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Saturday, 31 October 2009

are you made of stardust too?

emilie autumn mad
Barely enough time to visit the asylum today, caught in our own madness.

I'd strayed late on Friday and the expected visitors were already drinking the wine. Saturday mixed elements and a walk through leaf strewn paths past Japanese trees, twisted arches dripping with pods of seeds and winding stone stairways to broken and barred doorways.

Later, we stood together outside and looked at the brown sky and the moon, swirling behind blue smoky clouds.

Friday, 30 October 2009

beispiel der paranormal im london

beispiel-der-paranormal-im-london2
Here I am around the Aldwych with the approach of Halloween and I can just make out a few unexpected ghost trails on the streets.

They are easier to see on the big version of the picture, and I hear there will also be quite a few white apparitions around the City on Saturday evening.

Continuing an orange theme further this week, extreme pumpkins is certainly worth a visit and this year has an even more impressive site.

Or maybe a stroll around the flickr Graves, Tombstones and Cemeteries web site with some supporting music.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

I'll pencil you in, even if its to scribble you out

st stephens tavern
I think I've only been into St Stephen's Tavern once. It's the pub with the big light on the left of this picture.

I'd arranged to meet someone and we picked 'the pub opposite Parliament' because we both knew where it was. It subsequently became another setting in the Triangle, near the beginning when Jake meets Clare and Bigsy before they find out the news about Brian. The graphite sky might have been over Sloane Square, but its near enough.

Using a situation in this way can be a little like advanced people watching. Whilst waiting for someone to show up, instead of just reading a paper there's a whole world to be plotted.

I'm pretty sure its only around this time of year that I think this way, but I'm also convinced that the lip glossy person across from me, scribbling with a pencil into a small notebook, is up to something similar.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

car for sale...well auction

Darren Collins' car gets auctioned
One of the fun things about writing "The Triangle" is knowing that most of the places described in it exist and that I've had some reason to be at the locations. Not necessarily for an assignation with an American ex-militia spook, but maybe for a cocktail or cup of coffee.

But my interest was raised today, when I saw that one of the 'exotic cars' I described in an early chapter has its real life counterpart and is indeed up for auction this very day at Battersea Evolution, just over Chelsea Bridge.

Darren Collins appears in the early chapters of The Triangle and mysteriously has enough money to buy something like this, which is a sort of racing car that has been made street legal.

I'll be wondering how much the real one fetches, although I'll be sitting on my hands. Bid here

Update: Thanks to an email correction, someone has pointed out that Darren's car would have been an orange McLaren. Click the picture from rashbre central parking garage to see the real one.
actually, this was Darren's car

Sunday, 25 October 2009

the clocks wait so patiently on your song

park
"C'mon", I was instructed this morning. "We're going to make the most of the sunshine". After a slightly confused start because some of the clocks had reset themselves and others hadn't, we headed for some late, no make that early, lunch.

Blue skies, yellow dapple across layered tree colours and a certain crunchiness underfoot. A lovely day, sunny corner table, mellow wine and some time for plans.

A marked contrast with yesterday when I'd been traversing a crazily overfilled store simultaneously selling Halloween, Guy Fawkes, Christmas and even Easter products (hot cross buns). I couldn't work out how the sheer volume of shoppers and totally full car park aligned with the credit crunch.

Today's location restored tranquillity, although by this evening I've also been quietly packing bags for travelling again.
battersea

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Cairo practice

apache dropout
James sheltered on the edge of a dune. The vestigial grass had a razor sharp edge, scratching his arm as he slithered into a comfortable position. The Subaru was parked about 200 metres further away, concealed behind another dune. A long way ahead, he could see the tiny outline of the truck, heading towards him in a kind of shimmer from the heat. It seemed to be running above the ground because of the heat haze and he could understand how people thought they could see water in the desert.

The truck's progress was also almost silent initially, and then he started to hear a whine from an American military grade diesel engine. He'd heard the sound before, in Germany where there were many of these trucks, used around the bases, but here it seemed displaced.

Through the sound he started to notice a further noise, a slow throb getting quickly louder. He looked around and could see a small speck in the sky, not a bird, it was bigger and tracking the path of the truck. A helicopter, it looked like an Apache as it moved closer. An attack helicopter, carrying a fair array of armaments. By now the truck was less than 800 metres away, still proceeding at a steady speed. The Apache was still high in the air, but then suddenly, but rather languorously, the helicopter let go of a missile of some kind. It didn't fly straight, but took a lazy path, like the casual throw of a soft toy from an adult to a small child.

