Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Years Eve 2014

   I reckon I would struggle to think of more than five decent fun, meaningful, enjoyable and fulfilling NYE's from my 53 years!! OK, count out the first eight or so 45... 5/45 what's that 11%... wait, take out nine more for being at events beyond my control but by my choice, including name games around a campfire in Nyngan, sweltering heat in Dubbo and 'The Quick and the Dead' in Tassie... that's better, nearly 14%...
   I'm not blaming anyone, it's just an overrated marker. I can think of countless New Years Days... Port Stephens, interstate with friends, BBQs and backyard cricket etc etc... they are great!!

1. NYE for the Millennium where we staked a spot at Mrs Mac's Chair from about 10.30am until 1am
2. A Pool Party with a few friends and a former flame
3. One 'Rover' party with absolutely brilliant conversation about life, the universe and everything
4. Sunset at Cottesloe Beach
5. Hmmmn, struggling... oh, the time we took Lucy to Stockton and she hated the noise and spent the whole fireworks face down in Simone's jumper with ears covered by hands in a desperate bid to not hear the cannon fire, then we spent an hour in a traffic jam to get back to Newie
OK 6.
Winning the lottery a couple of years ago for the closed Cahill Expressway... BYO or catered food and drinks, folding chairs, camera and every brand of sidling and queue jumping Aussie you could ever hope to see at a public event... that's 16.6%...

   There might be something I'm forgetting but my ideal night would be a couple of cold beverages, a nice dinner, laughs with the kids or conversation with friends, a bit of TV and then asleep by 11pm!! Happy New Year friends!!

Then I find this on the web!! Here


"The Interview" 112mins rated probably M

"Do you ever feel like a plastic bag
Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?
Do you ever feel, feel so paper thin
Like a house of cards, one blow from caving in?..."
"Firework" Katy Perry

   Funny, absurd, full of swearing and just the usual James Franco, Seth Rogen film BUT a crazy choice for a movie that might lead to threats and reprisals against SONY for releasing it to major cinema distributors.
    Eminem, Katy Perry, the CIA, Miley Cyrus... it's petty college humour but the story has a classic twist and typical of that style you want the idiots to triumph!! Will Kim Jong Un be assassinated? Will the Americans get home alive? Can Un 'honeypot' Dave Skylark and project the 'real story' of a happy people with plenty to eat and enjoy?  

Lists 2014

Lists 2014
My Sporting Favourites from 2014
1. Easy choice for me in 2014!! 43 years... The South Sydney Rabbitohs won the Australian National Rugby League Major Premiership [the Grand Final v Canterbury Bulldogs] at Sydney's former Olympic Stadium at Homebush [sadly a night time kick off where 3pm would be preferable]!!
The folklore and real history around the team make them genuinely 'the pride of the league' and having been ejected from the competition in the TV rights wars, this original team needed the vision and private ownership of Russell Crowe to get to a point of success with the great coaching of Michael Maguire. The recruiting of Greg Inglis and the other jig saw pieces this allowed to fall into place have created a team capped off by the creativity of Luke Keary to go further than the two years before... a great win of the mental battle on the night too...

2. Newcastle's Wanderers Rugby Club benefitted from the system set up under a hard working committee and the Coaching of Todd Louden as we fulfilled a pre season goal of contesting every Grand Final on offer... 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade and Colts, Women's Rugby and C Grade [throw in Under 18s and other juniors too]. 2nd fell just short with some field position pressure from a skilled opposition BUT 1st's was one for the ages... Having lost a tough Major Semi they made the personnel, positional and mental changes required to tough out a close game and triumph in a way they deserved after a long campaign. Wanderers 90th year saw me re-engage in a 'Player Welfare' role and I enjoyed the trips to Newcastle's No2 Sportsground and the Thursday Night Blue Room times...

3. NSW Blues Origin win in Rugby League was sweet if a struggle after the long maroon winters before... the side should have taken it the year before BUT I think it's no accident they made tough calls against players who committed to a standard and fell short behaviour wise this year... a sobering lesson perhaps!!

4. Brad Haddin's cricket last summer was superb and he saved the Aussie cricket team on many occasions in a summer of under achieving top order batsmen. Sometimes vulnerable to the straight ball that deviates ever so slightly, he was a mental giant!! This all wrapped up a 5-0 Ashes sweep.

