Monday, August 31, 2009

Directional post: follow the link

In case you haven't seen it on Facebook, or don't follow my other myriad blogs, I updated t-shirt theology last week with a fun bit about the shirt I came up with for Fair and Bare: Feel the Force

Read the post

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Ugly Truth

A quick review of The Ugly Truth, a slightly patchy rom-com with an interesting premise that fades in the final third. Gerard Butler is a boorish, blokey TV presenter hiding a sensitive soul, while Katherine Heigl is, er, Katherine Heigl, a role she seems to be playing regularly these days.

I quite liked the film. There is a cringingly embarrassing scene involving vibrating underwear, which you kind of know is going to be a car crash, but you can't tear your eyes away. There's a bit of crudity and a few swearwords. But generally it's a straightforward rom-com. You can see where it's heading from a few minutes in and there's no twists to surprise you.

Jongudmund's rating: 6/10 Wait for it to tip up on Movies on Demand. Or Lovefilm it. (If you're the kind of person who Lovefilms, eh Jo?)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Oh, now I remember why they took Shooting Stars off the air

It isn't funny.

Over the years several people who inexplicably love Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer have tried to convince me of their comic genius. But here's the thing. I have a very simple test of what's comedy. Is it funny?

It's not that I don't 'get' Vic 'n' Bob. It's just there's a difference between being surreal and being funny, between being odd and being funny, between being outlandish and being funny, between doing something unexpected and doing something funny.

Watching the relaunched Shooting Stars tonight reminded me of that gaping hole in the "Reeves and Mortimer = Comic Geniuses" view point. They just aren't funny.

I realise I may call down the wrath of the commenters for saying it, but these 'comics' aren't comic. The emperors are naked.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Word of the day: omphaloskepsis

'Contemplation of one's navel.' (Orig from the Greek, word nerds.)

"Hey boss, I need thinking space otherwiase I won't be able to do any omphaloskepsis... and my work will suffer. I'm off to the pub."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

[C]GI Joe: The Rise of the Franchise

Tonight I've just seen GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra, which I imagine is the first in a series of films that are bound to end up as straight-to-DVD fodder by about GI Joe 5.

I did quite enjoy it. It was glorious dross. The script was negligible. Character development was minimal (hey, they're just action figures). It had quite a cool gizmo premise (nano-mites that can munch their way through a city) and plenty of ludicrous techware (accelerator suits, caseless gatling guns you wear on your arm, micro-submarines, plasma energy weapons, hover dropships, and so on). Plus car chases, explosions, the destruction of Paris. All good stuff. Sienna Miller and Rachel Nichols were gorgeous to watch scrapping it out too. Definitely a boy's movie.

One thing that let it down was the slightly shoddy CGI, particularly in the undersea battles. There were a few occasions when the CGI was painfully obvious, which is a bit of a disaster in an effects-driven film. But it was fun and entertaining and just about the right length, which is more than can be said for the half-hour too long Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, which just didn't really do it for me.

I wouldn't say GI Joe was a better film than Transformers 2, because that would imply Gi Joe was a good film, but I felt I enjoyed it more. And ultimately that's the acid test of this kind of noisy nonsense.

Jongudmund's ratings
GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra - 6.5/10 Worth seeing once.
Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen - 6/10 Lacked the (all)spark that made the first one so great.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Survivally Challenged

So I made it through the week at Soul Survivor. The weather was great, thanks. We had one night of rain and that was about it.

A few things stood out, mainly from one of the nightly talks by Ants Watts, a New Zealander linked to Soul Survivor in NZ. He said:

I was always told that you don't have to like people as long as you love them, but actually I think you have to love them until you like them.

We are very good at creating ways of loving people - mechanisms for loving people - we can drop food off at the food bank, and we can give items to the thrift store, and we can sponsor a child on the other side of the world. And those are good things to do. But the problem with them if that is all we do, is that we can show that we love people, and people can have their needs met, but neither of us are transformed by it.

Lots of people are trying to be 'somebody'. Lots of Christians are trying to be 'somebodies' - trying to get on the platform, to lead the worship, to do a CD, to get their book out. But do you have what it takes to be a 'nobody' for Christ? To say 'this isn't about me'?

These are how I remember him saying those things. They aren't verbatim quotes. The third one in particular struck me. I had been in a seminar given by a 33 year-old theology graduate who already had three books published and was doing seminars to a packed out room. It made me think 'Where did I go wrong'. And then I thought 'Hang on...'

