October 28, 2006
ANOTHER DAY'S HUMDRUM REPORT
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I thought I needed a day off from the computer yesterday so instead of doing something completely different what did I choose? To go to the Mac Expo at Olympia and look at more computer stuff. When you're hooked you're hooked. I haven't been to one of these for quite a while so my excuse was that I might learn something useful. I had completely forgotten how to get to Olympia which - for the benefit of those who don't live here - is a vast exhibition hall located somewhere in the outer Hebrides, not far from an area of West London known as Earl's Court, populated almost entirely by Australians, so I'm told. As far as I'm concerned Olympia might as well be in Australia because to get there from where I live takes almost as long as the journey to the land of Oz.
I got on a bus near my home, setting out later than is sensible, as usual, for the usual reasons. After waiting for the bus longer than necessary and sitting for about forty minutes in heavy traffic, I realised that if I stayed on it I would reach my destination long after the exhibition's closing time and the reasonable thing was to get off at King's Cross and take the underground. They had done something to the station since I was last there making it more swish and streamlined but completely unrecognizable. I went in the direction I knew from past journeys but after going up and down the wrong stairs twice, I went back to my starting point and asked for directions. I was told to go to Earl's Court then change for the train to Olympia. Of course I knew this already.
Earl's Court station was reached in the time it took me to read the whole of a thick newspaper, including the sports pages which I never look at, plus all the ads, plus examining all the passengers faces and imagining their lives. At Earl's Court I remembered that you have to wait on the platform until a train for Olympia arrives, which is not often, and you have to watch the signs. I looked at the row of signs above the platform and one of them said "Olympia", amongst other names so when a train pulled in I got on it, as one does. I asked some people in the carriage whether this train indeed went to Olympia but they shrugged or didn't understand my question. I have noticed this before: addressing a carriage full of strangers in a polite but audible voice and asking if one is on the right train for a particular destination is simply not a British thing to do. Though I've lived here a long time, certain things indelibly mark me as non-British. That's okay by me since I prefer to be a citizen of the planet.
After several outer Hebridean stations went by I knew that this train was most definitely not going to Olympia. I got off at the next stop, up and down more stairs and onto another platform to catch a train going back whence I came, back to that damnable Earl's Courtish platform with the damnably confusing sign board. All my fault: I had forgotten that you have to wait until an arrow lights up pointing to the name "Olympia". Without that frigging arrow, the name means nothing and all trains take you astray. Eventually I got to Olympia and it started to rain. Do they put the entrance to this massive monstrosity of a commercial circus next to the exit of the station or perhaps provide an underground passage to it? Hahahahahahahaha. Of course not. You have to walk all the way round to the front of the building because you are that thing called "the public" and they want your money but couldn't care less about your comfort.
By this time, there was only about an hour left before closing time but, as usual, I hadn't eaten before leaving home so I was hungry. Sat at one of the overpriced, underwhelming cafes in the middle of the teeming cacophony and heat and hyperactive hysteria of technological consumer heaven/hell and had a sandwich and coffee, wondering why I was here at all. I joined the throng wandering up and down the aisles in a trance-like state, assailed on all sides by more and more and more and ever more stuff promising to make your life more moreish. It was a Mac show with Mac goods and Mac-ish accessories and Mac demonstrations and workshops and all sorts of other related and unrelated stuff and I was fed up with all of it, not because it's Mac, just the whole consumer trap. But because I'd come all this way I felt some kind of duty to be interested so I chatted far too long with a salesman of a vector software programme (and was given a demo disk) and then I actually bought something: an external hard drive, which I really do need for storing image files.
My (doctored) photo was taken inside Olympia - the people are watching two side-by-side demonstrations of Adobe software. The noise in the hall is ear-splitting.
