Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tunes for a Sunday Evening...

Been listening to a ton of great tunes...

Selmasongs - the soundtrack to Dancer in the Dark - by Bjork featuring production from Mark Bell and a fab duet with Thom Yorke [I've seen it all]. I love the orchestration and the other-worldly place the music goes when the strings melt into post-rock soundscapes with found-sound beats. I haven't seen the film... and I think this has helped me to contextualise the music on its own. Truly joyous and uplifting. It was released in 2000 and it stands the test of time...

Another album that stands up to the marching of time is Parallel Lines by Blondie - I picked up the reissue for £3 just before Rose and Janey's wedding... and what an investment. 6 of the 12 tracks were released as singles... and are held in some form of collective pop consciousness... this album is so familiar and yet so new and fresh. It formed the soundtrack to the weekend away at the Wedding. Tracks like Hangin' on the telephone, One way or another and the fantastic Heart of Glass are just classic new wave rock and roll. Awesome!

Royksopp's collection of tracks for the Back to Mine series is amazing... its like the follow up to the fab Trips by Tom Middleton. Its a mix of fantastic 70s and 80s funky electro beats and fine productions... New tunes that I welcome being introduced to. Fresh and different... a real insight into the tunes Royksopp dig. Great for on the move... with a new track from Royksopp under the alias of Emmanuel Splice. Nice!

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S*N*A*C :: 7th October 07

S*N*A*C is back next Sunday evening... after a well earned break.

Feel free to join us at our informal gathering after church where we explore faith, love and grace through song, spoken word and conversation.

I've added an event to facebook :: here and update google calender ::

Photo :: Leo Reynolds with thanks!

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Bo Brekke :: Sadly missed

I am gutted to hear that Colonel Bo Brekke has been murdered in Pakistan. This is a sad day for the world and for the Salvation Army when a man of his standing and compasion has been taken.

I was inspired by Bo and his wife Brigitte... although I never met them. Their work with Sally Ann was awesome.

His article We are the poor is a really thought provoking work... and I quote from it now in celebration of the man... for what he has achieved... for His Lord and for the poor he did it for.
The greatest thing we bring to mission in an economically poor country like Bangladesh is the liberating news that Jesus has come to give people back their true identity as Children of God. By transforming individuals, Jesus wants to transform their relationships and indeed the social structures of whole societies.

Here, our own understanding has undergone a complex change. It is not right to speak of a ‘mission to the socially disadvantaged’. We are not a church that identifies with the poor. We are not a movement for the poor. We are the poor. The Salvation Army in Bangladesh is a church made up of the poor.
We are the poor

Read more here - Thanks to Chris for the heads-up.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

New music for a September evening...

First off is the fabulous Bjork with her new album Volta :: I have to say its awesome. Truly avant garde... experimental and yet surprisingly accessible. Well for me it is. The music is amazing with production credits including Timbaland and Mark Bell >> pushing the envelope with crazy beats and soundscapes. What really impressed me was the use of brass instruments. The brass sound is warm and welcoming with a sense of the familiar in a sea of discontented dissonance. Truly headphone music... with so much going on in each track... including a tune "played" on the horns of ships. Bjork's voice fascinates me. It is so earthy and raw... with such elemental power and sensitivity. Loving this album.

Another innovative piece of sound sculpture is the Mercury nominated Maps with We can create :: This is an electronica album that reminds me of shoegazing post-rock with quirky "indie" vocals. The term "euphoric" has been used in reviews and I think its apt. The sound is bigger... larger... more immersive than the normal downtempo electronica I listen to. The opening track :: So Low, So High :: is so uplifting... reminding me of thin places in the expansive Scottish countryside [if that makes any sense?!?]... its not religious and yet it feels like an expression of worship. I feel this album will be with me for a long time to come.

On a different path altogether is this fab compilation of "chilled" tracks from Antonio Vivaldi. It includes tracks from The Four Seasons along with other works.

