Positive Thinking Leads to Parking Spaces

Friends of mine, a couple, had found a parking spot, citing the power of positive thinking, and posted this on Facebook. I sorta rolled my eyes. OK. I rolled my eyes. Well...not on the floor. In my head. My eye sockets to be exact.

After years of studying and listening and reading self-help texts, positive thinking is one of those misused and misunderstood things. And it doesn't always yield the results we're looking for. This is easy to see because not everything we think of, positively, will come to fruition. Just look at all of the unanswered prayers. They're unanswered not because God said No—well I don't know that for sure—but because any type of thinking doesn't always lead to that result.

How many people do you know sit around imagining being hit by a car? But it still happens. Jimmy, it's because some people fear it. True. But a lot of people fear sharks when they jump into the ocean, so why don't we have more occurrences of sharks attacks? Statiscally, there's more of a chance of getting hit by lightning than getting bit by jaws.

Dude, there's more people fearing getting hit by cars. OK. So why don't we have more planes fall out of the sky? Why don't we have more roller coasters fly off their rails? If there's any concentration of people having the same fear, it's those two places.

Braddah, doubt kills success!

Let's take my friends as an example. If they looked at the full parking lot and doubted they could find a spot and drove home, then it wasn't doubt that foiled their pursuit of parking their car. It was the act of giving up and driving home. But if they doubted they could find a spot, but continued to look, I'd bet all my money that they would have found a spot.

Yo fool, parking spots are easy to find.

Exactly my point.

So does that mean I should spend all my money on lottery tickets?

And here's the crux of it all. Not too long ago we had nearly a billion-dollar Power Ball lottery prize. Millions upon millions of people played. Someone even put up a website in the guise of needing money for medical purposes and used the donations to buy lottery tickets. And no they didn't win. If there was an instance where positive thinking would have prevailed, it would be this particular lottery because it had the biggest jackpot with the most people who played. There had to be plenty of people who got all the numbers and shared in that historic jackpot. No. There was only one big winner.

I'm not against positive thinking. But I'm not for it, meaning I wouldn't focus my mind on keeping my thoughts positive. It may hinder your success. I'll tell you why next post.

Praise tha Lawd

Thank tha Lawd tha rain has come!

California has gone through one of the worst droughts in 2014/2015 and the much needed rain has drenched the state with more to come. Thanks El Niño. Or should I thank Gawd? Did She give birth to The Kid? If so, then Gawd is a woman? I mean, if God made man in his/her image, and God created everything, essentially giving birth to it all, then God is a woman. Right?

According to a friend of mine, no.

So my girlfriend and I and another couple had decided to make the trek to the Sierra Mountains. We spend the long New Year's weekend skiing and snowboarding down the groomed mountainsides on pristine white snow. What we see is beautiful: Thick white snow carpeting the never ending mountains.

image.jpg

On the way back, my friend was schooling his girlfriend about how evolution was really a big conspiracy and that the Earth was young (6000-10,000 years old). I tried not to pay attention because when it came to religion and evolution, I'm pretty ignorant. I know the basics, like there's Gawd and Heysoos, and we was once be a single-celled thang called a single-celled thingybob and den we turned into peeps...baby chicks.

Plus, I'm not a fan of people who argue that science is failing us.

What peaked my interest was that my friend mentioned a tyrannosaurus rex bone had been found with soft tissue still intact within the fossil. "How could that be?" he lamented. "Soft tissue can't survive 65 million years. The Earth is not as old as scientists have said."

I was stumped.

"How can a cat turn into a bird?" he retorted. "How can an alligator evolve into a human? Evolution is a conspiracy. Show me a picture of a bone where a cat turns into a bird? There isn't."

"That's not what evolution says," I chimed in. I tried to tell him that evolution has branches. So the branch of animals that evolved to cats is not likely to evolve to birds. And alligators are not going to evolve into humans.

We continued this stupid debate and then he put the onus on me to provide him with evidence to support the theory of evolution. "Not a picture," he demanded. Actual evidence.

