Thursday, May 21, 2015

What does TCMS mean for Republicans and Conservatives

Yet another one of those disingenuous memes from our CBDCFs, Our Confused and Brain Damaged Conservative Friends.

Yes, yes, of course big government is bad.
IF and WHEN it actually IS too big. 

Considering that we cannot now afford or even figure out how to fix our crumbling infrastructure (bridges, roads, rail, broadband connections (cell, internet, etc.)), government and funding (see military budgets, purchasing planes that don't work, funding that the military doesn't want in areas like yet another aircraft carrier, etc.), you certainly can break the government in under funding and shrinking it to the point of sheer idiocy (see TCMS below).

What they can't seem to understand of late in their having raging TCMS (Tiny Conservative Mind Syndrome), is that too small government is as bad or even more dysfunctional than too big government. It is a belief system support and disseminated through right wingnut radio, web sites and cable channels like the notorious Fox News network and their inflammatory twists on the news which does the nation such a great a disservice and really only services the rich and disingenuous.

Fox News leads the mentally infirm and old (no really, check their demographics) down the path to waste and falsehoods with their consistent avoidance of actual fact checked and properly Op Ed information with their "Fox Newisness". That phrase by the way was recently submitted to Urban Dictionary as we really need that phrase to more succinctly go along with Stephen Colbert's wonderful term, "Turthinesss". 


Would I prefer too big or too small? Don't be foolish. I'd prefer a professionally run correct size to run properly, government. Like with our security and intelligence departments. They are way too big and need to be shrunk before America only supplies the world with information as a GDP.

Of course an inflated bureaucracy slows things to a crawl if not just blocking things completely and outright (please refer to our current and recently previous US Congresses).

However, too small of a government also doesn't do a damned thing. Right?

What then is the attraction, what is the difference for conservatives?

In a too big of a government, you can point fingers at those bad apples to cut them, to fire them, to jail them. And conservatives hate that, because they know, they may be next. And they usually are. But they've instead (rather than clean up their act and be good citizens) raised slipping out of the bounds of justice into a new level, a new art form. 

In a too small government we have the same symptomatic and systemic dysfunction. However, you can't blame them as easily and their jobs are somehow perceived as more secure. You can't fire someone because they are overworked (or blame them) or as we see so much, those incompetents (see, Ted Cruz, et al), or criminals, (see Chris Christy, et al).

Of course in how things are twisted up anymore you can't even fire those who are drilling holes in our government either (see protected by big money).

This is also why region (Christian, typically here) and conservatives and republicans go together like chocolate and peanut butter. 

A leading Catholic Vatican Cardinal recently said gay couples shouldn't be invited to family gatherings if children are present US Cardinal Raymond Burke’s comments came in an interview during the Pope’s Synod of the Family in Rome, in which he also commented on the ‘aggressiveness of the homosexual agenda’. You know, the only reason it looks like gays have an agenda is they are struggling to not be treated like second class citizens, mostly BECAUSE of religion. 

Once again, religion as cancerous mind worms in trying to avoid reality for their beliefs, thus trying to alter reality into a preformed way of filtering reality. Surely why should we raise our children to deal with what is, rather than grow up dealing with what should be so we can have more dysfunction and prejudice and bigoted attitudes in the world for religion to disingenuously continue to claim to have the answers for, as they yet again try to side step reality and so it goes....

One thing conservatives and republicans (and granted, politicians in general, but certainly with our New Age Soviet styled Republican party ), know how to do is to fully actualize the Peter Principle. The ability to rise to your personal best level of functionality in a position, then rise above that to where you're completely dysfunctional but allowed to remain there until you want to move on. Rather than being moved back down to where you are fully functional, or simply fired (again, see protected by big money) as would\should be expected where obviously it is, TRTTD, The Right Thing To Do.

It's time the rational people took back their government and pushed back against the ignorant, the disingenuous, the defectively based religious beliefs. Look, I don't have a problem with you "believing" in religion, as silly as I see it is, just allow others to live their lives and we'll leave you alone. But when stupid thought affects others negatively, it's time to stand up and say no.

Let's get back to live and let live.

Remember how smoothly things worked back then compared to now? Really, that's all it would take to cure TCMS and bring republicans and, well I don't know if there's a cure for conservatism, really. You see, conservatism is a way to view things, not a lifestyle and that's where people got off track. They took a concept and made it a lifestyle and as we've seen, that never goes well. Purity in thought tends to be defective (try inbreeding dogs too much and see what happens after all).

Be opened minded, see what is and not what should be and work with that. Surely you can see how things could be better and take what you have in mind to make things better, but then make things better. Because what we have now is people taking what they think and making things worse while they think they are only trying to make things better, for themselves. And therein lay the crux of the matter.

Look, religion (2013, 2014, 2015)and the republican party are both dying off anyway and like Islam through things like ISIS, death throws can be ugly. However I don't see the republican party dying off per se, rather and hopefully, morphing into something better, though I'm willing to bet it will surprise us and morph into something worse to pleasure it's base who are dying off as Fox News polls show (even Fox is changing and becoming more rational though).

We all live on this tiny planet together.

How about we try to remember that and make room for everyone to live. That seems to be something that liberals have figured out and conservatives can't. But you can make TCMS go away. It's really not that hard to do.

Just have compassion for more than your own self interest. 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Those Wasted(?) Writing Efforts in My Life

I was just thinking back....

How many projects have I worked on that I knew would never go anywhere, or that never got to production, and yet I did them anyway and actually learned from them?

Here's just a few that most immediately come to mind.

In 1984 i graduated with a university degree in psychology from Western Washington University, with a minor in creative writing that included a year of a special team class in script and screenwriting.

After I graduated I realized I had just enough of my Vietnam era veteran's benefits from being in the Air Force, to do one last university quarter. I had wanted to leave college with at least one full feature film screenplay, so I signed up for a few classes I didn't need (sociology, human sexuality and logic).

But I bought no books, keeping the money, attended lectures, took the tests without studying for them, maybe had some rum in my coffee during classes and basically, well, I had a blast. I wanted to know what it was like for some genius students who partied all the time, hardly studied and got straight A's. I had some friends like that, while I had to study day and night for my A's and B's.

Full disclosure, that quarter I failed Logic but I learned a lot, I got a B in sociology (figuring it's just a bigger form of psychology which I had just gotten a degree in at the top of my class), and didn't do so well in human sexuality (because I thought the masters student teaching it, which offended me as we're supposed to only have doctorates teach at a university, but the prof. got sick that quarter;

I disagreed with just about everything she was teaching and clearly pointed that out to her on the final, so....). Did I say I had a blast, AND I got a screenplay written and double A's on it? Oh, too soon, hold on a minute....

I wrote up to sixteen hours a day that summer and attended my classes: Sociology, Human Sexuality (which I had already taken in my freshman year in an awesome double instructor class of a sociologist and a psychologist that made the local papers their class was so great and popular on campus) and Logic.

I came out of that summer quarter with my completed screenplay, "Ahriman" which was my only screenplay for some years. It is about an alien prophet prince form another planet who inadvertently gets sucked over to earth by our scientists during an experiment. My "A" from the two profs who had signed off on my taking an independent study class in order to write the screenplay. Through the years I've done maybe twelve or more drafts of that screenplay.

I used it on Mat Damon and Ben Afleck's Project Greenlight web site where you got peer reviewed by other aspiring screenwriters (some who weren't so useful in their advice, others who were) by peer reviewing other screenwriter's screenplays.

I also used it on Keven Spacey's Triggerstreet web site, which was similar. Trigger Street being a street next to where he had grown up (or on), by the way.

Eventually in listening to some of those people on those sites, I did learn a lot but I got off track until finally the screenplay originally 121 pages became 180 pages and lost track of it's original intent. Which was actually to never show the protagonist (yeah, I know, good luck with that, and I dropped that idea about half way through writing it).

I am planning on taking it back out one day and rewriting it yet again with my now better developed writing skills as I've learned so much since 1984. Getting to semi finalist in one production company screenplay competition, getting two screenplays to one production company (Sealed in Lies, a spy romance adaptation of the novel of the same name by another author, and Teenage Bodyguard (AKA, Slipping The Enterprise, a biopic of my own from when I was 18) and one of those (Sealed in Lies) to another production company with their suggestion that another production company should also look at it.

For years Ahriman was my only screenplay.

As my first completed screenplay, it does hold a dear place in my heart. That is, in that special year long class I was chosen for from an intro to playwriting class (sent there by my Fiction 101 professor to learn dialog better), we wrote TV scripts and did team projects and such, so we didn't get a full feature film screenplay out of it during the class. That team learning experience however was amazingly rewarding, and it holds a dear place in my heart.

By the way, after I wrote Ahriman, it was a good ten years before I saw some of the ideas I had written into that screenplay shown up on screen in other features. Which was very frustrating as I had to watch its potential go down the drain, year after year of not finding where to sell it. Something that has gotten far easier with the advent of the internet.

I based Ahriman's tempo by the way, on Brainstorm, Natalie Wood's last film which she died during the production of. On my first day starting to write Ahriman, I first watched Brainstorm seven times on a rented RCA video player (a video disk like a record and not a laser disk) and took notes on the film.

Toward the end of the 90s, that script had gotten pitched to a Middle Eastern group of investors, exactly the people I'd asked the producer, Sean Davis, not to pitch it to, as I had screwed with their mythology in switching the God and the Satan characters. But he assured me the investors loved it, much to my surprise.

However about that time, Sean left the east coast production company for Hollywood. I had been working with that studio over that two year period (unpaid and never got anything on screen, probably more from my inexperience there than anything else) and continued with them for several more years after he left.

So another project I learned a lot from that never went anywhere. Yet.