I'm not a big classical music fan and am quite critical of the genre... or at least the modern industry that has grown around some wonderful pieces of music. Take Vivaldi for example... everyone knows the four seasons and, as a result, that's what is always played. Discussed this with my dad recently - where is the progression if all you play is the classics. Imagine popular music where the majority of tracks were covers... OK, maybe a bad example... Imagine electronica where the majority of tracks played by wildly talented musicians were covers from Play. Its a nonsensical thought and yet it happens everyday in the classical genre.

Anyway... rant over... this is a good compilation that brings together a range of Vivaldi's work and showcases the composer from a chilled perspective. Nice to listen to as you walk through the crowds at rush hour.

That said... I'm a big fan of James Galway - he is an amazing musician who is nicely showcased in the compilation :: wings of song :: sure it has all the "favourites" like ave maria and gymnopedie no.3... but it also contains some gems from composers such as Rodrigo, Saint-Saens and Wagner. The gem in the crown, however, is John Denver's Annie's Song which is the song Olly walked down the isle to... 10 years ago... and a song I will never forget.

There are only 2 types of music... good and bad... and for me... these are some fab albums. Check them out.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

This is interesting :: Da Movement

This caught my eye while browsing Josh Spear - its a club night on the 28th September in NYC with a difference... its held in a new store with monies raised getting passed to charities including Invisible Children. The sweet kicks above are one of 25 pairs to be sold exclusively for this event. Other exclusives include tees [including one from Shepard Fairey from OBEY] and a vinyl toy. Nice kit. Well curated.

Another thing that caught my eye was the name of the DJ :: Kenny Mitchell :: who I posted on a while back [here]... he'll keep things moving alright.

This is something I dig... a form of compassionate capitalism... entrepreneurial activism... people doing their thing while having a great time >> making a profit and giving back. Nice! We need more of this.

Hope it gets the results they want. If you are in NYC or interesting in their thing... check out their website

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Janey and Roscoe are gettin' married... [2]

Groom and Best Man

What a day!!! Ross made it to the Church in plenty of time... I was there, afterall, to ensure he got there... and didn't leave.


It was truly a family occasion with Miriam acting as the Flowergirl and Dayna as a Bridesmaid. They scattered the rose petals with willful abandon... with Miriam continuing to do so long after they'd come to rest at their seats.

The Bridesmaids

The Bridesmaids :: Jo and Lauren :: looked stunning in their purple dresses...

Here she comes

...and Janey looked a Million Pounds in a wonderfully flattering white number. The dress was precariously balanced on Janey's rather well endowed frame. We were all thankful to discover the dress had straps for dancing!

I do

The Ceremony went well... with Yvonne and Jim playing My love is like a red, red rose for Janey's entrance. Truly a beautiful piece of music expertly played.

Major Eck from Bellshill conducted with Ceremony... adding insight and humour in a way only he can. At the end of the Ceremony, he presented Ross and Janey with the Bible he used to read their vows from... lovely touch!

Olly sang... Claire Bradbury read from 1st Corinthians 13... Gavin Smith read a lovely verse and Captain Sanderson lead a beautiful prayer. Fab!

Ross and Janey

Afterwards... we headed to the Erskine Bridge Hotel for photographs and the Reception.

The photographer was lovely... a real gentleman... who had no issue with other folk taking photos. This made the experience far better than I personally had expected. I still could have done with some botox for all the smiling I needed to do. Still sore!

Us and Them

My whole wide world!

Olly and the girls looked wonderful... and I was and am a proud man!

My life

Mrs M scrubbed up very well... and looked truly fabulous!

Olly and me

If I am honest... I think she thought I scrubbed up pretty well myself! I love wearing a Kilt... and am thinking of buying my own.

After the photos... we had the speeches - with Ian [Father of the Bride], Ross, myself and Jim [Father of the Groom] all taking turns. I was pretty scared with my speech. It wasn't rude or anything and, from the feedback I received, I believe it went down well. I might put it on YouTube or something.