Well...it's not like I carry around a catbird bone. My girlfriend would probably think I'm weird. She already thinks that, so I guess if I had a catbird bone, it wouldn't hurt to carry the catbird bone around. Maybe wear the birdcat bone around my neck. Or was it my neck bone connected to my head bone?

So I turned it around and asked him for evidence that God was real. He mentioned the Bible. Didn't humans write that, I countered. It was inspired by God. How do you know that? There are statues with the name David with writing on it. So a statue is your evidence that God inspired humans to write the Bible down on paper? There are statues all over the world that contain the same writing, my friend offered.

In summary, I had to produce real world evidence to support the theory of evolution, the catbird bone, and all he had to do was point to these statues. In other words, he could have second or third or fifty-second hand resources, but I couldn't point to the work scientists have done on the subject.

Taking a break from our useless conversation, we veered off the highway and stopped off at a diner. My friend's girlfriend had complained to me about how much he had talked endlessly on his religious and conspiracy tirades. And if it hadn't been for those, their relationship would be perfect.

After ordering our food, he started to question my girlfriend about her religious beliefs. I could tell he he wanted to poke holes in her religion because he believes his should be the only one.

I jumped in and said, "We can't change our past. We're not even guaranteed tomorrow. Nor do we really know what happens when we die. What's important is this present moment. Do we live in happiness and peace now, or do we worry about what will happen after we die?"

My friend wasn't ready to admit what I had said had some merit. And that's fine. But unless you're 007 or you can actually do something about conspiracies, why spend what little time you have on this little blue marble called Earth worrying about it?

In the vain of the success of Star Wars, hate does lead to the darkside. What really depresses most people is a disconnection of some sort. It's the reason we all seek connection through relationships, friends and family (I could have just as well gone to the Sierras by myself, but it's more enjoyable with friends), New Year's gatherings in crowded cities, drunken bars during the holidays. We crave connection. We get it through people, through prayer, through doing things like painting, writing, singing, petting cats.

So I assume that my friend needs to go on these religious and conspiracy tirades in the hopes of convincing people he's right, so he feels connected and supported. But that's the thing about religious faith. He shouldn't need others to believe in order for him to believe. And that's what I find so weird about religious fanatics. Why do they need others to believe? Is it because they truly care about their fellow woman, or is it out of insecurity?

About that dinosaur bone with soft tissue still inside. I decided to look it up to see if this was some kind of hoax. And it wasn't.

Tough, Rugged Manly Intuition For Tough, Rugged Manly Men

An underpinning of my novel is trusting your intuition that speaks to us from within. My main character’s wife comes from a family who has developed something called Resonance of the Soul, a way to access innate wisdom that we all have by listening to the silence. Now, I don’t mention a divine entity nor a lack of one because part of the foundation of my book is that we are complete as a people. Our soul, or whatever makes us human, or takes us a level higher than the animals (maybe), is all we need in regards to wisdom and happiness.

In life, so it is in art –author of Nightfall, sole contributor to 7thProvince.com

I trust my intuition, but sometimes I get it confused with my own ego. Other times I get it confused with my own fear. Occasionally, I confuse it with my own lust. More often than not, I don’t even hear that inner voice that knows it all. But at least I listen. Part of learning to trust it is acknowledging when my intuition is right.

And the opportunities came! With two women. Hahaha!

One woman had antagonized me many times on a hike and during a dinner. When I first met her, I had walked away, dropped her like it's hawt, because I had no interest in her. There was no evidence to support my disinterest, like who she was as a person, but I felt it enough inside to just split. Since then, she has not been kind to me. Though, in my mind, that didn’t support my intuition’s wisdom, that is was correct, because maybe she’s frothy as a woman. So when I ran into her while I was meeting up with some friends, I decided to be nice and asked her if she had any interests or hobbies.

“No,” she said, shaking her head.

"Do you read?"

She chuckled. "Nope." 

“Knitting? Movies? Theater? How about the outdoors?” I prodded.

“Nope. I just work, eat, and sleep.”

Yeah. I was right not to have an interest in her. In her defense, she does have a boyfriend. But I don’t hang out with him, even though he’s nice. He’s also a bit boring. But that’s just my opinion.