And hey Sean Davis, if you're out there and you see this and remember me, say Hi sometime and let's kick around some old times. I really liked and got along well with him and regret that we couldn't for whatever the reason, continue to work together. Maybe some day, maybe. In this industry, much as in the IT world as one UNIX scientist I worked with told me when I left US West Technologies, people tend to run into one another over and over again (so burn no bridges).

There was another screenplay while at that production company, one the producers asked for me to write a new screenplay for. One of them told me there was a new actress on the scene whom he had recently met at a party and thought he could get for our screenplay. He said she had recently been in a film with Kiefer Sutherland. A quirky little film called, Freeway. He said we'd have to move fast as she was very talented and wouldn't be available very long as she was on the way up.

As time went on (not that much time either I might add) he found that she was already tied up for another film project and couldn't make it. Timing would have been perfect to have gotten a very good actress before she exploded on the scene and became nearly impossible to acquire.

That actress was, Reese Witherspoon. Sadly, we didn't get her for the project and the project ended up not moving forward.

Another time, another project.

A good friend asked if I could write a TV script for him as the host, his commentary on a holiday showing of the Frank Capra film, "It's A Wonderful Life". This was back in the 1980s on some TV station he was going to host the film at during the commercial breaks. He wanted interesting elements of the film to share with the audience, or whatever I thought would be most engaging. So I wrote a script for him. Then, it fell through and never got used.

Still, I had gone to Tower Books in Seattle to research it and found books on the film, didn't have money to buy the books back then but I took down notes. Then later I wrote the multiple sections where he would talk to the camera and audience. So if you bought a book on that film back in the 80s  in Seattle at Tower Books, it may have been used to write this script.

I learned some interesting facts about that production. Like what the snow in the film was really made out of. RKO created "chemical snow" (and won an Oscar for it), a new compound utilizing water, soap flakes, foamite and sugar for the film in order to avoid the need for dubbed dialogue when actors walked across the earlier type of movie snow, made up of crushed cornflakes painted white. The Bedford Falls set in the film made use of 20 transplanted oak trees, and for the winter scenes 3000 tons of shaved ice, 300 tons of gypsum, 300 tons of plaster and 6000 gallons of chemicals.

According to one source, film makers suspended huge screens over staging and sifted asbestos fibers over the Wizard of Oz and It’s a Wonderful Life to imitate snow. Asbestos even found a convenient way to hitch a ride into human lungs with other carcinogens; Kent Micronite filter cigarettes were laced with crocidolite asbestos. Though all that being said I was just told there is bad asbestos and not so much bad types.

Also, a light that exploded on a sign outside in the town, which so many over the years had conjectured about what it could have meant, what the director's comment was in doing that, when in reality it was just an odd accident and they simply couldn't afford to go back and reshoot it. But the timing was such that it lent itself to speculation about it's meaning. You learn a lot of weird and interesting things in research.

Another project that went nowhere.

I was once asked to write a music video for a song by a local band. This was also back in the 80s.

I had never done that before. So I accepted the challenge. I wrote it for a relative who was working with the Ron Gardner. A one time member of The Fabulous Wailers, Ron sadly passed away after an accidental fire in December 1992.

I still have the script around here somewhere as well as the audio tape of that song which I just dug out and listened to. Sounds as good as the day I received it. But I don't remember the song now. Still I had sat there listening and relistening to that song seemingly forever back then, writing down the time, minutes and seconds so I could sync up the script shots to it.

I wrote the music video script following the lyrics and the rhythm of the song. I tried to think of a twist to inject into the song and so when he was singing about his love for a woman and how she was not following his desired path, I threw in another woman whom she seemed to be more interested in than him. I thought long and hard on that one. Was this something I just thought was sexy, or was this serving the music video?

Would the MTV crowd find it interesting or not. I hadn't given so much thought to how the artist would think about it though, just my brother in law, who I thought would consider the money and notoriety over questionable content. You know, it's not very questionable now, but back then, it pretty much was.

I tried to talk myself out of it but I decided it was in the end, a good idea and that put on MTV, it would play well if not have a "viral" element to it. A term hat didn't exist at that time. In the end after submitting the script, I was told two things. One, it wasn't conservative enough of a concept for the band (that is, Ron) and two, Ron had decided to go another direction altogether. Which also eliminated my relative. Oh, well...that's show business.

So many missed opportunities that I had worked hard on.

But wasted time? Not really. I learned from all these experiences. Most importantly, I produced finished products. And I moved on from them with more experience under my belt.

Another example.

For several years I worked unpaid as an "in house" writer for Scorpio Pictures back in the late 1990s. The executive producer got an idea, pitched it to their stable of writers (whom I was one of), who would then write a scene or whatever and then the producers would consider their writings. I had more than a few emails and phone calls back then with this east coast production company. It was fun, hopeful, and educational in, if nothing else, learning what it is like to work with a production company and its producers. There is something definitely to be said positive about interning.

There was another screenplay I worked on for that production company I mentioned earlier, but the executive producer didn't care for the direction I was going with it and frankly I was over my head with it at the time. It was a great idea for a film, I just didn't have enough direction or the skills I do now, for it at the time. Ironically, a couple of years ago I came up with a pretty good concept for it. I'm still trying to get around to writing it.

You have to be ready when opportunity knocks.

One of my biggest efforts with them was in two weeks they needed a first draft of a script for the Playboy Cable Channel who put out a call for a vampire screenplay. Problem for me was, I was about to leave on summer vacation for a week or so to Reno, Nevada where my wife at the time was working at an Arabian horse show as a trainer and rider. But I decided to do it. I titled it, "Until Dawn".

But, I was writing it with Lifeforce in mind. That was a Dan O'Bannon film (as was Alien and many others, by the way and he played the lovebale character in Dark Star of Sgt. Pinback) as I was a big O'Bannaon fan since I first saw Dark Star when I was in Tech School in the Air Force at the base theater. Brief aside: we'd been drinking before hand, stuffed our bottles in a bag in the bushes outside the theater, then got them back when we left and almost got arrested for climbing up inside a B-52 bomber, full sized display plane in a field around 11PM at night, mid base.

By the way, I figured this was the case and in looking it up just now it is. The band Pinback's moniker is a reference to a character in the 1974 film Dark Star (played by Dan O'Bannon, who also co-wrote the film), directed by John Carpenter. Audio samples from this film are used frequently in the band's early works.

Speaking of which, John Carpenter has always been one of my favorite directors for things like this film and others like Escape From New York and the now oddly enough "original" remake of this and so many films now, The Thing, Starman (which I wrote about here last week), Big Trouble in Little China, They LiveAssault on Precinct 13, and so many others. Not to mention the original, Halloween film. How can I not like a guy who does it all his own way, does his own music, works repeatedly with a stable of friends and artists and is just all around awesome?

Anyway, I wrote my original screenplay of Until Dawn as a sequel of sorts to Dan O'Bannon's, Lifeforce, so, vampires as aliens (or aliens as vampires,whichever kicks off your interest cycles).

So many ideas, so little time.

It was a working vacation in Reno, Nevada, for my wife and we had our two kids with us who were in grade school at the time. In my spare time on that trip, I would write. When I wasn't just watching or feeding the kids, or we were hanging with my wife when she had free time. Times during which we drove to Silver City and toured Samuel Clemens' place (Mark Twain, when he was a young reporter in that town),

When I would write I would take the kids down to The Sands hotel pool area which had a bar (yippie!). While they splashed around next to me in the pool, I had a loose leaf binder I was writing in with pen in hand, while ordering serial pina coladas and simply enjoying the sun and not being at my day job as a technical writer in IT.

I have to say, one of my best screenwriting experience ever. I swear I put on five pounds from those damn drinks that week (and those casino buffets I'm sure).

My only trouble in writing that week was, and I learned a lot from this, I was writing in public. It's odd what you can unexpectedly learn sometimes. Anyway, stop me if I'd told you this one before....

While I was writing, there was a guy around thirty or so hanging out at the pool who was really drunk. Nice guy, seemed harmless enough. He was a good looking guy who was eventually joined by his girlfriend. But before she arrived he had seen me writing and asked me what I was doing. Lost in thought, I said I was writing a vampire screenplay for the Playboy channel.

He was interested so I told him they had put out a call to various production companies and mine had asked me to write something to submit. They had probably asked their other writers like me, to do the same, but that wasn't mention, although it was probably considered as understood.

The jolly inebriated fellow seemed interested and I was enjoying the attention. Finally I said I had to get back to it. He said that was cool and his girlfriend would be by soon and she'd find it fascinating. I didn't think much of it being, as I said, I was lost in thought.

A little while later a very attractive woman in a bikini showed up around the pool. Well, I'm male, I'm straight and, I can appreciate attractiveness. But I was married, she was very attractive too, and I had my kids and my writing.

She turned out to be his girlfriend. Nonchalantly, she came by my table (judiciously located as the nearest table to the outside bar) and noticed my writing. I'm sure now he told her what I was doing and for her to make her introductions. She sat and talked to me until she ended up telling me she was the guy's girlfriend and, wait for it, an actress. She told me he paid the bills washing windows on tall corporation buildings there in Reno, but he was also a stage magician.

He came by about then and said he'd be happy to do some magic for my kids. He said it so they'd hear it. That ended any kind of my saying "no thanks", as I wasn't quite sure I wanted someone that drunk around my kids. Though, he was gregarious and friendly and I admit quite funny. So through my hesitations, he said he'd pop up to his room to get some stuff and come back to put on a mini show for my kids. And so indeed, he popped off.

His girlfriend in the mean time noticed my reticence, but assured me that although he was very drunk he was quite harmless and was after all, a good magician. She mentioned again that she was an actress and then, I saw it coming.

From that point on she tried to talk me into putting her in the film. Me. I was nobody, a writer. A guilty necessity Hollywood needed but historically seemed to despise.