5. The Retirement Celebration of the New York Yankees Captain Derek Jeter
Jeter was an MLB one club identity who was give surf skis, holidays and other unique memorabilia by opposition teams around the US as he played the usual level of baseball hitting and leadership despite the Yankees not making 'the post season.' Saw him wrestle a game away from Atlanta live in the Bronx in 1998!! Great player!!

6. The all conquering Australian Netball Diamonds had a brilliant 2014 including Commonwealth Games Gold and 13 undefeated Tests. One look at the defenders reminds you of what was needed in and post the Irene Van Dyke era for the Silver Ferns [height]... but the speed of the team and shooting percentages were amazing.

7. Waratahs win the Super 15 Rugby Union [and not just March] in a close but willing Final that crowned an appropriate winner. Michael Cheika went a huge way towards transforming a losing culture and now has that challenge with the Wallabies in the lead up to the 2015 Rugby World Cup in the UK

8. Rory McIlroy wins the British Open Golf [or the Open Championship] winning a few punters significant money who backed him to win it before he turned 25

9. Aussie Womens T20 World Champs 3rd time in a row and Meg Lannings continued good form with the bat through this summer.

10. What did I forget? Maybe Daniel Ricciardo

2014 Year in Search

Monday, December 29, 2014

Lists 2014 Best of

Best Stuff I Recall from 2014
St George Openair Cinema January 2014
Newcastle Wanderers Rugby Union contesting all Grand Finals [only 2nd Grade missed out]
'The Making of Midnight Oil' exhibit at manly Museum [opens in Newcastle Feb 20th 2015]
The Girls Efforts and Results at School in 2015
Weekend OUT August 2014
Making connections with youth and leaders in the UCA around the Hunter
Chatting with Ellie to and from Clarinet lessons and swimming
Lap swimming at Wallsend/Mayfield/Lambton and Newcastle Uni until I was unwell in September
Doing 'some photography around Newcastle during the year
NCYC Aurora January 2014: my art/video loop/tactile story installation AND seeing a Festival style shorter event without slavish adherence to christendom program that nailed most dilemmas from the events recent history...

BBC A Lifetime of Original British Drama

SONY Script to Screen

And there is a parody advert around, but it's not funny!!

Weight Watchers "If You're Happy and You Know It"

'The Ice Weather Challenge'

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Lists 2014

Creative Worship Ideas
As requested by Peter Oliver [and for my friends of relevant persuasion]
   My first reticence is everything is contextual so a list of ideas won't easily translate to another place. That said, some ideas can prompt your creativity where you are, so here goes... and these all connect to 2014 in some way though they may not have only been from this year!!

