Monday, January 30, 2006

Regina Spektor

Regina Spektor

Went along to the the leadmill on friday night to watch regina spektor and it was a fabulous gig, she was really quite stunning. I didn't have much idea about what to expect, apart from a few tunes I'd heard on the radio and internet, but I've never seen a gig start like this one. It was held in the small dance floor room, so was quite an intimate surrounding, a few hundred people there. Regina entered the stage, and with her short stature she looked a little lost, with a drum stick in hand she nervously greeted the crowd and there was much chatting and bustling. She then proceeded to sing unaccompanied bar for a beat being tapped out on the microphone with her fingers. Her voice was so powerful and unique that immediately a silence fell on the venue and everyone was fixated upon this diminuative songstress. The gig progressed, mainly with quirky anti-folk songs accompanied by accomplished keyboard playing, interesting use of vocal sounds, and a re-appearence of the drumstick, which was used to beat out a great rhythm on a wooden chair! I think the live experience far exceeds her recorded tunes that I've heard, and I'd recommend attending her shows whilst she is here in the uk.

apologies for the poor photo, the lighting was quite dull in the venue, and flash photos only illuminated the crowd!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Impending doom

I'd completely forgotten to blog about an incident last friday. I don't know if you are familiar with a film called 'the ring' starring naomi watts? It's actually based on a japanese film of the same name, and this original version was on the sci-fi channel recently. Last friday eve I sat down to watch it, and the general plot centres around a sinister video that when watched results in an immediate telephone call stating that the viewer has 7 days left to live. After 7 days the viewer dies via some supernatural manner. Well I'd just got to the part in the film where the investigative journalist has stumbled upon said video and watches it. After about 5 min of strange video footage the phone rings, and at exactly the same time the phone in my house rang too. Expecting to hear that I had only 7 days to live I was quite relieved to find that it was actually the chair of district, though I thought it a touch unusual to receive a call from him. He's not an inanimate object, but a gender neutral overseer of all things methodist in the sheffield area. In methodism we have this idea that everyone is equal under God and so we don't have a system of heirarchy, so hence the term chair of district. Which has some equivelent to the bishops of the anglican church, and the methodists are currently discussing the role, if any, that bishops could play in the connexion - but this blog isn't about that, cos it's require lots of greek and explantion of terms like episcopy - which frankly i don't fully understand and it all seems like a bit of a waste of time to me. Back to the point, the chair, Vernon Marsh, asked me if I'd be willing to convene a group to look at aspects of worship in the district, and currently I'm thinking about it, though probably not, don't really have the time for more meetings, and am sure there are probably more able ppl in the district.

So that leads me to this evening and 7 days since the phone call and I hope I don't succomb to a gruesome end as I have a ticket for a gig. Whilst stripping wall paper on sat I was litening to radio 6 and heard two separate tunes which I liked, and they were both by the same artist, Regina someone or other. Yesterday, AD emailed me saying that he had read in the listings of the metro that Regina Spektor was playing at the the leadmill on fri, and was that the name of the person I'd heard. Fantastic, that was the name, and I immediately bought a ticket, so look out for a review soon.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Fan belt

My new car has a squeaky fan belt, which only really kicks in with it's squeaking when I'm in first. I'm no expert at cars, so I'm hoping that it is not a portent of doom. Though hours of watching the A-team in my youth has taught me that beautiful women stranded on the side of the road because their car has broken are in such a predicament because their fan belt has broken. This seems to be resolved by a member of the A-team asking said women to remove her tights, and within a minute the car is fixed. I myself do not wear tights - or even own any, so should my car breakdown I will not have the equipment to fix it. However, even if I did have a pair of tights, I wouldn't know what to do with them. Maybe they are just used to wipe the oil off your hands?

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Emergency Pizza

Had to break out an emergency pizza for tea today, due to some terrible lapse of concentration on my part. A trip to the supermarket to get some food in, and cos it's so close I only ever buying food for the next couple of days meals. Decided I'd make corn beef hash, which would see me through two days, and I'm hoping to visit a friend tomorrow, so that'd take me to friday - fish and chips day. Anyway, got home and waited for my housemate to finish cooking in the kitchen only to discover as I went to prepare my ingredients, that I hadn't bought any corn beef. Being a central ingredient to corn beef hash it meant I either had to traipse back to the shops, or put an emergency pizza in the oven. I did the latter, frozen pizzas are great to fill in such occasions, and are usually consumed when I've had a busy day at work and need to be out a meeting in the evening. What's also annoying is as I was walking around the supermarket I observed with some disgust a girl with a list in hand, editing and crossing things off as she popped things into her trolley - tsk can't you even remember what you've gone to buy!

