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3,200: Sevens

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I’ve had this idea knocking around for a while, but at my old apartment in Mexico City, didn’t have an oven (just the gas stove part with a cupboard underneath which, now that I write it, seems pretty weird), but quite soon after arriving in Berlin, I saw loads of Fimo in the art supplies shop and got on the case. The idea was to make replicas by hand as close as I could to an actual 7-inch single. I had the correct dimensions of the record, the label, and the hole drawn out on a piece of paper, and used that as a guide. But I wanted it to still be totally freehand.

The reason for 7″ singles: it’s the perfect pop music format. It is small, it contains two songs, one on each side, and the labels and artwork are often wonderful. And ever since I bought Baggy Trousers by Madness in WH Smith in 1980, it’s what I think of when I think of buying music.

I also had a self-imposed rule: No fancy labels. The most evocative for me is when the labels are generic record company labels. When we think of a Beatles single, we think of the Parlophone design. So many record company 7-inch labels are wonderful and if you ar of an age where you grew up with them, you can visualise them immediately: CBS, Epic, Decca, RCA, Motown, etc etc.

The Fimo sevens didn’t turn out that great. I felt the idea was pretty good, but the reality of them, especially when varnished, was quite poor. The first couple I fucked up the varnish. A month later, they’re still sticky. These will go in the bin.

The third one was just rubbish. I didn’t flatten the Fimo properly.

I stopped varnishing them at this point. In one way they are preferable, but mostly they feel lifeless.

Time was very much of the essence at this point. The Bowie one was going to be an Xmas present. It was getting close to the day in question, and the varnish wasn’t dry. This forced me to think again. So I did a watercolour version. The tacky varnish was the best thing that could’ve happened because watercolour and gouache on paper versions is the way forward.

George died, so the next one was an easy choice.

After putting some of these up on my Instagram, I was commissioned to do a 12″.

I’d not really considered that before, but it turned out to be a wonderful idea. I got some 300gsm paper that’s thick like cardboard and got to work.

This is the only one where I recorded various steps of the process. It’s a wonderful record, too. I’m happiest with this one. And there will be more to come.

Other business
Walking through Hauptbahnhof yesterday, I was reminded of one of the things I enjoyed the most when I first moved to Berlin. I used to live near Ostbahnhof and I would love standing on the platform and looking at the signs telling you which trains were coming. Yesterday, I glanced up at the big board and the first names that popped out into my eyes: Amsterdam and Warsaw. I love European train stations. That the trains aren’t just going to somewhere else in the country, they’re going to other countries! And while the romance of train travel quite often fails to live up to the idea of it, looking at a board and knowing that I could just get a ticket and be in Budapest or Basel is still thrilling for me.

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

On this day
Busy doin’ nothin’ in Oregon, 13 January 2009. Aaah, Oregon is lovely. I miss that place.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Nuclear fallout

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Written by Craig

January 13th, 2017 at 3:36 am

Posted in Artwork,Blah blah,Music

3,194: Morning views

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Guten morgen

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Guten morgen

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Guten morgen

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Guten morgen

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Guten morgen

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To all the Beliebers and all the Directioners and to those who do not practice a religion, I wish you all a very guten morgen.

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Guten morgen

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A wee bit of artwork
I saw some of these old style spool knitting things in a shop window recently. They were nice. This drawing is very much inspired by them, mixed with my old Mountains drawings. If you dunno what I’m talking about, go to Google Images and search “antik strickliesel.”

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
The thunderously good Work from Home by Fifth Harmony. Thinking about this song for a moment, I got to wondering when the rapping part of songs like this became a thing. It has become very common. Is it just a cheap and easy and quick way to deal with the feeling of having to have something a little different before we come back for the last choruses to fade out? I assume that there must be times when the rapper is on the same label, or a friend of the band or producer or just fuck it, Snoop Dogg will do it if we pay him enough. It feels like the modern pop music version of the rock guitar solo which still seems to be very very popular in a genre that likes to think of itself as edgy and rebellious.

On this day
More anomalies, 7 January 2010. I liked those early days of Google maps. The anomalies where images were digitally stitched together were interesting. I had a look at some of the locations again and the anomalies have been corrected. Yes, it’s “better,” but it’s also worse for it. Glad I took screenshots when I did.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Paninaro (song)

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Written by Craig

January 7th, 2017 at 2:09 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

3,190: Alfajores

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If you saw the title of this post and started salivating, then sorry to disappoint you. It’s just the name of a mix I made in the summer of 2013.