After the speeches... we had dinner with a fab chicken and haggis dish that was to die for.

Father and Daughter

There is only one thing you do after dinner at a Scottish wedding... well there is two things but getting steamin' isn't the done thing with a strong Salvation Army contingent... so the only thing left for us to do was to dance... and boy did we dance! We had live Ceilidh music provided by Ian Milligan [the chap who did the Summer School Ceilidh] and everyone was up for a reel and a jig until the wee small hours.

It was a fantastic day. Made better by meeting up with a number of my pals :: Kenny & Sarah, Bobbito & Diane, Al and Steph, Mog, Scott and Susan, Aileen and Mark, Kirsty & Fraser, Laura... tremendous!

We finished the evening with Auld Lang Syne... and left with a smile.

Olly and I were jiggered... but feeling good. Thankfully the Bride and Groom were not next door to us.

I've added more photos to Flickr. Check them out here

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Janey and Roscoe are gettin' married... [1]

Me and the Bride to be

My sister from another mother [and father] is getting married today to... Roscoe


The whole family are taking part in their day...

Olly practising

Olly is singing twice in th service...

Miriam with her bearMajor Eck... and Dayna

Miriam is the flower girl... and Dayna is a bride's maid. Our good friend... Major Eck from Bellshill Corps... is leading the ceremony. A real friends and family affair.

Yvonne Practising

The practice was last night... and it went well. The tune that Jane comes down the isle to is awesome... I won't spoil things and tell you what song it is... but Yvonne plays it with such feeling... it is truly wonderful!

Margaret... the flower woman

Another thing that I just lapped up is the flowers... Margaret (above) and her daughter Fiona... have done Jane and Ross proud with all the flower displays. It was really great to watch them create too... I was hanging about... getting in their way... watching them arrange and shape... Lovely.

Kilty Fresh

Tried on the kilt last night... feels good! Might get myself one...

More photos here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hey... its Wednesday!

I love me...

Sorry for the silence... been busy getting ready for this Saturday. Janey and Roscoe are getting hitched... and my whole family are involved. I'm the best man... Olly is singing 2 songs at the ceremony... Dayna is a bridesmaid and Miriam is the flower girl.

I can't wait. I've written the bones of my speech and uploaded it to my Moleskine. Hahahaha... not sure you can "upload" anything to a Moleskine... but like the terminology.

We are staying over in the Hotel where the reception will be held... and I hope to do some "live" blogging from there... capture the before and after... if I can.

So anyway... some more random thoughts:

Photo / Link :: Electric Angel

We're heading down south in October for a few days... straight after the visit of Johnny Laird with Croydon Band. Will be good to have a break... and we intend to keep it a secret with the we'ans until the morning that we set off.

Anyway... the place we are heading to has a fab park :: Peasholm Park :: that recently held an open air festival last Sunday with some interesting singer/songwriters on the bill... including Tasmin Archer and Tom Hingley [the lead singer with The Inspiral Carpets]. Looked like my kind of thing... and it was free!

I get excited when I see people reinterpret space in this way... make something new out of something old and established. Bring new voices to places more accustomed to older expressions. The organist at Peasholm is pretty awesome in his own right.

Photo / Link :: BBC News

I don't drink... but would have loved to have been at this rather unusual beer festival :: In the small Palestinian Christian village of Taybeh in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. How cool would that have been? As the Beeb reported...
On Saturday and Sunday (8th & 9th September), thousands of Palestinians and international visitors milled about in the pleasant late summer weather listening to musical performers - Christians and Muslims.

The festivities continued throughout the day and late into the evening, with mainly folklore music and dance, but also the cutting edge sounds of an Israeli-Arab rap group, DAM, and local hip hop performers, Boikutt and G-Town.

As well as the all-important beer, there were stalls selling local produce such as honey, soap and traditional handicrafts.
I just loved this story when I read it. In the midst of such hardship and sorrow... people could just be people and relax. No agendas other than a beer and a laugh. I like the fact that the owner of the microbrewer is exploring non-alcoholic options for his Muslim neighbours. Now that's tolerance... and shrewd capitalism :-)

More pics here.

