Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
I spilled coffee on my trousers
I had a nosebleed
And a bird shat on my arm
Oscar Niemeyer died today in Rio de Janeiro, aged 104.
I’ve been lucky enough to have seen a lot of his buildings.
His work in Brasilia is mind-blowing. Truly amazing stuff.
Here’s some photos I took of his buildings in 2008 in Brasília, São Paulo, Niterói, and Curitiba.
This drawing is called Pepinster. You can see a bigger version here. It has a fairly long history. I drew the first elements in March 2003. Actually, I should explain the name first. In 2002, when I was living in Berlin, I went to visit friends in Belgium. The train went through a town called Pepinster, not far from Liege. It struck me as a fairly British-sounding town name. And an anagram of “pert penis.” I’d be lying if it wasn’t the latter of those two things that helped keep the name in my mind.
I did a sketch of a town with flat two-dimensional houses in a notebook, and then decided to do a pixelly drawing of what a town called Pepinster would look like. I started with the pub. And a bunch of other buildings, all of which have been discarded. The only elements from the 2003 version of this drawing that still exist are the pub, the train station, the river, and the bowling green. Over the years, I’ve opened the Photoshop document intending to finish it many times. I did a little more work on it in 2008. Last weekend, though, I opened the document and added a row of terraced houses. And kept on going.
It’s difficult to remember what I was thinking nine years ago. I vaguely remember some grandiose plan to animate it (cars moving, people walking) and having a narration that, in my head, would be kind of along the lines of – but obviously not as good as – Under Milk Wood. I also find it difficult to pick up old things later; it’s hard to get the feelings in my head back, and re-start with the same enthusiasm and goal. But that was kind of what allowed me to finish it. Working on it in June 2012, I viewed it as simply a drawing of a made-up British town drawn by a British person who has not lived in Britain for twelve years.
Whilst it’s mostly a made-up town, there are references to various things from my own history in there. The pub is based on the Harrows Inn in North Hykeham, not from from where I lived as a teenager (Google Street View). The parade of shops either side of the pub and next to the river are influenced by similar parades in Crystal Palace (where I lived in the late Nineties), and Barnet (where my friends John and Sarah live, and where I usually stay whenever I visit London). As anyone who has tried will know, drawing “random” is tough. The brain doesn’t work like that. (If you’ve never tried, and feel like giving it a go, try drawing a skyscraper at night, and choosing which lights in the building should be on or off; it’s really difficult to get it looking randomly realistic.) So when it came to deciding on what the terraced houses would look like, I used Google Street View to find colours and styles of windows and doors. Mostly I looked at houses I walked by on the journey from my house to the university in Derby. The church is All Saints Church on Brant Road, Lincoln, near my Mum’s house (Google Street View). The bus is a Lincolnshire Road Car bus. My grandfather drove one of those buses. And the swans and boat on the river are yet again influenced by Lincoln. The overall layout of this section of the town is kind of based on Brighton, if you imagine the river is where the sea would be.
It’s not really meant to be some horrible Little England, idealised version of a British town, even though it might look like that. When I’m drawing something like this, with lots of elements, my mind drifts and I tend to get into the details and back stories. There are Polish immigrants here in Pepinster. There’s a Chinese take-away, an Italian barber, and no St. George’s Cross flags. Fuck that shit. I guess there are things that would set this drawing in a time that isn’t the present (the British Rail train, the old design of the Road Car bus, the lack of billboards everywhere, no graffiti), but that’s mainly because I feel more comfortable drawing things I have personal experience of seeing. Because I’ve been away for such a large chunk of my life, whenever I go back, seeing the different designs of buses and trains these days feels a little disorienting. One of the fun things about getting really into the details of things is how I’ll take half an hour or more to draw a shop front. I’m entirely aware that nobody else will ever look at this drawing as closely as I have, just because nobody else has spend such a long time drawing it. I’d guess there’s over 50 hours worth of work in this drawing. Anyway, that’s enough explaining. Hope you like it.
This is an idea that has been floating around in my head for a few months, and for obvious reasons, I got around to realising it this weekend.
Each dot represents one word of the song. The colours represent who is saying that word.
