rashbre central: November 2021

Friday 26 November 2021

Get Back

Despite all the talk of 4k and 8k video, it was fascinating to watch that 16mm Peter Jackson documentary of The Beatles prepping for a gig ordained to contain 14 new songs and be performed live, from 1969. That was the premise of the ill-fated Get Back sessions, set against a countdown clock ticking for two weeks. Based in a loaned Twickenham studio, they huddled up to one end, someone rigged white photo session screening and some splashes of coloured lights. Despite this, the resultant filmstock has been polished to look 21st century and aside from the interesting choices of clothing and a few vintage bits of kit, it could be contemporary. An alnost current 'in the room with the Beatles' kind of vibe.

I read somewhere that they had to resync all of the sound with the silent film footage too, and yet the audio comes out remarkably well, with good music and well-captured (if occasionally mis-synchronised) chatter from the band. It could have been a dramatisation in places, showing the messy way that an album gets built. Except that these were no actors and no ordinary albums. It was The Beatles, jaded, yet ready to invent and then play more new music. Yet music for which we all know the words.

As you pick through the lengthy session and banter, there's a dazzling amount of new tunes and lyrics. That the Beatles could write most of Let It Be, Abbey Road and a few solo projects by Day 7 of their confinement to the studio shows incredible productivity. And fascinating in all of this is the push that McCartney gives to the process. More a spirited cajoling coupled with a work ethic that didn't stop. He seemed to believe in the project the most, despite the warped 'Live from the Sahara' vibes coming from the people standing around.

That was a bugbear of mine. The extra people in the sessions didn't seem to know how to stand around properly. I've been in on band sessions and even when doing something significant, you have to know how far back to stand. Some of these people just didn't and so sometimes we get an organic Beatles huddle cramped by the extras. Only Linda Eastman, George Martin and a Hare Krishna man seemed to know how to do it properly. 

From this circle of chairs we get the organic beginnings of Get Back, Don't Let Me Down, I've Got a Feeling, (a re-vamped) One After 909, Dig a Pony and most of side two of Abbey Road, plus a few of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass album. 

A moment of joy in this era of B1.1.529.

I assume this documentary merges with the well-known Let It Be Abbey Road sessions in Part Two and then the Savile Row rooftop session. 

They passed the audition.

Sunday 21 November 2021

Ear age test

Interesting. My ears are about the right age, but my left one is older than my right one!

Saturday 20 November 2021

The Watcher - Cover choices

Time for the next novel. I've reached 200 pages and managed to round it off. The Watcher is an entity as old as time. That's Big Bang to Almighty Whimper. I decided to add this one into the available slot preceding Pulse, so it does, in a way, follow into that novel. And my inspiration was that monument The Watchers on the Tomintoul Road, in Royal Deeside. 

I've been getting opinions about cover designs recently, and apart from a particularly off-beat one from my family - not grammatically correct - needs to be more cheerful - how about adding a kitten?

 - the rest of the variations are largely in a similar line.

There was the dragon/serpent, which almost didn't finally make it to the cover art at all:

This would have worked if I'd wanted a school text book design, I think, but I had a similar problem with my first cover for The Triangle, which did look a little too much like a math textbook. Curiuously enough, I was at a party the other day and someone I didn't know very well introduced me as an author (ho ho). Then the other person to whom I was being introduced replied, 'Oh and what is your subject?' (Gulp). But back to cover designs. We had some ideas about Kali. Including the famous statue at CERN. A good idea, but only fleetingly relevant.
I suppose the dragon made it to the first prototype:
But it wouldn't get much further. I wanted to add some knowledge shards falling and a bit of earth in plight.
However, the graphic of the Watcher gets lost at small size in this colourway, so time to experiment. But before that, I was asked to try a different theme:.
But we were already along the right lines, so the next one cama along as:
And so for a back cover.
Now we need to get it published.

Sunday 14 November 2021

Cold war Courier vs Old vs Invasion

I just watched and hated the movie 'Old' directed and written etc.etc. by M. Night Shyamalan of the Sixth Sense among other movies. I can understand that he is trying to recreate the movie moment of that earlier film where Bruce Willis suddenly realises something significant. 