1. My first idea is an ethos that participation in planning and leadership creates 'ownership' and/or connections, so whatever you do, think about how to get the maximum desirable number of people involved in curating an experience
2. Tactile group work projects suit some groups better than 'stations' or options for free participation. e.g. I borrowed the idea of reading "A Bus Called Heaven" by Bob Graham either in 3-4 parts or right through and I built softwood timber frames to screw/tape together and traced four sides of a bus onto correlate [real estate or political signs, also brand new from Bunnings, use both sides, clean with hairspray]. Participants [in these cases kids] could colour in the bus to represent their idea of what a bus called heaven would look like. The story sees the old bus become a space and catalyst to 'community building.' The corflute characters are made by using a data projector to show the image on the wall/corflute and then a black paint text or ratline to draw over the outline on the corflute.
3. I'm rediscovering the value of 'props' or things in a story to hand out or make a central focus for those able to gather at tables or on the floor at the front e.g. types of plants for weeds vs seeds, cloth, collections of photos, a mystery present or box, a pair of shoes
4. Easy to make Film Clips
Windows Movie Maker or iMovie come with your laptop/computer and one simple thing to do is to load up a collection of photos with simple transitions between them and then add  a soundtrack song to create a reflection/prayer/space in worship.
For copyright conscious folks there are free image sites aplenty on the internet, including the flickr photo site search engine called Set comp to a=only show 'creative commons' images according to your word search and all images offered would be permissible
5. "Holy Moly"
This curriculum of clips are simple clipart animations with minimal words where the meaning is made by encountering the basic story following a Biblical framework for the main stories and seasons. Kids get it!! They have other age group materials as well but Holy Moly works with all ages used well... no introductions needed
6. Tableau Photos of a Story
Use contemporary costume ideas and work with the group to storyboard a series of 6-8 photos that tell the story your focusing on... take those photos and use them onscreen... this can be done as group prior to the worship or during it for both taking and showing the images... you can also engage a congregation by switching to a video camera to show the project unfolding on the screen as the group set up and take the photos
7. Chalking
Inviting people to write their prayers, questions, responses, hopes etc etc on a footpath with stick chalk or on the windows with liquid chalk pens creates instant visuals and the best thing is water [and perhaps a cloth on the windows] is all that's needed to clean up
8. Vox Pop Videos
This is the simplest way to make a video with a key question/prayer theme or idea... use boc cardboard sheets and A4 paper to tape on plus a thick black text... invite people to write an answer on the card in big letters and video each one holding the card face down and raising it to show you the response. Add those clips to a movie project, mute them all and add a soundtrack to the full clip... speed it up or slow it as needed before adding the song... end result looks great... At an event there is time to quickly video then 20+ mins later to show the clip... or the following week if needed.
9. Make your own photo set for discussion on a  theme, prayers for the world and use the sets in groups
10. Meals.... you simply cannot beat the radical hospitality of spending time together over a shared meal [whether or not you reach into the middle of the table and draw attention to bread and juice to share a formal 'Lords Supper' or just allow elements of worship to unfold at appropriate times during the meal
11. Playing with the idea "where you stand determines what you see" quoted from Robert Mcafee Brown... around the theme of 'stand' or standing... next to sculptures, images, looped videos, an audio-visual, stations etc... just design different ways to explore perspective... including on the Scripture for that occasion...
12. Use a world globe [Australian Geographic shop] either fold out, 1m inflatable or a spinning desktop one and invite people to write prayers on the appropriate spot/s... e.g. multiple fold outs on tables for groups or one station among many or one globe at a station or one inflatable to toss around
13. Create a group candle
Use a pipe or soft drink bottle, a good wick taped in and then small conglomerate chunks of coloured candle wax... use plain wax to melt and let it cool enough to pour in and partially melt the chunks enough to bind into one candle but not too hot or the candle will be gray or brown rather than rainbow... use the candle for the year!!
14. Lectio Divina in a Discussion Group or series of groups
I should have added to my opening remarks that 'creative ideas' won't work as gimmicks... this is about finding creative ways to help people grapple with the always central task of seeking to be an informed/inspired follower with a growing faith by keeping the main thing the main thing... it's all about engaging with Scripture 'in creative ways' and expressing your response 'creatively.
e.g. A simple lectio form would involve one reading aloud of the Scripture... then ask what word/phrase/image strikes you.... wait, read again... imagine Jesus is speaking to you... what do you hear... then third reading and asking what you are being asked to differently as a result...
15. Shoes
I love inviting groups to bring/remove their shoes and write an A4 page big writing story about them as told through the experiences of their shoes... set them out in the space to be able to walk around and read... if you have to, sing and pray at the start, play acoustic/instrumental music for ten mins writing time then give plenty of time for people to encounter the stories... invite reflections/prayer for people and the world in groups of 6-8 or maybe  one big group of 12 in the right congregation [if you have 60 people, break into groups]!! Wrap up at the end and then eat/drink together!!

"Don't Let Us Get Sick" Jill Sobule

Jill Sobule covers Warren Zevon!!

"Don't Let Us Get Sick"
Don't let us get sick
Don't let us get old
Don't let us get stupid, all right?
Just make us be brave
And make us play nice
And let us be together tonight
The sky was on fire
When I walked to the mill
To take up the slack in the line
I thought of my friends
And the troubles they've had
To keep me from thinking of mine
Don't let us get sick
Don't let us get old
Don't let us get stupid, all right?
Just make us be brave
And make us play nice
And let us be together tonight
The moon has a face
And it smiles on the lake
And causes the ripples in Time
I'm lucky to be here
With someone I like
Who maketh my spirit to shine
Don't let us get sick
Don't let us get old
Don't let us get stupid, all right?
Just make us be brave
And make us play nice

And let us be together tonight

Lists 2014 only a Few to Go

Food 2014 only a few lists to go
My fav. meals of the year...

