rashbre central: 2011

Saturday 31 December 2011

a quick look back but fun going forward

Queen Victoria Several of us had arranged a get-together over the Christmas break. It was one of those rare occasions when people are back together more or less in one place including from Australia and USA.

We'd found a pub venue conveniently co-located by a tube station and took the additional precaution of starting the session quite early.

Then to stories and exchanges of information about each others' exploits spanning considerable time periods. Who was in a band? Who was designing theme park rides? Who had somehow acquired holiday property in Malta? Who had a fancy car that had a special button to make it go extra fast? How many of us had spent time living in America? Who had lost a finger in a motorcycle accident? The list goes on...

We'd all known one another very well but had also accumulated the typical 'friendship drift' that occurs, so by no deliberate means we'd all slightly lost track of what each other had been doing.

It's still good though, when people you haven't seen for a while have the same mannerisms and approach along with shared memories and sense of humour.

We drifted from the pub to the nearest and incredibly busy Indian restaurant where we somehow managed to secure a large round table which was soon stacked high with poppadoms, karahis, jalfrezis, bhunas and hot hot garlic chilli curries.

Oh, and naturally some Cobras.

Later still we left the restaurant and headed for another pub.

"You should never go back to the same pub twice in one evening," as we all agreed.

Friday 30 December 2011

great games and limited television

Great Expectations
Yesterday I seem to remember having to slither around the floor hissing and spitting circular discs onto a target.

Fortunately we'd recorded the last episode of Great Expectations so we could watch that late at night after the rowdiness had subsided (somewhat).

Earlier in the day we'd gone out hunting for a wedding present and my car passengers invented another new game by shouting at the Sat-Nav whilst I was trying to tell the voice recognition the required destination. We did get some unexpected ones as a result - although I'm not sure that the process would catch on - or that I fancied driving to Helsinki.

During Great Expectations, I realised that we'd not really watched much telly at all over the entirety of the Christmas Season.

Mainly the Dickens three-parter (an atmospheric version with another adapted storyline that makes me want to re-read the story). Downton (not really my thing - and could one of the favourite characters really be consigned to 'the drop'?). Doctor Who (okay for a Christmas special - but the series needs a writerly re-vamp again). A Cee-Beebies program about Raymond the Squash (strangely compelling with small children and like minded adults around). And Ab-fab (which, unfortunately, wasn't - although the scene with that knitted jumper was good)

That's about all of the telly we watched, and most of that had been Sky Plussed.

But we did play rather a lot of silly games.

Thursday 29 December 2011

recording the moment

Home There's been a strange development recently as we've added a vinyl record player back into the rashbre central mix.

One of my totally unexpected Christmas presents, and a very intriguing one.

The rashbre central environment is wifi'd to the hilt and has various sets of speakers connected to the main music server as well as most devices from phones to iPads to PCs being able to select music.

Yet strangely the old-school record player with built in speakers and a manual tone arm and accompanying small stash of albums has been the hit over the holiday period.

There's a different ceremony to listening to music in 20-25 minute blocks with all the sound coming from the same part of the room. Of course, some of the old albums that never made it to CD or MP3 have been resurrected too. And even a couple of recent ones that were presented as vinyl instead of cd (like Evelyn Evelyn).

The idea to do this came about when we were in Hollywood earlier in the year. Strangely enough, the record player in use is an exact replica of the one from there too. Hollywood
A great, if unexpected, holiday souvenir.

Oops, the side has just finished. I must select another one.

Wednesday 28 December 2011

antique antics

Frog and Wicket
This pub is usually a point on one of my bicycle routes where I'd stop for a few minutes, but on Wednesday we loitered there for a couple of pints (shandy in my case).

We'd already been to another sleepy village, where the consensus seemed to be to not open any of the shops again until Thursday at the very earliest. Luckily I didn't have the need for any emergency antique purchases so it wasn't very critical to the day's plans.

Then back to an evening of quizzes interspersed with some Charles Dickens.

And port.

Served in very tiny antique glasses.

And passed to the left.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

no jams, honey

I can understand how people lose track of the right day during this week, but not why everyone wants to rush to the shops by Boxing Day and sit for hours in traffic.

Our successful visits managed to avoid most of the ten mile plus shoppers' traffic jams all around London.

I suspect they are caused by the big shopping centres progressively being sprinkled around the edges of London. There's two either side of the river in East London as well as another new one which opened in time for the Olympics. I noticed the big jam for many miles leading to the north side of the Dartford Crossing.