Sometimes, I’m asked if there are prints of my work available; I don’t normally do that sort of thing, but on the off-chance that you would like a print of this graphic, I’m providing a hi-res TIFF (254 x 321 mm / 10 x 12.6 inches; zipped file; 18.1MB) that you can download and have printed.
You don’t have to pay for it—-I certainly don’t want to profit from it-—but if you do want to download and print it, it would be nice if you would consider donating something to a cancer charity.
Here are some links to cancer charities in different countries.
If your home country is not listed, and you want to donate, just do some Googlin’,
and do it that way (and if you do do that, please email me (craig AT flipflopflyin DOT com)
and let me know which charity you used, and I can add it to the list.)
Here’s the Mediafire link to the hi-res file: fightforyourright.zip
Animated GIF (1.3MB). May take a few moments to load.
Bored bird board beard braid brand bread breed bride broad brood
At last night’s Diablos Rojos del México-Leones de Yucatán game, there were three dudes in the section up and over from me. All in medical student white trousers and coats with shirts and ties and incongruous, red, Diablos caps. The camera man had picked them out a couple of times between innings, dancing around, being silly. All good. Then there seemed to be a murmur as more and more people started watching them try to leave. One of them was okay. Stood on the concrete steps, watching another of his pals try to convince the third that it was time to leave. The third guy was shit-faced. So drunk. The muscles in his face looked like they’d gone to sleep, his eyes were barely open, and his legs didn’t seem to want to bother holding up the rest of his body. His mate was trying to drag him to the aisle. He was having none of it. More and more people were watching this theatre instead of the game. After several minutes, the second guy gave up and left with the first guy. (Seriously! You can’t leave your drunk friends behind, dude. Not cool.) Anyway, once the third guy was freed of his downer buddies, he stood on the concrete steps, turned from the field, and urinated. I didn’t see the urine or penis itself, but by the looks on the faces in the seating above him, he was urinating. He turned around when he’d done, took a long time to find a way to make his fingers grab the zipper to do it up, and by this time, two security people were recreating the dance he had with his friend. He didn’t want to leave. They wanted him to leave. They got their wish. And we got back to watching baseball.
I made a decision last Sunday: to try and avoid knowing anything about the Oscars this year. And when I say “avoid,” I only really mean “not seek out information.” I was going to try and carry on with my normal browsing, and see if it is actually possible to avoid knowing about an event which the media seems to adore writing about. First thing to note: I haven’t watched any television or read any actual newspapers this week, and aside from a couple of hours of BBC 6 Music later in the week, I’ve not listened to any radio either. The only media that I went out of my way to avoid were a couple of podcasts which I knew would likely spend time talking about the Oscars. On the whole, I did quite well in avoiding finding things out. This is what I know or think may likely have happened:
Viola Davis won an acting award. I’m not sure if she was up for best actress or supporting actress, as I didn’t see the film she was nominated for.
(I learned this on the night of the Oscars when I clicked on BBC News on my way to look at sports stuff. There was a photo of her holding a shiny thing on the home page.)
Moneyball and Tree of Life didn’t win.
(Read this on Tuesday on a baseball Web site which mentioned Brad Pitt.)
An Iranian film won best foreign film.
(Mentioned on Tuesday by a friend on Facebook.)
The Undefeated won best documentary.
(Heard that on Tuesday when listening to Slate’s Hang Up & Listen sports-themed podcast.)
The Artist, I think, might’ve won best film.
(Saw those words close to each other when scanning a comment thread on a Web site.)
And that is all I know about this year’s Academy Awards.
And I do not feel like I missed out on anything.
My life is not lacking because of this.
As it happens, I went to see the possibly-Oscar-winning film The Artist last night.
It was alright. The actress was cute.
(Should you be inclined to make a comment, please don’t tell me what did or did not win. I don’t care to know. Gracias)
Title of this post says it all, really: I did a big chart about the National Football League playoffs for the fine Web site, Grantland.