I tried to explain to her that I was a nobody in my being a writer and we didn't even have the film wrapped up yet as production companies were acquiring writings on spec, just as I was writing one. But she was persistent. So I took her info in the off chance this went anywhere but I assured her I had no pull regarding the talent if and when production should ever begin.

Such is this industry  that you have to take every and all opportunities and I appreciated that. In my book, she was only doing what a professional should be doing. Utilizing every possible opportunity. I hate it, but I do it myself when I can bring myself to do it. Perhaps if I were less conscientious and more aggressive, I'd have gotten further in this profession myself.

Her boyfriend returned, gave the magic show, amazed my kids and myself and a few others kids around the pool, and that was the last I saw of them. But I had wasted some hours when I could have been writing that day.

What I learned about that was, if ever you write in public, NEVER tell anyone what you are doing or for whom you are doing it. Name dropping has its place and it is not during the writing process. Make something up if you have to, downplay it. IF you want to get any work done at all, that is. Fame is for when you have the time, or you when deserve it.

Still it was a fun day and makes for a good memory.

Finally, probably my biggest lesson in selling my writings (or in not selling them)....

In the late 80s I wrote a word processing manual for the WPS+ word processor on the Digital Equipment Coporation (DEC) VAX mainframe. 

TWO count them, TWO major hospitals in the Seattle area used it and loved it for years. These were the University of Washington Medical Center (originally University Hospital) and its sister hospital, Harborview Medical Center (what we used to call, "The Zoo" as it was the county seat of where stabbings and ER trips went when no one could afford medical care; weekend nights typically being crazy there and thus, "The Zoo"). 

So I sent it to Digital Press, a subsidiary of DEC. Years later (after the story I'll share below) I found out, those hospitals were still using that manual long after I'd moved on.

The editor initially loved it. But like a good editor (or even a film \ tv producer) he said, "just one thing, could you write it so it's all one, not each chapter tiered as you have written it?"

I had written it so that the X-Ray techs at the lower levels, the transcriptionists, at the mid tier levels and the radiologists at the upper levels, could all use it. When you opened a chapter there was a block of steps to perform the task in that chapter. Next section of that chapter was more in depth. Then finally the last part of the chapter was an in-depth explanation giving way too much info for most people but satisfying even the most dickering of users, that being any of our world class radiologists. We had at that time on staff at UWMC,the head of the national Radiologists association, the American College of Radiology. Or it may have been the Radiological Society of North America.

Anyway, you get the idea. We had some big shots at the hospital.

The editor asked if I couldn't rewrite it eliminating that format, whch was the brilliant format (I had based on the old Scientific American magazine articles which I grew up loving because you could start an article at a level where just about anyone could understand it, but by time you got to the end of the article they were at the scientist, if not molecular level. I was addicted to that format.

So, wanting to see my manual sold, I relented. Dumb, dumb, dumb, but hey what did I know right? He had told me I would probably make $25,000 PER QUARTER, $200k\yr, and that the book would go out with every PC and Mainframe sold in the entire world!

Digital Equipment proper read the manual and said they would support it IF, I had used more of a three pronged approach (which I HAD DONE and was what was so loved about it). Then they also threw a tiff, threatening me with crushing me should I decide to publish elsewhere. I believed them. 

But I thought that was very odd. 

So I reread my own manual and found that the reason was, their software was buggy and this was the second thing actual users loved about my manual. I pointed out the bugs and the workarounds which I had figured out over a couple of years. 

So rather than being in the middle of your work and now you're suddenly locked up for hours, you could simply go click and back to work! Brilliant. Right? I just shouldn't ever have called them "bugs" in the manual, but something. Anything, else. Like, enhancements, features, or something.

Anyway, it just goes to show, when you KNOW you have a good idea, and someone says I'll buy it IF, really think about compromising yourself or your works. Doing what you're asked to do to sell something, can bring you down. But really think about it, because it can also be a saving grace in accepting their advice. It's up to you. Make the right choice.

And, don't call bugs, apparently.

Summing up, all these things have one thing in common.

I started these projects with one intent in mind and I walked away from them with no monetary or writing credits from the work I had put in. Still, I had learned some very interesting lessons about life and being a professional writer.

Back in 2010 I had decided it was time in my life, with my kids nearly grown and soon to move out, that I should again put all my efforts into my fiction writing. Finally and hopefully once and for all to finally get somewhere.

I'd had fits and false starts and stops all my life.

Small successes but nothing life changing. I'd had it and finally I was going to go for it and I would finally have the chance to. Soon I knew my kids would be gone, my divorce was behind me some years, I'd had a few girlfriends and nothing was in the way stopping me. Well, I , had a girlfriend at the time actually.

We'd been going out for about eighteen months. She was Vietnamese and seemed to have trouble about my being western, because of her family, not her. I finally thought I'd helped her in her own life. She'd been married for 27 years since she was 18 and so I guess I was rebound guy for her. It just felt right to let her go.

I think in the end we had helped one another out for the next stage in our lives and I do hope she ended up well. So I've been single every since with my plan being to remain so, until (as a reward) I got somewhere with my writings. That somewhere being, supporting myself fully on my writings so I could drop my day job in IT. I've made a lot of  progress but sometimes it definitely seems like I'll remain single forever. Such is the life of a writer. Or this writer anyway.

I had wisely decided in 2010 not to turn down anything if I could learn from it, or if it had the possibility of making me money, or acquiring me some gravitas in the writing field, or in anyway to move me forward, increasing my tempo in life.

Now here I am five years later and I've made a good deal of progress but I'm still struggling to "make it".

However I've gone from my small collection of short stories (see Anthology of Evil for those early works or Death of Heaven for later ones, or even other's anthologies hat I'm in for yet later ones) and my one initial screenplay (Ahriman) along with a few smaller ones (Sarah, Colorado Lobsters, and the ever popular, Popsicle Death (from that year long screenwriting class) to now, with several feature film length screenplays, a couple of books in print, several new screenplays, production companies showing interest with a couple of screenplays at a couple of production companies and more to come I'm quite sure.

It will all come together in the end (hopefully to be honest, much sooner than the end).

I have realized through all these years that not all of what you learn in life, not all of your original intentions, will deliver in the ways you had planned.

But if you pay attention, you WILL learn plenty. And, you will learn plenty in areas where you needed to learn things and in which you had either never known about, or never planned to learn about, in thinking it wasn't necessary.

Essentially, learning about everything is necessary but you only have so much time and energy. It's not impossible, or insurmountable, it's all doable as you only truly need to learn enough to get there, wherever there is. Just as in through all the rejections, you still only need one acceptance, for each project.

Have hope. But work hard to deserve what you are shooting for.

About wasted efforts.

In going up against adversity and yet still succeeding, let me suggest a book:

The Wright Brothers by an amazing author, David McCullough. It's an amazing story about changing the world when having so very little with which to do so and still, achieving your goals while learning much along the way.

Remember what Thomas Edison said in only succeeding to perfect the light bulb after 10,000 attempts:

“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Now. You too, go out and be brilliant!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Screenwriting - The Not Writing Parts

How about a few words again about writing, more specifically, screenwriting?

To become a screenwriter, to sell screenplays, you first have to learn to write a good story. Story is almost all important, as you also need to learn the screenplay format. Finally, you need to learn the system that absorbs and pays for those screenplays.

Then you will have to sell what you've written. But how do you get to and through that selling part once the writing has been properly accomplished, read, rewritten, reread, coverage completed, changes made, perhaps contests entered and more changes made and then, finally, it's time to shop it around?

Try setting yourself up ahead of time.

Networking, for instance. IS there a better way? Certainly there are other ways but the best way is to already know someone or better still, someones to whom you can submit or better still, who you know will actually read your work.

Stage32 CEO RB Botto talks about this in an interview:

Is Hollywood Really All About Who You Know? by Richard "RB" Botto (Stage 32 CEO)

Over my lifetime I've had repeated accidental moments where I've met someone or learned about filmmaking. I've shot a couple of shorts, one in college, one later as a public access cable TV producer. Invaluable lessons in film production.

I suspect if I haven't yet, I've certainly gotten a very good foundation laid in many of the problems you can run into on a film production. I took a film production series of seminars at Bellevue Community College with famous director, Stanley Kramer.

What an amazing experience that was, to sit in a theater with other filmmaking students and be so near to greatness. That was a time I screwed up too though as some of hose students later got together to work on a couple of productions of heir own. I should have found a way to get involved but it was at a time just post college when I was pretty penniless. 

Anyway, my biggest issues in order of nightmare level?
  1. Concept - what, and how and writing it
  2. Equipment - getting the equipment you need, those to run it, and equipment issues and failures
  3. Talent - finding, motivating and handling
  4. Post production - the editing process and again, equipment issues
Situations like public access cable TV had a built in distribution channel. IF you used their equipment and studio, you had to schedule your production to "air" at least once. Mine aired twice. But this isn't about that, or my previous video I shot at my university.

This is about networking, and getting experience.

More so about experience. I'll let RB talk in the video (above) about networking.

Obviously, if you have people to throw your final drafts at, you're way ahead of the game. There are film festivals where you can shoot a short clip of your screenplay so you have something to actually SHOW people. You can enter contests, cold calling\submitting (never a great idea but hey, things do come from them like .01% of the time). 

So, experience...I'll tell you one example of something I experienced. 

Back in about 1986, I was going home one day from work. I worked at  Tower Video Mercer Street store in Seattle. I lived on the Magnolia side of Queen Anne Hill. About half way home one afternoon, I stumbled upon a production company shooting scenes up on the hill with Seattle in the background.

I had nothing going on that afternoon, so I parked and walked as close as I could get without being in the way and just hung out, absorbing what they were doing. Watching a production taking place practically in my own neighborhood.

