Sunday, 15 July 2012

Briscoe - Day Job

I got to participate in another Briscoe video. 'Day Job' is a brilliant, catchy pop song. Here is the video clip:

My role was to wear a yellow pillowcase over my head and sit slumped in an office chair, as though dead. My screen time was around 0.5 seconds, but I came to this task with a lifetime's interest in corpse-acting. If there is a mortuary scene in a police procedural show, I am often unable to follow dialogue due to the overriding attention I pay to the corpse, trying to perceive signs of life. If it is a murder scene with an open-eyed body, I am intent on spotting involuntary dilation of the pupil. a fluttering nerve, the shadow of a pulse. How many takes due to the corpse appearing alive? Do the actors sit about and have a laugh in their corpse make-up between takes? Do they need to have the room particularly warm to prevent the corpse getting goose-pimples?

Despite the brevity of my screen time, it was necessary to sit motionless under the yellow pillowcase for the song's duration, unaware of when the camera would be on me. In attempting to remain motionless, I was aware of every involuntary motion of my unruly body. The sensory deprivation brought about by wearing a pillowcase over my head amplified an extreme self-consciousness of my chest heaving when I breathed, the pillowcase ballooning and contracting with every breath, my heart palpitating within my chest, my limbs twitching wildly with uncontrolled muscular spasms.

Of course, none of this was apparent. Bart also filmed me riding my skateboard around, wearing a suit and with a yellow pillowcase over my head, but this will probably never be used until Briscoe record a song called 'Ben Is A Fucking Show-Off'.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Worlds collide, blood splatters, we giggle excitedly

Look at Phil Noto's Game of Thrones-inspired variant cover art for the first issue of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr's new Hit-Girl spin-off series. Noto is featured in this month's CLiNT magazine, which also has the start of the comic and news about the upcoming Kick-Ass 2 movie.

Bike of Burden

The problem of carrying my skateboard on my bicycle has exercised me for a while. I like riding to the skatepark or between street spots, but I hate to carry my board on my back. Last year I made this skateboard carrier for my bike pannier, which has been working fine, but which I wanted to upgrade with some pockets and a shoulder strap so that it functions as a piece of luggage independent of the bike. Above is the finished item, and it was made thus:


denim cut to size, folds marked
pockets cut in denim

pockets sewn and lined
there is a rigid board sewn into the carrier so that it holds its shape. Jez (Jeremy Granville Smith) is a master furniture restorer and totally overqualified to do this, but he did it anyway because he is a lovely geezer with a workshop

it attaches to the bike with either/both velcro and leather straps
bike + board

high-vis strips are sewn onto the edges

elastic straps across the top can carry some additional luggage, such as a comic book

the shoulder strap folds away into one of the pockets, and attaches with these big buttons

Alas, I am not happy with it. With the sewing machine as with skateboarding, my ambitions outstrip my abilities. It doesn't work as well as it ought - I don't trust the shoulder strap to hold, there's not enough volume in the pockets when the thing is closed, I didn't make the velcro straps as long as I should have, and the leather straps are a hassle to fasten. I find myself returning to the carrier that I made last year.

Fairdale Bikes and Roger Skateboards have collaborated on a bike/board set that is way more desirable.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Summer Hill

Yesterday marked 2 years since we moved to Summer Hill. Apparently it was also Go Skateboarding Day, so I went skating at Summer Hill. Witness the devastation: 


I filmed and edited this on my iPhone using a free application called VidEditorFree. It's a bit glitchy, but it works fine.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Boatil Jaikit

I decided to equip my bike with a water bottle. As my old Claude Butler bicycle has no holes in the down tube to accommodate a bottle cage, I used a clamp to mount it on the handlebars. The clamp was slightly too small, so I thumped it into place with a hammer and replaced the lower bolt with a longer skateboard truck bolt to hold it tightly closed.

The bottle on the bike, with skateboard truck bolt holding the clamp in place

The cage is an 'Iris' King Cage, and the bottle a 27oz Klean Kanteen, both bought from the fine fellows at Cheeky Transport in Newtown. The bottle and cage are both lovely objects, unfussy and functional in their design.

The bottle sits snugly in the cage, but metal against metal inevitably creates a slight rattle. This began to annoy me, so I took out the sewing machine and knocked up a nice wee denim jacket with which to clad the bottle. The base was tricky to sew and is not too neat, but I am content with it. I fed a length of shoelace through the upper hem to act as a drawstring that can be pulled tight around the neck of the bottle.

boatil in the buff
boatil in a jaikit

I'm pleased with this, my 'hydration solution' (if you're a knob), my 'boatil in a jaikit' (if you're Scottish), which, like the tin of a penniless beggar, or an irate baby who throws things from its pushchair, or the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, no longer has a rattle.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Bicycle Attire Part II - Shorts and Jerseys

And so I continue on the theme of bicycle clothing, to the topic of The Jersey. Jersey is how one describes the garment a cyclist wears on the upper part of his or her body. They tend to be constructed of fabric with a lycra component, so are stretchy and tight-fitting. Clearly this is beneficial against wind resistance.

