God is my Director

Youth ministry, movies, no drugs and a variable amount of Rock ‘n Roll

Archive for June, 2007

5 Things you probably didn’t know about me…

Posted by Martin on June 29, 2007

Have only just realised that Len tagged me on Boxing Day last year (!) with this little challenge. You have to list 5 things that people don’t generally know about you. As an anonymous blogger, this should be fairly simple, but we’ll see…

1. I have a truly enormous collection of Dr Who memorabilia. Well, these days, my parents’ loft does. But from the ages of 11-16 (the pre-first-kiss years I’m afraid), I accumulated over 200 books, 60 videos and a range of action figures, mugs and badges. I could quote from episodes at will. I knew the names of all the actors who operated the daleks. During much of this time, I was what real doctors call, obese. I kissed a girl in Norfolk,  in summer 1995, and the curse was lifted.

2. I once interviewed Darth Vader for my University student newspaper. Or rather, I interviewed Dave Prowse, the guy who was in the big black costume in the original Star Wars trilogy. He told me he was shocked to realise, at the first screening of Star Wars: A New Hope, that his own Devon-accented voice had been dubbed over with the infamous canyon-deep tones of James Earl Jones. ‘Luke, I am your faaaaaather’ would not have been quite the same.

3. I’m a huge Billy Joel fan, and have every one of his albums, live and studio, on my iPod. Thus if anyone tags me to do this ‘shuffle’ thing that’s floating around the blogosphere, I shall have a very dull reply. For the record, ‘Scenes from an Italian Restaurant’ is better than ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.

4. I like to tell people that my favourite book is Money by Martin Amis, as it makes me sound edgy and intellectual. My real favourite book is ‘A Squash and a Squeeze’ by Julia Donaldson. Or possibly an old Dr Who book…

5. I went to the wrap party for the new Transformers movie. I spent ten minutes talking to a guy who did some of the effects on Optimus Prime, without realising that the guy next to him –  whom I was ignoring – was none other than Hollywood legend Jon Voight. I also ran into famous director Tim Story in a toilet once. We didn’t say anything to each other, but we did nod. 

Having realised that I am far more of a sci-fi geek than I ever knew, I shall tag Amanda. I choose her by way of apology for saying ‘in your face’ to her over the alphabet typing game incident.

Posted in Movies, Spiritual is everything | 1 Comment »

Mini golf game

Posted by Martin on June 29, 2007

Oh no, now this is worrying. A very addictive free crazy (or mini, if you’re in the US) golf game. As if I needed more things to distract me from the disciplines of youth ministry, screenwriting and being a grown-up.

You have been warned not to click this link . (I didn’t say that because there’s porn on there or anything.)

Posted in Gaming | Leave a Comment »

Not a nerd

Posted by Martin on June 29, 2007

Just picked the nerd test up from Marko. I’d say ‘ht’ to him, but of course, as a non-nerd I have absolutely no idea what that means. Here’s my score:

I am nerdier than 1% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

Click here to do it yourself.

Posted in Wasting time for Jesus | 3 Comments »

I saw the fight!

Posted by Martin on June 28, 2007

Ok, so if you’re following my out of date travelog this is slightly out of sequence but I just can’t sit on this any longer – I went to my first ever baseball game in Chicago last week – the Chicago Cubs against the San Diego Padres at the world famous Wrigley Field. It was all pretty dull to be honest – but then my new favourite American Sports Star, Derrick Lee, got hit deliberately by the nasty bowler man. This is what happened next – Lee’s the one in the middle of the picture in the white shirt. And don’t talk to me about morals and pacifism, people – I WAS THERE!!!

Posted in Sport | 6 Comments »

Seriously, what is this?

Posted by Martin on June 28, 2007

This is my beloved nation’s best effort at an Olympic logo.

This proves that we are now totally rubbish at anything which even contains the word ‘Olympic’. 100 metres – fine, that’s to be expected. But logo designing? You can’t blame that performance on the wrong weather conditions.

It seems bizarre to me that so much money and so many people could have led to this. How did no-one ever step in and say, ‘it looks like vomit’? How did it come to this?

I know, I know – it’s easy to criticise – except I am one of about 65 million people who genuinely believes he could have done better. In fact, I’d wager my two year old son, Mini-GimD, would have done no worse. Even my unborn child… in fact… wait… is that our baby scan photo…?

Posted in Sport | 3 Comments »

Notes from America – Pt 3: San Diego to Chicago

Posted by Martin on June 28, 2007

With unusual promptness, the legend continues.

