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How to get a new idea, part 8

An eight part series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

Finally

Just remember these nine simple things? Ha! Most of the time I can't even remember one thing.

Here is a quick review of what I have told you about ideas:

That’s it. You’ll notice that I didn’t tell you to be super smart or super creative or super anything. You just have to do a few simple things* to make yourself attractive to ideas.

There is one more very important thing. When you have a good idea, remember to say thank you. You grew your head and paid attention and ignored your fear but all of that would have been for nothing if the idea hadn’t come along when it did.

About 2000 years ago there was a king who had been in a quarrel with the kingdom next door. He had the idea to make peace with that kingdom. (It wasn’t actually the king’s idea. One of his trusted servants had the idea and gave it to him.)The people of the kingdom next door were on the losing side of the quarrel, so they thought the king’s idea was wonderful. In fact, when he visited them to make a speech about his idea for peace, the audience started shouting, ‘This is the voice of a god, not of a man!’ Instead of saying thank you, the foolish king just sat there and agreed with the crowd. ‘I do sound quite a bit like a god,’ he thought to himself. Next thing you know, the king was infested by flesh-eating worms and he died.**

I’ve never known anyone who was infested by flesh-eating worms but I do know that life goes a lot better if you say thank you, even if you can’t see who or what you are thanking. Tell your ideas thank you.

Now go be a silly bighead.

*Simple isn’t always the same thing as easy.

**This story comes from the Bible. It’s found in the book of Acts chapter 12 verses 19–23.

POSTSCRIPT. You will have noticed that in the illustration I’m holding up nine fingers but there are only eight bullet points in the review. This is because I forgot to write a very important section. Ideas like it when two or a few friends who notice ideas hang around and try to notice ideas together. I want to explain about that. I’m thinking of using the word ‘synerjuice’. I won’t add the forgotten section to this blog series. Maybe one day you will be able to get all nine parts in little book printed on actual paper.


13 August 2015
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How to get a new idea, part 7

An eight part series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

What if you have an evil idea?

I told you before that there are quadzillions of ideas flying around. (Quadzillion is not a real number but if it was it would be HUGE). Most bad ideas are actually good ideas that got lost and have bumped into the wrong head at the wrong time. Of course, some ideas are truly terrible. One example of the truly terrible idea is being cruel to someone because they are different than you. Another example is British baked beans.

You might be worried about having ideas in case you have a truly terrible idea. You might be worried that having a truly terrible idea makes you a truly terrible person. Don’t. You’re not. A good way to know that you are not truly terrible is to notice that you are worried about it. Truly terrible people don’t care at all about being terrible. Less than one percent of people are truly terrible. Before a terrible person is born something goes terribly wrong with their growing brain. The part that cares about other people doesn’t grow at all. If you care about other people, you can’t be a truly terrible person. I’ll say it again: Don’t worry about being a truly terrible person.

There is a good chance that while you are waiting for a new idea you will have a terrible idea. Sometimes when I’m standing on a high bridge or near the edge of a cliff I have this idea: ‘JUMP!’ I didn’t have the idea because I’m sad and want to die. I love being alive! My wife says that sometimes she has the idea of shoving her hand in the blender. Of course she never does it. It’s a terrible idea. But people who pay attention to ideas get bad ideas sometimes. Don’t worry about it. If an ugly or evil idea bumps into you, just tell it, ‘No thanks. I don’t need your type around here. I won’t be cutting off my little brother’s toes today.’

(Even the toe chopping idea could be a good idea that got lost. Imagine that your little brother was caught in an invincible toe trap and there was a bloodthirsty rhinoceros running towards your brother because he was particularly fond of eating tender little boys. Imagine all you had was a sharp knife and a few seconds to get back to your helicopter. In that situation the toe chopping idea is exactly what you want flying into your head.)

A bloodthirsty rhino charging towards a young boy caught in an invincible toe trap

You cannot control what ideas fly into your head. You can decide what to do with them. You are you and ideas are ideas. When you step in a big pile of poo, like elephant poo or whale poo, that doesn’t mean you are a poo. It means you need to clean your shoe. In the same way, a nasty idea doesn’t make you a nasty person. Hang onto the kind ideas. Send the nasty ones politely away. Maybe they are just lost.

This idea isn't evil. It's just lost.


11 August 2015
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How to get a new idea, part 6

An eight part series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

Bad reasons to not have new ideas

1. You’re in high school

A lot of high school is about passing your exams. Exams are hard work. You have to learn fact after fact after fact after fact. You have to learn theories and formulas and rules. While you are working hard at growing your brain with all that knowledge, it is easy to stop having ideas for a few years. Please don’t. Remember, the point of knowledge is to grow your head so that ideas can easily find it.

Some people are convinced that the purpose of learning is to pass an exam or win a quiz. These poor people are about as clever as a cliff when it comes to new ideas. Treat them kindly but warily, like an elderly relative who has completely lost his mind and is usually sweet but sometimes throws his dinner at the cat. You enjoy his stories about when he was a boy but you wouldn’t start a business with him or let him babysit your little brother. People who love knowledge but avoid ideas are like that. (You should also be cautious about people who love ideas but avoid knowledge. These are the kind of people who believe advertisements on the telly and try to wallpaper the cat and start wars on purpose.)

This orange cat has had more enjoyable days.

Interesting people never figure out how to stop having ideas, even during exam season. Their teachers give them stern looks and their parents worry that they might be too silly. But interesting people carry on noticing all the ideas that flit into their brain. The most interesting people notice their ideas and DO them.

2. You have a terrible job

Sometimes you have do a job that hate in order to have the money you need to buy food and a place to live. Terrible jobs make you sad. Terrible jobs make you want to sit on the sofa and drink wine and watch the telly all evening. But being a grown up means that you are smart enough to not do what you want all the time. Even if a terrible job takes up 40 hours of your week, you still have 128 hours left for new ideas. And you need new ideas to escape from your terrible job.

3. New ideas are dangerous

Here are some ideas that were new once:

They might seem obviously true to us but people have died for having these ideas.

New ideas are dangerous because the people who have power rely on old ideas. If old ideas get replaced by new ideas, people with power might not have power anymore. In case you are wondering, power is nice to have. It usually comes with lots of money. People listen to what you have to say. You can have the things that you want. Power is so nice to have that it makes kind people turn cruel rather than give up their power. It makes clever people fight against new ideas rather than give up power. New ideas are often exciting to people without power and frightening to people with power.

Bossy mademoiselle.

The world changes when a brave person like you does something with a new idea. People are afraid of change but that’s no reason to ignore your ideas. Be kind to the people who are afraid (even if they are cruel to you) and go right ahead with your new idea. There’s is a lot wrong with the world and your idea can help make it better.

4. New ideas can be embarrassing

New ideas aren’t always right. Sometimes old ideas really are better. If you have a new idea and it turns out to be wrong, you might be embarrassed. People might make fun of you. Your friends might not want to be around you.

Christopher Columbus had the idea that the Earth was round and that you could sail to east Asia and India by going west. He was right about the Earth being round but wrong about getting to Asia because North and South America were in the way. So embarrassing! Chris could have been so embarrassed that he hid in the Caribbean forever. But he didn’t. He went back to Spain and told everyone what he found. His discovery led to all kinds of things, good and bad. One of the best things is that America was founded so that burgers could be invented.

When a new idea takes you in the wrong direction, you might feel like giving up on ideas altogether. New ideas can embarrass you. When you are afraid of being embarrassed by a new idea, think about tasty burgers. Being silly helps too. Silly people see the funny side of life, including the funny side of being embarrassed. The embarrassment might be worth it if you learn from what went wrong and improve your idea.

Stilt skates. What could possibly go wrong?