I was attracted to the second woman when I met her. We seemed to have a good connection, she seemed intelligent, so I asked her out. During an email exchange, she had gone off on a rant when we were trying to set up our first date. Her rant was more than enough for me to say fuck off, and that date never happened. Many of my friends, especially male friends who were hard-up, said I was in the wrong and should have apologized. I never did.

So over the past weekend, I was talking to a friend of mine who is also friends with this woman. And she went off on him because he wasn’t able to give her a ride to a hospital appointment. She doesn't have a car. 

My friend lives more than an hour away from her place of home. The fact that she had to call him (Was there no one closer?) indicates how many friends she may have.

I was happy to hear she went off on him because it helped vindicate me (in my mind) that my intuition was correct, and all of my hard-up friends were fucking wrong.

Too often we as a species don’t acknowledge our intuition. Too often we are chastised when we do. Many cults attribute this voice to God. And maybe it is God. But maybe it is our soul, which can be sole pieces of a larger entity. But I’m not here to argue for or against a divinity. I am here to suggest that our inner voice, maybe our soul, has more wisdom than we give it credit. And if we step aside and listen, maybe we can navigate this thing called life with more peace and happiness, like avoiding bitches that could wreak hell and havoc and mayhem in your life, for example.

 

Interstellar Wisdom

Is bowling an athletic sport? It's a sport by definition. It's athletic by definition. But it ain't gonna give you that lean body, six pack, cardiovascular capacity to run beyond your corner drug store. It's more of a get together kinda thing where women can watch men make fools of themselves, and men can watch women's butts as they negotiate the hardwood alleyways, while we pretend to watch the ball roll toward the gutter.

Someone told me they had watched Interstellar, and I excitedly asked him what he thought of it. His first question was, "Are you Christian?"

Wat da hell? No, I'm Jimmy. My mind went through about a thousand thoughts because I hadn't realize Interstellar had any religious implications except that maybe there were alien beings.

“I don’t believe in organized religion,” I answered. I spent the next five minutes trying to convince him of this truth because he thought I was Christian because I hang out with a lot of Christians (they’re everywhere), so ipso facto I must be Christian. That literally is five minutes of my life that is forever lost to me. So going back to the original question, I asked him what he thought of Interstellar, since I’d yet to see it.

“Movies can convince you that it’s real,” he said.

“That is the filmmaker’s job,” I said, profoundly.

He nodded and uttered these words of wise wisdom of goodness, “We will never run out of resources on Earth.” I wish he had said ‘On this God-given Earth’ cuz that would have made my freakin’ week.

But of course, he had yet to answer my Gawd dayem question. Then he proceeded to follow up those wise words of wisdom with more wise words of fucking wisdom, “I read an article where they found a fish when scientist have declared that fish extinct. Slowly, the wall of science will eventually crumble and everyone will know the Bible is right. Science is man’s creation and is fallible.”

I knew the answer before I asked the question: “So who wrote the Bible?”

“Man,” the wise one said. “But it was inspired by God.”

So I guess the science behind such things as electricity, water mechanics and engineering are just tropes that have no meaning or use whatsoever. He should stop using lights, turning on the faucet or driving his car because all of that works with the physics of this universe. But hey, who am I but a lowly writer of adult fantasy. The Bible anyone?

He began to go into religious beliefs with the goal of debating me, but I immediately ended the conversation because I ain't versed in them, and if your go to response is 'God inspired it', I can’t reasonably refute that. No one has yet to prove or disprove Her existence, and using that God inspired anything ultimately means nothing in a logical debate. Truthfully, whenever I looked at this dude, I saw:

But here’s the kicker.

When I wrote my book, Nightfall, I knew I had two basic levels of storytelling. The background of the story, the plot, is the conflict of war that ravages the people of the provinces. To readers, this looks like the foreground, the actual story. It’s the background because it showcases the real story of how a father and his wife deals with the loss of a child and the actions they take as the background happens.

