Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is. - Oscar Wilde
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Animation, Art, and Other Shiny Things
I usually have a bit of a time titling these posts, but today was very different. I nearly titled this post “Balls Out” but somehow I just couldn’t do it… Another option was “Triple Stoked”. You’ll see what I mean as the post winds along.
This was another one of those incredible days where things just fall together wonderfully. Our original intent had been to find a laundry yesterday to wash everything in preparation for our trip out of Brum (Birmingham) tomorrow. Young Master Crow had a lot of work to get done as he’d spent Friday with us, so he took Saturday to get it done. We had a nice little, highly rated spot picked out, but, as the trip out to Stoke-on-Trent took longer than we’d expected, we delayed it until today.
Before I began to plan this trip I’d begun following a local Brum newspaper online and had noted the opening of a quirky little spot called Ghetto Golf. It’s a mini-golf course created in a warehouse in Digbeth and has a funky, graffiti style. During the trip planning I dropped it in my saved places on whim.
Well, This morning Mrs Crow suggested Young Master Crow and I go ahead on to it and perhaps also to a pinball parlor close by. (I was quite the pinball wizard back in the day and spent a lot of time in front of a lot of tables and didn’t have to spend many quarters doing so, in fact some nights I made money at it) She was perfectly fine doing the laundry and reading her book as she did. Did I mention that the missus is quite the woman? She’s put up with me for nearly three decades so she really has to be, but it’s good to note it every once in a while.
Anyways, we dropped Mrs Crow at that great little laundry nearby and found our way to Digbeth and an early tee time.
The place was amazing and the street art covering the walls (and about everything else as well) was incredible! The 18 holes were highly imaginative and a few of them were quite adult in nature (dildoes were an impediment on one), one hole went through an old city bus, another wound you around shelves of horror videos until you rounded the corner to be confronted by a mural of Hellraiser’s Pinhead and a tableau lit up with Regan from The Exorcist at her demonic best. Finally the three last holes were all done in black light day-glo color.
And those last three holes, hole 16 in particular, is where Young Master Crow beat me. The lead wavered back and forth between us by no more than a single stroke throughout until then, but on this Pachinko-like hole my ball dropped into the plus-three slot and his into the negative-one, and that was the game.
Walking out of there to make our way to the pinball parlor we found the neighborhood full of street art. Around another corner, another mural. It was glorious.
Apparently I didn’t raise my kid quite completely as, at the pinball tables, he went through his 5 pounds in no time, whereas I won a few extra games and gave him the opportunity to finish off his entire pot of tea.
Our timing couldn’t have been better as we got back to the laundromat only a few minutes after Mrs Crow finished up the laundry. Picking up YMC’s laptop at his apartment and dropping off our newly-clean laundry at the hotel, we set off to hunt down the elusive ‘lunch’.
At this point I must ask, in the strongest possible way – Nando’s please please, come to Seattle! That peri peri sauce is a wonderful thing. On the plus side, I can get the sauce online, so at least I won’t perish from withdrawls.
Sated, we all went in search of someplace to watch the Cricket World Cup finals. England was hosting the World Cup and it had also made it to the finals against New Zealand. We’d been following it all day and, in a fortunate twist, New Zealand was up to bat first so we made it to a pub at the interval and right before England was due up to bat.
I’ve watched Cricket for years, when I could find it, so I have a minor understanding of the game but not a great one. Test matches are just way too long, so the 20/20s and 50/50s ar about the right size for me. The World Cup is 50/50s.
A Pot of tea and a couple hours later it didn’t look good for the home team. England just wasn’t producing the runs it needed per over and they kept slipping. 49 overs with only one to go and only math seemed to hold the hope of the possible.
And then Ben Stokes made a play I’m not sure anyone thought possible. For much of the game I had been kind of down on Stokes. His partner for most of the game, Jos Buttler, was very efficient, scoring nearly as many runs as bowls faced, but was caught out. Stokes just wasn’t playing with that much efficiency and it felt like he was losing the game for England. To make matters worse, they were deep in the lineup with mostly bowlers (think pitchers in baseball) being all that was left. England needed 15 in the last over, just six pitches, to win – no chance.
Then, on what was the third or fourth ball from the finish Stokes hit for what would be a solid single, but needing 15, they stretched to try and make a double. Sliding face-down to the line, the ball, thrown from well outfield, glanced off his bat and rolled to the boundry for four more points for a total of six!
With that bit of renewal, England managed to tie the game in the last few bowls and they went to a Super Over where they just kept rolling and won the game! Incredi-freakin-bul.
So there you have it; golf balls, silver balls, and cricket balls – but that was not the only trinary to occur. Remember Friday? Stokes Croft for the street art. Yesterday was Stoke-on-Trent. And today was Ben Stokes. I’m sensing a pattern here…
As mentioned, tomorrow we’re on our way north to Huddersfield then Holmfirth, and we missed out on wandering the Birmingham Library. Hopefully we’ll get in there when we pass back through Brum next weekend.
Observations from…today: Showtime at the Apollo is not the show from Harlem we were expecting.
Scaffold companies are making a killing here in the UK.
Today we’re doing the train up to Birmingham, and with Young Master Crow coming in to meet up with us last night, we delayed our big tour of the street art until today since he and I are both huge fans of the genre.
After a bit of breakfast at one of the ubiquitous Costas near the hotel we set off in search of Banksy. Mrs Crow and I had found a few of them yesterday in the M-Shed and near Spike Island so we dragged the young man down there to start our pilgrimage.Since Young Master Crow’s phone’s direction cone works far better than mine (it actually points the correct way) he led the way out and onwards to the next and subsequent pieces.
Now until Bristol, we hadn’t really had to contend with hills. That changd with a vengeance today. One of the pieces, The Rose Trap, is under plexi on a wall which is great. It is up a very steep hill, which is not so great. The fortunate bit is that just a little tad further up the hill is a life-saver of a tiny park where we sat under a tree to regain our breath and legs.
By that time we’d been wandering around Stokes Croft for a bit already and, unlike the rest of the city, street art was everywhere. I’m not exaggerating, either! Turn a corner, there’s a wall of it. Get a bit down a street and turn about for another persepective and find one you almost missed. Look up a building and there’s something you could’ve walked right by. It was a dream!
I’d studied my street art app last night and was able to recognize some of the art or artists and was like a cat with three mice in a bucket (pronounced boo-kay, but that’s another story for a few days from now).
Cheo, Chinagirl, Nick Walker, Cheba, Tom Miller, Sweet Toof, Banksy, and more. I should list them all, really, there were just so many! Mrs Crow is the photographer of us, but I still took over 60 pictures along the journey! There was so much that in some cases I just took a picture down the alley way to at least show the expanse of quality artwork along our way.
When I’d planned our trip to the UK and decided on the stop in Bristol just for Banksy (and Bristol Blue Glass) I wasn’t sure what we’d find – if we’d just have looong walks between Banksy’s bits, or what, but this around six mile walk made this stop so worthwhile I just can’t express it properly.
Between the Mrs and I we have a sh*t-ton of pictures and I will very likely add many of them at the tail end of this post even after it’s published, so if you love street art as much as I do, check back over the next several days. We’re hitting the Welsh coast late next week and I should have the time to get caught up with the posts themselves and finish adding and captioning pics on this one.