It took me about two and a half hours to get home, on two different buses. Too exhausted and grumpy to do anything else, I slumped in front of the TV until very late watching a succession of forgettable programmes, except for the last one, a vampire film, replete with blood and gore and chopped heads but also a few memorable images. There's something simultaneously incredibly scary and deeply satisfying about vampire stories - creatures who are evil incarnate and if you are bitten by them you become one of them, but they can be burned by sunlight and by a stake (or a modern stake-propelling gun) through the heart. I got to thinking that, in fact, we live in a vampirical world. Only our vampires don't look like ghouls and don't have blood dripping from their long pointed teeth. They have nice even white teeth and look perfectly normal and they run the world in all sorts of ways and they bite us in all sorts of ways and we never feel a thing. You know what I mean, I'm sure. Who or what is your vampire?
October 17, 2006
The main reason I'm not blogging much is because, as you know, I'm all taken up with the work on the Gd book. But that's not the only reason. There's also the reluctance to post about trivia - or at least what seems like trivia to me but, in the right hands, can become wonderful writing. There are bloggers who can write about a humdrum day and make it so enjoyable that you're leaving a comment before you've read the last line and sixty other people are doing likewise. I admire these bloggers and envy them because I can't do it. Just as I have no small talk in social situations - I don't mean "small talk" in a pejorative sense, as though "big talk" is all that matters - no, I am in awe of people who can do it. They always have a ready supply of things to say about absolutely anything whereas I have a very limited number of subjects I can expound on.
Should I blog about what kind of a humdrum day I've had? I'll have a go, why not? If you get bored I can say I told you so.
To bed at 4am - it's always 4am - after cleaning up the pixels in illustration number xxxx. Feel hungry before bedtime, as usual. Eat some Brazil nuts and half a grapefruit (I'm on a diet). Set the alarm for 9am, wanting to start early for a change. Dream about clicking on pixels, saving, moving the cursor around, saving - believe I am actually doing it. Wake with the alarm and think about getting up but then drift off. Look at the clock and it now says 12:30pm. Shit, late start again - must must must change my ways.
It's Tuesday so have to be at the Music Workshop at 4pm, better get a move on. Still in my pyjamas, have brunch: the rest of yesterday's chicken & rice Masala and a peach. Very bad, fibrous, cotton-woolly peach. Tempted to take the remains of it back to Sainsbury - 59p each! Miserable battery peaches, probably transported frozen in dark, cramped crates and dumped in some warehouse for months before being defrosted and arranged on supermarket shelves, at 59 pence each.
Have a shower, love the hot water running over my skin, good place to think, I stay in there too long. By the time I'm dressed and ready it's 2:30 pm. I sit at the computer and check emails, quite a lot of spam seems to be getting through the Mac barrier, the usual p*e*n*i*s enhancement and stuff about investing. Delete delete delete. Quick check of my comments: no new comments - never mind, God loves me, don't you God? Eh? OK, your line's busy, I understand. Turn on Photoshop - takes ages to start up, that's because of Intel - click on my God Book files, continue where I left off.
Now it's 3:15pm and I have to leave. Walk to the bus stop and wait, surrounded by rowdy school kids chomping sweets and drinking out of cans. I too am chomping chocolate because I won't have time to eat before tonight. The bus comes and we all crowd in, the kids shouting and shoving. I'm so glad I don't have to be their teacher. My stop is only a few minutes away, I stop at the wholefood shop and get some supplies then walk to the Media Centre where the Music Technology course is held. I signed up for this because... well, I'm not sure why. I'm fascinated by the possibility of computer-created musical composition. Only two hours a week for ten weeks and it's almost free so what have I got to lose? I might learn to do some interesting musical stuff to put into my website some day. This is the second lesson and it's quite boring but basic technology usually is. There's about eight of us in the class, only one is male, apart from the teacher. Like me, the women seem to want to use the technology experimentally, playfully. The man has a more definite plan, he is on a radio broadcasting course. I was intrigued by the description one woman gave of why she wanted to do the course: she said she used to have "layered dreams" in which she heard musical phrases, parts of songs, which she would sing into a tape recorder when she woke up so as not to forget them. She'd like to try and use these tapes to create something new. I'm very curious to hear what she'll come up with - "Layered Dreams" is a great title for an album.
