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10:30 pm: Upon juices, and the flowing thereof
I've always been vaguely haunted by the notion that we humans have all our best ideas just before falling asleep; that is to say, in that happy and almost entirely un-recallable mental interstice between wakefulness and dream-awareness. Like many of the world's notions, the survival of this one depends crucially on the fact that it isn't proveable.
However, a few months' mornings ago, I was struck with a sudden thought. I had had an idea as I was drifting off to sleep the night before. A musical idea. A good musical idea. In fact, to judge from my half-remembered flush of drowsy enthusiasm, it was probably one of the better ideas in the history of recorded sound. And it had been witty, clever and yet subtly non-novelty. The words themselves suggested a catchy and entertaining tune. I still couldn't quite remember what it was, but -- crucially -- I'd had the presence of mind to grope in the dark for a pen and write it down. Breathless with anticipation, I opened up my bedside notebook. There, in a barely readable scrawl, was the phrase Give me back my fucking monkey.

From this I have concluded two things:
a) No, we do not have our best ideas when we are falling asleep and
b) my ideas duct is clogged and requires some maintainance.

This is where you lot come in. See, the coming week is a Week of No Work. I have made a list of things from my ill-fated notebook which sound like they might be a lark to have a go at were one to, say, have a completely free week with which to get the juices flowing again. It's much easier to choose which thing to do when you have someone else's opinion to ignore. So I intend to Ask The Audience.

I have various different media at my disposal, so I shall categorise them thusly:

Paint. Lest anyone should be worried or even remember for that matter, I have not forgotten about agreeing to do a) an illustration for Bardcamp and b) a pictorial prop for the Middlemarch readthrough. Bardcamp having asked first, I formulated a plan involving various items, including egg tempera, gold ink and a hacksaw. However, having utilised the hacksaw and applied the ink, I was seized with terrible misgivings that, egg tempera involving actual egg, I was going to end up accidentally making a big smelly paint cake or come home to find the cat licking it. So I ended up using oils instead. After happily slapping on a thick undercoat and waiting awhile, I consulted Wikipedia, which told me that experts do not consider an oil painting fully dry until it is 50-70 years old. By which I mean to say: don't worry, guys, of course it's going to be ready by the deadline :)
I will be doing some of this over the next week, but I could do more or less.

Inkscape: Bless its little cotton socks, I like Inkscape. It allows me to rip off real proper graphic designers. However, I've been doing a lot of things in Inkscape of late and so it might be fun to do summat else. Nevertheless, these are the Inkscape items currently on the Ideas List:
a) A pictorial Glastonbury writeup. This is half-finished and has a pig in it. It sort-of trailed off into snit-world when Michael Eavis claimed that my sort were entirely responsible for ruining Glastonbury (or summat like that); but, it having been otherwise ace, I suspect I'll get around to finishing it somewhens.
b) I've had a yen for a while now to try out a series of things based on people's submitted phrases, a la exploding dog. Previous efforts (with animation) resulted in a large number of three-quarters-finished animations. This is because multiple animations take approximately 30% longer than my art attention span. These wouldn't be animated, though.
c) Or I'm sure I've got a bit of a webcomic in me somewhere if I strain hard enough.

Blender, which is a free professional-level 3D animation tool. Blender is worth it just for the sense of vertiginous horror you get on first opening it up and being confronted with what looks like the control panel of the Starship Enterprise. In most software agreements the clause about not using the program to run a nuclear power station is faintly ridiculous. Blender not only looks like the sort of thing which one could operate a nuclear power station from, it manages to give the impression that actually, it is running a nuclear power station somewhere, and you'd better be darned careful about not clicking on the 'withdraw control rods' button when running in node mode. However, there are online tutorials, and I can now make a stick-human with arbitrarily-resizable breasts. Next stop is lesson 2: 'make a hat'.
The Ideas List has two things to say concerning Blender:
a) 'I have begun to dream in numbers', which would be a non-animated mix of blendered-3D and inkscaped-2D vector images, and
b) 'architectural/biological machines', which would consist of the sort of animation suggesting that I've been spending too much time reading BLDGBLOG.

