Tuesday, October 31, 2006

It's been a week

SunriseSince my last post. I've just not got round to posting, despite doing quite a few things. My sister came to visit on wednesday eve and we were able to go out an enjoy a meal. Thursday was church council, quite a business orientated meeting this one, and therefore more odious than normal. Afterwards Dave came round to my house to sample some of my home brew and have a chat. It was a good chat actually, conversation about our faith and struggles with text and contextualisation, some thoughts that had been floating around a while and had re-surfaced after reading cait's recent post I shall let these thoughts crystallise and post on it soon. What else? Football matches, church, another teletext review, a gig. Oh yes, a gig, went to see Monkey Swallows The Universe again on sunday. They were supporting the long blondes. Coxon review on teletextAgain, there tunes stood out and the mix was much better, though still not up to scratch. Had a brief chat with Nat after the gig, and she was telling me how they are wanting to get some new material outand are looking for a contract with a record label. Hope they secure a good one. The Long Blondes were ok, though it was the lead singer's strong vocals and on-stage presence that made it. Reminded me of the vocal energy of Poly Styrene from x-ray spex. There's a set of pics of the long blonde set here, which i think are ok considering I was stood at the back for their set. Finally, there was a nice sunrise the other morning.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Chesterfield - headline makers!

Folan, from bbc websiteEvery now and again going to a football match is a magical experience. Tonight I went to see chesterfield vs premiership West Ham in the league cup. When me and Scott arrived the atmosphere was already electric, so much different from the slough of despondancy that is usually around the ground during league matches. Tonight there was a buzz, a chance to pit ourselves against one of the top teams. However the match couldn't have started worse, after a bright start chesterfield conceded a sloppy goal, hazel heading into the path of Harewood who volleyed a shot straight into the goal. Instead of opening the floodgates, west ham seemed to sit back, perhaps bemused and at a loss of what to do when leading in a match, being such a rare occurance this season. Chesterfield continued pressing forward, and winning the ball in midfield. Niven and Allott seemed to latch onto every loose ball, and some of the movement opened up the west ham defence with ease. Despite being 1-0 down at half time, I was feeling quietly confident with the performance thus far, and in the second half the persistancy paid off with a great goal made by Folan. Green managed to push his shot onto the post only for Larkin to latch onto the rebound and put chestefield level. Chesterfield continued to put west ham under pressure, and when the experienced sheringham came on I was a little wary. Sheringham is such a professional, you could see him organising the team and a passion to win, thankfully the rest of the team didn't seem to be sharing his vision. The crowd were superb, cheering every throw and corner, none of the usual beration of players, just a forward feedback loop of hope and belief in the players, which encouraged the players to perform better, encouraging the crowd to cheer louder, etc etc. Finally a ball broke loose from a free kick and Folan stabbed the ball home for Chesterfield to take the lead, looking at my watch I was astounded to see that it was almost the end of the match, the game had really sped by. A couple of nervous minutes were seen out as Chesterfield maintained the lead to record another famous victory. Into the last 16 for the first time in 41 years. A superb football night, though I fear my throat will be rather sore in the morning.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The best made plans...

I had been pondering whether to go to see doncaster vs chesterfield, but decided that I could do with a weekend to get some more jobs done around the house. I took the advantage of having a lie in on saturday and do some reading. I've just bought why don't penguins feet freeze a compilation of questions from the new scientist's last word feature. It's quite an enjoyable read, though I think some of the answers could do with a few mathematical equations. Often it is much simpler to explain things with a formula rather than text. Got a bit of a sore throat, which i put down to breathing through my mouth at night. However as the day proceeded it was clear I had a cold and my nose just began streaming. It made me feel really grumpy and lethargic. Such that I couldn't get on with the jobs I had in mind. So frustrating to have a weekend taken away by a stupid cold. Had some soup and garlic bread and watched the final korean movie that I'd recorded. This was the most commercially successful I think, it is called brotherhood (of war) and is a fairly graphic portrayal of the korean war from the perspective of two brothers. It is in a similar vein as 'saving private ryan' and highlights the attrocities of war and the effect that war has on the soldiers. In places it is over sentimental, but the ending scene is really quite moving as the younger brother finally finds the resting place of his older brother.
Didn't sleep well due to the cold and this morning I found setting up church quite exhausting. Not many people at church this morning, which is really frustrating, some times i wonder why i bother. I think we have a really interesting way of 'being church' yet it feels somewhat isolated.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Suppose you have to try these things

Must admit i didn't think much of the organ recital type thing. I think me and emma must've been a good generation or two younger than everyone else. Just didn't find the music particularly moving or engaging. Nothing like the vitality of a gig. There were pieces on the piano, sax and some woman warbling songs. All I could think of during the sax solos was 'i wonder if she know's the sax solo from baker street by jerry raferti" and then thinking that it would be such a culturally philistine thing to say. Which made me smile!

