Saturday, June 23, 2007

Things that have made me smile this week

A few things over the last week or so have contrived to make me smile.

1: I saw this on Dave's Cartoon Church website: He was deciding whether he should confuse Pentecostal Christians by leaving these messages written on leaves at a conference centre type place. The whole thing made me chuckle out loud for minutes. Do take some time to look at his website, it's very funny. Particularly his reasonably affectionate battle with Times Religion columnist Ruth Gledhill.

"These are some leaves I wrote on and left on a bench for the Pentecostals to discover. I enjoy leaving messages for Pentecostals. You should try it."

2: I just finished reading a book by Tom Holt who is an author I like very much. The book is 'You Don't Have to be Evil to Work Here, But it Helps'. It made me smile a great deal. I like Tom Holt because he takes familiar myths and legends like Faust, Beowulf and King Arthur
(in the spectacularly named Grailblazers) and twists them in a very humorously English way.

3: I passed my PGCE and I'm now a proper teacher and everything, which has made me very happy indeed! I think this course has been the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, which only increases my satisfaction at passing. Last week we had our end of year get-together at our course tutor's house. It was a very enjoyable evening but it was a little bit sad to reflect on some of the people who hadn't made it to the end of the course. There was an alternative awards ceremony as part of the evening, which was rather fun. We had voted in advance in a variety of categories and I was most gratified to be awarded Most Ethical Trainee and Most Creative Trainee.

Better than an Oscar!

Amusingly, I received a few other nominations, the most inexplicable being Most Handsome Trainee. Luckily, justice prevailed and I didn't win that one, I think there are clearly some Newly Qualified Teachers who need a trip to the opticians...
Just need to sort myself a job now...

Children of Men *****
The Red Violin ****

Thursday, June 21, 2007

How Lord of the Rings Should Have Ended

I find this highly amusing...
"Can you imagine what it would have been like if we'd walked the entire way?"

I was also terribly excited at Dr Who at the weekend. My all-time favourite Who enemy, the Master, is back. It also had Derek Jacobi going from sweet, bumbling old man to scenery chewing pantomime villain in a matter of moments - marvellous!

Hot Fuzz ****
Oceans 13 **
The Fountain ****
Equilibrium ***

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Old Friends Vol 2 and other Miscellany

Following on from Vol 1 of my adventures rediscovering old musical friends here, its time to briefly complete my odyssey and talk about some randomness as well. Having revisited Delirious I have also re-found two bands who both have a certain folk flavour. Firstly, the Levellers and then Iona.

While I was at university, like many others, I got into the Levellers with their brand of folk-tinged rock. There are three main reasons that I liked them: their level of energy, an insane catchiness and the left wing politics that informed a great deal of their music. I have spent quite a lot of time listening to what is probably their best album, Levelling the Land. Its not the greatest album in the world, but it is incredibly catchy and you find yourself helplessly singing along. Even though I hadn't listened to it for a good 5 years or so, I still remembered most of the words and found myself singing along with just about every song. Very enjoyable. Not as immediately catchy, but still a lot of fun are their LP debut A Weapon Called the Word and Zeitgeist.

The second band, Iona, have a special place in my musical heart. They are a rather unique mix of prog rock and folk music. I first saw them live in 1990 at Band on the Wall in Manchester and they made me realise that music could be more than just something you had in the background; that it could be something extraordinary. Two of the most amazing moments I've experienced at gigs have been at Iona concerts. I saw them in the mid nineties and as one of their encores they played a piece called Reels which started slowly and just built faster and faster to a dazzling display of musical virtuosity that got the entire audience dancing like idiots, myself included (if you know me, you know I never dance).

The other was at their 1999 Royal Festival Hall Woven Cord concert. They performed backed by a full orchestra and it was amazing. But the most incredible moment was during a song called Beyond these Shores. It's a very simple song and it was so beautiful that as it faded away at the end, you could hear a pin drop and it took a few moments for people to come to themselves and start applauding. Listening to their music has reminded me all over again, just how good they were and still are.

Other Miscellany, of which there are two items because two is the oddest prime number.

