Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
It was one of those “can’t see the wood for the trees” things. When I last redesigned the Flip Flop Flyin’ homepage in 2006, I was so intent on it being simple, that I kinda forgot that the main thing about my work is that it’s visual. I spent a lot of time making a menu that would make it easy for people to find things. And in doing so, created something that was the complete opposite. There was ten years worth of content, and to expect first-time visitors to know where the hell to start, and to expect people who’ve been before to remember the names of everything… well, it was stupid. Really stupid. There was a column of text explaining each new thing, but most of the visitors to FFF come via people clicking a link on the blog, anyway.
On Thursday, I resolved to change things. I redesigned it. The redesign is just for the homepage. All the other pages are the same, cos I didn’t really see much of a need to change them. And the new look is kind of inspired by the quick design I did for my Flip Flop Fly Ball site: a chronologically listed page of thumbnails with brief descriptions so you can get some idea of what it is you are clicking before you do so. I’ve left an alphabetical menu in one column, but everything else is ordered by the year of its creation. If things lasted longer and spanned several years, they are listed in the year they were begun. Things that are ongoing are above the chronological part of the page.
The first things you will come to, though, are links to my three books, the Minipops app, and the other three sites I do (this one, Flip Flop Fly Ball, and CraigRobinson.com, which I’ll be redesigning in the next few days, and will become my portfolio page; no offence to the other Craig Robinsons but it’s kind of a waste of money and a good URL to not make the most of it). I’ve been doing this stuff for ten years now, and I’ve never had advertising on the site, I’ve done that annoying passive aggressive self-depreciation thing (when really, I kinda know I do good stuff), and in general I’ve not promoted myself as well as I should’ve. So that’s why the first thing you see is promoting my wares. I doubt I’ll ever have adverts on any of the sites, it would feel wrong to do so, but if making the books and app a bit more prominent can contribute to the cost of running the site, then that would be great. (That was an attempt to subtly nudge you iPhone and iPod touch owners in the direction of the App Store to buy the Minipops app.)
And at the top of it all, I’ve changed the masthead. The rest of the page is so full of visuals, I wanted the top bit to be a bit calmer, a bit more subdued. So it’s a fairly plain landscape now with me, Billy, and Tessa (the dog I loved during my teenage years and early twenties) in front of some Bob Ross-inspired mountains. (Update, Sunday 22 Nov.: I couldn’t live with myself just having made-up mountains on there, and I really enjoy drawing mountains, so – to compliment the blog’s Rio de Janeiro landscape, I’ve re-drawn the masthead to include mountains that one would see facing west from an island in the middle of the Beagle Channel, near Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego. The mountains on the left are Chilean, on the right, they are Argentinian. The channel isn’t as wide as I’ve done it, but y’know, artistic licence.)
One of the interesting by-products of doing all this, is that for the first time in ages I had a good look at everything on the site, and it’s kinda reminded me of the tone of the site. It’s been easy to get wrapped up in different things over the past couple of years. Blogging became dominant in 2008 when I was travelling around; baseball became dominant this year with the launch of the other site and the recent book deal. So it’s been nice to feel like I still wanna do FFF-style stuff. This year has been poor on that front, but hopefully, I’ll ramp up a bit more soon. I think it’s safe to say the days of spending long nights animating stuff won’t happen as often as they did a few years ago, but I’m different person now, and while dancing owls are a wonderful thing, I’d be forcing it if I tried to do it again.
Anyway, hope you like the new look. Any comments, you know how to get in touch.
Looking towards Schloßplatz from underneath the Fernsehturm. Here’s a video of the drawing. Drawn using Brushes application on the iPod touch/iPhone. More of my finger painting in the Much Fuck It’s Drawing section.
No, not really. It makes me very happy, and blows my mind a wee bit, to tell you that I’ve got a deal to produce a book based on the baseball infographics stuff from my Flip Flop Fly Ball site. After some sterling work done by my literary agent – the wonderfully-named Farley Chase – I’ve been hooked up with a great editor called Pete Beatty at Bloomsbury USA who I get along really well with, so I’m expecting it’s going to be a fun experience making the book, which will be published in Spring 2011.
At the moment, the book is called “Flip Flop Fly Ball,” but that might change. It’s a name I’m not overly happy with for the web site, let alone a book, but we’ll see. (Frankly, if I’d have thought that the site was going to be as popular as it has been, I’d have chosen a more baseball-y name, rather than a name that’s just a baseball-related pun on the name of my main web site.)
The book will essentially be like the web site, but with about 25,000 words thrown in, and maybe a few photographs and drawings, too. Somewhere in the region of 50% of the infographics that will go in the book will be exclusive, so I’ll be trying to balance the needs of the book with also putting new stuff on the web site itself.
I’m super happy about this, especially – and I know I’ve brought this up before, so forgive me – especially because I’m a foreigner and a relative newcomer to wonderful world of baseball. I never imagined I’d love any sport more than football/soccer, but baseball sucked me in through a turnstile in the Bronx and on the other side I found a thoughtful pastime, an engrossing history, and an aesthetic joy waiting to be explored.