The observent of you may have noticed a few extra links to blogs on the side. There's being felicity who i found on technorati had been to the same arab strap gig as me, and I've enjoyed following it. Also another technorati finding, cait jane who i discovered likes boards of canada amongst other great bands. She writes intelligently about life in canada, particularly about politics, from a left wing christian perspective. Finally the connexion a rather dull methodist blog, that has a poor look, maybe it will be better, but i only advise viewing if you're really bored. I'll let u know if it gets better...

Monday, January 23, 2006

Keeping it Peel

Just finished reading John Peel's (auto)biography, and I've enjoyed the read. I'm not going to go on about the man again, i've done so in previous posts, which if you want to read you can use the helpful search tool at the top of the page. It made me realise that I missed an opportunity to actually email/write to the man himself, as he seemed to enjoy hearing from people who enjoyed his show. Now I'll not get the chance. Suitably the book ends with an encounter John had with the delgados, and I can understand why he appreciated them so much, both musically and as friends.

Top of the Pops star

Well, there's not been a great deal to blog about recently, been moping around a bit cos i've been feeling a bit down, trying to keep myself busy so I don't have time to have unhelpful thought processes milling around my head, but now is not the place to go into all that. Go and listen to Malcolm Middleton's records, that sums up a bit how I'm feeling. Don't get too disheartened tho, life is like that, it's a bit crap sometimes.

There was a small ray of sunshine on sunday eve that brought a smile to my face. My housemate was watching Top of the Pops, belle and sebastian were on, and their new song is ok, not their best imo. Then the awful anodyne, son of dork, what a really poor excuse for a band - listening to that was three minutes wasted. This was followed with some vintage footage from 1999, Macy Gray performing 'I Try'. I was at this particular recording, as it was recorded in sheffield and me and my housemates got tickets. Fantastic, you got a good shot of my housemate, nikki, and I knew I was stood just behind her. Then a pan shot of the audience revealed a profile that was taller than the rest, and it just had to be me!

The programme finished with the anti thesis to 'son of dork', the arctic monkeys, with their truely superb single, when the sun goes down. Spotty, unkempt, singing about prostitutes, playing live and ridiculing the audience for clapping too early - rock and roll!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Where do teaspoons go?

Just a few bits and pieces, ever wonder where all those teaspoons go? Well the british medical journal recently published a paper from a group in Melbourne, who have conducted a study on teaspoons in their workplace over a period of a few months. You can read the paper here: The case of the disappearing teaspoons: longitudinal cohort study of the displacement of teaspoons in an Australian research institute

The closing date for applying for tickets to matches at the football world cup in germany this year, has now passed. So I am now waiting to see if me and my friends application for tickets has been successful. I hope so, we plan to drive down and camp, spending a few days there, it should make interesting blog reading material too!

Siobhan has written a new newsletter with quite a lot of info on life in Meru, which can be read here.

Monday, January 16, 2006

church, carpet laying and darts

Sang this charles wesley hymn on sunday

Let earth and heaven combine,
Angels and men agree,
To praise in songs divine
The incarnate Deity,
Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made man.

and it reminded me of some thoughts I'd had over christmas, celebrating God taking human form, becoming a weak baby. Which is interesting in itself, this notion of christ being divinely human, setting the christian faith apart from most other major religions (i guess there are hindus that can accept that christ is another manifestation of god - brahma). What I was thinking was that Christ was a foetus (and one we are led to believe was recognised by the foetus of john the baptist) and taking that back a step further, christ was a single cell. How can the awesome-ness of god be confined to the space of a mere cell, which I think Charles sums up perfectly in the last two lines of the above verse. These thoughts aren't meant as a ridicule to the notion of the trinity but rather as exemplyfying the mysteriousness and incomprehensibility of god, which is often overlooked, particularly at christmas when it's easy to forget the wonderment of god manifest in the christchild.

Another thought that was stimulated at church was during the discussion of the epipheny story. Why bring gold - because it is precious - what is precious? What is precious to me (not material possessions, but what is precious to my life), and would i willingly give that to christ.

Now I don't want to give the impression that i spend hours each day considering all these theological paradoxes, cos i don't, in fact i didn't give these any more thought until just now, cos sun afternoon I discovered something else at which I'm rubbish at. Laying vinyl cushioned flooring (an off cut that was just big enough for my tiny bathroom that i got from my m+d), I'd give myself a 7/10, it's just impossible to cut it out nice and neat around the edges due to it's inflexibility. However, it doesn't look too bad and my dad suggested i could get some edging to run around to make it look neater.

