rashbre central: January 2020

Monday 27 January 2020

Jojo Rabbit

I can tell it is the winter months because I've been to see around three movies recently. The latest was the satire JoJo Rabbit about a hitler youth's experience living in a village during the last days of World War II.

It is both comedic and shocking, with hardly any punches pulled as the story unfolds. The boy goes to youth camp to learn about guns and bombs and is seriously injured in a grenade incident. The scenes, cuts and dialogue are whip-smart and we later learn that his mother is hiding multiple secrets in their house.

Sometimes the scenes are predictable, but there's an edginess to much of the screenwriting that leaves one wondering who will get out alive.

The ideas of history and politics contained in “Jojo Rabbit” are terrifying. Absurd incompetents creating an enormous human tragedy.

It plays out here as dark humour, in a movie with a heart that leaves a lasting impression.

Sunday 26 January 2020

Ed Adams - author

Here we go - a web site for Ed Adams, the author. I need to build a mailing list next.

Saturday 18 January 2020

cover design

I listened to a short talk about book cover design a couple of days ago.

It went along the lines of "lead the reader into the book."

It implied that certain genres have certain motifs which repeatedly occur on the covers so that people know what they are buying into. Often the more successful ones will have a 'vanishing point' graphic on the cover with a silhouette of a person running towards it.

Above, I picked a few at random from a well-know bookseller, just to test the point.

Subliminally it is supposed to encourage a browsing person to dive into the book. I wonder if it is also to confuse the reader-to-be to select a book 'something along the lines of'?

I can remember the first cover for the Triangle, which went to a professional cover designer, and featured a single person moving towards the reader. It didn't get past the second edit, though, and we eventually settled on the orange cover, which could stand out well on (ahem) street banners and bus wraps.

Friday 17 January 2020

pencil wins

Sometimes there's still a need for paper and pencil. Today I'm drawing diagrams on A3 and it is getting very messy. Staedtler Mars, where are you?

Thursday 16 January 2020

Not right now

I had to drop briefly into Windows today from my Mac. Its's a long story. I fired up Parallels and was greeted with the message to update to the latest version (15), which took all of 5 minutes. Then I could fire up a Parallels control panel and select my version of Windows. Windows 10, of course. And it started up, showing me the desktop before a Microsoft message appeared across the whole screen.

It told me my version of Windows 10 was superseded and I'd have to download an update. Just 6 Gigabytes. I clicked 'Download Updates' and the button didn't work. I tried I need Help. Didn't work either, so then I thought I'd try Not Right Now. It locks.

I've now got a punky blue screen across the whole Windows session, which probes tell me is using loads of CPU and network. There's no useful user feedback whatsoever.

I'm beginning to remember why I hit the big red button on Spindows.


Wednesday 15 January 2020

The Triangle : a slight return

I decided to re-cut my earlier novel "The Triangle" in the same style as Coin and change the author to Ed Adams. It was an interesting process.

Aside from the typo corrections, there were masses of detailing points to remedy. The original version was written in around 2008/9. It is a great example of wide time, because of the various contemporaneous changes needed.

  • Sean Brophy, now as modern story telling suggests, replaced with Amelia Brophy as the main villain (elle)
  • The ironic and terminally-hip Umbaba night club closed down so the story moved to Fabric
  • Waterloo is no longer the terminal for Eurostar. This and a few other bits of London needed adaptation.
  • CDs, DVDs, white iMacs and a slew of other technical things are all bit naughties and have been removed or adapted
  • Nokia phones. Oops
  • The Hummer. I left it in because it is fun-worthy, but as a rental, it should go.
  • Amelia needs to think of a new last name, so I changed it to Jennings (Hat-tip to Killing Eve author)
  • Brian becomes Lucien Deschamps (quelle surprise, Rodney)
  • Pete was so obviously a holding name, so he's now modernised to Mark
  • I changed Bigsy's car to an Audi, but Scrivener fought back, and it's still a Rover.
  • I checked the top floor suite at the Martinez where the Russians stayed, and it really was that good.

Monday 13 January 2020

right royal news deflection

News deflection apparatus
We're all re-reading 1984 as our next dystopian book-club novel. Bury news with a royal story.

Here's some adapted Regina.

Do you remember the time when the Withdrawal Bill was stopped by Parliament?
Hey, remember that time we decided the government was wrong?
Hey, remember that time when my favorite colors were pink and green?
Hey, remember that month when I only ate boxes of tangerines?
So cheap and juicy

Hey, remember that time when I would only read politics?
Hey, remember that other time when I would only read Paradise Papers?
Hey, remember that time we tried to save the country with a broken thing?
A fat cat got it by morning, and we had to bury pieces of its freedom in the Parliament building
I thought I was going to be sick

Hey, remember that time when I would only smoke Parliaments?
Hey, remember that time when I would only smoke Marlboros?
Hey, remember that time when I would only smoke Camels?
Hey, remember that time when I was broke?

I didn't care; I just bummed from my friends
Bum, ber-bum ber-bum, bum.

Hey, remember that time when she tried destroy the country?
Hey, remember that other time when he tried it for the second time?
Well, in the waiting room while waiting for news of you
I hallucinated I could read your mind
And I was on a lot of it too, but what I saw, man, I tell you it was freaky

Sunday 12 January 2020

Coining the charts

It appears my latest novel has already turned up on Amazon. The Kindle popped up first and then, a couple of days later, the paperback appeared. It's officially in pre-sales for another week, so I'll have to hang on in there until then. Nonetheless, it is already turning up in a couple of the Amazon Charts: Number 2 in the Amazon Hot New Releases and Number 24 in the Amazon Best Sellers.

