Tuesday, 31 October 2006

New York Nite

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the city that never sleepsNow to New York for a short visit. I'll be north in Connecticut most of the time, hopefully able to see some of the fall colors. For now, its the neon and sights of Manhattan.

Join me for a wander around Times Square by clicking on either of the Times Square photos and then exploring the network of webcams.

If you can't be there, at least enjoy the views and the people. Have a nice day.
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All Hallows Eve

flame.jpgI enjoyed visiting the flaming pumpkins of extreme pumpkins last year and they've got some great ones again this time.

Alternatively, hang a glass witch ball in the window (make sure it contains some strands) and you can ward off any bad witches of the night!
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Monday, 30 October 2006

deep dive

dive.jpgAppropriately we met tonight by water. Your single codeword gave me the exact location. Ten minutes of predictable delay before your arrival.

Smiling we met, but I could already tell that some of your original plan had unravelled. The Egyptian dive, the crystals and the failed mission. As you put it - something warned you that it may not all work out. I know you've had to do some deep thinking.

I can already tell you will see things clearly when you return from Heidelberg.

And tomorrow, I must visit New York to discuss the options.

Sunday, 29 October 2006

towards the witching hour

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Scary Witches can still be fun. Be popular. Woooo.

shut up and sing


Around three years ago the modernist, bluegrass singing Dixie Chicks were on stage in London and the band's Natalie Maines made comments about being ashamed that George Bush came from Texas. There was someting of a furore in the USA and the once popular band plummeted. Radio stations in the US stopped playing their songs and there were pictures of their CDs being destroyed in the street.

Now they have returned with a recent new album and a film called 'Shut up and Sing' which includes footage from the London gig, Iraq war footage and the subsequent protests. Quel surprise that some of the major networks have decided to ban the commercial for the film too, although local channels are getting it played. NBC says the adverts are 'disparaging of President Bush'.

So a film about pop musicians being blacklisted for speaking their mind on a topic which is fairly widely discussed is now being blacklisted. Is this just publicity, or are their other forces at work?

Saturday, 28 October 2006

timelord

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I watched the first two of the BBC's new Torchwood episodes tonight, from Sky Plus. Torchwood is a kind of spin off from Doctor Who and is actually an anagram of Doctor Who.

I commented about Torchwood during the last Doctor Who series when they visited the Torchwood Institute and there do seem to be a number of tongue in cheek references between the two series. Both filmed in Swansea, there is an invisible elevator in Torchwood on the spot where the Tardis landed on one of the early episodes of the Ecclestone Doctor Who. Jack from the Torchwood series says there's a 'non perception point' that means no-one can see the elevator because of a previous disruption in the area - I suppose maybe the Tardis landing would cause this? (Hmm - did Jack the American say 'elevator' or 'lift'...?)

In the first episode of Torchwood, Jack also refers to the need to see a special kind of Doctor about his apparent immortality (I wonder who that might be?)

I also thought I heard a little piece of Doctor Who music mixed in episode two, so I suppose the BBC are having fun with us. I suspect there will be some discarded Doctor Who artifacts in the rather messy Torchwood headquarters too. There's already a Torchwood website featuring safe handling of alien objects, as an example.
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Compared with the BBC's new Robin Hood, I find Torchwood much more entertaining although I suppose the themes like the female sex crazed alien (Welsh species?) in episode two may move it out of family viewing.

And tonight, with the change of clocks, I get to be a time traveller too, just for one hour, and back in time.

sawhney fusion


I've liked Nitin Sawhney's music for a long time and often have an album in the car. There was a collection of his works performed live yesterday evening. I couldn't get along because the seating was very limited, but there seems to be an excellent record of his concert across at the BBC. Here's a small extract, based upon a very specific request by Julie.
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Friday, 27 October 2006

lock

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I'm shutting down for the evening. The last few days I've been around Stockholm, Sweden and Frankfurt, Germany. I managed to duck the side visit to Helsinki on Tuesday but it still feels intense. Tonight, the Lufthansa Airbus 300 was on time but we'd forgotten to figure out how I was to get back from Heathrow.

Logistically challenged, with my car in a distant multi-story car park.

Its been a multi-story kind of week.

Thursday, 26 October 2006

niederrad

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So, against my logic and at your request, we fleetingly met again in a Greek restaurant in Niederrad. Marco had told me it was a rough part of town, but it looked like a good and random place for us.

