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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

3,267: Respectable

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Respectable by Mel and Kim was number one in the UK thirty years ago. What a great song. They had that proper pop star essence, too, didn’t they?

I’ve always thought (and when I say always, I actually mean it, cos I’ve been saying this to anyone who’ll listen for nearly 30 years now), that if you change the instrumentation of Stock Aitken Waterman records to sound more like Motown or Red Bird recordings, people would adore them, and they’d get the respect they deserve. (Although, looking at Mike Stock’s Twitter these days, he seems fairly right wing, so respect only goes so far with him.)

This is definitely one of the highlights of SAW’s output. This, You Spin Me Round (Like a Record), Never Gonna Give You Up, and obvs a whole load of Kylie songs.

But, here I am, falling into the male rockist trap of praising the producer over the artist. Pop stars have producers. Rock stars work with kindred spirits. Pop star producers “do everything,” rock music producers enhance. The Stone’s albums with Jimmy Miller get rightly praised, but we don’t really take anything away from the band in that praise, and I feel we do when talking about pop music (clearly, I’m not comparing the output of the Stones and Mel & Kim, cos that wouldn’t be fair).

It’s the same with they don’t play their instruments or they don’t write the songs. Who cares? Really? I don’t need Lionel Messi to manufacture footballs or mow the pitch to enjoy his skillz.

But yes, Respectable. Brilliant record. Showing Out was ace, too.

Previous posts about number ones from thirty years ago:
18/01/2017: Jack Your Body
01/02/2017: I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)
15/02/2017: Stand By Me
08/03/2017: Everything I Own

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Manchild by Neneh Cherry

On this day
Balls, 22 March 2007

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
India ink

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Written by Craig

March 22nd, 2017 at 2:18 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

3,261: Oooh I like that 2

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Last March, I made a Spotify playlist of things I liked at the time. In my head, I’d do it once a month or every couple of months. Those of you who appreciate the unforgiving nature of the human calendar will notice that last March is pretty much a year ago. But, that was pre my new blogging vibez. Let’s see, huh? A monthly mix would be good for me, too. Anyway, yep, like last year’s playlist, it’s mostly what would be called pop music. Barely a guitar in sight. Most of it is new-ish stuff, and it wasn’t a concious choice, but nearly every song has a female singer. That’s been something I’ve noticed in my listening habits over the past couple of years: more and more female voices. Less men whining about girls not liking them and stuff blah de blah guitar solo. Anyway, here you go. There’s some really good stuff here, I think.

A wee bit of artwork
Ü

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Upper East Siders by Actrese. It’s on the Spotters playlist linked above.

On this day
A zoo for you but no kangaroo, 16 March 2006

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
United Nations

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Written by Craig

March 16th, 2017 at 2:22 am

Posted in Artwork,Music

3,258: d i g i t a l d r a w i n g s

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A drawing made in SketchUp, a quick little story about a senior citizen, a drawing of a pop group, but first: a snowman is for life, not just for Christmas:

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
It was technically Pump Up the Jam by Technotronic, but really there was a bit of a soup that also included Fun by Coldplay, Crucified by Army of Lovers, and two Neneh Cherry songs, Buffalo Stance and Manchild.

On this day
Harmony, 13 March 2010

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Helicopter

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March 13th, 2017 at 2:17 am

Posted in Artwork,Blah blah,Music

3,253: Everything I Own

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Everything I Own by Boy George was number one in the UK thirty years ago. I’ve never been keen on the original Bread version, or the Ken Boothe one (the best of the three, and the one George is covering) and this one is worse.

I think it’s partly because the chorus is illogical and I can’t get past that. You would give up all of your possessions, the place where you live, and your life itself? Just to have someone back again? So, this “someone” would actually be back with you, a dead homeless person?

Previous posts about number ones from thirty years ago:
18/01/2017: Jack Your Body
01/02/2017: I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)
15/02/2017: Stand By Me

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Power by Petite Meller

On this day
CLWNMNTNJNNJNJN, 8 March 2016

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Mezcal

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Written by Craig

March 8th, 2017 at 2:13 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

3,251: Reading Festival 1989

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Look at this line-up. Especially the Friday. That day was more or less perfect. I remember it rained for quite a while, but still, it was a very good day.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Green Light by Lorde

On this day
After a thunderstorm, 6 March 2011

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Condesa

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March 6th, 2017 at 2:47 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

3,233: Stand By Me

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Stand by Me by Ben E. King was number one in the UK thirty years ago. It would be a heart-hearted person who doesn’t like this song, but it was part of something a little shitty about the pop charts in the late eighties and nineties: Levi’s.

I have nothing against Levi’s. Indeed, for most of my life I’ve bought them instead of other brands (so I guess these commercials worked). It’s just easier, innit? Need a new pair of jeans, go to the shop, find the 501s, find my size, no need to try them on, pay, leave. (Having said that, I did have a pair of the twisty Levi’s back in the early 2000s, and I loved them. Wish they still did ’em.

I had a quick google, and found this site, with its handy list of songs off the adverts. Back then, it really was a route to the higher end of the hit parade to be on a jeans advert.