6 August 2015
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How to get a new idea, part 5

An eight part series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

What to do with a new idea

Here’s a problem: you have a leaky head. I don’t just mean dribble, snot and earwax. Ideas can fly out of your head as easily as they fly in. And they will fly out unless you do something to make them stay. The simplest thing is to do your idea as soon as it arrives. I was once being chased by an angry T-Rex (a dinosaur, not Marc Bolan*) and I had the idea to turn round, run underneath it, then climb up its tail and onto its back and ride it like I was a jurassic cowboy. Instead of trying that idea I decided to do some swerving back and forth and hiding under ferns. While I was doing the swerving and hiding I completely forgot about the cowboy idea. That was a real shame because the swerving and hiding didn’t work. After a couple minutes the T-Rex caught me and now I’m dead.

What I should have done:
me riding a t-rex

Sometimes you can’t do an idea the moment you think of it, so you need to make it feel welcome and comfortable until you have time to try it out. Remember when you imagined flying an aeroplane full of babies home to see their mothers and one of the engines has just quit and the flight attendants have run out of wipes to clean up all the baby sick and stinky bottoms? Now imagine that while you’re flying the plane you have an idea for how to make colour-changing candy floss. I don’t think you should try to make candy floss in the cockpit of the plane. But you should make sure the idea sticks around until your land. You could ask for help. You could turn on the tannoy and say, ‘This is your captain speaking. I know this is a tense situation. Babies, your jammies are covered in sick and your bottoms are smelly and you want your mummies. Flight attendants, you’re having the worst flight of your lives back there. I’m doing everything I can to get us all home safe and sound. But for right now, could you try and remember something for me? I’ve had the most tremendous idea for how to make colour-changing candy floss and I don’t want to lose it. When we land I’d like you to remind me of three things. The first is candy floss. The second is radioactive waste. The third is seagulls. If you can do that for me, I promise you’ll be the first people in the world to try my amazing new confection. Thank you. I’m going to get back to flying now. We seem to be losing altitude rather quickly.’

When you have an idea you can’t do immediately, you don’t always have a plane full of people you can ask to remind you, so you’ll have to make it stay some other way. You could write it in a notebook or type a reminder on your tablet or phone. Recording ideas is an excellent use for your mobile device. I was on a walk when I had the idea to write that you have a leaky head. I typed this note on my phone to help me remember:

You have a leaky head
Not just dribble and snot and earwax

You could also draw a quick reminder picture. If you don’t have any way to record the idea, just repeat it over and over to yourself until you are sure it will stick around long enough for you get to a pencil and some paper.

Some ideas are babies when they flutter into your head. Trying to use a baby idea as soon as you get it is like trying to do anything with an actual baby. The baby doesn’t help out at all and you’re stuck with a crying poopy mess. Baby ideas haven’t grown enough to be useful. They need time to eat the information in your lovely warm brain. They need time play with other ideas. They need time for you to figure out what they are for.

a baby idea

Here are two examples from the world of creepy crawlies. Maggots (baby flies) seem entirely useless but it turns out that they are the best way to clean dead infected flesh from wounds – they eat it! Hospitals use maggots to save lives. (This is not a lie.) Silkworms are really boring. Their favourite thing to talk about is pickled eggs. They never want to go out ice skating or to see a movie. They make terrible friends, but it turns out that they are extremely good at making silk which is used to make lovely clothes and sheets.

Your baby idea might seem entirely useless. Give it a nice warm space in your brain and feed it some interesting thoughts anyway. It might grow up to save lives or change the world of fashion. You never know with ideas, so try not to lose them. Write or draw or type them as soon as they visit your brain.

*in the 1970s Marc Bolan had a band called T. Rex. They were very popular. You might think that a band called T. Rex would would feature lots of roaring and crunchy guitars. In fact, Marc Bolan liked to wear feathers and make-up and play bouncy fun tunes. The words for his songs seem to have drifted up the rabbit hole from wonderland in a happy jumble that didn’t see the point of getting organised. I would give you an example of some T. Rex lyrics but you have to get permission and maybe pay someone some money if you want to quote song lyrics in books. Instead of bothering with all that, I wrote some T. Rex style lyrics to give you an idea of what they’re like.

He has gunk in his teeth
And his name is Keith
Ah ah ah
He has gunk in his teeth
And his name is Keith
Ah ah ah
I’d like to clean up his mouth
But my hand’s made of tuna
Ah ah ah

This is a fairly inaccurate drawing of Marc Bolan:
Marc Bolan with fish for hands


30 July 2015
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How to get a new idea, part 3

An eight part series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

How to be the kind of person that ideas fly into part two: be silly

How many times have you been told, ‘Don’t be silly!’? All day long parents tell their children to not be silly. Teachers tell their pupils, ‘Don’t be silly!’ You might even have friends* who seem to enjoy telling you, ‘Don’t be silly!’ They’re right, of course. Life is full of times to not be silly.

You should not be silly when you are taking an exam, even if the exam is a pointless waste of time dreamed up by the Government Education Minister who woke up one morning to find his favourite slippers chewed by the dog, his coffee too weak and someone on Twitter calling him a rude word so he went into his office and said to assistant, ‘This nation is in a terrible state – dogs chewing slippers, weak coffee and people on the internet being rude to Important People. We’re going to fix it, Alastair.

’How are we going to do that, sir?’ said his assistant Alastair.

’We’re going to write an exam to make sure the children of our great nation know how to behave. Question one: What is the proper location for a dog? Write that down, Alastair.’

’I’ve written it, sir. What’s the answer, sir?’

’Answer: The proper location for a dog is in the garden away from all slippers. [2 points]’

And so on.

Before long, you and all the children in the country are taking the Education Minister’s new exam. You know it is pointless. Your teachers know it is pointless. In his heart, even the Minister knows it is pointless but it’s too late because all the universities have decided that they won’t let you learn anything from them unless you’ve scored at least a B on the government minister’s pointless exam. It’s pointless but you still need to be serious.

Another time to be serious is when you are flying an aeroplane full of babies home to see their mothers and one of the engines has just quit and the flight attendants have run out of wipes to clean up all the baby sick and stinky bottoms.

Another time to be serious is when conversing with a frog. Frogs may look silly but I have been on four continents and I have never met a frog who wasn’t Entirely Serious At All Times.

Mr Toadypants is not amused

BUT (and this is an enormous but) when you are hoping for a new idea it is very very very very important to be Not Serious, by which I mean, to be silly. Ideas love silly people. I’ll give you an example. If you told your mum that you had whipped up a batch of disgusting and poisonous bacteria soup and thought you might drink a mugful before bed, she would say, ‘Don’t be silly. You’ll make yourself sick.’ BUT (the same huge but as before) drinking disgusting bacteria soup is exactly what Dr Barry Marshall did 1984. He did it to prove his theory that sores inside your stomach called ulcers are caused by bacteria and not by stress. Until Barry Marshall drank his disgusting soup and gave himself an ulcer and then cured his ulcer with antibiotics, everyone thought ulcers were caused by stress. Today most ulcers can be easily cured by taking some antibiotic medicine, all because of Barry Marshall being silly.

South American enormous but-tailed bustard

When a new idea comes along, the easiest thing to do is throw it out. New ideas seem silly and useless but that’s only because no one has used them before. Imagine if French farmer and astrophysicist Léon LeFarteaux had given up on his silly idea for super windy beans like everyone told him to. We’d all still be stuck on Earth and there would be no such thing as cheap holidays to Pluto. I hope that you’re brave enough to be silly like Barry Marshall and Léon LeFarteaux.

Farteaux Flyer

A good way to get started being silly is by making silly faces at yourself in the mirror. Blowing bubbles in your milk with a straw is good too. Sometimes when a song comes on the radio while I’m driving I like to sing along with a funny voice as loud as I can. Whenever I think of a dumb joke I like to tell it to my children. They think I just like dumb jokes. The truth is that I’m being silly so that new ideas will notice me and land in my head. I also like dumb jokes. There are literally** millions of ways to be silly. Remember when you used to lather up your hair with shampoo and then sculpt it into funny shapes? There’s no reason why you shouldn’t start doing that again. Try being silly at least twice everyday and I bet you’ll start noticing all kinds of new ideas in your head.

