rashbre central: February 2009

Saturday 28 February 2009

trying to decide whether jags, beemers or alfas best in car chases?

Back in the UK for a few hours, with a feeling that I'm in some kind of car chase, though not as good as the smokin' one developing with clarissa and petunia.

It started when I landed and got a lot of those little bleepy message on my phone, like the ones I'm always a bit scornful of when I hear everyone else switching on their phones. All those important messages - yeah right.

Zip through Heathrow using IRIS the eye scanner with my checked baggage arriving at the belt within about two minutes.

Pickup by the man with the card, except he knew me well enough to not need to hold it up, followed by a speedy ride home. But pretty much every minute has been filled and I've already had to tip out the case and refill it for my trip tomorrow. I'm sensing the helicopters circling again.

I shall try to pause for a moment now and savour this evening with all the systems unplugged.

Friday 27 February 2009

improving my knowledge of the local transit systems

Today we decided to use the Temporary Apartment as a base for some of the work. I needed to go into the city centre later in the morning and instead of travelling to the western side of the city and back, it was easier to meet here.

My fleeting raid on The Nearby Shop That Never Opens yesterday meant I had secured some modest supplies; coffee, milk as well as the chocolate frogs, so I was able to entertain my co-worker visitor as we planned all manner of business in this impromptu meeting place.

I had also made a small separate excursion to the city centre on foot during yesterday afternoon, and found that a bus 26 also seems to pass quite close by. As we took a taxi to the centre for the meeting, I found out about the local clips of tickets, a kind of mechanical version of the Oyster card, which could be used to travel around on the transport system, with each click lasting for one hour. Sadly, another Local Shop With Mainly Cigarettes And Soda advertised them, but had run out of the much desired '3 zone' version of the tickets.

But by the evening I became the proud owner of 10 clicks worth of transit system tickets and already used it for my trip back to the airport.

sent from a handheld device


Thursday 26 February 2009

security lapse at TNSTNO

There was a brief security lapse this afternoon at The Nearby Shop That Never Opens. The gruff looking dog logo is emblematic of this retailer, which we have decided is a front for something altogether more sinister.

The shop isn't open in the morning or evening although it will sometimes have lights on inside, provoking us to wonder what they do in there. Today, I arrived back at the Temporary Apartment at an unexpected time and noticed a significant number of shadowy figures inside the shop.

Sure enough, they had accidentally broken protocol and left one of the doors unlocked so that a group of customers had rushed inside.

But the shop owners are good. True professionals, they were determined to prevent sales if at all possible.

Their plan was simple: tip cardboard boxes of random items onto the shelves, without labelling or pricing.

This went well beyond usual clever retailing (the virtuous household purchase next to the beer etc.) Pencil sharpeners next to washing up liquid and bars of apricot creme wafer biscuits. A television aerial and a selection of festive neon cup-cakes surrounded by a display of differing thickness clothes lines. Two six metre racks of brown and blue cardboard boxes containing wooden parrots and self assembly stacking tables.

But we all walked around excitedly trying to find things to put into the bright yellow baskets. It was too much of an occasion to be missed. The person in front of me bought milk, an eggcup shaped like a small elephant and a toy telephone. I couldn't resist the plum flavoured chocolate frogs.

Later this afternoon I noticed that TNSTNO was again in darkness. Maybe they are awaiting a fresh delivery of goldfish shaped flashlights.

sent from a handheld device

Wednesday 25 February 2009

experiments in foreign language taxi instructions Part 3.

Tonight we had originally decided to go to a local restaurant in the downtown area, but our various business commitments went on somewhat longer than expected.

When our mid-evening taxi finally arrived, we asked the driver if she could take us to a typical restaurant in the centre. She asked us which particular part of the city but we said we didn't know. We suggested it should be something typical of the area.

As the car pulled away, the television on the driver's dashboard flipped back to radio and we chatted amongst ourselves as we headed for the centre. After around twenty minutes we pulled up outside a restaurant with suitably foreign writing, paid the taxi and headed inside.

The first thing I noticed were the saddles along the edge of the bar.

Then I spotted the sign.

"Rio Grande", it said.

"Somehow I don't think this is local", said Okke.

sent from a handheld device

Tuesday 24 February 2009

another bar and another coincidence

Drove back to my temporary basecamp this evening and wandered into the nearby bar, mainly to check the food options.

There in the corner were two colleagues, from Denmark and Holland, halfway through a glass of beer.

I said 'Hi', arranged a time for a brief supper together and then headed out to the mysterious corner shop which seems to have very short opening hours and only one of its six doors open.

