Tag Archives: Ben

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Lamington Drive: a new webcomic

Ben, whose regular blog is one of my all time favourites, also happens to be a pretty talented arty types, in fact, you might argue that he’s something of a polymath (he shared another one of his mad skillz here a while ago).

He’s branching out, and has started a webcomic. It’s called Lamington Drive. I’m hoping for good things – and he, like Simone, is one of those people whose blog might have waxed occasionally, but hasn’t waned (PS – 2013 is the year of the blog comeback).

Mad Skillz: How to get a good seat on a train

If I could pick one person in the blogosphere to meet in real life it would be Ben of Vanishing Point fame. He is famous. And if you don’t read his blog it’s your loss. And if you don’t look at his paintings and think “gee, I’d like to buy one of those” you are blind, or have no taste.

Amongst other things, Ben is an expert public transport commuter. So he offers the following guide as his mad skillz week submission. Thanks Ben.

Commuting is rubbish. If you like it, you are strange. I commute 3 hours a day. It’s rubbish. Lots of people all close together, being annoying. Morning breath in the morning. B.O. in the afternoon. Your day is bookended by badly smelling humans. You need to do what you can to minimise the pain. Seat positioning can help in this regard. Here are a few tips I’ve gleaned through years of experiance, pain and toil.

1. Be prepared. The biggest mistake commuters make is in thinking the quest for a good seat begins when the train door opens. Novices. Did the Mona Lisa begin when Leonardo Da Vinci started putting paint to canvas, or when his uncle (Kevin Da Vinci) gave him that set of Derwents and a Star Wars pencil case for his 7th Birthday? For real. Before the train even rolls into the station, you must be alert. All your senses must be working hard. None of this lollygagging around in the crowd chatting with your buddies, or reading mX. You need to already be visualising the seat that will be yours. Believe it to be yours already.

2. Determine your platform position. It’s all about vantage point. This comes with practice, but you must learn to read the platform before you. Seperate from the pack. They will blindly congregate regardless, like antelope heedless of impending predators. But you must find the courage to be your own man and/or woman. Be the lion. Don’t stand at the bottom of the escalators in the middle of the platform. Too crowded. But don’t go right up to either end either. This is where the hunters like yourself will be working on their own game. Go three quarters of the way to either end. No man’s land. Your land.

3. Avoid the frail and needy. Look around you on the platform. Are you near some elderly people? A guy on crutches? A lady with a pram? Move away fast. Sure, you’ll beat them on to the train and get a sweet seat, but all for nothing. Your groundwork will have been in vain. You’ll soon feel bad and give up your seat for one of these kind, and spend the remainder of your journey suffering the consequences. Reading your novel standing up, trying not to fall over. Trying to avoid skin to skin with sweaty armpit guy. If you can’t find a blank bit of platfom, you need to find a bit that is made up of peers, ie, people you won’t feel bad about taking a seat from.

4. Hit the ground running. Or more accurately, approach the slowing train walking. Don’t wait for it to come to you. Walk beside it, looking for where the doors will stop. Sort of like a relay athlete running a bit before he gets the baton thing passed to him. Apply caution and acceptable level of politeness to avoid falling down The Gap, or sending someone else falling down The Gap. When the door opens, you need to be directly beside the door. Not in front, or you’ll be one of those annoying people who doesn’t let people get off before they get on. But certainly not way back behind the rest of the pack. Be right beside, so you can just slip in fast.

5. Choose swiftly. Okay, you are on the train. All having gone well you should be very near the front of the pack. Don’t dillydally pondering upstairs vs. downstairs, carriage vs. vestabule, 3 seat vs. 2 seat. Consider that before the train has even arrived. Every second counts. Find an opening and go. You are the lion. Be bold and go for the prize. It’s all paid off now. You are in position. Settle, and enjoy the fruits of your labour. Look how far you are from sweaty armpit guy. It feels good doesn’t it. That sweet coctail of comfort and victory. Be happy. Be proud. You have won.

Bananas in CGI Pyjamas

My blogging buddy Ben has just had a bit of a career milestone that deserves recognition – the TV series he has been working on for ages went to air for the first time this week. The new Bananas in Pyjamas.

A lot of the commenters on the internet are change hating luddites – but I think the Bananas have never looked better.