The west side of London has another large shopping centre which is almost adjacent to the now closed Hammersmith fly-over - one of the main routes in and out of the centre. This would account for the traffic jams I spotted all the way out to the M25 near to the M4. And the middle of London has the usual tourist shopping areas in any case.

By taking the counter-intuitive way around the motorway, we dodged all of the jams we headed for our visits yesterday.

No shopping involved.

Monday 26 December 2011

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Ever since the year we accidentally left the front door open on Boxing Day, we've been a bit more careful when we go out.

On Boxing Day, that is.

We'd a complement of extra visitors and lots of shiny new toys and gizmos when we all decided to go out to the pub or something.

The bustling group of us returned later to the sight of a police car and a couple of neighbours loitering in the garden.

"What's happened?" was the obvious question.

"We spotted your door open but no-one in and wondered if something had happened?" (our neighbours know us better than that nowadays). "Phew - the Champagne's still here" I could hear someone shouting.

The police looked as if they'd had enough of the scene and good naturedly prepared to leave. I don't think there was any paperwork, although a lot of thanks to everyone involved.

Nowadays, if neighbours see the door left open (or the car boot), they quietly close it for us and move along.

Sunday 25 December 2011

Christmas Greetings

A quick snap of the tree, now that its been trimmed.

Most of the decorations are ones acquired on various trips and visits, so the little German soldier is from a snowy Christmas spent in Rothenburg ob der Tauber and the little sign behind it says 'Grand Canyon' from a visit about ten years ago.

Behind that (but tastefully blurred in the photo) is a bauble painted in the Native American style from Puget Sound. We picked it up in the Gaslight district of Vancouver.

...But enough. There's mince pies to be eaten.

Festive Seasonal Greetings.

Saturday 24 December 2011

last minute preparations?

Notting Hill
There were still quite a few shoppers out today, seemlingly buying 'filler-in' items rather than major Christmas purchases.

We'd had a late brunch at Mike's in Notting Hill, before heading to the nearby Electric Cinema to see an afternoon movie. The cinema was filled with the aroma of mulled wine which was being served in half pint beer mugs, complete with mince pies.

Notting Hill

Of course the film was suitably Christmassy too, "It's a Wonderful Life" back on the Silver Screen.

Then outside into the still bustling Portobello Market before a crimson sunset in preparation for Santa's flightpath. Notting Hill

Friday 23 December 2011

lights twinkle

a few of the lights
Now that most of the lights have moved from bulbs to the little LEDs, there's less things to go wrong than previously.

The biggest area to have to negotiate is the 'prevailing colour along our road'.

I already knew the solar powered blue lights were no-no, but I wasn't sure which kind of white light this year.

It turns out its 'warm white' rather than 'white' and means the houses around all sort of link together with the same theme.

I will sneak the multi-coloured flashing set into an upstairs room later.

And try to liberate and incorporate the multi coloured light up snow man.

Monday 19 December 2011

the right shoes?

Coffee with the right shoes
Early for a meeting, I decided to grab a late breakfast toast and a cup of coffee. The coffee bar was mainly empty except for two or three people sitting along the walls chugging through emails on their computers.

I took a window seat and concentrated on the toast as I gradually became more aware of my surroundings. Two people arrived at a nearby table. Well-dressed casual. The jacket of one one them was placed on the side, inside out so a large 'Moncler' label was prominent.

This, apparently, was the interviewer.

The other person started to explain their plans and aspirations. It was clearly a job-seeking session.

I tuned out and back to my coffee.

Until I noticed.

The fashionable Moncler one conducting the interview was wearing different shoes. They were the same brown colour but had different patterning.

I wondered if the interviewee had noticed. Or whether the session's intensity meant he would miss this detail.

This wasn't like fashionable different socks.

They say in interviews its good to think of the interviewer in a levelling situation. This one could be easy.

Having to get dressed in the dark.

The toast and coffee was great.

Saturday 17 December 2011

an on y mous

most useful sunglasses
Some of us have just had a bit of a do and although the main photos won't make it to the internet, this one has the necessary anonymity.

Of course, it's the rectangular sunglasses that do it.

A simple design that can more or less guarantee that the parties at this time of the year won't be giving away more photographic evidence than they should.

Thursday 15 December 2011

how to rank a london twit

london twitterers I was over at diamond geezer's blog when I noticed his post about twitter.