By the end of the class all we've done is lined up some instruments on the Logic window and started creating a pattern of beats. I've got grand piano, tenor saxophone, jazz bass, and pop kit. We'll see where this is going in two weeks (no class next week, it's half-term).
Home again, back to my computer and on with re-designing and cleaning up my images. Then I decide to write a blog about my day. Now it's 9:30pm and I'm about to post this but first I have to add a picture. Got to have a picture, after all this is an illustrated blog. But first I must have dinner. The diet book (it's called the Rotation Diet and is very good, I recommend it if you need to shed a few pounds) says I should eat a steak and some veg so that's what I'll do. I'm sort of half-assed vegetarian but can be persuaded to be carnivorous on occasion. Talk amongst yourselves while I leave the room.
Watched the news as I ate my dinner and meant to come back and finish this post straight after but got sidetracked by Imagine on BBC (the very programme that I...ahem...will appear on in late November) with Alan Yentob looking into James-Peter Pan-Barrie's life. Very interesting. But now it's quarter to midnight so I'd better do a really quick picture if this is going to still go out on October 17. Just missed it, it's quarter past twelve, here's the only image I could come up with. So ends my humdrum day. No, not quite ended - another couple of hours to go to catch up onthe book.
October 9, 2006
WE ARE RSSed !
You can now subscribe to RSS feed for Blaugustine updates by going to my Blogger blog which links you back here. This eccentrically ingenious technical feat was achieved by following the advice of the brilliant Stray who also brought me some of her delicious home-made grape chutney. Who could ask for anything more? If you have trouble with this new feed system, let me know?
October 8, 2006
BLOGGING LESS OFTEN FOR A GOOD CAUSE
The bad thing about blogging less often is that your stats go waaaaay down and you're about the only visitor to your blog. The good thing is that you stop checking your stats, since there's nothing to see, and then you stop caring about stats altogether. But the best thing is that you get a lot more work done on whatever it is you needed to get on with that was interrupted by blogging more often.
I can tell you, dear Reader, that I've been working my arse off double time, all the time, every day and far into the nights, on the God book pre-printing preparation and am now about three-quarters of the way from the end. You may think this sounds a bit compulsive-obsessive and you may be right. But that's me - either full-time procrastinator or full-time obsessor. Some people are able to take "sit back and smell the grass" breaks from intensely concentrated work. Not me. You have to go out to smell grass and it's quite a long walk to the park and I can't carry my desktop computer all the way there and back, especially since it's been raining a lot. So, apart from necessary interruptions to buy food and such, I'm basically sitting at this screen non-stop. Not healthy, I know, but I'm feeling pretty good regardless of my ungodly hours and I'm almost sure God doesn't care what time I get to bed. Maybe if I had one of those dreams Old Testament folks kept having - God telling them do this, don't do that - I might change my ways. But the Deity isn't appearing much in people's dreams anymore, as far as I know, unless you believe George W.Bush. If by any chance God does visit him in the night, you and I know that the way GWB misunderestimates language guarantees that he's got the message wrong.
Apart from compulsive behaviour, the other reason for my slow progress is that digital art materials are still not completely second nature to me, as real art materials are. After all, making sure that pixillation will not mar the printed version of every line and shape you've drawn on screen is not something you normally do in a non-digital real world studio.
After doing some calculations and research, it was also a shock to realise that if I stick to my intention of having the God Interviews printed in full colour, all 124 or so pages of it, the cost per book will have to be very high which would limit its sales considerably. Moreover, POD (print on demand) companies, whether Lulu or others, do not offer international distribution for books in colour: they accept black & white only. Therefore, necessity being the mother, I have decided that I will produce two versions - a half-tone black & white one for general international distribution and a full colour limited edition for those who are willing to pay the price. Here, as a special advance preview, are two images in their respective versions. If you want to see changes I've made, check out the original frame here.