Saturday, 29 December 2007

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Golf at Letchworth

Since it is Christmas I am back at the family home in Hertfordshire, and as I sit at an unfamiliar computer, by my side is a book entitled "Golf At Letchworth". It begins: "Before embarking upon the story of golf at Letchworth a brief account of the history of the area might be of interest to the reader and help put our sporting activities into perspective. There was a time when there was no life on Earth..."

Holy shit, talk about starting at the beginning!

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Monday, 10 December 2007

Cheese doodles

I like to walk home after work. It takes a couple of hours, but it keeps me fit, and since I try to do it at least three times a week I reckon it's saved me a coupe of hundred pounds in the last year. Usually I take the time to listen to a podcast or think about my life, work, the future, etc.

Today, however, I found myself gripped by a particularly inane thought. First I came up with the idea that it might be a good idea to market a very large ball of mozzarella cheese with the brand name "That'sa Lotsa Mozza". Then I wrote an advertising jingle for it based on Joe Dolce's "Shaddap You Face" with the following words:

"That'sa Lotsa Mozz-AH
Wanna make a pizz-AH
Or maybe a salad
Itsa not so bad
Itsa nice-a taste

So for a large chunk of my walk today - at least from Elephant and Castle down most of Old Kent Road - instead of thinking new ideas for cartoons or what my next career move should be, every couple of minutes I'd find myself thinking "AH, FILLUPPA YOU FACE!"

It was Hell.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Tiny Manu #8

Actually, this is my Japanese homework. Translation follows...

Frame 1:
Mother: Today, we're going to make risotto.
Manu: Yes! That's right!

Frame 2:
Mother: First, we cut the vegetables.
Manu: Chop chop.

Frame 3:
Mother: We finely cut the onions.
Manu: I'm crying now.

Frame 4:
Mother: Chop up the potatoes.

Frame 5:
Mother: Add aubergines and apples.
Manu: Apple? Very interesting.

Frame 6:
Mother: Next, grate the cheese.
Manu: Cheeeeeeeese.

Frame 7:
Mother: Next, make the stock.
Manu: Of course.

Frame 8:
Mother: You must use delicious stock. It's important.

Frame 9:

Frame 10:

Frame 11:
Mother: Put the onion in a frying pan.
Manu: Of course.

Frame 12:
Mother: Cook the onion until it's brown.

Frame 13:
Mother: Add the stock and rice.
Manu: Finished!

Frame 14:
Mother: No, it is not finished.
Manu: Sorry. I did not know.

Frame 15:
Mother: Next, put in the potatoes and carrots.
Manu: Of course.

Frame 16:
Mother: Lastly, add aubergine and apples.

Frame 17:
Mother: Add the stock again.

Frame 18:
Mother: It takes fifteen minutes.
Manu: Right, I shall sing the risotto song!

Frame 19:
Manu: Risotto o atsumete

Frame 20:
Mother: But this is not the risotto song.
Manu: Really?

Frame 21:
Mother: It is "Kaze o atsumete". It's a very famous song.
Manu: It is my favourite song.

Frame 22:
Mother: Do you want to stir?
Manu: Yes! Thankyou very much!

Frame 23:
Manu: I am cooking!

Frame 24:
Mother: The risotto is done, so add cheese.
Manu: Cheeeeeeese.

Frame 25:

Frame 26:
Mother: Put it in quickly please.
Manu: I must be careful.

Frame 27:
Manu: There!

Frame 28:
Mother: Stir again.
Manu: Of course.

Frame 29:
Mother: There. It's finished.
Manu: Tiny Manu cooking!

Then there is a recipe for risotto, which I won't translate because there are better recipes out there on the internet, and at the end Manu is saying "Itadakimasu" which means "bon appetit!"

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Us Lot #6

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

From the sketchbook #6

What started as a doodle of a tree just kept growing. Probably a reflection of my anxious disposition these days, as I search for things to calm me down.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Saturday, 3 November 2007

It's the cat's meow #20

The 100th post!