Corner table, professionally facing two exits and with a small glass of white wine already poured when I arrived.

A few words, a new request and the slightest touch of our hands. I know I should have destroyed the small slip of paper after I had memorised the number, but it has no connections for anyone else.

A few minutes later, the smudged yellow light of a taxi outside and you were back into the early darkness.

My evening had become complicated.

Wednesday, 25 October 2006

OTA : Wordless Wednesday

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gamla stan

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Monday, 23 October 2006

smoked

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I was thinking about Seattle yesterday after dawdling by netchick's site and my mind drifted to the seafood bars along the waterfront near to Pikes Place Market. They sell oysters so fresh they are bursting with the sea's being - an experience like no other.

Then today, in Stockholm, I tasted the fresh North Sea salmon and had a similar minor brain explosion from the freshness and the energy.

Sometimes you just have to be there.

Sunday, 22 October 2006

Москва

US Embassy Moscow
I knew you'd used me, weeks before our last goodbye, shivering at the embassy that icy morning. You'd walked from the main doors to the bars by the sentry post. I could see your breath, like mine, across the four meters separating us. The guy with the grey barrelled zoom lens didn't seem that interested whilst he took perfunctory photographs of us.

You said they'd never catch you now - but I noticed you didn't make the same comment about me. I'd been the one who you'd asked to get the stuff and had fallen deeply, willingly, into your spell as we'd plotted mere weeks before how I could provide you with the information.

And three weeks even earlier, when we'd first met in that cafe. Insufficent tables, a coffee together and then you'd forgotten your bag and I'd left a few moments later to return it. Such a simple device, but you had me hooked and then as we developed our passion you started asking for small, soft favours.

It was a rachet, both of emotions and of crime. Who'd ever know about either? But they did find out. Not about me, but about you having some of the papers in your possession. It wouldn't take long to piece it together and that's why I thought it best to disappear. You ran for cover to your embassy, but we now both know what happened.

A week after I said goodbye with my eyes, I saw the news report and the pictures of your car being pulled from the Moscva and you being described by that other name you had told me. I left Russia the same day, back to London, to another identity.

The ache lasted months but I finally put you into a little closed box in my heart.

Then today.

I saw the black cars approach, the whirr of a window from the one in the middle. A couple of softly spoken words, and the look from those eyes. Your eyes. Then a whirr again and you were gone. But now, to me you have come back, and it will all start again.

Saturday, 21 October 2006

Saturday

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I'm not quite sure where today has gone.

Its nearly seven pm and I'm getting ready to go out for dinner with some friends, but I can't really work out how it could be so late.

Sure, I've had some things to do today. Shopping, visiting the laundry. I don't think I've really even stopped to eat today so far. Oh yes, maybe a valencia orange yoghurt earlier, but that was mainly because I'd accidentally closed it in the car boot and needed to rescue the perforated carton. Actually it was pretty good.

So tonight I shall be with some friends. No doubt a lot of talking, but I hope they don't ask what I've been doing today, because it won't be very interesting. Maybe its because they played "Sunday Morning" on Radio Four early today and I got confused.

Heres Live if you want it.

Friday, 20 October 2006

दिवाली

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Its interesting in our global village that there are huge festivals in one part of the world which others in another may not even be aware of. So, amongst current ones is दिवाली or दीपावली - Diwali.

This "Festival of Lights," symbolises the victory of good over evil, and lamps are lit as a sign of celebration and hope for mankind. It is celebrated in different ways in different parts of India, so there's about 1 billion people involved, or roughly 3 times the population of the USA.

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Thursday Thirteen (V31)

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I thought I'd try to save £13 this evening by posting 13 questions which I could otherwise ask to 82ask. In case you don't know 82ask is an SMS text service in the UK where you can ask ANY question and get an answer for the charge of £1. If I can get answers to my questions from bloggers, then I can save £13, based upon it being Thursday Thirteen. So here goes...
82ask
1) How much does the earth weigh?
2) Does a sheep's wool shrink in the rain?
3) How many calories does kissing burn off?
4) What's the French for 'thats a nice jacket, can I buy you a drink, are you doing anything later?'
5) What is the takeoff velocity of a 747?
6) How do homing pigeons know the way home?
7) What is the largest shoe size?
8 ) How long does it take to get from the south side of Chelsea Bridge to Covent Garden, by bus?
9) Where can I buy HP sauce in Tokyo?
10) What is the oldest pub on record?
11) Who are four internationally famous Belgians?
12) How do I plant tomatoes so that I have a regular crop instead of all of them together?
13) Where's the nearest Victoria's Secret to Leeds Town Centre?