What else..?

Olly and I are loving Michael Palin's new documentary series on the new Europe. He has a way with words that is compelling and enthralling. There is nothing nicer than chilling for an hour in front of the telly with something uplifting. Well done Beeb!

I fixed my dad's airport card and his iBook is now all wi-fi'd up... which is nice. We had 2 iBooks and Olly's new iMac running off the router on Monday night which was fab.

Been listening to Hey Eugene by Pink Martini... its there 3rd album and I picked it up at our local library. I was skeptical and curious... and have to say I love it... when I am in the mood for something latenight and rhythmic. They do latin and jazz very well... sure it sounds a bit Eurovision at times... but they keep it real and engaging... bring their music to the foreground without being too traditional or too ironic. The title track :: Hey Eugene :: is pretty awesome. Beautiful beats and backing... with fab vocals, horns and a subtle wahwah guitar. Olly isn't a fan... but I get them.

Another album I have been soaking in... is The Warning by Hot Chip - their sound is pretty experimental lo-fi electronica... with a soulful... poppy edge... that is fab in the car or on the move. Over and over is a great piece of pop music that is just so catchy... it sticks in your subconscious. I have witnessed my girls sing it... which is a sure sign of a good song. I find this album compelling in its uniqueness. There isn't really anything else out there like it... at the moment. I like that.

Hope you dig the random thoughts?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Colin McRae

My heart is full of sadness with the loss of a sporting legend from my neck of the woods. Colin McRae was a fantastic driver and a true asset to Lanarkshire.

My thoughts and prayers are with a wife who has lost a husband and son... and a daughter who has lost her father and her brother.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

all for His kingdom, afterall... or is it???


Jon Birch... I salute you... In four frames you have captured some of the serious concerns I have with my denomination or tribe.

I pull my hair out when people I know... good people I know... refer to themselves as Salvationist when asked about their faith / religion. Sure... I am a Salvationist but I am a follower of Jesus first and foremost - God comes first!

Busy-ness does not and never will equate with holy-ness... so why then is there an implicit expectation that we should be at everything and commit to everything... without exception?

Why too does worship come before prayer and learning?

Jesus instructed His followers to go out into the world... tell people of the good news that is the Gospel... and make disciples. He didn't ask us to make denominations... churches... worldviews... ideologies... bands... choirs... etc etc.

I doubt I am alone in thinking this... and it is not solely a criticism of my denomination... or should I say... my experience of my denomination.

Would the Army be the same without its symbolism? Remove the crest... the flag... the pictures of William and / or Catherine Booth... the uniform... and as we stand naked... do we still stand proud as followers of Jesus and soldiers in the Salvation Army?

I would hope so.

Let's get our perspective right... and keep our eyes on Jesus... and the people we have around us... and stop perpetuating the denominational nonsense that holds us back.

Its all for His kingdom, afterall... or is it???

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Random links and daydream musings...

Kind of a random post this... loads of disparate links and daydream musings...

First off... there is a slight possibility that I might be going back to the City of Brotherly Love. Some business design work needing done... and my lead is moving house in a couple of weeks. It would be so sweet if I could go back... and there is talk of it being over a weekend too which would be wonderful.

Thinking on this... a couple of articles in gridskipper caught my eye... this article looks at how to do downtown NYC on the cheap. If I do get to stay over... I am heading to NYC... its only 90mins away in the train [I think]... and I would love to experience the sights and sounds and smells of the Big Apple.

If, however, I don't make NYC... I still have tons to see and do in Philly... and this article highlights some fab veggie restaurants. Not that I am veggie [anymore] but they have compiled a fab list of places and spaces to check out. I like local knowledge when I travel... and gridskipper is fab for this.