*You could be right in the middle of a perfectly reasonable experiment with some yoghurt and a pair of socks when your oh-so-grown-up† friend grabs the yoghurt pot and says with all capital letters, ‘DON’T BE SILLY!’ My advice in a situation like that: make sure you use your friend’s socks for the experiment.

**Many times when people say ‘literally’ they mean ‘not literally’. I literally mean that there are literally millions of ways to be silly.

†Boring.


19 July 2015
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How to get a new idea, part 2

An eight part series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

How to be the kind of person that ideas fly into, part one: grow your head

If you can throw a stone and knock a can off a wall from 15 metres away, your friends are probably impressed at your stone throwing skills. It’s hard to hit a small target from far away. You have to have very good aim. Ideas have terrible aim. They will try to fly into a head and end up at the top of a pine tree. If you want a lot of ideas to fly into you, you should be a cliff. Millions of ideas hit cliffs every hour. The problem with cliffs is that they are too dumb to know what to do with ideas.

Girl with an enormous head

You, on the other hand, probably know exactly what to do with a good idea. Your problem is that you are a small target. You need to get bigger. Actually, only your head needs to get bigger. There’s no point in growing your stomach. It’s almost as dumb as a cliff. You don’t have to grow the outside of your head either, just the inside. The best way to grow your head is to stuff it full of knowledge. Learn something every chance you get. Be curious.

Not long ago I was sitting in a coffee shop drinking coffee and looking out the window. I saw a man walking along the pavement with seven brand new floor brushes. Seven! Why did he need seven floor brushes? I was curious. I’m still curious. I wish I had run out of the shop and said to the man, ‘Excuse me, sir. Would you mind telling me why you are carrying seven brand new floor brushes?’ Can you imagine how many ideas would have flown into my head if I had learned what his seven brushes are for? I guess 18 and a half. (There are lots of half ideas flopping around hoping they’ll smash into another half idea and become a whole idea.)

Man carrying seven brushes

Some people think you should avoid knowledge when you are trying to have ideas. These people like to quote Albert Einstein who said, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.’ They seem to forget that Einstein didn’t say knowledge wasn’t important. People are more important than food but the only people who truly believe that food isn’t important end up dead in about a month and half. Imagination is more important than knowledge but knowledge is the food of imagination. Einstein couldn’t have changed the science of physics forever if all he had was funny hair and imagination. First he had to feed his imagination with lots and lots of knowledge about gravity and the speed of light and rubber sheets.

Albert Einstein saying, 'Imagine if everything in the universe travelled at the speed of fish!'

If you want to discover new ideas, this is the one time when it’s okay to be bigheaded. Ideas need a big target. Here are some ways to turn your head into a big idea target:


15 July 2015
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How to get a new idea, part 1

An eight part series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

Ideas are tricky. Some people have ideas all the time. Some people never seem to have any ideas. Some people have plenty of ideas but they’re all the wrong ideas. I get paid to have good ideas and do them, so I’ve had to learn how to have ideas all the time. If I don’t, my family might have to become beggars or go to work for the companies that make those ads that pop up when you are trying to watch a video. Having ideas is fun. Fun should be shared. That’s why I wrote this little book. What I’m going to tell you works for any kind of idea – a funny new way to draw a cat, how to land a spaceship on comet that takes 10 years to get to, how to cure an illness or how to make a crying baby happy. Let’s get started.

What is an idea?

Ideas are tiny tiny weird creatures that fly around the universe hoping to slip into a head that will know what to do with them. (This is a lie. The truth is that ideas are tiny bits of electricity zapping between your brain cells. The truth is interesting but it’s not helpful when it comes to having new ideas. The lie about ideas being tiny creatures is helpful. This book is full of helpful lies.) Here are some ideas magnified thousands of times:

Six ideas

I haven’t drawn any actual size ideas because they are so small they can slip through your hair and your skin and your skull as easily as you can slip between trees in the woods.

There are millions and trillions and *quadrillions of ideas flying around bumping into each other and everything else all the time. We’ll never run out of ideas because they are reusable. Most of them live forever. Also, when they bump into each other a brand new little baby idea pops into existence. Right now, there are so many ideas flying around that it’s hard to imagine not bumping into 30 or 40 of them every time you move your head. They are like those little flying insects that swarm above a stream on a hot summer day. Even so, some people still have problems finding them.

I wrote this little book to help you get new ideas more easily. The first thing you can do to get an idea is relax. You don’t have to create a new idea. The ideas are already out there. Your job is to be the kind of person that ideas like to fly into.

*Quadrillion is a real number. This is a quadrillion: 1,000,000,000,000,000. It would take you almost 32 million years to count to a quadrillion if you counted one number every second. This would be impossible to do, not just because you would be really bored and dead. You would also have to say numbers like three hundred twenty-billion nine hundred eighty-six million two hundred fifty-four thousand seven hundred and thirty nine in one second. I bet you can’t.


13 July 2015
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In which Neil Gaiman explains the quick and easy way to become a writer

Someone asked Neil Gaiman for writing advice because he found it difficult to get his thoughts onto paper. Gaiman replied:

Write the ideas down. If they are going to be stories, try and tell the stories you would like to read. Finish the things you start to write. Do it a lot and you will be a writer. The only way to do it is to do it.

I’m just kidding. There are much easier ways of doing it. For example: (This is where you click to go to Gaiman’s Tumblr and read the brilliance contained therein)


14 January 2015
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I bet Mika read Hop on Pop when he was a little boy (because putting obscure-ish pop music references in children’s book posts definitely draws the reader in)

Hop on Pop by Dr Seuss is a collection of fun storylets for very young readers. What the little stories teach is not without controversy. Earlier this year someone in Toronto asked the library to ban the book and apologise to fathers for promoting violence, yes violence, against poor helpless dads who have been hopped upon by their offspring. How silly.

I want to show you the story of Mr Brown (p.42–51). Mr Brown is living in an amiable but chaste marriage to Mrs Brown. Then some event turns his life upside down. We assume it is somehow precipitated by a manic pixie dream girl in the form of Pup.

Hop on Pop, p.42–43

Pup then facilitates Mr Brown leaving his life and wife behind for a journey of self-discovery.

Hop on Pop, p.44–45

Hop on Pop, p.46–47

We don’t know what happens out of town, but Mr Brown returns from his journey arm-in-arm with someone new.

Hop on Pop, p.48–49

And if we’re in any doubt about the nature of their relationship, we need only have a look at their snack.

Hop on Pop, p.50–51

While I’m pleased to see Mr Brown to accept his true identity, This story has some serious problems.

‘How silly!’ you say, ‘My young reader will never notice.’ That’s okay. Dr Seuss was all about silly. He also knew how to slip in some serious without becoming overbearing.

Someone else wrote about this before, but I came to most of my conclusions before I read it.

Part of Mother, Daughter and Son Book Reviews’ Kid Lit Blog Hop 45.


10 September 2014
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The reason why: page 7

The reason why I went to the moon for my birthday, page 7

One of the aspects of the artwork that will need the most adjustment is the lettering. Pretty much every bit of the lettering will be adjusted to make the letter, word and line spacing right. I am barely good enough to do the lettering myself, and during the planning phase, I tried a bunch of different fonts. None of them felt right. Only the hand-lettering really seemed to fit. Fortunately, Photoshop allows me to turn my wonky words into lines of tidy type with reasonable speed.


18 August 2014
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The reason why: page 6

The reason why I went to the moon for my birthday, page 6

Cora hasn’t made it to the moon, but if she fulfilled the promise of the title in the first quarter of the book, it wouldn’t be much of a book would it?


18 August 2014
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Remember shopping before the internet?

Good afternoon, Sir. Welcome to A. Mason’s Hardware checkout. Have you shopped with us before?

No, I just popped in because I happe—

That’s no problem. Before you check out I’ll need you tell me your nickname.

Er, most people call me Jeff.

Thanks, Jeff. Now could you think of a secret word and whisper it in my ear?

