Hearing The Law


So I’m sitting down thinking about what I have to do research about today, and as I’m making notes, I turn on the computer and access the Word and this beauty comes up. It’s a real gem, so I’ll let it speak for itself.

later
da man cd

———————————————-

Hearing the Law

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? (Gal_4:21)

When people do not really hear what the law of God is saying, they may still desire to be under the law. Those who are lost and dying in the world often underestimate the message of the law. They may imagine that it is only calling them to attend religious services or to join a religious organization. Thus, in missing the message of the law, they choose to remain under it, trusting in their own best behaviour to somehow enable them to pass any final judgment concerning heaven or hell. This is a matter of “not hearing the law.”

Many who are redeemed, having found new life through faith in Christ, also want to remain under the law concerning spiritual growth and service. This is another case of “not hearing the law.” Any believer who expects to make progress in a life pleasing to the Lord on the basis of one’s own best efforts does not really hear what the law reveals as God’s will for lives.

The law of God is not suggesting that we “be better;” it is demanding that we “be holy,” as holy as God. The law is not implying that we “be nicer;” it is requiring that we “be loving,” as loving as Christ. The law is not proposing that we “try harder;” it is insisting that we “be perfect,” as perfect as our Father in heaven.

The law of God is not asking us to improve ourselves or to be better than the next person. Many times this inaccurate statement is heard: “Just do the best that you can; what more could God require?” Well, God is demanding far beyond our human best. His law is demanding that lives “be holy,” “be loving,” and “be perfect.” Moreover, He Himself is the standard of this holiness, love, and perfection.

Dear Lord God, You are holy and loving and perfect. In and of myself, I am none of these. I stand before You without any human assets that could measure up to these heavenly realities that You alone possess. I thank You for Your mercy. I praise You for Your grace. I humbly bow before You, asking that You work more and more of Your holiness in and through my life. With no other hope than You, I ask that more and more of Your love might fill my life. Admitting my complete inadequacy, I look to You to be transforming me more and more into Your perfect image, through Christ I pray, Amen.

Day by Day by Grace – Bob Hoekstra

Dryden Update – January 2006


So what have I been up to since the last time. Well on Thursday, the wife and I watched Citizen Kane for the FIRST TIME EVER. Now my wife ain’t so much of a connoisseur of movies, so that’s not such a big deal, but I am – so it was. Anyhow, we watched it together, she was sufficiently involved in it to comment on it, which is always good. I was fascinated with the themes that were evident in the film and I can understand why it’s so highly rated. Orson Welles was good in it and the script was well done. Although not the greatest movie I’ve ever seen, it was a good one and I enjoyed watching it.

I teach the Sabbath School at the fellowship I attend. We teach in 13-week segments on a given theme from lessons sent over from America and we’ve recently started our new one which is looking at Jesus from John’s Gospel. I love that process at the moment, in terms of discovering more about the Saviour and His impact on my life. It’s also interesting that this lesson should come around at the same that I am convicted of the scripture that says that I am to deny myself, take up my cross

To confirm a resumption of normal family service, the wife went back to work last night. She works part-time in the evenings, so I have to be creative in utilising that time whilst looking after Deborah. I’m still finding it a challenge, as the little baby makes some demands on my attention, so I’ve wound up normally using the time to continue my pursuits on Football Manager 2005.

It’s a brilliant game – football management style from the creators of the Championship Manager series, click here for more information particularly on the new game cunningly titled Football Manager 2006. I would bore you with the details, but I won’t. In summary, however, the name of my manager is John Bury (one of my middle names and the surname of my best friend at university). The game monitors the time spent on it and I’ve apparently accumulated over 4 days playing on it. Thankfully that’s four days accumulated over the space of 5 or 6 months, so it ain’t that bad. In that time I’ve completed 8 seasons in charge of Newcastle United – which I believe if it were real would be the longest stint of a manager of that club for a LONG time – longer than even that of St. Kevin Keegan.