Then in the evening I enjoyed watching the darts final, I love watching darts, and as a student I barely missed a match during the tournament - a welcome relief to all that studying for exams. Yesterday it was an all dutch final and 100-1 outside Jelle, a 21 year old became the youngest winner of the competition - and no doubt the lightest too!

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Death of a Car (salesman)

This post has nothing to do with arthur miller, or indeed any actual deaths as all gsce students will know, a car doesn't actually fulfill all the componants of MRS GREN to be considered alive in the first place, (neither indeed do proteins, but where does that leave prions?)

However, a quote i had on thursday to fix my car in order to pass the mot was so costly as not to be worth while. Which came as somewhat of an inconvenience for me, not just because i need a car for work, but also cos i don't have the kind of money to be spending on it either.

Fortunately I found a reasonably priced fiesta on, which despite being nearly 10 years old, had just passed it's mot and had 6 months tax. I went round after work to have a look at it, and it seemed just fine. The guy selling the car worked near one of the sites I work at and drove up at lunch time so i could inspect it in the daylight the following day. We agreed a price and today I went to pick it up. It's nice to have a new car, and though I'm just adjusting to the new clutch control and gear ratios I'm pleased with my purchase. Though after paying for the insurance as well, i'm back to trying to bolster my savings again. There goes my plan to start purchasing some cds that were out last year that i couldn't afford at the time, esp Arcitecture in Helsinki, Elbow and the Editors.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Highway Projects

I've recently just filled in my application to do a bit of mission work in Israel this summer. It's with a group called Highway Projects which was set up in 1997 as a response to invitations from the Church in the Middle East to involve Christians in practical mission work. The focus of its work is amongst disadvantaged people from across the religious divide, especially within the Arab community. This relational mission work responds to the biblical call to be sharers on Christ's behalf in the ministry of reconciliation, (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) and in the practical sharing of God's love (James 2:14-17).

The projects sound really interesting, and if my applicataion is successful it'll be a great opportunity to visit the holy lands and to meet and interact with the local communities too.

If anyone else is interested in going on one of their projects you should check out their website here for more info. There are a number of projects around israel and jordan.

Community Centre

I'm on the management committee for the local community centre and we got together yesterday to have a meal. It was really nice to be able to meet up without the usual agendas and business to discuss. It's not often that we really get to meet socially, and in fact we'll be straight back into meetings as unfortunately our centre manager has handed in her resignation, so we need to advertise for a new manager. During our chatting I happened to mention my blog in passing, which seemed to cause a great deal of interest. Particularly when I mentioned that i blog about all kinds of things, like slug sex for example!

Monday, January 09, 2006


So I got up early on saturday to get my car tested for it's mot at a garage near to where my parents live, so that I could also visit them and pick up some off cuts of carpet they have that might fit in my bathroom. I was a good 15 min into my journey and I had a feeling that I had forgotten something, and much concentration revealed that I'd failed to bring my MOT certificate with me, so had to turn round and get it. Which meant I arrived at the garage a bit later than anticipated and there was already a queue of cars booked in for their test. Unfortunately my car failed miserably, which is annoying as it means forking out extra expenses that I hadn't bargained for this month. Going through the results the girl at the desk asked if I'd noticed that the exhaust had gone, seeing as it was quite noisey, I tend to just turn my music up if it's noisey, I replied honestly. Then I enquired what the rear trailing arm was, as that had failed. She asked if I'd heard a kind of knocking, banging sound when driving, which I had, but I thought it was just the can of WD40 rolling around in the back of the car!

Went to see the new King Kong at the cinema, and I must admit it's an enjoyable film, but certainly overlong. I thought I was developing deep vein thrombosis near the end as my thighs started to ache. The effects are really stunning, but you get the impression that designing these effects they just wanted to show off with what they can do. Some of the fight scenes are overlong and border on the ridiculous. The CGI is off course limited, particularly when overlaying with real footage, and so a lot of such scenes are filmed in a kind of hand held manner so that nothing is properly in focus and therefore detracts from the CGI limitations. Saying this though, I expect if I were to watch Jurassaic Park again I'd think that the dinosaurs were rubbish in comparison to those on display here. There are a few daft things (if such things can occur in a film about a giant ape!). A scene where the men are being chased by huge dinosaurs whose stride must be about ten of a humans, and so could probably run around 30 mile an hour, despite this the men seem to be able to keep up with no trouble at all. Then there are giant insects, which is just impossible, even if this island had been so isolated that dinosaurs could remain, the oxygen content of the atmosphere can not be different to elsewere in the world, and therefore it is impossible for invertabrates to reach such size. Lastly, how cold is it in New York, there's snow around and a lake is frozen so solid it can support the weight of Kong, yet Anne seems to wander around in a small dress with no obvious indication that she is freezing - and where is the snow on top of the empire states building?