Add a comment, trackback or a link if you are a Thursday Thirteener!


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Wednesday, 18 October 2006

OTA: Wordless Wednesday

supper
supper

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Tuesday, 17 October 2006

charge it

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After four little UPS delivery labels, my replacement battery for my Powerbook finally arrived today. So now I have a shiny new battery and the old one is boxed ready for collection. I was beginning to think I had been caught in an infinite loop.
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Monday, 16 October 2006

nikab?

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A couple of weeks ago I walked past this modernist hoarding, which shows a red veil/nikab/burka in a sort of South Park color scheme. Now, in the UK, there is a considerable debate about whether Muslim women should wear the veil in all circumstances.

I have spent some time in Saudi Arabia, and the hijab (black cloak which covers everything) and nikab(veil) was obligatory for women there, in a country where many companies would not employ women or if they did, they were segregated completely from men.

Western women would don black hijab as they entered the country and usually this included a full head veil.

Women are not allowed to sit visibly alone in public in Riyadh (the capital of Saudi Arabia) and there are special areas segregated away for women and children, with screens around them. The same is true in lines for service in restaurants and, as an example, MacDonalds has a man's line and a separate family line where women can stand. I don't pick on MacDonald's it is the same with all similar establishments.

As another trite example, the early Starbucks in Riyadh changed their logo and removed the woman's face to avoid offence or impropriety.

In the shopping malls, which are modern, air-conditioned and western-looking with Sachs of Fifth Avenue, Niemann Marcus and so forth, there is a separate floor for women, and men are not allowed to shop there. Some evenings the whole mall becomes 'family' and then groups of males alone are not allowed in.

Now Saudi is a deeply religious country and men take prayers five times a day with ceremony and using their prayer mats. Work stops whilst this takes place. The same shopping malls will close at each prayer time and religious police (muttawa) in special brown robes and carrying a stick will patrol to ensure that prayer time is being observed.

So in the UK, this use of predominately black veil has become a major topic of debate since Jack Straw made a few comments a few days ago.

The bigger debate is that in a religiously intense area of the world, there is still a convention that women must completely cover up in public, can't drive and in many cases can't take jobs. Its fair to say that that some of these areas have hauled themselves from the equivalent of the middle ages in the last eighty years, but it does create an inevitable imbalance when moving the conventions of such a country to another area.

video editing

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I realised that I've done rather a lot of video posts recently. When I started experimenting with video on rashbre central, I expected it to be quite difficult to get anything to load, but now I've simplified my setup to camera, firewire, computer, final cut pro and an external firewire drive for the content its all become relatively straightforward.

To be really honest, I've hidden a spare firewire half terabyte behind a sofa so that I can just plug it into a Mac laptop when I want to do some editing.

So I suppose this is something of a technical post describing my informal way of working. So typically:

- Capture the video by plugging a camera into the laptop using firewire and capture directly into Final Cut Pro or iMovie
- Edit as required, adding cuts, transitions, and adaptations to the sound
- Render the sequence
- Export as a .mov or use Quicktime to compress for the Internet.
- In extreme circumstances use Compressor to create a special format
- Use iDVD to integrate into a DVD with menus
- Or simply upload the compressed .mov for internet viewing

And to extract snippets from an existing DVD:

- use Mac the Ripper to convert the DVD back into constituent files
- use Cinematize to convert the DVD files (.VOBs etc) into .mov, .avi or whatever for editing
- import the extracted sections into Final Cut Pro or iMovie for editing

And iMovie and iDVD are included on all modern Macs and can do most of what most people want.

So thats a simple learner driver's guide to video.

And just because I like it, here's a little video clip which went through some of the above processes. Its of Michele Shocked playing acoustic guitar and singing about learning to drive in East Texas.

