Monday, 31 May 2010

Attack on activist flotilla - Lavie responds

Just a quick one. My pal Lavie Tidhar has been posting on his blog in response to Israel's internal PR response to attack on the activist flotilla. Take a look.

Child of our time

Anyone been watching this for the last ten years (obviously gaps within viewing sessions are allowed; I don't mean has anyone been watching this permanently without at least a few screen breaks for the last ten years).

Amazing, isn't it? For those who don't know, it's a study group of children whose parents--before the kids were even born--signed them up to be followed by film crews for the first twenty years of their lives, in order to show us how human personalities evolved.

Last night's programme was a bit of a mixed bag, focusing more on the studio graphics and popular science than on the children--who are all pretty wonderful, and I know I shouldn't have a favourite but how can it not be Helena (see pic)?--but the stats it revealed were pulled from a pretty impressive study. The Beeb has results from more than 200,000 Brits who took part in this personality test, which may not be available at the moment due to millions more who seem to be going onto the site to undertake the test themselves.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

You will submit!

So we did it. Today, Russell submitted the final version of The New Goodbye app to Apple.

In other news, I got my dog some prescription shampoo and ate lots of tomatoes. Oh, and Aliya, bless her little cottons, is going to be doing a bookswap not involving men in uniform of the non-RAF variety at some point in the none-too-distant future. I'm staying reasonably cryptic to help build a sense of suspense.

And Come Thou, Tortoise, yes, everyone should buy it. Forget squirrels and rabbits. Tortoises is where it's at these days.

Bring on the vegetables! (And maybe some mushrooms.)

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Bloggage and an interview

After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, The New Goodbye finally gets its own little bit of the web dedicated to it. The first proper post is an interview with its illustrator, Johanna Basford.

The New Goodbye app features some video, including this interview with Johanna.

I was playing around with the test version of the app yesterday. Needless to say, I'm absolutely delighted with it. I reckon anyone who does fork out the £1.99 for it will feel they've got a rather spiffy deal.

Meanwhile, on the rabbit front, I think Aliya is just a bit paranoid.

Oh, and Aliya and I and Mr Aliya met up for 'cake' last week (they had some over-priced chicken salad affairs). There were not pictures from that encounter, but as not everyone on here pops over to the MNW blog regularly, here's not-the-most glamorous pic of the two of us from back in February, when I almost ended up paying twenty quid for just three mushrooms.

To see some other writers looking similarly delightful, head this way.

Long Ears and Furry Feet

You may be aware that I harbour a theory about squirrels.

To recap, squirrels have a political agenda. World domination is on their hive mind. I’m seen them loitering in groups. I’ve heard that they mugged a dog in St Petersburg. There is organisation in their ranks, and there’s probably a great big squirrel wearing an eyepatch and smoking a cigar in a treetop bunker, conducting operations and demanding to be addressed as Herr General (or should that be Hairy General? Apologies…)

But I’m not interested in squirrels right now. It’s a different critter I wish to bring to your attention.


Rabbits are the equivalent of communists in 1950s America. They are infiltrating our culture, poking their fluffy little noses into film and literature, and infecting it with their hoppy little ideas.

If squirrels are the army of the rodent kingdom’s war against humanity, then rabbits are the intelligentsia.

Sometimes they promote their agenda blatantly. Think of Donnie Darko. A great big scary rabbit starts visiting some teenager somewhere. Why? Who knows? Not me, not you, and maybe not even the writer (that sicko bunny sympathiser). But what you’re seeing is rampant rabbit propaganda. Be scared of us! Beware! We can visit your children at night and mess with their heads!

And this is not a lone incident – think of Harvey. A huge invisible rabbit in that one. Think of North. Well, don’t think of it for too long, in case you get depressed about the trajectory of Bruce Willis’s career, but just cast your mind over the rabbity element of that motion picture. Think of Fatal Attraction, Bambi and Who Framed Roger The Proverbial… The proportion of bunny-related films is far greater than one might reasonably expect to find, when you compare it to the coverage the rest of the animal kingdom receives. For instance, insects rule the planet population-wise. There are bazillions of little crawlie thingies. But they aren’t interested in us humans. They aren’t secretly writing screenplays and getting them made under pseudonyms. That’s why there are no films about invisible cockroaches and strange men in praying mantis costumes.

But Hollywood isn’t even the real problem. It’s in the written word that the extent of the infiltration becomes evident. Take John Updike. Let’s Wiki him:

John Hoyer Updike (born March 18, 1932) is an American writer born in Shillington, Pennsylvania.

Sounds innocuous enough, doesn’t it?

Updike entered Harvard University on a full scholarship. He served as president of the Harvard Lampoon before graduating summa cum laude (he wrote a thesis on George Herbert) in 1954 with a degree in English before joining The New Yorker as a regular contributor.

Bully for him.

But it’s his books that give him away as a rodent sympathiser.

Updike's most famous works are his Rabbit series (Rabbit, Run; Rabbit Redux; Rabbit Is Rich; Rabbit At Rest; and Rabbit Remembered).

I rest my case. Not one, but five books about the carrot-munching enemy. See how literature has fallen into their hands? And don’t even get me started on Watership Down.

Yet it’s in the world of fantasy that rabbits have lived up to their reputation and multiplied extensively. JRR Tolkein has a lot to answer for. Let’s examine the evidence we find in Middle Earth:

-Hobbits live in burrows under the ground (like rabbits)
- Hobbits have hairy feet (hair is a bit like fur, found on rabbits)
- Elves have long ears (like rabbits)
- Elves can hear things over long distances (ditto)
- Dwarves are called dwarves (like dwarf rabbits)
- Dwarves live underground (see earlier point)
- wizards can be white, grey, brown or blue (rabbits can be white, grey or brown – and Peter Rabbit lost his blue coat in Mr Mcgregor’s garden. Coincidence? I think not.)

And I’m just getting warmed up here. Methinks JRR must have been made an offer he couldn’t refuse by the Rabbit Promotion League.

I’ve exhausted myself now.

I had a rabbit once, you know. He was called Flopsy, but Woundwort would have been more fitting. He was the mad-eyed monster of our back garden: impossible to control, and terrifying to behold. Whenever we approached him he would rear up on his hind legs and grunt viciously. Eventually we left him to live under the rose bush – the demon in the thorns, one might say – and we all stayed in the house as much as possible. But at least he kept the garden free from other predators. Lord knows how many burglaries he foiled.

One day Flopsy simply disappeared, taken by El-ahrairah, no doubt (look it up). Or maybe he found his niche with the squirrels, and went off to organise their juntas. I wonder if Flopsy shaped my attitude towards rodents, though. Maybe, without his influence, I’d still be thinking of them as cute little hoppers. But, as things stand, I have to say three cheers for Mixie. At least the government tried to stop them from proliferating.

Perhaps, in years to come, we’ll be saying, in best Dune fashion (another rodent-influenced work, for what does Maud-Dib mean? Oh yes…) –

They tried and failed?
They tried and died.

But by then we’ll be under the direct control of the squirrels, anyway. Bury your nuts for winter, my friends. It’s going to be a loooong, cold one.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

You saw it here first, folks

Here are some screenshots of the app-in-progress, including a shot of the cover. Nice, int they?

Monday, 3 May 2010

I wonder if they're open to crime writers...

In Guardian Media today there's an ad for Writers in Residence vacancies for four of her majesty's prisons. Each position comes with a fairly decent salary, for a writing position, but I only read the ad briefly, so am not sure of the additional duties it entails, though I imagine creative writing with inmates is probably on the list.

The ad isn't online yet, but I thought some of the readers of this blog might be interested.