Punched In The Gut By a Woman

In a world where Evil Bastard has laid his devastation, a hero rises above the devastated world and finds a way to devastate Evil Bastard, ridding the devastation befallen on our devastated U S of A! This sounds like every action movie ever made, giving the audience a moment of satisfaction, like getting a happy ending at a questionable massage parlor in downtown San Francisco (I wouldn't know. Never gotten one. A happy ending. Well, from my past girlfriends. TMI?). Action movies happen in a black and white world. That's why the antagonist is the evil bastard. He deserves his final fateful fatal finish.

Bam!

Alliteration. 

What throws a wrench into the whole black and white picture is when the antagonist isn't an evil bastard. Or when he's not even a bastard but a really cool guy (like Aldous Snow in Forgetting Sarah Marshall). This happened to me once vying for a fair-haired maiden who was bare in a bear's lair just off a rare path used by mares whom dared to tear through hay to get to a pile of pairs with no care. And I thought I was the cool guy cuz I have long luscious locks like Aldous Snow, the rockstar. I can actually do the head banging thing, except I don't have an electric guitar let alone a guitar. Not even a fiddle.

Barring from giving too many details, on paper, my competition was pretty impressive, and pretty. I mean, I'd date him if I swung that way. I guess he'd have to swing that way too. But it was more than a little daunting when I realized he was my competition.

Imagine David calling out Goliath, but David only has a small rock that was really a pebble that was really, really small, and it turned out to be a grain of sand, and given the existence of air resistance, David couldn't chuck that puny grain farther than he could chuck the cool guy if his life depended on it (taking a breath).

On his sole TV interview, Bruce Lee once said, "Honestly express yourself."

What in God's name did he mean by that? Be you. Live your truth. Go after what you want. Live your life. So often we find ourselves trying to emulate someone else, fulfilling our parents' dream, staying our wants and needs, living what society wants us to be.

I thought to myself: OK, Jimmy, what do I say to my competition? Honestly express yourself...dig deep, Jimmy. Common, Jimmy! Cough! Hock! Deeper! What would Sifu the Sensei of masters Lee say?

Here was what I came up with, "Muthafucka, dat's my bitch!"

No, no I didn't say that. I'd say it in jest, but not about a girl I've yet to form a relationship with. Ugh...maybe I would. Gawd, what's wrong with me?

I began to suspect that the fair maiden liked the cool dude on our first, and, unbeknownst to me, last date. And I found out that I was second fiddle.

And because the other dude is pretty and impressive, there was no satisfaction for me, like she's gonna hook up with a loser or an asshole. Could he be an asshole? Sure. I don't know him that well.

But, man, that rejection was like taking a punch in the gut, like it went through my stomach and out my back. It's hard to come back from a hole like that. It was difficult to deal with because suddenly my mind was flooded with doubt, trying to analyze what I did wrong, what could I have done better, or did I not honestly express myself when I was with her?

And that was the thing! The cool guy had lived an awesome life, has great attributes (again, trying not to be too specific to protect his identity), and all I had was my humor and my writing. Since I've yet to be published, my humor was left with the job to win over this maiden. That's a lot to ask for from one skill.

What did I do afterward? I thought about the whole situation a lot, trying to come from different view points to see if I could have done anything better, and all I had come up with was, "I'm not sure what I did wrong."

I'm headed to New York to endure the coldest winter they've had and indulge in being a tourist.

H8

When I cast the characters of my novel, the usual suspects were the first to be chosen. Talon, is my main character, the hero, the poor soul that goes through hell. You'll have to read the book if you wanna see if he makes it back. Then there is the antagonist, Logan, who is filled with H8red. Severe H8red. And the more he thinks about it, the more the H8 encompasses him.

At first, I didn't know where that H8red came from, who or what it was about, and why he even had it. But, as I go through my own journey of being a human, I realized that H8 isn't necessarily about who or what that person H8s. Somehow their fixation is a reflection of themselves, what they H8 about themselves, or what they fear.