To show for it, I’ve won two trophies for the club and finished in the top five, roughly six times, thus qualifying for Europe that many times. However with the quality of the team that I had developed, fans and board expectations were high and in the eighth season I was expected to win or at least seriously challenge for the Premiership. I did not do so, and finished a disappointing 5th not even qualifying for the Champions League. So despite bringing European glory by winning the Euro Cup (don’t think FM2005 has clearance to say UEFA Cup, but it’s the same thing) within a few weeks after everyone was elated with that triumph I was given the sack. Which wasn’t that pleasant, but understandable. Ironically my successor is St. Kevin Keegan.

Still, after a few days on the dole, Ipswich Town of the Championship asked for my services with the promise of £4 million to spend on improving their team. Yeah it’s not a lot of money after the glory days of Newcastle, but it’s a job, so I took it. I’m now eagerly a awaiting the new season having made a fair few signings with the intention of getting the club promotion this season.

I know that was a long summary, but trust me when you compare it to the copious notes I use to write last year on the game, you’ll know full well that you’ve just read a SHORT summary. That just about does it for my life at this time. As I wrote, I’m all excited about getting to know Christ through John and generally grow more in the knowledge of Him this year. Fear not, I have not forgotten about the exciting feature to come and the title of Friend of the Year for 2005 will be coming soon, as well as what I hope to achieve in 2006 – that will follow soon. In the meantime, that be it from me for now. Oh and remember me looking after Deborah as you enjoy your weekday evenings.

A Time To Love – Album Review

Hello there

I did warn you that I wouldn’t necessarily update this thing every day! But I ain’t slacking on you pardner, I know you’ve come to expect the goods and like any decent retailer I’m here to give it. For example, after ages of waiting, here is my review of the new Stevie Wonder album A Time To Love.

—————

Review of A Time To Love

If Your Love Cannot Be Moved

Stevie starts his album with another powerful message in song about social and relational responsibility. The entirety of the message isn’t that obvious to me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get bits a pieces from the song. Interesting start with the drum beat that sounds like a defiant march or some sort of drudgery through to victory feel in the song.

When I first heard it, I thought, well it’s alright isn’t it? And on this listening of it, I get the same impression. Kim Burrell’s contribution is very good, highlighting for any newcomer just the sort of great talent this girl possesses. She can more than keep up with Stevie and impress her own vocal dexterity. Having heard her before, the best bit is knowing that as well as she does here, she’s not flexing as much as I know she’s capable of, but that’s no bad thing at all.

Apparently Kirk Franklin organises a choir on this track – alright maybe just a few backing singers. In any case, they’re not that impressive. It’s just a vocal opinion, but their ‘move, mo-mo-move’ bit sounds a bit contrived. Ned says – 6/10

Sweetest Somebody I Know

I like this song a lot. Use of keys, strings, drums, etc. Neat song musically and lyrically. Particular props has to go to the use of the acoustic guitar. So far there’s nothing distinctly r’n’b about the album at all and that’s good. Stevie does this song justice vocally and the backing arrangement here does a lot more to give the song the support that a song deserves. His harmonica solo is quality.

Where I’m at is the way the music just travels down to make its point re-emphasising the message Stevie relates to the loved one. As a married man, meself, I can relate with the ways of relating how much the person means to you, and Stevie again relates it brilliantly. The added bit of adding his son’s interruption is a little thing that marks out Stevie in terms of the family feel he brings to his albums. Ned says – 7/10

Moon Blue

On first hearing this song stood out as a great slow chiller of a love song. On further listens it loses the immediacy of that first listen, but maintains a sense of appreciation and admiration at Stevie’s songwriting excellence.

It’s the vocal performance that’s particularly remarkable. There’s a discipline here that almost makes it sound like he’s a jazz singer with distinct control over that vocal. It’s a brilliant vocal performance. Even the bit at the end where he climbs to a top note and chuckles, that’s just excellent to listen to.