Later we met, along with another colleague from Finland as I shared my experiences of the rather arcane options available within the shop. Tomorrow we have decided to go further afield in the evening, assuming I can finish at a respectable time.

sent from a handheld device

Monday 23 February 2009

new temporary domesticity in a foreign city

Only recently back to my apartment from the various meetings today that started very early and finished rather late.

I thought I'd try staying in an apartment instead of hotel this time because I'm here intermittently for a few days again and it gives me a bit more space. I seem to have cookers, washing machines and all kinds of temporary domesticity, although there's no wi-fi, but I've managed to get this connection working. Somewhat different from last month's faded hotel with only a single bed.

I considered blogging a picture of the melting snow, but its late and I have a stack of emails to answer before I go to bed. Oh, and my recent phone conversation tells me that the Oscar list I was sent was a hoax. Me and everyone else, then.

sent from a handheld device

Sunday 22 February 2009

there's always someone around you who will call

Sitting at home in strong yellow sunshine this morning, blissfully enjoying coffee and a croissant.

In the distance I can hear little musical box tings of Velvet Underground's 'Sunday Morning' playing somewhere on a distant radio.

Someone has good taste.

But next I must pack before heading to the airport to sit in seat 2F for a while.
sunday afternoon

And - just for fun - here's my (slightly cryptic) Oscar guesses: Ar i LR = MR; Ar i SR = HL; As i LR = KW; As i SR = AA(!); A F F = W-E; A D = T D K;B P = S M;C = S M;C D = T C C o B B; D = S M; D F = M o W;D S = T C o N E; F E = M; F L F = D; M = T C C o B B; M So = D t E (W-E); M Sc = D; S F A = P; S F L A = A d S; S E = W-E; S M = T D K; V E = I M (!); W A S = T R; W O S = I B; If I get them all right there has probably been a leak somewhere; otherwise its a good plant to raise viewing figures. We'll find out if my "!" are accurate.

Saturday 21 February 2009

The Great Hall


Dada cutup from PopCo. Page 61. Para 2. Play along?

ウォッチメン underground watchmen and the intrinsic field subtractor

Subterranean marketing for a superheroes?

I'll be interested to see how this looks as a movie, after 'Heroes' took some of the themes. I signed up for the secret screening, but have been exiled to Mars somewhere cold on the day of its preview.

I shall need to dodge the tachyons.

UPDATE: My surprise to see people searching for 'intrinsic field subtractor' and even more so that this post has been topping the search hitlist. I thought I would celebrate with a small animation of what the view of a particle moving faster than the speed of light would look like to a static observer.
Tachyon animation

Friday 20 February 2009

the eyes have it

Another day running around office blocks and finishing in the early evening.

Back home, my frazzled brain briefly joined in with some soap watching, counting the number of 'meaningful looks' in the episode. It works for both Eastenders and Coronation Street, and I'm sure there must be eye auditions alongside the speeches.

The spotting rules are simple. It has to be a 'reaction shot'. No dialogue.
Some of the best sequences have two or three cutaways in a row.

Wednesday 18 February 2009

sensory relief

I've spent most of the day chained to PowerPoint with just a few minutes of light relief when this arrived in the post. I'd already decided it was best to open it alone and after testing, I can say the giottos rocket works very well.

Tuesday 17 February 2009

supporting bobkat's six from six meme

I was tagged by Bob-kat for this post and decided I'd give it a go. The instructions were to dip into the sixth photo folder and find the sixth picture. I use Aperture for stashing my pictures so this was pretty straightforward, although the pictures are from way back in 2001 on a Sony Cybershot 1.3 Megapixel camera.

Number six happens to be of the Hollywood sign, because I was around Los Angeles at the time, staying in a rather nice suite at Merv Griffith's Beverly Hills Hotel.

L.A. can be a fun place and in between Santa Monica beach, Mulholland Drive and Hollywood Boulevard, we also meandered along Rodeo Drive and had swished around using the free limo services between the "Pretty Woman" Wilshire and some of the other hotels.

We managed to see one of those hand-print ceremonies too, right outside the Graumann's Chinese Theatre, where Nick Cage was being 'printed', accompanied by Jim Carrey and with Jay Leno doing the speeches.

I've some video footage of some of this somewhere; maybe I should look it out for a whimsical post over the next few weeks. And because the area is close to Naomi's home, I've added a couple of other views, from the Griffith Park Observatory towards Vermont and Downtown.