It looks like this, but bigger and more legible:
It’s the town where I was born. And it’s the town where I have lived over half of my life. (If I can stay away from living there for another three years, though, it will be less than half of my life.) And it is called Lincoln. It’s a cathedral city in the county of Lincolnshire. It used to be the capital city of the Roman Britain before that London. About 85,000 people live in Lincoln (120,000 if you include towns and villages on the outskirts). And I now live in a city with nearly nine million people (over 21 million in the metropolitan area). Here’s a quick chart to try and take your mind of that utterly awful first paragraph:
It’s interesting being back. There are some nice things, some shitty things. Shouldn’t be surprised by that, cos every day in every city is like that. Lincoln seems to have some sort of sponsorship deal with Super Dry to make every man’s jacket, and UGG to make every woman’s jacket potato-esque boots. That’s if the men are wearing jackets. There is all together way too much under-dressing. I saw a fat man in his twenties, with a pink head, shivering as he walked down the High Street in a grey Nike JUST DO IT t-shirt. Just do it, in his case, should mean, “buy a fucking coat, you idiot.” Women on the town in skimpy dresses. Skin mottled like corned beef from the cold. The only baseball caps you see – caps of actual baseball teams, that is – are Yankee caps.
Men walk funny there. If they’re not doing the stupid walk that Liam Gallagher popularised, they’re hobbling. Lots of Lincoln men seems to either have sports injuries or are just too fat for their legs to cope. Every time I pass McDonald’s there are huge queues. Every time I walk by KFC, more than half of the tables inside are occupied. Living outside of the UK, certain foods are fetishised in your head. Marmite, of course. Branston pickle. A good pork pie or Scotch egg. Fish and chips. On this trip to Lincoln, though, every time I’ve been near a chip shop, the smell of gallons of hot fat has made my stomach turn. It also turns when I walk past the Walkers Crisps factory; a place that I was fascinated with when I was little. That place! It’s FULL of crisps! There is a Mexican take-away place in Lincoln now. It’s called Cactus, obviously. And the sign above the window has a man in a big hat and poncho sleeping next to an acoustic guitar. Pretty accurate, that, cos that’s what all of my Mexican friends do. Just like I, as an Englishman, wear a pinstripe suit and bowler hat all day long.
Drizzle. Wind. Rain. Cold. I’m not gonna pretend that I’ve forgotten what cold weather is like, but after five seasons in Mexico, you get used to a certain niceness to the temperature. The bad weather in Lincoln wasn’t a shock, but I’m no longer used to having constantly wet nostrils. I’d forgotten how a bit of exertion, something as simple as walking into town instead of getting the bus, can leave your exposed extremities cold, while my abdomen sweats under the layers. I walked a lot, actually. It was nice. Mostly to save a few quid, because it seems somewhat ridiculous to pay over three pounds for a return bus ticket. But the walk from my mum’s house into town can be quite nice. There’s a point where you can access a footpath along the edge of the River Witham, and it’s nice to go along there instead of along the main road.
A man in a van pulled up alongside me and gestured for me to open the passenger door. (I am no longer walking by the river; this was at a different time.) I did. He asked where Branston is. It’s a village not far outside of Lincoln. And I absolutely could not remember where it was. The driver had a London accent. I have a Lincoln accent. I’m the one that should know. So I pretended, and sent him further along the road towards a roundabout, told him to take the third exit, and go up the hill on the left. I checked Google Maps when I got home. I’d sent him the wrong way.
Things are slow. Life is slow. It takes some getting used to. I used to notice it when I returned when I lived in London, but I notice it way more now that I live in a busy, over-populated city like Mexico City. People ring the STOP button on the bus, and amble off once the bus has pulled to a stop. I queued for nine minutes in Starbucks. The three employees looked like they hadn’t a care in the world. But it is me with the problem. My fancy big city ways where life is faster, and less frivolously friendly.
There’s a new store in Lincoln selling Apple products. It looks like you might expect inside. But the store is a reseller store, not an official Apple store, and it is called Stormfront. I have no idea who chose that name, but if you asked me what things they would sell at a store called Stormfront, I’d fairly confidently predict it would sell Neo-Nazi paraphernalia. But then, maybe there’s a Neo-Nazi group somewhere called iConnect or something. Who knows?