It provided links to a site that lists various charts about twitterers and naturally I couldn't resist looking at rashbre which turns out to be in the first 150 twitterers in London. I can also check out the rashbre twitter serial number here

Now, after 1,777 days I've done over 2,300 tweets.

At 45 seconds per tweet that would be circa 28 hours of tweeting.

I'd better not add up the blog time.

Wednesday 14 December 2011

lights, fir tree, action?

Our tree for Christmas is currently awaiting preparation. I need to find the tree stand and the lights. The latter will probably require another visit to the garden centre although the newer LED based lights have a higher chance that they will still work.

At the moment the tree is still in that net wrapping and may stay that way until the weekend.

There's still uncharacteristically few lights in houses around the area too. Maybe this weekend is the main lighting up time?

Tuesday 13 December 2011

Liberty print

Liberty 1924
I mentioned we'd been in Liberty's shop for a bite to eat before the show. I thought it worth a further reference to this mock Tudor shop in Argyll Place.

The best way to show it is with the two pictures, from 1924 and another from now, that together illustrate that time may have moved along, but that the store appears somewhat unruffled by the busy area around it.

Parts inside are modernised, but other areas are still of another time, with hand written scrolled writing for the cashier station and a small lift that feels like one is travelling in a piece of oak furniture.

Sure, we were on the third floor among the fancy clothes with their untouchable price tags, the Alexander McQueen and Lady Ga-Ga scarves (between £125-£350) but nearby you could still buy a button, or a neatly folded off-cut of a Liberty print.

And plenty of people were. Liberty

Monday 12 December 2011

its beginning to look a lot

sloane square Monday evening and we were meeting some friends at the Palladium, which is very central for the West End.

Across the road is the half-timbered splendour of the shop Liberty, with its upstairs cafe area, so we dropped in there first for a Caesar salad before heading into the venue.

Our friends were on top form and spotted us instantly as we climbed the stairs towards the Upper Circle (or whatever it's called). Then a few fizzy drinks before we headed in for the 'one night only' entertainment.

I couldn't help noticing the proper march towards Christmas around the area with the slightly brasher than normal Regent's Street and further afield the ever tasteful Sloane Street and Sloane Square.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Polaroids in a clothes store

The Polaroid book Passing Urban Outfitters when I spotted a few books sprinkled around the place. There were the usual SAS Survival Guides to this and that and Spaceship repair manuals, all as suggested gifts for Christmas.

But what caught my eye was a Taschen book about Polaroids. Around £8. A quick flip through a copy and I was sold.

Nowadays it'll be creating similar effects with a phone camera, but looking through the hundreds of pictures in this book, almost every one was a little work of art.

Some were artfully taken to begin with and others have the after effects of Polaroid's magical processing. It's a great book to browse through and also a fine source of inspiration. Properly bound, printed on lovely paper and with over 300 pages of fine pictures. It's great to have found a real bargain - and bizarrely its a photo book in a clothes shop.

Update: I got emailed after this post - about the wonderful polanoid.net (note spelling) web site which has around 300,000 Polaroids loaded and a 'picture of the day' slot.

Sunday 4 December 2011

no seaside this week

not this weekend
This weekend I don't need to think about re-packing various bags for the next week of travel. It will be the first week in a month where I've not been travelling.

The view in the picture is approximately the one from my hotel when I've been away in the week - although this is actually from me walking closer to the pier to see the view from sea-level.

I've come to appreciate the sunrises and sunsets, the various rapidly changing weather and the speed at which the tides come in on this part of the coastline.

I'll still need to visit, but the next meetings are being scheduled for London instead. I'm sort of missing this deserted wintry seaside already.

Saturday 3 December 2011

Canon .MXF into Final Cut Pro X, via Foxreal

FCPX Today I've been editing video for several hours.

It was a fairly simple edit, but of a large amount of raw material, so I decided to try Final Cut Pro X, instead my more usual Final Cut Studio. FCPX is supposed to herald the modern digital workflow for video.

And I was using a completely digital workflow, using CF based files direct from the camcorder in a professional format (4:2:2). I was therefore somewhat surprised to see that FCPX doesn't seem to support the current generation Canon format (.MXF).

I could Log the recording into the older FCP Studio version, but to work with FCPX I had to use another circa £35 program (Foxreal) to import the files. I had to transcode everything from .MXF to ProRes 422.

