Thursday, August 31, 2006

Scusi Coffee-Shop, Parkview, Johannesburg

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Service: * * * *
Food: * * * *
Ambience: * * * *
Babe Count: * * * * *

Phone: +27 11 646 8639

I've been strolling up and down Tyrone Avenue for the last hour or so, seeing what there is to see. Unfortunately, I've got my leather satchel slung over my shoulder. And it's damned heavy. Cos inside it is my Toshiba Tecra M4 tablet pc and various other writing stuff.

The Toshiba is NOT a light machine. But heck, it really does what I need it to do.

I go into Scusi.

A waiter greets me warmly, and offers to find a table for me. They look full. Lunchtime full, and it's only noon.

I say, 'If it's possible, I need to sit near a plug point, for my computer.' I heft my bag, and he nods.

'Do you mind sitting in the back?'

'I don't mind sitting in the kitchen, if there's a plug point.'

He shows me to a table. A biggggg one. Which is great. Cos I like to spread out.

The manageress, a darkly pretty brunette with curves, comes to my table as I'm cable-locking my machine to the table. She says, 'I have to apologise... our WIFI isn't up and running right now. We've exceeded our bandwidth cap, and they're busy recharging.'

'How much do you charge for your WIFI?' I ask.

She says, 'It's free. It's just a service we provide for our customers.'

I order a decaff cappuccino.

It's been a long time since I've done one of my characteristic 'Coffee-Shop Schmuck' coffee-shop reviews. I just can't resist this one, cos the cappuccinos are exceptionally good.

The flavour on this one is reallllly worth writing home about. I'm pretty sure most caffeine abusers wouldn't be able to tell that this is a decaff one. And I'm not jolting about, so I know they haven't slipped me a mickey.

I order lunch. It arrives. It's butternut ravioli in creamy napolitana sauce. And it's superb. Delicious. Real value for money at only R40 for a generous portion.

Last night I rented the second disc of season 2 of DEADWOOD. And watched two episodes. Yeeks. I think it's safe to say that DEADWOOD has completely blown my mind.

One of the babes sitting at the big table just to my left has been giving me the eye. And she looks a heck of a lot like the cute little blonde prostitute in DEADWOOD. The new one. The one who's been brought in to 'deal with' the needs of the mysterious mining-scout.

So now, it's off to therapy. To tell my shrink, Zahava, all about how I'm coping with not being in a relationship with 'S'. And to find out from her what I need to do to attract wholesome gals.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Trying out Zooomr as an alternative to Flickr

When I submitted my story about Flickr silencing artists to DIGG, one of the replies I got was from Thomas Hawk at Zooomr.

Here's his message:
Hey feel free to send your art to Zooomr. We are happy to have both you and your artwork and will not Nipsa you. If you are also a blogger we are giving free pro accounts for bloggers.

So I'm giving Zooomr a try. And using this blog post to take advantage of the free Pro account they're offering to bloggers.

From what I've seen of the site, it's a kind of a pared down Flickr. Doesn't seem to have any communities, nor any way to make sets. But I'm open to correction. That's really just a first impression.

I must say, if it's just hosting I want, Flickr kinda does the trick. It's more the community aspect of it that excites me about Flickr, and which disappoints me bitterly about being made invisible to people.

But who knows? Zooomr is in Beta at the moment, and things might change.

This drawing is one of my early ones on my palmtop. It was made using Mobile Atelier on an iPAQ 2210 with me standing listening to music at CD Wherehouse in Rosebank.

[UPDATE:] I've just been looking around the Zooomr site, and found something called 'Smart Sets'. I'm not sure yet, but I THINK this might be the same as 'Sets' on Flickr. But it uses a different creation system. This one allows you to create an automatic set using various criteria. For instance, 'This set must include any tag that matches this criterion... (etcetera).'

So, if you're a disciplined tagger, that'll be good for you.

There's another feature called 'Portals' which I haven't investigated yet. But it seems to be a collection of pics to do with some or other topic you stipulate.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Illustration Friday -- 'Run' -- 2006-07-23 To Run From the Sun

This week's Illustration Friday topic is 'Run'.

I haven't been painting for a little while, cos I've been on a hectic writing deadline for a piece of corporate video I was asked to script-doctor in a rush. It turned out to be WAY more than script doctoring. And it's still not over. Sheeeeesh.