This one (no spoiler) has everyone on a beach resort holiday where things start to get troublesome. It's the kind of resort where you arrive on a luxury minibus driven by Shyamalan, and are greeted with unusual cocktails then to meet the suave maître d'hôtel  who has only great personalised recommendations for everyone.
It turns into a kind of towering inferno script later when various family units have to resolve unexpected events and it is from around the occurrence of the first one that my brain engaged with the 'other possibilities' thinking, which is a characteristic of Shyamalan's movie making. 

I managed to speculate the 'other possibility' rather early in this case, but I won't explain it here. I really thought this movie more a misfire than anything towering. 

Speaking of towering inferno for a moment, it's also the playbook used in Invasion, a mini series which I found equivalently irritating, with its divergent cast all in various forms of jeopardy.
Sam Neill is the gnarly Sheriff in it and after a retirement from duty in the first episode, he seems to have gone Missing In Action for the next three reels. It is like he is in a different movie from everyone else. Apple must have a lot of money to throw at their productions, if this anything to go by. And now they have debugged everything with this one, they could be all set to make something brilliant. For this one, despite the epic trailers, I must confess to giving up 26 minutes from the end of Episode Four. 
I can't help but contrast this with the action and razor sharp story telling in that classic Fargo Series Two, when gnarly Sheriff Ted Danson gets to investigate the burger joint killings and that space object appears. 
So I was quite pleased to watch a properly good movie on Saturday night. It was the Benedict Cumberbatch cold war film set in a convincingly good 1960s London and Moscow, here Cumberbatch acts as a - er - courier for MI6. 

There is a timelessness to the scripting and direction of the piece which I found enjoyable. The modern camerawork, digital sheen and clever color grading give away that it is from the 21st Century, but the screenplay could be anytime. I think I'll watch it again in black and white. Cumberbatch plays a simple salesman/middleman fixer who knows the moves (be able to drink a lot, lose golf to the clients, show them the best clubs, do them little favours) and gets persuaded by an impressively empowered female from the CIA who manipulates the older men around her to get her way. 

It is supposed to be based upon the Greville Wynne and Oleg Penkovsky story of 5000 documents being slipped to the British and American secret services at around the time of the Cuban missile crisis.   I didn't know of this breach at all, less publicised than the Kim Philby and Cambridge spy ring stories, and it still gave room for trade-craft and back-stories, which may be scripted licence. As a simple check, the pivotal woman from America was a fabrication and used to contrast old-boy network MI6 with the whipper-snapper upstart CIA.

An enjoyable modern classic.

Wednesday 10 November 2021

Around the world with Dodger and the Sopranos

Bridge those gaps 
Pull out all the stops 
Why Level it when you can Jet it? 
Sometimes it's important to give people the illusion of being in control That’s what being a boss is. 
You steer the ship the best way you know. Sometimes it’s smooth. Sometimes you hit the rocks. 
I find I have to be the sad clown: laughing on the outside, crying on the inside.

Tuesday 9 November 2021

Podcasting The Circle by Ed Adams

I'm still trying out that Artificial Intelligence system to assist with publishing my books as audiobooks. First of all, I've taken The Circle and am converting it into a podcast, which is all over Apple, Spotify and the other usual suspects.
Once I've completed the loading - I reckon I'm around half way through at the moment - then I'll re-edit the audio into around 3 or 4 longer segments. At the moment each mini podcast section (typically 6-8 minutes) has a bit of guitar music at both ends, but I'll remove that from the audiobook version. I'll also neeed to relisten to it, because the AI has a problem with certain words and phrases. Fulham F (pause) C. Complex. But I'll eventually teach it how to speak proper.

I'm realistic enough to know my listenership is going to be low, but a couple of episodes are up near 100 listens, and I guess that's when I've mentioned it somewhere. Oh, well...Here goes!
And yes, the scrolling list goes right the way back to my early recordings of The Triange and The Square, as well as throwing ina few 'observations' about the process.

Saturday 6 November 2021


I expect, like many, I have already been seasonally trapped in a venue with insufficient TV options. By that I mean I'm too lazy to configure box-set-binging and so I'm watching regular channels.