I won't tag anyone else for this, although it is kinda fun. feel free to play along...
Vermont Ave, thanks Naomi. My guess at La Brea was a bit mis-placed!
Los Angeles Downtown
"Hooray for Hollywood"

UPDATE Just for fun, I found a picture I'd taken of Century City in 2001...and then one from Naomi's blog a few days ago!
rashbre century city
mine above
naomi century city
Naomi's with the stunning sunset

Monday 16 February 2009

jam busting hints needed for west london sundays

A4 Knightsbridge
I was on the trail of missing identity cards yesterday. Not mine, but things needed early on Monday for a visit to a Notary related to some US-based matters. The administration of identity requires increasingly more documentation and some papers were in the wrong place.

I used the car but became stuck in Sunday's west London traffic between six and seven pm. My sat-nav gave a hint of the reason, because the little red traffic jam cars were flashing on most of the roads around Wood Lane, Shepherds Bush and heading back towards the central area. I have not checked what time the mega-mall Westfields closes on a Sunday, but assume there is some connection. I shall need to pay more attention in future.

Similarly, I noticed an abnormally large and steady flow of shoppers with 'out of area' carrier bags coming from Gloucester Road tube, so I'm wondering if the new mall is beginning to pick up some trade, even in these challenged economic times?

Sunday 15 February 2009

hotel moments

Its not fair for me to tell you the events I've been party to in the last little while. They wove separately around the distinct Valentine's fun but have an altogether different outlook.

Let's just say there were some macabre twists and if anything it is ratcheting up to be even more perverse.

I'm assuming that John will be checking up on Julia later and that maybe the old man and the noisy ones from the ad agency have gone away.

I'll be briefly flitting into craziequeen's blog party, which has a far more uplifting tone!

Saturday 14 February 2009

valentine heart

valentine heart
Feb 14th, eh? Saint Valentine's Day with its suitably dispatched and received tokens.

Of course, many use it as an excuse to bemoan commercialism and twee-ness although any half romantic should embrace the moment.

Strange, then, to see that the Guardian's special site for Valentine pictures only has seven snaps, of which at least three are from the newspaper itself and another one is of some red edible underwear.

Even the mainstay of flickr has somewhat limited photographic moments, so I'll assume that most people want to keep their loved ones close.

Our plans are to be on the above corner at eight and then get out of this place. We'll kiss the first of a million kisses and let the past fall away. Just like the song.

Friday 13 February 2009

mind the gap

mind the gap
I've been mostly away from blog-world this week and the resultant posts of the last few days are quite terse and opportunistic.

In general I don't like putting several youtube-esque posts next to one another; I suppose it is better to regard the last week as something of a 'Gap' from normal posts, although I suspect I'm the only one that will notice.

Bizarrely, some of the quirky offcuts like the preceding Cadbury's post received more hits than I might have expected, although I personally dislike the original advertisement to the point of wishing to channel hop if I see it on television.

In other news, I received back an electronic 'proof' copy of 'the book', which I shall try to proof read myself at some point over the weekend. I'm not so familiar with the publishing process but assume that this is my last chance to get it right or hit the eject button.

There's also some fun associated with cover design, where I have a few basic requirements, like the need for orange and a statutory triangle somewhere. I've tried not to be a 'book-bore' about this, but as the real threat of publication starts to loom, I suppose I'd better start thinking about the Hollywood film rights. 2010, maybe?

Thursday 12 February 2009

shocking cadburys advert

Cadbury's Eyebrow advert, the unseen truth from HappyToast on Vimeo.

I used to think Cadbury made good advertisements for their chocolates, but I do find the current one rather shocking.

Wednesday 11 February 2009

liquidity easement

My pretties
woke up this morning,
with no money in my shoes,
woke up this morning, yeah;
the rooster was already loose.

he'd woken up them bankers early;
they'd been at their chairman's meet.
got themselves re-mun-er-a-tion,
got themselves a money feast.

its li-li-quidity easement,
liquidity easement blues.
yeah, li-li-quidity easement,
money grabbin' blues.

my girl she has a left me,
my hound dog he did too.
the bourbon bottle's empty,
an' I can't afford no food.

they taken all my fur-ni-ture;
I'm eatin' shoe shine wax.
and all around they're tellin' me
that the moneys gone down the fax.

I got liquidity easement,
liquidity easement blues.
li-li-quidity easy meant
quick fire bonus blues.

So if you work near Wall Street
or in a big Si-tay:
then take the bonus quickly
before the money goes away.

i got liquidity easement
money printing blues.
I'm seeing all new money made,
those cats have nothin' to lose.

li-li-quidity easement,
money printing blues.
li-li-quidity easement,
snow ball bonus blues.

