I have just spent a very pleasant hour or two viewing the bonus material that came with the DVD of Pixar’s wonderful tale  Finding Nemo.

The studio tour on the bonus DVD took in animators, sculptors, colour and lighting experts and heaps more. Here is what I learned:

Working as a group is not easy, but necessary.  There was no room for prima donnas. Everyone had to be willing to let go of their pet projects, personal views and definitely their egos, so that TOGETHER the job could be accomplished.

Preparation is vital. They spent years in research,  storyboarding and colour scripting, developing characters and trialing their ideas. And all this before going into full scale production animation.

Commitment is essential if the job is to get done. Finding Nemo took three years to make. The guys said that many times they felt they could not go on – but they did!

Truth and sincerity are essential components of communication. One animator spoke of how he had to open the lid on some very painful memories of loss, in order to animate a sad part in the movie, when Dory speaks of feeling lonely. He used his computer camera to act the dialogue and used hos own facial expressions to help animate the fish. He said that he knew it had to come sincerely from his heart if the audience were to believe it.

Personal experience is the key to effective communication. The whole team were taught scuba diving, so that they could experience what the underwater world was like; seeing it and feeling  added to the reality they would bring to the screen.

Encouragement was high on the agenda. There were times when the product  days of work had to be readjusted, because it wasn’t quite what the director was looking for. But this “nuancing” was accompanied by encouragement and positive comments.

Oh yes, one other massive thing that I saw…despite the hard work, they all had fun!!! They had time to goof off, enjoy each other’s company and relish the completion of the task.

I can’t be effective in communicating what I believe, unless I take on board these lessons. Are there any in my list that have caught your eye?

Photo credit: Ryan Guill via photopin cc

Who will speak out for the unborn child?
Phil Toft Posted this poem on his FaceBook timeline. It deserves to be widely read.

Here is what Phil says about it.

It was given me earlier this week by a 60 year old lady who was a converted hippy. As she spoke to me she had tears in her eyes for the spiritual needs of families all around her. She and her husband open their home to local children to hear the gospel.


Baby in the womb. Taken by Flikr user Prescott Pym. Used under Creative Commons license.

With his and the lady’s permission, here is the poem.

by Mrs Diane Jones

I am the voice of one crying from the womb;
I don’t have much longer to live,
I am the voice of millions of unborn
Crying, ‘Please, more time to us give.’

I am the voice of the defenseless child
Dreading the instruments of death.
Will I be poisoned, burnt or cut up
Before I have taken one breath?

I am the voice of a son or a daughter
Speaking for millions gone by;
‘Please please stop the wicked, unspeakable slaughter
And stop and hear our cry!’

If you give us a chance we could prove to be
A blessing; A person with so much to give,
But if you still turn a deaf ear to me:-
An even greater answer to God you will give.

The decision for millions is in your hands now
And though my request seems profound;-
If we ask for God’s mercy with contrite hearts,
He can turn things completely around.

If we teach our children of the love of God,
So children will only be born
When wanted and valued to be nurtured in love,
We may yet hail in a bright new dawn.

I am the voice of those on death row
And I fear it won’t be long now
That we will be silenced before we could speak

Starting a comedy club – why humour communicates

GUEST BLOG POSTING from a Christian editor and journalist who also runs a comedy club in his town…

I blame Bob Monkhouse. I trace my huge enjoyment of comedy, and attempts to make others laugh, largely back to his Mad Mad Movies TV programme.


Image credit: Jupiter Images

All he really did was show clips of old slapstick – Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, The Keystone Cops and the rest. And I was hooked at the age of about seven or eight.

Do Not Adjust Your Set, the Bonzo Dog Doodah Band, The Goons, Tony Hancock, the classic films of The Marx Brothers, Peter Cook & Dudley Moore and on through Monty Python, Fawlty Towers etc. to today’s sketch shows and stand-up comedians.

You see, I believe God hard-wired something into all of us that helps us see the funny side of things. And it doesn’t just help us keep life in perspective – laughter is actually good for us. It releases all sorts of endorphins around our bodies, lessens tension and stress and helps us relax. And the best comedy can be tremendously life-affirming, positive and joyful.

So when, more than 15 years ago, my boss on the evening paper where I was working suggested I go and do an article on “this new comedy club thing” – and as part of it have a go at the open mic spot – I didn’t need persuading.

It was very scary, it was over quickly, and I think somebody laughed at one point. But it was great fun. For some years I threw myself into writing in my spare time, with a little modest success – some paid-for work for comedians like Joe Pasquale and Adrian Walsh, a line used here or there on BBC Radio 4′s News Huddlines, and writing material for comedy agent Brad Ashton.

“I never thought I’d run a comedy club”

But I never thought I’d be organising and running a comedy club – let alone launching our town’s first ever Comedy Festival. The former saw the light of day after a one-off gig with stand-up and actress Jo Enright back in November 2008 – demand soon saw an isolated event become a quarterly regular.