Toasted Croissant and Latte at Escobar opp. Newcastle Beach
Subway Chicken or Steak with lettuce, red onion, beetroot on 6" multigrain
Breakfast 'Sweet Corn' + Bacon, Toast + Hash Brown plus shared Salted Caramel milkshake
Tinned pears in syrup [a nod to salicylate intolerance]
BBQ scotch fillet steak, lamb rissoles, honey soy chicken kebabs + salads
Slice Gourmet Pizza Aussie
Multigrain Sandwich Corned beef or chicken, lettuce, beetroot, cheese & mayo 
Paul's Asian Affair Steamed Dim Sims, Spring Rolls, Sate Skewers, Fried Rice, Honey Chicken
Homemade Pizza Competition... beef, bacon, corn, spring onion, cream cheese base on bought dough
The Gourmet Pies at the new Bradman/MA Noble Stand at the SCG

10.27am December 28th 1989

   'Where were you when... ?'
This became the familiar question surrounding recollections of the Newcastle Earthquake that for many reasons seems a lifetime ago... chief among them the fact I missed it!!
   My friends and I had embarked on ill fated overnight sojourn to Dungog to follow up on the day with a bush walk in the Barrington's following the river from one take off point through several flat and waterfall sections, to a carpark that would take most of the day to reach.
   Some of us were under prepared and insufficiently committed to the task. There had been rain in the weeks before so that some sections predicted to be dry, were in fact long stretched of knee deep water. Our more capable group leaders did a pretty mixed job of guiding us through given our slow pace and one serious injury. Those friends have continued the 28th December tradition many years since, including a helicopter evacuation.
  In the images above of the Williams River I note with interest the helmets and wetsuits... a bit different to old joggers, ruggers and a terry towelling hat or in Mowbs case a pair of old volleys, a polystyrene 6 can esky [with a few cans and a sandwich]...
   That's just detail which explains how half the group waited outside a house, at 8.30pm at night, while the others ordered and brought back take away Chinese food and a story of what news was on the radio and how other patrons couldn't believe they had no idea what had happened...
   On returning home to our flat at the time it was evident it would have been a very different experience had I been watching the cricket on TV in Adamstown. There was a small crack in one wall, the goldfish were dead on the floor and half the water had damaged many books on lower shelves. The clothes dryer that lived on the top of the water heater had moved so close to toppling off with out having done so...
   All in all, a remarkable piece of history to have missed!! The stopped clock at Woolworths at Jesmond Shopping Centre always reminds me of this and the 13 people who lost their lives at the Workers Club collapse, the awnings that fell and one person from nervous shock at a Drs surgery included by the Coroner. There's a commemoration in Newcastle this morning [something which has been more focused on people moving on after the first few years] and the Newcastle Museum has a 'then and now' photographic exhibit of people who were depicted at the time... simple things done well!! Tantrum Theatre are doing a performance of the story based play 'Aftershocks.'
"Where were you when...?"

Lists 2014

Books I've read cover to cover in 2014

Lists 2014

TV Shows I've watched most 'religiously' in 2014

'The Newsroom' series 3 on Foxtel
'Would I Lie to You' where my/our fav. segment is the person who has a connection to [1] contestant
'The Good Wife' which had it's moments
'First Contact' SBS a landmark series
'ABC News Breakfast' slightly better than the alternatives
'Insiders' for a laugh
'Curb Your Enthusiasm' on Foxtel
'Mad Men' all 6.5 series to catch up
'Homeland' that improved from last season
Almost any sport but certainly Super Rugby

Saturday, December 27, 2014

2014 Lists

TEN Songs I've enjoyed listening to this year...

'Thinking Out Loud' Ed Sheeran
‘Sky Full of Stars’Coldplay 
'You Ruin Me'The Veronicas
'Geronimo' Sheppard 
'Talk Is Cheap' Chet Faker 
'Happy' Pharrell 
‘Take Me to Church’Sinead O’Connor 
“Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ Lorde 
“No Secrets’Missy Higgins 

‘Every Breaking Wave’ U2 

2014 Lists

TEN Films I Enjoyed Most in 2014
I'm not saying they're the best films and there are some great films I didn't get to see...

The Fault in Our Stars
Mandela Long Walk to Freedom
The LEGO Movie
Cuban Fury
The Hundred Foot Journey
The Monuments Men
A Most Wanted Man

Guardians of the Galaxy

Thursday, December 25, 2014

How Did I Know?