Written at 137 bus-stop. Use E, D and maybe an occasional A. Add table salt to taste.

n.b. I know I moved this post. It was to break up having two videos next to one another.

secret cinema has rock gods this weekend

This Sunday you'll need messy hair for the rock gods. Bring a flag. Info on the secret venue is here, but tell no-one

Tuesday 10 February 2009

refuelled with geranium sorbet

still busy
Not much time for blogging because I seem to have early starts and rather late finishes to the day. The food is excellent and the geranium sorbet cleared the palate wonderfully.

It's snowing, so I feel quite at home.

Monday 9 February 2009

Sunday 8 February 2009

blue flashing lights are affecting my listening choices

I want to be listening to music that brings the cops around at the moment. High clock speed. Not necessarily loud, but with something to say.

So somehow Andrew Bird's new CD isn't quite doing it for me, despite my high hopes. Noble Beast. It's all pleasant enough, highly accomplished and sonically beautiful. I think it will work well as dinner party background music, but I'm not sure that I'd listen to it as a direct choice. The reviewers appear to be giving it excellent scores, and I'm sure its just me that's out of step.

Take "Not a Robot, but a ghost", which is supposed to be a stand-out track and has some clever ticky-tocky mechanicals in it, gypsy mandolin and sentient machines. I'm still finding it passing me by as a sort of swishy sweep.

Its just a passing phase I know. I shall have to keep listening to songs with titles like "Incident in a Medical Clinic" and "Burn your life down" until I come out the other side. Reprieved until a retinue of moons have passed.

Saturday 7 February 2009

snowballs from rashbre to a few blogs

A round-up of some of the UK snow posts from a few visitors to rashbre central. I don't have time to visit everyone's actual gardens, but I hope these few decently packed snowballs from here will suffice.

Take a look around!
other blogs pix
sleepypete's snowman may not be the biggest, but certainly has character.
other blogs pix
amanda palmer has imported snow from Boston, and is now carrying it to Paris and Barcelona.
other blogs pix
bob-kat is demonstrating a variation on 'leave no trace'.
other blogs pix
laquet waited ages to get this picture with not a school child or teacher in sight.
other blogs pix
craziequeen observes Narnia variations from the palace.
other blogs pix
niall constructs a highly impressive snowman. Check out the full version.
other blogs pix
daily fortnight notes that the News agrees to stop so that BBC can show more pictures of snow.
other blogs pix
debra shows another (Grrr) utterly scenic idyll. Jealous? ....
other blogs pix
warriorgrrl Yes she makes snow (with bouncy dog).
other blogs pix
clarissa continues as international businesswoman of mystery.
other blogs pix
lady banana is deep in thought snow.
other blogs pix
maximum bob is burning some form of smoky substance and may be a while.
other blogs pix
nikki-ann creates another perfect photo with specially trained stunt robin.
other blogs pix
pat arranges the garden to look spectacular for snow scene.
other blogs pix
electric goose seeks an edgy urban snowman from the vast neighbourhood collection.
other blogs pix
three leggged cat shows us how its done in Sheffield.

Its nearly all gone around here now.

Friday 6 February 2009

animal collective merriweather post pavilion

animal collective
I've been listening the new Animal Collective CD in the car recently. It came in a neat little digi-pack with an outer box of optical illusion and an inner sleeve with their name on it. The album also seems to have a sort of double layer, and I've noticed that a few of the reviewers have referenced 'Beach Boys' and surf sounds as part of the description, perhaps because of the Press handout?

That's not really how I heard it, with it being a little reminiscent of how I'd imagine a 70s prog-rock group like "Yes" would play dance music, if such a thing were possible. There's plenty of layers of synthesizers and soaring guitars, with a kind of electro pop back-beat. There's some proper lyrics that move it from pure dance to something with stories. Probably an analyst's delight.

I'll define its genre as 'blog-rock' because it's one of those bands where the fan following is generated from on-line leaks of tracks and subsequent discourse. Part of the new music model and something that Amanda Palmer commented on during the gig on Wednesday. The need to find the connection from the artist to the fans in new ways. In the ballroom we all texted our email addresses to a special phone number during the gig to stay connected.
I suppose the difference is between the musicians who are in it for the long haul (AnCo started back somewhere in the nineties, I think) versus the sleb-based X factory productions speedily filling Mr Cowell's deep trousers.

In the UK around 80,000 sales of a single attain a chart number one to promote an album. Almost better for the record company to save the marketing budget, just buy up the quantity and get the chart position for the subsequent album.