I was patient, I wasn't leaving until they did. I was there for two or three hours maybe. Then I heard they were going to break down and move to the next location. It was a night shoot. I could hear their plans. They were going down below to the Seattle Center, where the Space Needle is, for a Monorail Terminal scene. 

One of the guys noticed me watching though a few other locals were watching too in that neighborhood location on the south Queen Anne hillside. He paid me little attention, but he had noticed me. That, was important.

As they broke down to leave, I headed out myself. I went home, wasted some time waiting for them to get to the new location, grabbed a bite to eat (which in those days was very little) and then headed down to the Seattle Center.

I found a good place to sit, just opposite the Monorail Terminal entrance on a concrete wall, with my back to the Space Needle immediately behind me. The map below couldn't show any better exactly where I was sitting, watching the production.

Of course in 86 the EMP didn't exist (or the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, for that matter) and right behind the monorail from me was the Fun Forest where the rides were located since the Seattle World's Fair opened. As indicated in the article they closed down finally on Jan. 2, 2011.
Newer map but you get the idea
I came to realize that evening that they were shooting a TV series version of one of my favorite films produced and directed by one of my all time favorite directors, John Carpenter. Here's IMDB for 1984s, Starman. For that matter, here's IMDB for myself.

I love that film for various reasons, the director, the actors, the concept, and that final speech by Starman (Jeff Bridges) himself about how good the human race really wants to be but continually fails and yet tries again. Uplifting, hopeful, taking a possible horror film and making it more like an adult version of ET.


So, that was pretty cool.

I had found myself on the set of the pilot location for a new TV show based on one of a favorite film of mine. It was to star Robert Hays, a staple TV actor back then  and star of a classic comedy, Airplane! T

he feature film of Starman also had Charles Martin Smith who had just previous to Starman been in one of my favorite films of all time, Never Cry Wolf in 1983, as well as Karen Allen and Richard Jaeckel,

Once I realized I was on the set of 1) a new TV pilot, 2) the TV version of one of my favorite films, 3) based in my town, 4) with Robert Hays and 5) did I mention I was on the set location of a TV production?
This could almost be a photo I took from where I was sitting
Anyway, I sat there on that concrete wall, out of the way but quite obvious, for an hour or two. I spent most of my time trying to see the camera set up inside the terminal. Mostly I watched lots of extras milling about until they were needed, all dressed randomly, playing the part of the general public in the background to make it all look normal. I learned about being an extra on a production that night. Like set decorations, there was much boredom and waiting around.

The guy who had noticed me at the previous location kept noticing me again at this location. He was busy, rushing around with a hand held radio giving orders. He was having someone turn on the rides there that were behind the monorail terminal shot as background. You can see it in the pilot. It looks like the rides were going the entire time and they were whenever the camera was rolling and they were filming something, typically for a minute or much less. But they were then turned off again until the next set up and shot.

Finally, he was walking past me yet again and just stopped. He thought for a second, turned to me and said, "Didn't I see you at our previous location earlier today?"

That was my opening.

I told him my story as briefly as I could. About how I had studied screenwriting at college and that I was an aspiring writer. That I'd never been on the set of a film production before and I was just trying to learn all I could. I said if I needed to leave I would understand but until he told me to leave, I was there for as long as they were. In the end, I did stay and it went on until after midnight.

By this time full nighttime was upon us.

I asked him what it was he was doing, what his job was. He told me how when productions came to town, he was one of the local location managers. In this case at this location, he was handling the background, running the rides and their lights during shots, and just overall managing what was going on there.We chatted in general for a few minutes until I think he realized I was legit in my interest.

Then he just said, "Come with me." I had no idea what was going on, but hey, I followed him.

We walked up into the terminal, past the extras who all noticed me as if I were actually someone important. He took me up inside the monorail terminal, walked right up to the camera where an ancient old guy, the director, was seated behind the second unit camera.

There were two stand-ins with their backs to me at an open monorail door. They had the Robert Hays stand-in wired with one of he little balls of light that was famously in the film and wold now be in the TV show, which gave the Starman character his paranormal powers.
Robert Hayes as Starman
The location manager told me to just stand right there. I smiled understanding.

He smiled and said, "Have fun."

I could only respond with, "Thanks, so much!"

He could feel my excitement and pleasure at having such an awesome front seat to things. Then he just walked away. I never talked to him again. In hindsight I realize now I should have gotten his name, networked harder, maybe pushed for meeting him later on to discuss things, like getting into the field of location managing as a way into local film productions.

I was stunned as it was and just happy to be breathing, and on a set. It was a possible opportunity lost, to be sure. When opportunity knocks, you have to be near enough to that door to hear it and then you have to answer that knock. But sometimes you don't really know what answering it properly is, until later in hindsight.

So there I stood, six feet away to the right of the camera and director. The director looked at me once and then ignored me. They were working after all. There was a lot of stopping, waiting, fooling with the wired device, proper lighting issues, shooting a few seconds, stopping, resetting, shooting...and it went on that way for hours. I couldn't have been happier than at that moment, however.
NOT the stand-ins I was watching that night
The stand-in for Erin Gray who played Jenny Hayden, was very attractive. Both her and the Starman stand-in noticed me. But then, she kept noticing me. After a while I got the feeling she too thought I was a "somebody", maybe a producer or someone important, perhaps someone who could be useful to her career?

I couldn't help but wonder of the possibilities of after location scenarios. Which alone was fun in and of itself. An after shooting party maybe? Alas, no...these were all working actors who probably had day jobs and would instead most likely go home and get some sleep. Or maybe I missed out?

What all I learned that day and night, I cannot tell you now. But it was helpful, useful back then as I got to absorb the feeling of what it is like to be on set, the grueling hours, the waiting, the work and effort, the setting up, breaking down, the extras, the stand-ins.... it was worth the time spent, it was inspiring and gave me hope. Not something to give light import to.

My point in all this is this, you have to set yourself up to experience the things you want to experience. Perhaps had I walked up and been more gregarious to the location manager in the first place, I may have ended up with more access. As it was, I can't complain, though. I went for it in persistence and persevering, showing my interest and dedication to the art and process, as best I could. I could after all, simply have gone home and ignored that film production up on the hillside.

Writing is such a tough field now a days (and it always has been but it's gotten even tougher in recent years), that we have to be dedicated, we have to persevere and we have to be creative, not just in the writing, but in how we get to be known, accepted and supported. We need, as RB says in his video above, to offer to help those who we want to have help us.

We need to show others how affective our passion is for the art and what their knowing us can do for them.

In my life in the corporate world I learned one important thing (well many really but one stands out). I always made it clear to my managers in the beginning, that I was there to make them look good. To make their life easier in anyway possible. That I was someone who would help them advance. When you become a tool in someone's toolbox, you don't have to do anything else because they will get used to calling upon that tool to do their work and that, is always good for you.

I let them know that I thought they were more important than I am and so credit goes to them. That has worked for me in several ways. I almost always (not always, almost always, but that's important to recognize) and so I ended up usually getting the attention I was giving away. I came to be protected by my managers. I got a reputation for someone to work with or have work for you.

So much is about "making it" is about people becoming or being made aware of you, believing you can do something for them, and their wanting to help you for any of a variety of reasons. One reason not being a small one in that you are passionate and a force for them to latch onto and be drawn forward by.

My grandmother once told me when I was young that she always tried to be around those who were educated: doctors, lawyers, etc. I took that to heart and got a degree, the first in my nuclear family to do so. The same is true in any endeavor specific to that effort. Try to hang around at least writers, or people doing film production at any level. But find people who are serious, passionate, motivated and doing and acting on their interests.

Remember that the contact you make with anyone high up in a field, but not the highest, such as assistants to some big shot, may one day themselves replace that high level person. It's part of what networking is all about. You want to get to know those in power, but as you spend years doing that, don't ignore the rest of us who are nobodies. Because one day we may be in charge and you'd best have allowed us a good impression of you when, hopefully, we remember you.

As they say...

Be kind to everyone on the way up; you'll meet the same people on the way down.

Don't be timid, be humble.

As my screenwriting prof at my university told us, a screenplay or manuscript sitting on a shelf in your closet will never get sold. As it is with you and your talents. You have to let others know you are there, that you're available and that you're someone to reckon with (in a good way, but then there are times....).

Impress, motivate, and acquire loyalty at very least based on your ability to do something for someone. And remember, when you stop doing good things for people, you stop being hat useful tool in their toolbox. You're only as good as your last project. When you write you are a writer and when you are not writing, you have to ask yourself, what are you now?

Go out and be brilliant! Almost....

By the way, if you are into the writing parts of writing....get the books, do the studying, read screenplays, take classes, and so on. Read and acquire reference books like, Syd Field's Screenplay The Foundation of Screenwriting (obviously), Screenwriter's BibleDr. Format Answers Your Questions, and so on.

Also pick up a copy of John Jarrell's Tough Love Screenwriting: The Real Deal From A Twenty-Year Pro. Just be aware, he swears. Still, it's a very entertaining, insightful and informative read.

I'd also like to mention an Off Camera with Sam Jones episode with producer Chris Moore for a video version of a screenwriter or film producing wake up call about the current state of Hollywood.

John Jarrell (Romeo Must Die (2000)) also offhandedly suggests: Save The Cat, How to Write a Screenplay in 10 Weeks: A Fast & Easy Toolbox for All Writers, Once you do learn the formatting of a screenplay, you then need a solid dose of reality and that's what John's book offers.

NOW, go out and be brilliant! 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Who slapped the John Wayne out of Texas?

Apparently Texas thinks the Jade Helm 15 martial law maneuver will mean losing their statehood. There is now a Facebook page devoted to it where the crazies are congregating. They fear they are being invaded by the federal government.

That the great gang member Obama in the sky (or Washington DC) is invading their hood.

