Sunday, August 23, 2009

U2 - The 360 Report

Bono & Co truly rocked the house at the Millennium Stadium last night - but that's no surprise. They're pretty good at putting on an impressive show, and it was done this time with the help of a giant 'claw':

Last time, at the Vertigo tour, we were quite close to the front squashed in tight but now we're a bit older we opted for tier seats. We were quite far up but that helped us see the whole stadium and it was quite a sight - tens of thousands of bodies all amassed to worship the Irish super-quartet.

So how was the show??

Well - the first support act was The Hours and were actually quite good - I'd heard a bit of their music before and they hadn't made much of an impression, but they were full of energy and had a distinctive sound. Glas Vegas, on the other hand, were ... well ... bleak. Full of melancholic angst and Scottish moaning. Not my cup of tea. They weren't doing a good job of warming us up for the headliners, but then I figured after such a dreary half-hour U2 would seem absolutely flippin' supernova.

After a long wait, Bowie's Space Oddity came on and it was a bit of a goosebump moment before Larry kicked things off with a short drum solo that then launched into Breathe from the new album.

From then on it was salvo after salvo of classic U2 rock - the majority of songs being newer ones, but with a few classics thrown in (notably The Unforgettable Fire and Sunday Bloody Sunday). The stage show was a barrage of light and imagery all on a grand scale. Even though the four band members were about an inch tall from where we were standing from, the wraparound screen served as a fantastic display to see all the action in detail.

One odd thing about the day was the prolific amount of alcohol that was being consumed by fellow concert-attenders. Quite a few people were getting more and more drunk as the night wore on and I just can't understand why anyone would want to spend a huge amount of money on seeing one of the world's greatest bands perform - only to get sloshed and likely fail to remember much of it the day after.

This nation is becoming more and more obsessed with alcohol - and that, in my opinion, is a bad thing.

Anyhoo - rant over...

Reflecting on the whole experience, I can honestly say it was a spectacle - it made me feel curiously insignificant, wonderfully energised and briefly at one with the thousands of fans surrounding me.

U2's performance has made me think that we all need to experience the spectacular every once in a while ... because only then can we truly feel alive.

What do you reckon? What form of the 'spectacular' have you witnessed?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

This is great...

Apparently, the guy that invented this 'Mobile-Horse-Greenhouse' is trying to palm it off in a competition where the winner gets to keep the contraption (without horse) and $100,000.

The element of skill? Tell him why he invented it in the first place!

Friday, August 21, 2009

U2 360 Concert here we come!

Off to see U2 tomorrow! Yay! Unlike last time, we shall be sitting down to watch it from one of the tiers (we're getting on a bit, you know).

Also, I shall be wearing my Vertigo T-shirt - untouched since the last tour in 2004!

Full report ... sometime soon, hopefully!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Films I've seen of late

Bullitt (1968)
A somewhat dated thriller, the best part of it is Steve McQueen. He simply oozes cool out of every pore, but that's not enough to help a story which feels haphazard and unconvincing. There are some really dull moments, and the ending fails to satisfy. I feel bad about criticizing a so-called classic, but simply can't give it a high score. (5/10)

Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)
Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth are great together in this unassuming little film. Can't understand why everyone has West Country / Posh English accents when the film is set in Holland, and the sexual tension between the two leads seems to be lacking somewhat. Apart from that, it is a watchable and interesting piece. (7/10)

Terminator Salvation (2009)
This risky sequel delivers on all levels, with enough of a balance between brain and brawn. Christian Bale conveys a huge commitment to playing the eponymous John Connor, Anton Yelchin shines as a youthful Kyle Reese and Sam Worthington gives weight to the mysterious Marcus Wright. Salvation gives a great nod to all three previous Terminator films - acknowledging its pedigree while standing up as a worthy film in its own right. The only disappointment was the ending which opted for hammy acting and bad science in an attempt to hastily conclude proceedings before the two hours was up. (8/10)

Australia (2008)
Beginning with Baz Luhrman's trademark wackiness, Australia quickly settles into a less radical stride, and surprises on a number of levels. It's less of an 'epic film' and more of a love / battle against the odds story with an epic backdrop. It's not just an Australian tourism advert. Lastly, only a tiny portion of Australia actually features in the film (Darwin, and a bit of the outback). Jackman and Kidman are strong leads, with an equally strong supporting cast (mostly Aussies, of course) striving against the odds to beat the bad guys and avoid getting bombed by the Japs. Great fun! (8/10)

Top Gun (1986)
An 80s classic, I was dumbfounded to view this again with my 21st century glasses and realise that this was about as satisfying as another 80s icon - the Microwave Meal for One. The acting is hammy as heck, the dialogue embarrassing and there's that elephant in the room again - Bad Science. Not a good combination for one of the highest-grossing films of its decade. Oh well, some things just don't mature as well as others. (3/10)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Life is busy ...

... at the moment, what with trying to earn money from my business, keeping tabs on our church homegroup, trying to spend quality time with Wifey and JKY PLUS buying a house.

I'd like to write more of my random ramblings on this here blog but time is a precious commodity at the mo'.

(If you'd like to sponsor my blog so that I can afford to regularly maintain it, any donations would be welcome!).

Current thoughts, Twitter-style:

- Getting paid for a job that is worth about four times as much grrrr!
- Hoping mortgage company won't mind my self-employed status
- My TomTom has returned from TomTom hospital and is working again - hurrah!
- I am eating too much bad stuff at the moment and not exercising enough - bad news
- Why don't talkers realise that they talk too much and why can't they just let other people get a word in edgeways??
- God is good. He is always good. Don't worry - be content and praise the Lord.