48935_medium.jpg

Take gay marriage. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. You would think that people here are open about gay marriage. I mean, San Francisco is the Mecca of Gay Pride! But California voted against same-sex marriage. Say what?

I had a few friends who are against it. Had is the fuckin' operative word here. Why would straight ass people be afraid of gay marriage? One of the reasons (excuses) is the influence on children. That they would become gay if gay marriage was allowed. Say what?

That's kinda like saying, "If you put two vanilla ice cream scoops in one cone, the third chocolate scoop will turn vanilla." My fellow ice cream connoisseurs are gonna ask, "What if all three scoops melt?"

And that's fear. Fear reflects peoples' insecurities about themselves, whatever that may be. It sounds obvious, but fear always leads to H8. 

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to H8. H8 least to suffering.  —Yoda, Jedi Freakin' Master

I tell guys that they're good looking, or tell people a guy is good looking, and I have no insecurities in doing so. Now, people may think I like dudes. But them thinkin' it ain't gonna turn me gay. So why would I care what people think when I voice my opinion?

However, if I wasn't secure in my own sexuality, then I wouldn't even think a guy is good looking because that harmless thought alone has the potential to shatter my sexual identity, and I would resort to H8 in order to guard my ego.

I remember one of my girlfriends asked me if I was OK that a former boyfriend of hers was gay (before he came out), and that they were now besties. I told her I was fine and didn't care what her past looked like, save for killing peeps, but that's neither here nor there nor anywhere. She had issues with prior boyfriends about her past. I just had fun with it. I teased her bestie a lot when we hung out, telling him I put out, but only if I was the giver.

Sometimes, however, I can't figure out why people H8, especially when that H8 is directed toward me.

I had dinner at a restaurant with some friends. Several of us had beers, a lot of food was ordered, and the place was hoppin' with Latin music. The bill came and one of my buddies entered into an argument with the server, stating there were two extra beers on the tab. Being busy, the server got in my buddy's face and pointed at it. Oh, no he didn't. Not the pointing of the finger! The server yelled at my buddy, my buddy yelled back, and I squeezed myself in between them and said I'll pay for the beers. I felt pretty good about myself. Not that I had solved our energy crisis, nor cured cancer, nor had given birth to a child. But I used to be a tightwad about money. I just wanted to get the bill paid and move onto our next locale. 

Afterward, some of us were talking about the food and service, which weren't that great. This one girl told me that I should not publicly complain about the service, then left. My buddy who almost got into a fight looked at me and said, "Shouldn't she be H8ing on me?" Not only that, I wasn't the only one who complained publicly.

Man, she must H8 Yelp, a small time website.

A couple weeks later, she had threatened that if I'm ever around, then she wouldn't be.

Why does this little girl not like me? I don't fuckin' know. But my mind wandered back to a time where I had been talkin' to two girls, and she was the third, standing there like a third wheel, more like a flat spare tire. I paid no attention to her because she hadn't said anything. Five minutes later, she huffed off.

Had she yearned for my attention, but didn't get it, so she H8s on me now? If not, then why had she stood there like a flat spare tire? Obviously, this girl targeted me and has some serious issues. I'd understand if I'd said something lewd to her. But I hadn't. Or at least I don't think I had. Either way, her H8 for me rests within her. She'll have to deal with it, endure the heavy emotions that comes with it, and suffer through it whenever she thinks about me, raising her H8 even more. It's a freakin' vicious circle.

And that's the main issue about H8, as Yoda, the puppet, had said so long ago, in a galaxy far, far away. H8 ultimately comes back on the H8er. And the only way to cure it is to let the H8 go.

Being the Bad Guy

Did I turn off the stove?

Did I turn off the stove?

Have you ever met the antichrist? A real asshole? Someone that you wanted to punch because that would feel so good?

One of the tenets of having a great protagonist, a fantastic hero, the chosen one must also have a great antagonist, an antichrist, a real bad boy, or girl.

I get newsletters from different writing sites, and one of them caught my attention. They wrote about the movie Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks. I hadn’t seen the movie, but the letter stated the bad guys made some stupid mistakes that allowed them to be easily defeated, which minimized the accomplishments of the hero. Despite the movie being based on real life events, the letter had a good point.