Speaking of food... Josh Brown has posted some thoughts on an interesting book called Plenty about a couple who only ate local food (100 mile radius) for an entire year. He is challenged by their story... and I want to check out the book. Its an area that I am slowly wakening up to... the whole locally sourced thing. I just don't think I pay enough attention to story behind what I eat...

My thanks go to Mr Johnny Laird for the heads up on Eric Bryant coming to Scotland. Eric is a leader at Mosaic in LA and is coming to Edinburgh and Perth. I could make Perth... but it is the morning after Janey and Roscoe's wedding... and I'm in Erskine with the family. He is a fab speaker though... and worth the trip. His book :: Peppermint Filled Pinatas looks v. good... I think he has spoken from it on the Mosaic podcast... which was great.

More thanks go to EP for pointing me in the direction of this article on Aaron Jackson who is singlehandedly fighting Haiti's internal parasite infestation with education and deworming medicine. Truly inspirational story. Forget the Beckhams... here is a real hero for the Noughties! Aaron Jackson... you rawk!!!

Even more thanks go in the direction of Mr Johnny Laird for posting about this interview on the Rubicon where Geoff Ryan interviews Shane Claiborne...
The thing I love about The Salvation Army is that it is peculiar. There is something about it that is set apart so that it becomes a “contrast culture.” I’m not familiar with the exact theology around peacemaking within The Salvation Army and how it gets worked out. The first time I came to a Salvation Army event, my friend and I were looking around and there were uniforms everywhere. We thought it was awesome - as long as everyone understands the reasons why!

Jesus and Paul were always doing this, using military language and spinning it on its head. Jesus regularly drew images from the imperial lexicon. Even words we use commonly today - such as evangelical, evangelion or gospel - come from the idiom of the Roman empire. So I love it! The word we use for the Kingdom of God - basilica - is the same word that was used for the empire and its realms. So in this sense I get it.
Shane Claiborne

So anyway... Olly is unwell - she got a tooth out today and is in some pain... and the girls went to a bible exhibition at my folks church tonight [they loved it].

As for me... I could be going to Philly... [I would love to go back].

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

all that we can't leave behind

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV?
Dialing For Dollars is trying to find me.
I wait for delivery each day until three,
So oh Lord, won’t you buy me a color TV?

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town?
I’m counting on you, Lord, please don’t let me down.
Prove that you love me and buy the next round,
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a night on the town?
Mercedes Benz by Janis Joplin

Harvest time is always an interesting time for me. It is a time for counting blessings and for counting the cost.

I am a blessed man... but I do not believe that my blessing is in any way in direct proportion with my faith. There are some who think this... and I think they are wrong. There is only one gift from God that matters... the gift of Grace through His Son... the rest is gravy.

I am blessed. I have a wonderful wife... and great kids. A supportive family and some really special friends. I have a job [sure I moan about it... but it pays the bills] that has enabled me to buy a nice house and some great toys.

My blessing is my people. The material things... the house... the iPod(s)... the Manhattan Portage bags and Pro-Keds trainers and Sony headphones... they are all nice-to-have. They are the gravy. They complement the stuff that matters but are an added extra... a bonus. I'm glad to have them... but wouldn't miss them if they were gone.

This is where I think of the cost... I can live without the gravy... I am assured [although I have never actually experienced it] that the train journey into Glasgow takes just as long without music as it is with.

Ironically I have been using my new shuffle as much as my 80gb iPod... I can live with less.

I can't live without my wife or we'ans... and hope never to have to. I have always told Olly that I am going first and that Wipeout by the Safaris and Kite by U2 should be played at my funeral [I want one of those eco burials - I want to feed a tree!].

I can't live without my family and friends. I have been dealing with the loss of friendship recently... and it is such a horrible experience. It still hurts.

Coming back to the iPod... we can live with less. Just because Steve says so... doesn't mean we need it. Consumerism poorly disguised as progress is killing people with debt... and destroying the planet.