It’s going to be so much fun for me immersing myself so completely in baseball while I produce this book, so I’d better apologise to my friends in advance: I know you don’t care that Larry Yount had the shortest possible career in Major League Baseball (a relief pitcher, he came in to pitch at the top of the 9th for the Astros vs. the Braves on September 15, 1971, but injured himself warming up, never to play in the majors again) but I’m probably not going to be able to stop myself from telling you about it.
It makes me very happy to tell you that the Minipops application for iPhone and iPod touch is now available on the iTunes App Store.
It came as a wee bit of a surprise, frankly. I got an email over the weekend from Matt (the clever guy who made the app work) saying he’d resubmitted it and it had been approved. Some of you may remember that it was rejected twice, but for some reason, this time it’s all okay. La de da.
So, what is this app thingy? Well, you get to have 1,000 Minipops on your iPhone/iPod touch which you can look at whenever and wherever you want. If you turn your device to landscape mode, the names of the Minipops disappear so you can guess who they are. Touch the little dice icon and they appear randomly; touch the up or down arrows and they appear alphabetically. If you tap and hold one of the Minipops it’ll open the relevant Wikipedia page, and you can save them to email or to use as contact images. All in all, it’s pretty darn ace even if I do say so myself.
It costs £1.79 on the UK iTunes Store, $2.99 on the US store, €2.39 on the European stores (I say that, but I’ve only checked the German, Belgian, and French stores, so that might not be true.) I hope you a) buy it, and b) enjoy it.
You can buy it here: http://itunes.com/app/minipops
Some more screenshots below.
Landscape “Guess Who” mode:
The big list of Minipops:
I have very little memory of the Berlin Wall coming down. In 1989 I was a nineteen-year-old art student, so I probably had cheap lager and charcoal on my mind. And, looking back, it was the least stylish moment in history to date. Horrible jeans, horrible jackets, moustaches, big spectacles, and very bad haircuts. Funny how the hipsters of today seem to be dressing in exactly the same manner.
Some friends and I went down to Brandenburg Gate yesterday to see what was going on. Lots of policemen, lots of people, lots of telly cameras, lots of rain, lots of umbrellas, zero toilets. We hung around for about an hour, then someone mentioned pizza. So we gave up and celebrated East Germany’s twenty-year-old freedom by filling our capitalist bellies.
Back in the early days of my flying between Berlin and London on British Airways, you used to get a sandwich. I’m quite sure that a decade or two earlier, you’d probably have eaten a giraffe steak or something, but it’s a different time now, and you get a small bag of mixed shit that they call “skybitesgold.”
The concept that anyone with a human-sized mouth could bite any of the individual items in the bag is laughable. And the little tag line (“fly. nibble. enjoy.”) makes me wanna punch someone. But, being an idiot who enjoys graphs, I thought I’d make one using all the different things inside the bag. I was on the same flight as the Foo Fighters, but they were in the business class section, so they were probably eating the giraffe steak, not skybitesgold. Click here for larger image.
Watching the game last night, already drunk by first pitch at 2am Berlin time. Fought off sleep. Fist-pumps. Celebrated at 6am with champagne. Woke up with a steaming hangover, but for the first time in my life as a Yankee fan, my team are the champions. It makes me happy. Here’s a drawing of last night’s losing Phillies pitcher, Pedro Martinez.
The top one is a drawing I did last week on the train up to Lincoln. You see a lot of flat fields and big skies in that part of the world. The bottom one was drawn on the Northern Line. The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that the map is wrong. Sorry, Harry. No excuses, though, I just did it without planning it properly. That’s, as my grandfather used to say, how I roll.
It’s taken me a while to deliver the third part of my epic “Washing My Hands in Art Museum Restrooms” trilogy, but finally it’s here. After “Two Sensors, a Button, and a Sensor That Doesn’t Work,” filmed at the Milwaukee Art Museum, and “One Sensor, a Button, and a Squirty Thing,” filmed at Denver Art Museum; here’s “One sensor, a button, and some paper towels,” filmed at the Saatchi Gallery this afternoon.
Did these this afternoon outside the Saatchi Gallery and the Hayward. Drawn using Brushes application on a well-known portable media player. More of my finger painting in the Much Fuck It’s Drawing section
I had a bit of an argument with a complete stranger this afternoon. I was stood at the bus stop waiting to go into town to meet an old friend. There were some stickers for the British Movement on the glass panes of the bus shelter. As the name might suggest, they’re one of those daft racist political groups. I whipped out my (new) camera and took a photo of one of the stickers.
I put my camera back in my bag, and was rooting around to find a pen to scribble out the Web site URL on the stickers. As I was doing this, I noticed a guy on a motorbike on the other side of the road. He was stopped, and looked like he was waiting for a gap in the traffic to go back in the direction he’d come from. When he moved, he pulled up in front of me.
