book: Alex Gray “Never Somewhere Else”

April 25, 2010

If you’ve read any of my book reviews you probably figured out that I tend to go for thriller, who-done-it, murder-mystery type books.  Recently I discovered Stuart MacBride’s gory Police procedural dramas based in Aberdeen and started looking for the same sort of thing based in Glasgow.  Which is how I found Alex Gray, and even without very good reviews I thought I’d give it a go.

This first book from Alex Gray sees girls being killed and their bodies left in a Glasgow park.  DCI Lorimer is introduced as a methodical, experienced detective who for the first time works along side a Psychologist and criminal profiler Dr Sol Brightman from Glasgow University.  As the murders continue attention is drawn o Glasgow Art School until eventually….

It took me a while to get into the story but towards the end it did turn into a real page turner speeding towards the conclusion.  However, I didn’t find it anything as good as Stuart MacBride, or Lee Child and other authors I’ve become addicted to.  I think this is generally because of the detail in the investigation whereas this book tended to simply let things happen from the different points of view as clues were relieved and the various protagonists reacted to new information.  This was offset somewhat by the ‘other’ character in the book – Glasgow City itself, and living and working in the areas mentioned in the book did add a certain something to the work, and I will be reading more from this author.


44454

April 21, 2010

I was driving along when I noticed that the mileage was 44454, which meant that 10 miles before I had missed the mileage being 44444.  Oh well :-/


book: John Bevere “Under Cover”

April 19, 2010

Yes, I have read a ‘Christian lifestyle’ book.  This is something I tend to avoid having gone through the obligatory period of reading every trendy christian book I decided that they are all the same.  While each one might in fact have a genuine insight into something or other, generally their entire thesis can be summed up in a paragraph or two but they love to spin out lots of stories most of which I find it difficult to relate to.

Under Cover‘ is all about biblical Authority, how submission to differs from obedience, and how all worldly authority – government, police, employers, church leadership and family – is put in place by God.  Therefore how to submit to Gods appointed authority and when and how not to go along with such authority.

I was reading this because this is what we will be covering in the current three Deeper meetings, and I did find it a fairly good read and it explained the theories very well.  However, I did find it rather tedious at times especially passages like this:

“A few years ago I went into my office at 5:30am to pray as I’d done so many mornings before.  Yet before I could begin, I heard the Holy Spirit’s directive: Go to Luke chapter 17 and start reading from verse 5

There is very little in this sort of statement that I can relate to – getting up at 5:30 is only one of them, a church with several pastors and massive staff, such a precise ‘directive’ etc.  and I find these sort of statements make ‘normal Christians’ feel inadequate if they can’t live up to those sort of standards.  There is an underlying message that we aren’t doing enough if we aren’t reading our Bibles from 5am – 7am before getting our children up for a family Bible study (single Christians or any without children also aren’t as ‘holy’)….

OK so aside from my own hangups about books that tell you how to live your Christian life this is a good book with an important message.


movie: Blind Side

April 15, 2010

We went to catch a movie tonight, it was sold out so caught ‘Blind Side‘ instead without knowing too much about it.  All I knew was that it was based on a true story about a poor black guy who is looked after by a white family and becomes a famous NFL star – and also Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for this.

As far as the plot goes that does more or less sum it up. Michael Oher‘s mother was a crack addict, he didn’t attend school and was passed around ‘the system’ till stuff happened and at around 17 he was taken in and later adopted by a white family, the Tuohy’s, who helped him achieve more in football and get his grades to the required standard.

It is a touching little movie with some funny moments and engaging enough.  It was a little weak on tension or drama and when there was some attempt to add this in it really didn’t work. So generally speaking it was an OK little movie.

//RantOn//

The problem is we went to see it at the Glasgow Quay Odeon and got that full ‘multiplex’ experience of being surrounded by ignorant people who had buckets the size of a small child full of noisy pop-corn, or ice-jangling massive cups of juice and if they weren’t munching, scabbing around for pop-corn, rummaging in sweet packets they were chatting.  Basically there just seems to be an awful lot more ignorant people in Multiplexes!

//Rant Off//


Online Bible Reading – YouVersion.com

April 13, 2010

Yea, I know I don’t tend to post much faith stuff here.  In fact perhaps this should be over on the Christian Visualist blog but it isn’t really visual so here it is.  When looking up the bible online I’ve often used Biblegateway.com and it is still fine at what it does.  However, I have recently been experimenting with the oddly named YouVersion.com.

YouVersion isn’t only an online bible that you can search for passages, read sections and switch between translations, it also adds several tools to aid, encourage and sustain regular bible reading and personal study.  Here are a few of the features I’ve found useful:

Readability: The panel on the left shows the passage you are currently reading and it is possible to quickly and easily find a passage and change translation.  However, as you read down the text this panel seamlessly continues through the Bible from Chapter to Chapter and even across books.  I haven’t seen this anywhere else where getting to the end of one chapter means clicking on a link and waiting for the next section to load.  It is a subtle improvement which makes reading much more natural and you don’t notice how much you have read and aren’t as aware of chapter boundaries.  It is also possible to read two different translations in parallel and although I only used this a few times it is useful.

