living there, so I dunno.) After the mild disappointment of Kraftwerk, though, they sounded fantastic. Had a ton of fun. Enjoyed how they set up the band on stage, that looked cool. The overhead camera shots of the stage were great, too. The white lights and smoke behind them. All really good. And you really couldn’t ask for a better band to finish a festival. They finished with All My Friends, and thousands of people trudged off to find taxis and Ubers. Tired feet. A bit hungry. We had tacos. I had a mushroom gringa. And it was good.

A wee bit of artwork

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Somewhat unsurprisingly, it was an LCD Soundsystem song, New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
European Union

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Minecraft Project Day 61
Back down to digging. I went the wrong way, though. Didn’t find the steps I’d been dealing with yesterday.

But there’s another dark tunnel, so let’s get that lit up.

And, woah momma! Look! Lava and woo hoo! some exposed diamond ore.

Throwing a bucket of water over lava turns the lava into obsidian. And to mine obsidian, one needs a diamond pickaxe.

So I mined the diamonds, and went straight back up to the cabin.

…and made myself a diamond pickaxe. Obsidian mining tomorrow. There’s a wee lake of lava somewhere behind the house where I can easily access some lava, thus get some obsidian.

Minecraft Project Day 62
Let’s go find that above ground lava lake.

And, urgh, couldn’t bloody find it.

Too far from home, so another night in a dugout hole.

Written by Craig

November 22nd, 2016 at 10:14 am

3,151: A drawing of a street

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Other business
Vladimir Poutine.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Keep it Dark by Genesis.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Pieter Brueghel the Younger

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Minecraft Project Day 59
So, I’ve dicking around trying to get a load of iron so I can make an anvil. It needs 31 pieces of iron, which is a touch excessive in my opinion.

And the reason for an anvil? To make a bigger map. Makes absolutely no sense at all, right? You put the map you’ve already got and eight more sheets of paper on the anvil and the map is bigger.

And you have to explore the area itself for the map of that area to fill in. It was at this point that I realised, I’ll never use the fucking map.

I also made a rather horrible gate.

Written by Craig

November 17th, 2016 at 10:49 am

3,150: Confidence

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It’s a strange thing to do, to be an artist. Even using that word “artist” is hard for me. I avoided it for a long long time. But when I was in Belize earlier this year, at the border, filling in the form thingy, I wrote “artist” next to occupation without any hesitation. That was a good thing for my brain to think about afterwards: yes, Craig, you are an artist. One thing that I tend to avoid talking about, even to other people privately, is confidence, though.

I’m used to there being times when the creativity just isn’t there. The artist version of writer’s block. That one is relatively frequent, and the only way to deal with it is to power through, keep on drawing (something, anything), and eventually it’ll come back.

But confidence in what I do… sometimes that’s a tough one to deal with. Writer’s block is a mental break. Lack of confidence feels like your brain telling you that you suck, asshole.

There was this competition recently. I don’t usually pay attention to competitions, but when I read about it, the theme seemed like something I would enjoy doing: sounds of the city – an illustrated interpretation of sound. It was a British thing. I liked the theme. And when I thought about London and other cities I’ve lived in, the one thing that came to mind was the contrast. Not sounds themselves, but the contrast when you are walking home at night. The relative silence.

My first sketch was this:

I wanted to get the sky right. The colours of a night sky in a big city. It’s a drawing done from memory, not an actual representation of a place, but it’s a drawing of returning to my mate’s house in Barnet after being out in central London. When you come out of the Tube there, you’re a bit higher that the rest of London, so there’s a good long view over the city. (Google Street View doesn’t give you too good an idea of what I’m talking about, but it’s better than nowt, eh?) This was drawing in the Adobe Sketch app, so it was only ever an early sketch because it doesn’t export at anything close to high resolution.