Twenty-seven years on, and I still listen to Chill Out by the KLF* a lot, and I remember thinking that it might be fun and interesting to try and put something together in a similar fashion. Clearly the mix below isn’t anywhere near as good, but the process was what I was interested in. It sounds alright, though. I like it. I’ve only shared it with a small handful of friends, but because I was in the mood to do another, I thought I should put this one online first. Hope you enjoy it.

* Twenty-seven years before Chill Out was released, the Beatles put out their first album.

A wee bit of artwork
I think this is the first thing I’ve done since being in Berlin that’s even vaguely Mexican. It’s based on the shape of a one of the juice or torta stands you see around Mexico City.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
I Can Change by LCD Soundsystem.

On this day
Sandy Koufax, 3 January 2009. This was probably the first drawing with a mobile app that I did that I was genuinely happy with. And I remember it so clearly. I was reading “Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy” by Jane Leavy on the train from Bellingham, Wa. to Portland, Or. I was sat on the left side of the train, facing forwards, therefore not on the coastal side of the train which would’ve given me a nicer view. At some point, I stopped reading and had a go at drawing.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Second Boer War

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Written by Craig

January 3rd, 2017 at 1:29 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

3,187: The song in my head when I woke up this morning

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Every day of the year, I’ve taken a note of which song is in my head when I wake up.

In 2015, the winner was Shake It Off by Taylor Swift. That was in my head first thing in the morning 14 times. She was also the top artist of the year (48 times).

In 2016, the song of hers that appeared the most was State of Grace (4 times). And she was third on the list of artists (21 times). So, here are the top ten artists of the year in my head when I woke up in 2016.

10. Charli XCX
7 times: Vroom Vroom (3), After the Afterparty (2), Gold Coins (1), Famous (1)

7=. Galantis
8 times: Peanut Butter Jelly (8)

7=. Justin Bieber
8 times: Sorry (5), What Do You Mean? (2), Love Yourself (1)

7=. Super Furry Animals
8 times: Inaugural Trams (4), Bing Bong (1), Mt (1), Night Vision (1), Walk You Home (1)

6. LCD Soundsystem
9 times: Dance Yrself Clean (2), New York I Love You… (2), Tribulations (2), Drunk Girls (1), I Can Change (1), Yeah (1)

5. Petite Meller
13 times: Lil’ Love (5), Milk Bath (3), NYC Time (3), Barbaric (2)

4. Beyoncé
17 times: 6 Inch (5), Formation (4), Sorry (4), All Night (2), Forward (1), Pray You Catch Me (1)

3. Taylor Swift
21 times: State of Grace (4), 22 (2), I Know Places (2), We are Never Ever Getting Back Together (2), All too Well (1), Blank Space (1), How You Get the Girl (1), I Knew You were Trouble (1), Love Story (1), New Romantics (1), Red (1), Shake it Off (1), Stay Stay Stay (1), Treacherous (1), You Belong to Me (1)

2. One Direction
39 times: One Thing (6), No Control (5), Best Song Ever (4), Drag Me Down (4), Live While We’re Young (4), You & I (4), More Than This (3), Story of My Life (3), Little Things (2), Night Changes (2), History (1), Kiss You (1)

1. Coldplay
44 times: Hymn for the Weekend (6), Adventure of a Lifetimes (5), Fun (5), Up & Up (5), A Head Full of Dreams (4), Amazing Day (4), Birds (4), A Sky Full of Stars (2), Hurts like Heaven (2), Ink (2), X Marks the Spot (2), Magic (1), Paradise (1), True Love (1)

So yes, Coldplay. They get a lot of shit, and I can absolutely understand why, but I like them. I think they’ve got better. I think they’re a better pop group than they were an indie band. I find it quite interesting that a band like that would go in a poppier direction rather than a rockier direction the more successful they get. I mean, they are an audio distillation of a gap year student having an amaaaazing time in Asia, but they always seem so happy and so appreciative of their position. They’re great. And what they did at Glastonbury this year was really lovely.