Don't think I'll be rushing to another performance, it's just not my cup of tea. Wathced tell me something which had a very predictable ending, though it made the rest of the film quite confusing. Merely an average movie this one.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Graham Coxon

Graham CoxonWent to see Graham Coxon play at the leadmill last night with Andrew. I don't think he was as good as the last time we saw him. Took him a while to get warmed up and the crowd was likewise, subdued. However, about halfway into the set he previewed tracks from an upcoming 7" and all of a sudden began to spring into life. The bile that had been churning, was now beginning to burst forth in vitriolic rants. The music was equally passionate and suddenly the crowd began moshing. This was followed by perhaps his greatest post blur work, 'freakin out' which was greeted raptuously. Coxon's guitar work is fantastic, intricate and played with ease. The ease that he plays his instrument I think perhaps added to the mundane way in which the gig started, it's as if it is all to easy for him, just like another day in the office. The first encore saw the frenzied leaping guitar wielding Coxon, as the sweat dripped, the more ferocious the playing became. A very punky performance, no room for his more melodic tunes here, and an astounding number of guitars!

Tonight I am off to a very different 'gig' an organ recital, though I'm now having second thoughts about this, but we'll see.

Graham Coxon photo set on flickr

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Making history

I've just taken part in a one day in history blog for history matters. To preserve our mundane lives for students and genealogists of the future to get excited about our crazy day to day activities at the turn of the 21st century. I'm sure they'll find my entry a rich resource:

It's tuesday the 17th of October and I'm submitting a blog to the 'one day in history' project relating how history has impacted on me today. Though thinking back it is hard to think of exact historic events that have shaped my day in any way. However, I know that the history that is my 'nurture' has helped in part in shaping me into the person I am, and it is through these experiences that I have experienced and recorded todays events, not that I think that I've interpreted my mundane day in a particular biased form. Up a bit early in order to email a document that I'd collated for a work colleague the night before. Quite a bit of tapping on the computer and collating the electronic copy of the operations and maintenance manual for the new Thorne health centre that we have almost finished constructing. It's really quite a chore, and I'm fairly fastidious in the projects I undertake, and demand a high level of perfection from my work. Despite the fact that no one will actually read the document, though with this highly searchable and interactive pdf I've created all info should be there at a touch of a button. Dropped the documents off at site and went around the centre taking photos of the various rooms for the tenants at the next tranche of schemes, so they get an idea of the kind of equipment we install and maintain in the building. Stop off in Sheffield on my way home to go into boots and pick up my new pairs of glasses. I have an oridinary pair and some sunglasses too. It's taking a while to decide whether I like them or not, I've gone for a very different pair this time. Trying some of these half rimless ones, I suppose it'll take a bit of getting used to. Back home and I put together the agenda for the next church council meeting for crookes valley methodist and then email it to the members. Cook some haggis for tea and enjoy watching the man utd vs fc copenhagen match on tv. Just before I started writing this I spent a bit of time chatting with Victoria on the web cam, she lives in toronto, it's such a good way of communicating and it's free too. Well that's it, sorry for the lack of adjectives people of the future, and I'm sure you won't have found anything useful to go in your essay, or discovered that I'm some distant relative. Anyway, if our science fiction is to be believed and the evolution of the written english language over the last few hundred years you probably can't even read it!

To be honest, I was quite tempted to write a much more intersting fictional account of my day including flying cars and talking animals.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Busy sunday

Sunday was a fairly busy day, rushing around to set up church was pretty exhausting as there was only me and andrew around and it was communion. Setting out tables, sound equipment, making tea, practicing songs, fetching people, setting out communion elements, and then after the service putting everything back and moving sound equip to the car to take for the awe service in the evening. The service was interesting as we discussed the story of the 'rich young' man, the way that someone who supposes they have god all understood and then to be challenged in such a way that you realise that you haven't fully grasped god at all. Even the disciples must've been challenged at jesus' response to sell all your things and follow him. Not least cos this was a sacrifice that they had already made, but because to them 'wealth' was a sign of god's favour on someone. Again the 'upside down' nature of god's kingdom is revealed. There followed input from the minister about freudian ideas on personality and what gives us our 'moral' understanding, it was all really interesting. After lunch I spent a few hours trying to tidy my office, it's a tip, and a good few more hours are required to get things back in order. Set up for the alternative service went smoothly and was again an opportunity to enjoy each other's company as we played with gadgets! The subject was 'what is it to be human', which the speaker had wanted to expound in a sense to break the traditional 'what is it to be a christian'. We tried a new worship trick which seemed to work quite well. People were encouraged to write something good about being human on a piece of card and then be photographed holding it. These images were then later collated into a visual powerpoint meditation after some thoughts from the speaker about what was bad about being human. i thought it worked really well. The talk was particularly challenging with regard to the term 'inhumanity' and the labelling thus of someone as sub human and what that means, iving examples and readings from eye witness accounts of lynch mobs. What do we see when we look in a mirror, what if we reflected the nature of all humanity, what would that represent? Does the nature of god who became human shine through.