After that one, I got to thinking more about non-manmade sounds. Cities are full of the aural reminders that it’s a city. It’s either humans or things humans are doing using things made by humans. I like it when it’s raining at night in a city. The rain takes over. It’s like nature is saying, “you’ve made this fantastic functioning thing with millions of people, but here’s some rain. Deal with that!” And people are quieter, the only noise is the noise of wheels on wet road. This was something I noticed first a couple of years ago in Mexico City. Walking home, listening to Sunn O))) on my iPod. The combined sound of that music and the car tyres on the wet road was fantastic. This was the drawing that came out of that idea, a drawing of High Holborn in the rain. I imagine the pubs have closed, it’s late, you’ve missed the last Tube, and you’re desperately looking for a taxi but there are no yellow lights on. (Street View)

I was pretty happy with that one. (I did it with the Procreate app, btw.) I’d drawn the scene twice, then partially erased one of the layers. I liked how that looked.

Then I read the rules properly. It had to be portrait not landscape. Fuck.

So rather than add to this one or redraw it, I decided to do one with the specific proportions in mind, and to introduce the idea of the quiet caused by weather in a busier place, Oxford Street. (Street View)

I did one drawing in Procreate, then imported that into Photoshop, and cut it up into sixteen overlapping parts, then opened each of those parts in Procreate again, and redrew everything. Once that was done, I re-exported them to Photoshop, and put them together, and erased and overlapped various parts. This was what I ended up with:

There were two days before the competition deadline. I sat down to write the wee statement thingy. And thought, Nah, I’ll do that later.

That was the mistake. I’d given myself a crack for doubt to creep into. I looked at the drawing many times over the next two days. My internal valuation of my work was in a weak phase at that point (this was two months ago, btw), and, well, my stupid brain won. It’s not good enough, Craig. What if you’re not one of the one hundred they choose for the competition exhibition? Not winning is fine, but how the hell will you deal with not being in the top 100!? And at that point, it was better to not enter than to fail. That was a mistake. I should’ve entered. A stupid mistake. My stupid fucking brain.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
It was Drag Me Down by One Direction again. We’ve had that here recently. Fourth time this year. So here’s another 1D song, Night Changes, my favourite song of theirs. It’s a lovely song. I realise that it’s easy to dislike boy bands, and/or TV manufactured groups, but give it a go, eh? The melody is really nice, and the bit at 2:28 is just delightful.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Pieter Bruegel the Elder

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Minecraft Project Day 56 and 57 and 58 (just so I can end the week on a multiple of five)
All day pruning leaves so I’ve got a bunch of them for doing things in the garden.

Such as disguising the ugly storage room.

And today, time to get busy down in the cave system. All I did today was light up the tunnels, keep the bad guys at bay while I’m mining. (This is boring, isn’t it?)

Minin’, minin’, minin’…

And blocking up some of the crappier cave tunnels. The ones that don’t go very far or deep.

And I used some of the mined rocks to put a nice edge along the steps down to the as-yet-unused area.

Written by Craig

November 16th, 2016 at 10:56 am

3,146: Pffff

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Got nothing to write about today. It’s an interesting thing (to me, anyway). Ever since I re-started the blogging, there’s been something in my head pretty much every day. Most of the time, it’s been the first thing I’ve done every morning. Sometimes I do it the night before.

But here we are. Nothing to talk about, really.

Um, I went to the cinema the other night. I saw Life, the Corbijn film about the photographer and James Dean. It was alright. It’s only just come out in Mexico, a good year after everywhere else. And it was only the sixth time I’ve been to the cinema this decade, which is kinda bonkers. I used to go all the time, like every week, when I was living in Berlin. Since then, I’ve only been to the cinema to see Inception, Moneyball, Midnight in Paris, The Harry Hill Movie, and a showing of Faust with live electronic accompaniment. Being in a cinema was quite nice. It was like, oh, I remember this cinema thing. Then there was the smell of food and the sound of people eating, and I remembered why I watch DVDs or Netflix.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
She Belongs to Me by Bob Dylan. Here’s a live version from the outtakes of Don’t Look Back.

A wee bit of artwork
I rarely take any notice of lyrics, but I always like the line from the above song, “She can take the dark out of the nighttime and paint the daytime black.” I did two drawings of that line in 2015:

Other business
“In Chichibu, Japan, two hours northwest of Tokyo, there’s an odd museum; perhaps the only one of its kind. It’s called the Chinsekikan (which means hall of curious rocks) and it houses over 1700 rocks that resemble human faces.”