Bonsai Comic Book

Ben asked. So here I am. Delivering. Ever his servant. If you want to know what Ben’s ideal blog would look like read this post. If you want to be on Ben’s ideal blog (well, I’m at least halfway there) stay on this ‘ere blog and let me be your guide to wonders of the internet. Wonders like this comic book. That you plant. In the ground. And get a tree.

I’m not sure if it’s a tree suitable for bonsaing. Bonsai-ing? Turning into a bonsai. But it is a tree. So that’s a start.

UPDATE: I read the page this comes from again – and it turns out it grows herbs. Not trees. So no bonsai for Ben. I’ll keep trying.

The “Make me a Mexican” Challenge

Ok. So yesterday I posted about how I’d received a misdirected email with this photo and the words “make him a Mexican”…

Not knowing the original sender, or the guy in question, but being a helpful soul I complied. And I asked for further submissions. This post will serve to store all sch submissions (I’ve also asked my Facebook friends to help). Feel free to pass this on to everybody you know. I want as many Mexican photos of this guy as I can get, and I’ll eventually send the link to the guy who sent me the photo.

These three are examples of how easy making a Mexican is. All three have simply googled “Mexican Man” and stuck the guy’s head in the picture. This was Robyn’s first go at Photoshopping (well it was GIMP actually). You can do whatever you want. Use MS Paint. Just give him a Mexican flavour.

I will conjure up some sort of Mexican prize for the best.

1. From Therese (who used the same image and approach as me, though with tidier edges and a less fu manchu moustache)

2. From Robyn

3. From Ben

4. Another one from Ben.

5. And another one from Ben.

6. And another one from Ben.

7. Simone went for an artistic approach.

8. And a passport.

9. I had a couple more goes. Including two Doritos versions

10. And an old Mexican man in Black and White.

11. Here’s one from Andrew.

Confessions #5: Sometimes I post here rather than commenting elsewhere

I think blogging time, in my schedule, is a fungible thing. That’s a cool word I just learned. Basically, I have an allocated amount of time for “blogging” and I have to spread that time between writing, reading and commenting.

So sometimes I write lots of posts here and neglect the “community” aspect of blogging. Times like yesterday. Yesterday my blogging comrade and e-friend Ben mentioned a really significant moment. A momentous moment. He sold his house. Without having to go to auction. Which he had expressed concern about. What a relief that must have been for him, and his family. But here’s little old me. Blogging about pointless stuff like Jesus themed thongs. So caught up in my own world that I didn’t comment on his post. Nor did I take the obligatory Monday Quiz.

And now, a day afterwards, I feel guilty because I’ve missed the commenting boat. Other people, who have commented, clearly love Ben more. The only way I can possibly rectify the situation is by trumping a comment with a link. That’s how blog love works. The blug1 beats the comment. It’s like a game of scissors rock paper. The Blug beats the comment. The comment beats the read. And the read must therefore beat the blug – because there’s no point blugging if people aren’t reading.

1A portmanteau2 of blog and plug.
2The strategic mashing together of two words to form one concept. Like Venn diagramming words.

Blog envy

Simone’s blog turned two yesterday. I didn’t realise it was that young. They grow up so fast. Then, Ben, my favourite blogger (he drew my logo – amongst other awesome things) called her blog his favourite. Now I have blogger envy. I’m seriously considering campaigning to become his favourite blog. Maybe I should start a book group. Maybe a book group aiming to go through Penguin’s Good Book series – which, incidentally, are heaps cheaper on the Book Depository – I ordered about 20 of them the other day for under $70)…

What must I do Ben?

A time, a place – Ben has a new space

Ben “everybody’s favourite blogger” McLaughlin has a new blog. Not content with being awesome on Vanishing Point he’s now being awesome and posting pictures of his brilliant paintings (and he’s selling them). Here’s an example.
Grandad’s Chair (2006)

Grandad’s Chair (2006)
Oil on canvas
22 x 30cm
$200

If he starts selling his little sketchy cartoon-like things too I’m going to be pretty tempted to decorate my house with his art. Especially if he turns the logo he drew for me into a print.

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Mad Skillz: Ben on how to create an animation storyboard

Ben is one of my favourite bloggers. He’s also probably my favourite e-friend. I’ve never met him in the real world but his blog is grand and his comments elsewhere are open, honest and full of goodness. Ben drew the little logo on the top right of my page. I’m eternally grateful to him for that.