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Sunday, 15 October 2006

gooble


I saw this video across on Florence's site, which I drop by from time to time. It is a ten minute edit of a lot of different You-Tubers engrossed in their individual videos, with a tremulous violin and piano soundtrack. Its a great 'moment in time' look at You Tube before it becomes Googalized.
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And from Florence also, some great toys like these Pimmie Parrots. Do check them out!

Saturday, 14 October 2006

discarded plotlines

I havn't really started taking the NaNoWriMo 2006 seriously yet and I certainly won't start writing anything until the 1st November. However, I thought it would be fun to reject a few plotlines and characterisations. If anyone else wants them, please feel free...

SHOT
As the story opens, James, the novel's lead character, has flashbacks to the store he was in when the robbery took place and saw the woman get shot. James froze when this happened and now feels as if his world has been turned upside down and is completely traumatised and unable to go out. James weighs all possible courses of action. Finally, after much careful consideration, James decides to need to recreate the scene in a way that he intervenes by loitering in convenience stores in dangerous parts of town. This is the only way James believes it will be possible to exorcise the trauma, the only course to take. It is this goal that we will see James aggressively pursue, as we watch his spiral into madness all the way to the end of the story.

CURSE OF THE CANALETTO
Peter Braxton, the ruggedly handsome, world renowned Harvard professor of Renaissance Art is summoned to Europe to analyze the mysterious murder of a famous physicist. While there, he discovers evidence of the unimaginable - the definitive and substantial proof of cold fusion. He must work with Isabella, the extremely beautiful and intelligent engineer, in order to beat the clock and unlock the mystery.

Peter Braxton's worst fears are confirmed when he discovers that a contract killer has been murdering innocent victims, including a seemingly unrelated bunch of teenage punks. He and Isabella must rush against the clock, and use their knowledge of obscure art, ambiguous history, impossible computer science theory, and inaccurate theology, as their investigation takes them through the mysterious streets of Florence. They encounter further difficulties when their efforts are thwarted by the director of CERN who has his own plan for solving the mystery and unlocking the secrets of cold fusion.

Peter Braxton and Isabella put their fate into the hands of the director of the CIA who actually turns out to be the one who planned and orchestrated the entire devious plot. As they expose the treacherous director of the CIA they must also face the truth that cold fusion was just a fabrication, and does not really exist. When the director of the CIA is finally exposed, he tries to escape, but tragically dies engulfed in infernal flames, as Peter Braxton and Isabella look on. With his last breath, the director of the CIA explains that his motives were actually good, but got corrupted and twisted by evil ambition. Putting the entire fiasco behind them, Peter Braxton and Isabella kiss in a very romantic and awkward kind of way.

CHALKED
An original screenplay concept by rashbre (this will go straight to film)
A sexy district attorney teams up with a kind hearted prostitute to discover America. In a seedy bar in Nevada they play Russian roulette with four British men on welfare who are on a gambling vacation. This results in a road pursuit which highlights workingclass British prejudices of middle America. By the end of the movie they have fallen for two of the Brits but also hijack several cars and end up winning the admiration of their country, during a media frenzy stakeout in a condo in Miami. Think sex lies and videotape meets Pulp Fiction.

PASSION UNDER STORMCLOUDS
Waiting alone in the humble comfort of old Ben’s hovel, with the far-off clamour of the playing fields wafting in from outside, the terrified Violetta thought once more of Laszlo the Hungarian illusionist, the mysterious stranger with the large dog. He was now, according to her horoscope, on a collision course with the High Council itself.

Then came the thud of fists, a muffled cry, fighting on the stairway, and she shut her eyes tight for one moment of silent prayer. He was here! "We marry tonight, my giddy little goose!" he husked, pressing his lips to hers, and as she melted gently into his embrace, she took a moment to plan some of the details of their pre-nuptial agreement.

UNKNOWN WORLD
From within the gleaming, antiseptic operating theater, with the plaintive braying of the Don’s llamas drifting in, Alicia — she who had always seemed so cold! — thought once more of Lorenzo, the bold bandito who had been so gentle in her arms. He was now, according to father, recklessly endangering her life as well as his own.

A door clicked gently and then silently opened slowly into the room. She struggled in vain with her sudden panic. He was here! "Kiss me, my Oriental pearl!" he said with his eyes (for his voice was now silent for ever), blowing a perfect smoke ring in her direction, and as the music in her heart rose to a new crescendo of happiness, she wondered if this would be a good time to remind him about the books he had borrowed.