And, the song that was in my head the most in 2016 was Peanut Butter Jelly by Galantis. Eight times. I saw them live at the Corona Capital festival recently, and yep, they were a massive load of fun.

Anyway, after the horseshit year we’ve just gone through, and the massive potential for shite next year, it almost feels sarcastic to say it, but: feliz año nuevo, guten Rutsch, and happy new year.

A wee bit of artwork
Not sure what’s going on here.

Other business
I had one of those “huh? of course!” revelations the other day. Looking for black tea in the supermarket, the only thing I could find had the words fair trade on the front. Leaving aside criticisms, it suddenly hit me: if it doesn’t say that on the front, then it deffo isn’t fair trade, right? I mean, if Big Macs were fair trade it’d say it on the box, right? And I mentally scanned everything else I buy from the supermarket and felt bad. Unfair trade is a feature not a bug.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Siege of Lisbon

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Written by Craig

December 31st, 2016 at 1:39 am

Posted in Artwork,Blah blah,Music

3,181: George

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When I was about 12-years-old, I made a couple of little record sleeves. They were about an inch and a half square, made with graph paper. I cut them out, folded them, and glued them so they looked real. Or as real as my 12-year-old self could make them. I used a pair of compasses to make a circle, cut that out, too, so that it could slide inside the sleeve. Then I drew the front cover and back cover and coloured in the “record” with felt tips. The second one I made was Thriller. The first one I made was Fantastic, the debut Wham! album.

This popped into my mind the other day when George Michael died. I wanted to check the released date of Fantastic, so I had a quick look at the discography on Wikipedia and while doing that, noticed that I bought nine Wham! singles in a row (if we ignore the Club Fantastic Megamix one). I’ve been trying to think of any other artist who I might’ve done that with. I don’t think there are any. And if I think of income, it’s definitely unheard of. Back in the early days of Wham!’s career, I would have been getting one pound a week pocket money. A 7″ single was 90p. I tried to spend that money wisely (always on a single, though).

I did a more-or-less life size watercolour of David Bowie’s Life on Mars? for a friend for Christmas. It felt like a good way to spend my Boxing Day doing another seven-inch watercolour:

Thanks for everything, George.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Second day in a row that it was Elizabeth Taylor by Clare Maguire. Great song.

On this day
Disgraceful graffiti, 27 December 2007.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Women in the EZLN

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Written by Craig

December 27th, 2016 at 3:30 am

Posted in Artwork,Blah blah,Music

3,177: My 20 favourite songs of the year

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2016 was another year where pop music completely ruled my ears. Barely a guitar in sight. Didn’t really bother with much else, tbh, and I’ve not really felt the need either. The order, like all of our lists, is fluid. What is number five today could be tomorrow’s number two or number eight. You know what I mean, yeh? And, of course, there’s deffo the chance that I’ll hear something in February that was released this year that I’ll retroactively add to the list in my head.

20. Make Me Love You by Gwen Stefani
19. Uninvited by Mallrat
18. Crybaby by Abra
17. Heartbreak Hi by Avec Sans
16. Old Habits Die Hard by Allie X

15. Shout Out to My Ex by Little Mix
14. Elizabeth Taylor by Clare Maguire
13. Home by Icarus
12. Big Girls by Sophie and the Bom Boms
11. Wasn’t My Fault by Christie

10. Cranes in the Sky by Solange
9. After the Afterparty by Charli XCX
8. Formation by Beyoncé
7. The Flute by Petite Meller
6. Nikes by Frank Ocean

5. Work from Home by Fifth Harmony
4. Hold Up by Beyoncé
3. Youth by Troye Sivan
2. Time to Share by Gemini
1. Ghost by Matilda

A wee bit of artwork
After a couple of glasses of wine, I drew Gordon Ramsay last night in charteuse, silver, and neon yellow.

Other business
In the immediate aftermath of the attack on Breitscheidplatz, I got information from Twitter. Ignored rumours, of course, just checking official sources or reputable news sources. One minor thing, though, that feels insignificant, but maybe not, was the promoted tweets. Obviously, I am in Germany, and the promoted tweets were for German things or companies doing business in Germany. At times like that, surely it would be a good idea for Twitter to get on the case and pause them. You’re looking for information, yet in amongst everything else, you’ve got companies trying to flog computers or salami. It’s not good for the user, and it would seem to me, not good for the companies either.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
I went to sleep to the sounds of wind and rain. It wasn’t windy or rainy, just a two-hour-long YouTube white noise thing to help me sleep. Woke up to the sound of binmen crashing around right outside the building, but I had the wonderful, number-two-on-the-above-list, Time to Share by Gemini in my head, so it was all okay, really. (When I say early, I mean about 7.15am, which I realise is an insult to everyone who has to get up at that time or earlier. Soz.)