Sorry?

A secret word. Next time you come into the shop, you can just whisper your secret word to me, and I’ll know it’s you.

I doubt I’ll be coming back.

No, not a sentence. Just one word. And you need to whisper so the other shoppers don’t hear it.

[Whispers]

I’m afraid that secret word is a bit obvious. Could you try for something a little more secret?

[Whispers again]

That’s fine. Now could you whisper it into my other ear?

???

So we’re both sure what it is.

[Whispers again]

I’m sorry. That wasn’t quite the same word.

It was the same word!

I’m afraid it was just a touch different. Could you try again.

[Whispers again]

That’s still different. Did you mean to leave the umlaut off the second O? Try broadening your pronunciation on that syllable.

[Whispers again]

I think we’ve got it now, Jeff! We’re on to Step Two. Could you fill in this form with your full name, address and telephone number.

I’m just trying to buy a pack of wood screws!

I can see that, Jeff. Size 10, Cross-Head, 100 Pack. I’ll get you on you way with those ASAP if I can just have your full name, address and telephone number.

[Sighs. Starts filling in form.]

Thank you, Jeff. While you finish writing those details, I’ll tell you something interesting. Some of our other customers who have purchased Wood Screws, Size 10, Cross-Head, 100 Pack have also purchased Wood Screws, Size 8, Cross-Head, 100 Pack and K-Y Jelly, 200ml tube.

Why?

We’re expanding into software.

I mean why would you tell me this?

We notice that often people have similar buying habits, and so we think making recommendations based on people’s purchases will be really useful and fun.

Why on earth would someone want a pack of screws and a tube of lube?

We’re just a hardware and software shop, Jeff. We’re not here to judge.

Fine. Can I just give you some money now?

Yes. That will be £3.99.

[Pays]

Thank you for shopping at A. Mason’s. Before you go, would you like to take a moment and compose a brief letter to all your friends telling them that you purchased screws with us today?


3 April 2014
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Oh no! More Bill Gothard

For a more comprehensive and funnier description of what Billy G teaches, I recommend you enjoy Laura’s’ overview of The Many Valuable Lessons [She] Learned at ATI


27 February 2014
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You can’t parody insanity

I preached a sermon this morning about not treating God as a consumer product. The premise of the message was stolen from Peter Rollins’ work on the idolatry of God. For fun, I interspersed my slides with a bunch of fake ads (full resolution here.):

Fire Tongue: The Holy Spirit

D.I.S.C.I.P.L.E.

Trinity offer: 3 for 2

1 tip for amazing spiritual strength

Playing with fire?

CROSSlite

Bible Snax

iProne

Joyfullia: Jesusactive yogurt

While I was writing my message I received an email for an online christian retailer. The blurbs for some of the actual books made my ads appear conservative, pedestrian even, by comparison:

31 DAYS TO HAPPINESS, Paperback

Don’t you deserve a little happiness?

Ever wonder . . .Why is life so frustrating ?Is happiness within my reach? Is it too late for me?
Dr. _______ takes a look at history’s wisest and most successful man, King Solomon, and challenges readers to find what really matters in life. Solomon tested life’s haunting questions head-on. Tasted the fullness of life’s riches. But found his answers in the last place he thought to look.

If you thought happiness was only an empty hope, maybe you’ve simply been looking in all the wrong places. In this book Dr. _______ reveals the way to the happiness you have longed for, the never-dimming light of your fondest dreams.

£9.97

HOW TO WORK WITH ANGELS IN YOUR LIFE, Paperback

How to Work with Angels In Your Life is Book 2 in the Angels in the Realms of Heaven series. Work with the angels in your life and get ready for God to empower you to accomplish the extraordinary!

£9.39

THE POWER OF RIGHT BELIEVING, Hardback

What you believe is powerful. If you can change what you believe, you can change your life!
Many today are struggling to control their behaviors and actions because they don’t have control over their emotions and feelings. They don’t have control over their emotions and feelings because they don’t have control over their thoughts. And they don’t have control over their thoughts because they are not controlling what they believe.

Put simply, if you believe wrong, you will struggle with wrong thoughts, toxic emotions, and destructive addictions.

The good news is, there is a way out if this vicious cycle of defeat.

THE POWER OF RIGHT BELIEVING will guide you to victory with seven simple but practical keys that you can apply every day in your life. These seven keys are easy and highly effective Bible-based principles that will calibrate your mind to develop positive habits for right believing. Start believing right and experience freedom from every fear, guilt, and addiction.

£15.51

It’s reality beyond satire.


20 October 2013
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The Cloud of Unknowing, a poem with only one rhyme and a disappointing end

Alexander Startlebum, a deer

I caught a little bizzlewraith and shoved it in my ear.
It sang so softly quiet, ’twas the only way to hear
its melody of party pants and T-shirts soaked with tears
leaking from the eyeballs of allergic engineers
who work all day on train tracks and at night while drinking beers
they sneeze away the coaldust leaving greyish mucus smears
all down their wet apparel and their glasses and pet deer
named Alexander Startlebum – they’ve trained him to say ‘cheers’
and open up their bottles with his prongy antl–eers.
Whilst they’re drinking, sneezing, crying, and Alexander’s saying ‘cheers’
the train track men are startled – a salesman appears
before their leaky eyes proclaiming, ‘Your lucky day, m’dears!
I’ve got a medication that will kill your allerjeers.
Just pop this pill at breakfast; you won’t sneeze for 13 years.’
‘Breakfast? No! We’ll take it now!’ cried the engineers,
‘No more evenings spraying snotty coaldust on our deer!
No more streaky T-shirts and pants all soaked with tears!’
They paid their cash. They popped the pills … … … … … …
Sing louder, little bizzlewraith. I can no longer hear!
It answered not with singing but with a snide and bizzly sneer:
‘My singing isn’t quiet, dummy. The reason you can’t hear
is the golden sludgy gross-y wax that’s clogging up your ear.’
Then it slipped out and flew right off, waggling its rear
In a way that seemed to be a cruelish sort of jeer
’cause I would never know the fate of the allergic engineers.


7 June 2013
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That’s as far as this train travels, folks.

In Western evangelical Christianity there is a consistent, unsubtle pressure to be more dedicated, more radical, more disciplified, more better. This morning my inbox held an advertisement for the logical terminus of this way of thinking:

The Perfect Leader by Kenneth Boa: How would you rather lead ... by following the true leadership qualities seen in God? Or some diluted, humanistic qualities that just get you by? Discover the scriptural guidelines for ensuring that God is your pattern.

That’s right, leaders, it’s no longer good enough for you to be like Paul or Peter or Jesus. Your choice is diluted humanism (fail, obvs) or being like God. From now on, I, for one, plan to lead like God. I just need to get some omniscience, which seems like a difficult thing acquire. If only it grew on fruit trees!