On the last night I made someone cry because I asked them to just clarify a throwaway remark they'd said earlier in the week that had rested heavy on me. It turned out I identified a real hurt that needed healing. But most importantly, they needed to know that someone understood, that someone cared, that someone loved. I wouldn't have been in that first conversation if I had been a 'somebody', let alone had the opportunity to be in the second.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Male or female brain

For a reason slightly more complicated to explain than I can be bothered with, someone left a copy of Glamour magazine on my desk (oh, okay, it was because it had an interesting article in it about the negative effects of porn), and it contained a quiz to see if you, the reader, had a 'male' or 'female' brain.

Turned out I was in the middle section with a brain that combined a bit of both. Apparently that can work to my advantage as I can supposedly relate to both sexes. I'm not sure about that.

T'was an interesting article. Later on in the mag was a 'beachwear' section. I have to say my female brain kicked in as I was looking at a very attractive woman in a crochet swimsuit. "That's going to shrink in the wash," I thought.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The ups, the downs, the love of sports

Another football season dawns bright and fresh. It was perfect opening day weather too. The sunshine bounced off the brilliant green pitch so brightly I had to wear sunglasses for most of the game.

Shrewsbury had added a number of new faces to their squad and plenty had left, so there was a real mood of ‘Who knows what will happen?’ about the game. Burton were playing their first ever football league match and their 1,000+ fans in the away end seemed shoutily confident beforehand.

I must admit I felt pessimistic, but we won quite easily in the end. The first and third goals were goalkeeping errors, and the second goal was an unmarked header. Town did look a bit shaky when Burton pulled a goal back to make it 2-1, making the crowd a bit nervous.

The referee and linesman didn't help as they were exceptionally dismal. The linesman in particular missed two clear Burton offsides in the first half, and then couldn’t see a two-handed shove in the back and a blatant elbow right in front of him second half. My voice has gone slightly today as I felt the need to point out the refereeing errors to the officials. As did many in the crowd. The atmosphere turned from happy-go-lucky to furiously ugly very quickly.

But we got another goal and at the end ahd a succession of corners and chances as Burton seemed to run out of steam. So, although in one sense the scoreline flattered us, we could have ended up getting 5 or 6.

My record at the new stadium is pretty good now – I’ve seen 10 games and Shrewsbury have won 9 of them, and this was a definite improvement on the three 1-0 victories I saw last year. Maybe the team will gel into something good. We need to sign up the loan midfielder Joss Labadie though as he was our best player by a clear margin.

I don’t think Burton will go down. They played some good football and the game could have ended much better for them. This wasn’t the greatest start to league football for them, though.

My good feelings about the game then turned into disappointed despair later on that evening though, when I found out that the Padres had traded their all star pitcher Jake Peavy to the Chicago White Sox. Gutted doesn’t cover it. Cath actually said she hadn’t seen me that depressed by something in ages.

I can’t complain too much about Jake going. He has been an absolute star for the Padres, although last year he missed too many games on the DL. The White Sox are coming good and he deserves a crack at the post-season, which he won’t get with San Diego this year. Who knows, comes World Series time, maybe he’ll get a chance to shine. Good luck in the Windy City, Jake.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Good week so far

Alright the weather has been crapola, but there have been some good things so far this week.

1) Monday morning I flicked on the TV to discover we have ESPN America, one of the channels that Virgin is putting in our package now that Setanta has died, and that means WALL TO WALL BASEBALL (woo!). Pretty much any time of day there's baseball on. Which means I always have tube candy in the odd five minutes between stuff or at breakfast.

2) Then later on Monday I discovered the Tragically Hip are doing a small European tour in the autumn. Woo again! I'm seriously thinking about taking a week to follow them round the country. Anyone want to join me?

3) This morning I did an interview for UCB radio in my freelance theologian guise. They'd called me up last week to ask whether I'd be willing to talk about materialism/ possessions/ wealth etc. It seemed to go well (the presenter seemed really chuffed) and I've told the guy to feel free to come back to me if/ when they have other awkward questions and no obvious interviewees, and he said he would keep me in mind.

So all in all, not a bad week so far. I just hope this post hasn't jinxed it.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Just to clarify...

... I really enjoyed the service yesterday. I didn't find it dull. I liked the liturgy. I liked the hymns. The lady who sat next to me - Jenny - seemed very friendly and helpful. Even the tea was alright. I would thoroughly recommend people give St Mark's a go.

I only commented on the 'assumptions' thing because later it made me think about the times I do that to people.

Although having said that, getting Roger to comment is a triumph so great it's going on my CV!