Kono'sWoke on Wednesday, having finally shaken off the time difference, and almost immediately found myself in an area that looked pretty similar to my best idea of paradise – a great big sunny beach in San Diego. Jim and I had been strongly instructed to find our way to Kono’s, a renowned eaterie which counts ‘breakfast burritos’ as a speciality. The ocean view, laid-back feel and good conversation may have contributed, but I can only tell you, that Kono’s ‘breakfast burrito #3’ is the nicest thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. Even now, I wake up in the night, salivating, and sadly realising that I’m not really about to eat one. Suffice to say, eggs, bacon, potatoes and other assorted ‘stuff’, all wrapped up in a flour tortilla, and big enough to feed a wrestler.

After walking off that slightly heavy fry-up-in-a-wrap, we made our way back to Youth Specialties, to spend some more time with Marko and the gang. We dreamed dreams together; came up with a few ideas that could be seriously wonderful news for youth workers all over; we generally had a GREAT meeting. Best bit was when Marko asked a guy who was on the phone from Colorado to text message a guy who was downstairs from us, to ask him to join the meeting. And he did! The world is truly the size of a pea these days.

sort of along these lines...After that, we headed off to a mall with one of the YS staffers, on what I now like to term ‘Jim’s big fat wild goose chase’. Jim was desperate to find a pair of shoes – apparently called ‘Rocket Dog Platform Sandals’, which to me just sounds like a randomly generated series of words. Nowhere had them, and I can say that with some authority, as we visited EVERY SHOE SHOP IN CHRISTENDOM. Afterwards, the three of us retired to the quite lovely Cheesecake Factory – a chain they don’t yet have in fair England, although if they’re interested in a franchise thing, I’m sure I could broker it.

We had another lovely evening in Marko’s beautiful back garden, where we got to know his wife Jeannie a bit better. She’s a thinker, that one, and also appears to know almost everyone in the world. She wasn’t until that evening aware however that she’d also met fabulously popular musician and Christian Corinne Bailey Rae a few years ago – and I was able to explain the connection. From her reaction, I’d be surprised if she’s stopped talking about it yet.

The following day was dull, and unfortunately, not worth a post of it’s own. We flew from San Diego (sunny) to Chicago (scary big mutant bugs). On which, more later…

Posted in Spiritual is everything | 3 Comments »

Much harder alphabet game

Posted by Martin on June 28, 2007

Oh no. Remember the stupid alphabet typing game? Now there’s a new version – you have to type the alphabet backwards as fast as possible. I’m at a depressing 17.6 seconds right now.

Here’s the new version – Finger Frenzy II….

And tell me – did it give you a headache too?

Posted in Wasting time for Jesus | Leave a Comment »

Rob Bell interview – one question exclusive!

Posted by Martin on June 28, 2007

I interviewed my buddy Rob Bell the other day for the August issue of Youthwork magazine, and there was a spare question that I couldn’t fit in. However, I thought the answer was so good that it was worth publishing here as a very short GimD exclusive. Woo-hoo!

GimD: Why is there such an issue with porn addiction among youth pastors and other Christians?

Rob Bell: ‘Well it’s available in ways like it never was, so it’s easy. In the same way that all sorts of things, were they readily available, would change things in our culture. Imagine if hard drugs were available to everybody? The best way I understand this is: there’s an adult video store at the end of my street. The door is at the back and the parking lot has a fence around it. So the guys go in, but you can’t see who they are. And I would say that if you’re parking in a lot where people can’t see you and you don’t want people to see who you are or what you’re doing, that’s shame. Shame always comes from some kind of wound.

So I would argue you have a generation of men who have not properly engaged the world with their strength. It’s a deeply male wound – they do not know how to relate to her, but to exploit her is a false intimacy that they still crave, but don’t know if they can do the real thing… and so there is a whole generation who don’t have a story. Somewhere, they have sold their soul to something which wasn’t the adventure or revelation they signed up for. A deeply wounded male who is craving adventure and intimacy – and now it’s a available… ‘click’. So it’s a convergence of factors – technology, narrative, not having a story, and a culture that doesn’t know how to let people in.’

I thought that was rather a good answer, and far more eloquent than my own stab at the issue.

Posted in Spiritual is everything | Leave a Comment »

How to stay humble as a blogger…

Posted by Martin on June 27, 2007

Just check out Marko’s stats!

The man is a blogging phenomenon. Can anyone in the youth ministry world claim to get hit more often?

