Archive for the ‘Moaning’ Category
I’m a little bit obsessed with making sure I am not lazy. I feel lazy a lot. But, in 2013, I decided to make a list. Nothing strange there, really, but I made a list last year, and I made the list again this year. I did 747 creative things in 2013. This year, I have done 781 things up to and including the 27th of December. How I define “creative things” is simple. It could be a drawing for a sketch to something detailed and time-consuming. I treat those things equally. Likewise, I include blog posts that are unique pieces, so the 17 daily posts about being on holiday in Belize count as 17 creative things. I am happy that I did more stuff than last year, but mostly, I am happy I did more than 365 things.
Before I began keeping note, I hoped that would do at least one thing a day, and, anyone with the barest of maths skills will see that I’ve done way more than that: 2.05 things a day in 2013, 2.16 things per day to date in 2014. But, of course, I can’t just be happy with that. Now my stupid brain is thinking I’m placing too much emphasis on doing a LOT. Maybe I should concentrate on quality, not quantity.
My career, such as it is, is going nowhere. Treading water. Bulls need to be taken by the horns and I need to do better stuff, more substantial stuff. That was something that really hit home when I had the exhibition in London in April. It was fun and humbling and everything to see people looking at my stuff on a wall, but, it was pure vanity, ultimately. The exhibition lost money. I hardly sold anything and it cost me a lot of money to prepare it and get to London and spend three weeks there. I hate that I think of that experience as a failure, but I do.
It’s been an odd year. I moved out of my last apartment before Xmas 2013 because I lived with cunts and the realisation that they were cunts came about very quickly. I realised on a Tuesday, and I’d moved out on the Sunday. I spent a lot of time in London on two trips. And my love for Mexico goes up and down daily. I have a tendency to let things get to me. I had an idea for a book which I spent a bunch of time working on, but I’ve totally abandoned the idea. Not gonna happen.
Looking back through those 781 things from 2014, there’s not a huge amount I’m particularly happy with. I need to do better. I’m not getting any younger and I need to do better so that drawing can keep on paying for my food and rent. Which brings me to look back at what I think is the best, my best, my favourite ten things of 2014. More than anything, it’s nice to remind myself that, despite all the nail-biting, I am quite good at this sometimes. So feel free to click away to another Web site right now, the rest of the post is all blah blah. Thanks for looking at my stuff this year. Happy new year.
In no particularly order…:
Vueling Flight 7823
Girl Scout Heron
The first three things that I really like are drawings done with the Paper app on my iPad. I’ve not used it so much recently because it keeps crashing on my ancient first generation iPad. It was an app I enjoyed. It freed up my drawing a lot, made things a lot sketchier. I really like the Miley drawing, simply because it was done when I had nothing in my head and finished less than a minute later. The drawing of the aeroplane makes me giggle, and the Girl Scout Heron drawing, whilst not a particularly good drawing (I shouldn’t’ve given him a neck, the beard should be covering it completely), still amuses me.
I’ve spent the last decade enjoying beautiful baseball stadiums. Modern and old. Even crappy baseball stadiums are pretty cool. I wanted to draw something that was the complete opposite. An ugly, purely functional stadium. And when I think of such places, Scunthorpe United’s ground Glanford Park is the one that jumps into my head.
2014 was, I think, the first year since 2005 that baseball wasn’t entirely what I wanted to do stuff about. I’ve done a lot less infographics in general this year, and specifically less baseball-related infographics. But, for a big chunk of the year, I contributed to the now-defunct NotGraphs blog, which was a part of the not-defunct FanGraphs. For that site, I mostly did drawings and a bit of writing here or there. It was fun. There’s an archive of my stuff here. My favourite thing for NotGraphs was a bunch of drawings of vendors at my local baseball stadium in Mexico City. (And should you be a fan of NotGraphs, several of the contributors, including me occasionally, still do similar stuff at Banknotes Industries.)
I Wanna Dance with Somebody
Next up is a story I thought of in 2013 in a taxi. I’m a big fan of airdancers, the flappy things that are hooked up to a fan and dance in front of car dealerships and the like. So I did a children’s story about an airdancer in Mexico City called I Wanna Dance with Somebody.
I find getting a likeness of people quite difficult. I don’t have the patience for it. But this one came together really quickly. Once I realised Lionel Messi’s eyes could just be dots, it all fell into place. Plus, I enjoyed drawing the kit and boots. I did a lot of football drawings this year, but this was the best, I think.