Oops I missed

Oops I missed

One of the greatest things about Star Wars is Darth Vader. As a kid, that guy was scary. He had ultimate control over the Force, could choke someone out without even touching him, and was a skilled swordsman with a lightsaber, the coolest sword in the universe. And he killed Luke’s teacher, a war hero in his own right. What? Luke was an underdog when it came to Vader. But we knew Vader had to go, and we knew Luke was the one to do it, but we didn’t know how that was gonna happen since Obi-Wan was dead. And the intrigue into Luke’s heroic path was something I loved.

So when I read the letter, I immediately remembered the post I wrote about the martial arts school I used to attend.

Ah-choo

Ah-choo

When I wrote that post, I had an inkling that it would find its way back to them, not through any active part by me. And I didn’t write it because I wanted to thwart their business, I wrote it because it was something that spoke to me, one of the main reasons why I left that school. It took them about four months to discover it, and I heard the owner of the school, who doesn’t teach there much anymore, made a special trip to talk about little ol’me.

Now, if I wrote a story and the owner of the school was the bad guy, and the hero, some awesome writer, wanted to draw him out, and all he did was write a post on a small site, and the bad guy took the bait, I’d say the antagonist was really stupid, and that I did a bad job in creating the bad guy.

As the writer, I have to make sure the antihero is formidable. Otherwise, anything the hero does to overcome the odds looks weak. And that’s what I hope I did in my book, Nightfall. The bad guy kicks some serious ass, and my hero is rubbin’ his bum, but that’s part of the fun in stories. The underdog is the underdog for good reason. He’s gotta pull himself up and take it to the baddie. Otherwise, the reader, audience will be bored.

The Curse and the Cure

Shake my hand, dammit

Shake my hand, dammit

From my experience, having an antagonist that seems or is very distant can present the small issue of conflict and tension; the chosen one may not always have direct contact with their antichrist. So having someone that is a little closer, aside from circumstantial disasters, to provide some conflict with the main character is important.

One good example is Draco Malfoy. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, For He Who Shall Not Be Named is somewhere off in the Forbidden Forest, which is forbidden, and doesn't provide direct conflict until the end. Given Malfoy's name and Harry’s alliance with Ron, Draco is in direct conflict with Potter. We as the readers realize this immediately.

In Nightfall, my hero has to fight a war with his former teacher. Problem with that, geographically, they're a continent apart. Though, the antagonist does affect my hero even through the distance, I like to have other characters that constantly give the hero issues. That along with circumstantial disasters allows me, the author, to put my hero in constant conflict by different means. I’m hoping that keeps my readers’ interest throughout the trilogy. Aside from the fact that Draco was the constant heel of Harry, my hero will have some that are constant, some that will turn on him for a good length of time, while others will represent red herrings, like Professor Snape.

I did this because the story required it, that somehow it needed it, and it wasn't a conscious requirement on my part. What got me thinking about it was a hike that I’d done with a group in Point Reyes, located in Northern California next to the coast. It’s an incredible area, known for secluded beaches, immense hikes—ours was 15 miles—and shaded trails that bode well even in the summer (see gallery below).

Fuck with me not

Fuck with me not

Around twenty of us went, most were very friendly, and I’d known a few of them from prior hikes. There was one woman who seemed to be my heel for the day. Why? I don't know exactly, but maybe because after I introduced myself I had left without continuing our conversation. I felt no connection to her whatsoever, I usually don’t know why when that happens, but most of the time my intuition is right so felt no reason to talk to her further.

Half-hour into the hike, a group of us were talking about something, and she made a point. I disagreed with it, and she kicked dirt at me. So being immature, I kicked dirt back. I know, childish. Then, like a thundercat, she reached for the ground and grabbed a fistful of dirt, twigs and leaves, ready to throw it at my face. She demanded why I kicked dirt at her, and I’m like…what? Like a third grader on the playground, I said, “You kicked dirt at me first!”

