The Cold Shoulder of Faith

The Cold Shoulder of Faith

As a human being, I feel that I know enough about love to speak about it with authority. My mantra has always been to show and give love, always. When I attended church I lived by it, and since I left, it remains with me. I wholeheartedly believe that there’s no situation in life which needs any other.

I’m not a parent. I’ve never been given the responsibility that comes with bringing new life into the world. Yet, I know what such a responsibility is, above all. To love your child deeply and unconditionally. All else falls into place. You feed them, clothe them and care for them, because to do otherwise would be unthinkable. You celebrate their successes more than you would your own. You cry with them when they fail. You protect them from the evils of the world. You are always there for them, no matter what. You will always love and accept them, whoever they grow up to be.

This is what we call unconditional love.
To be given it is to know the most precious gift in the world. I may not be a parent, but because I have a mother and had a father I know what one is.

You may wonder why I am going to such lengths to prove the above statement. Of course, I’m being as longwinded as always (<.<;;) but I wanted to create the solid foundations which my opinion needs to stand upon regarding an issue which has become so important to me lately.

Read on…


The List of Things I Want (But Need Like a Chocolate Teapot) II

The List of Things I Want (But Need Like a Chocolate Teapot) II

Here’s a question for the more culinarily-inclined of you out there. Are you feeling hungry right now? Really hungry? So hungry you could eat an elephant? Try this out for size…

3. Mega Sushi Roll

Japan is well-known for its indulgence in ‘micro-cuisine’. Given the Japanese fascination for all things tiny, it is perhaps not surprising that the Japanese eat small too – from the lunchtime staple of the bento [弁当] boxed lunch to the dizzyingly diverse range of sushi dishes being produced in restaurants all over the world (and, so it seems, on every street in Greater London).

Read on…


The Council of Elrond

The Council of Elrond

Today I thought I’d share another of my favourite parts of The Lord of the Rings in an audio recording.

The two excerpts I’ve chosen are from the first of the three volumes, The Fellowship of the Ring, and concern the great council held at the elven fortress of Rivendell on the 25th October in the 3018th year of the Third Age of Middle-earth; more commonly known as the Council of Elrond. Though there were many other topics discussed at this meeting of elves, dwarves and men, by far the most pertinent of these was the fate of the One Ring, which had been brought to Rivendell by the hobbit Frodo Baggins.

In the first of the excerpts, Boromir of Gondor tells the council of the prophetic dream which had led him on the long journey into the north to attend the council of which he knew not the purpose.

The second excerpt comes a little later on, when the ranger Strider reveals himself to be Aragorn, the heir of Isildur. The steward’s son Boromir is dubious of his claim. The ranger’s old friend Bilbo Baggins then steps forward in annoyance to recite a poem which is one of Tolkien’s most beloved and well-known pieces of verse.

Read on…


The Shameless Bacon Buttie Pilferage

The Shameless Bacon Buttie Pilferage

Things have been getting a little exciting lately at Camp Terry-and-Rob. Not only are we waiting for Snuff, the next installment of the Discworld series released later this year, and the eagerly anticipated collaboration between Sir Terry and sci-fi author Stephen Baxter named Long Earth. With last week’s announcement that the rumoured Good Omens television adaptation is finally to go ahead with Terry Jones of Monty Python fame in the driving seat, you would think that we had ‘enough to be going on with’.

That is, of course, before we saw this video.

Read on…


The Departure of Boromir

The Departure of Boromir

The following is a recording of myself reading from one of my favourite parts of The Lord of the Rings.

The Departure of Boromir is, in my opinion, the saddest part of the whole trilogy. Those who haven’t read the books will perhaps not be entirely familiar with this beautiful and melancholic passage, which can be found in the first chapter of The Two Towers.

Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli come across Boromir, lying among the woods upon Amon Hen. The son of the steward has fallen to the hands of the cruel Uruk-hai in a valiant effort to protect his charges, the hobbits Merry and Pippin; the great horn he carried split in two. In their grief, the three place the fallen Boromir into a boat with his shield and horn and the swords of his enemies at his feet. Then follows Tolkien’s most elegaic poetry; the song of the three winds, which Aragorn and Legolas sing as they send their companion out on his final journey.