There you go. That's my blog subjects covered for the next few weeks.

Let's keep in touch ... I won't be far away, just getting my head down on some work with a few gasps for air along the way.

Bye for now!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Golden Retriever

I love this song. It absolutely rocks and I've only just re-discovered it - thanks Spotify!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Well, we finally did it...

After a long drawn out negotiation, we finally secured the deal on our next house. It is both an exciting and terrifying feeling. After weeks of worrying we now have somewhere to move to and, more importantly, it's a home that we feel really positive about. Having said that, the doubts and fears came thick and fast as soon as we sealed the deal : did we make the right decision? can we afford the mortgage?? what if we don't like the house???

Funny how sometimes you look forward to something so much and then, when you finally get what you've been aching for, you don't feel excited at all - you feel uneasy and strangely disappointed. Maybe it's just me, maybe it's only when it involves something expensive requiring great responsibility ... or maybe it's because no object/thing/person can bring ultimate happiness and contentment.

That's where the big JC comes in.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I survived

Today I gave my first ever sermon in church ... and I survived! Hurrah!

Okay - it was only 5 minutes, and it was during our summer of homegroup-led services where things are a bit more laid back, but I think it went well. Normally, public speaking scares the crap out of me but today I felt quite relaxed about it. I have spoken in church before (the last time, I think, was during JKY's dedication - but that was more of a speech).

No-one came back at me and accused me of heresy (which is usually a sign that things didn't go so well) but I did have a few comments of encouragement, which was good.

And there's the thing - I've always fancied myself as a preacher. Not because I have any better insight than anyone else, or that I'm hot on the latest theology (believe me, that ain't the case!), but because if I'm honest a part of me likes standing up in front of a large crowd and getting all the attention. I know myself well enough at this stage in life to identify my insecurities, and craving attention is one of them. The thing is, I'm not very good at actually getting that attention. I'm naturally shy, and not the life and soul of the party, but like anyone else I want to feel appreciated and liked - so I suppose having a congregation listening intently to your sermon is one way to achieve this.

Therein lies the danger of pride and selfishness.

I've spent time with God recognising this entirely understandable human flaw - giving it to Him and not deliberately going after attention in this way - but have been open to the fact that maybe God might want to use me in this capacity, and get me to share something from the pulpit (not that we have a pulpit at my church, but there you go).

I hope and pray that if I'm ever asked to preach again, then I'll remember to do so humbly with an attitude of openness to the Lord - not so I can get lots of attention and become the star of my own show.

Something to look forward to next year

Having just seen this trailer for TRON LEGACY (i.e. Tron 2) I am very excited about it. Sequels can be turkeys at the best of times, but even more so when they show up almost thirty years after the original. Still, I'll reserve judgement until I've seen it. It may be a Tron for the next decade (if you get what I mean) plus - it's in 3D!!!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

France = Bon!

I love France.

Finally, I have accepted the truth.

I couldn't bring myself to accept it ever since I was forced to endure Mrs Deakin's French class in sixth form. If anyone could put you off the wonder of learning a new language, she was the supreme champion. Sorry to say it, Miss, but it's true. You were not the most inspirational of teachers in the world. Now I'm a grown adult with a child of my own, I can say it without fearing her bad-tempered scaldings.

I've been to France a couple of times before, but I only just came to the realisation whilst on holiday last week that I actually like the country. There was something in me that was always holding me back - some deep-rooted disdain towards our gallic cousins and resentment of their croissant-munching, renault-driving, gitane-smoking ways.

But I have finally put all of that to rest.

You see, the French have got it right when it comes to food and drink: you can't truly enjoy grub if it's sub-standard, lacking in passion. They've also got it right when it comes to work/life balance. I know it's probably different in urban areas, but where we stayed (near Cognac) they had a siesta every afternoon and the shops were closed most of Sunday and all day Monday! How great is that?

Can you imagine the Brits working those hours? No - me neither!

So I hope we can do the French 'thing' again sometime, and when we do I will actually try and look forward to it...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Here - just take all the money I have

The family car has been a source of much grief lately, mainly because the mechanics I have taken it to have not been pretty useless at fixing the problem (that old chestnut 'the intermittent problem').

Firstly, I blame Fraud, er Ford, for my motoring unhappiness because they make cars that are extremely sophisticated machines* thus making it difficult for smaller independent garages to do full diagnostics and repairs at a reasonable price. You see, Ford et al don't like the fact that independent garages charge less money than them. So what they do is withhold diagnostic information about their vehicles. So when Mr Independent shrugs and says he can't diagnose the fault you are forced to go to a dealership and part with the equivalent of a small country's GDP to pay for the repair.

I am angered by the fact that having taken our car to Evans Halshaw, they failed to completely fix my car and charged me an eye-watering £700 for the pleasure. I think they see me as some sap who should help them to pay for their fancy new premises. Do I LOOK filthy rich? If I do, why on earth would I be driving a Ford???

I now have to go to my usual garage (for the third time) and plead with them to fix it once and for all. Oh yeah, and spend more of the money that I don't have.

So ... the moral of the story is to not go to Evans Halshaw.

In case you didn't get that, I said EVANS HALSHAW. Do NOT go there to get your car fixed or for any other reason - you have been warned!!

*OK OK, I know ALL car manufacturers are the same, it's just that this particular vehicle is a Ford. Sometimes I wish I just had a horse and cart.