Lily Allen just made the top spot with 'The Fear' describing celebrity vacuity, sold as an £2.97 EP with every track laced with ***** words. Not banned; yet the Palmer single about stark teenage denial banned everywhere except, intriguingly, the BBC.

I understand the need for innocent uplifting pap pop of the "It’s my time, my moment, I’m not gonna let go of it, I’ll stand proud, nothing I’m afraid of; I’ll show you what I’m made of, that its my time now" type. This can be used in song contests, stadiums and for political speeches with equivalent ease. "Clear the decks, light the lights". I almost feel a java song generator moment but I'll save it for another day.

Fortunately, whilst the labels such as 'progressive' and 'underground' may be deeply unfashionable, there's still enough alt.you-name-it music around to keep things interesting and even a resurgence in the old Yes-like bands with Rick Wakeman being granted permission to perform '6 Wives of Henry VIII' at Hampton Court after waiting a bizarre XXXVII years.

But enough dismantling, I feel should probably reach for a tie-dye tee shirt to just listen to Animal Collective, perhaps whilst staring at the cover art.

John - will this do?
animal collective

Thursday 5 February 2009

Amanda Palmer Electric Ballroom

Amanda Palmer Electric Ballroom
A swift drink at the World's End in Camden last evening, appropriately accompanied by growling and sinister death metal from the juke-box until Julie said it was making her feel ill.

So our happy band wandered the one hundred footsteps to the Electric Ballroom which was filling with the followers of Amanda Palmer, who has been in town giving snowman construction lessons and preparing for this new European tour.

First up Göteborg's finest - Detektivbyrån - who played a sort of drum n' accordion set, punctuated with xylophone. The good natured crowd applauded well enough and then after a short refuel break, Amanda appeared. The already loud applause flipped up a few notches as she seated by the Kurt Weill, but the coolsters of Camden didn't all surge to the front and there was actually enough room to stand and enjoy.

A great blend of songs, many from the latest album, some Dresden Dolls tunes (Backstabber, Coin Operated Boy) a cover or two - somehow part of a Muse track got worked in - and also some new material. Amanda was complemented with the Danger Ensemble for some of the numbers, who performed around her and into the crowd flaunting *ahem* all manner of things during the extensive set.

A few serious moments as she talked about UK censorship and the narrowing of differences from America to UK and a tongue in cheek modification to the already ironic version of Oasis.

I know it's a flying visit to the UK, but there were some witty observations about Londoners like they didn't really know how to make snowballs until the instructions were published in the Guardian. Additions to the musical part included a picture auction and a couple from the audience being invited on stage to profess their love for one another.

There was a finale which involved "Katy Perry" and a then a mini photoshoot which has created some great flickr pictures, far better than mine.

A great evening. Amanda, don't be a stranger to the UK.
Amanda Palmer Electric Ballroom

oooh, and here's Et in arcadia ego's excellent review

Wednesday 4 February 2009

guerilla theatre

Thanks, Andy, for spotting this little example of theatre in unusual surroundings.

Andy's blog also promotes a certain amount of West End theatre, and its good to see the more spontaneous type, like the above, as well. Oh, not to mention Andy's folk singing - here at Havering Folk Club

all of our bus stops are belong to me

Yeah, I know.

But I couldn't resist.

Tuesday 3 February 2009

snow car in the world

snowday 09
This is quite close to where I had to abandon the car yesterday.

I'd managed to drive part way to a meeting but during the journey it was cancelled, so I turned back. I couldn't have gambled on cancellation, though, and so had started out extra early. A kind of Catch-22.

On my way back, the side roads were not gritted and after being surprised by another struggling motorist driving sort of sideways, I then found my own car deciding to protest.

The various 'I know better than you' safety lights came on and it refused to move along the road. I finally got to disable the anti-skid-protection using a special button in an attempt to keep going. This allowed me to drive another wheel-slipping noisy metre before a very loud beepy warning came on and a large part of the dashboard started flashing red. I didn't know it could do that.

I had to admit defeat and snuggle it to the kerb for later retrieval. As I left it, I noticed sort of pungent tyre aroma and the black iced snow in front of the rear wheels.

One backpack, boots and gloves later, I was enjoying a walk through the still pretty snow.
snowday 09

Monday 2 February 2009

this snowman has matching hat and scarf

carrot nose
The white stuff affected plans somewhat today.

I didn't expect to be walking along the road admiring snowmen at a time I'd originally expected to be in a meeting. Of course the transport infrastructure was suffering today and caused delays and reschedules.

My next meeting is a conference call, where I'm sure we will swap tales of today's snowy adventures.