So do any of you have ideas for my next plot?

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Friday, 13 October 2006

rather flash


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Friend Christina was at this flash-mob event and posted about it a couple of days ago. I noticed this little video in a London newswire which captures the moment very well.

Liverpool Street is a major London train station still busy with commuters at 7p.m. and on the day shown in the video, a set of clubbers were sent a SMS text to flash mob at 19:24 and to start dancing to whatever was on their iPods. Enjoy the rather bizarre moment.

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Thursday, 12 October 2006

Be cool


I've been enjoying a couple of posts over on Maximum Bob, where he's been doing some film deconstruction whilst lesson planning for school syllabus. Bob talks about the difference between production sound (car noises and incidentals with direct relevance to the storyline) and soundtrack (music and so forth) and how they can be interposed and sometimes exchanged.

So tonight I was watching the start of 'Be Cool' which does something similar with dialogue. The actors (John Travolta and others including Uma Thurman) talk about the framing and premise of a film, whilst at the same time being in the one they are referencing. I find it amusing and actually enjoy the little movie asides in quite a few of Travolta's films, probably because of Tarantino's strong influence and love of the references.

So I suppose thats an excuse to reference the scene (sometimes edited out) in Pulp Fiction in Jack Rabbit Slim's cafe where Travolta and Uma Thurman are making small talk about Fox Force Five which includes a woman with a deadly knife/sword skill. Its actually an approximation of Kill Bill which was made some ten years later. I gather that Tarantino already had a partial script for Kill Bill when Pulp Fiction was being filmed.
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Its good to have such fun and confidence in writing and production.

Which leads me to the main point, that I just enrolled for another set of writing myself, with the rapid approach of NaNoWriMo 2006.

So now I need characters, a plot, a place, a theme and no doubt some time, but not for another few weeks.

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Wednesday, 11 October 2006

OTA: Death of a President

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There's been huge black and white posters in London advertising the controversial docu-drama about the assassination of George W Bush.

Set in the near future, the film has just screened on UK television (and again on Friday) and examines the reaction of America. The feature length portrayal is set in October 2007 and has Bush in Chicago speech-making in light of a polarised electorate. There's a massive anti-war demonstration but Bush goes ahead with his visit but departing the venue he is killed by a sniper.

While the USA mourns, the hunt for his killer swings into action and the investigators try to make sense of this attack on the administration soon focusing on Syrian-born, Jamal Abu Zikri.

And last week in Spooks, the Americans were at the root of the bad guys plotline about arms trade.

And tonight we have the new BBC series about a coalition Prime Minister to replace the outgoing Labour Party, complete with plans to move Parliament north to Yorkshire.

So, legitimate television? irresponsible? disrespectful? headline grabbing exploitation? an attempt at export? anti-Republican? or what?...

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Tuesday, 10 October 2006

duomo et mercante

ristorante al mercante
Tonight was a visit to Ristorante Al Mercante for traditional Milanese food. We arrived early by Italian standards and browsed the area around the medieval Piazza Mercanti. This area of Milan just behind the Piazza del Duomo once served as a center of civic activities with a nearby thriving market.

There were eight of us eating tonight and we made a companiable gang as we chatted and ate antipasti, followed by house specialities and in my case finishing with vino santo and cantucci.
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And to fall out of the restaurant late evening back to the same cathedral square where we had seen Madonna and twelve apostles in sunlight now set with a moonlit clear sky before bundling back into a taxi to the hotel.

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Monday, 9 October 2006

black car

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One advantage of my time in Milan is that I'm getting driven around in a big black Mercedes. The driver is in a dark suit and wears shades during the day. The car is allowed to go in the special lanes normally reserved for buses and trams and the driver seems to want to drive everywhere at maximum speed. I notice he selects 4 instead of Drive and is always in Sports mode.

I worked in Milan for a while and I used to always think that the cars were never parked, just momentarily stationary and that it was something like a giant arcade game to be a driver. Now I can see the other part, where this professional driver never really stops at lights and coasts slowly so that he can edge forward before the lights change. I also notice that just about all of the other drivers seem to do the same, so theres an extra edginess to the motoring experience. Now I remember the feeling of calm that used to wash over me as I sat on the plane seat on the way back when I was over here a lot.