Look, I have a few guns myself (since childhood). But unlike a lot of perpetually scared conservatives, I'm not afraid. Like a certain Jade Helm 15 delusional Martial Artist (cough, Chuck Norris), although he's also a Texan, so.....

You know, first I learned how to protect myself without a gun, in case someone took them away or I didn't happen to have one when needed. So I'm not that concerned should the government take them away from me. I'll live. I'll survive. Unlike, apparently, conservatives who will drop dead if their guns are taken away.

Thinking you can beat the US military as a civilian, is really kind of ridiculous in itself anyway.

I love how conservatives delusionally believe that their little play militias would win over the greatest military strength in the history of the entire world.

Right. Good luck with that.

Much like anytime one takes on a giant by oneself, or a group goes against a massively larger group, you need unconventional warfare. Your assault rifle will not protect you (more of an irritation really) or save you from the US government. It simply won't.

Excuse me while I... LMFAO.

No matter on top of all that when voting republican or conservative, when THOSE are the types we all really need protection from. It's like stabbing yourself in the eye voting for them and then handing over the sharp stick and asking someone else to repeatedly shove it in and out of your eye socket, again and again, for you. I guess you're just lazy in screwing yourself over so you needed a political party to do that for you?

Personal guns aren't the answer anyway.

Money, education (which has been ingenuously disappearing and so these types don't\can't even notice because um, poor education, ya know?), when intelligent representation (fully lacking in the GOP) as well as voting well, are the things that are truly needed.

Texas has already hosted these types of maneuvers and you're still (sadly in some ways), Texas.

The town near the CIA training facilities goes through these weird kinds of things, year after year after year.

No one complained when Bush was in office during the maneuvers. So why under Obama? Are you afraid? Come on. Texas? Afraid?

Well, have you seen the videos of them over this issue? Yes, they are afraid, some of them are terrified and yet some, are horribly embarrassed. Why? Why are they embarrassed? Because they are the true Texans. They are scared of anything or anyone or certainly of their own Government.

Who in the hell knocked the John Wayne out of you, Texas?

Really. It's okay. Don't be afraid.

You'll still be here next year and next decade. Just hopefully smarter, once you realize no one ever did invade you.

Though honestly, I don't have high hopes on that line.

By the way, here's a piece from Slate magazine:

The truth about Operation Jade Helm is that some of you can’t handle the truth: Obama really isn’t invading Texas

Oh and by the way, if you thought the answer to the title of this was Pres. Barack Obama, think again. He had no interest or desire of "invading" a state already a part of the "UNITED" States. The answer is... those conservative Texan's own fears and insecurities. Hang in there guys and gals, I'm sure we'll get another Republican president again soon who an out due "W" (and providence help the rest of us).

Monday, May 4, 2015

Miserable or Happy? Is the Tempo of your Life exceeding expectations?

More people should be concerned with the tempo of their life's efforts.

Some people, should consider less.

Living, shouldn't make you so stressed out that it destroys you, those around you, your relationships, or through your actions (as we see with many politicians and corporate leaders), your community.

What do I mean by "tempo"?

The dictionary defines tempo as either: the speed at which a musical piece is played or sung, or the speed at which something moves or happens.

I am of course referring to the latter part of the definition. But then you could consider your life a kind of musical piece played with its highs and lows, successes and sadly, its tragedies.

Another definition indicates chess and is where I first learned of the concept as a child in learning to play chess.

A tempo in chess is the movement of a piece which is part of one's own plan or strategy, forcing by means of "checking" or "attacking" an opponent's piece, making them move a piece which is their best move possible albeit of little or no use for them and therefore, the initiating player gains a tempo, while the opponent loses a tempo.

Looking at it another way, one player achieves the same result in fewer moves using one approach over another. And so it is in life.

We don't usually consider that when we make a move in life, it affects another negatively because there are so many people and so many options. And yet, energy is never created out of nothing, or disappears into nothing.

Consider that when you unburden yourself of a secret that affects another, there are many times where although you may feel better in the "unloading" of some issue, you are not dissipating it but displacing it onto another.

A prime example of this in relationships is when someone has an affair. Having ended it or not, after a while it weighs heavily on the moral individual. Having an affair where only one person in a relationship knows of this going on outside of their relationship, is unethical. If there is an open relationship, that's different, but so often as not, that is not the case and so the realization of the harm it could cause the other eventually begins to weigh on the person pursuing the external relationship.

If that person finally unloads that burden in telling their primary relationship partner, they do tend to feel better. And yet all they have done is to take that "energy" if you will and moved it to the other person, mostly reasonably, unfairly. Because although they now feel better in relieving themselves of the secret, the other person now has to deal with it when they had not done anything to warrant their having had this bombshell dropped on them.

The perpetrator might in-genuinely rationalize the other person had done something to warrant their behavior, such as having ignored them in the relationship, or some other slight however grievous, but in the end it was their decision to handle the slight by doing something unethical. Then they rationalized a need to "come clean" and dump this information on the other ignorant person in their relationship, effectively, further causing harm while selfishly attempting to absolve them of their actions.

In this case, gaining a tempo, and in a "Zugzwang" type move, taking a tempo from the most important person in their life. One has to wonder, what would anyone be thinking to have gotten into that kind of a situation in the first place, and why would they do further damage in thinking it was the right thing to do to transfer their discomfort from themselves to the other. It points to a very self-centered individual.

It points to a need for therapy. Better it is I think to get the therapy before the bad behavior, than after when nothing may be able to be salvaged. If the destruction is what is "subconsciously" desired, it is still better to end the relationship on a good note than this bad one, thus gaining a tempo for all involved. Including the outside party. Sadly, many will still go ahead with this type of behavior merely for the juvenile thrill aspects of it.

I find it is instructive to look at etymological forms of a word, where and how it developed over time.
Consider the form, tempus.

From Proto-Indo-European *tempos (“stretch”), from the root *temp- (“to stetch, string”), whence also templum (“shrine”) and tempora. Originally the word meant "what is stretched, stretching" → "stretch (of time)" → "time, occasion".

Essentially it is about a dilation or contraction of progress.

In our lives we have a speed at which change occurs. Some of that (too much for some) is haphazard and happens around us as if we are merely observers to it. Some of it is change through our thoughtful actions and conscious intentions. I would argue, that is the better way to go through life.

If we attend college as opposed to say, sitting around working at a very low level job, perhaps just drinking or getting high in the off hours, allowing life to pass us by, we would achieve a level of existence. Some might argue that there are other more productive forms of living similar to that level, such as being an artist or activist, or living a natural life in growing your own food and living off the grid. So the same type of life can be very different and it is the quality of choice that assigns the tempo to those lives. 

Some of life's tempo is by one's definition of one form over that of another. What is after all, being productive?

That is not what I'm concerted with here, however. I'm talking about what your view of your life is. Hopefully, you do have a view on it and if you do not, well, that is another topic altogether.

I'll give you an example from my own life as I have several of them.

When I was going through my K-12 school years, I had challenges such as my capacity to sit still and learn, the quality of my schools and teachers, our having moved every year or so and all that entails, and the education level and dynamics of my nuclear family.

However, I graduated high school at seventeen.

I got a job, an apartment, moved out, paid on my car that my parents had paid half of, and my own car insurance and upkeep (gas, oil, repairs). I was lucky to have healthcare through my job. I knew when I graduated high school that I was a year or two ahead of my fellow students. Most of them were eighteen or nineteen. So I was a year or two ahead of things in my life, from most of my friends and acquaintances.

However I had academic issues that held me back. I was talented at writing but not very good at math and avoided it at all costs. I'd had music training (playing guitar) in second grade. Music training early on helps with math skills but I'd had trouble with the music training and so quit after second grade. I wish now my mother had forced me to continue as my life would had been drastically different. Not that I would have become a math genius but I do suspect I would have become a musician. 

Overall I felt when I graduated high school, that I had a tempo ahead of many of my fellow grads, but there were plenty of other kids in my town who had a life tempo beyond mine. They had gone to better schools, they were going to college after high school because their parents had the money (mine did not), or were simply smarter than I was and got scholarships.

Still, I felt I only had a few years in order to make something of myself before all my cohorts passed me by. Some possibly never would and I knew that and now in hindsight, they never really did. 

I floundered for several years watching as that free tempo was wasted and I fell behind many of these others until I was twenty. Realizing I had to do something to either catch up, or force my way into a more productive life, I joined the Air Force. Although I had been for the Irish Republican Army (in being half Irish) while in high school and being ready to go to Vietnam, I grew out of those feelings.

I felt I was going nowhere and the military would at that time (as I went in under Vietnam era benefits), give me school benefits (which I never planned to use as I hated school by then), and it gave me a chance to grew up, to learn new skills. It also gave me a very controlled place to force me into a mold I wanted more to be in. In some ways it kept me out of trouble and helped me mature through my early to mid 20s.

What I didn't foresee was it also gave me an environment where I could excel and be rewarded for it with certificates and a Good Conduct medal. Something I blew off receiving until one of my Airman friends pointed out, none of our friends had received. It also gave me an environment that showed me explicitly that I could achieve pretty much anything I wanted to.

I had always been a leader, as much as I didn't want that designation. An adult once told me in junior high that I needed to make up my mind. Would I be a leader, or a follower? I said I chose, follower. He smiled and said he was sorry but it was quite obvious to him that I was a leader and I might as well accept it and try to work on it. Work for it, not against it.

The military was good for me, for about two years. Then it simply felt like prison. Worse because in prison as my friends and I commiserated, you were physically restrained from leaving but in the military you had to return each day of your own recognizance, which was soul crushing in some ways.

Still, I gained tempo in life by joining the military. Then I started to lose it as I saw it, about half way through. I got out, lost my wife, I couldn't find a good job of equal stature to what I left behind as there was no use for someone who could work around survival equipment or nuclear weapons at any McDonald's or Radio Shack store. Two jobs that I was frustrated about applying to, but applied for anyway as I was growing desperate. I tried at Boeing but they had two parachute riggers which I was qualified for, and I was told those guys wouldn't leave those jobs until they retired.