Musically this song is fine, it’s the sort of love song to be played in a candlelight dinner where you’re looking to get the mood required to woo your loved one. It also establishes a pattern that’s particularly noticeable on this album and that’s relaying a simple song. The simplicity of this song is in the music, there’s nothing flashy, complex or difficult to grasp and that in this case is a good thing. What Stevie shows a lot is his ability to create soundscapes and atmospheres that engages you in the mood of the song and this is that kind of effort. Ned Says: 7/10

From The Bottom Of My Heart

I loved this song the first time I heard it. From the opening harmonica solo through to the last note. It’s a return to the well of great love songs that Stevie can write. But it’s one thing to write a great song, and another thing completely to relay that song passionately and … lovingly. Stevie’s vocals are spot on here, it just sounds right. The barometer for a good song in my household is if it gets my wife and son singing it, and they were singing it on the second time round! Even my 1 year old daughter shows her appreciation by bobbing up and down when it comes on.

Musical structure of the song is great, use of keyboards and organs is on the button and the drum programming is done well, I don’t feel that it at all inhibits the song, which has been a criticism in the past. The backing vocals are wonderful in just how lush and smooth they sound. The whole of the cake of this song allows me to really appreciate Stevie’s love song. Brilliant. Ned Says: 8/10

Please Don’t Hurt My Baby

Few artists ever create albums where every track is on top form and brilliant. Stevie has come very, very close on two occasions. This song gives the indication that this won’t be one of them. It reminds me in feel of his duet with Paul McCartney ‘Girl I Like What’s You’re Doing’. In my own listening it comes from the school of songs that Stevie writes that are like Maybe Your Baby, relating some of the harsher issues of love. Now it’s not that I don’t like listening to these kind of songs, its just that the feel of these songs leave me at best nonplussed.

As I understood the lyrics more, I was fairly intrigued as to how he managed to get his point across, and so lyrically it’s not bad. The vocal performance is fine. The dialogue between the male and female backing vocals is kinda humorous, but to me rather contrived. Light hearted Stevie fare, really. Just not my cup of tea. Ned Says: 5/10

How Will I Know

Stevie redeems himself with this little jazz effort. I like feeling warm when I hear a song, and this song makes me feel warm all over. The acoustic piano is fantastic. The live bass feel is superb, the drums are softly done and the feel is just brilliantly established.

It’s a good song to put that kind of feel to as well as the dialogue looks at how do we know what true love is like. It’s also clever for Stevie to get a father and daughter to ask the question as it’s still a relevant question whatever the age. Stevie sings well and Aisha also performs admirably well, she has a good warm voice to grace the song and the duet is fine. Ned Says: 7/10

My Love Is On Fire

People have said that Jamiroquai are trying rip off Stevie. In terms of musical feel of a song, this is the nearest you’ll get to an argument to support that. This is one of those throwbacks to the feel of 70’s soul. It is smooth and brilliant. This feel is created by a live sound with the strings, keys particularly, the bass and excellent drums.

Stevie’s vocals again are spot on with this song and the message he gets across is as sultry as he gets. I’m just in awe of the whole song. It shows a maturity and development in Stevie’s songwriting that makes it unfair to try and compare it to early material, it’s great on its own basis. Again the feeling of lush backing vocals makes me love the song all the more.

This is also Stevie at his cleverest musically – I defy anyone to get a band together and get that song down in one or two takes particularly the passage between the repeating of the chorus. Never heard of Hubert Laws before this album, but dude, the man can certainly play some mean flute and it’s just the right instrument for this kind of song.

Tribute as well to the backing vocal arrangement – very smart in splitting the male and female and what that contributes to this very smart song. Very smart song overall, at just the right length, I don’t feel any sense of it going too long and it hits all the right buttons with me. Ned Says: 8/10

Passionate Raindrops

Lush beginning, intimate sounds, evocative lyrics, lightly rendered lead vocal, soft understated backing vocals, tender piano playing, sensuous strings and definite but not intruding beat. This is Stevie at his very best in terms of songwriting. The simplicity in this song is just in terms of structure. There’s so much more to remark about this song – get the strings mimicking raindrops in the chorus; pick out the backing vocals in the fourth verse.