On this day
Christmas number ones, 23 December 2014. An infographic about the Xmas number one singles in the UK. Last year’s was another charity one. Didn’t hear it. This year’s will be announced later today. I genuinely wish I still cared, but the music industry has given us no reason to, what with them hijacking it for so long.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Gaucho

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Written by Craig

December 23rd, 2016 at 2:07 am

Posted in Artwork,Blah blah,Music

3,175: The joy of normal

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I wrote this on Monday evening. I was resizing the photos when I heard about the Breitscheidplatz thing. This post felt inappropriate to put up the morning after that. It’s simply about normal life, and specifically about normal life in Berlin.

Weird thing about being here: it feels so normal, so wonderfully normal. Staying in on a Friday and Saturday, just dicking around (drawing, YouTube, cooking, blah) rather than having fun in nice bars with friends. I like that I feel able to have a relaxed weekend. Not to have to cram every moment with fun. And I got a little bit emotional on an S-Bahn train on my way to get a couple of things from Ikea. Just the absolute normality of it gave me a lump in the throat. Normal, like the joy of feeling neutral again after you’ve had flu.

There were times in Berlin when I was dreadfully unhappy. Possibly even some sort of depression. (Depression is one of those words that I find difficult, cos I don’t want to be like those people who are a bit neat and tidy and describe themselves as OCD.) But I’ve been thinking a lot about Berlin and my feelings about this place since my visit last winter. It is home. Lincoln is where I grew up but from a fairly early age I knew I wanted to get out of there. London never felt like home. Mexico City doesn’t feel like home, it feels like the place I am currently living. And maybe the real joy of Berlin for me isn’t that it’s a wonderful arty fun place, maybe it’s that it is normal. Neutral. A white plate. How that white plate looks in the Instagram photo of one’s life is entirely down to what you have cooked. I find that London’s plate is already expensive and impacts what kind of meal you can eat off it. Mexico City’s plate is already somewhat oppressively busy-looking and you end up wanting some damn calmness.

Getting off the S-Bahn, I walked a route I’ve only done a couple of times (it’s a part of town I’ve only been to with the intention of going to Ikea. The route isn’t engrained enough to be familiar, but I recognised bits. Boring normalness. A billboard site that I remembered taking a photo of and blogging about in 2009. And when it came to crossing the road, a memory of being a pedestrian, annoyed by the roads. People walking back to the station with Ikea bags, blank faces. Me going there, mentally tensed ready for potential Ikea hell, chewing some chewing gum to the rhythm of the start of 24 Hour Party People by Happy Mondays.

(Another thing I did was kinda singing in my brain, Being Boiled by the Human League which morphed into Fade to Grey by Visage. I’ve recorded a bit of the former on my phone with me singing the latter at the appropriate place: mybrilliantsingingvoice.m4a My brain also does it with Getting Away with It by Electronic, and my head sings the words “all my life” in the chorus in the voice of Richard Butler, cos it sounds like a melody from a Psychedelic Furs song.)

The things you take photos of when you visit a city aren’t the normal things, they’re the things that seem special or different to the place where you live. So your New York, Barcelona, or São Paulo photo folder is full of the greatest hits, no album tracks or B-sides. In a way, it’s sad that we do this, but at the same time, really it’s just like enjoying the tea-ness of a cup of tea rather than focusing on the fact that it’s just water which has had some dried plant bits wafted around in it for a few minutes.

And it’s not about taking note of the beauty in normal life, it’s just acknowledging it. The photos on this blog post are not of under-appreciated Berlin things. They are just Berlin things.

Ikea was fine, I skipped straight to the section I needed, got my bits, paid and went to get my backpack from the locker I’d put it in when I arrived (not that I needed to, just habit from being in Mexico City where everyone treats you like a fucking thief if you’ve got a backpack). I’d decided not to buy an extra bag, but I’d woefully underestimated the size of my stuff, and soon realised only about half of my stuff would fit in there. Carried the rest. Four picture frames. Not too heavy, just a bit awkward, the way four things the same size do (books, etc.)