Bandstand is simple infographic idea. I like it because of its simplicity. And the fact that I can keep on adding to it forever and ever.
This is a companion to the Mexico City drawing I did in 2013. I wanted to show the Mexico City one at the exhibition in London, so felt it might be nice to do a London version to go with it. You can see it full-size here. The nicest part of this, though, for me, was that I was contacted about doing a slightly altered version for the cover of Time Out in London. This was quite the honour, a wee personal triumph. Being a provincial boy, London was always the coolest place, and whenever I visited, one of the first things I would do would be to buy a copy of Time Out. Here’s the version that was on that cover.
The main reason that this site existed beyond a year or two was Minipops. I am under no illusions about that. These simple, silly, pixelly drawings of famous people became popular back in 1999, and stayed relatively popular for quite a while. It was pretty cool. But, after a while, I became frustrated just doing more and more and more of them. And along the way, kinda lost the love to draw any pixel stuff. I still did it, but mostly that was because I couldn’t be arsed to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator. But this last year, I’ve started to enjoy pixels again. And this drawing is the best thing I did this year, I think. I enjoy that I stuck with it and created something that by my standards was pretty epic. The more I drew, the more I wanted to draw. But I was also glad that it had a natural end point. The drawing outgrew the title, but I’m still happy that I called it Flower.
And that is, self-indulgently, that. Thanks again for visiting, commenting, sending emails, etc. It really is appreciated. Onwards and upwards, hopefully, in 2015.
I’ve been having a few of them recently. As I have mentioned before, I get them now and again. Reading forums, some people get them all the time, which would be utterly awful. Thankfully, I only get them for about three weeks every year or so. I’ve been having them for fifteen years or so now. I didn’t used to keep track of them, but I’ve kept a note for the past few years. I had a batch in December 2007, then some more in August 2008. A longer gap the next time, when I had some in February 2010. And now I have them again.
Last time I had them I’d read online that caffeine and “sexual activity” could, if implemented as soon as I felt a headache coming on, could minimise the pain. And it works pretty good. It’s still a headache worse than a regular headache, but it’s way milder than a full-on cluster headache. I hate the taste of Red Bull, but it seems to be the best way to get a lot of caffeine in me as quickly as possible. Sometimes, though, I get the feeling that all they are doing is postponing the headaches. I stay awake til around the normal time I’ll get a headache (this batch seem to come around 3.30-4.00am), I’ll take my “medication,” get rid of the headache, and then be awake and jittery from the Red Bull until daylight. And several of those times, I’ve been woken up mid-morning by a headache.
While there’s no perfect time for a cluster headache, and the loss of sleep, and messing up of the body clock sucks, getting them during the night has one huge benefit: it’s dark. Light and sound make the headaches feel worse, so getting them at 4am makes it easier to avoid both of those things: it’s dark and quiet. I had one last week in the middle of the afternoon. I was on the subway when I first felt it. I was only a couple of stations from my Spanish teacher’s house, so I waited, dashed out of the station to the convenience store which, inconveniently, didn’t have any Red Bull. Nor did the next one. By the time I was at the third store on the same block as my teacher’s place, the headache was beyond repair. I glugged down Red Bull anyway, said hi and goodbye, and got in a cab to go straight back home.
It’s amazing how little things become so much more noticeable when you’re feeling bad. I noticed how bad the roads are. Bumpy bumpy bumpy all the way home. I noticed how much traffic there is. So many traffic lights, too. And time passes so so slowly when I’ve got a headache. The homing instinct really kicks in. I can clearly remember times in London on the train home, head down, eyes closed, just trying to focus on being home. I went to an Arcade Fire concert in 2005 at Magnet Club in Berlin. I got a headache while they were playing. I left immediately, and the walk home from the club is something I can still quite vividly remember. (And, unfairly or not, I still bear a grudge against the band for causing that particular headache. My enjoyment of their music has never been the same since then. Partly, of course, due to the decline in quality of their music. Meow.)