7 June 2013
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Life is hard enough without people asking you to do things, but they ask you to do things anyway, so here are 111 handy excuses you can use when they do

  1. I have to walk my dog
  2. My dog ate it
  3. My dog has to go to the vet
  4. My dog died
  5. I’m depressed
  6. The economy is terrible
  7. We have to make austerity cutbacks
  8. It was the coldest March on record
  9. Spring’s coming late this year
  10. The kids are still in school
  11. The holidays are coming soon and the kids won’t be in school
  12. I’m not old enough
  13. I’m not as young as I used to be
  14. The potato harvest was terrible this year
  15. I’m tired out from lambing season
  16. I have to milk the cows
  17. I have to plant the corn
  18. I have to plant the beans
  19. I have to plant the apples
  20. I have to plant the horses
  21. I have to plant the evidence at the crime scene to divert the police’s attention away from me
  22. I have to flee the country
  23. I’m saving for my holiday
  24. I’m saving for my retirement
  25. I’m saving for a rainy day
  26. It’s too rainy
  27. It’s sunny now, but it might rain later
  28. That’s not how we do it in Britain
  29. This is Wales. You can’t do that here
  30. Foreigners are taking all our jobs
  31. Cutbacks are taking all our jobs
  32. Computers are taking all our jobs
  33. Robots are taking all our jobs
  34. Unicorns are taking all our jobs
  35. Vicious kittens with laser eyes riding on robotic unicorns are taking all our jobs
  36. I’m living in a fantasy world
  37. I’m waiting for Scottish independence
  38. I’m waiting for the Tories to get kicked out of government
  39. I’m waiting for that man to come to his senses
  40. I’m waiting for my operation
  41. I’m waiting my ship to come in
  42. I haven’t got a ship
  43. The shipping is too expensive
  44. Have you seen the price of petrol lately?
  45. Have you seen what they did to that poor girl just because she was different?
  46. People are jerks
  47. I have to look at photos of kittens and other cute animals
  48. My internet is too slow
  49. I’ve lost my internet connection
  50. I can’t get through to tech support
  51. I’m restarting my computer
  52. I’m not sure if I want to log off
  53. I might miss something on Twitter
  54. I might miss Game of Thrones
  55. I might miss some deep existential insight
  56. My pores are clogged
  57. I have to exfoliate
  58. My hair’s not ready
  59. I need a new outfit
  60. I need to get dressed for success
  61. I need to listen to my 80s records
  62. I don’t have a record player
  63. I can’t do anything without my music
  64. I’ve got back problems
  65. I’ve got knee problems
  66. I’ve got emotional problems
  67. I’ve got 99 problems
  68. My ice cream just fell off the cone
  69. I’m hungry
  70. I need a snack
  71. I need dinner
  72. I want dessert first
  73. I need to lose weight
  74. I have low self esteem
  75. I have low blood sugar
  76. I have a low white blood cell count
  77. I have to stay in and count my blood cells
  78. I don’t know how
  79. I tried it once and I wasn’t any good at it
  80. The other kids will laugh at me
  81. I’m scared
  82. I’m scarred
  83. I have emotional issues
  84. I’ve run out of tissues
  85. I don’t know what fish you should use due to depletion issues
  86. My carbon footprint is too big
  87. My shoes are too tight
  88. My bum looks big in this dress
  89. My husband has no tact
  90. My husband refuses to talk to me
  91. My wife is always nagging me
  92. This kitchen won’t clean itself
  93. No one appreciates the work I do
  94. No one listens to me
  95. No one cares
  96. I already signed an online petition
  97. Nothing I do makes a difference anyway
  98. That man is looking at me like I’m stupid
  99. That man looks suspicious
  100. That man is probably a mass murderer
  101. Most people are probably mass murderers when they get the chance
  102. I have phobias
  103. I’ve had four beers
  104. I have a drinking problem
  105. I have to go because I spilled my drink all over myself
  106. I have to go because I hear nature calling. Quite urgently.
  107. I have to go because I left a cake in the oven
  108. I have to go because I left a cat in the oven
  109. I have to go because I left my wife and she is pursuing me for child support
  110. I have to go because sometimes when the humidity is high my elbows swell up and I get embarrassed
  111. Would you excuse me? I cut my foot before and my shoe is filling up with blood (03:27)


28 April 2013
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If Dr Seuss wrote the bible it would be better than this, but I still think you should read this poem aloud to your children

Now Peter was Jesus’s very close friend.
He said I’ll not deny you. I’ll stick to the end.
Then soldiers grabbed Jesus, and Simon Pete ran
away just as fast as a very scared man
dressed in a dress and two sandals can.
(For that was the way that they dressed way back THAN.)
Then Pete started and stopped and he turned.
‘This is my friend from whom I have learned.
I cannot just leave him!’ Pete’s embarrassment burned.
He walked back to Jesus, twelve sixths of a mile,
till he came to the spot where his friend was on trial
He looked in the building and wanted to shout,
‘Don’t worry, Jesus! I’ll bust you out!’
But he didn’t. He went to get warm by the fire –
and right there is where Pete turned into a liar.
A servant girl saw him with clever bright eyes.
‘Aha!’ she exclaimed, ‘I recognise
your face. You’re with those travel with Jesus guys.’
Pete’s throat went all funny. He had a small choke.
He restarted his breathing, then carefully spoke:
‘I am a traveller. That much is true.
But this man you call Jesus – I don’t know who
he is. I only just stopped in here because
my toes are quite chilly, my brain’s in a fuzz
I could use a big dinner and a nice coffee buzz
You see, I travelled today from the hills of Dorduzz.’
The servant walked off, not quite convinced,
but there was soup to be served and beef to be minced.
Another guy saw Pete and said, ‘You’re with him!’
Pete’s throat got all lumpy, but he said with some vim:
‘I don’t even know him! Clear off, sonny Jim!’
The man left, but Pete’s heart was all palpitations
and his knees had gone weak with fearful vibrations
that if they found out, they might make him dead
so he went kind of crazy when the next person said:
‘You’re Galilean. I bet you know Jesus.’
Pete’s voice changed to guttural, anger-filled wheezes.
Dear children, I hate to, but really must say,
these are the words Pete shouted that day:
‘Shut the bleep up you bleep bleeping creep!
I don’t bleeping know Jesus, so bleep bleeping bleep.’
How long Peter’s swearing could’ve gone, I don’t know,
But then the dawn broke and the cock did some crows.
And Pete wept and his tears soaked his dress and his toes,
and his beard got all gunged with the snot from his nose.
He stumbled away feeling pukishly ill,
while Jesus was nailed to a cross on a hill.
Let’s pause for a moment. Now fast forward two weeks
Pete’s been fishing all night and totally reeks
of sweat pooling in pits and dripping down cheeks,
and all that he’s caught is a bad case of the bleaks.
For what fish would swim into the net of a jerk
who abandoned his friend then thought he could work
at his old job on a boat back in north Galilee?
‘Even that shouting man on the shore’s mocking me,’
Thinks Pete. Then he hears that it’s kindly advice:
‘Throw your net on the left of the boat once or twice.’
Now everyone knows that you fish on the right.
You fish on the right when you’re fishing all night.
But Pete reached the point where he just didn’t care,
so he threw to the left with a casual swear.
And the fish! Oh the fish! The fish in the net!
You’ve never caught this many fish I will bet.
Peter’s friend John said, ‘Pete, it’s the Lord!’
Without even a thought Pete jumped overboard,
and the foul-smelling sweat on his cheeks and his pits
was washed away as he swam (and so were his nits).
When he got to the shore Jesus hugged him to bits
and served him forgiveness, fresh fish and some grits.
And if you think that this poem is ending, yes, it’s.


14 April 2013
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The lamentable story of a desperate man who is hoping for help from a suspect mythical being when what he really needs is an intervention of grace

Sign: There's no such thing as the dog poo fairy

There’s no such thing as the dog poo fairy!
I yell to the woman walking her dog away from the steaming pile on the pavement
I yell silently in my head because I’ve lived here 12 years
and it would be terribly unbritish to say anything like that aloud
There’s no such thing as the dog poo fairy!
scream brainbound words as I hold my breath and step
around the fresh pile of
of—
metaphor
Metaphor
It’s a really obvious metaphor
which is now beating me about the head—
that’s so gross because the metaphor is the …
on the pavement
and I’m a tidy human
not a chimpanzee
Faeces
get flushed
that’s all there is to it
and yet
the metaphor insists
reminding me of all the stinking piles I’ve left behind
the anger I’ve crapped all over my family
the ooze when I use my friends like tools
the hard jobs I’ve started and left undone
and I stop
and stand
next to the mess
the dog dirt
the soil
the four letter word I don’t say in church
because I’ve been a Christian all my life
and it would be terribly unholy to say anything like that aloud
even though I can’t think of a better word to describe
the waste I’ve laid
and I convince myself I deserve nothing better than to reach down to the dog dirt with my bare hands
NO
I don’t like where this metaphor is going
I don’t like where my life is going
I don’t like anything
And then
a kick
that sticks
dog doo
to my shoe
then through the window of a passing car
that is no longer passing
It’s stopping
driver’s door opening
and the only thing I can think to shout as I run for my life
from another stinking pile
is There’s no such thing as the dog poo fairy!
Later
Inside
the curtains drawn
I am hiding under my duvet
hidden under the weight of the realisation that
I can never set foot outdoors again
overwhelmed with regret that
I didn’t take my dirty shoe off before I crawled under the covers
Night falls and I know there’s no such thing as a dog poo fairy
who will take my dirty shoe and leave 50p under my pillow
But I can’t help hoping


10 April 2013
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Brian’s drawing

True Love Waits illustration

Brian Wolstenholme was the winner of my little quiz, so, as promised, I made a drawing for him. I don’t know why it’s called True Love Waits. I merely take these things as they come to me. I’ll let you work out any possible connections between image and text.