I felt it defeated the object of the claimed digital workflow if the latest software didn't work with one of the main digital camcorder formats.

My edit is complete now and the final version is currently outputting to disk before I convert it to DVD, hence this time to muse on the exercise. I'll probably revert to FCP Studio for my next edits, and wait for FCPX to acquire some more functionality.

Friday 2 December 2011

passed, present and connect

anamorphically flared bus I was close to my sister's place yesterday.

It was an unplanned visit on my way back from somewhere else and I called by phone a few minutes ahead of arrival, didn't get an answer and then instead re-routed back towards the motorway to continue my journey. Passing by.

She's just back from Chicago and I wondered if the different hours were having a residual effect. She called me some 30 seconds before I was back onto the slip road, giving me just enough time to change direction to return to visit.

I was able to marvel at her new glass installation pieces, currently in the hallway. It all looked somewhat avant-garde.

And then the delight of being presented with a Macy's box. Unexpected. A birthday present. I started to quip about lateness but realised I am a far worse offender.

Sometimes my outbound presents arrive in the wrong year. And then there's that embarrassing time when I forgot I'd already bought presents and bought another set.


I'd better start a list for the upcoming season.

Thursday 24 November 2011

people switching centre

It's sometimes difficult to know which item to select for a blog post. Sometimes there's plenty going on and then it becomes difficult to choose. Other times it's quiet and then can be tricky to think of something.

I doubt if too many people want to hear about my experiments with pot noodle cuisine, for example.

Of course, a ready source of material is the observance of surroundings and I've had a couple of good examples of that recently, with different gangs of people.

A few days ago we were on our way back from a music gig and sat together in a bar area, where, on one side was a corridor leading to a very very early Christmas party. On the other side was another corridor leading to a different bar rammed to the edges with people in 'Premier league footballers and their friends on a fancy night out' outfits.

There was much to observe as the various shimmering groups criss-crossed somewhat erratically through our seated zone.

It was very different from a couple of nights earlier when we'd chatted in an attic bar where it was actually easy to get a drink.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

foghorn days

I’ve been back to the land of fun-fairs for the week, in between my two trips to the North of England and my upcoming visit to Wales.

Admittedly some of this is 'non-work' but it does make for an interesting and increasingly jumbled car boot content.

There has been something quite atmospheric in the seaside mornings, watching the dawn break and then on at least one day listen to a nearby foghorn warning passing ships of the complex navigation and major obstacles close to shore.

There's also been some great evenings, with moody sunsets and still surprisingly good weather, despite the hint of an arctic bite to the edge of the wind.

Another week and I suppose we'll have moved to frosted grass in the morning, and I predict the leaves will have fallen by the next time I get back to see the garden at home.

Monday 21 November 2011

Hamlet @starandshadow - a knockout

Thursday and Friday were the days and nights for the playing of Hamlet at the excellent and hospitable Star and Shadow.

I will own up to having some modest role in the events leading to the show, but nothing on the scale of the cast, crew, producers and directors, who have been working away at this for some months. I did put up a short interview with some of them here on rashbre central a few days ago, and it is obvious to everyone involved that a whole lot of love, care and attention has gone into this production.

Those that are familiar with Shakespeare will recognise Hamlet as -er - one of the longer plays and so for this production some cuts to the original script had been made, to run two halves of around one hour each.

The production had also been modified by bringing it into the steampunk era, so there were plenty of leather coats, buckles, goggles and other paraphernalia. These were both on stage and in the entrance areas which included a selection of victorian machinery and a bar transformed into a steampunk attic.
To be, or not to be? That is the question. The production welcomed the audience into the attic, gave a chance for those that wished to become enrolled into the Court of Elsinore and then after supping an ale or two, to be able to take a small personal chalice of steaming poison into the theatre area itself.

And so to the show:

Produced with verve by @bubbleandsqueek and featuring classy acting from a cast assembled especially for the production.

We had an initially good-humoured Hamlet (Naz Kourgli) who progressively spiralled into a base of madness. The new King Claudius (Steven Langley) was played in a style deliberately at odds with others in the court - a useful device to show the way that he had established his position (for those that don't know the plot - he killed his brother the King and then married the King's wife).

Gertrude (Melanie Dagg) played a lively role as the smitten wife of Claudius and is shown to become threatened and torn as Hamlet begins to unravel what has been happening.