My song from this year, how did I know it would be a theme?

Pic a Day Advent #picadayadvent APPEARANCE

   This is the Christmas Card from the Wayside Chapel this year as designed by Reg Mombassa as Australian Jesus makes an APPEARANCE!! God become one of us who grew up to live and teach compassion, grace, inclusion and how to be a contributor to the reconciliation and renewal of the whole of creation!! Happy Christmas!!

Pic a Day Advent #picadayadvent NAME

   Imagine if these sandals belonged to Jesus [or roughly Yeshua] and if they could speak, what stories would they tell? Would they be able to NAME all the people included, offered compassion and grace, asking questions and searching in ways not present in our society here in Oz at present!!
   I'm not imagining some spiritual high, rather a community of people trying to 'make culture', to live counter to culture and speak truth to exclusive power [and to fundamentalists who drive people away]... I mentioned last night at St Luke's that these are the footsteps we are invited to follow and in taking our steps in our shoes, we make a unique mark, we are the only one whose foot leaves that impression and our contribution is missed if it's not made...

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Pic a Day Advent #picadayadvent PROPHECY

   It seems to me that advocating for, warning about or becoming concerned for 'global warming' and 'climate change' is akin to PROPHECY!! This image is from my side trip last weekend to visit the Cemetery Lane, Singleton Solar Farm. It's taken months of bureaucracy for the farmer [who bought it from the energy supplier] to get it reconnected and switched on... but in a country so rich in open space and sunshine it seems crazy not to be investing huge amounts of money into renewables... whatever you make of the science!!
   It's ironic this is so proximal to the power generation south of Muswellbrook and the moonscape that emerges above it as you drive sound from Scone... The prophets message is not welcome, it speaks truth to power and calls us to do other than the easy thing...

Monday, December 22, 2014

Pic a Day Advent #picadayadvent JUBILATION

   JUBILATION is a tough one... I think that's a word about 'overflowing' and for me who internalises highs and lows pretty efficiently, moments of jubilation can prove hard to access personally or reflect through images of others... this year had some some pretty ordinary moments in both the first and second half... SO I think this pic qualifies vicariously... After 43 years, including exclusion from the competition despite being an original, the South Sydney Rabbitohs broke through and won the NRL rugby league premiership!!
   Last year they fell short and showed the areas needing more work and more composure, this year they got it brilliantly right when it counted!! I especially loved how the opposition left them infield for 4 extra minutes prior to kick off, banking on them feeling the pressure and nerves from the expectation... instead palpably, the crowd's energy and hopes embraced the team and seemed to inspire them to do the right things well and to play in a way that opened up the game in the second half for a stunning win 'going away' from the Bulldogs!! JUBILATION indeed...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Pic a Day Advent #picadayadvent PEACE

   When I thought about PEACE the first thing I could think of was the replica WALL installed as part of an arts program at an inner city London Church. St James, Piccadilly sought to highlight all the issues and things it connects with today in what became known as the 'apartheid wall.'

"A central London church has unveiled a replica of the Israeli-built concrete wall in the city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank to raise awareness on the dire situation of those living in the small Palestinian city.
London's historic St. James Church has erected an eight-meter-high real size replica of the apartheid wall for a 12-day "festival of hope" featuring music, art, food and poetry in the Christmas holiday period.
Organizers say the centerpiece of the festival aims to bring attention to what it is like to live in Bethlehem, the town where Jesus is reputed to have been born nearly two millennia ago. 
The wall is a real life model of the one separating millions of Palestinians from their schools, universities and their jobs.

“This Christmas we’ve built a huge wall across the front of our church. We’d really like you to come and see it because it’s what the people of Bethlehem are experiencing today,” rector of the church Reverend Lucy Winkett said.
The festival website also explained that the wall is symbolic of the walls that divide and confine people and restrict free movement all over the world."

"According to Justin Butcher, the festival’s director, the replica of the apartheid wall in Bethlehem took almost eight months to plan and eight days to build before it was unveiled on 23 December.

One reason I chose this picture is that when you look into the story you soon also read stories sympathetic to the Israeli perspective in the story. They felt the Palestinian misinformation campaign had been so successful this sort of thing was happening... we have a long way to go for PEACE!!