Brian gets a super high-res colour JPEG of the illustration and the original black and white ink drawing on paper.

Congratulations, Brian!


2 July 2012
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Jeff’s name that religion quiz

Below are 10 clues to the names of 10 well-known religions. Be the first person to correctly name all 10, and I will do a silly drawing for you.

Clues to the clues:

Ready? Go!

  1. Insulted by a ghost sound
  2. Swear at Ian
  3. Illustrated the unconscious psyche
  4. Girls’ night out before marriage
  5. They don’t worship Dick or Tarzan
  6. They don’t worship Richard (UK), also known as Blumeism (USA)
  7. Increase the Jamaican accent
  8. Physically restrain the male’s mouth
  9. Two parts of the lower extremity
  10. Good for making conservatory furniture


24 June 2012
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A poem for commenters on blogs

I had a conversation with a stranger
on the web who read
half my words but not my heart,
yet he knew exactly what I thought.
It turns out what I thought
wasn’t what I thought I thought.
And the thoughts I thought
I ought notta thought.
But thankfully I’ve got
him to sort me out.


27 May 2012
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This idiot

cartoon of an idiot

This idiot also likes to point out how badly drawn his right hand is.


5 May 2012
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Creativity #15

Be silly. Be more silly than that. ‘Life is too important to be taken seriously.’ —Oscar Wilde


26 April 2012
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Still too secret

One of my other web presences is Secret Comics Club which features a weekly comic by me. This week’s comic is below. If you like it, you might like to check out the others.


13 December 2011
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I tease because I’m a fan

The photo was stolen from Peter Rollins’ Flickr, but the caption is mine, with a little assistance from St Paul.


17 November 2011
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Let the chicken math speak forth

1) If you are thinking about taking this seriously, please don’t. 2) I promise I am not making fun of the bible’s symbolic use of numbers. That is a completely different thing than this.

Matthew Paul Turner is busy interpreting natural disasters today. We don’t have any natural disasters here in North Wales, so I thought I would have a go at interpreting dinner. The reason? This turned up on my daughter’s plate at supper time. It really honestly did. I did not try to arrange them that way (although I did adjust the kerning for the photo).

Let’s start with the numbers.

71. Seven and one. Seven is the number of perfection, so 71 is perfection plus one — superperfection. But when you subtract perfection from perfection plus one as does the chicken math manifestation, you get 64. 64 is the square of eight. Eight is the number of new beginnings. So you can see that 71 minus seven equals 64 which means new beginnings times new beginnings — an abundance — yea, verily, an outpouring of new beginnings.

Where will we see these new beginnings? To answer that question, we must look at the placement of the numbers. The numbers are on a tortilla. A tortilla is flatbread, bread without yeast. This is clearly a reference to the Passover. The beginning of the outpouring of new beginnings will be brought forth at the time of Passover.

But how will the Lord bring it forth? It is clear. I, the father, prepared the food and gave it to my daughter. These new beginnings will be an anointing poured out upon God’s daughters. And it shall be an anointing of spice and flavour. For as certainly as I served zingy Mexican food in a nation known for its bland cuisine, so shall God bring new life and excitement to his church which has become dull and uncreative.

It shall begin at Passover in the coming year.

But do not be complacent saying, ‘It has been ordained; I will do nothing but wait.’ For just as you would not think of eating your dinner before praying together as a family, do not think that God will pour out his spicy anointing upon the daughters if you do not pray as a spiritual family.

Seek God’s face day and night. Purify yourself before the Passover. Be ready. The season of 64 is upon us.


27 August 2011
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In which I present a conversation which probably won't get added to the bible

With apologies to Abigail, David, Jonathan, Maachah, The writer of 2 Samuel and God.

David, are you… you know… with blokes?

No! Why would you think that?

It’s just — I’ve been reading your eulogy for Jonathan, and you kinda say—

It was hyperbole! My best friend just died. It’s okay for me to say nice stuff about him!

People are going to think you’re gay.

I have four wives! How is that gay?

Bisexual then.

Look, I don’t have time for this. I have to do reigning and stuff.

David?

What?

Was it?

Was what?

Jonathan’s love better than the love of women?

sigh

It’s just that you said it was. I mean, I know you didn’t have sex with him, but did you like him more than me?

What? No!

You answered that really quickly.

That’s because it’s true! Do I have to answer at a certain speed for it to be true?

You did spend a lot of time with him.

He was my mate. Of course I did.

So was that better? Drinking wine with Jon boy at the donkey track?

Yes! I mean not better, but—

Because that wasn’t what you were saying the other night when I did that thing!

Abigail, Jonathan was my best friend. That’s all. You are my wife. I love you so much more. And anyway, it’s completely different. Do you want me to change the poem? I’ll change it. It’s not like it rhymes anyway.

No, don’t change it. I’m sorry. I’m just a little sensitive since you married Maachah

That was just a political thing. You know you’re the girl for me.

I love you, David.

I love you too, Abby.

David?

Yes?

Was Jonathan’s love better than the love of Maachah?


27 August 2011
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The Priestly Blessing

It is amazing what you can create using only a few simple tools. I made this video using nothing more than a few young people; an iPhone 4 running the Songify and Mail apps and the video camera; a MacBook running a few apps: iPhoto, Garage Band, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, iMovie; and the worldwide computer network we call the Internet.


24 July 2011
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Dear readers of this blog,

May I present SECRET COMICS CLUB!


9 May 2011
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This is now:

Secret Comics Club


9 May 2011
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Easter winning

Calvin and Hobbes Sunday strip

This comic strip was my text for my Easter Sunday class of 10-13 olds, mostly boys. I think it brilliantly explains an aspect of the mechanics, if not the love, of Jesus work on the cross. It’s also good at showing how a nonviolent response a la Matthew 5:38–48, Gandhi, MLK actually works.


29 April 2011
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Help for church music people

Have you retired your U2-style songs from the 90s? Are you bored of your mid-tempo wannabe Coldplay ditties? Are the folk stylings of Mumford and his sons wearing thin? Worship pastors, it’s time to go vintage! I, Jeff Gill, Pastor, Prophet, Poet, &c., proudly (with deep humility) present the next big thing in church music:

All you need to do is change a few lyrics:

Such a feelin’s comin’ over me
There is wonder in most everything I see
Not a cloud in the sky
Got the Son in my eyes
And I am certain it is not a dream

Everything I want the world to be
Is now coming true ‘cause God loves me
And the reason is clear
It’s because You are here
You’ve brought me near to heaven — oh glory

CHORUS
I’m on the top of the world lookin’ down on creation
And the only explanation I can find
Is the love that You gave ever since my life You saved
Your love’s put me at the top of the world

The Spirit in the wind has called my name
And He’s tellin’ me that things are not the same
In the leaves on the trees and the touch of the breeze
There’s a pleasin’ sense of happiness for me

There is only one prayer on my mind
When this day is through I hope that I will find
That tomorrow will be
Full of more and more glory
All I need will be mine if You are here

You’re welcome.


5 March 2011
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Footprints in the Sand

Photo: Kirsty Andrews

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.