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Dog Translucent #18

This was, unfortunately, the last of the strips to appear in Select magazine. This was back in the day before mobile phones and I was working night shifts, so they found it difficult to get hold of me. I guess they found this frustrating since they simply stopped printing my strips, so that Dog Translucent is forever trapped in the clutches of this anonymous bad guy. Ah well, it had run its course - I was finding it harder to write for it. And this two year run looks good on the cv, but only for people old enough to remember Select.

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Monday, 22 October 2007

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Friday, 12 October 2007

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Tiny Manu #5

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

The Use of Exclamations of Surprise in Modern Music

The exclamation of surprise in popular music is an often overlooked subject in musicology. But there exists a rich vein of declarations and exaltations since the very birth of rock'n'roll. Little Richard sang "Oh my soul", and Jerry Lee Lewis exclaimed "Goodness gracious!"

In the 70's pop lyricists bought the cry of amazement to new heights. Famously, the song "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen (containing the phrase "mama mia") was knocked off the number one spot by the Abba song "Mama mia" - the only time an exclamation of surprise has knocked itself off number on in all musical history! Furthermore in 1971 Marvin Gaye sang both "Mercy me" and "What's going on?" in the space of one album. Giddy times, indeed.

Since then, things have cooled off for surprise in songs. Not including the use of "hello" (qv, Lionel Ritchie), examples become a bit sparse. Ian Dury said "knock me down with a feather", before the Bee Gees took the exclamation back to number one, with "You Win Again", which includes a section where they beautifully harmonise around the saying "Well, I'll be!" Genius. Will we see it's like again? Only the future generations of songwriters can answer that one.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Friday, 14 September 2007

Thursday, 13 September 2007

If the ceiling's going to fall on my head...

then cancer won't be a problem.

That's how I rationalised my second cigarette of the evening while I soothed my nerves after sharing a kitchen with a falling chunk of plaster and a lot of water.Turns out the bath had been leaking since we got here and finally the ceiling gave up trying to hold it in and gave way. I was in the kitchen at the time. Luckily it's a big kitchen and I was about as far away from the disaster as it's possible to be, so apart from shock and a lot of swearing, I was fine.

There then followed a lot of phone calls to landladies and plumbers and an awful lot of mopping, and after a while the ceiling lost another chunk of itself. There's now a rectangular hole in the ceiling, about four feet by two feet, surrounded by a big damp patch and with bits hanging down. Lovely.

Luckily no one was hurt and not much was damaged. The DS is looking a bit damp, though. Jon is consoling himself with a trip to KFC and I bought some beers.

And somehow the baby slept through the whole thing.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Notes from Turin

In the museum based at Palazzo Madama there's a wooden sculpture on display called "Com-pianto su Christo Morto" ("Lamentation over the Dead Christ"). It's apparently a fairly standard subject in religious art, and an example of which (unfortunately not the one in Palazzo Madama) is shown here.

The one in Palazzo Madama is worth mentioning because the whole scene is intact, except that whatever it was Christ was lying on is missing. Instead, Jesus is held aloft by a single metal prop, painted an inconspicuous grey. The result of which is that it looks like Our Lord and Saviour is doing a levitating magic trick which, judging by the expressions of those around Him, isn't going down too well.

Monday, 10 September 2007

Regaining my Italian

I'd forgotten how boring Mondays in Turin are. A lot of shops are shut, especially in the morning. Anyone going to the shopping centre at the Lingotto would have been forgiven for thinking there was a war on.

Meanwhile, I'm happy that my Italian has stood up better than I thought. Although my friend's English hasn't. While speaking to her on the phone we tried to arrange to meet at a concert. I asked "Where?" twice and twice she misunderstood. I think she thought I said "yeah" the first time" and I've no idea what she thought the second time. It wasn't until I said "Dov'é?" that I got an answer.

Friday, 7 September 2007


So, in Turin for the first time in ages and getting confused by the Italian keyboard (three keys just for the @ symbol? No wonder their economy's struggling!) and also by the fact that when I log on to blogspot, everything is in Italian.

