Oct 26, 2014

Fnarp blang-grabble toop: what I learnt from drawing

Some time ago I went to a life drawing class. We sat in rows with our chosen tools, in my case an A3 sketchpad I had bought that day and the pencil I used to illustrate a 2012 short story collection. A succession of models in fancy dress glared at us: we drew Storm from X-Men, an evil-looking Darth Maul and someone from Blade Runner.

I didn't like it. It left me frustrated. I wanted to snap my pencil. I didn't snap my pencil. If you snap pencils, it releases lead into the atmosphere and a dolphin dies. I read that somewhere.

The models were great, the night was friendly and fun, the costumes and make-up were brilliant, and the company I kept was great. I drew lots and, for a while, I enjoyed the challenge of squinting at the shapes before me and trying to spew that onto paper.

Yet I learnt a few things:


I'd rather live inside my head. Things outside my eyes are boring. I need to mix things up into a beautiful field of horses or an elephant hick or a cheese goat Neil Buchanan mash-up or something so disgusting and weird it's probably NSFW.


I won't sit still. I won't draw in a structured environment. I won't follow your recommendations to the letter. Don't give me an exam: I'd break it. I don't only think outside the box: I've opened a dictionary, crossed out "box" and written "fnarp" instead.


Well. I wear clothes: I'm not a naturist. But I wanted actual life drawing not fancy dress. Models with skin and that. Nuddies. The sags and contours of skin are more interesting than leather jackets and capes. If you're not reading this naked right now, I'll be furious. Actually, I can see your reflection from my computer screen. My eyes. MY EYES.


Despite this blog post using conventions of grammar on a template of a major blog publishing platform using equipment owned by multi-national corporations, I, like, totes don't do boundaries yeah?! Smash the system, yeah?! Fnarp blang-grabble toop p'dinb-dinb wam. That's not even a sentence. I'm out of control.


My dislike of following a crowd. My disrespect of popular conventions. My urge to always find the new. I feel restless.

Maybe this is why I got into electronic music. I'll spend the afternoon trawling Bleep, loafing around Resident Advisor or spinning through Soundcloud for something new: Objekt or The Bug or Butch.

Meanwhile everyone else is into fancy dress and normcore and real things and Ed Sheeran and Sunday lunch and saying how-do-you-do and wearing ties and television and breathing and jeezeverythingissoBORING.

Anyway. I kept my drawings. They were okay.

Oct 19, 2014

Sometimes people get lost

Sometimes people get lost. Christopher Columbus set off to find India and ended up playing for the West Indies cricket team or something. Sometimes I load up kitten fights on YouTube and end up watching body building videos. Like I say, sometimes people get lost.

Therefore, I produced these graphics for anyone who feels lost. You kind of have to be on Twitter to make them true because they say things like "you are on Twitter".

I hope someone will find them useful.

Oct 16, 2014

The Black Dog / Balil's 3/4 Heart

"If you remember the 60s, you weren't there."
"Music was just better in the 80s."
"I so got bogus on alcopops at the Britpop disco last night."

Yeah, I hear your conversations, you wrinkled dinosaurs living in the past. It's pathetic. I listen to new music all the time, while you close your ears off because your ear wax is made of nostalgia and one day you will drown in it.

Haaaaving said that...

I love this old track from The Black Dog, performing here as Balil (below).

Their Bytes album expanded my world. In this one track, you can hear trip hop, Orbital's Snivilisation and LTJ Bukem's atmospherics. Except this was some time before any of that came out, assuming we're dating trip hop to a couple of years later in the 90s.

This is truly forward thinking futuristic futurism right here, and definitely not me wallowing in techno nostalgia.

(Incidentally, The Black Dog's Sound of Sheffield volume 3 is out this week, including the bass-heavy Fraction Slide.)

Oct 15, 2014

Stephen Fry's moustache

Stephen Fry's moustache. That's it, really. Just those three words.

It was probably an episode of QI in which someone joked about an internet site dedicated to Fry's facial hair. Maybe. Anyhoo, the idea stuck in my head. 

Because the internet needs this kind of thing.

Oct 14, 2014

Anxious Fats and the castle of happiness

Five billion years ago, I went on a school trip to France. I was very interested in going on a school trip to France. I'd learnt the word boulangerie and everything.

The trip was a nightmare. Some of my school "mates" were nobbists of the highest degree, and I spent the whole vacation feeling confused and overwhelmed. I still remember a supermarket cashier barking shapes at me while I nodded in a way I thought looked intelligent.

I still do the same nodding now.

Ever since, I've had an anxiety about not enjoying the moment. Such as dancing my mullet off in a club yet worrying about how many shirt buttons I should have unfastened, opting between one and two and three back to one like some kind of crap fabric traffic light.

It's happened again recently, only in a more general sense. I've been caught in a cycle of logistics and planning and stress. Even when chillaxing with my bluds (I think these are French words), my mind has been a dripping pipe of mental notes and worries.

Last weekend, that changed.

I attended a writing workshop run by Prole Books at the turret-tastic Bodelwydden Castle. I only went because I followed Prole on Twitter and, hey, it was in a castle.

I’m not really a workshop kind of guy, but the process loosened some pretty rusty bolts. I realise that clashes with my pipe metaphor, but shut up. Writer Sue Pace led the workshop without dictating, and allowed freedom to simply enjoy the process of writing.

The weekend forced me to stop, to take a step back. I threw some priorities up in the air and let them land in a different order. I've written a lot. I’ve even been facing some tiny demons this week that I have been avoiding for a long time.

I feel pretty.... boulangerie.


Also this week, I performed with Flashtag at Manchester Literature Festival in a kind of literary human centipede which was, according to reviews, comedic and hilarious. And as Bad Language I co-hosted a bunch of rising stars along with development agency The Writing Squad and author chappie Matt Haig. I had an immense time at the Festival and thanks to everyone for making it feel prop spesh and well good.