What really sends this song soaring through the roof is the lyric. I think it’s a natural development from Summer Soft, to Send One Your Love to this song. Brilliant use of elemental imagery to convey the intimacy of love-making. I tell you, every time I hear this song I just listen and nod my head in awe at the master at work. No one can rubbish the man after hearing a song like this and it already makes a very impressive claim for a spot in the Top 20 Stevie songs of all time. Ned Says: 8/10

Tell Your Heart I Love You

So how do you follow brilliance? In Songs In The Key Of Life after the mastery of Summer Soft came the relatively mundane Ordinary Pain. In this case Stevie allows history repeat itself with this song. I mean what is he saying lyrically? It’s a bit contrived and rough. All in all this is the worst track on the album.

Having got all that out of the way, I am not placing this as the worst Stevie song of all time, neither is it in the running for that title. It’s not tragically awful or necessarily off-putting. The harmonica input is a notable bonus. Stevie doesn’t pull back vocally, he’s alright. It’s just the rest of the song is a bit mundane. Ned Says: 5/10

True Love

So again to redeem himself, Stevie whips out another jazzy classic. Another brilliant vocal performance here relaying again that personal journey of finding out what that mystical ‘true love’ is. It’s a very disciplined vocal performance and aids the song greatly. Apparently Stevie wants to produce a jazz album at some point down the line, and if it has anything like this track then I am there in heartbeat.

The drumbeat, to me, is rather innovative, not just a simple 2 and 4 beat, but a bit of a bass drum rumble as well. Saxophone part is great here as well. It is a self-contained masterpiece of a track and highlights just how much Stevie has grown musically. I’m not sure if he could have produced this around the mid-70’s, but he has now and I am grateful. Ned Says: 7/10

Shelter In The Rain

I hummed the main melody at a rapid pace and that revealed the simplicity of the song. Melody-wise it’s not that much of a toughie. Apparently Stevie wants to produce a gospel album at some point and this song puts down his marker as having the credentials for it. In fact this is a more than right fit for a list that already includes Free, Heaven Is 10 Zillion Years Away, Have A Talk With God and Higher Ground. Stevie was given this song in response to some personal traumas in his life and I can hear how it ministered to the brother. Lyrically it hits the right buttons and its rendered well by Stevie.

Musically here as well Stevie is on the button. The only snag for me is the use of the backing vocals. I put it down to what I expect from a choir in a song and that’s a sense of power and I don’t really feel it from them on this song. Does this diminish from the song? Definitely not, this is a quality song. Ned Says: 7/10

So What The Fuss

The first single released from the album is an interesting selection. On the recurring theme of simplicity, I’m not sure if Stevie could get more simple. Get a tune going round and stay with that for the duration of the song – no change from verse and chorus and only stretching out in a vamp at the end. Lyrically get four issues and get it to relate to me, you, them and us and then get it into the chorus. No great variation required.

Why Stevie gets away with such basic simple songwriting is personal enthusiasm, solid musicianship and quality input from his other artists. En Vogue do a good job backing the brother on this track. Prince’s guitar part should not be dismissed easily especially as we get into the vamp. At the end of the day Stevie conveys some serious issues in a good I could get away with saying funky fashion. Ned Says: 7/10

Can’t Imagine Love Without You

Sometimes I wonder why Stevie employs lyricists. This song proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the guy can write some cool lyrics. The range of impossibilities that are noted harks back to As with their expressions of how much the brother loves the person in question. He also puts these issues across in a loving, passionate yet soft way. Indeed, vocally he takes great care in allowing us to understand what he’s saying and the song is all the better for it.