Back back back to the S-Bahn station, passing people doing the journey I had done. A day-long loop of people going to and leaving Ikea. Some guy on the platform shoo-ed away a pigeon in a violent penalty-kick-taking motion. I started at him, he stared back like what the fuck are you looking at? I was looking at yet another person in this world who doesn’t appreciate the beauty and magnificence of pigeons. On the escalator, my brain flashed to how I would combat homesickness when I first moved to Berlin, and again in Mexico City when I pined for my Berlin life: going to a big department store. They look the same everywhere. Ignore the signs that indicate which language local people speak, and you could be anywhere. It’s not about going somewhere British or Geman, it’s about that same thing again: being somewhere neutral. Neutral normality is where the heart is.

And as I typed the notes for this post on the S-Bahn train back up to my neighbourhood, the guy sat opposite me was having a phone conversation. Just a totally normal human. I can’t even picture his face now (tidying up the notes a few hours later). He ended his call with “I love you” and two kissy sounds.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Wasn’t My Fault by Christie and the Dream Beats. For me, this sounds like the sort of song that might’ve cruised to a Eurovision victory in the mid-90s. Popjustice, though, described it better in their Top 45 Singles of 2016 as “the greatest Kelly Clarkson song that never was.”

On this day
Notes from a train journey, 21 December 2011, after going from London up to Lincoln for Xmas.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Southern Cone.

I did a drawing of this for the Atlas, Schmatlas book. It’s got 2.5 stars on customer reviews on Amazon, which I guess means it’s average. There are really cheap copies there, though, so y’know…

Here’s one of the customer reviews that I’d not read before:

NOT A KIDS’ BOOK. I bought this for my 12 year old son who loves geography and loved Robinson’s baseball book. Very, very disappointed. It is full of obscene pictures and words. Luckily we scanned through it before we wrapped it. He is down one present under the tree this year.

Glad they liked the baseball book, sad they are very, very disappointed. This seems like it was a common assumption, that the cover indicated it was a kid’s book. I mean, I dunno about you, but I’d never buy a book for a child without have a look at it first, but there you go.

I had a look at the reviews on the .co.uk of Amazon, too, and found this:

This is a real wasted opportunity of a book. It’s a great, simple idea- a world atlas packed with comedy and lies- but ultimately it’s not as funny as it could or should have been.

There are some funny moments in here, but as the author takes on every country in the world, a lot of the writing feels like a first draft, the kind of thing many writers would go back to and re-write funnier later on. At times I felt like I could’ve written this book in a couple of days, given a normal atlas, Wikipedia, sufficient alcohol and a bucket of good old British prejudice. Large parts of it will date badly to 2007 too.

The illustrations are the strongest part of the book, but the text feels like it belongs more to a blog or a quirky website than justifying all the effort of a hardback book.

Missable.

That’s fair. I can understand why someone would think it belongs on a blog, cos that’s pretty much how it started. FYI: there were five drafts done. And it took about six months to do. And no, you couldn’t have written it in a couple of days. And this where I stop cos I’m tempted to go through every bad review now, and I’ll be here for ages. Sigh.

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Written by Craig

December 21st, 2016 at 3:08 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music,Photos

3,172: Embedding the week

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Sweden

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C'mon Germany you can't do that and expect me not to giggle

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Sunny

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Seems like a strange way to court a lady

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Photo of a page from a (now lost) sketchbook from 1993

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Fußball

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Paper bag ordering me to eat fruit

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A wee bit of artwork
Last night I was catching up on some of Momus’s recent videos on YouTube, and I was finding it tough to concentrate on drawing and listening to him talking about sweaters at the same. I’d done quite a bit of painting during the day, so decided that Nick could have the greater part of my attention for a while. I enjoy his music, and I enjoy listening to him talking. We got to know each other when we were living in Berlin at the same time in the 2000s, and I did an illustration for the cover of one of his albums, Forbidden Time Machine. Thoroughly nice chap. I kept Photoshop open though, and just played around, not thinking, and ended up doing this.