Ben lives in Sydney with the vowels E, e, and i. His blog is full of the goodness of Proverbs, Peanuts, a weekly quiz and reflections on life in Sydney. As well as the occasional piece of art, cultural review and insight into Ben’s struggles. It’s like a Snuggie (the wearable blanket not the nappy).

Did you know that Ben is an animator? Cool huh. From what I can gather he works on children’s cartoons. But I might be wrong. There was a time when his inimitable Monday Quiz was accompanied by a weekly cartoon. Like this one.

The key to good animation – or in fact good crafting of any production – is storyboarding. And that is where Ben has chosen to share his expertise as part of “Mad Skillz Week”… I emailed some people last week asking them to contribute (and I thought I’d posted this invitation the other day – but I couldn’t find it when I went looking).

I work in animation, mostly doing storyboards for kids TV cartoons. A storyboard is like a rough laying out of an episode, using a script and soundtrack as the guide. It shows visually how the story will go, and will set up all the required shots. From there it gets into all the laborious gruntwork of actually animating all this– something that I aspire to never have to do myself. Here’s a few things that I’ve learnt the hard way over the years.

  1. Learn how to tell a story. Learning to draw is pretty important too, but there are plenty of good drawers who can’t tell a story visually. And there are rubbish drawers who can tell awesome stories.
  2. Watch movies. Not necessarily animated ones, just movies full stop. This is really the way that you work out how people string together a bunch of different shots and scenes to make a narrative.
  3. Don’t watch new movies. They’re bog. It’s all about flash and dazzle, and a million cuts and camera angles, which mostly just leave the viewer confused, seasick and a little traumatised. These techniques are great ways of disguising the fact that your story telling is rubbish and plot is threadbare. As they say in the industry, you cant polish a turd (editor’s note – Ben had removed the “u” because he’s gentlemanly – but I didn’t want it to look like I was censoring him).
  4. Watch old movies. They’re awesome. What they had to work with was limited, so they really had to think. There was no, ‘oh, we’ll just make that CGI’. Also they were often working with black and white, so they had to work hard on each shot, to make sure what needed to be ‘read’ in the shot could be done so immediately (for example, if you want something dark to be seen, put it in front of white, don’t bury it in a busy background). Hitchcock is a great place to start.
  5. Have as few shots as possible. It’s not clever to move the ‘camera’ around all the time, making tricky, edgy compositions. The priority is that the viewer knows what the heck is going on. Work out an establishing, wide shot to show the environment and where the characters are in relation to each other. From there, just cut in for close-ups and mid-shots. This requires more planning, but means much less work for everybody else down the line, including the viewer.

Follow these 5 tips, and you will soar to realms you dared not ponder in your wildest dreams.

There you have it. Thanks Ben. Anyone else interested in taking part in Mad Skillz Week should send me an email (nm dot campbell at gmail dot come).

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Some holds barred

Did you know that the term “no holds barred” comes from wrestling? Not the fake stuff. The real ancient art.

I’ve been reading a bunch of articles and discussions online recently surrounding a Christian response to cagefighting. Craig started it in his column at SydneyAnglicans. He suggested we should be coming up with an articulate position on what appears to be a pretty divisive matter of conscience populated by two unbiblical extremes…

For many, their first gut reaction to the sport will define their position. But it may be worth spending some time to work through the issue properly. I predict this sport will become enormously popular in Australia over the next few years, especially amongst young men. If this happens, it will be good if we have done some proper thinking on the subject beforehand.

Now everywhere I turn on the interwebs I’m reading the debate.

Ben commented on it yesterday, the NY Times ran a story about cage fighting churches, Justin Taylor quoted this rebuttal to the kind of Christianity modeled in the times piece and Mark Driscoll has been banging on about UFC for years. Cage fighting is well and truly established there and I haven’t read a middle ground response from the Christian community – you’re either in the Jesus was a cage fighter camp or the sissy pacifist camp… which led to this quote.

It discourages and mocks godly men who aren’t macho. There is an undercurrent of disdain in all of this. Proponents of this testosterone Christianity can’t help but take shots at guys who wear pastels and drink cappuccino. You might not like guys with manicures, but there’s absolutely nothing morally wrong with it. A reserved, quiet, well-groomed man can be a good Christian. Believe it or not.

I think the debate is pretty silly and out of all the Christian interactions I’ve read or experienced they descend in to ad hominem non-arguments the quickest (though arguments about Genesis 1 and alcohol consumption are up there).