Garageband. Gone are the days of tinkering with *cough* notstrictlylegal music software, for I have become a mac user! and with that comes Garageband, a program which I am informed is potentially the software of choice for people who want to make music in their bedrooms that sounds like it has real bagpipes in it. Now, admittedly I never used my past-pirated booty for anything other than making animation soundtracks. And *hem* see the introduction to this post. However, I like playing with music even if it doesn't like playing with me, so there is music in the list, thusly:
a) I have been making a list of Things Which Are Good in Songs. Now, if there were any justice in the world, one could combine these things and make the awsomest song in the world ever. And with so many fine, fine ingredients, even a complete musical illiterate would be able to do it. Say, someone who'd failed grade one piano and once won their school's musical award for 'trying hard'. Unfortunately the list itself is, um, mildly subjective, and contains a number of entries which are mutually exclusive, items therein including but not limited to: 3/4 or similar time signature; the word 'dirigible'; concerning a gay love affair; mention of giant robots/lizards/cthulhu; danceable-to (non-waltz); contains at least one London Underground station and the word 'brain' in the lyrics; involves squeaking, the higher the better; harpsichord; etc.
b) alternatively, whilst in the process of making the ill-fated Glastonbury writeup, I prepared a panel containing an imaginary CD: The OMG Ponies' 'Kitten Cuddler' EP. It occurs to me that this should exist, and might be slightly less constrained, would be rather silly, and would furthermore allow for a pseudo-Wagnerian Fusion of all the Arts Except Ballet by the happy virtue of requiring a cover design.
c) (if I may digress) One of the enduring features of the rather pleasing music-getting website emusic.com is that one pays the same amount per track, no matter whether that track lasts 20 seconds or over an hour. This is great for ambient soundscapes, which tend to err on the hour-long side. And, as it happens, I like falling asleep to the sound of rain. English rain, whilst of commendable variety and range, generally draws its sounds from a limited palette. However, emusic will happily sell me any number of hours of rain-noise recorded on the continent of my choice and interspersed with the sounds of exciting parrots. Furthermore Emusic would like to sell me desert-noise, waterfall-noise and dolphin-noise, preferably after some tye-died artiste has added some synthesizer noodling on top and retitled it 'Happy Druid Hugs the Universe'. Whilst idly browsing these listings (I think I'd got down to 'the Great Om') it occurred to me that, having grown up not far from the M27, I'd probably also find motorway noise rather relaxing to go to sleep to. Emusic does not seem to offer this option. However, it does take listings from vanity-publishers, so if one were to (say) record 'Soothing Sounds of the M25' there might be a way of actually getting it into the ambient section. Nyeeeess.

The GIMP. It's now kind of fashionable to diss GIMP, but I still like it (and indeed it gets used quite a lot for things incidental to the Inkscapery). A while back I was definitely intending to do something photomanipulationy in it called (something like) Five Portraits of America which had something to do with Hitler's bicycle (NO, not in any way you might be thinking... it's all the fault of rural Illinois, and having to collate all the towns with airports nearby, for work purposes) and the town of Chicken, Alaska.


Poll #1044122 Ask the Audience

What jolly art-wankery should I fill my week with?

Real, actual paint-using for Bardcamp/Middlemarch
1(2.9%)
Finishing the Inkscape Glastonbury writeup
0(0.0%)
Making vector pictures to titles specified by you, the people.
0(0.0%)
Something else vectorial or possibly webcomical
0(0.0%)
'I have begun to dream in numbers'
2(5.9%)
'architectural/biological machines'
0(0.0%)
Using the List of Things Which are Good in Music to make really, really bad music
1(2.9%)
The OMG Ponies' Kitten Cuddler EP (or intentions thereunto)
0(0.0%)
'Soothing sounds of the M25'
2(5.9%)
'Five portraits of America'
0(0.0%)
Something else (which I will suggest, and which may or may not include 'FFS please just sleep a lot or something!!!')
0(0.0%)