I painted this one a little more than a month ago, when 'S' and I were first breaking up. This was in the lull that we were calling 'a break'.

I was feeling terrible at the time, and so i made this pessimistic painting of a dude fleeing from warmth and love, at the same time avoiding being burnt alive. Three guesses who the dude is.

Since then, I've decided that part of what i want in the world is the possibility of me being increasingly open to RECEIVING love from a love- and life-partner. (In the past, I've been a bit too much of a love-giver, which has left my love-partners feeling that I'm not able to receive anything from them. I want this to shift. I want a partnership.)

Before I say cheers for the week, please go to the DIGG site and vote for my article trying to pressure Flickr into relaxing their absurd policy of making artists invisible to searches on the site.

With enough DIGG votes, the story will make it to the attention of someone in command at Flickr, and maybe we'll see some rational action from them. Thanks!

This painting was made using ArtRage 2.11 on my Toshiba Tecra M4 tablet pc.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Flickr forcing artists to become 'non-public', known by them as 'NIPSA'

Something disturbing is happening at Flickr at the moment. They're forcing people who have predominantly art in their galleries to become 'not public'. This means that if you do a search for something, non-public pictures will not show up in that search.

This appears to be a bureaucratic implementation of one of the clauses in their 'Community Guidelines'. But it's very disturbing, because it indicates a lack of responsiveness to their paying users. (There are two ways of using Flickr.... Free and Pro. Free users can have 200 pics in the gallery at any time, and three 'sets'. Pro users can have any number of pics, and any number of sets.

If you want to look at my pics, you need to do it by following a link to my gallery. There is no way you can find me without that. (If you're interested, here's my Flickr gallery:

Here's a copy of my correspondence with Flickr about this issue. If you're a Flickr user, please consider writing to them asking for a change in their policy. To me, the policy is senseless, and seems unnecessarily punitive to the many artists and viewers of art that use the site.

My Query to Flickr:

I've been a Flickr Pro member for some time now. A friend of mine tried to do a search for my pics, and can't find any.

I subsequently tried a search too, and my work doesn't show.

I've seen several threads in discussion groups about the fact that you
seem to be making all artwork that is non-photographic 'private'.

I really would like to know why you're doing this.

I've gone through the Yahoo! terms of service, and it mentions 'photos,
graphics, audio and video' everytime it mentions anything to do with
photos. So there is nothing explicitly stated in those terms of service
preventing me from hosting my drawings publicly on Flickr.

Next, I went to your FAQ section to find out if there was a thread about this there. Maybe I overlooked it, but I don't see one.

I went to 'About Flickr'. And found nothing.

I'm very confused about this. There are literally hundreds of thousands
of artworks on Flickr, and many of them are on Pro user's accounts.

I am a digital artist. Every single image on my Flickr gallery was
created by me on my computer or on my palmtop. Almost all of them are
based on photos I took.

I'm paying you for this service, and when I flipped over to Pro, there
was nothing said about the fact that my drawings would not be public.

I'd really like to know if you can reset my status so that people can actually see my works when they search for them.

Can you get back to me about this?


Blue skies

Flickr's reply:
On 8/23/06, Flickr Support <> wrote:


Thanks for your question.

Please see our Community Guidelines.

Here is an excerpt:

"With some exceptions, it's OK to post other images, but if
the majority of your photostream contains content other than
photographs (like illustrations, screenshots, diagrams,
etc.) it's very likely that your account will be marked Not
in Public Site Areas (NIPSA). NIPSA means your photos won't
show up in photo searches, but they will still be visible
in your pages, your groups and contacts."



My response:

Thanks Monish...

I appreciate the reply.

But I'd reallllllllllllllllllllllly like to know WHY?

It doesn't make sense.

You haven't really answered any of the questions I asked.

If you have hundreds of thousands of images on Flickr which AREN'T photos, and hundreds of groups dedicated to artworks, why do you have this bizarre policy?

And why don't you make it clear and upfront in the FAQ?

You're NOT very friendly to artists. And yet it's a site that is home to a substantial number of artists.

So, I repeat... what can be done to revert my account from NIPSA to normal?

What are you guys doing to address the concerns of the hundreds of artists who are asking this question?

I looked at the forums and did a search for NIPSA and found hundreds of questions about this, with not a single answer (in the threads that I browsed) from Flickr admin people.