Hamlet is influenced by what he believes to be the Ghost of his father, after the delightful ensemble playing of Marcellus (Lee Shillito), Bernardo (James Barton) and Horatio (Neal Campbell) who think they have see an apparition whilst on guard duty.

When Hamlet joins the night watch, he starts along his quest to discover the murder of his father.

But with this as a Shakespeare plot line, there's still more layers and so we have the artfully stuttering Polonius(Eddie McNamee) advising the Court about the source of Hamlet's perceived madness.

Why, it's the love for beautiful Ophelia (Hannah Costanzo) of course, and she produces a love note from Hamlet as a sort of evidence.

Let's say that not everyone is fully convinced by this and we have some very dramatic moments when almost prophetically Hamlet tries to drown Ophelia in his bathtub.

The 'artificial King' Claudius also has a suitable paranoia about everything that is happening and pays the entertainingly 'posh but slightly dim' Rosencrantz(Peter Kitson) and Guildenstern(Paul McDougal) to follow Hamlet and potentially to accompany him on a rakish trip to England.

The pace and tension of the drama increases like a tightly wound spring that will need to be released.

But first an interval... Check out the shadow puppet video to get a sense of the start of Part Two. Claudius blows a fuse at the play presented which more or less maps the horrible, horrible, horrible deed he has done.

Then Hamlet goes to confront his mother Gertrude but things get out of hand. Polonius was supposed to spy upon the event but is accidentally but unremorsefully killed when Hamlet mistakes him for Claudius.

And when you think things couldn't get much worse, Ophelia is told of the death of her father and flips from her early happy self into a terminal depression of her own, leading to her own drowning in a pool by the willow tree. The deaths of Polonius and Ophelia give Claudius the chance he needs to scheme with the angrily coiled Laertes (Peter Stevens) to plot the death of Hamlet.

Then the famous gravedigger scene with the two gravediggers discussing whether Opehlia's death was suicide, ably explained within the aid of a (steampunk?) custard cream and thermos flask. Hamlet appears in time to see one of the gravediggers unearthing a skull. Yes, it's Yorick...

At Ophelia's burial, her brother Laertes confronts Hamlet, which leads to a set-up duel between them, where Claudius stacks all the odds against Hamlet by a combination of a poisoned drink and also a separately poisoned spike.

The unique musical soundtrack (composed by Simon Stephenson who plays it with Ged Robinson) cranks up a notch as the stage is prepared for the fight.

There's plenty of action here but leading to the tragic ending where Gertrude drinks from the poisoned cup to toast to Hamlet. Both Hamlet and Laertes exchange unknowingly deadly poisoned blows but then seek peace with one another before their demise. Laertes explains Claudius' treachery and to cries of 'treason!' from only Claudius himself, we see Hamlet force Claudius to drink from the poisoned cup.

With Hamlet dead in his arms, loyal Horatio closes the play with the famous:

'Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince:
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!'

What we also saw along the way in this production were unique interpretations of famous scenes. Hamlet's cut-throat razor shaving scene during 'To be, or not to be'. The bath-tub scene for the argument between Hamlet and Ophelia. Rozencrantz and Guidenstern searching within the audience for Hamlet and the body of Polonius.

This was a dramatic and fast paced production. For a deep tragedy, it mixed the humour well and cast light and shade as required. The time sped past for this dazzling production, which I hear rumours may soon be hitting the road.

I shall be there.

Saturday 19 November 2011

new recruits to Hamlet's Elsinore @bubble_squeek @Starandshadow Hamlet

To be, or not to be? That is the question. Alongside working over the last few days, I've also been helping out with the Bubbleandsqueek Hamlet production at Star and Shadow.

It rocked. To be, or not to be? That is the question.

But more of that later, as they say. To be, or not to be? That is the question.

Right now, its fun to show a few of the new inductees to the Court of Elsinore, which was a facet of the production. To be, or not to be? That is the question. The woodland grove entrance to the steampunk attic cafe gave people a chance to adapt to the ways of steam before entering the theatre clasping their personal cups of poison. To be, or not to be? That is the question. Along the way was a chance to try out the red attic throne of Denmark, and many of the audience were only to happy to try out running the Kingdom. To be, or not to be? That is the question. As you'll see, some were quite vociferous in their feelings that something was rotten in the State of Denmark. And there's more pix below - click the to view slide show... Audience shots from Hamlet

Tuesday 15 November 2011

in which I meet a self satisfied door with a Windows memory error

dont panic and carry a towel Every so often another example of something from Douglas Adams' "Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy" happens to me in real life. Today it was the self satisfied doors to the building's elevators.