My first thought was that he was going to ask for directions. He didn’t. He asked what I was taking a photograph of. As is human, several thoughts crashed through my head: is he a British Movementeer? is he gonna want to hit me? could I take him if we did get in a fight? (He was in his fifties and not particularly big, so, yes, I could’ve taken him. Unless he knew karate.)
I asked him why he wanted to know. He didn’t properly answer the question and asked why I was taking a photo of that bedroom. He gestured to the bedroom of the house that was beyond the bus shelter. I told him that I was taking a picture of the sticker, not the bedroom.
“Can you show me the photograph?”
“Because I think you were doing something suspicious.”
“Well, I wasn’t; and what business is it of yours?”
“I’m a prison officer.”
I snorted a laugh, and told him that that’s not a policeman. I mean, in hindsight I should really have pointed out that he might as well have told me he was a carpenter for all the authority his job has outside of the prison. He then said he was going to call the police. I’d found myself in a situation I didn’t want to be in. I didn’t want to back down and show him the photograph, but at the same time, him calling a policeman would be a great big hassle that I didn’t have the time or inclination to get into. And you know what policemen are like these days when it comes to people taking any sort of photograph in the UK. They seem to wave the terrorism card and get all shirty. So, childishly, I asked him to say please. He did, then I showed him the photo.
I’ve blacked out (err, blue-ed out, actually) the graphics, cos I really don’t want the British Movement’s image on the blog. (If you really do want to see what it says, here is the un-blue-ed version.) The bedroom he was referring to was right behind the sticker. And I’m rather thankful that I did something I don’t normally do when taking the photo: I turned on the zoom function which made the background nice and blurry.
I then pointed out that maybe he should be concerned that people in his neighbourhood have been putting racist stickers up on bus shelters. He told me was concerned, and the argument that we were both seemingly built up to really get into kinda fizzled out.
After he left, I had a go at removing the stickers which was surprisingly easy because they weren’t actually very sticky. Shoddy British workmanship, no doubt.
Typing notes into my iPod touch. A bit drunk. Sat in The Plough, a pub in Lincoln. Not in the centre of town but a pub that I’ve been in a few times. Most memorably when I came here after getting back from a job interview in London. I’d lived in Lincoln since finishing university, working in a record shop, and I came back from London knowing I’d got the job. I felt so on top of the world. I remember how proud my shoulders were that I’d finally done something that meant I could move to That London. I’m sat here now drinking Kronenberg alone. The last song was Children by Robert Miles, and right now it’s Disco 2000 by Pulp. It’s such an overwhelming thing being back in one’s home town. I guess that only makes sense if you come from a small provincial place. I don’t think you’d feel the same if you were brought up in a big city. To come back to a small town like Lincoln is like being reminded of who you were, who you could’ve been, and who you are. In the last six months I’ve learnt that I really am a city boy. No matter how much I think a semi-rural quiet life would be idyllic, I’ve come to know that for me to be the Craig that I like being, a decent-sized city is what I need. And being here makes me snobby about my hometown. My sister doesn’t live here either, and I spoke to her soon after I got home and found myself falling into my usual role as sarcastic older brother very easily. She asked how it was to be back in Lincoln and I told her that it was simply awful to be surrounded by ugly, fat people in tracksuits who looked like they’d never eaten an orange in their lives. This is my hometown. I can never change that fact. I can never change that I’ve spent 23 of my 39 years here. And I think that in a way, every horrid, snide thing I say about Lincoln to myself or to friends or to you is actually to myself. Lincoln isn’t a place to me, it’s what my life could’ve been had I given up. That’s not to deprecate people who stayed here, but it would’ve been so easy to give in to life and accept that friends and family are in Lincoln and that Lincoln is where my life would be. I’m so glad I applied for a job in London, even though I have no desire to live there. But getting out of Lincoln was the best thing I ever did, and I think there’s a natural pull that London has to anyone growing up in a small town who has some sort of feeling that where they are isn’t enough. London is the apex for English provincial people. And being in London isn’t perfect but it’s a good way to get rid of the cobwebs and the knots in your shoulders. London helped me realise that perhaps Britain wasn’t my home. Of course, I’m aware that the feelings I have about Lincoln are similar to the feelings I have about England in general. It’s why, when forced to think of where I’d live post-marriage, I decided upon returning to Berlin. Of all the places I’ve lived, Berlin is the one that feels like home. I feel good that I’m aware of that. After spending most of my life feeling like the next place might be the best place, it’s good to feel like the place where I live is home. I say that, but if I had the money and opportunity to live in New York, I’d be there tomorrow. And if I start to feel crappy in Berlin, I’ll be planning to up sticks to Buenos Aires in a heartbeat. Now the pub is playing that Gwen Stefani song which is fucking ace, the name escapes me; the “shit is bananas” song, you know what I mean- oh, now it’s Fergilicious. Good song…