I was highly trained with no appropriate jobs that fit my skill set. Still, I had skills. I had been a supervisor, I had trained people and I had learned to dressed appropriately, be on time, keep good records, all things that worked well for you in most work places. But it took me time to realize all that. In fact it wasn't until someone at the state unemployment office explained that all to me that I started to realize I had more potential than I had considered.

After four years in the military, having been responsible back then in late 1970s dollars, for over a million and a half dollars worth of equipment, as well as people's lives. PJs (Air Force ParaRescue or Parachute Jumper) types, who sky dive or repel from helicopters into firefight, war type situations to extract the wounded, jumped parachutes I packed on a daily basis.

Having had a secret security clearance for working around weapons of mass destruction, having been given awards and certifications, I still couldn't find a good civilian job. I finally understood why so many stay in the military, return shortly after getting out, or simply shoot themselves for having seemingly lost all respect from people on the outside of the military, which they once received on a daily basis from those within. This, has gotten better after Desert Storm ("Thank you for your service", rather than looking at you like some kind of loser).

Once again, I found I was losing tempo in life.

I moved into my older brother's loft in his garage and spent a year just having fun. Finally one day he came to me and gave me "the talk". Why would I continue to do nothing when I had free college available. College where I could be around attractive coeds, parties, smart people, learn new things, then in the end, walk out with a college degree and more access to better jobs and pay?

It was a good argument. He painted a pretty picture.

I'd suffered through the military who taught me along with the rest of my fellow Airmen (and Airwomen) that I (we) could do anything we put our minds to. So I did enter college, I did suffer through the challenges and I did succeed in doing what I once thought to be, the impossible. In fact, I did very well and I very much enjoyed myself. Research and education for me were an addiction after all and a very good thing to be addicted to.

While in he military I frequently felt I was among the smartest in the room much of the time (that coming from a childhood of being "grounded" in my room for getting often into trouble and so reading book after book to keep from going nuts). Once I got to a university I felt I had to struggle to be the smartest person in the room or to effectively interact with some very smart people, including professors who were amazing to be around.

These were people (professors) who you couldn't fool in acting smart, you had to actually BE smart, or you would find very quickly just how unsmart you really were. Rather than like in the military where you just got heckled for being a dummy, these people students and professors alike, had only one desire, to see themselves and those around them to be as informed and correct, as possible.

Leave your ego at the door, reality and facts took precedence. Surely there was egos involved at times, but the key in that academic environment, was Truth. Something I have since had trouble finding in civilian life outside of the universities. Out here it's more about ego, emotions, supporting your beliefs and agendas, or your platform. Truth be damned if it goes against what I learned in church, or from my friends, or some idiot on the internet.

I still believe as I have since I first read Aristotle in fifth grade a the library, that Truth is more important than myself, or you.

If only that were true now a days among so many who say such stupid things. Again, I'm getting off the track...

Finally, I was gaining tempo again. Lots of tempo. I felt respect from others again. 

I learned things I had never heard about. I learned how I worked as a human being and how others worked. I got my degree in psychology because I wanted to learn to be a writer (maybe, hopefully?) and you need to learn human development and characterization. However, I didn't want to learn a literary form of psychology but the most accurate view I could find. And, I did.

I graduated and then, surprise, once again, no jobs. I had walked into the Career Center at Western Washington University in March of 1984 just before graduation, to see what they could do to help me with finding a job, post graduation. They looked at me in surprise and told me I should have started that the previous September, like just about everybody else. But nobody had told me that.

I had been smart when I started college. My first class was called, Study Skills. I finally after all those miserable years in K-12, learned how to study, found there was an effective way to study and that learning was not just an abstract and haphazard thing. But it never occurred to me to take a class in what to do, post college.

We had been so busy with getting through school, it never occurred to some of us to prepare to exit college. Though in my sharing this with my friends, many of them were surprised to find I hadn't known about that, when they did, and they had entered the doors of the Career Center that previous September. Some told me they had been after school volunteers in jobs they had wanted after college, working for free and getting their feet in the doors somewhere, or experience to put on their resume, pre graduation.

I ended up back at Tower Records where I had worked just after starting college for extra money. Then I moved up to another town and found I didn't have to work as my Veteran's Benefits covered my costs. But here I was now after college working at the same pre graduation job, at the same old pay ($5.50\hr), after all that work, after earning a university degree.

I hadn't gotten anywhere. Or so it felt. But, I had a much fuller understanding of myself and the world around me. Also, I did after all have a university degree now and I had indeed learned so very much. There were times when I swear I could feel my mind stretching (sometimes painfully so) with the amount and degree of knowledge I was acquiring. 

Although I had lost tempo in some areas, I had gained a lot in others. 

Eventually, I got a job in Information Technologies.at the University of Washington in Seattle, and later I got involved in Internet technologies. The UW wouldn't allow me in, before I entered the Air Force. I had applied and been turned down, being told that straight A students had trouble getting in. And I wasn't a straight A student in high school. I had taken the SATs but hadn't studied for them, not even knowing there were books for such things until long after. Or that people spent a lot of time studying to take their SATs.

Still, I became very well paid. I remember when I first realized I was getting $30\hour when I had never thought I'd see more than $5 or $10\hr. Now a days I couldn't afford to make that little. Eventually I got jobs on very high level teams in telecommunications for a company that ran the phones and internet for a quarter of the United States. I was on a team at one point that was making history for the company and advancing them in leaps and bounds. 

I had to say by that time, I had gained some pretty good tempo.

At one point when reflecting on it, I realized I had doubled my pay after leaver Tower and I was only working half time, four hours a day. Then I got them to give me full time and doubled my pay again. A few years later I got that first big job in telecommunications and doubled my pay again.

I got the idea in my head that every five years we need to double our pay. 

Fifteen years later I realized that I hadn't doubled my pay for a while and I needed to catch up. I had a scale by which to judge my tempo in my career life by. 

I had married a beautiful woman I was very much in love with who was very much in love with me. I had gained massive tempo in life and love. Eventually I lost the marriage due to curious and unusual circumstances, but I had gained a couple of great kids.

Tempos were gained and lost in different life areas. 

Five years ago I decided, I was still single, my kids were about to leave high school and I wanted finally to turn my attention to myself and my desires in life. Not just to worry about money and raising a family but to ask myself, what did I want to do now?

Write? I also needed to catch up on the amount of money I thought I should be making by now. 

I started writing, day and night, all my spare time, during commutes (I had a four hour a day commute, driving, bus, ferry and walking, both directions mornings and afternoons). Then, my kids moved out and I continued to write more.

Eventually I slowed down, I changed how I wrote, what I wrote learning to be more precise in many ways and gaining tempo in writing in those areas or production, marketing, branding, and becoming known. I got even more precise, I paid attention more to marketing, networking, other things I hadn't known about. I found the career I had thought about all my life, had changed drastically even in only the past few years.

I gained more tempo, along with a brand for who I was as a writer. 

Tempo.

We are told we should reflect upon our life from time to time.

It's suggested that everyone should check in with a therapist from time to time throughout one's life. But most won't do that because in our western medical orientation, to seek help is to admit defeat or defect. 

But that's not what it's about. I

t's about checking on your personal tempo in life in various areas and to see if you are bunched up in some areas or frustrated or damaged. To question (and this scares people) f you are far beyond where you should be and if you just need to reflect on that. Or simply to appreciate your efforts in how far you've gotten. To adjust your internal image of yourself to be more accurate, both in your good and bad areas.

Sometimes, your internal image of yourself is warped because of the image others in your life have of you. Sometimes those closest to us, in loving us as they might, can become our worst examples regarding how we need to view ourselves. 

Maybe you're fine in life, maybe not. Maybe some adjustments are needed or maybe you need massive changes. Many people are terrified of any change to their status quo. Embrace change when it's needed and fear it not.

Because as they say, the only thing that never changes is, change.

One way to tell if you need change in your life without going to a therapist (because let's face it, you probably won't go), is to check your tempo in life.

Put your original desires in life up against your current position. Are you where you wanted to be by now? Do you need to do SOME thing to catch up? Or, has your orientation changed and your direction hasn't?

These are all important concerns that need to be thought about, considered, acted upon. I suspect so many times in people's lives, when things are not going well, it has much to do with no thought being given to things such as these. And in some ways, it's a very small thing to do. 

Now, don't just change your orientation to fit your life, though.

That may be what you need to do, but don't just be lazy and do that. It's too easy to do, too easy to fall into that trap. Consider what is missing in your life, consider changes that are needed, consider, these are changes FOR you, for your BENEFIT and so, probably, for the benefit of those you care about in your life.

Think about how good you have it as things are, how good you could be having it with a little or a lot of change, or simply how you can't have it any better.

These are things a therapist can help you with if you have trouble seeing them on your own. It's not an easy thing to do sometimes, to accurately view one's life and whether you are failing to achieve or achieving and failing to recognize it. It's not a case of getting fixed, it is a case of accurately and objectively reviewing your life to see if you are where you want, or need to be.

Two very different things, wanting and needing.

Life is an ongoing balance between survival and the pursuit of happiness.

Tempo is how we balance between those two things and to see how far off track we have gotten in relation to them. 

Find your own tempo. Then and only then, put it up against those in your life, their own tempos, and the tempo you create along with them through life.

Consider where you should be, where you want to be, where you wanted to be, where you can get to.

Most of us can get to where we want to be if we are willing to make the right sacrifices. Sometimes the sacrifice is merely trying to learn how to make the sacrifice in order to achieve your desires. 

Thinking it cannot be done is just defeatist and so you will have failed before you begin.