“Oh, we’re even then,” she agreed. 

Don't mess wit me sucka

Don't mess wit me sucka

At this point, I began to see my intuition was correct.

Throughout the hike, she kept taking jabs at me. Somehow, we stumbled onto the conversation on height, and I jokingly stated she was short. She pointed her finger at me and said, “Hey! You’re short. I’m average.” She’s 5’2” and I’m 5’6”. Sorry little girl, but we’re both short. I said nothing, thinking my immature behavior earlier might have prompted the wrath from this woman before realizing maybe it was me leaving abruptly when we met.

Everything makes sense now

Everything makes sense now

Toward the end of the hike, I was flirting with a girl, and I had said something she didn’t understand. So when I tried to explain, she had laughed and told me don’t even try. So I said,” You’re gonna play me like dat?” Sometimes I get ghetto without knowing it. The woman with the wrath turned around—she wasn’t even part of the conversation—and said, “She knows you’re full of it,” and high-fived the girl. Since the short comment, I decided not to joke with this woman because she definitely can’t take it. She had found great comfort and camaraderie with people who seemed to agree with her philosophies of life, nothing wrong with that. But I knew she was a person who was very closed. Her ego dictated her every emotion and action. Not saying mine doesn’t have some effect on me—kicking-dirt incident—but when it happens I’m aware of it, which was why I didn’t react to the many jabs she’d taken.

All of this is to say one thing: trust your intuition. Well, how do you do this? Simple. Whenever you have confirmation that your intuition is true, you thank it.

I began to realize this when I kept cursing myself whenever I forgot my keys, or my bag, etc. I forgot more and more and more. So I tried something new. Whenever I remembered something, I thanked whatever part of my mind that remembered. And I forgot less and less. Do I still forget things? Sure. But not to the degree when I punished myself for it.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. Let go. Things will get better.

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Smart Ass

In my most recent post, I'd mentioned that a reviewer who defended the atrocious plot holes of Prometheus had said we are to suspend our logic because this was a science fiction movie. For any storyteller, we know that's not true. We suspend our disbelief. Logic is the hallmark to any good story. Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities, truth isn't -Mark Twain

Again?!

Again?!

I had watched several flicks with the backdrop being aliens invade the world. More often than not, we humans at the very least kick enough ass to survive: Independence Day, Battle Los Angeles, Battleship. Of course the only way we could win is by dumbing down the aliens' tech.

Come on.

It be right here

It be right here

It's fairly common knowledge that Alpha Centauri is around 4.4 light years away from us. So common that I had to look it up. It's more common knowledge that it would take us hella days to get there. Shit. We don't even have the tech to do that. As a freakin' result, any alien peeps that could come here would have weapons beyond any common man's imagination. I would think they'd kick our asses, if they so choose. They'd be like, "Nuclear missiles? Are you kidding? What is this? The Stone Age?"

When I created my antagonist, the bad dude, I knew two things. As a former actor, one of the pillars of acting is not to judge your character. For example, if an actor was hired to play Hitler, the last thing he (or she) should do is judge the character. Or else you're playing character (scowl and yell and be a real meany) instead of being Hitler. I think he truly wanted to improve the world by creating an Arian race and committing genocide on the Jewish. We know that's wrong, but that's for the audience to decide.

Secondly, he had to be smart. If I dumbed down the bad guy, any wins the good guy accrued would mean nothing. Any losses would make my good guy look stupid. They complete each other.

Samurai male pattern baldness

Samurai male pattern baldness

The movie 13 Assassins is a great example of this. Lord Matsudaira Naritsugu is just an asshole. He rapes and kills simply because he can. He's sadistic. So a government official realizes that things would get worse once this Lord ascends his political position. So he hires a Samurai who then gathers a dozen more, the best of the best, to assassinate the Lord. You'd have to. Any Lord in Japan during the Edo period is gonna have awesome Samurai to protect them. Thirteen against the Lord's countless horde. Odds are against the thirteen. If they lose, it's to be expected. If they win, monumental accomplishment.