Today is the final day of the third week of these headaches. I didn’t have one all day Sunday. I got eight hours sleep for the first time in over a week (I was averaging about four hours sleep per 24 hours last week), and there’s not been any shadows all day either (I get a faint feeling of a headache a lot of the time, which hints that I’ll be getting a full-on twat of a headache at some point). Headaches are, apparently, self-perpetuating. And I do wonder if my brain has anything to do with this idea of the three week batches of them. Now that I know I’m at the end of a three week batch, is my brain preparing me for normality again? It’s kinda alarming that my brain allows this shit to happen, but right now, if he is telling me the three week batch is over, well: thanks, brain. And I really do hope that there’s no blog post tomorrow where I call my brain a twat for tricking me into believing the headaches were over. My brain is a twat a lot of the time for many other reasons, but I hope he’s not for this.
Anyone with an iPod touch or iPhone may well know the alarm sound called Old Car Horn. If you don’t, well, it sounds like a very old-fashioned car horn. It’s my alarm sound of choice. Being freelance, I have the luxury, most of time, of setting my own schedule. It’s a luxury, and it’s a pain in the arse, too. I genuinely like getting up early, getting on with stuff and feeling like I’ve accomplished something by lunchtime; rather than feeling like lunchtime is actually when I’m eating breakfast. But, most days, I hit the snooze button. Which is nowhere near as satisfying on an iPod than on a real alarm clock. Trying to be careful and just tap a glass screen when you’re half-asleep is tough going. And launching an arm in the general direction of an alarm clock feel more appropriate at that time of day. The problem I have, though, is too much snoozing. This morning, I snoozed for an hour. That’s six snoozes. On Tuesday, I snoozed for three whole hours. Eighteen snoozes. Impressive. And idiotic at the same time. Yesterday, I just snoozed for half an hour or so, and it’s yesterday that we’re focussing on here.
A bad thing about having the iPod as my alarm clock is that it means I have easy access to the Internet before I’ve got out of bed. I really, really should stop myself from checking my email before I’m properly awake. But yesterday I didn’t. Backing up a bit, I’m doing a job at the moment that I’m not entirely enjoying. The idea from the client is a good one, but it’s a job that has never entirely clicked. It’s always felt like an uphill struggle to know how to do what the client wants and what I am capable of, and would enjoy doing. It’s also a job that was first talked about a long time ago, like November last year. And when there’s too much time between the brief and the deadline, it’s very easy to not crack on, to start it “next week.” I spent my vacation thinking about it. Trying to come up with ideas, a layout. Nothing much happened. But, over the last week, as the deadline approaches, it’s come together. I’d worked a lot on it on Wednesday, and went to bed feeling—for the very first time—feeling happy with the job. Feeling like my feet were on solid ground. Then I checked my email in bed the following morning. And suddenly I was back where I’d been. Changes needed making. Things I liked had to be changed. Bad mood. Fired off a bit of a chippy email, and went out to get coffee. Didn’t bother with a shower, just stomped out, chuntering to myself. Nearly got hit by a car that had ignored the red light (I was halfway across four lanes of traffic, so it wasn’t like he was too close to stop, he just decided to ignore the red light). Got to Starbucks. Grande cappuccino, por favor. Taste it: bleurgh! Try to explain in broken español that it taste like there’s no espresso at all in there. Another one gets made. Thanks. (That “thanks” was said in a tone that actually said “fuck you.”)
Back at the apartment, I knew I needed to clarify (ie. apologise) for the chippy email. Did that. All good. Things got cleared up, but still, foul foul foul mood hanging over me. Then I looked at my Tumblr dashboard. (If you didn’t know, I have a wee Tumblr site called Flip Flop Fly Ballin’, which is basically nice baseball pictures that I’ve seen around the Internet, and a place where I put up new stuff from my real baseball site, Flip Flop Fly Ball. And, yes, I do seem to be on a mission to create as many sites as possible with very similar names.) I saw that something I’d done (taking the eyes and mouth of one famous New York Yankees player, and putting them in the face of another, and vice versa) had been reblogged by someone else, from a different source, though. Now, it’s one of the things I love about Tumblr, that there’s a nice communal thing with reblogging other peoples’ stuff. It’s a nice tip of the hat: this dude created or found something cool, nice one. Reblog. And it seems to me to be one of the key things about Tumblr. So anyway, I checked out the source of this reblog, and it was a site that, rather than reblogging, just takes the image and posts it. It included a link to my original, but that’s not the point on Tumblr, really. The point is, this site dammed my rebloggy river, and diverted all the reblogs to itself. The bad mood that I was already in started to rage up inside. I hate that feeling. The feeling of being angry, and it being a physical feeling inside my chest. I sent them an email. There were swear words and capital letters involved.