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Byzantine law

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Minecraft Project Day 17
Right, being upfront: I’ve pre-prepared a load of these. I started off doing about two weeks of playing, screenshotting, and typing in the first weekend. I’m way in advance now, cos I enjoy playing Minecraft. I think I’m gonna have a few days putting up multiple “Minecraft days” to catch up. It feels weird to be playing the game and thinking, “that’ll be on the blog in about a month.” So here’s five days’ worth.

A simple one-task day: clear the grass, build a fence. Boom! A wee wheat farm. Soon enough I’ll have a constant supply of bread and I won’t need to kill so many animals. It’s my aim in this game to be vegetarian.

Minecraft Project Day 18
Goddam it, first thing I see in the morning was a spider outside the cabin, and while I was killing him, another bloody Creeper blew himself up next to me. I died. I guess it’s an okay place to die, though. Respawned in the cabin, and only had to nip outside to collect all my stuff.

But it did make security a more urgent concern. I dug out lots of single blocks along the edge of the water so that bad guys couldn’t get up onto my hill.

Put up a load of fencing, too.

And added more torches. Hopefully that’ll be the last time a Creeper gets near my cabin.

Minecraft Project Day 19
A bit more digging. I missed this bit yesterday

My wheat was ready for harvesting. Did that, and replanted seeds.

And chopped down the porch supports. I’m sick of looking at a crappy porch, so I made it so it’s even less appealing, which will force me to deal with it soon.

Minecraft Project Day 20
A day for supples. Iron and coal.

I can see you, zombie boy.

A bit of nighttime landscaping: adding dirt so I can eventually have a bigger deck out the front

And then having a wee check of the farm and suddenly, I’ve worked all through til dawn.

Minecraft Project Day 21
It felt like it might be time to lay out a skeleton of the garden. First thing: marking out a path to the gate and another to the wheat farm

And then spending a ton of time putting in some stone blocks, some stone slabs, some stone steps and some wood to make a nicer-looking path.

Written by Craig

November 14th, 2016 at 1:01 pm

3,141: Twist ties

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Everyone collects twist ties, don't they?

A photo posted by Craig Robinson (@flipflopflying) on

I never intended to collect twist ties. In an old apartment, there were horizontal bars on the inside of the kitchen window, and one day I twisted a twist tie onto one of the bars. And then I did it again. And two years later, there were quite a lot of them. So I took them off. But didn’t throw them away. I’m not sure what to do with them. I’m pretty sure there’ll never be a time when I need that many. I found out some fun facts on Wikipedia: invented in 1923, patented in 1939 and called Twist-Ems, and the different colours are used for inventory management, so stores know how fresh bread loaves are. 500 plastic twist ties at Amazon.com cost $6.99, which is $0.01398 a piece. But, 2,000 paper-covered twist ties are $7.79 at Staples.com. $0.003895 a piece. Quite a saving if you’re willing to have paper not plastic.

A wee bit of artwork

Other business
How is it that when you type “kylie” into Google, the real Kylie isn’t the first result?

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
3 A.M. Eternal by the KLF. It was the original version that was in my head, which is a better version than the one that was a hit, in my opinion.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Ushuaia

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Minecraft Project Day 12
Back at the new cabin. First things first: door and windows.

Dirt scaffold so that it’s easier to put the roof on.

Roof taking shape.

First night in my new place.

Written by Craig

November 8th, 2016 at 7:38 am

3,139: The 96

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I’ve had this saved in my YouTube Watch Later playlist for a while. There’s no real proper way to watch UK documentaries like this all the way over here, so I’m kinda stuck hoping someone puts them up on YouTube. I’ve seen and read more than enough about Hillsborough over the years, and, of course, every single time, it’s emotionally tough. The events are heartbreaking. Truly heartbreaking. And the aftermath makes you angry. But the strength of the survivors and families of the dead is utterly amazing. They got justice. It took way too long, but they got it.

A wee bit of artwork

One more infographic about baseball

The above is a bit bigger here.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Getting Away with It by Electronic. It’s hard to really remember the feeling, but back in 1989, the singer from New Order, the singer from the Pet Shop Boys, and the guitarist from the Smiths making a record was incredibly exciting to me. And what a wonderful song. Such a pretty melody.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Glacier

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Minecraft Project Day 10
I’m gonna have my cabin off the ground, so here’s the outline of what for now will be the whole cabin, but eventually will just be the living room/kitchen area.