Wonderful World by Sam Cooke got to No. 2 in 1986.
Dude gets in the bath with his jeans on, like a crazy person.

I Heard It Through the Grapevine by Marvin Gaye got to No. 8 in 1986.
Nick Kamen in the launderette.

Stand by Me by Ben E. King got to, as we have already noted, No. 1 in 1987.
Aaah, black Levi’s. The staple of every middle-aged man who likes real music. Tommy Saxondale types.

When a Man Loves A Woman by Percy Sledge got to No. 2 in 1987.
I remember quite fancying the girl in this one. Also of note: all songs by black artists so far, with white actors in everything. Yeah, Craig, we know says every person of colour.

C’mon Everybody by Eddie Cochran got to No. 14 in 1988.
I’ve got absolutely no memory of this advert. Eddie Cochran, though. Ooof, what a man.

The Joker by The Steve Miller Band got to No. 1 in 1990.
Should have been a number two hit. #TeamDeeeLite

Should I Stay or Should I Go by The Clash got to No. 1 in 1991.
The world’s most overrated band.

20th Century Boy by T-Rex got to No. 13 in 1991.
BrAd PiTt!

Mad About the Boy by Dinah Washington got to No. 41 in 1992.
It’s weird that this song didn’t get higher in the charts. This ad was on telly all the time. And it’s a cracking song, innit?

Piece of My Heart by Erma Franklin got to No. 9 in 1992.
Abs.

Inside by Stiltskin got to No. 1 in 1994.
Ew, gross.

Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out by Freak Power got to No. 3 in 1995.
This is one of those songs that does nothing, I think. It’s trying to be something, it’s just dull. Lifeless.

Boombastic by Shaggy got to No. 1 in 1995.
Plasticine. Seems a weird step for this series of ads to take. I can see that they must’ve felt like a change was necessary, but plasticine!?

Spaceman by Babylon Zoo got to No. 1 in 1996.
I worked in a record shop when this song came out. Never during my time there was a record so anticipated by the record-buying public of Lincoln. It’s a big old turd of a song, which is a shame, cos I really loved Jas Mann’s previous band, the Sandkings.

Underwater Love by Smoke City got to No. 4 in 1997.
Must’ve been watching less telly at this point in my life. Doesn’t ring any bells.

A Nanny in Manhattan by Lilys got to No. 16 in 1998.
I already loved the Lilys, and while I was a bit indie snob about a band I liked suddenly being liked for just one song, it was good that they got a bit of money. Saw them live a couple of times. Good band. Great song.

Whine and Grine by Prince Buster got to No. 21 in 1998.
Another one I have no memory of.

Flat Beat by Mr Ozio got to No. 1 in 1999.
Yeeeaaaah! Wonderful stuff. I think that’s about enough. Flat Eric seems like a good place to stop.

Previous posts about number ones from thirty years ago because this is a thing I will keep on doing:
3,205: Jack Your Body
3,219: I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)

A wee bit of artwork
Three drawings I did with the Paper app on my iPad in bed last night.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Les Yper-Sound by Stereolab

On this day
Play a silly game, 15 February 2009

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Saskatoon

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Written by Craig

February 15th, 2017 at 2:50 am

Posted in Blah blah,Music

3,232: Middle-aged Fanclub

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On this day
Hermosillo, 14 February 2013

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Aircraft boneyard

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Written by Craig

February 14th, 2017 at 3:15 am

3,231: Some artwork

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If you’re too busy to eat a hot dog AND brush your teeth…

Some lines

A friend has one of those huge iPads and the apple pencil thingy. I had a quick go, drawing tulips on the table

And, sorry, this is disgusting. Sorry sorry sorry

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Des étoiles électroniques by Stereolab again. Been on a bit of a Stereolab binge lately, which is why I’ve had their songs in my head for the last four mornings. I decided to listen to every album in chronological order, which was fine from the beginnings of Peng! and Switched On through to Emperor Tomato Ketchup. That has always been my favourite period of their music. It’s pretty much perfect. After that, I still bought the records (up to and inc. Sound-Dust), I still liked them, but I didn’t really love them. I’m making an effort to give them all another go, though, cos I’ve not listened to them for ages, or listened to any of the last three post-Sound-Dust albums at all.

On this day
Books and Kraftwerk, 13 February 2006

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Spacecraft cemetery

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Written by Craig

February 13th, 2017 at 2:12 am

Posted in Artwork,Music

3,219: I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)

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I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) by George Michael and Aretha Franklin was number one in the UK thirty years ago. Aside from the parenthesis in the title being entirely superfluous, an interesting thing for me is the age gap. Aretha was 44, George was 23. If we transpose that to 2017, that’d be like Liam or Niall out of One Direction doing a duet with Geri Halliwell. There aren’t many music heavyweights who are 44 now. The only other ones are Vanessa Paradis, Liam Gallagher, and Eminem.

A wee bit of artwork
Some sketches from my notebook.