Now. Imagine this. Lord Matsudaira Naritsugu has a squad of twenty Samurai who are dufuses. Type of guys who wouldn't know how to use toilet paper. Don't know if they had toilet paper in the Edo period. Then this government official hires thirteen of the most ruthless, skilled Samurai to kill the sadistic Lord. Not much tension or conflict.

What did you do!?

What did you do!?

The antagonist doesn't always have to be a person or a group of people. One of my favorite Samurai movies is Twilight Samurai. Here, we have a father, a Samurai on the floor of the totem pole. He lives life, saves money by not taking baths and reeks of fish, and wears rags for clothes. He makes wooden cages for pet grasshoppers that aren't in great demand, and barely has enough money to feed his two daughters and ailing mother. He can't get ahead and the need for Samurai dwindles. We're told ronin are becoming the norm, Samurai with no Lords looking for independent work. We know from hearsay our hero is a great swordsman, so we are guaranteed an eye-popping sword fight. He down plays his skills, which only speaks truth to the rumors. But where is the bad guy? Where and how will this epic event happen?

Then I realized something. The antagonist is society, his situation, ultimately, himself. Light from the heavens beam down all over me as I jump for joy. Angels sing as the warmth of my ego's hug tighten. In the end, we do see a great and very realistic sword fight, but it symbolizes his view of himself. He becomes the person he should be, completing his character arch.

Moral of the story: run away from aliens, sadistic dudes should watch out for thirteen assassins trying to kill ya, and don't make dumb assess of your bad guys.

Neverending Karate Kid

When I was a kid, I loved movies.  But there were certain ones that I've always connected to but never knew why.  Now, as I'm wiser, not necessarily more mature, I know why I loved certain movies, why I kept watching them over and over. One day I was rummaging through a fantasy book store and came across The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende.  The book was first published in 1979 in German.  Ralph Manheim translated it to English.  I must have seen the movie dozens of times.  I loved the characters, I loved the story within the story, and I totally loved the soundtrack.  So when I saw the hardcover, I bought it.

For parents and children, this is totally appropriate.  It's an allegory on life, and if you watch the movie with your kids, ask them what the movie means.  It's the one thing that I don't see parents doing is asking their kids what things mean to them.  Do it and you'll be surprised by what you find out.

When I mentor students, I always ask what things mean, or how they feel about the experiences they're going through.  It's also my main tool in getting them to open up.  Eventually, they spill the beans about anything that I ask.  I need to know what they're thinking, feeling in order to help them out.  Click here if you want to read more on talking to your children.

If you read to your kids, read The Neverending Story.  If not, then watch the movie.  Don't have the money to rent movies, well the whole movie is on youtube:  Part 1.

While I was perusing youtube at work, don't tell my boss, I came across the Karate Kid.  This is an interesting movie.  Not because of the awesome cat-like choreography.  To me the hero is interesting.

A normal underdog story goes something like this:  hero enters new world (town, school, wizard school), is overwhelmed by bad dude (love interest's ex, bully, the most evilest powerfulest wizard), gets a gift (learns the way of love, learns how to fight, learns he's a great wizard), and, voila, hero wins.

Most of the times, the bad buy is an actual bad guy.  Not in The Neverending Story or Karate Kid.  The antagonist is the hero's disbelief in themselves.

When we look at Neverending, Bastian, the hero, must follow his inspiration, his love for books, fantasy, and story.  It isn't until he fully gives in does he overcome the antagonist, self-doubt.  In Kid, Daniel must believe in himself.  He never got stronger, faster, or learned more karate then the bully.  The bully was never the obstacle, just the opportunity.  His teacher guided him to trust in his ability, to let go of his self-proclaimed weaknesses.  In doing so, Daniel prevailed, or what I like to term kicked ass.

I've always loved stories that have this undertone.  When I look at the characters I've written in my book, all of them at some level must deal with self-belief.  It's the one thing I hone in on when I mentor people.   I use stories to open conversations with children, to guide them toward their passions in life, their truth.