You guys are literally begging for a PR disaster at some point by not addressing these concerns, and sooner or later you're going to have to actually say something in response to this that is NOT a cut and paste from some sub-clause.

I'm inviting you to escalate my email upwards to one or more of your PR and Marketing mavens to actually pause and reflect and then take real action.

This isn't me being a grain of sand in the system. It's not me being egotistical and thinking I can change Flickr with the might of my words. It's more an honest evaluation and an honest appeal to you guys to do something.

What does it actually COST you to be friendly to artists on the site? What twisted logic (besides some obscure clause about artworks) FORCES you to hide our pictures from the public? You guys are coming across as rigid bureaucrats who can't think for themselves. Kinda like, 'This is what the RULES and REGULATIONS state, so our hands are tied.'

Your hands are NOT tied. You have free will. You have a giant site. You have the goodwill of zillions of people. But you're squandering that goodwill. And at a certain point, that goodwill ceases to exist. And even if it ceases to exist for a small subset of the image-sharing community, once the rot sets in, no amount of marketing spend will be able to prevent the spread of that rot.

You have the power in your hands to avert a Flickr disaster that is brewing as I sit here and type.

Please engage me on these questions.

Blue skies

[UPDATE -- 25 August 2006:] There has been no response to Flick so far. So, what I've done is this... I've submitted this blog posting to DIGG, where it seems to be generating some interest.

Here are two things you can do to help show Flickr that artists are citizens too:

(1) Please click on this DIGG link, and add your voice to the melee. It's only through pressure that Flickr might relent on this policy. After all, they want artists to be their friends. Surely?

(2) Send Flickr a politely worded note via their 'Help by Email' link. Please be polite. We're not looking to be banned! We're looking to be made pulbic and treated like humans. So please treat them like humans.

Thanks for your help. -- Roy

Friday, August 18, 2006

Illustration Friday -- Match -- 2006-05-13 Diani & Carli

2006-05-13 Diani & Carli
Originally uploaded by royblumenthal.
Today's Illustration Friday topic is 'match'. This one's a drawing I made in May.

(I'm on a writing deadline right now, so don't want to procrastinate by making a new drawing. And anyway... what could illustrate the topic better than a pair of delicious twins?)

Diani (on the left) is a member of the cast of WE WILL ROCK YOU, the Ben Elton/Queen musical that 'S', my ex-girlfriend, is in.

On the right is her twin sister, Carli.

In the flesh, it's hard to tell which one's more gorgeous. Let's just say they're both a 'match'. Heheheheheheeh.

This painting was made using Alias Sketchbook Pro 2.0 on my Toshiba Tecra M4 tablet PC.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

2006-08-13 Ingredients for a successful relationship

This is from the book, ADULT CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICS by Janet Geringer Woititz.

I'm sure the list is incomplete, but these bits are essential.

  • Vulnerability
  • Understanding
  • Empathy
  • Compassion
  • Respect
  • Trust
  • Acceptance
  • Honesty
  • Communication
  • Compatibility
  • Personal Integrity
  • Consideration

2006-08-13 How many of these characteristics of 'Adult Children of Alcoholics' do you have?

Last night I was sitting at the Seattle Coffee Company in Hyde Park, with a whole bunch of books from the Exclusive Books next door.

One of them was ADULT CHILDREN OF ALCOHOLICS by Janet geringer Woititz.

She lists a whole bunch of characteristics of adult children of alcoholics, and goes into detail about each one, with some thoughts on how to overcome these things.

When I looked at the list, I was gobsmacked. I'm a 'yes' to many of the items. (My mom was an alcoholic from around the time I was born, and my dad was abusive.)

This is her list. It applies to loads of people... pretty much anyone who grew up in an environment of abuse (alcohol, substance, gambling, emotion, physical, sexual) will have some of these characteristics.