But whatever it was, it was going to hit the truck. A second or so later, there was a flash and it was as if time had moved from casual to accelerated in a split second. As the missile hit the truck, a white flash exploded in a vertical line from the ground to two or three hundred metres in the air. The power of the explosion seemed completely out of proportion to the previous few seconds of activity and James instinctively sheltered his face with his arm, the same one that had been cut a few moments earlier by the grass blade.

The helicopter was not expected and had made its intentions clear. In a slightly muffled way, he could hear a shrill electronic sound and he realised that the helicopter was locking on to his Subaru and was planning to vaporise it in the same way as the truck. He decided to bury himself in the sand rather than attempt to run. That way, if the chopper was mainly looking for vehicles, it may not spot a lone person on foot. In the far distance he saw a momentary flash from the ground and then noted a black line in the sky. Someone a long way away had launched a surface to air missile. The black trail weaved through the air towards the helicopter. He saw the Apache bank first left and then right as well as ejecting what looked like hot metal strips. But it was too late. The SAM made contact with the helicopter and in a much yellower fireball than the truck's explosion, he could see the helicopter drop to the desert floor like a stone. He decided to lay low for longer in case there were any more surprises, but no, a few minutes later he was preparing his escape in the Subaru, alert to the thought that whoever fired the surface to air may be heading his way.

you didn't see that I cleared the path and left the walkway free

triangle tube
I've been planning my next two weeks, because my upcoming spare time is increasingly limited. Its moving from apparent tranquility on Saturday morning to days on a fast conveyor belt.

Cadence is trying to become the new orange.

There's a strange backbeat though, with people around me powering down for a few days of school half term and general gaps in calendars. These people have time to look around, listen and read the signs.

By comparison, my agenda requires bundles of trivial logistics to be planned. I'm not convinced that tonight's extra hour will really fix it.

Friday, 23 October 2009

the eyes have it

corrie looks
I know this is a lazy post, but I've been busy this week and am now sitting in front of the television which is dispensing an episode of Coronation Street. Not usually part of my viewing, but entertaining to deconstruct.

Corrie has a bittersweet sense of humour and a fun sport is to 'count the looks' whilst it plays.

Tonight's episode is a classic, with plenty of cutaways to different peoples' eyes, in church, in the pub and along the Street. Even the baby gets a chance to do a look. And then a grim reaper appears in a big car and wearing a black hoodie. I don't know the plot, but the similarities with something from Lord of the Rings are worth a mention.

There's also a heavily sweating man with shifty eyes (well lit) who I assume runs the unisex underwear factory, which got a few closeups and got me thinking. I predict this character is on a heart-attack trajectory for some time next week. He could be rushed to hospital, wired up and then fess-up to something fairly evil. It would make a good storyline like the above sketch (complete with a 'look').

Sorry, "fess-up" is probably more Eastenders than Corrie.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

right menace faces questioning

facing the press
Two sets of spin are on hand this week.

There's the exhaust from the Newsnight special format programme on Thursday, which was more or less devoted to a single issue. The decision tree from the occasion becomes quite complex. To do the show or not? To standardise the format or not? To provide robust response or not? To keep a conventional 'west London' audience or not?

For journalism and politicians, there's ways to spin most of the combinations and we are seeing the rather dangerous and slippery central character attempt to manipulate the outcome and to maximise further coverage.

I suppose the party of revisionism could take some lessons from the masters of spin who are about to launch the second series of 'The Thick of It'. This is a series of originally around half a dozen episodes dealing with life in Westminster. Fast paced and rude, it sheds a suspiciously realistic-looking light on the corridors of power. A 'Yes, Minister' for the 21st Century. I shall enjoy.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

straight lines

bus with triangle
Backwards and forwards across the City today, intermingled with some 'desk time' which I need for a specific project. Really I'll need to keep my head down for the rest of the week to get things done, although various little meetings keep tiptoe-ing into the schedule.

And there's almost no time for any non-work activity this week, so I'm rather impressed to see that work is already in progress for at least one NaNoWriMo.

If yesterday I was stuck in a Faraday cage whilst my car's misbehaviour sparked Tesla-like around me, then today I'm in a vacuum chamber, blissfully unaware of things not in my direct list of 'To-Dos'.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

rebooting a car, with modest sparks

tesla experiment
I had to take the car for its annual inspection today.