Interstellar is similar. The hook is the Earth’s resources are at an end, and humans have to search for a new planet. But the real story is how powerful human connection is, how interlinked we all are, how it transcends life and death, distance and time and dimensions. The fact that the wise Christian missed this and refuses to believe that our planet’s resources can be used up means he lives in great fear, as evident from his statement that movies are convincing and his dependence on The Bible. He seems easily manipulated, and is manipulated to believe humans are born sinners. Geezus fuckin' Krist.

The missed-the-whole-point-of-Interstellar Christian had said many other gems of wisdom, but I didn’t want to go on a tirade against religion. I’m not about that, despite what I’ve written on this site. What I really dislike is how religion stops the conversation. There is no openness, therefore, a reasonable trade of ideas is very limited.

Here’s one gem: “I go to church to worship in the glory of God.”

Well…She is all powerful…couldn’t you do that anywhere and She’d see that? And apparently Heaven has a cover charge, like a lot of clubs on the weekend, given how much money the church collects.

 

 

Loss of Subtlety

Belieive it or not I'm walking on air...

Belieive it or not I'm walking on air...

Subtlety has escaped Hollywood. Hollywood, however, is a representation of what the market will bear. Market being the peeps. Us. What we’re likely to pay a whopping twelve bucks to watch.

To be more homogenous, movies must have:

• Action • Suspense • Romance • Mystery • Redemption • Revenge • Comic relief • Strong female lead • Coupled by a backward-thinking male lead who learns to love the strong female lead finally realizing that she’s his everlasting soul mate for all time and beyond • A chase scene either by foot, car, truck, or air, with shoot outs that lead to a climactic battle between God and Satan, where armies of orcs, elves, muggles, wizards, witches, followed by mere men and women, and a child who was born with a butterfly tattoo preordaining her to cure the virus that has threatened life as we know it and must complete a special training that will make him (wasn’t it a her?) nearly invincible (nearly because we have to have tension in our epic fog of a story) • And a Hollywood ending where the child cures Satan of his issues, and both God and Satan float off into the sunset • The End

Ebert and Scorsese

Ebert and Scorsese

One of the things I do is read reviews of movies, Roger Ebert being my favorite. They don’t have any bearing on what I watch. But I can learn a lot about story telling by people’s likes and dislikes, and they’re fairly common. As a story teller, the market is important to a certain point. But as J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyers has proven, good content creates the market. We see this in the explosion of wizardry and horromance in the media today.

I see you

I see you

When reviews are either good or bad cohesively, there may be some merit. On Fandango, I had looked up the times for Hereafter, directed by Clint Eastwood, starring Matt Damon. Part of the movie was filmed in San Francisco in an apartment building my friend lives in. So it was cool hearing stories of how filming went.

Fandango had a rating of yellow, meaning most of the people who saw the movie thought it was “so-so”. That’s the middle rating. But Jackass in 3D got a bright green rating, the top, a “must go”. A red means “oh no”, stay away or lose two hours of life you can never get back.

Most people complained Hereafter was slow and uneventful. But you can’t have a good story with substance based purely on the afterlife. You may point out Paranormal Activity, but it’s just cheap thrills. Would you stay in a house that haunted you for any length of time? I’m brave. But I ain’t that brave. And none of the Paranomal movies explored why they stayed or what issues being haunted brought up. It represents nothing. It's like going to a strip club, paying to get a hard-on, then walking home with with no relief.

Not that I know of those kinds of naughty, naughty things.

A good story with substance uses something as the backdrop, like the afterlife, to show case interpersonal issues. Hereafter does that from three different perspectives: a psychic who can communicate with the dead, a journalist who had a near death experience, and a boy who yearns for his dead twin.

Work it, work it

Work it, work it

A good example of backdrop is Casino Royale. I'm not a huge Bond fan. I never knew why until I started to study story. James Bond is a classic character. He's suave. He likes all women. He sleeps with all women he desires. He likes his drinks to be shaken, not stirred. He can get out of any situation. He's a master fighter, can wield any weapon made available, and is witty.

But as a character, he never changes.  He doesn't go from having no confidence to being confident. He doesn't realize the error of his ways. He doesn't learn to be loyal because he already is. He doesn't have any bad qualities.  Qualities that a writer can hang his hat on to change.