It’s nothing special, but I still like it. It’s good and useful to do things like this. Sometimes good things come out of them, sometimes not. Sometimes they spark further ideas, further investigation. Mostly they don’t, but the whole process is worthwhile for the times that they do end up being useful.

I really like the Christmas holiday. But I’ve found myself using “Xmas” a lot more in the past few years. It’s an affectation, of course. As soon as I found out that some of the moronic Christians who object to “Happy Holidays” and their inane right-wing thoughts about there being a War on Christmas, it felt like taking the Christ out of Christmas was the least I could do. And while the roots of “Xmas” are still Christian as far as I remember, the less this wonderful holiday references that guy, the better in my opinion.

I like the winter celebration elements, I like that we collectively get festive, I like that we buy or make things for each other, and I like that we focus on being with people we care about. Jesus mean nothing to me the rest of the year, and he means nothing to me on his, cough, birthday.

And XMAS is a way cooler word, aesthetically. Short words with Xs are usually cool-looking, especially in all caps. MEXICO, X-RAY, SOX, LATEX, BOXER, AXE, FLUX, TEXAS, WAX, SEX, EPOXY, TOXIC, XMAS.

Other business
I quite like Depeche Mode. One of those bands where I don’t own all the albums, but whenever I listen to the ones I do have, my ears are happy. A Question of Lust is a good song, innit? But, have you ever watched the video? There’s a bit, right, for about 16 seconds, from about 52 seconds into the clip, where it does that thing where there are two images on top of each other. One of Martin Gore’s head (kinda looking like a semi-shaved sheep-poodle hybrid creature), and one of a Dave Gahan, from the waist up, looking like he’s in a desert or somefink, grooving away playing the tambourine, and he looks kinda ridiculous. That’s it. That’s my point. Pop group singer looks a bit funny for 16 seconds. I mean, he always looks a bit like he’s pretending to be a rock star in my mind. Not so much over the last couple of decades, but deffo early on.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Again, it was You & I by One Direction. I (obviously) keep note of all of these, and just had a quick look at the 2016 tallies, and 1D are currently in second place when it comes to most times as song in my head. They would need six more to tie, and there are, duh, 13 mornings left.

On this day
The 18th of December, 2009. Two posts, but both of them just photographs. One of someone feeding the birds, another of some Balloons on Falkenstraße. In the course of embedding the images below, I remembered how the 410 pixel wide images that used to be my default size on the blog felt okay as a size. Increased resolution of screens make them feel pretty small now.

(I realised while I was putting this post up that the dates may occasionally be off. The dates and times of each post pre-2008 were mostly in Germany. After then it’s been a bit all over the place, but mostly in Mexico. So chances are an early morning pre-2008 post might come up as the day before when the blog as a whole switched to a Mexican time zone. And vice-versa. I’ve not switched from Mexico to Berlin time, so blog posts come up timed at seven hours earlier than they are for me posting them. This is a minor thing, it really doesn’t matter, it’s something you dear reader do not care about, but seeing as though I thought about it, I figured I might as well mention it.)

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Río de la Plata

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Written by Craig

December 18th, 2016 at 3:46 am

Posted in Artwork,Blah blah,Music

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

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Guten morgen

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Guten morgen

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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

3,170: Spotters

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I woke up yesterday, tried to open Spotify, and got this message:

Clearly I was a bit grumpy, cos I tweeted about it angrily without thinking. Modern life is rubbish. I am rubbish.

I made a new account, chuntering to myself about not being able to access my playlists. It wasn’t until I’d done that, that I thought about googling it. And, yes, of course, it was easy. If you have a premium account, this is not an issue. If you have a free account (me*), just log in to your account on the Spotters Web site and change the country settings.

Piece.
Of.
Piss.

* I have got to a point in my life where I’m not overly into the idea of money just going out of my account on a monthly basis, thus the lack of subscription. If I want owt from iTunes, I buy one of those prepaid cards from the corner shop. I’m the same with buying things online these days. I would much rather go into a real shop and look at it, talk to a shop assistant. And ordering tickets online is something I avoid as much as possible. Really, the only things I buy online these days are plane tickets, Rubik’s Cube-type puzzles, and vape liquid.

