Monday, September 13, 2010

Learn to speak chinese online

Just come across a great new podcast to help me learn how to pronounce words in mandarin chinese. Check it out for an introduction to pinyin. I'm looking forward to being able to learn mandarin chinese online following this course.
i think the teacher is cute :) and danni agrees

btw the rest of my greenbelt review will follow soon....

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Greenbelt 2010 review

I love greenbelt, there is always so much to inspire and this year was no exception. The drive down was great and was punctuated with the now traditional stop at strensham services for a bite to eat before joining the queues at GB. The wristband was adorned and we moved from one holding queue to another, which included a perplexing and frustrating journey as car after car in front of me seemed to be stopping for an in depth conversation with the steward. IMG_5043Surely it was obvious you just went in the direction they were pointing without the need for winding down the window and checking that they had understood the direction of pointing was towards the next illuminous jacket adorned steward. But that seemed to be exactly what was being discussed, with that or it was some confused punters looking for the Reading festival. Eventually we were onto the campsite and began pitching the tent to be followed by festival guide procrastination and a stir fry. The stir fry has become the staple first meal of greenbelt and is usually delicious as the ingredients are still fresh. And then it's time for the festival to begin. I started with a talk by Richard Rohr on the art of looking sideways at the bible. It was fairly informative re-asserting the need to re-read the bible with different coloured glasses (symbolic, cultural, eschatological and historical to name a few) and to recognise that our reading is steeped in our own culture and experience. A reminder that arguing over the meaning of greek words to fully understand what Christ was saying is, in a way, futile, as Christ didn't even speak greek. What was fascinating was the idea around contemplative thinking as opposed to dualistic thinking. Dualistic thinking being the kind of way of assessing if something does not fit x then it is y. Language has developed in a dualistic way - tall and short for example. But then when you think about it, tall and short are relative and it's not that straight forward. Apparently dualistic thinking cannot be applied to love, death, god, suffering or the infinite. Which kinda of makes sense, but what contemplative thinking actually is I am none the wiser, but i think i need to go and try it out. I didn't get IMG_5051to any of Richard's other talks as i guessed they would be much of a muchness. Followed this talk with a decision to investigate zic zazou at the centaur, purely based on the fact that the picture in the GB guide looked interesting. Whilst queuing it began to drizzle and the setting sun cast a wonderful rainbow over the festival towards the camping area. People clambered for their cameras and pretty much everyone at GB will have taken a picture of this beautiful image. The only disappointment was a lack of pot of gold in my tent when i returned. Zic Zazou were a kind of stomp style theatre making music from borrowed items and 'apparent junk'. Quite good fun, and every time i was just beginning to tire then they would re-awaken my interest with sounds from the most unlikely of places.
My first night's sleep was punctuated with snaps of wakefulness as my body revealed it was actually freezing and i began to re-assess my choice of a one season sleeping bag with added blanket. Despite the depths of cold the sleeping bag claimed to remain comfortable i conclude that the one season for which it is fit is summer, inside a house. Not inside a tent. Despite my erratic sleep i was up bright and early to see the start of a beautiful day. Had a good wander around the festival village before setting out my camping blanket at the grandstand to listen to Mark Yaconelli, he had a great story telling ability and i was engrossed in his story about meeting his wife and then the warm sun took hold and i drifted in and out of sleep. But that didn't matter, i was enjoying the atmosphere. Then at 1pm there were literally one million things i wanted to do, beer and hymns, martyn atkins, keith skene. In the end i opted for engage worship to see if i could pick up any ideas for cvm. It was ok, but nothing new was greatly learned, apart from the fact that there seemed to be a great interest in 'doing church' differently. Particularly with regard to making the experience more open to participation and dialogue. Something we have been doing successfuly at cvm for some time. A quick dash to the underground for 10 minutes of 100 philistine foreskins who are truly awesome. Probably one of my musical highlights of the festival. A raucous racket which had people charging for the exits and pleading to be let out whilst sweaty teenage boys crashed into each other with shoes flying overhead. I would've loved to have stayed longer but another clash was coming up, but i was there long enough to hear the lead singer say how amazed he was that anyone had turned up at all to listen to them. The bass player added it was like people buying broken things on ebay. We left after a passionate anti-bnp poem. the raw energy of this band and the amusing between track banter would have me put these on the mainstage. It would be a riot!
IMG_5062Late afternoon we went to see Lou Rhodes, i was a big fan of lamb and was relishing the opportunity to hear her solo stuff. The venue was running late and she was on later than billed, however it was worth the wait. Pleasant folk musings, though i really missed the erratic beats and trip hop feel of lamb.
The music line up this year hadn't really grabbed me, and although the festival is so much more than the music, over the years i have always enjoyed going to see something on the mainstage. This year the biggest name seemed to be shed seven who were appearing on saturday night. I have fond memories of dancing to their tunes at indie discos in the past and so was quite looking forward to it. However they never really seemed to ignite the crowd, perhaps as the majority of the eager teenagers at the front had never heard of them. Without a particularly strong stage presence there wasn't really anything to get excited about, and as the tunes played i began to realise why i had only ever danced to them at discos and never gone out my way to purchase any of their material. more later i guess, more images are on flickr