Walking around this morning was a weird experience, seeing old places and familiar streets. It was like putting your hand out to a mirror and it suddenly passing through. Memories that had been vague and dissolute suddenly snapped into focus, and also other memories long since forgotten jostled their way into my mind and demanded attention. Like when I went past a shop and remembered that it was my third choice place to buy beer, and the creaking noise that the doors in the building made.

For some reason, however, the water in the drinking fountains doesn't taste as clean as it used to.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

Dog Translucent #12

The first of a series of strips with a single storyline. Alas, I never got to finish it because the strip was dropped, but it was an interesting exercise.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Us Lot #3

Just beautiful

Yesterday I checked my email and I found a message from this agency I contacted last year, inviting me to a dinner. I was quite excited, but on closer inspection the email was quite abrupt and I kind of got the impression that I was supposed to know the other people involved.
To make sure, I sent an email back asking if they had sent me this email by mistake. The replied saying that they were sorry but they had. Oh wells.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Dog Translucent #11

This is my brother's joke. When we were living together as a family, and it came to serve the pudding of a Sunday lunch, if it was a pie my brother would ask people "How many degrees do you want?" This progressed to radians or quadrants, and then finally he came up with this way of accounting for the variation in the density of the filling. I thought this was just the sort of thing Dog Translucent should know.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Us Lot #1

The first of a new series that was originally aimed at SFX, and was then lucky enough to be all ready to be sent to the two new sci-fi magazines that were recently released.

None of them wanted it, though.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Monday, 13 August 2007

Monster jokes

So this weekend I found a book called "The Silly Little Book of Monster Jokes". There's no sign of an author or authors or editors in the book - it is entirely anonymous, and a quick scan of what's inside is enough to tell you why.

For a start, some of the jokes are just plain bad if they can be described as jokes at all, such as:

What did the angry monster do when he got his gas bill? He exploded.

Why didn't King Kong go to Hong Kong? Because he didn't like Chinese food.

These are almost funny by themselves for just not being funny. But there are other occasions in the book where you start to wonder if there isn't some cunning meta-joke being played out on us for reading this book. For example, on page 79 (yes, I took notes of the page numbers. So what?) there is the joke:

Why did the fat, hairy, drooling monster stop going out in the sunshine? He didn't want to spoil his looks.

While on page 82 there was:

Why did the big hairy monster give up boxing? Because he didn't want to spoil his looks.

Okay, so that was a bit weird. Perhaps they didn't catch that in proof reading, but then on another page (I didn't write down the page for this) was:

Waiter, there's a worm on my plate.
No sir, that's a sausage.

Followed immediately by:

Waiter there are two worms on my plate.
Those are sausages, sir.

So by now I'm thinking this must be deliberate. In fact, I'm kind of disappointed that the next joke wasn't "Waiter, there are three worms on my plate!
Would you shut up, I'm serving you sausages!"

Deliberate or not, there's a strange kind of desperation in joke books. Because the target market is children, they can put in any old jokes they can remember, and if they have to come up with something new, it can be drivel since the writers are anonymous. As long as they fill up the pages and put in at least a few decent jokes they should be okay.

The last one I'm going to talk about (at least for now) is this one (page 42, in case you have a copy) - a sure sign of desperation if ever I saw one:

What did the shy pebble monster say? "I wish I was a little boulder".

This one is just an ordinary joke - quite a cute one at that - with the word "monster" stuck in just so it would somehow fit in with the theme of the rest of the book. You've got to admire their chutzpah, if nothing else.

Monday, 6 August 2007

echoes #3

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Thursday, 2 August 2007

From the sketchbook #5

So this morning as I was walking to work along the Thames I saw a half-submerged boat near Festival Pier. I decided to sketch it.

As you'll notice, I kind of give up halfway through. That's because, as I was sketching the boat, the tide was going out meaning that the water level at one end of the boat clearly isn't the same as at the other end. Finally, I just scribbled in some loose lines to finish it off, making the boat look a bit more stumpy than it was (but not much).

Every day is a learning experience for me. And today's lesson was that, if drawing a wreck as the tide's going out, do the water level last. That way it won't move so much.

Ersby dot blogspot dot com: for the things they never taught you at art school.