I had a haircut while I was in Lincoln. Went to an Italian barber shop called Luigi. As I entered, Luigi wasn’t cutting hair, just chatting with an elderly fellow about alcohol. They were just naming types of drink they liked. Whiskey. Vodka. Rum. Brandy. Beer. The other would either concur or say something they didn’t like about the drink. The old guy left, and Luigi said he’d seen me walking past and looking in for a few days. It’s kinda true. I did look in the day before, and saw him stood against the far wall looking bored. I asked him how long he’d been in Lincoln because his accent was quite strong. “Since 1967,” he said. He couldn’t have been much older than mid-fifties, so I kinda got the feeling the accent might be an affectation. I took off my cap, and he asked why I wore one. I told him it’s cold here. He asked where I live. I told him. “Oh yes, I bet it’s nice and warm in South America.” I didn’t correct his geography. He asked what I did for a living. I told him, and he proudly pointed to the mural of a kind of tropical seascape on the wall behind me. We got talking about the economy, and he told me the barbering world is suffering now that “anyone” can go to college for two years and open a salon. I mentioned how strong the memory of being in a barber shop when I was a child is: that smell of hair products, cigarette smoke, and pictures of topless women. He again gestured to the mural, pointing out a topless mermaid on a rock. He answered the phone and spoke in Italian. He spoke for a couple of minutes. It was his wife. Back to my head, a few more snips and he was done. All in all, it took him less that ten minutes.
I was in a bar waiting for friends to arrive. I’d arrived ten minutes early. Sat down with a pint on an upholstered bench that ran the length of a wall. In front of the bench were small, round tables and some chairs. I sat right at the end of the bench. A few moments after I arrived, a group of nine or ten young men with no jackets arrived. A few feet away from me, at the next-door-but-one round table were three women. Just as the men got their drinks, the women got up and left. The men chose to sit on the bench. There were enough of them for them to take up the whole of the rest of the bench. I sat there, tapping away on my iPod, using the bar’s free Wi-Fi. To anyone else in the bar, it must’ve looked like I was a part of the group, just in a huff.
Still, though, when I walk up Lincoln’s pedestrianised High Street, that feeling I had as a late teenager still exists: one of the tough guys is gonna kick my head in for having glasses and looking “weird.” I had a couple of good nights out, though. Good to see old friends. And there are some nice pubs left. It’s good to know that the Lincoln I see as a visitor isn’t the real Lincoln. There are certainly elements of that, and my friends are all too aware of it, but, I guess if you stay there or in any small-ish town, you carve a life out for yourself where the good things are, on the whole, all you experience and care about. Lincoln was a good place to grow up. A bit boring at times, but on the whole: nice. It made me who I am, for better or worse. I feel guilty about the snobby feelings I have when I walk around the city centre. I often wonder how miserable I’d be if I ever had to move back. And I imagine there’s a funny novel or something to be written about life in Lincoln, but when I left yesterday, on the train from Lincoln Central, I had an odd feeling. To leave Lincoln knowing that I won’t be back for a while. I don’t know how long. But likely not during 2012. Part of me is sad to leave, the part that enjoys seeing people that I’m fond of; but there’s also an ecstatic feeling to be done with it for another year or two. I spent the entire journey from Lincoln to Newark (anagram: wanker), where I’d catch the connecting train to London, staring out at the fields and that utterly magnificent, huge huge sky. I will miss that.
At Newark, I listened to a playlist of Super Furry Animals songs. As the train pulled in, “Slow Life” started. My favourite song of theirs. And somehow, it seemed quite apt that a song with that title was to accompany the start of the high(ish) speed journey to whisk me away from home.
Selectively taking photos of my hometown because I’m an arty snob.
Spelled the name of their own church wrong here:
I wonder: does the use of Comic Sans cancel out the rest of the stuff on this shop front that just screams “I hate people who aren’t like me!”? Nope, it doesn’t.
Last September, when I flew from Toronto to Mexico City, I referred to the journey (to myself) as the America Burger. I was flying between countries that sandwich the United States. I began this drawing before I left Toronto, got about 80% of it done in the hotel room I stayed in when I first arrived here. It has sat unfinished within my iPod for nearly nine months. But finally, it is finished. All that needed doing was a couple of slices of onion. I am a lazy bugger. I tried to draw the contents of the burger to resemble the shape of a map of the contiguous United States.
More finger painting here.
Seems to me that using the radio mast as the letter “I” in the logo is kinda wrong. It looks too much like an “A”. If only there was an “A” in the word “radio” that they could’ve used…
(This is gonna be an exercise in quickly re-writing a blog post that I wrote and then, for some idiotic reason, closed the text doc without saving. Here goes.)