After the one hour series of tests, the car passed. The dealer gave me a discount on the normal price of the test too, which was a pleasant surprise. I waited in a plush area with complementary coffee, wifi and iMac internet access. I took a conference call meeting and it really didn't interfere with my day.

So far so good.

Then I drove home uneventfully, until I switched off the engine and noticed that the radio/satnav stayed on. Usually it switches off. I pressed the button and sure enough, it switched off. I idly pressed it again. Nothing. The system refused to restart. I had lost the satnav, CD player, the phone and it was stuck on a single radio station.

I pressed the off button, twiddled the car ignition, pressed all the adjacent buttons but to no avail. Stuck in startup, a little like a frozen computer. The dealer is closed by this time and its getting dark.

I try the internet to find out how to reset the console. There's various earnest experts describing the system and the general opinion seems to be to take it to a dealer who can use a special diagnostic device to reset everything. Apparently the car has a fibre optic ring main with these components on it.

I discover the car has two cunningly concealed fuse boxes, one in the front and another in the rear, I trace the circuits which don't really describe the main console, but have baffling names like "Audio Gateway". The spot designated for a radio fuse is ominously empty.

I decide to remove the two or three fuses (from about 50) that I think are associated with the sound, phone and satnav. I leave them disconnected for a few minutes to give everything a chance to reset. I noticed a slight sparking sound when I removed the 45amp one in the back of the car.

The I put it all back together and press the on button for the radio. A flash on the console screen. The warning message about driving carefully. Hooray. Its working again.

I feel both pleased and relieved that I've managed to re-boot my car's operating system.

Monday, 19 October 2009

the purple haze was all around

jimi in the duchess
We didn't just make one track of "music" on Sunday. We made three, in between much general messing around. It seems to be my job to unload them from the recording device.

Of course, it all started innocently enough.

A casual comment along the lines of "I wonder if they make a 4 track recorder for the iPhone?"

Five pounds ninety nine later we were in business, with a hastily assembled band using an acoustic guitar, an old roland effects unit, a banjo, a yamaha piano and an electric guitar, plus a few percussive substances. We even figured out the optimum placement for the the improvised microphone.

And don't get me started about the 49 key roll-up keyboard piano with drum machine we bought at the Texaco. Jimi's place of honour on the wall was under no threat.
iphone four tracker
bed feet
half a side of vinyl progressive rock 8:11
roll up piano

Sunday, 18 October 2009

remember that other time when I would only read the backs of cereal boxes

squeaker
Even Squeaker was tired by Sunday evening.

We'd started today with a hastily improvised progressive rock jam session that only the very hardy could listen to in playback, using one microphone, with the players moving nearer or further away in an analogue semblance of mixing the sound.

duchess balcony

Then an extended French breakfast with milky coffee, croissant and fromage.

I think it may have already been early afternoon.

Later we travelled onward to an impromptu wine tasting and then eventually to The Duchess for some pub food, where we chatted in the assembling shadows from the adjacent Battersea Power Station.

Friday, 16 October 2009

no trade marks hurt in the process

devoted and disgruntled nyc street
I'll admit to goofing off from blogging for a few days this week. A combination of extra events meant I was invariably back late most evenings, with the record probably being Friday evening after the pub lock-in.

That's not to say there hasn't been quite a lot happening. I was with Ed the Synth on Tuesday evening, then by almost complete chance with two friends from different parts of America, who both coincidentally happened to be in London Wednesday evening. Thursday featured a very late Japanese dinner which brings me back to Friday locked in pub.

I also recollect that Thursday featured the draft construction at 1 a.m. of a test logo for an upcoming Devoted and Disgruntled event. We created the logo and then tried it out on some New York scenes in preparation for the marketing of the event.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

lightning fast mortal combat

tarzan spider meets fly
I just noticed the movement at the edge of the window.

Mortal combat.

Roughly even sized adversaries each with different and distinct advantages. Fighting so fast that it couldn't register with the human eye. The fly had managed to keep a wing free and was twirling so fast that there was a simple blur of legs and bodies.

It would stop for a moment and then resume, without obvious advantage to victim or pursuer.

Then, suddenly, in the midst of a black blur, the web's strong thread snapped and they were whisked into the air.

As I type this, the spider has returned.

Seemingly alone.