The obvious go-to thing to do at this time of year is to seek out the free Xmas Movie channels.

There are already plenty of them available, and they are pumping out stories about (usually) the city slicker who is displaced to a small town where she meets an old flame and hilarity and confusion ensues. Sometimes we get alternative reality rules - a kind of fledgling metaverse invoked aftera a train/stormy plane ride.

I'll guess these movies are made in a part of Canada configured to look like the United States, with those single track wooden bridges and all.

There is usually a compelling event - retrieve the McGyver, get something annulled, unless it is all a dream sequence - Jimmy - we know you are reading this.

And then there are two must haves. Cute Guy In Jumper and Cute Dog With Nothing To Do.

My rating system for these movies is somewhat like Xmas Bingo, with the CGIJ at x minutes and the CDWNTD at y minutes. To be honest the dog is usually brought in when the storyline starts to flag, so if it is too early then it is a dire warning about the rest of the movie. 

A few movies, like 'The Holiday' (Two cute women swap homes. Godalming and L.A) - they play with the tropes, and there is even an explanation thrown in in about a meet cute between old friendly guy and one of the women.

But let's be honest. It is still too early for The Holiday to show up. Or Scrooged. Or anything with Steve Martin. Maybe Nightmare before Xmas (even that has a dog, despite being a great movie). And I think Bruce managed to pull off 'no cute dogs' in Die Hard? If that counts as a Christmas movie?

Thursday 4 November 2021

Memory loss and taking the sleazy way out

I reckon the blundering buffoon must have accidentally stumbled into one of the control rooms at Number 10. There's a few James Bond-like buttons there with things like 'Eject' written on them and he can't resist pressing them.

It probably started when his missus decided to redecorate and had everywhere lined with expensive golden wallpaper. 

Imagine returning from a holiday villa on the Caribbean island of Mustique funded by the Carphone Warehouse founder David Ross, only to find that he'd been rumbled by Kathryn Stone – the parliamentary standards commissioner who said his getaway wasn't declared. One press of the 'Exonerate' button and all was well.  The ruling was subsequently overturned by the parliamentary commission for standards.

But why stop there? 

All of that independent scrutiny of potentially damaging Tory sleaze scandals is a bit much. The parliamentary standards committee hopper is currently bursting with everything from dodgy Covid contracts  to the refurbishment of Boris Johnson’s flat. 

Far better to use the decoy of horse enthusiast Owen Paterson's contract awards situation  to make parliament’s watchdog toothless so it can no longer properly hold MP's to account. Leverage. For Patterson's paymasters, £100,000 assists generate £133m for testing kits and an untendered award of £347m six months later. Nothing wrong with that.

And let's not forget that Boris doesn't want an independent watchdog crawling all over his own 'forgetful' improprieties.

So in rolls the fall guy. Or maybe the diversion. It is fascinating to see that Owen Patterson could use the 'word in ear' method of influence to Ministers, rather than blowing a whistle on known problems, and that the Parliamentary Commissioner on Standards had noted at least 14 breaches of the rules. Patterson was recommending his own paymasters to fix things (allegedly). To be that dim yet able to trouser £100,000 for consultancy to the two companies he lobbied in favour of seems incredible. 

We saw that pillar of society Jacob Rees-Mogg ask for another committee to support particularly stupid MPs and to come to a different conclusion. Conclusions which could let Owen off - Well he didn't quite say that, but if you look through the pompous excess verbiage it is what he intended. 

For the whole plan to work required the Buffoon to force all of the MPs to vote to get their man off the hook. Then Andrea Leadsom could ask for a new (de-facto) Tory controlled committee to selectively look into things. 

With a single button press it also clears Mark Francois, Craig Mackinlay and four other Tory MPs whose suspensions had been recommended by the commissioner. 

Maybe he devised other repainting manoeuvres whilst returning to London on a private-hire A321 Airbus, ironically from the 'save the planet' COP26 Summit. He's been using it to get around Europe recently and it has been repainted in the same style as his 200 foot long Voyager. 

Still - he could visit his gentleman's club with ex-Telegraph editor and climate change disbeliever Lord Charles Moore.

Easy Peasy, Lemon Sleazy!