Now, I'll take both of these, even if a closer inspection reveals they are both in somewhat specialised categories.

Thursday 9 January 2020

Level Up or Level Playing Fields?

The new year sit-com continues, with Buffer getting a visit from Ursula von der Leyen. She's heard about the Great Leveller, but rather than wanting to level-up, she's insisiting that any fun and games are played on a level playing field.

Of course, Mr Mendacious pretends to know the rules of soccer and shows off his own bulked-out level playing field to Ursula.

Ursula and the Clown might have gone to the same European School in Uccle, Belgium, but she left before Le Malheuer arrived.

Now she's on a partial climate ticket leading the EU and has pointed out to Boris that the Great Negotiation is already starkly time-limited.

I'm guessing that that the Bad Spad is already dreaming up a couple of easy wins (mwah-ha-ha-ha) as a proxy for the exit.

Prepare to hear all about a couple of issues to the exclusion of all else. Sleight of hand and misdirection, naturally.

Then the Boris can have his Beano, sorry, Bino moment.

Tuesday 7 January 2020

Dan Dare stare and a flying car

I noticed today's amusing press release from BMW for gaze detection technology. Monetising where the driver stares. Meh.

Now they've made the car that fronts it look quite menacing too - taking liberties with the BMW design language. Remember when it was all about kidney-shaped grills and double-O headlights? This one takes more from Radiohead's Killer Cars than from BMW designer Paul Bracq.

But that brings me to the next car designer desperation.

Flying Cars.

I can't help thinking that there's a law of physics here somewhere that means that flying cars will need far more energy to get off the ground than a wheeled variety. Climate Crisis, or what?

And, as someone who has just had to replace a headlight on my ordinary car - not just the broken bulb because it is made with rare and noble xenon gas apparently. That's the whole £182 sub-assembly (plus fitting) instead of a fiver for a new bulb at Halfords. So on a flying car where everything has to be certified, I'm sure those ion reactors will cost a pretty penny.

Monday 6 January 2020


Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the library, another rashbre book emerges. Cue that John Williams menace music.

This one has evolved from my comparative radio silence during November (NaNoWriMo time).

I just don't know when to stop.

I'm told by the publishers that Coin will be live on 20-Jan-20, which isn't far away now and only competes with the blockbusters of William Gibson's Agency (about the revenge of the Alexas) and Luke Gedde's Heart of Junk (ascerbic life in the Marie Kondo age). I'm guessing the date will drift a little in any case.

Here's part of the back cover blurb for Coin, by Ed Adams (see, it's near the start of the alphabet in searches ;-)

And the evolution of the cover art, thanks to various advisors:
  • "Green text on a green background? You must be crazy!"
  • Chorus of "I like the blue cover, no on second thoughts, the yellow one..."
  • "No, I don't like any of them - what you need is..."
  • Very long pause..."No comment"
  • "You need a different model for the hacker; she looks too [insert word]"
  • "Can you get away with that?"

I'm sure I'll mention it again on this blog. (or maybe it's a plog? (r) (c) Roger Morris)

Friday 3 January 2020

A cayce of patterns

Dominic Cummings leveraging his position at Number 10 will be interesting. He is looking for super-talented weirdos because he thinks some of the civil service need to be less wrong and are in need of new enablers. He's made it personal by stepping the hiring process onto his personal blog. No-one has commented about that aspect.

Cummings is still extolling Boyd’s loops of people, ideas, machines and exploitation of unrecognised simplicities to theoretically grab the money laying in the streets. Loopy? we shall see soon enough.

Cummings' wild cards resonated with me, but I suppose they are designed to.

He talked of William Gibson’s novel and the girl hired by Bigend as a brand-diviner.

I recognised her as Cayce Pollard the coolhunter and am reminded that I scripted one of Scrive’s buddies based upon the idea of Cayce, when I wrote Pulse several years ago.

That’s the unpublished Pulse, which I keep meaning to finish.

It should be easier after Coin hits the street.

Then there’s the Chinese-Cuban free-runner, like a Tom Waits character from Gun Street Girls, which co-incidentally, I used as my 2019 summary tune.

"He bought a second-hand Nova from a Cuban Chinese
And dyed his hair in the bathroom of a Texaco
With a pawnshop radio, quarter past four
He left for Waukegan at the slamming of the door”

And as for figuring out how international crime gangs might exploit border security… Well, that’s 'job done' in the novel. And we’re soon back to three-lists in Cummings’ world. Real, Symbolic, Imaginary (?)

Around people rooted in symbolism, I worry that apophenia may rule. Imaginary pattern recognition. To quote one of my older and wiser bosses, ”The strength becomes a weakness.”

We'll see with Mark Sedwill's protection of Cummings.

A new type of weird is coming.

Thursday 2 January 2020

relax jaw

The complicated travelling is over, and I'm back at base. 2020 has arrived with a modicum of champagne glass clinking and fireworks from across the field.

Other than fun going forward, I don't do resolutions and fgf is more or less a lifestyle choice and mantra. It is interesting to see that resolutions have been comprehensively monetized on t'internet now, with various influencer videos and marketer videos recommending all kinds of creepy poetry, fun park tours and self-improvement courses.

Weirdly, there's as many carbon footprint increasing offers as there are for cuts in alcohol or fuel. And then there's lists of resolutions. The longest I could spot was 55 line items, which I felt was a trifle complicated to uphold.

Another list has 15 embedded advertisers including, facebook, salesloft, amazon alexa, google analytics, twitter ads, marketo, adroll, taboola and yes, the list goes on. Cookies galore; good luck with that one.

But I don't care. In true Starship Enterprise piloting style, I've set Shields to High and will boldly continue.

Here's to Fun going Forward.