It’s not easy being smooth without being cheesy or boring, but Stevie consummately does this without breaking a sweat. Everything about this song is rich in putting the case across, again thanks to a great string arrangement and all round superb musical arrangement. Ned Says: 7/10

Positivity

I first heard this song at the same time as From The Bottom Of My Heart and it suffered in comparison. Yet after a number of times hearing the track it’s grown on me. Its grown on me a lot. It’s a cool throwback to some of the 60’s tunes in structure. It’s something I’ve said before, but I’m not slow to say it again. Stevie took Tomorrow Robins Sing and made it properly. Lyrically Stevie overstretches himself with how much you can fit into a line – which at times detracts from the message he’s getting across. It’s the first time that it happens on this album, and he tried it often in some of his latest excursions. Thankfully the bottom line of what he’s getting across – It’s Better To Have A Positive Approach To Life – comes across, but it’s advised that he quits this technique. To release it as a single where he’ll have to give live performances of it, or try to lip-synch it seems questionable to me, but that’s just me.

All that aside, this is an infectious hit. Ned Says: 7/10

A Time To Love

As the drum situation and a duet influenced the first track, so Stevie comes full circle with the final track. Just like Conversation Peace Stevie puts the title track last and uses it to summarise what he stands for. I’ve not really heard that much of India Arie, but she does a good job on this track. If her contribution is with the lyrics then she’s done a brilliant job with them – they convey Stevie as well as Stevie ever could.

It’s a strong song throughout and a good summary overall of the quality lyrically, vocally and musically. The only quibble I have is with the use of Paul McCartney. Apparently he’s on bass and acoustic guitar, yet these aren’t prominent instruments on the track until the end and that’s just a throwaway riff that my Uncle Joe could contribute.

Is it too long? Is Stevie a bit too preachy on it? Do we really need to be listening to drums for that long? Well yes, yes and no, but that doesn’t mean that the song isn’t worthy. I kinda can understand, having heard most of the rest of his output why Stevie would use the opportunity to take 10 minutes out of your life to ask that question of when will there be a time to love. It’s justifiable in the context of the whole album. Ned Says: 7/10

Overall Comment

Is this a return to form for Stevie Wonder? Is this his best work since Hotter Than July? I can understand why people ask these questions. Like a weight over his head, Stevie has had to pay the price of genius which is to create genius with everything he does and if he doesn’t woe be tide. I find it incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to assess his work on its own merits not comparing it to his previous work so I won’t bother. What I will say is that are key developments in this album that show to me that he’s broadened his songwriting and production skills to prove that he can be effective and creative in his own way today as he has since the late 1960’s.

In an album of 15 proper full length tracks to only have three tracks hit under 7/10 is a good indication of how good I rate this album. There’s a richness, variety and maturity in the output of this album that leads me to applaud this man. Throughout, Stevie maintains vocal of efforts of high quality that I commend highly. What Stevie is known for as well as vocal excellence are great songs, and thankfully this album has a number of songs that go from good to great. If I wanted to be comparative, I would say that there are tracks on this album that would measure up with anything on Songs In The Key Of Life or Fulfillingness’ First Finale. In Passionate Raindrops Stevie has produced a beauty that in quality terms is right up there with his very best. With My Love Is On Fire he hits heights that he’s scaled routinely in the ‘golden’ era of his 70’s material. From The Bottom Of My Heart is a song that is more than comparable with love songs that he’s produced over the years. The key difference is, however, that these songs could not ‘fit’ these albums. It’s a sign of Stevie’s development that these are great songs that had to come out now, that had to fit this time and this era – they’re an example of him going to another level in songwriting.

Consistency with the theme of the album is another commendable point and there was nothing here that sounded soppy. It’s in no way a perfect album – if he dropped Please Don’t Hurt My Baby and Tell Your Heart I Love You then we would have an album that would contend with Talking Book and Innervisions as the greatest album he’d ever produced, certainly beating Songs In The Key Of Life to that title. As it is I’m left with a very good album – one that was well worth the ten years wait and proves that Stevie Wonder is still one of the greatest musical artists the world has ever produced.