A photo posted by Craig Robinson (@flipflopflying) on

A photo posted by Craig Robinson (@flipflopflying) on

A photo posted by Craig Robinson (@flipflopflying) on

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

On this day
12 Burgers, 1 February 2013

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Age of Enlightenment

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Written by Craig

February 1st, 2017 at 12:46 am

Posted in Artwork,Music

3,213: Nordic streets

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I went to the supermarket to return some pfandflaschen (reusable bottles with deposits) yesterday. I wanted to get a few bits, too, but didn’t need a shopping list. I had words in my head. A melodic mantra.

Coffee, wine, yoghurt, milk
Coffee, wine, yoghurt, milk
Coffee, wine, yoghurt, milk
Coffee, wine, yoghurt, milk

When I got to the supermarket, there was someone already at the machine where you put the bottles. I was about to start putting mine in, then some dude with just a couple of them asked if he could nip in front of me. Of course you can, mister. But that tiny interaction mentally jarred the mantra loose. I put my bottles in the machine, grabbed my refund ticket, and cracked on.

Wine, coffee, yoghurt
Wine, coffee, yoghurt
Wine, coffee, yoghurt
Wine, coffee, yoghurt

I remembered I also needed mustard. I got the mustard first. Nearest to the machine. I got the wine. When I entered the supermarket, the queue at the checkout was quite long. When I got the wine, I noticed the queue was non-existent. Go for it, warrior! I went and paid. and it wasn’t until about 30 seconds out of the store that I remember I hadn’t got everything.

Coffee, yoghurt, something else
Coffee, yoghurt, something else
Coffee, yoghurt, something else oh what was it?
Coffee, yoghurt, something else for fuck’s sake

Rather than turning around and nipping back, I figured I’d have a walk to a different supermarket. Not too far. Not too cold out. A bit of exercise. All the inane things you say to yourself. I walked past an older woman who was gripping the neck of an open two-litre bottle of cola like she was a stereotypical TV show drunk character. In the second supermarket, they didn’t have the coffee I wanted, and their yoghurt selection was pretty poor. I remembered and bought milk, though. Oh well, there’s a different supermarket on the way home if I walk a different way. So I did.

Coffee, yoghurt
Coffee, yoghurt
Coffee, yoghurt
Coffee, yoghurt

Third supermarket: same as the second. Poor yoghurt selection, and no espresso. I got some vegetables there, cos I kinda get a bit paranoid that people might think I’m a thief if I go into a supermarket and walk out past the checkouts without buying anything. That behaviour is fine in a clothes shop or an electronics store, but c’mon, you always need something from a supermarket, you shady mother.

Three supermarkets down. I guess I’ll have to go to another one. Closer to the flat than any of the others. I could’ve just gone there to begin with, eh? But on this part of the journey, something clicked in my brain. Like when something says something unconnected to the case to a TV detective and that gets them thinking about where the kidnapper will be. I walked down a street named after a Danish city. Before the third supermarket, I crossed a street named after a Swedish city. A street near the flat is also named after a Swedish city. And there’s a big street nearby named after a city in Norway.

I…
Spot…
A…
Theme…

So I checked, and did a drawing of the Nordic streets.

Other business
I’ve had this in my mind for a while, and it came up again at the weekend, seeing the marches going on: “Love trumps hate” is, while a thoroughly commendable sentiment, an awful slogan. For one thing, there’s only one word in there that orange jabba himself would notice, and that’s not love or hate. And everyone else for that matter. Using his name in your bloody slogan might’ve seemed clever, but they were very literally putting his name out there at every Democratic rally against him. And again, it’s a commendable sentiment, it also might sound like a whole heap of hippy crap to certain ears that you wanted to vote for you.

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Axel F by Harold Faltermeyer. Watching the video a few moments ago, the tedious term “simpler times…” crossed through my mind. I’ve never really questioned that term before. But, yep, what does it mean apart from “simpler times for me.” It wasn’t really simpler times. It was just a time when I wasn’t paying as much attention.

On this day
Ummm, 26 January 2010

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Devil’s Island

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January 26th, 2017 at 3:32 am

3,205: Jack Your Body

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Jack Your Body by Steve ‘Silk’ Hurley got to number one in Thatcher’s Britain on this day 30 years ago. What a choon. I was well into his remixes, pretty much buying owt with his name in brackets somewhere on the label. Like his mixes of Something Got Me Started by Simply Red, Tripping on Your Love by Bananarama, What Would We Do by DSK, and the best of them all, the utterly amazing Too Blind to See It by Kym Sims.

A wee bit of artwork

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Other business
Theresa May should’ve been dressed like this when she made her dreadful speech yesterday. Fucking wanker. It is astonishing that this is actually happening. It’s like letting the children vote on nutrition and forcing the rest of us to eat McDonald’s and gummy bears forever. Brush your teeth with Mentos, Tic Tacs, and Polos, you Remoaners!

The song in my head when I woke up this morning
Emotions by Mariah Carey

On this day
No bugs, no tickers, 18 January 2007

Here’s an interesting Wikipedia article
Circular reasoning

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Written by Craig

January 18th, 2017 at 12:42 am

Posted in Artwork,Blah blah,Music

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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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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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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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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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

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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.

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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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December 17th, 2016 at 2:55 am