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Sunday, 8 October 2006

runway

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Milan today, which I usually also associate with the great fashion shows.

Actually, the fashion shows are in Paris at the moment for the Spring 2007 season, although I love the vibe of Milan when its fashion week. You see, Milan is just the right size for the shows to totally dominate the town. Every hotel is rammed with models and events and all of the bars and clubs are similarly inhabited by the fashionistas during the evening.

So instead of a picture of Milan's rather smart Dom, the picture above is from the forthcoming Balencia collection, currently previewing to the in crowd in Paris for Spring. And don't forget to check out the stunning Diane von Furstenburg colours (black, pink, gold, white) which should liven the start of next year.

Oh OK, here's Diane's runway show video. Hot Fuscia lips and Eve's sin.

You can tell I was in King's Road yesterday...

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Saturday, 7 October 2006

eight daze

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Debra asked me to write 8 things about myself and so I'm mixing it with some of what happened today.

1) The day started with a visit to Chelsea - which is an area of London I really enjoy wandering around. We were rendezvousing at a particular riverside location where we were to meet David. We all arrived within about ten minutes of one another, literally meeting by the number 137 bus stop.
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We spent some time looking at aqua and jade soft furnishings before heading back to where my car was parked right on the riverfront along the Thames. John noticed how clean the car looked; this is because it has just been serviced by the garage, who always clean it when they have it in for work.
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2) The garage took two attempts to service my car, because they needed a spare part. They kept calling me once the part was in. I didn't know what the piece was, but it turned out to be a new turbo. I think that is quite a large part of the engine, but it seems to drive properly again now. Four of us then drove the short distance to the Kings Road, where I found a pay and display spot which needed around £9.40 to cover the remaining time until 18:30 when the meters and yellow lines switch off. This worked out to around 20 pence for 5 minutes.

3) We walked from the car back to Kings Road, with a plan to stop for a late lunch. We were aiming for a certain favourite restaurant, but unfortunately took the wrong direction. We were nearly at Peter Jones (the department store) before we realised we were walking the wrong way. Undeterred we turned back through what was a very busy throng of shoppers.

4) I noticed the trees were still looking like late summer, rather than autumn, but many of the shoppers had slipped into the colours of the autumn season and several people were wearing chunky fur-look boots. It looks as if the fashion is changing faster than the season. As I passed the Chelsea Registry Office, I noticed a wedding in progress, with a smattering of people in stylish full Indian outfits and a few men in equivalently stylish Scottish kilts.

5) We found the restaurant and a selection of strange looking cocktails appeared (strawberry, vodka and Ginger ale, for example). I didn't partake, because I knew I'd be driving. An animated lunch finally finished around four in the afternoon. We all split up as we left the restaurant, with a variety of missions to accomplish around the west end before the shops closed.

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6) I used my Oyster card on a 211 Bus to go to Sloane Square, where I had to visit Tiffany's to get a silver bracelet adjusted. I'd bought it in New York, and they told me it may have to be sent back for adjustment because the silver blend in USA is different from UK. I have never heard of this but decided not to argue. The bracelet has been unwearable since I bought it as a present, and a few extra weeks won't make much difference. At least it will have a story afterwards.

7) The discussion 'upstairs' in Tiffany's meant I was late for my next errand which meant I had to grab a cab to Bond Street. Not as easy as it sound and I had to resort to the trick of knowing where a taxi is likely to drop off a passenger in order to get one.

8) Mission complete, I then cabbed back to King's Road and by enormous good fortune, the taxi used the same short cut as me and drove right past my car saving me time because I couldn't remember the name of the street I'd parked. I then drove back to the Royal Court, to find Julie, who arrived with a clutch of expensive looking carrier bags.

Well, I think there's about 8 things about me in there somewhere; along with a partial account of my day. Tomorrow I'm off to Milan again.

Friday, 6 October 2006

another day, another planet

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Today involved being bundled into vans and speeding around Frankfurt.

The main session was in a room on an upper floor of a rather tall building, next to another building that looked something like a parked spacecruiser. In the distance I could see dark clouds swirling over the Taunus mountains and when we finished I managed some Zwiebelkuchen and a Warsteiner at the Flughafen whilst waiting for my flight, which had around a two hour delay. So from leaving the meeting at 13:30, it was actually around 20:00 before I was back home.

