Flip Flop Flying

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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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October 5th, 2016 at 4:40 pm

Walk

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October 5th, 2016 at 4:39 pm

Red

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October 5th, 2016 at 4:38 pm

Tecate

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October 5th, 2016 at 4:37 pm

uvpiles

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October 5th, 2016 at 4:36 pm

skull54

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October 5th, 2016 at 4:35 pm

Quick cat

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October 5th, 2016 at 4:33 pm

Purple green man

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October 5th, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Rabbit

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October 5th, 2016 at 4:31 pm

Baseball potato

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October 5th, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Laptop

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October 5th, 2016 at 4:29 pm

Iggy

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October 5th, 2016 at 4:28 pm

Fucking arsehole

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October 5th, 2016 at 4:27 pm