A byproduct of making the new Spotters account, though, was being able to go and look at my real account’s public face. I’ve been a bit surprised in the past that my 1D playlist was public, and quickly went and changed lots of settings to private. But looking at my original account’s public face, I found this:

Sixteen recently played artists. And there’s a part of me that would be quite happy to listen to most of those sixteen for the rest of my life. I mean, switching out a few for some Beach Boys, Beatles, and Kraftwerk in there would be good, but on the whole: not. too. shabby.

(Spotify is a rubbish name, though innit? I like to call it, and have done so a couple of times above, Spotters.)

My use of Spotters has grown over the last twelve months more-or-less entirely because of the shitness of my computer (a 2008 MacBook Pro). I have a ton of music in there, more than enough to never need to use something like Spotters, but the speakers are busted and make a fuzzy noise, and as the year progressed, the computer has got slower and I keep getting the beach ball when I scroll in iTunes, so even when I use headphones it’s annoying.

You know, I never ever thought people would be nostalgic for cassettes, but it seems like they are. I assume we’re not too far away from people being nostalgic for CD singles, too. It feels ridiculous to say this, but will people be nostalgic for mp3s? I mean, it’s possible, right?

A wee bit of artwork
Mauerpark 5. Acrylic, gouache, and coloured pencil on paper. 24 x 32 cm.

Other business
The auto-suggestions on my phone can go fuck themselves:

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
One Direction again. This time Best Song Ever. In my opinion, though, the best song ever is Borderline by Madonna.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
ARA General Belgrano (C-4)

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Written by Craig

December 16th, 2016 at 2:07 am

Posted in Artwork,Blah blah,Music

3,163: Kraftwerk cactus

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I’ve done loads of Kraftwerk-themed drawings over the sixteen-and-a-half years that I’ve been doing the site. They’re kinda perfect for projecting ideas onto. Daft Punk are similar, to a lesser extent. A well-managed aesthetic and very little personal information allows for that, I think.

Which is to say: I’ve done another bloody Kraftwerk-themed drawing. This time of a prickly pear cactus, with each pad thingy designed to look like one of three of Kraftwerk’s looks.

This blog post is brought to you by GotNothingToActuallyWriteAboutToday Industries.

A wee bit more artwork
Another painting of Mauerpark.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Last Thing on My Mind by Steps

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Mexico City Metro

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Written by Craig

December 8th, 2016 at 9:18 am

Posted in Artwork,Blah blah,Music

3,161: Being back

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This time last week I was waking up, my first morning in Berlin. And the week has absolutely flown by. I’ve seen a few friends, had some fun nights out. Done some drawing, some painting (see below), some walking around the neighbourhood, been to the park most days, enjoyed the cold weather, enjoyed life. Last year, though, I was back here for a total of three weeks in two stints. And those weeks felt packed, absolutely rammed with stuff. I was sweaty in my coat from constantly walking around, making sure I took in the whole city, back here for the first time in over five years.

This time, though, I’ll be here for a bit longer. The need to rush, to spend time on the U-bahn every day going to parts of the city I wanna see, hang around in, that need isn’t there. But my brain also tells me that I should do it. And therein lies the problem. My brain is also telling me to be cool, to spend some time in the park, to do some drawing, some more painting. Oh, and think again about those bigger projects that I never got around to this year that still feel like good ideas.

This feels like a fundamental issue within my brain: needing to calm the fuck down, and concentrate on one thing. I think it’s visible in the art I do. It’s all over the place. Some pixelly stuff, some iPad drawings that all kinda have a different style using different apps, some notebook drawings, some paintings. My work could be that of three or four different people, and I feel the need to trim that down.

It felt like a good idea to be more flexible, to draw in whatever style was best for the idea, but I’m starting to think that was balls. I guess that’s what I am enjoying (especially in Belize in the summer) about pencil drawing: my style can’t hide or fart around there. It just is what it is. Brain on paper via hand holding a pencil.

So today’s post is more of a reminder to myself: just do your thing, fuck face, do the Craigest thing, that’s the only thing that’ll make you happy.

A wee bit of artwork
Falkplatz. Gouache and coloured pencil on paper. 18 x 24 cm.

Other business
On Kastanienallee, I walked by three teens who were chatting, laughing, and listening to Young, Wild and Free on a phone. And it really felt good to see and hear that. Like, yep, the kids are gonna be alright, they got life sorted. And I’m starting to wonder about my generation’s anti-millennial schtick: we’re just jealous aren’t we?