Before going to the cinema I was watching Luton vs Liverpool and really enjoying the match. Luton were 3-1 up when I left so I was surprised to discover the final result was 3-5 to liverpool when looking it up on my mobile. What a conclusion to the match

Friday, January 06, 2006


I started this blog when I was out of work last year and bored. Having watched the Monastry on bbc2 the previous night, I searched the internet looking for reactions in cyberspace, stumbling across Jonny Baker's blog. Reading it, I thought that writing a blog seemed like a good idea for something to do.

I really found the monastry programme fascinating, particularly the reaction of the participants in the monastic lifestyle, and how it helped them understand God better. The programme certainly appeared popular, and so it was interesting to read this news item yesterday about a new documentary film that is packing out cinemas in germany. The bbc news cover the story here. It sounds fascinating, but what i found even more interesting is the popularity of the film. There is obviously great interest in lifestyles of regimental spiritualality, devoid from the presures of the normal western lifestyle. Perhaps there is real need for people to spend more time on spiritual things, not as an escape from the world, but as a catalyst to change the way we approach the world, trying to engage in a more godlike/christlike view of the worl around us. But this is something that is difficult to acheive, in my experience. The separation and regimental lifestyle the monks undertake would certainly make dwelling on spiritual things much easier, than with all the distractions of everyday life. Each new year i consider how best i can get into a routine for more bible reading, praying and reading philosophy/theology, but i think more time is spent thinking about doing it then actually partaking in anything! So I shall look forward to the release of into great silence and perhaps it will inspire my spiritual journey further...

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Just a few links and stuff that may be of interest:

mogwai release a new album later this year and you can hear a stream of the first single to be taken from the record at their myspace site. It's called and you can hear it at Friend of the Night I don't think it's that great compared to their other stuff, but interviews I've read suggest the new record see mogwai move back to their noisey and rocky roots - so I'm hopeful for a cacophony of white noise.

Stewart, ex-bassist with the delgados, continues to work hard for chemikal underground records and has started a blog, that if is anywhere near as good as his online diary he kept during the release of Hate, is sure to be an excellent read. In fact one of Stewart's previous diary enteries, his memories of John Peel after his death, have made it in abridged form into John Peel's autobiography! Anyway, get yourself over to and click on the link for Stewart's blog.

It seems that any self facing band has a myspace site these days and the sublime arcade fire are no exception. Their album Funeral, which I purchased last year, is by far the greatest album that I heaerd in 2005, and you can listen to a couple of album tracks yourself at and see that I'm not wrong.

Another record I'm looking forward to is the artic monkeys debut album. I must admit I was initially sceptical about this band, not being a big fan of 'bet you look good on the dancefloor'. However hearing their new song 'When The Sun Goes Down' I can only herald it as the single of 2006 already. Yes, the leader singer plays heavily on his sheffield accent and owes his observational lyrics to Jarvis Cocker, but the witty narative of this song is fantastic, and the riff as the chorus kicksin makes me want to dive straight into a mosh pit - and i'm far too old for that these days! Fantastic.

there's also a new post from siobhan in kenya

Monday, January 02, 2006

A new year

Well it's a new year, so i guess i ought to post my first blog of it. Christmas was ok, nothing really exciting about it, but then there never is these days, it's not really the magical time it was when you were a kid, but really that's not what it's about. Got some nice presents and met up with quite a few friends, some whom i've not seen for quite a while, though it never seems like it when you meet up - it could've been yesterday. In my time off amongst reading, watching tv, visiting friends, watching football matches, I've been doing some decorating around the house. Though each job always seems to take at least 5 times longer than i'd anticipate, what with one problem or another revealing themselves. Take today for example, stripping off a small wallpaper border thing that is in the bathroom, five minutes is my guess. About an hour later it's pretty much off - the problem being the previous occupents decided to put it up with super glue! So much soaking and scraping later, there was still remnants of glue on the wall with furry paper fibres attached. So had to get the brillo pads on this, which seemed to do the trick.

Painting too, especially ceilings makes your arm ache and reminds me always of Mr Myagi from karate kid (who sadly died last year). After 'wax on, wax off' cleaning of the cars in the garage Mr Myagi gets the karate kid to paint all the fences, and this turns out to be training. So I guess when all this decorating is completed I'll be some kind of karate expert.