Yorkshire walking

After work on Friday I went to visit Jonah and after a tasty meal we spent the rest of the evening tasting beers around the village, and tere was certainly a huge difference in the ability of the pubs to keep the ale. The next day we went for a stroll around the area, it's incredible the scenery on his doorstep. As we ascended a nearby hill, we turned to see the view, which was obscured by fog and low cloud, but I could make out a smaller nearby hill which stood out due to a collection of odd looking trees on it's summit. Jonah informed me that this was 'Lady Hill' and the trees were scots pine, planted at the request of mary queen of the scots, when she was held captive at nearby bolton abbey. This was aparently done as it made he feel like being back in Scotland, and she often came to the hill. We actually circumnavigated this hill in our walk. Nice to enjoy the fresh air, chatting and walking. We saw some incredible lichen, ore stones in old mines and cray fish.

flickr photo set

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Korean cinema

a tale of two sistersIt's great that filmfour is now free as it's a source of great films. I noticed recently that they have been screening some critically acclaimed Korean films, so I have recorded them and am in the process of watching them. What is striking about these films, and I wonder if it is peculiar for korean cinema, is the method of storytelling. Not usually chronological and containing loads of scenes that seem to jump sporadically, making it hard work to follow the plot. I actually like this, a stark contrast to American cinema which always seems to aim to please the lowest common denominator, making sure everything is explained in detail. Here a lot is ambiguous and open to interpretation. The first two films I watched were part of Park Chan-wook's vengeance trilogy. These vengeance films are very 'film noir' and contain some horrific scenes, but the story lines are certainly novel.

Yesterday I watched A Tale of Two Sisters, which is my favourite so far, a psychological horror. A film that definately requires a number of viewings as it isn't until the story unfolds that you realise that it is being told from the perspective of an 'unreliable narrator' who imagines many things that are not real. It is on this epiphany that your mind begins retracing the story thus far and realising that a lot of what has happened is in fact a figmant of imagination. Unfortunately it seems that a big buck american remake is on the cards, as it seems to be all the rage these days to remake asian cinema after the success of 'the ring'. Which is a pity as this is a superb film as it is. The cinematography of these films is also very beautiful. So if any of these are repeated on filmfour, I'd recommend checking these films out. There is more info on the wikipedia links below, but they contain film plot spoilers.

A tale of two sisters
sympathy for Lady Vengeance

Sunday, October 08, 2006

On Beauty

On BeautyJust finished reading Zadie Smith's latest novel. i've enjoyed her previous work, though found white teeth the most slow going, and wasn't too sure what all the fuss was about. This novel on the other hand, is the most easily read, but I don't think that means it is a great piece of work. The story is interesting, and there are certainly insights into love and relationships, what it is that makes a relationship work, and why sometimes it goes a bit wrong. There are plenty of debates between conservative and liberal thought, but no direct engagement with them, there are some aspects of being in a mixed racial relationship and being the children of such a relationship. There's even some stuff about Rembrandt. But to be honest as I neared the end of the book, it just seemed to be written with a hollywood audience in mind. A nice story, almost challenging, but not, so leaving the reader/audience still content with their own worldview. Enjoyable but not fantastic, 8 out of 10.

You mean it's not me noggin - it's me peepers!

Been for an eye check this weekend, it's something I've been meaning to get around to since the beginning of the year. Specsavers were offering tests for £10, but I wasn't too impressed with their range of glasses, so on sat i popped into boots and found a pair that i liked that were in the sale. Writing down the frame name for later, as my appointment wasn't until the afternoon. Met AD in CLC where i came across the lion bible handbook that had been reduced so ended up buying that. Unfortunately the shop seemed to be full of anti-evolutionary propaganda, got me quite irate as anyone with any understanding of the theory could see it for the tosh it was. Some of the statements were so far from the truth, I won't even bother writing about them. Why is it such an issue? Actually I think that some of the aspects of evolution, especially evo-devo, is so spectacular and amazing that it fills me with awe and wonder of creation. Is the propogation of this material due to some fear that this one theory threatens in some way the word of god? I'd rather not take such a narrow view on a text, in fact in the past I've been guilty of so deconstructing the creation text, that I lost sight of the beauty of a story.