I went to see a live band last night. Apart from seeing a cumbia mexicana band called Los Ángeles Azules in a club in February, this was the first band I’ve seen live since I saw My Bloody Valentine in April 2009. Last night I saw a band I’d never heard of before: Empire of the Sun. A friend of mine managed to get a bunch of tickets, so some friends and I went along. I’d probably not have bothered going ordinarily, but they were playing at Six Flags. So it was the thought of an amusement park that sold me more than the music.
I took the subway to my mate’s place, so we could drive to Six Flags in the southwest of the city. To get there, you drive on an elevated road, many, many metres above the ground. You get a good view, but the pessimist in me couldn’t help but think how big a drop it was were there to be a crash. Oh, and when I was at the subway station, I saw a bland man. Stick, dark glasses. And headphones. Headphones!? If one of my senses was missing, I’m not sure I’d be wanting to lose another on purpose. But, if he’s happy, fair play to him. Plus it did make me think that maybe in the future, GPS technology will have advanced to a point where a blind person could get a real time talk-through of the route he or she is taking.
We arrived at Six Flags around 5pm. And, err, the rides and stuff closed at 6pm. Thanks for that. When a concert is at an amusement park, I don’t think it’s wilful self-delusion to assume that the rides will be open. It seems that that is part of the selling point of a show there. We had time to go on one ride: Superman – El Último Escape. Apart from a few pictures and logos, there wasn’t much Superman-ness about it. The queue snaked around for about an hour. An hour that I spent without glasses. I didn’t want to wear them on the ride, so left them with a non-rollering friend. The world shrinks when I’m not wearing my specs. I can’t see very far at all. Plus, I feel self-conscious. My friends don’t normally see me without them. Eventually, we get to the ride, get in the cars, and up up up. Up 66 metres to the highest point then plunge-y, roller-y, coaster-y for 90 seconds. And an aftermath of weak legs.
The sectioned-off area where the concert would be was closed until 8pm. The rides closed at 6pm. And, err, pretty much everything else was closed too. The only place to eat or drink was a Johnny Rockets burger place. Understandably, it was very busy. We queued and got the only food they had on offer, a combo meal that they called Johnny Rockets Single. But, as you can see in the photo below, they couldn’t even spell the name of their restuarant correctly on the menu. And the burger was disgusting. Even the outside of the bun was greasy. I was pretty hungry, though, so I ate it. But afterwards, and for the first time in my life, I seriously thought about going to the bathroom to puke it out of my belly. The grease made me queasy. And left me a bit queasy all night, and for a portion of this morning, too.
Time for some booze. But, all they had was not-cold Corona. Inside the concert area, there was other stuff, but we weren’t in there. So we went to the car to get at the bottle of whiskey someone brought. After a couple of aborted attempts to decant the booze into plastic bags so it could be smuggled in, my friend Louis had a simple idea. We put it all in a paper Coke cup that someone had brought out from the amusement park, and when we approached the gate, he went off to the side and left the cup in a place next to some railings. Through security, and he went and grabbed the cup. A couple of Cokes bought, and we all had some drinks for a while.
The support band came on around 10pm. They were called Holger. A Mexican band. They reminded me of Vince Noir’s band in The Mighty Boosh. Not in a good way. So, onto the headliners. I’d seen posters around town with a picture of a dude dressed up all funny, and kind of assumed it was just a picture, not a picture of the singer. When they came on stage in stupid robes and silly headgear, with dancers all looking like a 1970s cheap TV show about space-y nightclub dancers… well, I very literally laughed out loud. You people are ridiculous!
And the music. I dunno. It’s tough to judge this kind of music live. It just seemed that there were no songs. Just a bunch of sparkly clothes distracting me from the lack of melodies. Maybe their record is great, but live, they absolutely didn’t win me over. Still, everyone there seemed to have a fantastic time. And aside from a grease-filled tummy, I had a great day out with my friends. Something that shouldn’t be forgotten because of some forgettable music.
If you like the baseball stuff, you may care to know I’ve redesigned the Flip Flop Fly Ball site. More details over there: http://www.flipflopflyball.com