Except for one. He's emotionally detached to the women he's intimate with. He never falls in love. Then Vesper Lynd, played by Eva Green, shows up in Royale. She's confident, brash, reads Bond for who he is, and just as every bit competitive. Through their competitiveness, Bond falls in love with her. A huge change in both character and in the movie. When Vesper dies, he must struggle with the pain, something all humans go through. As a result, Casino Royale is one of the best reviewed Bond movies.

[poll id="34"]

She Said, She Said

You Lookin' At Me?

You Lookin' At Me?

One of the coolest things about all art is the interpretation. Debates go endlessly about movies, books, paintings, poems, sculptures. And who's to say who's right and who's not when we can't even agree what's art and what isn't.

In trying to get feedback on my book, I've been giving out copies to my friends and family to get initial reactions, both kneejerk and constructive. I had readers who are fans and non-fans of fantasy, which is my genre.

One of my readers stated that my main character was highly sexual and emotional. I wanted honest opinions and here we are!

My kneejerk reaction was of course to defend.

My toof?

My toof?

But I'm here to learn so I asked her question after question, trying to keep an open mind.

None of my other readers had mentioned any of this. And just in case they missed something my friend hadn't, I asked one of them specifically about the above points.

Yummy!

Yummy!

Highly sexual was something that really surprised me. I asked her what made her think this. She said that my hero thought about his wife's scent, was enamored by her silky hair, and in a key scene couldn't sleep due to the absence of her breathing next to him. I asked another female reader what she thought about this without mentioning what my friend thought. She said my hero was in love with his wife that it was about love.

Who's correct?

Both.

There's a saying. What you hate in others is what you hate in yourself. When I look at the lives of these two women, I can see why both thought the way they did.

I'm not saying they hated my book, but often what we see in art is often a reflection of us, an aspect anyway. I mean, haven't you listened to music that reflects how you feel in the moment? We listen to love songs, or angry alternative, when we've broken up with someone. Or listen to ambient music when we want to be calm. Or listen to heavy metal or techno when we're working out.

Is that garlic I smell?

Is that garlic I smell?

And knowing how 50% of sold books are romance novels tells you what women are feeling or needing.

My friend's second point, complaint really, about my hero being emotional was also interesting.  For one, he is.  It being a complaint is a judgement on the character. Kinda like saying someone being short is not good. It's not their fault.  My hero just turned out that way.

This brings us to the definition of art. First off, I don't think it can be defined. It's like defining the soul. Or God. You can't. But a famed photographer once said that art is the language of the soul. Isn't that where inspiration comes from?

But if you want to see a cool and heated debate of what art is, check out an articleRober Ebertwrote about how video games aren't art.

[poll id="30"]

Turn Back!

"Out Of Service" lit up in the operators window.

Bright red warning lights.

People shuffled out of the station.

"What's going on?" a gray-haired man asked.

"Station's closed," a lady said. Makeup caked on. "There's no trains going to the city."

Oh crap, I thought.

Dozens upon dozens of commuters scurry out of the station. I could drive to the other office, but I hate that one. Bad energy.

I pull out my pass and enter the station.

Dozens more are standing around waiting for the word of God from the station operator.

The station map shows all trains have been diverted away and there's only one train facing to leave. Held up was more like it.

An inaudble announcement repeated what I feared. Service to the city has stopped is what I think it said.

I leave the crowd awaiting the word of God and stroll over to the escalators. As I rise, I'm not sure what I'll find. A train in waiting? Or an empty track.

My eyes reach over the cement railing and spot a train. Doors already open. I walk in as a puff of warm air patted my cold cheeks. I walk through the first car, searching. Why do they have cloth seats? They get dirty so fast. And they smell. I make my way to the second car and find newly upholstered seats. Like smelling new car smell. I sit down, place my bag between my feet.

The train operator announces that the stalled train has been removed and service will be restored to the city as quickly as possible.

Moments later my train dragged itself over the lonely tracks.

Follow your heart. Never let the naysayers tell you what to do.