Overall Album Rating – 77%

A Word From My Brother

Hi people,

Well it ain’t Chris today. I’m his brother, David. I’m here visiting my bro over the holidays. Don’t get no ideas. I don’t celebrate xmas. To be totally blunt, I hate the celebration. Added to that is the fact that I’m not christian. I’m just an “old testament” guy. I call them the Hebrew scriptures. I’m closer to Judaism in my beliefs although I’m not a Jew myself. But I’m visiting my bro because I’ve got time off work and I want him and his family to meet my wife who has recently moved to this country. Yes, the light of my life, my wife, my joy, meeting my best friend and brother and his funky/cool family. It’s been great so far. There have been a few negative moments, but on a whole I believe my wife is happy and is getting along with my brother’s family. By the way, my wife’s name is Nikki. She is the most beautiful woman, being a source of brightness in my dark world. I thank YHWH Almighty for that girl [YHWH is the name of the Almighty Creator which I pronounce as Yahweh

]. It is not an easy road, as her sister would sing to me. It is not always easy moving my life around to making it into “OUR” life, but it’s worth it. It has to be.

OK, I also have my own website. I have to do some more work on it, write some more articles. It is about the scriptures and science and evolution. I personally have found it to be a story based on a religious foundation. I know people call it science, but everyone has their own opinion. It is up to us to find out which is the right one. What religious foundation is evolution built upon? A philosophy, a untestable, unscientific foundation of absolute naturalism, the notion that nature is all there is, or all that can be used to tell us about the universe and its origin. I’m not going to get into it here, but you can check out my stuff if you like. My website is called “Torah Creation” at http://uk.geocities.com/hesedyahu. It is devoted to the worldview of Torah and the plain understanding of it.

Anyway, what can I leave you guys with? Mmmm… I don’t want this all to be information about me. I want to leave you with something that can help you. But what? Mmmm…
Being married, I realise that the most important person has to be my wife, in the context of a biblical faith (i.e. The Creator will always be of ultimate importance). No other human. Now there may be distractions and other people that try to claim they have some power over you, but as scripture says, man and wife becomes one flesh, thus a man should love his wife as his own flesh, treating her well. As self-preservation is one of our greatest instincts, so should the protection and welfare of our spouse be one of our greatest instincts. In the context of righteousness, put your spouse in the most important human place, learn to give and love to the fullest, know your duties and responsibilities and fulfil them, and then you will find happiness. It is guaranteed, and I don’t doubt it whatsoever. I may be young, but I’m not fool in this department.

Anyway, all the best and enjoy my brother’s blog. May the knowledge of YHWH, the Creator of the Universe, cover the earth as water fills the sea.

Deborah’s First Birthday

Luke 9:23-26, 57-62; 14:25-35

These are two scriptures that came to me yesterday while I was in a men’s meeting. It’s the first time I’ve been to something like that and it was a truly incredible experience. Just to have an opportunity to share and be real with other men was truly terrific.


Well the day has arrived and I’m grateful to God for it. At 3:22pm on Wednesday 29 December 2004 Deborah Christina Dryden was born. My first child. What an awesome responsibility, what a beautiful baby, what a wonderful gift from God Himself. Sometimes I look at her and am amazed at how much has changed since her first day on the planet.


Ho hum.

Oh and I can confirm that the guests are here!!! But who are they? You’ll have to wait for a future blog to check the identity!

Great to see Liverpool going on from win to win, especially with a derby day victory over Everton!! I was well pleased by that. Come on you Reds!

l8r
da man cd

Bits and Bobs from DMCD

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. Proverbs 29:18

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it’s been quite a while since I’ve submitted an entry. Let me state first and foremost that it’s not due to the mad Christmas panic business. I do not celebrate the festival and so I’ve not had to worry about going even deeper in debt whilst looking to give to others. Rather it’s just been one of those times where we as a family have been busy looking after the house in preparation for this week’s special guests … but I’ll wait for later on to let you in on who they are. It is confirmed that they will be here soon and so maybe at least one of them can come and say hello to y’all.