Reading Plans: There are currently around 30 reading plans, such as ‘Gospels in 30 days’ or ‘Chronological in a Year’, etc.  Using these you can access the readings on the youversion.com web site, via RSS reader or on your mobile.  The plans help you keep track of your progress while allowing you to read on  or catch up as necessary.

Note Taking: There are a number of ways of making notes in YouVersion just like underlining or scribbling in the margin of you Bible.  You can bookmark or add tags to a verse or passage to remind yourself of something or for more detailed notes use the Journal feature where you can have multiple journals – so far I’ve got one for a reading plan and have just started another one for a new series of sermons at church – I’ll see how it goes.

Mobile Access: This is how I first discovered this site.  The YouVersion App for Android, iPhone or Blackberry gives you access to your account on youversion.com and therefore your reading plans are updated if you read the passages on your phone.  It is also possible to quickly look up any passage and switch versions.  As I’ve discovered more features of the web site I would like to have seen more of these available via the phone and indeed it is still being developed.  Ideally I would like access to my Journals in order to make notes during a service rather than pulling out a laptop which so far isn’t something that happens easily at our church.  It would also be good to have a default translation on the phone itself rather than always requiring a mobile signal in order to read anything (this kills reading a passage during the commute to work via underground).

Cost: did I mention this is all free?

One of the features that I haven’t really got a handle on is the social networking side which seems to be part of the conception of this site.  I can see how it might be useful for a group or church but as I’m using it this doesn’t seem an important feature.  That said, the Contribution sections easily lets you see who has made a Contribution (or comment) on the passage you are currently reading.  In my opinion it is interesting to see other people’s thoughts, and some of the comments seem to come from churches in the form of sermon recordings, videos or extensive notes but as you can take or leave it.

Those are my thoughts, I would be interested to hear what other people use for online, ubiquitous bible reading or study and any pros or cons of these?


food: Mzouda

April 7, 2010

The continuing irregular alphabetical meal (visiting a restaurant that starts with the next letter from the alphabet) tonight took us to ‘M’ for MZOUDA!  No, I hadn’t heard of it either but it has suddenly become my favourate Moroccan / Spanish Restaurant.

Mzouda is at 141 Elderslie Street (G3 7AW) and really doesn’t look that exciting from the outside.  However inside is a small, but not cramped, comfortable space with red decor and a Moroccan feel.  I would also say that the menu was more Moroccan than Spanish but as I don’t know much about either who am I to argue.

A sample menu is available on the website, and to be honest I more or less chose randomly to have “Lentejas” to start, green lentils in a rich tomato sauce with garlic and bay leaves followed by “Djaj Fassi” (no idea how to pronounce it, I pointed) – this was a tagine of chicken cooked with apricots and almonds (see very poor out of focus photo below).  My dinner companion had a soup and another chicken dish- neither of which are on the online menu so I can’t give the full descriptions.

Everything we had was absolutely fantastic!  OK, perhaps apart from the soup which was great but probably not fantastic, seemed a little like minestrone but had something that gave it an edge we didn’t really like. I think it was probably a spice we weren’t used to, but it didn’t spoil the overall experience.

The main courses were delicious!  The chicken was nice and tender, aromatic rice (I managed to avoid the chips option though I was tempted) but it is the mix of spices and herbs that make up the sauces which made it completely unique – at least to me, for a Moroccan it probably isn’t unique at all.  Excellent and friendly service, mouth watering dishes and decent value for money at £12 each for two courses booked through 5pm.co.uk.

I will certainly return to Mzouda!


movie: Exit Through The Gift Shop

April 6, 2010

This film is having a very limited release but I’m really glad I caught it at the GFT tonight.  “Exit Through The Gift Shop” is or might be a documentary about street art.  It is the first movie by Banksy and has various tag lines like:

“The world’s first Street Art disaster movie”
“The incredible true story of how the world’s greatest Street Art movie was never made…”
“The story of how one man set out to film the un-filmable. And failed” – Banksy

However, it is a little tricky to know where to start with this because it is “semi-fictionalised documentary” so there is no way of really knowing what parts of the story are true and what has been re-created for the camera.  I also found it difficult because in general I don’t like what is termed ‘street-art’ that I simply see as graffiti and vandalism, while at the same time I do like a lot of Banksy’s work.

OK, now I’ve got that out of the way I have to say I really really enjoyed this film.  It starts out with a simple documentary of how a French guy called Thierry Guetta is obsessed with recording everything on video and who then stumbles into the ‘street-art’ scene. Then it starts to creep up on you as less and less serious and increasingly ludicrous and funny.    Above all, this is simply a very, very funny story poking fun at the art world and an extremely enjoyable film.