End times nonsense

Further to the latest post on t-shirt theology (loaded up yesterday), which was all about how annoyed I get by Left Behind books and other rubbish of that ilk, here’s an incomplete list of things I have heard confidently preached and predicted in sermons, or seen presented quite seriously in books, or been earnestly told by well-meaning yet slightly intense people, over the last 20 years or so, relating to the end times:

~ Communism is going to take over the world as the antichrist's empire.

~ The European Union (and before that the EEC) will become the antichrist’s empire.

~ Pope John-Paul II is the antichrist. (And apparently him being dead isn't going to stop this, as he will return as a 'false prophet'.)

~ The Soviet Union is the antichrist’s empire. (That very popular theory disappeared virtually overnight, coincidentally at about the same time as the Soviet Union.)

~ After the rapture all the Jews in the world will immediately realise what a mistake they made and convert to Christianity en masse.

~ The ‘return’ of the Jews to Israel after 1948 is a mark of the end of the age. Which is why it's a good idea to encourage Jews to move to Israel from everywhere else, like Russia, Ethiopia, etc. (Except from America where life is good, obviously.)

~ The British Empire dissolved because Britain opposed the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

~ The Palestinians got what was coming to them because they were living in the land God has 'given' the Jews.

~ Barcodes are the mark of the Beast because they have three lots of six lines (which actually they don’t, as you can see by looking at a bar code).

~ We'll all end up having bar codes tattooed, or inserted as a datachip, onto the back of our hands.

~ The internet is the Beast because ‘W’ is the sixth letter of the Hebrew alphabet and so www = 666.

~ Russia will get back on its feet and become the antichrist's empire. (Ah, right, so the whole Soviet Union is the antichrist's empire thing was just a misunderstanding. It's still those damn Russkies!)

~ Babylon will be rebuilt as the home of the antichrist.

~ Saddam Hussein is rebuilding Babylon.

~ Saddam Hussein could be the antichrist. (This one has gone a bit quiet of late.)

~ There will be earthquakes and wars and horrible things happening - usually this can be linked into anything terrible that has just happened.

~ The seasons will change. (Ooh, global warming! Global warming!)

~ America will be on the side of good because the American symbol is an Eagle and there's something nice in Revelation about eagles. Therefore America = good. QED. (Interestingly both Germany and the Czech Republic have an eagle as a national symbol. But obviously it's not them.)

~ Bill Gates is the antichrist and Microsoft is the mark of the Beast. (Mac users don't bother commenting...)

So, what similar bollocks have you heard? Leave a comment.

Sunday, August 02, 2009


I've noticed a lot of assumptions today.

Firstly, a confession. I went to a different church today because my normal church is having a reduced Sunday programme during August (assumption number 1: people don't want to do church in the summer).

So, we went to an Anglican church. I say we, I mean me and Terri, a long-term friend currently residing with us. She is looking for a church. She's Anglican. So it kind of worked us both going.

We were approached by a friendly chap who turned out to be the Lay Reader who later on ran the shebang, or whatever you're supposed to call the 'please turn to page 9' thing that the Anglican church do. That, by the way, actually turned out to be pretty easy to follow, and I quite enjoyed it. Saying a proper creed is always a bonus.

But anyway, Mr Lay Reader asked us if we were the couple who were there because our banns were being read out today. Not a bad assumption. He didn't know us from Adam and Eve, so we'll let him off. But it was amusing, although Terri may well have been offended that this stranger thought she couldn't do better than me.

Then we sat through the service, which moved along at a good pace. The sermon was based on 2 Corinthians 3, and the guy speaking did a good job exegeting it, linking it in with the faded glory of the old covenant with the prophecy of a new covenant in Jeremiah.

And then we had a cup of tea afterwards, during which time a few people told Terri that this service wasn't like their normal service which was usually "much livelier". Which was unfortunate, because Terri likes the liturgy and the collects and the Anglicanism of it all, and had quite enjoyed the service which ran through the 1974 revised prayer book. So, telling her that 'normally' it was qute different wasn't really going to sell her on the church.

It's been a useful experience really. It's left me wondering what assumptions I make about people.

Also a big shout out to Roger who reads this blog and was church warden for the day when we turned up. He greeted us very warmly, despite knowing who I was. So thanks for that, Roj! (He ended up having to read out one Scripture passage too, but that's another story...)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Orange blush

Yeah, right, "a co-incidence" say Britvic. But then this is Tango, and I wouldn't put anything past them.

Tango can spells out obscentity (The Sun)