There's been that creeping elegance amongst lift designers to try to improve on the basic design. Remember that thing where you press a button, wait a few moments for a lift to arrive, step inside and select a floor?

Too easy.

After installing the helpful voices to call out floor numbers, the next thing has been the removal of the interior buttonage.

We've all experienced these newer designs, where there's a flat panel display outside the elevators.

You press a touch screen to select a floor (or maybe twice if you have -er - hot hands)

The display tells you the next available lift (which in one building I visit is sometimes hidden around a corner)

The lift arrives and you are whisked to the floor on a stopping service with a group of other people. No more ability to see a lift fill up and then select an adjacent empty one to speed past the 'slow service'. Greater chances to see optimally stuffed elevators arrive bursting with people who have experienced a slow ride down 12 or 20 floors.

Today the lift was displaying a message above the door where it usually has the floor number.

It said "Windows Error - out of virtual memory"

We looked glumly at one another as we entered and gritted our teeth for the thought that there wouldn't be another lift along until this one had cleared but this one may now be suffering from unpredictable routing.

Actually, it was fine and we got to the tenth floor successfully.

But as we exited, we noticed the touch screen panel was now filling with white courier ten font writing on a black background and an error message repeating many times, in German. Something about 'eine Fehler'

Bing bong - came the announcement.

"We are sorry to have to report that the lifts at the Southern end of the building are out of action"

An hour later...Bing Bong - another announcement: "We are sorry to have to report that all of the lifts in the building are out of action - please notify security if you need help to leave the building."

I walked down the stairs at the end of the day. I thought I heard the lifts giggling.

“Ghastly,” continued Marvin, “it all is. Absolutely ghastly. Just don't even talk about it. Look at this door,” he said, stepping through it. The irony circuits cut into his voice modulator as he mimicked the style of the sales brochure. “All the doors in this spaceship have a cheerful and sunny disposition. It is their pleasure to open for you, and their satisfaction to close again with the knowledge of a job well done.”

As the door closed behind them it became apparent that it did indeed have a satisfied sigh-like quality to it. “Hummmmmmmyummmmmmm ah!” it said.

Monday 14 November 2011

Behind the steampunk scenes at Hamlet

Today's little video clip is from a few members of the cast and production for Shakespeare's Hamlet which is being given the 1910 Steampunk treatment. The clips give brief insights into how some of the gang got involved.

I don't have any editing software with me at the moment because I am still on the road, so these are disorganised raw clips uploaded to Youtube.

It's interesting how the cast and crew got together, from a variety of castingcall.com, Facebook, twitter and similar sources.

I know I have a more clips too, but the rest of them are on a Compact Flash card 300 miles away.

Except this test of Hamlet's scene with Gertude after Hamlet mistakenly kills Polonius and then sees the Ghost again.

Sunday 13 November 2011

get thee to a nunnery

There's quite some logistics to moving Ophelia to the right spot. It's one of the delicate plot points in Shakespeare's great tragedy, Hamlet.

After Ophelia's father Polonius is mistakenly killed by the mad Prince of Denmark, there's the scene where Ophelia is told to go to a nunnery. Unfortunately, after a period of her own strange behaviour she is found drowned.

It's ruled as an accident, but the gravediggers have another opinion. Of course, it means carrying Ophelia's body in and then lowering it to the right spot. This takes quite some practice and the little clip shows one of the early takes from Saturday's blocking out of the action.

The second little clip is a trial blocking of Prince Hamlet talking to the Ghost of dead King Hamlet.

The whole production will be given the Steampunk treatment by Thursday and I'll be able to edit some footage instead of just uploading raw cuts from a Macbook. ...And I can't resist one of the test runs of the scene where Hamlet and Laertes argue and which leads to the duel where Claudius plots Hamlet's demise (it all kicks off around 2:05)

Saturday 12 November 2011

Hamlet preparations

Hamlet Star and Shadow Friday evening was a six hour drive to Newcastle, to the rehearsals for Hamlet. This is a Bubble & Squeek re-imagining of Shakespeare’s brutal tragedy, with the added whirr of a steampunk interpretation.

The show is being presented in a multi media format with theatre, music and video showing the madness of Hamlet's world. The Star and Shadow cinema is being turned into the court of Elsinore conjuring dreamlike and nightmareish landscapes.