In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, sometimes three or four or a dozen. Sometimes there were rabbit footprints. At other times there was only one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord, ‘You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?’

The Lord replied, ‘My precious child, I love you, but you are as thick as a long-forgotten glass of milk in a teenager’s bedroom. First of all, why are you getting your ideas about me from syrupy inspirational poetry instead of the bible? I’m not some cute guy you walk on the beach with. I’m spirit. My life is in you. How could I leave you?

‘So what about the footprints, God? If they aren’t yours, whose are they?’

‘They are the footprints of your family and friends — the people on the journey with you.’

This really bothered me, and I said to the Lord, ‘Dear Lord, why did you curse me with terrible friends that would abandon me as soon as trouble came my way?’

‘My dear child,’ said the Lord, ‘are you having me on?’ Then the Lord laughed heartily, for he is God and he knows all things

‘It is true that some of your friends deserted you because of their fickleness. But the reason that many of your companions left is that you pushed them away. You became offended and did not try to restore the relationships. You were afraid that people would judge you for your struggles, so you did not share them. When you failed, you ran and you hid behind sand dunes and piles of driftwood.

I admitted to the Lord that many times I had run away and I had hidden from those who could have helped me. ‘But Lord, I don’t remember any sand dunes or piles of driftwood.

The Lord replied, ‘Just go with the metaphor.’

‘Okay, Lord. I don’t want to hide behind the metaphorical driftwood of my dream. What should I do when times get hard again?’

‘Remember, my child, that you are not alone. You are part of my glorious beach party.’

‘What?’ I said, ‘You are pushing this whole beach-as-a-metaphor-for-my-life pretty hard, Lord.’

‘My beloved cranky and impatient child, I’m just trying to work with your dream here. When times are hard, don’t wander off down the beach in the dark. Stay by the fire and have a chat. Do you understand?’

‘Yes, Lord. I see now that this life following you is not meant to be lived alone. I have only one more question. Why were there rabbit footprints in the sand alongside mine?’

As I began to wake from my dream I heard God call to me as if over his shoulder. He said, ‘It is because you are really weird.’


23 January 2011
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Now we are all televangelists, thanks to the Internet


7 March 2010
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Qualified to follow Jesus

If some guys named Barker, Cleese and Corbett do a sketch together, it is pretty much the law that you have to steal the idea and repurpose it for church, so I have. Here is the script:

Keep reading
8 February 2010
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We talked about fellowship at church

Please give generously.


20 October 2009
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We showed this at our church this morning


2 August 2009
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Waiting for the Kingdom of God

In this sketch I present two opposing but equally inaccurate visions of the kingdom of God and show off their ugly sides with with some comedy violence. Nothing gets the crowd happy like the guy getting a knee to the groin.

Two people in a queue. They stand uncomfortably for a bit (draw it out) then start to talk.

Woman: So you signing up for the kingdom of God?

Man: Yeah. You?

Woman: Mmm hmm.

(pause)

Keep reading
18 May 2009
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Like 'yeah?' or whatever.

Today at our church’s Sunday meeting a California stoner/surfer guy (okay, me) came and did a poetry reading. His poem was about judgemental people. Between stanzas all the people in the building belted out the chorus of The Beatles You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.

Here is the poem:

I’m checking out the people as I walk down the street.
I’m passing out my judgements on everyone I meet.
You’re snide.
You’ve died.
You’re far too wide.
You’ve cried.
You lied.
You want a date? Denied!

I’m feeling good about myself. I’m whistling a tune.
I’ve grown superior to you like a great big balloon.
You’re weak.
You geek.
You greasy freak,
Don’t speak.
You leak.
I’d call that nose a beak.

I’ve had a lot of practice from watching the TV.
That old Simon Cowell ain’t got nothing over me.
You sing?
Don’t sing!
My ears will sting.
Don’t cling.
You’re wrin-
kling my clothes, you ming.

My reputation is the world’s greatest cynic.
I justify my arrogance by being ironic.
Green pus.
Size plus.
Your bum’s a bus –
Discuss.
Don’t fuss,
You hippopotamus.

Hey! Where are you going. Don’t just walk away.
I’ll joke about someone else and not you for today.
Stay here.
Have beer.
I like you near,
It’s clear.
Oh dear.
Fine! I’ll sit right here and sneer.

I’m feeling rather lonely up here in my room.
My friends have all departed. I’m in a fog of gloom.
They’re bad
I’m sad
I’m really mad
Not glad
They had
To hate my cynical fad.

The only other thing you need to know about this is that is that it worked and it probably made Jesus happy.

Amen.


10 May 2009
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Sketch: The Tooth Fairy

Drunken Tooth Fairy enters, takes a swig from his bottle, wipes his mouth with his sleeve: All right, where’s the kid? There she is.

Tooth Fairy feels under the pillow for a tooth, but doesn’t find one. He curses, sets the bottle down and pulls out a pair of pliers: Kid, you’re getting yourself some money whether you want it or not. I’ve got quotas to meet.

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4 May 2009
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The rules of my fight club

I watched Fight Club last night. I know this film has been out for a while, but as I was watching I was struck with a powerful, prophetic sense that it captured the zeitgeist of this generation of men. Now is the time for a paradigm-shifting change in the way we talk to the lost men of this generation. Now is the time to change the world. Now is the time for BREAKTHROUGH! That’s why I am starting a Men’s Missional Fight Club For Jesus. Here are the rules:

The first rule of my fight club is tell all your friends we’re starting a fight club.

The second rule of my fight club is here are some fight club leaflets you could put up in your office or village shop or whatever.

The third rule of my fight club is no hard punches. We don’t want anybody to get hurt.

The fourth rule of my fight club is you have to read and sign the health and safety statement and waiver of liability.

The fifth rule of my fight club is you have to sign up for the tea-making and mug-washing rotas which are taped up on the back wall.

The sixth rule of my fight club is the fights will last no longer than three minutes. You’ll be surprised at how tiring fighting actually is.

The seventh rule of my fight club is this isn’t about winning and losing. It’s just a bit of fun.

The eighth and final rule of my fight club is that there is no pressure to fight. You are welcome to just watch.

And we wonder why our big ideas go nowhere.


2 May 2009
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Hooray for 678

In my group of kids in years six, seven and eight we are studying the parables of Jesus. Obviously, the thing to do is to write a parable. I gave them three ideas to choose from. They picked one and wrote a story. Two weeks ago we filmed it. Today is it’s worldwide premier.

I proudly present a story about the way people view God and the way God actually is and the reason God gives us commands: Daniel and the Lions.


1 March 2009
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Two angels talking about earth

What a mess.

What’s he going to do about it, then?

Dunno. You’d think he’d be pretty worked up about it. I mean, I’m pretty worked up about it. Look at them. It’s non-stop killing violence and wickedness down there. They are so good at wickedness! If I didn’t know better, I’d say they invented wickedness.

They didn’t. Lucifer did.

I said, if I didn’t know better. Of course I know…

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15 February 2009
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Kylie and Jason have nothing on us

Christine and I created these characters that visit our church on a regular basis. Myfanwy is a lovely but bossy and slightly dim girl from the valleys of South Wales. Jedediah Garcia – all his friends call him Tex Mex – is a sort of grumpy Texas cowboy transplanted to North Wales. He owns a monkey ranch just outside Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch on the island of Anglesey.

Tex Mex and Myfanwy have been sort of falling in love over the last couple years. This past Sunday they sang a duet together. Here it is:


12 October 2008
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The inevitable election post

I voted. I get to do it early because I live in the United Kingdom and we are cooler over here, so we get to do things sooner. Or something.

I voted for Barack Obama. I’m going to tell you why, but first I’ll say this…

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3 October 2008
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Vision

Mary and Professor Zelf, who I like to think of as an American cross between Count Arthur Strong and Andy Parsons, returned to i61 this weekend in a sketch that stole most of the acting inspiration from this little piece of genius from the Two Ronnies:

Mary walks onstage holding a long pole. Professor Phuluvem Zelf then comes on blindly using…

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15 September 2008
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The meaning of baptism

Today at i61 we baptised eight nine people. Hooray! This is today’s sketch. You might find it useful, unless your church is in North America.

