Category Archives: Music, Media & Culture

Music

[ playing? ] audrey assad – “o happy fault ep”

So my search for new computer speakers (as I painstakingly and possibly annoyingly mentioned on my FB) has come to an end. I can’t believe how limited a range we have here in Australia when it comes to decent computer speakers on a budget. The USA and Canada gets heaps and we get diddly squat (the vast range of Logitech speakers doesn’t even count).

So while I was considering much more expensive “studio monitors” like the Alesis M1Active 520 w/ USB I/O, the Behringer MS40 and the M-Audio AV40 and a cheap bookshelf speaker by a relatively unknown Chinese manufacturer, the Microlab SOLO5C, I ended up with a set of Creative Gigaworks T40 Series 2 speakers. Which means that I’ve saved a crapload of points that I could have redeemed on a pair of Bose Companion 20’s which don’t sound all that much better. To be honest, these actually sound a lot more honest than previous speakers I have used. Only thing is that the integrated sound card for this Toshiba all-in-one pc that I’m using (based on a Realtek ALC268 HD Audio controller) has woeful output from the headphone socket. Maybe a splurge out on the SB Omni 5.1 USB sound card or an ASUS Xonar U7 USB might improve the sound quality. A few universal EQ tweaks to try and bring this set of speakers to a (relatively) flat setting has meant that I’m getting much better quality sound from the T40 than my previous speakers, a set of Logitech’s with a 360-degree firing tweeter and prolly a 3-3.5-inch woofer (the model number escapes me now).

On a completely random note, can’t wait for the new Audrey Assad album which is ready to drop in mid-May 2014!! And somewhat addicted now to SBS (Korea) “Running Man”. I have my wife to thank for the latter.

Time to sleep. It’s been a long day. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get a chance to play with my new toy, a Masport 475ST.

+ 0020hrs

Just as things started to get interesting…

Syfy in the US decides to kill Caprica after one season.

Not frakking happy. Frak.

Maybe art is imitating reality too closely.

Or that in today’s world of instant gratification, not many people appreciate stories that take more than one episode to resolve.

Syfy, y’all should just change the name of the channel now and stop kidding us sci-fi fans.

Here’s hoping that Battlestar: Blood & Stone won’t suffer the same fate as Caprica after one season.

1429hrs

Church politics

First up, let me get this off my chest.

I didn’t really think Channel Ten’s new series Offspring was going to be any good. But I’m being pleasantly surprised week-in, week-out. The storyline is a bit surreal (ala Scrubs) but I’m warming up to the characters quite nicely.

I can relate quite a lot to the lead character, Nina. Apart from the part where the character is a girl and has no “dangly-bits” down there while I am a guy who has “dangly-bits”. The BS and internal questioning that goes on in Nina’s mind is quite similar at times to what goes on in my head.

And… Nina is hot which therefore means Asher Keddie (the actress playing Nina) is hot. I loved Asher Keddie’s work in the award winning pay-TV series Love My Way. On another note: Aussie drama deserves support.

Quite glad that Ten have picked up the series for another season. Should be interesting to hear how the story will continue to pan out.

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I don’t ordinarily want to discuss church politics here on this blog of mine. Every church and denomination has it. The Roman Catholics, autocephalous Eastern Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Reconstructionists and NonDenoms (among the many “options” that are available in Christianity) all have power blocs (or individuals) within them that vie for earthly power under the guise of “spiritual leadership”. No matter how many people may try to tell you otherwise.

But I have heard rumors of words spoken in hushed tones by one or two people about why I’ve no longer been attending EMP for the last few months (funny how words get spoken when persons aren’t around). And that it may be raised at the next Local Conference (which as I understand it will be in about three Sunday’s time). And yes, I did know that person was fishing for information at Janet & Bill’s reception when he asked me why he hadn’t seen me at EMP for a while and I gave an answer that withheld quite a lot of what was going on inside my mind.

Sure the theological side of things has been a factor (EMP=evangelical;  Me=Anglo-Catholic evangelical). That’s been blogged about enough on here. Save it to also say that church politics have also played a part. In workplace terms, the last couple of years have seen me have a church equivalent of the opposite of “employee engagement”.

  • Has it played a part at times of the lack of sleep I’ve had? Yes.
  • Has it played a part in me swearing a lot at God in prayer time? Definitely yes.
  • Has it played a part in the borderline suicidal tendencies I had late last year? I would have to say yes (alongside other matters).
  • Has it played a part in the mild levels of recurrent depression that I’ve had since about 2008 when the first inklings of this major bout of church bullshit raised itself? Yes.
  • Has it played a part in me distancing myself more and more from participating in activities at EMP? Yes.
  • Have I raised this matter and sought counsel with others after lunchtime Mass at St. John’s? Too many times with a few priests and laypersons that I trust and who have seen this happen way too often in too many local churches.
  • Has it played a part in my missing services late last year and early this year when I was still a regular congregation member at EMP? Yes.
  • Has it played a part in my nearly leaving the faith entirely? Yes, there’s been one clear time this year when I really considered abandoning the faith entirely.