Posted in Blogroll, Youth Ministry | Leave a Comment »

Baby GimD no.2

Posted by Martin on June 27, 2007

A bit of news – Mrs Director is pregnant with our second child – due, would you believe it, on Christmas Day! Obviously I’ve known for a while, but now we’ve had the ‘safety’ scan, I’m proud to announce  the news to the world. Obviously I’m very excited, and hoping that he/she will follow in my footsteps as an anonymous blogger. Would post a scan pic, but frankly the one they gave us was rubbish – it looks like a still from the first Batman film – you can hardly make anything out.

Thanks go out obviously to God for giving us a lovely bouncing foetus. We shall look forward to Christmas with great anticipation, and I shall now make all sorts of hollow threats about naming him Jesus if he’s born a boy on the actual day. If it’s a girl I shall call her Donkey.

Posted in Family | 4 Comments »

Notes from America – Pt 2: LA to San Diego

Posted by Martin on June 27, 2007

The second part in a very odd series, recounting a trip which is drifting further and further into the past…

Our morning in Los Angeles wasn’t particularly eventful, but we did pay a visit to my favourite eaterie in the world. Don’t think they’ve got a website, but if you’re ever in the Farmers Market, on South Fairfax, devote a few minutes to finding Charlie’s, an authentic American breakfast grill – the sort where they shout things like ‘over easy’ at you (which means about as much to me as Vienna did to Midge Ure). Had a fantastic egg thing with hash browns – again, means something completely different there – and well and truly converted my companion.

We started the second leg of our US tour with a two hour road trip from LA to San Diego. Driving down the freeway with the wind (or at least, air-con) in our hair, in blazing hot sunshine and belting out ‘Sittin on the dock of the bay’ at the top of our voices, we had come as close to fantasy land as you can get without buying a ticket. Although we barely talked about anything, and the landscape was hardly inspiring (mainly road through sparse dry areas), it’s an experience I don’t think Jim or I will ever forget. Pootling along in our little black Chrysler (a kind of scaled-down A-Team van, we liked to think), we were amazed at just how big some American cars are. One guy was driving one of those trucks where you expect a dog and a couple of hitch-hikers to be sitting in the back. In truth, he could have fitted a school trip in there. It was enormous – like a Tonka truck that has been zapped by some sort of giganticizer ray. And there wasn’t a scratch, dirt mark or dent on it; I think the most this near-monster truck was ever used for would have been trips to the burger joint.

We were travelling to visit Youth Specialties, and more specifically, my good friend Mark Oestreicher. Bizarrely, as we rang to get directions, we discovered that Marko was with another Brit – none other than Soul Survivor pioneer Mike Pilavachi. Jim and I were amazed – Mike’s like the lesser spotted invisible dodo when he’s in England (as in, hard to get a meeting with) – yet here he was, in the reception of a youth ministry organisation on the other side of the planet.

TicIt was then our utter privilege to sit in the sun for two full hours and talk youth ministry with Marko and Tic Long, another absolute legend of youth work. Tic is one of – if not the best big stage hosts I’ve ever seen, and certainly someone who you could learn from if, say, you were down to host Britain’s Youthwork the Conference this November. He’s also been at the heart of what Mike Yaconelli started at YS for near on 30 years, making him one of the longest serving people in world youth ministry, by my reckoning.

MarkoMarko has been an increasingly good friend for three years now, ever since Jim and I (we’re not lovers) met him at the Dallas YS convention in 2004. He’s an incredibly sharp guy – and I’m not just saying that because I know he’ll read this, as he does all the other blogs in the world – and a great leader, but he’s also got this irresistible youth worker heart, which is what I think attracts everyone to him. He can try and have some sort of important title like ‘President’, but really he’s just ‘big daddy youth worker’. He very graciously invited us to stay at his lovely house, and to meet his family, who are just great. I won’t reveal any details, but the song he and son Max performed for us over breakfast one morning will be forever etched on the inside of my cranium.

In the evening, after Marko and Jeannie had taken us to a grill to experience ‘chicken fried steak’ (only in America), we were allowed to join the YS staff for a special preview screening of Steve Carell’s new movie, Evan Almighty. YS have been involved in promoting the movie to youth groups and churches, and rightly so – it’s perfect for a family audience, and it also has some deeper theological points to make than you might expect. I may post a review of it elsewhere if I ever get to the end of this travelogue.

Posted in Spiritual is everything, Youth Ministry | Leave a Comment »

Writer’s block

Posted by Martin on June 25, 2007

Still (nearly two months on) crippled by some serious screenwriter’s block. Every time I sit down to work on ‘Project CS’, I am struck by this fear/realisation that I am an absolutely terrible writer, with less talent than a speck of gnat manure. Now, one of two things has happened:

1) My ability to evaluate the work of others- and therefore myself – has accelerated faster than my actual writing ability. In the past, I’ve written badly, but not been able to see it. Of course, if I look back now at my first book, I hate the way it’s written – at the time, I thought it was a serious contender for Richard and Judy’s book club. Now, I’m able to see flaws in my work almost before I create them.