1) I have been catching up with real-life old friends on Facebook which has been cool. Facebook is ridiculously addictive and I find it very easy to waste an hour or two fiddling about on there reviewing movies, exchanging wall posts with friends and playing the iLike music game. It feels satisfyingly sociable without any of the pesky actual in-person socialising or 'meatspace' interaction if you like. (hat tip to Patroclus for the meatspace term)

2) Dr Who. The latest series of Dr Who has finally hit its stride ,with the past 4 episodes being excellent. The Lazarus Experiment, the Family of Blood two parter and this week's episode Blink were all very good. Blink had the most genuinely creepy monsters of the whole series in the Weeping Angels (if you watched, how cool were they?!!) and although the Doctor wasn't in the episode much, it was a cracker.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Hot Podcastular Action Vol 2

Following this drivel here, I felt that in the interests of nerdy complete-ness (is that even a word?), I should add Vol 2 of the Quite Early Show podcasts. So here we go... deep breaths everyone.
Click on the underlined titles to to be whisked to the download site...

The Quite Early Show - 6th April
In which we talked about our feud with Abi on Drivetime, American and Australian funny shaped buildings and London's Space Gherkin, belly button fluff, God's playlist, listeners letters, gummy eyeballs, Inspector Gadget vs Inspector Morse, Radio 2 & Terry Wogan .

Games: Hunt the Chocolate Eggs

The Quite Early Show - 9th April
In which we talked about Grits & hooves, monkey obsession, penguin fractions, the Day Today, erm-ing, Christian fiction and how crap Left Behind is, Evil & Non Evil music, our professionalism(!), Lee sounding like his Mum, Aled Jones playing drums for Chris de Burgh, Reception animals.

Games: If You Can Spell It You Can Have It

Getting ourselves in the right frame of mind for presenting a radio show on Christian radio

The Quite Early Show - 10th April

In which we talked about Mash ups, inane drivel, Lee & Eyan not being Sarah, Darts, the Queen & the Pope's iPods, Cake & Test Match Special, Round 2 of the feud with Abi on Drivetime, the use of lips in blowing up balloons, Eyan gets a ride in LZ7's hot wheels, taking breaths in recorded albums a la Muse, how Lee is eating too many vegetables and has wind, our new DJ names - Flabby & Flappy.

Games: Balloons & Darts

There are three more podcasts to come including the second Theatre of Noise show. As soon as the engineering gremlins sort them out, they will be winging their way to Nine Tenths Full of Penguins.

The Bunker ***
Patriot Games ***
Edtv ***
Pirates of the Carribbean 3 *
The only good thing was a magnificent scene-chewing turn from Geoffrey Rush hamming it up as Captain Barbossa. Oh yeah, the effects were pretty good in places...
Zodiac ****

Quzzery in a June Styleeee

Yes, that time of the month has spun round with dismaying swiftness once more. Wednesday night in East Didsbury was yet again invaded by myself and Eyan's unique brand of trivia and silliness in our monthly pub quiz.

See all previous quiz related shenanigans by clicking here. It was my turn to do the general knowledge and theme rounds and they lurk below.

1) The G8 summit is being held in Germany at the moment. Name as many of the member countries of the G8 as you can.
2) What is measured on the Beaufort scale?
3) What is the pirate's skull and cross-bones flag called?
4) Which bird is the international symbol of happiness?
5) They may be complex, vulgar or mixed. What are they?
6) Which country is the home of feta cheese?
7) Which well-loved cartoon animal made his debut in 1937?
8) Roald Dahl wrote the book called BFG. What do the initials stand for?
9) The first official Bond movie was released in 1964. What was the title?
10) Which was the first football team with the word Rovers in their name to win the Premiership?

The aftermath of June's pub quiz

Theme: Greek Mythology

1) The son of Thetis the sea-goddess, Achilles was impervious to harm apart for one weakness. Where was that weakness?
2) Jason & The Argonauts sailed on the ship Argo to find what?
3) Jason was tutored by Chiron the centaur. A centaur is half man and half what?
4) Name the King & Queen of the Gods.
5) What is the name of mountain atop which the Greek gods lived?
6) Medusa was a Gorgon with the charming ability to turn people into stone with a single look. What was the name of the hero who killed her and how did he avoid being turned into stone?
7) Which hero famed for his colossal strength undertook a series of heroic tasks or Labours?
8) According to Greek myth the dead were transported to the underworld Hades by a mysterious ferryman. What was the name of the river they crossed?
9) What was the name of the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, books telling the stories of the siege of Troy and Odysseus’ adventures on his return from Troy?
10) Theseus solved the mystery of the Labyrinth of Crete with little more than a ball of thread. However, what monster made its home in the Labyrinth?

Answers sometime next week...

update 21/06/07 - answers now in the comments region