From the NY Times:

The goal, these pastors say, is to inject some machismo into their ministries — and into the image of Jesus — in the hope of making Christianity more appealing. “Compassion and love — we agree with all that stuff, too,” said Brandon Beals, 37, the lead pastor at Canyon Creek Church outside of Seattle. “But what led me to find Christ was that Jesus was a fighter.”

Some of the arguments for cage fighting are just stupid. Jesus was not a cage fighter. No matter how hard some of the Americans want to believe that to be the case. Being a cage fighter does not make one a man, it does not even make one more manly. If this is just a correction to the feminisation of the church then it’s an odd and ill directed attempt to get more men along – but Craig was right. This is a discussion we need to have. Cage fighting is huge.

While I think some of the extreme positions on the pro fighting side are silly I wonder how much of the bellicose criticism coming from the anti-violence side of the debate is just ill-conceived grandstanding.

Gentleness is a good thing. Sure. And Christians are called on to turn the other cheek. But to suggest that a sporting endeavour where two combatants engage in a competition with agreed upon rules and parameters is somehow definitively ruled out in the Bible just seems odd to me. It’s a conscience issue – surely.

I’m not out to change anybody’s opinion on this matter – if you think violent sports are wrong then don’t watch or take part in them. I watch boxing. I enjoy WWE (which isn’t real). I haven’t watched much UFC – but I don’t have a problem with it – really. It’s just not my preference. I’d rather watch a bunch of other sports. I love the violence and physicality of league. Anybody who says they don’t watch league for the collisions is just a touch football fan in disguise. Does this make me a bad person? Anybody who thinks that league players don’t go out of their way to “hurt” others has never seen a forward make a tackle or a hit up (and they certainly haven’t spoken to any successful league players).

Why are we pain averse? I don’t understand why causing other people pain it’s clearly expected and mitigated by rules is possibly wrong? Is it less good than not causing them pain? I don’t know… but lines drawn in this debate seem completely arbitrary. League is ok (or perhaps Union), UFC is not – where does the line fall? How do you decide? As an aside – in the comments on Craig’s post Kutz suggested we need a doctrine of sport. I like that idea.

The clincher (for me) came up in the Sydney Anglicans discussion. I love the stories of violence in the Old Testament – I don’t glory in them (too much) – but I see them as pictures of justice and of the struggle between good and evil. The Bible contains more violence from righteous men than UFC will ever produce.

If it comes down to a question of “purpose” and violence not being suitable for entertainment then I wonder how many of the brothers coming out against UFC enjoy violent movies or TV shows? How can one affirm the quality of the Godfather while decrying a sport?

If it’s a problem with the unholiness of the entertainment then what about every TV show that contains sexual immorality… if it’s that the sin is real and not imagined then what about game shows where contestants are motivated by greed?

I don’t see why the objections to this passion or interest are so heated and so different to the reactions to anything else – except perhaps for a declaration that one considers the earth to be billions, not thousands, of years old or the suggestion that beer is one of God’s best ideas.

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Rockclimbing is for posers

I agree with Ben.

Rockclimbing is a stupid activity driven by some primal urge to reach high points and uncharted territory.

XKCD expresses the rockclimbing mentality best by lampooning wannabe rockclimbers. It’s all about being seen to be awesome.

I see through your ruse climbers.

And I loved Soph from the fountainside’s comment on Ben’s post.

I reckon Christians want activities that are ‘cool’ to do, but our obedience to Scripture stops us from doing things the world considers ‘cool’ – i.e. going to parties, raves, pubs and bars…pretty much anything to do with alcohol.
So we tend to flock towards activities that have some cool cred without the ‘worldly’ factor. This is why christian people like random things such as rock climbing, board games, bikes, coffee (the holy man’s drug), jazz (the holy man’s version of ‘cool’ music) and BBC dramas (the holy man’s movie choice).

Intelligent design

So, how bout this new design…

Any comments?

Any obvious glitches?

The new logo was drawn by Ben back when I picked my new name… I like it. He has kindly given me permission to use it.

The man of your dreams

Over at Ben’s blog during the inimitable Monday Quiz your host, Ben, asked a question about reoccuring dreams.

Kutz admitted to having a dream about a randomly appearing head that would pop up all over his parent’s home. Freaky.

What’s freakier is that people all over the world report seeing the same man in their dreams. This man. Have you seen this man? If you have you should check out that website.