2) I’ve lost it. Which does happen. Just look at the last four series of Friends. Or Tony Blair.

 I’m hoping it’s either 1), or secret option 3) – this is all a bad dream and I’m about to wake up full of refreshment, ideas and ability.

Posted in Movies | Leave a Comment »

Notes from America – Pt 1: LA

Posted by Martin on June 22, 2007

Sorry to be doing this all in retrospect… It would have been a lot more fun if you could have joined me on the journey in a proper blogging stylee. As it is, this is the best I can do. Here begins my diary of the visit I made with my good friend Jim to that rather large and world-dominating country just south of Canada.

The first stop on our journey was Los Angeles. I had planned, rock-and-roll style, to rock in to see my agent in a flying visit before we headed to our first destination proper, San Diego. However, he was busy with another client, and so my attempts to look cool in front of Jim rather fell flat. ‘I’ve got an agent, but he’s a bit too busy to see me’, doesn’t really cut it somehow. His busyness and my increasing writers block problems are worrying me a little. Perhaps things will seem clearer soon.

Undeterred, we checked into the Hotel Beverly Terrace, just off Sunset Strip and literally ON Santa Monica Boulevard. And unfortunately, as nice as the room was, it’s hard to sleep when your window is next to a busy road. Jet lagged as we were though, we had no desire to sleep. We wanted to explore the city, and so headed down Sunset in search of some famous people. Well, we didn’t see any of those, but we did meet Kang.

Kang, a small asian guy in a bright yellow t-shirt, was sitting outside a coffee shop, eating a salad in an almost indescribably messy way. I think we should have spotted that something was up far earlier than we did. In fact, it didn’t strike us until we were deeply embedded in conversation:

Kang: Hey, you guys are British (we got that a lot)!

Jim: Yes! How do you do?

Kang: I love what you guys are doing. I’ve been writing about you guys actually. You know, with how you just go out there and take it, get what you need. You know?

Me: Er. Yes.

At this point, I’m just imagining that Kang knows something about the British go-getting spirit that I don’t. But no…

Jim: So, you’re a writer?

Kang: Yeah!

Jim: Who do you write for?

Kang: Oh no. I’ve been writing for years.

Me: What do you write?

Kang: Whatever the voices tell me to.

Seriously. I’m not kidding. I’m not making fun of the mentally ill – this genuinely happened, and it just took us by surprise. Kang ran off to get his book, which was literally a hundred pages of scrawl – just words. He read some to us:

‘Process. Weird. NATO. School. Hey. Feelings.’

Jim and I bottled it, truth be told. We’d set out that evening, saying that if we saw an opportunity, we’d offer to pray for someone. And Kang needed prayer as much as anyone. But because he was just a little TOO weird, we didn’t make the offer. I’m sure that didn’t make Jesus smile.

There were plenty of other ‘characters’ in that place. There was a guy with a huge afro making chicken noises, and he chased us out of there. We didn’t talk to him either. There was a Paris Hilton-lookalike who was stoned out of her mind and almost certainly about to be taken advantage of by a bunch of guys playing backgammon. We didn’t step in there either. But despite my failings, I couldn’t help thinking – if Jesus was around today, I reckon he’d hang out on the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on Sunset Strip.

Posted in Spiritual is everything | 1 Comment »

Andrew Lloyd, Superstar

Posted by Martin on June 21, 2007

Having been completely switched on to the work of Andrew Lloyd Webber by the BBC’s recent Any Dream Will Do? hunt for a lead actor to play Joseph in Joseph, I’ve been reintroduced to the greatness that is Jesus Christ Superstar. Anyone who was on flight BA0279 from London to LAX last week will testify to how annoyingly vocal my obsession with it has quickly become. If you were on the flight, sorry.

Anyway – Lloyd Webber himself seems like quite an amiable chap. For anyone interested in the theology behind the music, there’s a fascinating article – written in 1987 – here. If you happen to know if the great man’s view of God has changed in the 20 years that have passed since he gave this interview, please post below – I’d be genuinely fascinated.

Posted in Music, Spiritual is everything | Leave a Comment »

I’m sorry…

Posted by Martin on June 21, 2007

I’ve not been posting again. England won the Test Series 3-0, and I barely passed comment.

And more importantly, have just had the most incredible trip around the States. Will fill you in soon, I promise.

Posted in General | 1 Comment »