Why? Several reasons really:

  1. Comedy is a life-enhancer – we have a family-friendly ethos at our club, so the material and humor is suitable for any age from around 12/13 upwards. Enabling people to enjoy a good laugh together with all ages is a really positive thing – especially when the audience is a good mix of Christians and those outside the church community
  2. God loves laughter – I really believe that. He created the duck-billed platypus! The Old Testament prophets used drama and satire to deflate the pomposity of those who misused their authority and abused the weak and vulnerable. Jesus himself told stories with a surreal edge (a man with a plank in his eye?!), spent time with those on the fringes (publicans, sinners and Samaritan women), and loved a good wedding party (see Cana). It’s great for people to see that a church-run club can happily dispense with the idea that Christians are anti-fun and don’t have a sense of humor.
  3. Comedy disarms people and makes people think – many of the acts we book are Christians. Their faith may not be explicit in their material, but they bring a joy and a quality to their entertainment that is hard to disguise. It’s also true that when people laugh, their defenses come down – and positive concepts and intriguing questions can be smuggled into the heart.

Our comedy is very wide-ranging, from jokes to observational storytelling, one-liners to the surreal. We’ve had comedy magic, performance poetry, and silly songs. There’s endless variety.

And it’s great using a non-church venue for this kind of event – there’s a bar for people to buy a drink at our regular venue, and people instantly feel comfortable and at ease. That’s often not the case when people come into a church building, with a whole host of baggage and expectations attached.

It’s easy for people to invite friends, neighbors and family members, and an evening of comedy is a relaxed, non-threatening occasion. It’s perfect for chatting in between acts, and building friendships.

So please …

  • consider how you or your church could use humor as a bridge-building tool
  • pray for Christians in comedy – for good audiences, for the joy of shared laughter, for something of the divine twinkle of God to be seen, heard and sensed
  • pray also for those who can write positive, entertaining, life-affirming comedy

Finally, to quote Mr Monkhouse: “They laughed when I said I wanted to be a comedian. Well, they’re not laughing now …”

Read more: http://www.internetevangelismday.com/blog/archives/2320#ixzz1oqd4YwR3at Internet Evangelism Day

Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

Sky News online carried this story today:

An Australian man who stopped countless people from jumping to their deaths at a notorious Sydney beauty spot called ‘The Gap’ has died…
Mr Ritchie would simply walk up to people standing close to the edge and ask gently: “Is there something I could do to help you?” which would often be enough to make people rethink their actions…
He told his daughter an offer of help “was all that was often needed to turn people around, and he would say not to underestimate the power of a kind word and a smile”

The Gap is an ocean cliff in eastern Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Photo by Adam J.W.C (wikipedia)

Hundreds of people have been saved from a needless death by the kindness of this man. He was on the alert for those in need. He didn’t leave the responsibility to others. He acted with kindness and a smile.

I may never know the undercurrents of hurt, anguish, fear and torment that flow in the lives of those I meet. But maybe a word of kindness and a smile can lift them a little. I have noticed that miserable looking check out assistants, for example, often brighten up and become lively and engaging, when I smile and say something pleasant to them.

Don Ritchie has been a challenge to me to maintain a caring attitude and not be shy to ask: “Is there something I can do to help you?”

You can read the news story and view the video here.


Laying roofing felt

Torching on the mineralized roofing felt . Photo from iStockphotos

Today I am finalizing the appointment of a company to do roof repairs on our block of flats. We have a residents’ committee and, as the secretary, I was responsible for inviting inspections and quotations from several roofing companies.

Cowboy builders

How do we sort out the “cowboys” from the bunch? How do we know what really needs doing? Fortunately, nowadays roof inspectors carry digital cameras. So I and the others on the committee were able to see photos and video of the roof in every part – the good, the bad and the ugly (forgive another cowboy/western reference!).

From our position on terra firma we could never see on the degraded roof felt, broken tiles, loose pointing, ripped flashing and blocked gutters. We needed someone higher than we are  to see the detail of all the work that needs to be done. He recorded it and showed it to us on his laptop.

God’s snapshots

I also need someone higher than me in my spiritual life.  How else will I get the true account of  work that is needed to be done in me? Only God has the full picture.

Whenever my conscience is pricked, then the snapshot has been taken of an area of damage that needs to be attended to. Like the roof, it is dangerous to put off dealing with it. Attitude problems, lack of discipline, selfishness…oh I have seen God’s photos!  I came across them in the album – the Bible.

It is a common saying: “He knows all about us and loves us just the same.” But it is true and it is a comfort. I can put all my trust in my heavenly Father to lovingly and completely deal with my problem areas, if I cooperate with him.

Follow Me

SLICES OF MY LIFE are little slivers of my experiences. I have many interests and this blog is my way of keeping track of what I see and learn. Some of it brings a smile to my face, uplifts and encourages me, or makes me think deeply. I hope you enjoy what you read here as much as I enjoy writing it!