Mary: Hello, my name is Mary and I am here to explain baptism. Baptism is very important. It is something that Jesus said we should do when someone decides to follow him. What it means when we are baptised is—

Professor Phulovem Zelf: (coming onstage) No! No! No! This is all wrong. We are talking about baptism here. Baptism! Are we so foolish as to think that the sacred and subtle ritual of baptism can be understood by a child? No! A thousand times, no! Run along and find a biscuit now, dear. I’ll take it from here.

Mary: But—

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7 September 2008
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If you were wondering whether or not Jeff can do a flying side kick through a hula hoop...

I can’t.

I can, however, get wedged halfway through, fall to the ground helplessly and hard, and injure my shoulder.

It makes me wonder – what is the point of all my karate training if it doesn’t serve me well in an everyday situation like this?


9 July 2008
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How to fight fair

Some only slightly tongue in cheek lessons on how to fight fair taken from the sword fight in The Princess Bride. This was for our weekend meetings on the theme of conflict resolution.


30 June 2008
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Hi, School!

This is a little event we do for students moving out of junior school and into secondary school. (For those of you outside the UK, this happens at age 11.) We’ve just finished our promo video. A short version may come later.

You can see the video in high definition and download the original 102 MB Quicktime movie on Vimeo, which is kind of cool.


27 June 2008
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Possibly the best thing I have ever seen in my whole life


12 June 2008
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I visit for the sparkling prose

Inspired by Keith and Larry’s post this morning I checked to see what searches were bringing people to D Train. The leading term for the last 30 days by a margin of five to one is…

ARSEBUNDLE.

It’s nice to know your audience.


15 May 2008
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Awfully proud of Ikea and Volvo too

England's Glory - Made in Sweden


3 May 2008
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The good Samaritan goes home

Inspired by this sketch I wrote a sketch which avoids the wife-hating and features a ninja:

Joanna: Where is he? He should have been home ages ago. She gasps. What if he was the one they attacked! No, they said he was a Jew. But Nathan looks like a Jew sometimes when the light is low…

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20 April 2008
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That's well neighbourly! - updated

This weekend our church is looking at the story of the good Samaritan. I want to rewrite it for my class of 10-13 year-olds and set it in high school. (For those of you outside the UK secondary education starts at age 11 here.) I found some interesting retellings laying around the internet: here (scroll down), here and here, but none of them are really what I need. How do you think I should update the cast?

Who are the attackers?
Who is the victim?
The priest?
The levite?
The Samaritan?
The innkeeper?

If all goes well, I shall put a working draft story online in a day or two for your further comments and sugestions.

Thanks!

UPDATE

I ended up not rewriting the story beforehand. Instead, I did it live as a mad lib with my class. They loved it. And they heard the story three times, once proper and twice silly. AND they all asked for a copy of their own. Here is their story with a little help from the TNIV:

Once a footballer slide tackled Jesus to test him. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit fantastic life?’

‘What is written in the Law?’ he replied. ‘How do you read it?’

He answered, ‘‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’‘

‘You have answered Jeffly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’
But he wanted to sit himself, so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’

In reply Jesus said: ‘Conor was going down from Tesco to i61, when he fell into the hands of terrorists. They stripped him of his table, karate chopped him and went away, leaving him half hairy. A referee happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side of the Aston Martin. So too, a fit, sporty girl when she came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side of the elephant. But a nerd, as he read, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on 7up and lemon juice Then he put the man on his own ferret, brought him to Jamaica and took care of him. The next day he took out two dollars and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will paint you for any extra expense you may have.’

‘Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the terrorists?’

The footballer replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’

Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.’


20 April 2008
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It's all been leading up to this moment

So scientists

have this way of beginning sentences when they speak that makes me think they are announcing the conclusion of an Important Study. Their brains must be super laboratories, collecting data, testing every hypothesis, analysing the outcomes with a mental process made immensely powerful through years of experience. And when they speak they are not giving me an answer; they are giving Results and Findings.

If only we could all be so authoritative.

Actually, their secret is simple. I am going to share it with you right now.

Scientists start their sentences with So.

So when we look at the specimen…

So the pathology of the virus…

So the quantum state…

Two letters. One little word. That’s the difference between expressing an opinion and explaining the universe. Look:

So I’d like the vegetarian lasagne and a glass of the house red.


14 April 2008
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My... what?

I wrote in my DIY design post about hardware that Apple computers come with very good backup software. They do. The file that keeps it all organised is called a sparsebundle. The thing is, the way I like to view my files in the Finder (basically the same thing as Windows Explorer) causes the filename to be truncated like so:

Jeff Gill's ...arsebundle

My friend Lee who backs up onto the same hard drive has too long of a name to get anything as cool as an ARSEBUNDLE.


4 April 2008
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Dressing for church

(entering shop) You’ve got to help me!

Madame, that is what I am here to do. I am Walter J Wolf, king of Christian Couture. In what way may I be of assistance?

My friend invited me to church and I said yes and I’ve never been to church before and I don’t know what to wear or what to say and I’m going to make a total fool of myself.

A common fear, but one that need not overwhelm you, not once you have set foot in this shop. First of all, let’s think about your clothing –

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24 March 2008
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Frantic five minutes

let's sway

I had to leave. It was time to go. The daughter would be getting out of school in less than 15 minutes and I couldn’t find the stupid car keys. Where were they?
Where were they?
There weren’t in there and they weren’t under there and they weren’t behind there and they were completely gone and had ceased to exist and I was gonna have to get a taxi or something and I’d be so so incredibly late and the teacher would give me that look again. And I’d feel ashamed. I am a rotten mother because I do not put my keys away properly in a place where I can find them and my children suffer because of it. There she would be, the 4 year old daughter, standing in the cold and not knowing if I would ever come. A stiff wind would blow to dry the tears that fell…

I said to God, “Father!”, I said, “Help me find the keys, please, I need to know where they are or there will be much suffering” (this is the extended version of what I said)
And in desperation I raised my hand to my head like a damsel in one of those old, silent movies… and the keys were in my hand.

Now. What have we learned today ?


22 February 2008
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Jeff at his best

I made a video for our church meeting morning. The theme of today’s meeting was you at your best. Here I am at my best, or something.


17 February 2008
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You are such an asset to the body

—on a greeting card to Christine from a church* member who is obviously much more pure of thought than we are.

*From our former church in Tucson, Arizona, USA, not i61.


30 January 2008
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Her humps

While we are all waiting around for me to have time to write the next installment in our money story, let’s watch Alanis Morrisette’s rather brilliant satirical cover of the Black Eyed Peas song My Humps.

In that same vein, have a read of Tia Lynn’s article on the book Ten Lies the Church Tells Women and my Seven Cheers for St Paul.


28 January 2008
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Hooray for fables

Here is another poem that I wrote. It is a riff on Æsop’s Tortoise and the Hare. Christine and I read it this morning at our church. Today’s theme was Run to Win, the third in a new year series called Born to Run. If you can stand a lot of rhyming couplets, read on.

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20 January 2008
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Hip replacement

— a warranty fulfillment service for cool people.


19 January 2008
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Hooray for Victorian morality tales

I quite enjoy, as Dylan Thomas put it, ‘pictureless books in which small boys, though warned with quotations not to, would skate on Farmer Giles’ pond and did and drowned’. This poem is my silly homage to the genre. It was read and acted out at our church on Sunday when the theme was the ninth commandment: don’t lie.

I’ve come to tell a story. Once there was a boy.
He had a mother and a father, but he did not bring them joy.
I’ll tell you this boy’s name if you insist that you must know.
His name was Peter Penrhyn Padran Pinnock Ochio.
I’m sad to say that our boy Pete was a spoiled brat,
for his father was a pillock and his mother was…

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19 November 2007
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