I will have to attend the Local Conference (technically, I’m still part of the LCEC until a new one gets elected). It will probably be my swansong Local Conference at EMP. If this matter does get raised in a few weeks time, there will be a response on my part. It may sound harsh to a lot of people there. I won’t be pulling any punches.

Am I an idealist? Yes, though there is also a pragmatist in me too.

Do I accept the imperfection of humanity, especially the imperfections of those in the Church? Yes. Knowing full well that, to use St. Paul’s words in his first letter to St. Timothy, that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of which I am the worst.(emphasis mine)

Does it hurt to have to sever a lot of the connection with EMP? You are damn f****ng right about that.

Do I still pray for EMP? You betcha, now more than ever.

+1803hrs

Ms Birch, Ms Birch

Diane Birch is one of my musical finds for 2010.

Think Joss Stone. Except more soulful. To my mind at least.

And to think this beautiful brunette once had a sheltered existence as a pastor’s kid.

Her live performance at Spinner.com’s “The Interface” in September 2009 is seriously good.

Honestly, I prefer her live version of “Nothing But A Miracle” over the studio version that’s on her album Bible Belt (sadly not available on the Aussie iTunes store yet). Rob Bound from Monocle, you have impeccable music taste. Well, you or whoever it was that recommended this album in the Culture section of the March or April 2010 edition (if my memory serves me correctly).

And that track is one of my favorite songs to play on a cold winter’s night. And will be high on my list of favorite songs of 2010. And after hearing flugelhorn, I now am wondering whether or not there are any classical works dedicated to this one instrument. Heh.

2244hrs

Happiness

Yes.

Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations is back on the air again. Well, season 7 is on the Travel Channel at least.

Sucks to have to be at work when it’s usually screening on Discovery Travel & Living Australia/NZ (channel 646 on AUSTAR & FOXTEL). But there are ways around that little obstacle of screening time…

Incidentally, Bourdain’s new book Medium Raw is a riot to read. Though if you disdain profanity, look away, look away. If you do like reading little vignettes about the food and restaurant industry, then this is the book for you. The same if you have read his two previous foodie memoirs, Kitchen Confidential and A Cook’s Tour, you’ll probably like (if not love) this one too.

Watching Bourdain is so much better than watching Masterchef Australia. Unfortunately, I have to suffer through it (and miss Spicks & Specks on ABC) because my parents watch it almost every damn night of the week. And on Masterchef Australia, give me the original UK version anyday (on Lifestyle Food). Heck, even dad, who watches the Australian version, still prefers the UK version.

Time to watch more Bourdain before heading to sleep tonight.

2213hrs

So I walk into a Christian bookstore…

So I’ve walked into a Christian bookstore lately. One of the two big chains in Australia, Koorong. Which is far superior than Word Bookstore, IMHO.

A long time ago, I would have been attracted straight to the tables which contain piles of the latest book by some-megachurch-pastor-i’ve-never-heard-of-but-i’m-sure-it’s-gonna-be-good-because-look-at-the-promotions-and-that-snazzy-front-cover. Not any more.

Now I head straight to the markdowns section. Apart from being a cheap-ass Asian (we damn near always look for bargains), these days I find the best value and quality books there at maybe 30-40% of the regular retail price. Because everyone else is buying the books by said megachurch pastor or some televangelist that happens to be on at 4-something am on commercial television here in Australia. But the good stuff, by say N.T. Wright, or even John Piper (even though I don’t necessarily agree with his views all the time) is there in the markdown/remainders bin/table from A$26 to A$7. What others don’t buy works out well for me.

And at the time of said trip to Christian bookstore, I was there because my mom and I had to pick up a gift for a housewarming party. A plaque of some kind that is inscribed with some Bible verse or a cheesy like heck slogan on a piece of wood about 25cm x 10cm in size. For forty-something bucks. And I couldn’t help but notice how cheesy and ridiculously overpriced the gifts were. I didn’t bat an eyelid at the rest of the trinkets on sale there (including those famous “Testa-Mints” which will make your breath minty-fresh the Christian way instead of the way those heathen Eclipse mints will).

Jeff Dunn’s beaten me to the punch in terms of recent posts on the amount of “Christian crap” there is in Christian stores now.

His essay “Selling Jesus By The Pound” on Internet Monk is compelling reading for anyone who has entered into a Christian store and thought to themselves “If I buy one of these plaques for a housewarming, it will be much better than spending less money on a similar plaque, without the Christian sentiment, that looks better and is designed better at the department store.”

Or who has lamented at seeing yet another book by Joel Osteen on sale on how I can have my better life now. Or something like that. *stifles the urge to puke*

Or who has seriously thought that listening to a Christian band or watching a Christian movie is much better than listening to or watching a “secular one”.

He is doing a series that continues on from this first piece and the next article up is “Surprise! God Does Art”.

I’m looking forward to more of Jeff’s analysis.

+ 0018hrs