My initial role was to move some extremely heavy 5 foot high bass bins and sofas before settling down for some filming.

17 & 18 November, 7.30pm
Matinee: 18 November, 1.30pm
BOOK TICKETS HERE (but hurry - its almost sold out)

Thursday 10 November 2011

sky drops

I was working out that without counting blogging or email, I've probably written over 10,000 words this week.

Unfortunately, only about 1,700 of them are linked to NaNoWriMo. And by my calculations I just don't have the time to catch up.

Originally, I was going to pass on this year's attempt anyway, because I have a couple of other screeds of unfinished writing. I then drifted into a couple of chapters, but pragmatically I realise I have too much else on at the moment.

On the positive side, my travels are giving me some interesting additional locations to plunder.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

screaming and going faster

part of my view It's been a hectic week again. I'm mainly by the seaside at the moment and my hotel room overlooks the twists and turns of a funfair.

The view changes constantly too, with sunshine, rain and mist in equal measures.

It's a bit like this week's work, where the plans on Monday are quite different from those by Wednesday.

Sometimes it's a case of scream if you want to go faster.

Monday 7 November 2011

someone will be banged to rights

usual-suspects-1995-10-g I don't usually write about annoying personal things and it does take a bit to rile me.

But how about having your debit card cloned?

Maybe being contacted about it a few hours before starting a business trip?

Someone has been trying to buy things from BT with one of my cards. I gather they try a small purchase first and if it works they buy something bigger. Of course, we'll leave the card running so that the perpetrators get found out and suitably admonished (guv).

Meantime, I have to reset all kinds of things because its one of my main cards. Grr.

That was the same day that someone in a Jeep Cherokee backed into my unattended car. I wasn't there at the time but heard one of those announcements 'Is anyone the owner of a ....?'

Kudos to the three witnesses and the excellent description of the car, the driver, the passenger and the number plate as they drove away without admitting they had done anything wrong.

Processes are in place for both situations.

Saturday 5 November 2011

funny how the distance learns to grow

Saturday night and I'm at a going-away party for a friend.

He's off to Beijing on Sunday to work. It's not that long since I was with a different friend who had a similar plan. Not to Beijing, but instead to Shanghai - hardly in the same vicinity but only 4 hours on the bullet train.

In amongst the drinking and music, the inevitable questions were asked around how/what/why? and some of the people there were expecting detailed explanations. I didn't go along that route and am much more able to settle for the 'It is what it is' type of explanation.

For the moment I'll have to make do with Chinatown in Soho, but it's got me thinking about a visit.

Friday 4 November 2011

hold your breath till the sun goes down

I was in the supermarket when I spotted the latest edition of Uncut magazine. It's not something I'd normally buy, but the cover with its Tom Waits' Jukebox drew me towards it. Usually it carries quite a few retro articles about (e.g.) how Deep Purple wrote their 1970 hit single "Black Night" (they jammed it as a b-side) or what Bob Dylan was doing in 1976 (Rolling Thunder).

It reminds me of that recently launched magazine that carries slightly old news. There was a copy in a hotel where I stayed recently, and although it was all elaborately printed and typeset, I couldn't really be bothered to read news from the last three months, ending in August.

But I'll make an exception with the Tom Waits article, which was a longish and recent interview as well as the song selections, which feature sufficient bar-rooms, brawls and gasoline references to keep me engaged. I know I reference Mr Waits here from time to time, and to be honest I don't really know how many of his albums I have, except that its quite a lot, including some on vinyl but usually repeated as CDs.

Aside from the lyrics and interesting music, there's often a reason to get the physical packaging with his albums too. Who can forget the cover of Real Gone, with its handy match striker surface? or the little book included with Orphans, Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards? I personally think he missed a trick by not including any glitter or confetti with Glitter and Doom, but the second CD of talk tracks more than compensated.

There's a new album out now too, Bad as Me, but I shall wait until after my birthday before considering purchasing it.

Well, you play that Tarantella, all the hounds they start to roar
The boys all go to hell, and then the Cubans hit the floor
They drive along the pipeline, they tango till they're sore
They take apart their nightmares and they leave 'em by the door
Let me fall out of the window with confetti in my hair
Deal out jacks or better on a blanket by the stairs
I'll tell you all my secrets, but I lie about my past
Send me off to bed forever more

Thursday 3 November 2011

I appear to be starting a Mexican hat dance for Nanowrimo

in the valley The trouble with even thinking about NaNoWriMo is that I then start to think about the plot-line for the next novel.