As you can see below, it took me all day to just put the floor and walls in.

Written by Craig

November 4th, 2016 at 9:27 am

3,136: Baseball

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Back in January, I made a conscious decision to have a pause in my baseball site, Flip Flop Fly Ball. I really needed to stop feeling the self-applied pressure to keep doing stuff that, at the time, I didn’t really want to be doing. The break was a good thing. I’d got to a point where I wasn’t actually enjoying baseball that much any more because of the site. I was still going to Diablos Rojos games, and it was really nice to only do that. To not think all the time. I still was doing the occasional drawing, but that was because baseball was a part of my life, not because I wanted to do baseball drawings.

A couple of months ago, a print I was selling on my Society6 shop was withdrawn because someone (I suspect it was the MLB Players Association, but I can’t be sure cos society6 didn’t tell me) made a copyright infringement claim. This is the offending image. I can kinda understand their point. They represent baseball players, and I’ve done drawings of them. A bunch of them. But, I would suggest that my drawing (below) is nothing more than a visual history of Major League Baseball. It is not an attempt to make money off of Albert Pujols or anyone else.

This pissed me off. A lot. From sales of that print on Society6, I’d made less money than it costs to subscribe to MLB.tv for a year. A thing I’ve been subscribing to for eleven years. Fuck MLB, fuck MLBPA (or whoever it was), and fuck baseball*. And that, dear readers, was a good place to get to in my head. To step fetishising baseball. It’s just a game. A game I enjoy, but ultimately, just a game.

*There is an entirely separate blog post to be done about my annoyances with the Diablos Rojos, but I’ll save that for another time.

And after slowly calming down (and it took a few weeks), it kinda felt like I’d made a good thing out of a shitty thing in my head. My distain for them still exists, but I’m not gonna let it stop me enjoying baseball. And that freedom from unwavering respect has allowed me to want to do stuff again. So, yes, long story short: Flip Flop Fly Ball is back as a going concern.

I’ve added all the baseball-related drawings and stuff I’ve done over the past nine months, and going forward: I’ll do stuff as and when. Looking back at the stuff I’ve done during the hiatus, I’ve been doing a couple of things every month anyway, and that more (internally) relaxed pace is probably how things will continue.

Anyway, here’s some recent baseball-y, World Series-related stuff. A couple of drawings of pitchers, John Lackey and Andrew Miller:

And one of Jon Lester as a snowman:

And a pixelly papel picado-style thing:

And some data art. First, something about last year’s World Series (bigger here).

Blue represents a Royals lead, orange represents a Mets lead, grey represents a tie. The width of the rings represents a number of plate appearances. This is way more data art than infographic. The kinda vagueness of the graphic representation of information is a deliberate choice.

And here’s a big big project that I’m calling Tree Rings, about every team’s history. There are two teams missing from this project right now, due to the fact that they’re in the World Series. Each ring represents a year since 1903, (the first World Series season, apart from expansion teams which begin at their first seasons), from the centre outwards. The colours are, obviously, of the specific teams. Grey rings represent seasons without any postseason success. The darker the colour represents a level of postseason play. World Series victories are usually represented in a different colour. Here’s three examples. The rest are here.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Work from Home by Fifth Harmony. Yay!

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
LEGO

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Minecraft Project Day 7
Leaving to get more wood, first thing I see a creeper. I let him explode in this nice flat area so you can see the damage he does. He is, for want of a better phrase, a suicide bomber.

Getting some more birch. If the chopped down tree drops a sapling, I like to replant it in the same place. Good to the environment, me.

If there are big open holes near where I’m living, I like to put a block with a light on top near the entrance so that a) I’m aware it’s there if I’m nearby at night, and b) there might be good mining stuff down there, so it’s essentially a Post-it note.

Wahey! Look at that! A zombie kid riding a sheep!

Some more scouting for a place to build my cabin.

Sun goin’ town, time to head back to my hole.

Oops, there’s a zombie comin’ at me.

Oh bugger, now there’s two of them, the attacks are depleting my health badly (the red hearts).