Monday, 12 October 2009

don't panic

dont-panic
I know there's more important things to shout from the rooftops, but one is also reminded not to panic on days like today. Depending how it is measured, today is the 30th anniversary of the Hitch Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy (h2g2).

Douglas Adams helped create a very British version of Life in Space adding much to everyones' knowledge of all things intergalactic with gargleblasters, paranoid androids and, of course, the very important number 42.

I have the Guide installed on my phone, for moments when I need smile.

An example entry poses that whilst Earth generates lots of noisy radio signals now, they could all suddenly stop as a result of moving to lower powered satellite reflected digital signals. This relatively sudden cessation will alert our near neighbours of our planet and its changing conditions.

So will the Futurama prophesy come true? We'd see space folk from Omicron Persei 8 arrive demanding to see the final episode of Single Female Lawyer (Ally McBeal) no longer viewable at a long distance since digital cutover?

It will still take a long time to find out.

If Gliese 581c is one of our neighbouring galaxies nearest "earth like" planets, it is still around 20 light years or 120 trillion (trillian?) miles so right now if they watched earth telly they would be watching the Berlin Wall coming down. It'll be another 8 years before the first episode of Ally McBeal even reaches them.

And pity the poor folk on 47 Ursa Majoris. Not only has it been sent two customised Cosmic Call 2 messages to decode, but they were also broadcast the first interstellar advertisement from a radar array at the EISCAT European space station.

Advertising what? Why Doritos tortilla chips, of course.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

how could I refuse a favour or two?

be nice to me
When I was still weak from the Moscow tryst a couple of years ago, I made a comment that sometimes things can start all over again.

Now I sense the progression. No bagman's gambit, each time the motorcade looks different and I see other ways for Декабристы to take the Senate.

That's how it is with the NaNoWriMo.

Still three weeks away, but around the right time to decide whether or not to try to clear an hour a day to write 1,666 words.

I've got mixed feelings but I suspect the tattooed Miranda will persuade me.

bagman's gambit - decemberists

Saturday, 10 October 2009

in a surprise result, Saturday ran to plan

trafalgar square
Unlike Friday, Saturday ran to plan, except that I hadn't really been told all of it until part way through. Suffice to say that we linked together a series of events pretty seamlessly, which started at around 10:30 in the morning and probably finished somewhere around 2 a.m. on Sunday, by which time much tea had been consumed.

A principle objective was to shower Katherine with cupcakes, which we did pretty comprehensively and I think I'm personally still on a sugar rush as I back-post this on Sunday morning. Along the way there was fairly comprehensive central London navigation, much chatter and some midnight bike riding.

Not to mention the "blogger's moment" where people referenced things I'd done that I'm sure I haven't told them about - but of course they'd read here on rashbre central. Copies of 'The Triangle' were also dispensed.

Antidote upon application.

Friday, 9 October 2009

caged in or caged out?

let the caged bird sing
Today didn't go quite to plan.

It started routinely enough with some phone meetings and general email finagling.

Then, at around eleven o'clock, everything quietly derailed and I found myself in an altogether different situation.

Its nothing to worry about, but its as if a few of the little cages that hide in trees had jumped out to capture my day and its plans.

I know the secret though, sometimes you have to look down in order to go up.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

diagonalism

diagonalism
It's National Poetry Day today, so here's my three minute muse on this year's theme of Heroes and Heroines.

I never learned how to exist;
I used to obtain everything I wanted from inside of me.
My twilights reached to another galaxy;
Surface affections wouldn't betray the actor.
Elaborate misperceptions defying the analysis
whilst fleeting dreams of sky and pebbles
hid the serpent.

Then you came along and horizons tilted.
Yin became yang and the elementals realigned.
I wasn't a hero but you made me one.
My heroine.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

soggy blackberry city blur

blackberry generation
A smiling moment last weekend whilst cycling. Sunday sunshine country lanes and people picking blackberries close to the road. I hold that thought because:

Travelling to a meeting this morning for 10:00. The snag was it had been cancelled. But only at 09:32. By email. I picked it up on my blackberry from within the cab on the last part of the journey. Sometimes a Plan B is just not enough.

Oh.

And then it rained.

Copiously.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

a quiet Tuesday evening

wet street
The evening started sedately enough.

A quiet drink standing outside a pub by the river. Even a brief stroll along a short part of the tow-path. Of course, later there were the suggestions to move along to a nearby curry house, which was within sight, but on the other side of the river.