If it was a completely new story then I’d probably get away with ignoring the whole thing, but as the next one is supposed to be the third part of the Triangle, then the characters are pre-formed.

It means that they start to do things again of their own accord. It doesn’t help that when I was in the desert a few months ago I had a few ideas pop into my head which would fit nicely into book three.

Or that when I was in a rather agreeable hotel in the middle of Santa Fe I worked out a pretty cool idea for a scene which I’ve not seen anyone do yet.

And don’t get me started on the Vauxhall train station plotline that could be worked into the story. I picked that up when we were delayed on an inbound train to Waterloo.

It means that the characters that I’ve left by the roadside on US Highway 163 in are already on their way to the Utah border and might even pick up some horses to cut across the Colorado Plateau.

It’s all getting out of hand and I haven’t written a single word yet.

Then there's those two Navajo truck drivers who have pulled off the road by Mexican Hat and are transferring all manner of things between what appears to be two almost identical trailers. There’s clearly something going down, and it isn’t just a refreshment stop.

Oh, well maybe just a little peep...

Tuesday 1 November 2011

no nanowrimo this year?

hazy It's not that I don't want to, but I just can't rationalise doing the NaNoWriMo again this year. My hazy desert picture is indicative of the plot forming in my head.

The thing is, I have two partially complete novels from previous years that it would make more sense to complete.

One is the second part of the Triangle trilogy. It's called 'The Square' and is at that 80% complete status. I still need to write the last 3-4 conventional chapters and then I'd have a reasonable first draft on the basis that I've already polished some parts of it. I already have someone in mind to help me with a sub-editorial review as well.

Then there's last year's effort - which is called 'Pulse'. It's a different genre, but still with a London based theme around it. That's probably more at the 60% stage at the moment and as it involves more countries the various cast of players need to be scooped back into a single area for a sort of denouement.

The thing is, I've already got the hazy idea for the third book of the Triangle series, which happens to be set partly in Arizona. The rationale for the location is like the other ones; pretty much that I happened to be there and I think all the Navajo and pueblo elements can add some other textures.

Did I just hear someone say 'Step away from the typewriter"?

Monday 31 October 2011

No bats

I was booked into a hotel for Halloween, but actually dining in a different one with some work colleagues.

I don't think any of us noticed Halloween during the evening, although at lunch time in a different venue with a colleague we had noticed the lone Christmas cracker on the table as we hastily ate jacket potatoes before heading to a meeting.

I'm guessing it's all a factor of the pre-scheduling of everything now. My best Halloween encounters were Friday night, when I sat in a pizza place which had a pretty good pumpkin and then later in the evening the pub had a full complement of scary people spilling out across the late-night pavement. pizza place pumpkin The iPhone pizza place pumpkin picture (pause for breath) is above, but the picture at the top shows my 'creature of the night' performance after we left the Hallows Evening restaurant. I'd decided early evening to go home instead of back to the other hotel. It was a case of a 2h30 mid evening drive versus a 3 to 4 hour drive with an early start the next morning.

And I was back well before the witching hour.

Sunday 30 October 2011

our kitchen always has its own time zone

time Time was, when the clock change meant everything had to be adjusted individually to the new setting. Nowadays it kind of works in reverse. Everything changes automatically except for a couple of old battery clocks.

Even getting into the car I was treated to that moment when the ignition is switched on and the clock then spins around 11 hours without me touching anything.

It can be confusing though. We keep the kitchen in a special +20 minutes time zone. Its a sort of tradition to try to avoid being late for things and just enough to be almost forgotten about in routine matters. On Sunday evening, as we returned from a couple of days away, it was at one of those times where we just didn't know any more what the right time was.

"Shall we make the kitchen only plus five?" came a suggestion.

We've left it plus 20.

Saturday 29 October 2011


I know, I should have taken the picture from a lower angle.

There was actually someone else trying to take the same picture so I just snapped away. The puddle in the foreground is a clue though. We were scoping out a few boat trips around Poole, with a view to taking a short trip on Sunday.

The modest sunshine on Saturday was probably indicating the last fine weather we'll get before the season finally changes but we'd already got plans for the day so Sunday seemed like the best bet for boating.

However, the little weather forecast on my phone was showing rain, rain, rain, rain, rain for Poole on Sunday.

The gull probably took a trip around the harbour, but we didn't.