Even if you cannot achieve what you want, finding a way to experience the pleasure in trying, is something, to say the least. We are the most important person in our lives. No matter what happens in life, we are already and always there.

If you ask, what about children or loved ones? Well, if you don't survive, there are no children, there can be no loved ones for you. If you do not consider yourself or your needs and desires well enough, just how happy will they be? 

Life is a balancing act. That balance comes in the way you choose to move through your life.

Tempo in your life is the engine by which we achieve, just survive, our truly live our life. 

It's mostly up to you. You just have to think about it. Then make the right choices. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Healthy Normal Disorders HND - and Tom Savini Turning Horror into Life

It's been my experience that many, if not most of us, exhibit symptoms regularly or from time to time, some of us only under stress, of various conditions like, OCD, Schizophrenia, socipathy, and so on.

I like to call this HND, Healthy Normal Disorders. I use the word "disorder" ironically, obviously.


These are not true illnesses I'm referring to, but protective mechanisms built into our species and perhaps long forgotten as a need through our evolution. Like nipples on men or tails on some people that need if possible, to be removed.

Basically, things that once served a purpose that were life saving but may now not be so useful, sometimes even counter productive.

For many of us you can fight these minor symptoms merely by not following them or allowing them to exhibit themselves, or certainly to take you over. Sometimes this can be accomplished just by recognizing them and then countering them. Through conscious effort, you can make your life better.

That being said, for those who have abnormal degrees of these things taking over their life, professional help is useful if not warranted to the point that, when you find that you cannot control these things by yourself, you really should seek help. Why not? Don't put yourself through the misery if you can't do it alone.

That being said let me mention, we can all use therapy throughout our lives, just as a "check in" and evaluate our life and character. Sometimes maybe a tweak is all that is needed. Sometimes we find we really need some serious therapy and hadn't noticed it.

Being beat up by your live in boyfriend (or girlfriend) and always making excuses about how you brought it on yourself? Maybe, you have blocked out the reality of the fact that you're just living with a complete cretin? A therapist is trained not just to recognize that, but to tell you, and get you to do something about it. See?

But for the majority of us, merely by altering our behaviors both consciously and effectively, we can make small changes that enhance the quality of our lives, and quite possibly of those around us.

Some of these things come off to us as a compulsion, something that if we allow it to happen soothes us or makes us feel better. We cave in and allow it purchase in our lives. But it can also take away and not add to our lives in a pleasant or productive way. It can go into a loop and simply overtake us.

We are such creatures that we can ignore the negative when we find we can do something to make us feel better. Sometimes, even if others suffer because of it. Look at it as a degree of energy. If it is too much, we tend to push it away. But energy, according to physics, cannot be destroyed. It has to go somewhere. It can commute into matter, but it doesn't just disappear.

What happens in social dynamics is, when you remove it from yourself, you may very likely be putting it onto someone else. Typically those closest to you, a loved one, a spouse, a child. So we first need to recognize it, then deal with it appropriately in such a way that it relieves you, as well as those around you. To not consider others in this, is to lean into sociopathy. Discare about those around you as long as you are happy.

This is a paramount element in things like traditional bachelorhood, or rising to power in government or corporations. Many leaders who these tendencies. Many people the "world loves" are not so wonderful in their home lives. Few have the energy to cultivate both public and personal lives. Let's face it, even if you do, when you are out in public, you aren't in with the private members in your life.

Paraphrasing something my son said recently, "what we do, is what we practice to be doing".

In other words, our behaviors in daily life are also our practice to be more that way. So be sure what you are doing is what you want to be doing in  your life, who you want to be in your life, who you want to be remembered for being, in your lifetime.

Too many of us make that mistake in thinking that what we do in our life, will leave our family and loved ones to love us for it. But that may mean the love they want from you is lacking due to your efforts outside of that relationship between you.

It can also be the case of the unhappy person who is unhappy mostly because of the habit of being unhappy. However, once they just stop it they find they begin to be happier. That goes for those around them too.

It can be as simple a thing as smiling more throughout the day.

Or it can be, simply making an effort to notice the beautiful, the amazing, the fascinating in daily life. Things that go on all around all of us on a daily and hourly basis.

 Sometimes, it's just a matter of noticing and taking the time to enjoy it.

There is a story....
Similar to my signed and framed photo I got from Tom at ZomBcon II
Tom Savini, the long renowned horror make-up artist and actor was in the military in Vietnam during that war in the 1960s. He was a photographer and shot photos for the military of just about everything. He documented damage, personnel, government materiel, etc. It left him when he returned home, kind of dead inside after seeing so much horror. After he returned back to the States, he just wasn't himself any longer.

He got involved with filmmaking and worked on the original "Night of the Living Dead" film. The graphic view of the zombies in their actions is attributed to him and his "practicals" (physical gags and makeup, not CGI) for making skin look real for instance, because of his background photographing things in the war.

They also used accurate depictions of bodies using copies of Gray's Anatomy to make a horror film appear accurate, more real, more affecting, which hadn't really been done before this. Previous to that filmmakers tended to shy away from reality in horror simply because it was, horror.

But Vietnam changed all that, as did Tom.

By the way, Wikipedia defines practicals as: "A special effect produced physically, without computer-generated imagery or other post production techniques. "Special effect" is often synonymous with "practical effect". In contrast, visual effects are created in post-production through photographic manipulation or computer generation."

Tom has said that that it was a year almost to the day that he was driving along one day and noticed a sunset (or sunrise, I don't remember). Finally he took a moment and recognized what a beautiful thing that was. It was from that moment on that he felt he started to get better, to heal from what he had lived through, having seen all the horrible things he had seen and documented in that war. But he turned that horror around into entertainment. Odd as it sounds, he turned the horrible into the entertaining; a difficulty into a benefit.

It was his initial notice of a sunset that began that entire process.

It's like the old saw about the number 23 and how it is everywhere. That is also true for other numbers. What you notice, is what you notice more of until it seems they are everywhere. We are creatures of pattern recognition. And sometimes, that gets out of control. What do you do about that?

Ask yourself, what are you doing each day that makes little or no sense?

Maybe you'd like to stop it, but it's become more than a compulsion and is a habit. Maybe it's really no big deal, but perhaps it is. Is it something you can trace back to an event in your life that negatively affected you? Or a past behavior in human beings as a specific thing? If you have no education in anthropology that may be asking a bit much. But sometimes you can begin to see it in that context and it can be helpful

I have a university degree in psychology.

When we had our first abnormal psych class the first thing our prof told us all in class was that the first thing we would all do is look for ourselves in our text book. He then said, "You will not be in that book. You will think you are, you will see things that you recognize, things that you do, but trust me, if you were in that book you wouldn't be here. We'd be visiting you in a lock down facility."

All new psych students seem to go through that, thinking they may have a disorder they are learning about.

Why is that?

Pattern recognition. It is what I said earlier. We all have all these disorders in minor degrees. So they aren't per se, "disorders", really. They are in part, human nature.

Split personality. By the nature of how our brain works, one can deduce we are a conglomeration of various "personalities" in our mind with a kind of master control kernel that runs everything. When this gets out of control, or like a body builder who has worked on one muscle too much, it can become dysfunctional and so we may hear "voices".

Or we may thing we hear voices in hindsight but never really hear them, we just remember hearing them the second after we think we head them, but never really heard them. It is just an echoic memory, a kind of deja vu of a mental process. A mirroring of a thought gone awry perhaps.

Much of that is natural and normal and not a problem. Sometimes however it can become a problem simply if we let it become one. If you are scared of the dark, not being scared of it is as simple as not allowing yourself to be. Controlling your mind, and physiology. But for some, that seems impossible for various reasons. So much of what becomes a concern for us can be controlled simply by doing it.

And so, procrastination.

Not doing what needs to be done at times, can be stopped merely by doing it. That may sound offensive to one who has problems with that, but it's just how it is with things like exercising or eating less, or correctly. We just have to do it. Sometimes it requires educating ourselves as we're procrastinating simply because we don't know what needs to be done and education is effort and we may require education about how to become educated on a topic (see, makes you exhausted just reading about it, right?).

Along with procrastinating can be laziness.

Laziness however can easily be one person's perception over that of another's. Different people do things at different rates of speed. Including, getting around to doing it. Some people are more high-powered and more highly motivated, some are just more laid back.

When putting things off gets to the point that you become dysfunctional, then it becomes an issue. If it effects your life, your relationships or your job, you may have a problem. But up to that point, it just takes building good habits and eliminating bad ones. Laziness can indicated depression, too or other associated things. Sometimes it's just a bad habit however. Something we can personally handle, control and rectify on our own. But we first have to just start to do it.

Now it may sound disingenuous to say, as Nike did (referring to a comment made by serial murderer Gary Gilmore, actually), to "Just Do It". Brilliant and true. Except for those with serious problems. However, many times that really is the case. Cut through your mental reasons for not doing it, and just do it. It's all about how we get there that is at question and it takes sometimes properly building up to things in order to become truly productive. .

I have found for myself that finding these things in my own personality, my character and behavior, are very helpful. From there, then building good habits to work around them, or find ways to make them work for me.

I like to look at it as "tricking" myself to do things I need to do. I set myself up so that my least or easiest course of action is simply to do what I don't want to do, but really want to get done. After all no one is going to do it for me. And in some cases, when someone will do it for me, they are just being codependent to my dependency.

From PsychologistAnywhereAnytime.com:

"The National Mental Health Association states that co-dependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive.

"Codependence can be seen as a set of maladaptive, compulsive behaviors learned by a person in order to survive in a family which is experiencing great emotional pain and stress caused, for example, by a family member's alcoholism or other addiction, sexual or other abuse within the family, or a family members' chronic illness.