Rain and the full descent of darkness, to a point where I couldn't quite remember if we'd arrived at the pub in daylight. I do remember a skiff being rowed with small headlights on each end of it though.

We made our way through the rain in a slightly disorderly fashion across the bridge, around a corner, down some stairs, past a couple of arches and into the restaurant.

A default 'Menu for 12' or however many we had in the group. "Will the complementary wines be red or white?" came the waiter's question and we settled for some of both.

Now I was being good and sipped my still water, whilst others quaffed robust quantities of whatever was on offer. The poppadoms arrived and we fiddled with the chutneys and yoghurt whilst engrossed in animated debate. As the evening moved along, I noticed some of those about me beginning to fragment and lose their full sentence structures.

I also discovered that several had booked to stay in an adjacent hotel, so I was one of the few with plans to head home afterwards. At about 'very late' a small group of us "homeward bound" left together, leaving the hotel gang to further wine and discussion. I also rescued a coat and umbrella left behind by an earlier tired and emotional departure.

Tomorrow there will be fragility and headaches for some.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

biking to the sorting office instead of taking the Alfa to Cannes

DSC_8251
My thanks for the various emails and wishes associated with the imminent publication of 'The Triangle'.

This morning saw me spin across to the sorting office with a backpack of the books. I've started to send out some reviewer copies and this was the second tranche.

The rest of today is taken up with other activities, so I knew if I didn't act immediately, it will probably be next weekend before I have any more time. I'm not expecting full page advertisements in the weekend supplements, so the marketing will need to be self-generated.

I should make a special 'Thank you' to one individual for helping me get this far with this. Fellow blogger Debra and I met together in Amsterdam quite some time ago, after I'd waited outside the rather dubious looking 'Mellow Yellow' koffie shop.
mellow and yellow
Debra had then shown me to an ironically altogether more mellow establishment where we'd sipped drinks and talked about each others attempts at writing. We agreed to swap fledgling manuscripts and have been cheerfully critiquing what one another has been doing. In the meantime, Debra has moved country and published a rather excellent photography project whilst I've struggled on with the novel in stolen minutes.

The origin of my writing was one of the annual NaNoWriMo competitions which run every November, during which I cranked out most of the original words, largely based upon the actual places I was visiting at the time. For example, there's a scene in the novel in a rather plush hotel room, which is completely based upon a random hotel upgrade I received at the time.
View from Hotel Room
I can't claim any biographical elements in the story, but I have featured a number of places that were part of my world at the time of writing. So whether its London, Normandy, Cannes, Riyadh or Washington, I was flittering through these places and the various settings whilst writing. Probably only the novel's character Brophy can spot the laser point on this sign above my hotel suite. The New York scenes will have to wait for the sequel.
Martinez sign from my room
But for now, back to the weekend shopping, and no, I don't have an Alfa.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

authorised triangular post

triangles
It's still technically 'pre-publication' but I received a consignment of promo copies of "The Triangle" yesterday.

It was actually quite unexpected. I was working at home, the postman had come and gone and about five minutes later there was a loud knock on the door. The delivery driver was already unloading boxes and I wondered what I had mistakenly ordered.

A moment later, I realised that the three large boxes and a smaller one dumped in the hallway were early copies of the novel.

Now what?

Its another month or more before the book gets to any catalogues and I believe the first public appearance is actually at the Miami International Book Fair in Florida.

I've been contacted by the marketing representative, but am thinking that I'd prefer to exploit some sort of guerilla approach to getting the book known about. I'm also still realistic, that this is mainly a bit of fun, but its worth seeing what happens as the next stage plays out.

I'll progressively contact some of my blogging accomplices and amusingly a couple are modifying their twitter icons to add a triangle to the corner.

In the meantime, if you are one of the bloggerati and would like a complementary preview copy, comment me/ email me and we'll see what can be arranged!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

as I continue to elude your vigilant ways, the light is almost here again

Emilie Autumn
Back to London on an early flight. I could already hear the violin chase music in my head. My part of the airport didn't have any windows, so the day/night thing was lost on me. It felt as if it should have been an evening rather than the crack of dawn that I was travelling.

Las Vegas lighting without the gambling.

Then a full day of office meetings during the bit where the really loud tympani kick in. Finally, home accompanied by a phone conference.

I decided to go to bed early on Thursday to let my head unscramble.

And now I must demystify the uncommon dreams; stranger things have come true.