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Love Myself by Hailee Steinfeld. Sometimes, there’s a song stuck in your head and you realise you are powerless to resist. Aside from being utterly wonderful, there’s no point in resisting this song. You won’t win once it gets stuck in there.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Moscow Metro

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Written by Craig

December 6th, 2016 at 2:50 am

Posted in Artwork,Blah blah,Music

3,160: Ten unconnected thoughts

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1. I nearly fell asleep in the bath tub. Such things aren’t common in Mexico, so the last time I had a bath rather than a shower was when I was in London last December. Figured I’d have one on my first night in the apartment, didn’t even think about that I feeling a bit tired. I’m obviously out of practice. Found myself nodding off.

2. I’ve got to a point with some words where I forget which is the British English and which is US English with a word like practice/practise. I made a conscious effort when doing the baseball site to use American English, thus the problem.

3. If you listen to Yeah by LCD Soundsystem, and close your eyes, you can totally imagine that David Brent dance.

4. The smell of other people’s food preparation in an apartment building always smells better than anything I cook.

5. I found this written on my phone: “Nicki Minaj as Yves Klein prints.” I guess this is what I must’ve been thinking.

6. Channel 4 News on YouTube. They should totally disable their comments. It’s a cesspool of awful people.

7. If you spoonerise the name Des Lynam and add an ‘o’, you get Les Dynamo. (I just read on the Wikipedia link, hyperlinked in the previous sentence, and read that he voted for Ukip. Urgh. Fucking Ukip voters. They’re bloody everywhere. Scum, the lot of ’em.)

8. During football matches, I always really enjoy the moment when a substituted player slaps the hand of the coach/manager.

9. In the drizzle of Berlin yesterday, I saw a wet, red, English cocker spaniel. Up close it didn’t, but from a few metres away, it really looked like Billy.

10. Hmmm, I only have nine.

A wee bit of artwork

Continuous line drawing. Artists pretend this shit is impressive but I'm drunk as fuck and did it. It's fucking easy. Never trust an artist. They're arseholes.

A photo posted by Craig Robinson (@flipflopflying) on

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
I very specifically listened to a few songs late last night that I thought might have the ability to dislodge the recent LCD Soundsystem dominance of my stuck-in-head songs. Didn’t work. Tribulations. But before I’d even had chance to pour a coffee, I had also had Verrückt by Mia. and Uptown Funk go through my head. The former of those is a German band. The song came out in 2002, and it totally reminds me of still being relatively new in Berlin (I first moved here in October 2000).

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Stalinist architecture

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December 2nd, 2016 at 3:12 am

Posted in Artwork,Blah blah,Music

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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December 1st, 2016 at 4:39 am

3,156: A little bit of Mexico City

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I feel like I should do this every now and then: some Mexico City stuff. So here’s a metro station, and three street signs. I would love to live on two of those streets.

I like how the older street signs have the English spelling of the sport, rather than the Spanish.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
LCD Soundsystem yet again. New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down.

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
West Berlin

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Minecraft Project Day 65
Right then. Let’s get in the Nether portal.

Here we go….

And here we are. The Nether!

Oh, ffs. Shot by a ghast.

And…

Y’know what? I think it’s time to stop with these Minecraft updates. It’s silly. Dying in the Nether feels like a good place to stop. Mostly, I think, because I get to the stage in a new Minecraft project where I’m a little bored of the house/garden that I’m working on, and just wanna start a new one. The next stage of this current project is basically gonna be spending a couple of (Minecraft) weeks mining. Getting more and more supplies. Which is boring for you. Very. I’m also mildly embarrassed about each blog post having this rubbish at the bottom. I should be promoting the blog posts on Twitter and such, but I don’t because of that embarrassment. That’s unlikely to change, so the best thing is to ditch the Minecraft. I’m enjoying blogging again, so I don’t want anything to retard that feeling. If you liked the Minecraft stuff, by any chance: sorry. The blog will be better because of it, I’m pretty sure of that. I am, though, enjoying the structure of having a main bit, a drawing, the song, a Wikipedia thing. I will keep doing that, and maybe that will evolve over time, too.

Written by Craig

November 25th, 2016 at 4:15 pm

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

Self-promotion
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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