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Monthly Archives: August 2006

In the UK we had lots of art shows for kids while I was growing up including "Rolf's Cartoon Club" (I have long maintained that Rolf Harris should be the mascot for the creative commons movement) – but the undisputed king was Tony Hart, with shows such as "Take Hart" and "Hart Beat".

He, or his comely young art student assistants (one of which that I had a teenage crush on, I was to meet professionally in later life to my great amusement and embarrasment) would usually demonstrate a novel but accessible art technique which you could then impress your parents or teachers (never your peers) with at a later date.

I'm going to introduce one to you now, which I pioneered in San Franscisco earlier this month, while eating lunch at a conference/workshop.

I am a terrible doodler, and many a giant robot squirrel or rhino cocktail waiter has come to life from my pen during a meeting. This time a giant squid was born, and there happened to be a big roll of blue gaffer tape lying next to me, so I started assembling a mosaic/wash of blue behind the noble overlord of the deep.

Effective, no?

Why not try it at home kids? Gaffer tape keeps on giving!

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Lyrics are funny things.

Since I was a wee 'un I've loved the lyrics of "Diamond Dogs", which is high sci-fi-camp Bowie at it's nonsense best, but of course only when sung.

Not just by Bowie, but by Beck, even in my head, dammit.

But written down, they lose all life and power instantly. This is of course totally obvious to all you liberal arts types, but I still find it remarkable. Funny things.

A line from "Diamond Dogs" –

"Just another future song"

however, is a blog post title waiting to happen though – if I ever blog again.

Or a Warren Ellis graphic novella.

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Scarlet Traces
Ian Edginton
★★★★

Read and greatly enjoyed this short book by Ian Edginton and D'Israeli yesterday.

It's a ripping yarn set ten years after the martian invasion of Earth as described by H.G. Wells.

Visually-inventive and richly-coloured, it leaves you on a dark and foreboding cliff-hanger setup that left me searching for the next in the series (I guess the first was by Mr. Wells)

The widescreen nature of some of the art is intriguingly infomed by the fact it was orignally destined to be seen on the web as a flash/shockwave animated web-comic.

This from the popimage review:

"It's one-time status as a web-comic has impacted the art in the final book in many ways, some as subtle as the colour palette and some as important as the design ethic. The world's devices and machinery were given a more detailed structural underpinning because there were going to be sections of 3D animation featuring the alien vehicles on the web. These principles were applied to all of the cranes, fire engines and other devices that appear in the book, and the result is an enjoyable and plausible world. The design and spirit imbued in the Martian and Martian-derived technologies is delightful and inventive, but also classically literate as well."

As a result of the abortive start to their creation it took the duo behind this ten years to get it into print – hopefully the next installment won't take as long to see the light of day.

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Tell us a little something about your first car.  Do you have any photos you can share? 
Submitted by tamara.

The first and only car I have ever owned was a 1980 Mercedes 280SL pillarless coupe called "Rusty" – full name "Rusty Chrome, Crimefighter".

I was bought from Big Matt's mate Klaus in the pub (The Perserverence, Holborn, I believe) for £100. It cost four times that to insure it, and I probably put more petrol into it that it cost. That's what car-buying after five pints of lager gets you.

Rusty was navigated rather than driven, was berthed rather than parked, and had quite a lot of mildew in the upholstery, which discouraged casual passengers.

He eventually was turned into a small cube by Islington Borough Council.

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We went for breakfast this morning to a new place that's opened in Battersea, just near Battersea Park called "The Butcher & Grill".

I'd been fancying going there for a while, and just missed out last weekend due to a cracking hangover that meant I didn't leave the house until long after it's kitchens had closed.

It was less than ok – Foe had an Eggs Benedict that looked respectable at first pass, but the egg yolks were hard. Not ideal for most, but actually she preferred it that way. I would have been inconsolable.

Since I was a kid I've been unable to pass up 'Steak and Eggs' on a breakfast menu. My dad told me it was what astronauts ate on the morning of their flight, and that's stuck with me ever since. I reach for the stars through cholesterol.

I asked for the steak to be medium. It came back medium to well-done, if not well-done, with not a spot of pink to be seem. The egg yolks were powdery dry , but the white were liquid. I ate it all however – and didn't complain (I'm not a good complainer).

The thing I wanted to complain most about was the orange juice. Priced at 2.50 GBP I expected it to be fresh and pithy – instead it was obviously made from concentrate – thin and syrupy. Awful.

The waiting staff were plentyful, pretty and oblivious to the customers in quite a studied way for somewhere that hasn't been open that long.

Critical opinion seems to be with me on this one. This from Jay Rayner in The Observer:

"I will confess that I expected this week's restaurant to be a disappointment. I've long dreamed of a meat-lover's place built around a butcher's shop from which die-hard carnivores could choose their dinner, but I knew the idea was so simple, so straightforward, that most restaurateurs would be unable to resist the temptation to bugger it up. I just wish the newly opened Butcher & Grill, in London's Battersea, hadn't insisted upon proving me right."

The Telegraph:

"Perhaps what depresses me most about Butcher & Grill is that the kitchen is very good indeed, but hampered perhaps by sharp practice and the tremendous determination to drive profits up at every opportunity."

My gloom at the orange juice and 12.5% mandatory service charge (why do places do that?) was lifted by a comic episode as we left.

We arrived around 11.30am and there were maybe one or two other couples in the entire restaurant. We had been sat down for about 10 minutes before the first wagon train arrived: a bugaboo laden with accessorised 'parenting' bags, and a phalanx or scooters, trikes etc.

From the review in The Telegraph again:

"Inside: a lot of dark wood and brickwork, and a recurring motif of jolly blue and white butcher stripes, which pop up on the staff aprons, the menus and the napkins.

Outside: about half a dozen of those cheap, screechy aluminium café tables, plus a phalanx of mothers with heavily-loaded Bugaboos glowering at the childless couples occupying those tables."

The manager and host started rearranging some of the empy tables and chairs to make an impromptu parking garage for this SUV of baby carriages.

10 minutes later, another wagon-train… And another. Each with giant fully-loaded, full-suspension 4WD baby 'travel-system' (naturally, Bugaboo) accompanied by toddler wing-men on trikes.

As we passed out of the premises we overhead the manager having a breakdown: "I can't fit any more of these bloody things in"

Where we live in South London is nicknamed 'Nappy Valley' – it had the highest birth rate in Europe in 2004 (I guess it's the same phenomena in Noe Valley in SF). You would think that restauranteurs would know what they were letting themselves in for and allow some parking space for the Bugaboo baby-Hummers.

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