Shit. Slain by zombies. It should be noted that one of the reasons that happened is because I spent precious seconds making sure I got screen shots of the zombie attack that could’ve been used better, ie. defending myself. Anyway, I respawned back at my hidey hole (you always respawn at the last place you slept) with none of the goodies I had in my inventory, that is to say, all the stuff I was carrying when I died.

Written by Craig

November 1st, 2016 at 10:31 am

3,134: C

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Watching the Cubs-Cleveland game the other night, I was thinking about the Cubs logo on the hats. The cut-out bit of the C: what’s the angle?

I like the logo. It’s simple and would be a perfect circle if not a C:

I was kinda hoping that the angle of the cut-out bit of the C (is there a name for that bit, typography fans?) would be a right angle, thus echoing the first and third base lines of a baseball diamond.

Sadly not. But this is what it would look like if it were:

And here’s a drawing I did of Wednesday’s Cubs pitcher, Jake Arrieta.

Other business
A local taqueria’s Hallowe’en decoration.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Atom Heart Mother again this morning, so here’s the one that was in my head when I woke up last Saturday: Drag Me Down by One Direction.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Scotch Tape

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Minecraft Project Day 5
More lighting up of the caves, a skeleton shooting arrows at me is a minor inconvenience.

And back to the suspected dungeon I found yesterday. This is probably a really inefficient way of dealing with dungeons, but I like to dig out all the material around the outside of a dungeon, so that I can move around and dig out one block holes in the dungeon walls (monsters need at least two vertical blocks to get through a hole.)

Yep, it’s a dungeon with a zombie spawner in the middle. First things first, is to kill the nearby zombies with my sword, then drop torches in there. Monsters spawn in the dark, as mentioned before. The more light in there, the less zombies are gonna need dealing with once I cut a hole big enough for me to get through. (The brown chunks in the third picture are rotten flesh which drop when you kill a zombie. Not for eatin’, but if you tame a wolf to be your pet, you can feed the rotten flesh to them. They love it)

Hola, horsey!

Lastly, a bit more biggening of my room before beddy byes.

Written by Craig

October 28th, 2016 at 10:18 am

3,133: Raymonde and Lola

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You can see it a bit bigger, should you desire, here.

The idea behind this was to try and do a picture story about the process of doing a picture story. It’s been around as a vague idea for a couple of years. At that point, the idea was purely what I wrote in the first sentence here, and the idea that he starts off going the wrong way. I sat down a couple of days ago and bashed out a script. Edited the next day. Then drew it. The names Raymonde and Lola were the first names that came into my head. And, just in case you follow my work and recognise the character, I did a drawing of him a couple of years ago (May 2014) using Brushes on the iPad.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Go, Cubs, Go! by Steve Goodman. I’m a little surprised it’s taken this long to have a sports-y song crop up. For the amount of ad breaks on F*x Sports, and the same ugly music they play going into each break, I assumed that piece of shit would’ve been in my head before. But thankfully, no. But, obviously, the Cubs have been on telly more than usually the last coupla weeks. Thus this song’s appearance.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Helvetica

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Minecraft Project Day 4
First things first: more food. Sorry piggies.

Then a bit more exploring of the cave system. See them mossy cobble blocks? They’re possibly a bad sign. Behind there there could be a dungeon, which will contain a monster spawner. They’re a pain in the arse, but there are usually a couple of chests with free stuff inside.

First thing I do in a cave system is light it up. I don’t bother mining until there is light everywhere. Monsters spawn in dark areas, y’see. Last thing you want right behind you when you’re grabbing some iron ore is a creeper blowing himself up and taking you with him.

Oh look, it’s raining.

Last bit of work before returning home, put some lights out around the entrance to my cave. Same thing as above, really: keep the monsters away as much as possible at this early stage, and it’s also good if I’m out and about when it gets dark. I can find home easier.

A bit of mining for cobblestone inside my shelter before bedtime, which will also give me a little bit more space so I’m living in something a little less like a prison cell.

Written by Craig

October 27th, 2016 at 8:24 am

Grumpy Björk

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Written by Craig

October 5th, 2016 at 4:40 pm

Walk

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Written by Craig

October 5th, 2016 at 4:39 pm

Red

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Written by Craig

October 5th, 2016 at 4:38 pm

Tecate

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Written by Craig

October 5th, 2016 at 4:37 pm