Tag Archives: travel

2015: the year in my entertainment (and travel)


None of the films I saw this year stand out. Over the years I’ve become less and less interested in going to the theatre to watch a film. I’d rather watch it at home when it comes out on DVD. But Dixie loves the movie-going experience, so I go with her from time to time. I believe every film I saw in theatres was relatively disappointing. The one exception this year, which I did not see on DVD, was Interstellar, which was mind-bendingly entertaining.

(I’m beginning to wonder if my attention span is rapidly shortening, thanks to YouTube, Facebook, etc. I just don’t have the patience for films anymore, even the ones I love.)

I did enjoy a couple British game shows this summer, though, which led to a discovery of every episodes of Q.I. (Quite Interesting) on YouTube. What a fun show! Entertainers talking about interesting but ultimately useless facts. Just my kind of show.


I entered this year listening mostly to The Head and the Heart. But in the spring I discovered, thanks to Rdio (R.I.P.), Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors and I was hooked in a way I haven’t been since I was introduced to Arcade Fire some eight years ago. And I haven’t paid attention to and learned lyrics like I have with DH&tN since high school: maybe The Barenaked Ladies’ Gordon or Counting Crows’ August & Everything After. It’s catchy and moody folk-rock that I can’t get enough of. (I wonder how long that will last? In theory I still love mid-80s—mid-90s U2 and R.E.M., but I rarely listen to them.)

Two bonuses (boni?): my entire family likes DH&tN. They’re one of the few artists who do not provoke argument when put into the car stereo. And I believe Drew and his wife are Christians. Ordinarily this wouldn’t make much of a difference to my enjoyment of the music, but thoughtful, quality folk-rock created by people of faith, that isn’t kitchy or platitude-filled Christian marketing output is hard to come by.


This is a tricky category. If I finish a book it means one of two things: I had to read it for an assignment and/or I really enjoyed it. (Or my literary guilt pushed me through). I read plenty of books this year, but here are a few that stood out:

Nick Hornby, Ten Years in the Tub — ten years of monthly columns about the books he’s been reading. Highly entertaining.

Rowan Williams, Tokens of Trust — the former Archbishop of Canterbury reflects on the Apostles’ Creed. Wise and deep.

Bruce Cockburn, Rumours of Glory — Cockburn’s autobiography. Insightful and interesting.

Henning Mankell, Faceless Killers — An attempt at some “mass market” reading. This is the first of the Kurt Wallander novels. I enjoyed the BBC tv series starring Kenneth Brannaugh. The book was good. The second book in the series, The Dogs of Riga, was a bit of a chore to get through. Thus ends my reading of this series.

And I would remiss if I didn’t mention Bill Bryson’s latest, The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes from a Small Island. Bryson is always fun to read, and I heartily welcome his return to travel literature.


This year I travelled well over 40,000kms. That includes a visit to Denver (via Phoenix), Alaska (via Seattle), Knoxville (via an epic 50-hour bus ride with 40-some teenagers), and England (with the family). It was a good year for travel, but tiring, too.


Holiday! Celebrate!

It’s amazing how set plans can positively influence your feelings. I’m on holidays at the moment. We’ve been trying to decide for months what we would do with the time I have off work and either things didn’t work out or we couldn’t decide. We sometimes get into funks that look like this:

“What do you think?”

“I don’t know. What do you think?”

“I don’t know. What do you think?”


I’ve been wanting to do something a little smaller scale for years now, because it seems we always come back from holidays in need of another holiday. We often leave the first day off and return on the last. So there’s been some talk of having a staycation (though not quite like this) and that’s what we’ve been doing for the last couple of days, though somewhat listlessly.

There’s a strange internal pressure to DO something with the precious holiday time I have, as if staying at home and resting isn’t a legitimate way to spend one’s down time. But I’m realizing that there is something to be said for planning some away time. A change is a rest, as they say.

Some of these days at home — for me, at any rate — sort of plod along without direction. And if they have no direction, they feel like a waste. Reading a good book would be direction enough, but I’m not always in that place (being instead in an in-between-books stage). On these days I’ll hit some kind of emotional wall around midday and I’ll have a heightened sense, for example, of the things that need doing around the house (which I don’t feel like doing). I won’t feel like doing much. I’ll oscillate between wanting to go away on a trip and not wanting to go anywhere.

Maybe that’s just low blood sugar. Maybe it’s low-grade depression. Maybe it’s not being able to handle un-busy-ness and the sort of “quiet” that comes on the slow days of summer. Maybe it’s something else. Often a cup of tea will improve things (low blood sugar it is, I guess…), or maybe some lunch.

But the other day we finally settled things in a way Dixie and I are both happy with. We’ll stay home for the rest of the week, maybe make some day trips somewhere. My brother and two of his kids arrive sometime Saturday for the better part of a week and then after that we’ll head to the mountains for a couple of days.

That’ll be good: some staycation and some vacation. Something new to try without it being too different.

Summer reading and such

I didn’t plan to give up blogging for Lent. It just sort of turned out that way. Aaaaaand my readership continues to slip away…

I handed in my last paper of the semester yesterday. Now I start thinking about the reading I need to do for the two classes I’m taking in May.

Tonight is the seminary grad banquet. Neither of us is graduating, but we’re going to the banquet. I am winning some kind of award (it’s an honour just to be nominated!). Tomorrow morning we leave for a 6-day stint at Elkhorn Lodge or some-such, a resort north of Neepewa and on the edge of Riding Mountain National Park. It’ll be the Vandersluys’s plus another friend, then a few days later that friend and his wife, and then a few days later another couple friend. It should be good times. I hope. Let’s be honest: the kids a kind of the wildcard here. But there’s a pool and possible horseback riding and hikes.

But after that, after the getaway and the classes in may, I will read what I want to read.

What I think I can reasonably finish in the summer:


  • N. T. Wright, The New Testament and the People of God
  • Karl Barth, Evangelical Theology: An Introduction
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship
  • Thomas Halik, Patience with God: The Story of Zacchaeus Continuing in Us
  • H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture
  • C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
  • Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places


  • Eric Mataxas, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy


  • Gavin’s sermon from a couple of weeks ago inspired me to pick up Three by Flannery O’Connor again and read at least The Violent Bear it Away
  • I’d like to have a second go at Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude.
  • Something else by Graham Greene.

Maybe this list isn’t reasonable for me to finish. All of these books will be beneficial reads, but I think now of the books I would benefit from practically by reading them this summer, such a s William Willimon’s Pastoral Theology (a text for a Winter 2012 course) and something on spiritual direction. Plus I need to re-learn Greek over the summer in preparation for the school year.

Let’s be honest: this reading list looks almost nothing like I will actually read this summer.