Baby Blues

On Sunday my friend celebrated the birthday of his son. As in for real, this ain’t no spiritual gimmick, it’s serious, my mate Kevin has a son named Tamir who was born on December 25th. Now if that doesn’t give a legitimate reason to celebrate the ACTUAL day someone was born then someone somewhere is desperately wrong. Anyhow, as a father himself, Kevin was relaying the good news that the older these children get the more fussy they become. As I expressed the fact that my daughter would be one year old on Thursday he said it must have felt like 2 weeks. I told him that it felt more like 365 days. It’s been a really gruelling experience this year – changing her when she wets herself, feeding her, playing with her, encouraging her in standing, slapping her when she misbehaves … and that’s just the wife!!

The New Doctor

Also on Sunday the BBC broadcast their Doctor Who Christmas Special marking the debut of David Tennant in the lead role. They’ve been hyping the Christmas Invasion for a week or two now with trailers, in which case if people were hung up on the hype they would have been slightly disappointed. Thankfully I never bought into the hype and so was happy to take the episode on its own merits. In essence this was a typical earth-in-danger-from-alien-invasion and it needs the doctor’s intervention. The difference here is that because it’s a new doctor we’re not sure what will happen. The story wasn’t that original but it did introduce earth’s developing response to alien threat through Project Torchwood as employed by the new PM Harriet Jones.

A 21st Century audience is unused to a new doctor and its regeneration issues, so they covered the usual instability issues fairly well. I’m not too concerned about the characterisation of the new doctor as I realise that it takes a while for a new character to settle. The first impression of Tennant is favourable. It’s a bit like my first positive response to the Eccleston portrayal – this doctor has bounce, vitality and a good sense of humour. I was also very impressed by the performance of Harriet Jones, the recurring gag about her identifying herself was well played out.

There were some cheesy moments highlighted at the start with the cliché of Rose’s mum asking doctor who? The cheese factor culminated in the group hug for the conquering doctor as he returned to earth. I feel the cheese factor was overplayed a bit, but that’s family television.

On the positive side it was a safe debut for the new doctor in a solid story. A really snazzy bit was the Luke Skywalker gig where the doctor has an arm chopped off, but gets to regenerate it there and then. The ‘no second chances’ line as he offs his opponent was also good. The use of Torchwood at the end and the ‘downfall’ of the PM in six words was cleverly done. One concern I do have is the continued role of Rose Tyler. More than almost any other companion before her, Rose has a strong emotional link to the doctor. As the last series progressed this bong became more set leading up to the emotional farewell. I feel that this ploy has only been effective to a point. Hopefully the independent lone time wanderer aspect of the doctor can come to the fore in the upcoming series. I also truly hope that they will take strides to clearly define the new doctor as a separate one to his predecessors.

Overall, however, it was worth catching the debut performance and I’d look forward to catching some episodes when they come out in the Spring.

While I Was Shopping

How many men know that shopping is actually a woman’s way of saying that she owns the purse strings no matter what you buy? I only liked shopping when I was growing up because of the chance to get a doughnut or other goodie on the trip. Other than that, shopping sucked. When I was at university I learned to appreciate grocery shopping a bit more, and really get to grips with shopping for books, comics, magazines, CD’s and DVD’s. Yet even then I found it a bit of a drag.

You can imagine then the chagrin that slapped me upside the head when I hooked up for life with the wife. To be fair, the good woman is not a typical shop-a-holic, she’s more necessity driven than one to spend HOURS in stores. Still, with a family to shop for, grocery shopping becomes even more onerous. Indeed it’s a good thing I love me wife or that whole thing could really cause mental and physical pain.

This, however, is a story of how enduring painful things can bring pleasure eventually. So on Thursday, we went shopping for the month as usual. On this occasion the whole family took the trip. The bonus of this was that it meant that Kevaughn could push the trolley, leaving me to hang about the more favourable areas of the store, i.e. books, comics, magazines, CD’s and DVD’s. Now although I consider myself to be a solid Stevie Wonder, I’ve been slow on the uptake with his new album. Indeed it’s been out for a fair few months now and I had not acquired it, thus leaving me completely out of sync with the members of the yahoo group. So you can imagine the joy that filled my soul when the Family Treasurer, aka the wife allowed the budget to stretch to include the purchase of the album. Sweet! And as for the album itself … well you’ll just have to wait for the review!!