Last year I blogged about Neil Boorman burning his brands last year. His action offended me but I respected the rationale for his actions. The BBC recently wrote about his life... one year on... and asked him to describe living without brands.
I suffered from a condition known as obsessive branding disorder - a combination of compulsive shopping and a reliance on status symbol brands for the maintenance of one's self esteem.

I didn't buy clothes, gadgets or even food for the basic functions that they performed. I bought them for the way they made me feel.../

By banning myself from the shops I hoped to cleanse myself of a destructive addiction. But the prohibition became a kind of experiment, I wanted to find out if a person living in modern Britain could survive away from the chain stores and supermarkets that dominate our lives.../

Emotionally, I had a lot of re-building to do. Without my beloved brands as confidence boosters, I had to search for new reasons to feel good about myself.

My psychotherapist encouraged me to confront my negative self-esteem and to stop judging myself by the impossible ideals that confronted me in the media.

Accepting the real me, as opposed to camouflaging with brands, was key to the long-term disconnection from the culture of consumerism. The advertisements for Selfridges said "I Shop Therefore I Am", but I began to know better.
Its not what we have that makes us who we are.
"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
Matthew 26: 30-33 :: The Message

Where I believe Neil Boorman falls down is that he is still reliant on stuff. What I mean by this is that his reality is still based on material things... his self-esteem now comes from NOT having branded goods. Its an inverse of the situation. I commend him for breaking free... but his obsession and, dare I say, his identity comes from what he doesn't do. I don't shop for branded goods, therefore, I am!?!

We should be reliant on God. I believe God does the best for us... even in our darkest of days... we just don't know the full story.

If we are blessed with stuff then use it... for His glory. If we don't have stuff... then don't worry about it. We need to seek Him first... steep our lives in Him... and the rest comes afterwards.

We need to focus on all that we can't leave behind. Build a legacy of kindness and thoughtful stewardship of that which He has entrusted us to keep for Him. We need to invest in the people He has surrounded us with [our community] and work together for the betterment of the community and the wider populace around us. In giving away our lives... I believe we find true life.

Instead of burning our brands this Harvest... we should be counting our blessings and giving away our lives.

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Roscoe's Stag Weekend

Bestman and Groom

Roscoe is getting married... and we couldn't let him spend his last few weeks as a free man without marking the occasion.

Duncan, Jim and Ritchie

A group of us headed to the Rosoi in Bellshill (next to the Corps) for a curry and a blether.


Ross was supplied with some items to help him with his forthcoming wedding ::
  1. a tee-shirt for folk to record their wishes to the groom...
  2. a pair of antlers so everyone would know that he was the stag...
  3. a pair of rubber gloves for his pending domestication...
  4. a copy of Heat magazine to help him learn the language of woman and
  5. a stick of lip-balm to ensure his lips are in tip-top condition for his honeymoon.
It was a lovely evening... their chicken garam masala is awesome. Hot and tasty.


On Saturday morning we headed over to xtremekarting in Falkirk for some high speed hijinks.


After getting suited and booted in rather fetching Power Rangers outfits... we watched a safety DVD then let out on the course. We were split into 6 teams of 3 for an endurance race.


We had a wee 20 minute practice to determine pole... My team came in last on the grid.


The track is awesome... very tricky with a cool bridge, loads of bends and turns. The morning was great fun... good competition without any nasty rivalry.


Good fun was had by all... although it was hot, hard work!

No 3 :: Kenny, Jim & Andrew

Third on the podium were Kenny, Jim and Andrew... followed by...

No 2 :: Fraser, Brian & Roscoe

Second were Fraser, Brian and Roscoe the Stag.

No 1 :: Mark, Tony & Ritchie

First were Mark, Tony and Ritchie... with over 200 laps in 90mins. Well done!

The Black Bull

Afterwards... we headed to Billy's pub [The Black Bull] in Cambuslang... to watch the Scotland qualifier.

C'mon Scotland

Good fun had by all. Here's to Roscoe! All the best, my brother.

More photos here


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