"Codependent people have a greater tendency to enter into relationships with people who are emotionally unavailable or needy. The codependent tries to control a relationship without directly identifying and addressing his or her own needs and desires. This invariably means that codependent's set themselves up for continued lack of fulfillment. Codependent's always feel that they are acting in another person's best interest, making it difficult for them to see the controlling nature of their own behavior."

If you need that kind of help, get it.

I have trouble remembering things, so I use aids. The calendar on my cell phone. I keep notes for later. I'm a writer so that is very helpful to me. I have so many thoughts and ideas, that I have to keep notes. Then there is the issue of tracking the long term notes which is another issue. But keep short term notes for only a day to get through the day, if you need it, is gold.

Here's another.

If you have the ability to choose when you sleep, do you prefer to avoid the day and stay up all night, sleeping through the daylight? If you do, you may need to supplement your diet with Vitamin D. I take D3 in the winter up here in the pacific northwest as there isn't much sun for months and it helps my mood from SAD symptoms (Seasonal Affect Disorder).

I also discovered that using full spectrum, "Daylight" light bulbs in the house during those sunless months, helps a lot. I started putting them first in my most used common areas. Home office, kitchen, bathroom, then added them everywhere.

I haven't been diagnosed with that myself, but I can't help but notice a long term lack of sunlight changes my behavior to be less functional, productive and less happy, basically.

But you should probably ask your doctor about that.

My mother used to do that, sleep during the day, stay up at night watching TV or reading. The thing about that, especially now a days is that it has been proven that you need sunlight and if you think you don't, you are probably wrong about that. You will however try to rationalize reasons to support your behavior. Why? Because once your body finds a way to make you feel better, you want to maintain that status quo, because in the moment it works even if in the overall picture it doesn't.

There is something about getting up and facing the day that is healthy for you. For HUMANS in general. Yes, there is a condition about this not needing sunlight, or sunlight being bad for you in some ways. But again, odds are that you probably don't have that.

Sleeping all day and staying up all night is also a symptom of certain types of schizophrenia. So all you have to do there is to get up in the morning. Harder than it sounds for some, but typically they have simply fooled themselves into thinking this behavior is "good" for them in some way, though it's just a rationalization and skewing of reality.

Sleeping during the day by choice is also a way to avoid reality, people, and basically, your life. If you are in that state of mind, slowly (or quickly if you can face it), get back onto days, get back to facing people, face reality, face your life.

I worked for five years on nights, all alone in a big hospital in the computer room in the sub-sub basement, and I loved it. Shopping was easier while everyone was at work, I had fewer drama incidents in my life and so on. I'm a solitary type anyway so it enhanced that way of existing. The trouble with that like many things is, a little or enough is good, more or too much is not. Like ice cream is good, but eating it for every meal every day, will kill you, or at least make you obese.

Sleeping during the day, staying up all night can for people up through their 20s, simply be a holdover from childhood. Once you are an adult it's just fun. It's doing what was forbidden before. It's not night time for some so much as being opposite from what is normal for those around them, and so on.

It can be done for reasons of decreasing over-stimulation, and the number of people they daily have to interact with. It can come from a perceived lack of control over one's life, an attempt to gain full control. The former could be a sign to get professional help, the latter could be simply a mechanism to gain control. But then you also have to recognize when to ween yourself off of it and get back to feeling that control and achieving normal sleep patterns once again.

Day sleeping is a go-to behavior for both drug addicts and those descending into mental illness. It can be a warning sign. For my mother it was both.

When I worked nights, I was up all night because I was working a good job for the first time in my life and supporting a family. My son was then born and we didn't need others to watch him since one of us were always awake. I would come home and sleep, then wake and my wife would pass him off to me so she could go to work.

But our relationship suffered and we eventually did divorce. After a while I couldn't wait to get back on days. Perhaps a deteriorating marriage was working in concert with my night job until the marriage was over and then a possible depression began to evaporate. I came to realize that I needed to be up and out and about during the day.

But it was nice for a while. As I said, I shopped when few people were about, streets had less people on them when I was out. But there was also a downside. Services and companies I needed or wanted to deal with were open during fewer hours of my waking day. Mandatory meetings required me to get up in the middle of MY night and attend them at the hospital then show up that night, tired.

Now a days, I love waking before the sun comes up. I start my job early and get off work at 3pm.

But those are major issues. Some issues are much smaller. Some habits for instance.

Like when I take out the trash, but don't take it all the way to the garbage can outside. If I'm in a hurry, I might change the kitchen garbage and put the tied up plastic bag on the raised upper back deck. I put it against the sliding glass door so that later when I have time, I'll notice it and walk it down the stairs to the garbage can. I help myself, help myself.

Otherwise, as someone just did here yesterday, they took the garbage out while there were already two other bags on the deck, left there out of site and forgotten. Which is why you put things where it is obvious or make it an irritant to you, to push you along to finalize things.

Then there are the other smaller things. Like smiling more.

Ask yourself: If you're unhappy, how much do you smile throughout the day?

Research has shown that if you smile, it uses facial muscles associated with mental activity of smiling, wherein if your brain tells you to smile you do and, if you tell your brain to make you smile, it engages those very same brain areas and actually affects your mood. It may not feel that way in the beginning but over time it really is effective.

In the same vein, if you notice the beautiful and the amazing in daily life, it simply has to affect your overall mood. Notice things. Notice, the good things, and stop noticing so much (if it's a problem) all the bad things. Stop watching shows on TV that rant on about the horrible in life. Limit your intake of horror news. Read more about the future, the happy. You don't need to become delusional, just balance things in your life.

The Dali Lama said a few years ago that we have more peace in the world than ever before. It just doesn't seem like it. All this nonsense with religion and ISIS\ISIL in the Middle East notwithstanding as it is a temporary glitch in history really, life isn't that bad for most of us. But the media would have us believe in order to raise their market share, that the world is falling apart around us. Surely there are things going on that need to be fixed. But will those things actually kill you tomorrow? Next week? Probably not. So relax.

Do things to help the world be a better place, just don't let it kill you over it.

I did that years ago, tried forcing a smile more throughout each day, tried to focus on the good rather than the bad in my life, back when I was very unhappy. After a while I did start to see more of the positive in daily life, less of the negative and my life sloly changed over time simply because of that.

IF nothing you do, and you do all this, pinpointing your issues, setting up positive and productive workarounds to them, and you still do not find anything in life worth living, you may be depressed. This can be a byproduct of these kinds of things getting out of control and so you should see the help of a professional.

The thing is however, so many of us are not that dysfunctional, never do seek help and actually can help ourselves with just a little bit of understanding, education, effort and application.

Notice the next sunrise or sunset, and the next beautiful thing you run into that you wouldn't normally notice. Smile more at things (appropriately). Remember that humor can easily be described as pain + time. Don't hesitate to laugh at yourself, your situation, your life even. Put it in its place in the story of your overall life from birth to one day, death.

Apply humor or even sarcasm to yourself, but in non-threatening or positive ways.

See the clever all around you. Take the power and control away from the stupid by enjoying the humor in it all. Appreciate the interesting and fascinating in life around you. See if in doing all those things your life doesn't take a swing up from the down and dirty miserable aspects of what life can be and do to us.

And it can suck, life can. Just don't let it.

If it does, change your life. It can be painful, but sometimes, that's just want it takes. Changes in either very minor or very major ways. In the end you will appreciate it as well anyone close to you in your life.

Just about here is where some idiot will point out how some people have lives that are truly miserable, true horror stories. Like in the Middle East or Africa where some group came in and slaughtered families or something. Obviously this blog isn't about them. Those are horrible things and life like that is a truly inhumane existence and for another blog another time.

This blog today however is about those whose lives aren't that terrible, who have only minor problems or issues that they can easily apply changes to in order to evoke from themselves (and subsequently from those around them, which itself has a dynamic that is more helpful than not), in order to make their life better.

When you are happier, people around you respond to that, and you respond to them, then. Just as if you are miserable, it makes those around you miserable and you are more miserable because of them (because of you). Just be sure you aren't part of the reason you're miserable, when you don't have to be. It happens that way. It happens a lot.

As I indicated above if you have more serious issues then you really need professional help, a therapist, or an intentional intervention.

The entire point of this blog is try to under-strand that some of the things in your life, those that you can change, are normal and natural and really can be changed. YOU just have to take the time to notice and address them. Just like you may need to take the time to notice and address the wonderful in your life if you're not noticing it.

In my 20s I had a period where I was truly miserable.

A few friends told me I was doing it to myself. I thought that was rather offensive. My life SUCKED and they're telling me it's my fault?

Until one day I really took it to heart and I started trying to apply what they were telling me. Because I was sick of my life and wanted change. I finally got to a point where I would try anything.

Eventually over the course weeks and month, of that next year or so (and it remained miserable for a while and I had to force it at first, making the fix seem counter-intuitive), my life did get better.

People started to relate to me better. People who I just met liked me more that it had been going for a while up to that point. People started being attracted to me once again and the rest really, is history. And it is mostly a good history.

I found again that I had a kind of charisma. I always had had that, but I lost if for a while. Though not really because people were attracted to be around me, but at that low point in my life, they quickly realized something was wrong. So when I got back to normal, my life changed, drastically for the better.

Granted, I've made some stupid choices in life that went bad. We all do and that just happens. Sometimes because we're not paying attention, or we follow what we want more than what we need, or what we wish is there over what is really there.

But what didn't kill me did make me stronger and all along I have kept my sense of humor and fascination at the wonder all around me. It's really all up to us and how we wish to relate to the world and allow the world to relate to us. How we manage our internal for how it relates to the external.

For most of us, our lives are in our hands. Believe it or not. Look at yourself. Can you fix yourself? Can you see ways now that you can better your outlook? To trick yourself to be happy until you truly do become happy? Life is good. Or it should be. Make it so for you.

All I can say in closing therefore, is...

Cheers!