Comments

From:fluffymormegil
Date:August 23rd, 2007 09:37 pm (UTC)
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I think "Give me back my fucking monkey" would make both a superb lyric and a superb opening line of a novel.
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From:mandy_moon
Date:August 23rd, 2007 11:37 pm (UTC)
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You're truly a woman of science. I love that you had the presence of mind to write it down.
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From:splodgenoodles
Date:August 24th, 2007 03:49 am (UTC)
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I'm a little upset now, because when I was teenager and surely destined to become a Woman Legend Of New Wave(gimmeabreakI'm40), I'm pretty sure I *did* dream the world's catchiest song.

And in a sad twist of fate, given the era, if it had contained the line "give me back my fucking monkey" it probably would have worked in a Residents/Talking Heads type crossover and I now be a Woman Legend.

Have a lovely week.
From:mooism
Date:August 24th, 2007 08:21 am (UTC)
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A friend once had the idea of making a calendar from 12 photos of M25 service stations, but we never got round to taking the photos.
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From:emperor
Date:August 24th, 2007 08:24 am (UTC)
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I've had webcomic ideas drifting around my head for ages; I've even written them down. The problems are a) making a webcomic satirising the church isn't going to appeal to many of my friends b) I can't draw for toffee, never mind for the internet.
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From:keirf
Date:August 24th, 2007 10:14 am (UTC)
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I'm sure it depends on which church you're going to satirise. Some are more tolerant of this than others. The Society of Friends, for example, would hardly come round and beat you up over it.
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From:gnimmel
Date:August 24th, 2007 02:09 pm (UTC)
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I suspect the secret to net being able to draw is not drawing -- I can't cartoon for toffee, so I've previously used processed photos for any pictures required -- or drawing in a deliberately simplistic manner, a la xkcd or toothpaste for dinner.

I've noticed recently quite a lot of people saying things like I'd like to [really great idea] but I can't because of [incredibly trivial and easily-solved problem]. I don't think what you've said above falls into that category, but having noticed it means that I now tend to tell everone to do everything even if they actually don't want to or have perfectly legitimate reasons for not doing so, which is rather silly: nevertheless, I think you should have a go at doing these webcomics :)
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From:hairyears
Date:August 24th, 2007 04:54 pm (UTC)
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I just stumbled through the double-negatives, and yes (I think), the secret to being able to draw is to draw; just like writing, or being a cartoonist. A few strokes with a pen today served to convince me that:
  • I am horribly out of practice;
  • It is going to take several weeks of drawing every day to get back in practice;
  • The results of this practice are going to be depressingly poor and dissatisfying;
  • I had better get cracking; and...
  • ...You should start. The photo-montages work, and you should keep that up, but hand-drawn cartoons always work better. They are quicker to do, for a start.
Somehow, I don't see you running out of material - and that's what always holds back even the most technically-accomplished cartoonists.
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From:nou
Date:August 24th, 2007 11:10 am (UTC)
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Blender is BRILLIANT! Thank you for letting me know about it! So much fun.
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From:gnimmel
Date:August 24th, 2007 01:53 pm (UTC)
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Yay, glad to be of service :)
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From:hairyears
Date:August 24th, 2007 04:56 pm (UTC)
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Seriously, don't paint Glastonbury with the physical media of paint and a brush. You'll run out of brown.
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From:rettstatt
Date:September 9th, 2007 12:12 am (UTC)
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I voted for "soothing sounds of the M25" so I can play it for my 1 month old twin girls to help them achieve enlightenment.

I voted for webcomical, and also "something else" because I believe something with the title "give me back my fucking monkey" must exist. In fact, I think it does exist the way the sculpture exists inside the stone, and all it needs now is a little chiselin' time.
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From:andrewwyld
Date:March 3rd, 2008 11:23 am (UTC)
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