Cycling jerseys commonly feature lines that delineate the arms from the torso - run a google image search on 'cycling jersey' if you require an illustration of this. Such lines tend to amplify the gut, so this aesthetic component is mystifying with regard to the large number of paunchy men who don this apparel for their Sunday morning cycle.

Another characteristic of the cycling jersey is branding, mostly bike manufacturers and companies that sponsor cycling events. I found an old jersey on Ebay that features the ludicrous combination of 7-Eleven convenience stores and Hoonved, which is an Italian washing machine company. I think it is pretty cool.

Damn it feels good to be a gangster

So what do these jerseys offer the cyclist? They don't flap in the wind, and they're made of synthetic mix fabrics which tend to cope well with sweat, and dry quickly. They drop low at the rear, so you don't get chilly in the lumbar when leaning forward into your handlebars. But perhaps most wonderfully they have deep pockets at the back, because having stuff in your trouser pockets when cycling is perilous (stuff falls out) and uncomfortable (it can rub with the motion of your legs). Here I am about to leave the house with a bottle of whisky and an issue of the Kick Ass 2 comic book, ready for fucking action:

These are the most ridiculous aspect of the cyclist's wardrobe, diverging furthest from everyday clothing, but they are also the most specialised, and goddamit they are comfy. These things are called bib knicks. I refer to them as Obelix pants. Most of what is negative about them is summarised in this image:

woah bodyform, bodyform for you

They look stupid as hell. One's genitals are conspicuous beneath a thin layer of stretchy fabric. Furthermore, going to the toilet is a challenge. However, the garment doesn't ride down due to those shoulder straps, and they have rubbery hems on the legs so they don't ride up either. They have a padded thing in the crotch that is known as a chamois that, frankly, there is no going back from - comfort, thy name is chamois. You don't wear underwear with these things, so you need to wash them every couple of days. And you must never, ever wear them to the pub, because you look like a fucking twat.

Bicycle Attire Part 1 - Helmets

After years of steadfastly refusing to alter my everyday clothing for the sake of transport, I have recently decided to embrace specialised cycling apparel. The reasons for this include convenience and comfort; Sydney can be hot and humid, and sweat-drenched denim is an effective way to experience chafing and fungal skin infections.

A brief inspection of the clothing available at bike stores prompts the question, must all aesthetic considerations be put aside for convenience and comfort? For cycling is a world with it own stylistic palette, which can be generally characterised as brand names splashed across ghastly shades of skintight lycra. In cycling, this dickbag is considered a style icon:

Mario Cipollini is a champion arse-piece

In this and the following posts I will look at the question of whether it is possible to wear clothing designed for cycling, while observing basic standards of taste and decency.

It is a legal necessity for cyclists to wear helmets in Australia. I'm undecided if this should be taken out of the realm of personal choice, but ever since my helmet left a dent in the bonnet of a car that ran into me, I have had no problem with wearing one. I used to wear a skateboard helmet on my bike, but this unventilated lump of heavy black plastic would get so hot beneath the Australian sun that I would come over all dizzy, so I decided to buy a proper bike helmet.

Most bicycle helmets resemble dreadlocks cast in lurid plastic. Here is a typical array of helmets from an online bike shop:

There is little variation to be found in this design approach, and not only are they uniformly shit to look at, they offer little beyond basic functionality. I live in the Inner West of Sydney, which means that I ride to work with the morning sun rising in my eyes, and ride home into the glare of the setting sun. It would hence be useful to have some kind of visor on a helmet, and also channels to accommodate the legs of sunglasses so that they don't get pressed into one's head (this is sore). Bern is the only manufacturer I found that offer these features, but they are not available in Australia.

Lazer produce these helmets with a substantial visor and nice fabric finish, but my choice was limited to darker hues. I wanted something with a lighter colour after the cooking my brain had received inside a black helmet. And frankly, they look a bit pony, and I don't want to look like I'm on my way to the gymkhana.

I went instead for a helmet made by Capix, which has fussy ridges and branding, but is about as inoffensive a helmet as I could find. It has a visor which is too small to be effective when the sun is low in the sky. The fit is reasonable, although it tends to move around a bit, and I often find myself tightening the chin-strap. But overall it's a massive improvement on the skateboard helmet I was using. It's also a fine home for the Porco Rosso sticker I picked up in Tokyo.