I knew knew knew that I had to do something to calm down. Sunglasses, headphones, and a walk to the park. Chapultepec Park. A very big park about ten minutes from my apartment. There’s a zoo there, too. A free zoo. So I figured looking at some animals would calm me down. It didn’t. The bad mood made me impatient. I walked around, barely stopping to look at any animals at all, getting frustrated by the people who were enjoying the zoo. My bad mood and push chairs aren’t a good combination. I did briefly calm down a little in the aviary bit. The birds were nice.
Back home, I’d had a reply from the Tumblr site guy. He was polite and apologised. He explained that he thought that reblogging was a “shitty user experience” and that “we’re a website on tumblr, not a tumblr.” I should’ve just left it, but couldn’t. The hypocrisy annoyed me. Using Tumblr to get reblogs, but never dishing them out. I went on and was just spoiling for a fight. To his credit, he stayed fairly calm while I got increasingly annoyed.
By this time, the day was a right-off. Bought some beer, and sat down and cracked open a can. And cracked on with the changes to the job. And worked and worked. And by the end of the evening, I’d done all the changes and done all the beers. And, well, I went to bed feeling like the job was in a good place again.
This morning, I deliberately didn’t look at my email in bed. I got up, and had a shower first. Email checked. Client seemed happy. Went out to buy coffee feeling better than 24 hours earlier. And just as I was about to enter Starbucks, a bird shat on my head. Bird shit on my forehead and sunglasses. Perfuckingfect. (This is true, not just a comedy ending to the blog post, by the way.) This particular Starbucks doesn’t have a bathroom. So I wiped the poo off with my hand, wiped my hand on a few napkins and went to the bathroom in the small mall-type thing that the Starbucks is a part of. Of course, the bathrooms were locked, with no attendant around. So I walked home chuntering to myself, conscious that there may well still be a smear of bird shit on my forehead. Back at home. There wasn’t bird shit on my forehead, but still had to take my second shower of the hour. Tomorrow, tomorrow, please please please, tomorrow: don’t be a cunt.
I’m not a religious man in any way. I believe in God as whole heartedly as I believe in the Tooth Fairy. I find it all rather ridiculous. (I’m not gonna get all militant atheist on you, don’t worry.) I don’t think we need any holy texts to guide us to be moral, partly because if you accept that premise, then we must also accept that slavery, amongst other things, is an acceptable thing to be involved in. Without doing any research, I’d say if you asked people about morals in the Bible, at some point, most of them would mention those things mentioned in God’s hit parade, the Ten Commandments. I’m quite sure most of you can name several of them off the top of your head.
Off the top of my head: don’t murder anyone, don’t adulter, something about false idols, don’t work on the Sabbath, don’t covet your neighbours stuff, or look down your neighbour’s wife’s top.
Oh yes, there’s also one about not stealing. Which brings me to the Harper Collins edition of the Good News Bible. Now, depending on how you define stealing, it might be interesting to compare my Lollipops drawings to the cover of the Harper Collins Good News Bible.
While it’s not stealing as such, I would say the “influence” is fairly obvious. Having experienced this sort of stuff before, because the work isn’t directly stolen, it’d be actually quite difficult to sue God or Rupert Murdoch (Harper Collins is owned by News Corporation). But I am very cross at both of those people and whoever did the illustrations. Surely two thousand years ago, I’d have at least been allowed to chuck a few rocks at their heads, right? I’m sure somewhere in the Bible it would say that’s okay.
Thanks to Mark for letting me know about this.
Blah blah blah, Blogger is stopping allowing FTP transfer stuff, and the whole process is way beyond my technical ability. I don’t know what the fuck a CNAME is, so I’m moving here. I’m assuming that all the old stuff will stay in the same place, cos it’s on the same server as the rest of the Flip Flop Flyin’ stuff. But I did notice that comments on the old blog aren’t coming up. Sorry. (And thanks to Anna and The Bulkeleys for their kind words about the drawings on the last post.)
I swapped up one of the images at the top of the last post over there so that it redirects you here, but for some idiotic reason, I’m unable to actually edit the blog post to redirect here. Stomp stomp stomp my feet like a child: I hate Blogger, waaah! So things might look a bit unlike the old blog over here for a while until I get to grips with how to edit the HTML to put the masthead etc. up here. Ho hum.
Anyway, because I swapped out one of the images in the last post, I’ll post them all here now. Let’s see if this works, shall we?
(Images now back in their original post below, here.)