Read on…


The Loneliness Which is Barely Different

The Loneliness Which is Barely Different

It’s not often that you will find a song which will take your breath away. I discovered this one last year, and many listens later it hasn’t lost the tender beauty or the power it held over me the first time I heard it.

Unbelievingly, I first discovered Xǐ huan [喜欢] ‘Like’ as a free download. It’s by Zhāng Xuán [张悬], most commonly known as Deserts Xuan or Chang, a Taiwanese singer who is thought to be one of the leading voices of contemporary alternative Chinese music. It’s from her second album, released in 2007 and entitled, Qīn ài de…wǒ huán bù zhī dào [親愛的…我還不知道], ‘Dear…I Don’t Know Yet’.

A long-time independent musician and composer, Chang began writing songs barely into her teens. She was performing her own music on stage by the age of 16 and at 19, she had written over 100 pieces of music. She chose the stage name ‘Deserts’ because it was “mysterious and suggests something hanging in limbo”; like her personality.

Read on…


The List of Things I Want (But Need Like a Chocolate Teapot) I

The List of Things I Want (But Need Like a Chocolate Teapot)

Is it just me, or are we far too easily charmed by silly gimmicks, toys and novelty products?

The other day I discovered a shop in Newcastle city centre which sells (vastly overpriced) items, of which the greatest value to the world could be described as ‘cute factor’; like the Matryoshka Stacked Measuring Spoons or the Mobile Pocket IQ Test, or perhaps the Spinning Petals Flower Fan Which In Fact Doesn’t Cool You Down At All.

Nevertheless, the very fact I stayed inside the shop long enough to gawk at these things persuaded me to dedicate the first of a series of posts to the bizarre novelties which companies come up with to part us with our cash.

Read on…


The Virtual Choir

The Virtual Choir

I found something truly awe-inspiring today.

Lux Aurumque was a project started by American award-winning composer Eric Whitacre using the Youtube social network. Inspired by a video of a young girl singing one of his pieces uploaded to the Youtube site, Whitacre had the idea to put together a unique performance of his choral piece Lux Aurumque, featuring Youtube users as the choir.

Uploading videos of himself conducting the piece with instructions, music and sheet music for the many different singing parts also published, Whitacre invited Youtube users to record videos of themselves singing the piece. These parts were then fused together to create the final piece of music, which was then itself posted on Youtube.

Be aware: the result might just move you to tears.

Read on…


The Three Stages of Truth?

The Connection?

A friend of mine sent me the link to this extraordinary film documentary about animal rights, which I saw for the first time today and felt compelled to share. Earthling’s publicity material states;

EARTHLINGS is an award-winning documentary film about the suffering of animals for food, fashion, pets, entertainment and medical research. Considered the most persuasive documentary ever made, EARTHLINGS is nicknamed “the Vegan maker” for its sensitive footage shot at animal shelters, pet stores, puppy mills, factory farms, slaughterhouses, the leather and fur trades, sporting events, circuses and research labs.

The film is narrated by Academy Award® nominee Joaquin Phoenix and features music by platinum-selling recording artist Moby. Initially ignored by distributors, today EARTHLINGS is considered the definitive animal rights film by organizations around the world. “Of all the films I have ever made, this is the one that gets people talking the most,” said Phoenix. “For every one person who sees EARTHLINGS, they will tell three.”

Read on…


The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2011: A Reaction

The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2011: A Reaction

This year’s Folk Awards were on last night and I, like a total idiot, missed them – what can I say, thank God for iplayer! Though I guess Julie Fowlis’s tweet from Sunday should’ve given me a clue (oops).

I’m a relatively new lover of folk music; the draw for me is the depth of musical skill that every artist on the scene seems to possess (approximately 50x the average Brit award winner?). I have a tendency too to find and stick to the artists I like the sound of (Bob Fox, anyone?) and so the Folk Awards are a great way to find new artists to listen to.

But first of all – first of all – I just want to say YESSS!!!!! Nancy Kerr and James Fagan took the award for best duo! I’m more than a little biased, admittedly, since Nancy is a fellow north-easterner and the cover for their latest album Twice Reflected Sun was designed by my awesomely talented friend Lizzy.

Read on…