Wednesday, 4 October 2006

antioxidant ballotin

screenshot_03.jpgSo, Belgian beer and Belgian chocolates? Click here and enjoy.

Tuesday, 3 October 2006

anvers

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I've never visited Antwerp before and had to look it up briefly on a map to get a fix on its location. I've spent time in Belgium though and even used to use Brussels as my airport when I was travelling to Maastricht in the Netherlands. That used to be a regular journey for me for a while, with a different hire-car every week.

So now I've travelled via Brussels, but in a different direction arriving so late that its already the next day. So I shall sleep and then see if I get time to investigate anything tomorrow, although I do suspect this is white-box travelling (ie from one white box to another).

We shall see.

Monday, 2 October 2006

bung

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Now theres a word...

Bung

Sometimes a squishy rubber cork used to seal a test-tube, flask or barrel. A slang word for cheese in Australia. Slang in English for 'throw' or 'pass' as in "bung us the sauce!" meaning "would you kindly pass me the ketchup?".

And in its most recent form "bung" as "in secret unauthorised financial incentive" (aka "bribe") in soccer. Now the talk of "a bung" in soccer isn't a new expression, yet the football association doesnt think there are any records of proven cases. On this occasion (allegedly) even his Svenly self has passed comments about 'bungs' and there seem to be just 50 recent player signings worthy of further investigation.

And I suppose the related phrase "tapping up" (sounding out) also appeared by accident and has no proven useage. So a sentence like: "He tapped up the youth player to consider transfer in return for a bung" has no place in modern sporting idiom. Unless we believe what the BBC and several newspapers are reporting today.
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Just look at the expression of incredulity on the face of this team manager who was mentioned in the recent Panorama investigation. What could this all mean? Surely not that any players have been enticed to play for English soccer teams against a backdrop of additional payments to other people? That wouldn't be very sporting, would it?

Sunday, 1 October 2006

american agenda

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Nowadays the paper delivery person doesn't make any attempt to push the Sunday paper through the letterbox. Instead, it comes neatly wrapped in a plastic bag and is dropped on the step outside. I only noticed it today when a neighbour knocked to enquire whether I'd seen her missing Persian cat which is blind in one eye.

We walked around for a little while shaking a tin bowl filled with cat nibbles and calling out, but to no avail - I suspect the cat has gone into hiding somewhere probably frightened of the big outdoors.

Then to the paper. It stresses me with a Sunday paper having so much to read and I always feel better when I have removed the redundant sections and the added in mailshots in which I have low interest. Today, however, in amongst the leaflets was a nice little catalogue for the forthcoming show at the Royal Academy of Art.

Its a show about the USA and features some well known pieces which discuss themes including war, peace, consumerism, diversity, poverty the USA's place in the world. I was smitten as soon as I saw the catalogue and will drop in to the exhibition as soon as practical to have a look around.

A couple of years ago I was in New York and visited one of my regular spots, the Whitney, whilst it was running a couple of interesting US art exhibitions, one on Pop art and another on War art, particularly related to the Vietnam era. Both were very thoughtful and the Royal Academy show has some similar promise. A while ago (in blogging memory!) I visited the Saatchi Gallery in London and I notice that quite a few of the exhibits are from the Saatchi - presumably because Saatchi are about to 'up sticks' and move to Kings Road, Chelsea.

The exhibition advertising seems to be using a picture from Josephine Meckseper which, in her normal work contrasts the seductiveness of consumerism with the realities of a war-torn world. The one above is called Pyromaniac 2.
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I also noticed some Dash Snow, who makes paintings but is also famous for some polaroids, including the one here, which takes a gas station, notices a missing light, and creates a statement at the same time.

Its good to find art about ideas.

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guitar.jpgYesterday evening I had some time to practice some guitar playing. I know the theory is to play every day, but my WLB (work-life-balance) doesnt always permit it and if I'm away, then a guitar is not exactly convenient hand luggage. Yes - I know about priorities and all.

Anyway, based upon my last post's reference to orange attractors, I couldn't help noticing that the cable to the guitar is also bright orange.

I do have some conventional black cables too, but its harder to lose and easier to untangle an orange (or luminous green) cable.

I'm sure this would be frowned upon by proper guitarros but I need all the help I can get.

Anyway, I had some great fun making noise yesterday evening.