What You Reading, Christopher?

As well as reviewing CD’s, it kinda makes sense, being the reader that I am to review some of the reading material that passes through me hands. Now I am a library connoisseur, so rather than accumulate a collection of acquired items, I accumulate a collection of library fines based on getting a large number of books and taking my own sweet time to get through them, sometimes overlooking the small matter of renewing them. Indeed this is a condition I developed whilst growing up. Indeed such were the fines I racked up my dear mother must have financially kept them in business.

Anyhow, I’m not the sort to just read one book at a time, I’ll tend to have a few going at the same time. Currently I’m making my way through Hip Hop America by Nelson George. It’s an interesting documenting of the development of the cultural phenomenon by a writer who closely monitored it from its beginnings to the ‘relative’ present. One thing about the writing is that I was rather intrigued by the kind of defence of a view of the ‘black’ experience that at times is at odds with my moral base, i.e. the promoting of pride and the individualistic nature of the enterprise. What’s also clear through the reading of this book is that it’s difficult to find anything good about Hip Hop other than making people rich. I mean, just because your life has been tough and as a result you’re a victim of society, doesn’t excuse revelling in it and making money out of it. I’m 90% through the book – it’s not a long book at all – and for anyone interested in the many facets of the genre it’s well worth the read.

Who Let The Dogs In by Molly Ivins is a kind of anthology of the writer’s works over the years. For anyone new to Ivins, she’s a liberal American – liberal in the American tradition of the word, so tending to favour a more open attitude to issues of federal involvement, sexuality and supporting the minority interests. Liberals are opposed to the basic ideals of the republicans particularly in terms of their links with business interests and crushing of any welfare support. It’s a very rough definition, but live with it. I had read her book Bushwhacked which took a chunk out of the current president highlighting the damage his policies have wreaked on the country. It’s humorous and has good insight into that perspective of how politics has moved over the last 25 years. As you’d expect the Bushes don’t come out looking good and Clinton comes out looking almost like a saint comparatively. I’m roughly 68% through the book and so far it’s well worth the borrowing!

Ain’t It Cool News an autobiography by Harry Knowles is the final book that I’m making my way through. As you may know, he’s the dude who revolutionised movie news with his ‘insider’ take on the latest developments in Hollywood on his website. I have not

checked his website and took up the book on interest. He’s a passionate, articulate writer and I like that. His obsession with the movie industry is undeniable, his desire for the best in the business can be somewhat infectious, as it should be or else I wouldn’t give the book the time of day that it’s getting. His style is also very personal, there’s no sense of someone who graduated from university and been well-worn in the writing business. It’s very fresh, style-wise, maybe a bit over-verbose at times, but what kind of criticism is that coming from me? I’m always perplexed, though, as to why people write autobiographies before they’re 40? Is that really a life lived? Anyhow, we never know when the 15 minutes are done, so you might as well get it all done and dusted while you’re ‘hot’.

The benchmark of great book, however, is whether or not I would buy it. The purchase of the book suggests a significant interest in the subject matter and a willingness to invest my time in it and perhaps read it again on another occasion. These three books are interesting, but not that compelling for me to slap it in me collection.

Year Ending

One of the beautiful things about this time of year is that offers an opportunity to reflect on a set period of time and see where I was and where I am now. It obviously also offers a chance to dedicate the mind and will to where to go next, hence the scripture verse. One thing I will say I’ve learnt from this year is that if ever I need to be sensitive to the guidance of my Father it’s now.

Some things to look forward to in upcoming blogs

· Da Man CD’s Top Five Friends of the Year
· What Are My Tricks For 2006?
· The review of Stevie Wonder’s A Time To Love

That’s your lot for today, the house is buzzing in anticipation of the special guests, either that or it’s buzzing because Kevaughn has left the skipping CD on repeat again. Hold on a minute … [cue slap upside the head to Kevaughn] nope it’s the anticipation for the special guests.