Afternoon I headed off for my appointment and it was a fairly quick test:
is it better with one or two, that's one or two?
I think one is better.
Now is it better with one or two, one or two?
Two is better.
Are the words better on the red or the green background?
The red is slightly better.
And now?
The green is much better.

And that's it.

Though a quick look in my eyes, which was done with a contraption I had to rest my chin on, to be honest I preferred this as it kept some distance from the optometrist. In the past when they've looked through that little torch affair they come so close to your face, invading that personal space that once I just couldn't stop laughing. All I could see was this face distorted and enlarged out the corner of my eye firing a strong light into it. It was embarrassing, i just couldn't stop giggling. Anyway, the frames are now ordered and should have my new look soon.

cv was intersting this morning, we had one of the elderly local preachers, and it was a more traditional service, though in our informal setting. It was actually a very interesting sermon drawing on his vast experience of working during the way in developing telecoms that were essential for the war effort. Using this experience and looking at the imbiguity of war and peace, reflecting on Christ's teaching of turning the other cheek and loving your enemy. Very informed as he talked of many recent conflicts and the awkward decisions of a war that will result in a loss of life, to hopefully stem a loss of life that could be greater still without intervention. Finishing with some text from john sentamu the arch bish of york:"Offering a vision of wholeness in a compelling and imaginative way that is so persuasive that would-be bombers would come to see this as their own vision.
"A vision that would turn them from outsiders, self-excluding and deluded despisers of others, into belongers.
"A vision which will help them to see that those they seek to destroy are their own brothers and sisters regardless of their religious affiliations.
"The way to do this is by drawing a large enough circle of love which includes them and us."

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A new record

Just got back from giving blood where I set a new PB. Walked up to the donation centre after work as they are open late on a thurs and a pleasant chap called Martin took my blood. Now I'm pretty sure my record was due to the expert way in which he put the needle in, and judging by the amount of metal work aroud his person, he obviously knows what he's doing when it comes to piercing. Once the blood was flowing he started attending another guy and I stared blankly at the wall wishing that I could at least hear the radio to pass the time. Then I started beeping, well not actually me, rather the blood collecting machine and I had to enquire if I really had finished. Yes that's it, and the time five minutes and twenty seven seconds. I usually take around 11-15 mins.

I've finished watching most of the stanley kubrick films that i'd recorded on the tv a while ago. His style is superb, the use of wide angled shots is compelling. I particularly like the way scenes appear unrushed, something I guess is as a result of the freedom he was given in his cinematography, no restraints from the people putting up the money. This is used exquisitely in 2001, a film containing little dialogue and is just spectacular, even today the special effects still stand out, and i doubt could be acheived any better with CGI.

The sets of Clockwork Orange are fantastic, this kind of surrealy retro seventies impression of what the future might be like. Despite it's violent subject matter the ideas it raises about free will and whether people should have the choice to do evil deeds is fascinating. If it is taken away from us, as it is from Alex DeLarge, does it make us less than human?

Not afraid to put controversial books on the big screen, Lolita is also remarkable, not least with the choice of using Peter Sellars, aiding the darkly humourous charcter of the film. Following Humbert's infatuation with an adolescent beauty, but his obvious frustrations at her immaturity could again raise interesting discussions about the nature of humans and their sexual desires.

Barry Lydon was another film I'd notseen before, and I did find the story line abit dull. But i won't be quick to judge as Kubrick's films tend to grow on me. There are again some wonderful shots and a quite moving scene after a horse riding accident.

Right, almost finished my bottle of irn-bru which I like to drink in account of all that lost blood. I know it really doesn't make a difference, but I like to think that it does!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Today has been an emotional day, meeting rebek on the train and heading over to liverpool for John's funeral. Reminiscing of our old school days and how we three had managed to continue to keep in touch. Emotions ranged from awkwardness waiting outside the church not really knowing what to say, and then the sadness of seeing a very good friend encased within his wooden casket. Fighting back tears as he was carried out after the service, and spending a few seconds at the cemetry adding a handful of dirt. I've said farewell to John on many occasions, but always known we would meet up again. This time I leave him, as the father said, in the arms of god. I wish I didn't have to, but that is how this world is.

I'll miss you mate.