Adult children of alcoholics...
  • guess at what normal behaviour is. (Yup.)
  • have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end.
  • lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
  • judge themselves without mercy. (Yup.)
  • have difficulty having fun. (Yup.)
  • take themselves very seriously. (Yup.)
  • have difficulty with intimate relationships. (Yup.)
  • over-react to changes over which they have no control. (Double-yup.)
  • constantly seek approval and affirmation. (Yup.)
  • usually feel that they are different from other people. (Yup.)
  • are super responsible or super irresponsible. (Super responsible is me.)
  • are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved. (Yup.)
  • are impulsive. They tend to lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviours or possible consequences. This impulsivity leads to confusion, self loathing, and loss of control. They spend a lot of energy and time sorting our the resulting mess. (Yup.)
I was very surprised about this list. I spent a lot of time reading the book. Learning about how these things manifest. On the last point... I would NEVER have accused myself of being impulsive. But in actual fact, I am.

Breaking up with 'S' was an impulsive act. I felt 'compelled' to clear up a specific issue, and that led to really awful behaviour on my part, putting 'S' on the spot, and giving her no options.

Luckily, most people have some of these characteristics. It's just that adult children of alcoholics DON'T KNOW WHAT NORMAL BEHAVIOUR IS. So we tend to think that our own behaviours 'don't fit', or are abnormal. So while a certain amount of impulsivity is normal for people, when I experience it in myself, it seems overblown, crazy, too much. So I come down hard on myself. With no mercy. Yup. Hard stuff.

But it can be dealt with. And that's what therapy is for.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

2006-08-11 Illustration Friday -- Play

This week's Illustration Friday topic is 'Play'.

I searched stock.xchng for 'poker' and 'cards', and found two reference images which I combined in CorelDraw. One was A good poker hand for me by MarkB1000, and the other was The Winning Hand by Cjcj.

I opted for a compressed middle-ground, not caring too much whether or not the perspective was right. I wanted the drama of the cards on the vertical and horizontal thirds, with a diagonal stress set up by the speech bubble, leading your eye to the guy's look of resigned desperation.

I like the story in this pic...

The guy in the foreground is winning big. And he's slow-playing to dishearten his opponent.

The opponent is down to his last chips.

And our foreground fellow has a TEN-KING suited, which is a decent opening hand in Texas Hold-Em. But he's pretending to take his time, pretending in this hand that he's NOT playing solidly.

And his opponent KNOWS he's being bluffed. He KNOWS the guy's solid. And that he's going to lose. He just wants the night to end.

This painting was made using ArtRage 2.11 on my Toshiba Tecra M4 tablet pc in the middle of the night.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

2006-08-10 Illustration Friday -- Capture

This week's Illustration Friday topic is 'Capture'.

I've just extricated myself from a co-dependent relationship. And this pic really illustrates co-dependence for me.

Here we've got a cat... ostensibly the captor, yearning for the rat in the trap. But the rat is actually safe from the cat... the trap is protecting it. So the cage is actually something that keeps both parties away from each other, and safe, and captive, all at the same time.

In the relationship between 'S' and me, I would go into a sort of 'kind uncle' mode in response to her 'innocent little girl' mode. Which would make both of us feel unsafe... cos I would be pushing my needs down, and she would know deep down that it was manipulation on her part.

But it was also safe for both of us. Because the behaviours were habitual, and not overtly horrible.

I'm hoping that I learn some stuff from this breakup. I'm kinda kicking myself, cos I've been doing so much hard work on these issues.


This painting is based on a photo titled Catch me if you can 1 by vign on stock.xchng and was made using ArtRage 2.11 on my Toshiba Tecra M4 tablet pc.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

'S' kisses someone to clarify her feelings for me. Bye bye, 'S'.

'S' and I are fully broken up.

She had some kind of a fling with someone in Cape Town two nights ago, and has been carefully keeping the information away from me. Doing a bit of a Bill Clinton.

We had a discussion on the phone some time ago about the poosibility of having sex with other people while we were 'having our break'. I sent her a long email in response, saying that I think it's a bad idea, but not completely ruling it out, but posing some rules, and asking for her commitment to those rules before either of us acted on anything.

Yesterday we spoke on the phone, and I said, 'Is there anything you need to tell me?'

There was a long pause. And she said, 'No.'

So this morning she admitted to kissing someone two nights ago. 'I needed to clarify how I felt about you, Roy.'

Well, hell. It certainly clarifies how I feel about her.

So... I'm no longer flying to Cape Town on the 1st of September. I have a one-way ticket from Joburg to Cape Town that I'm selling for R450. If you want it, it costs about R85 to transfer it into your name, and another R85 if you want change the time or date of the flight. Please give me a call on 082 659 3165 if you'd like the ticket.