An Exploration into Mayhem

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When an action/horror flick comes out called Mayhem, starring a male Asian lead from an incredibly popular zombie series, I have no choice but to watch it. Steven Yeun stars in Joe Lynch's movie about a virus gone wild in a law firm's towering skyscraper. The entire building gets quarantined until the virus runs its course, 24 hours. Although the virus, unlike on the Walking Dead, doesn't change their human hosts permanently, it does remove inhibition, leading to unhinged acts of violence, lust, and more violence. Yeun's character, Derek, is trapped in this building, an exec in said firm. And to make it interesting Derek is involuntarily chosen to be the fall guy for a costly mistake the law firm made. He decides he needs a face-to-face with the sadistic CEO, no virus required, to resolve this issue. So he has to reach the top floor, negotiating–fighting really–the corporate lackeys who are overworked, under appreciated, and fucking pissed off. Good times.

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I enjoyed the movie. I can relate. Not because Yeun is Asian, but because the character has to reconcile his choice of living the corporate life instead of delving into his life's passion in the arts.

I work a day job in the cold, ugly corporate world, which is soul-sucking. I'm a bit fortunate because I get to work from home. But I still have to act within the confines of political correctness, which I absolutely despise. At night I ride my mechanical steed to a Starbucks, sit down in my spot, and dive into my world of fantasy. Freedom!

The film Mayhem seems to pit corporate life and passion in a fight to either drain Derek's soul or save it. So what does one do? Work a black hole of a day job to pay the bills? Or be a starving artist and try to live life to the fullest? Derek's trek up the building seems to symbolize this internal conflict. Kind of an homage to Bruce Lee's Game of Death, the actual version, not the one that was released by Columbia Pictures. So what would you choose? Soul-sucking job? Or starving artist?

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One of my favorite stories is Michelangelo's day job. They had day jobs back in the fifteenth century? I know, right? Looking at his paintings and sculptures, it's almost impossible to see that his true passion laid in sculpting. To say he was a master at it is insulting. Many argue he was the GOAT. No, not a four-legged sheep with horns. Greatest of all time. So what was his day job? Barista at an Italian bakery? No. His regular day job was a painter. And not the kind that painted your house. Well...unless it was the ceiling and walls of the Sistine Chapel. And from what little I know, when the Pope commissioned him to do this, he had to finagle the deal to ensure that Michelangelo would finish painting the Chapel.

Now Lynch wasn't clear in his film that quitting your day job was a requirement to follow your passions. That would be a ridiculous notion. And parables such as this doesn't paint a clear map of how to negotiate life. That's our job as individuals. But the film does illustrate something that I've always prescribed to. And that is to follow your dreams. The opposition always states that the chances of making it is really, really, really low. Three really's indicate how low the chances are of being successful, according to pundits and pessimists. However...

"Success is not a place at which one arrives but rather the spirit with which one undertakes and continues the journey.” –Alex Noble, author.

In other words, the journey is the reward.

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Hell naw. I want riches. Fame. Glory!

As a not-starving writer, I totally get wanting people to read and love and know my work. I crave it. It's probably why I love my writing group. They're the few people who've read my stuff, and I get to hear how awesome...or bad my work is. (Listen to a podcast where we talked about the writing process, our group dynamics, and how masturbation is very similar to writing–for me anyway.)

The fact of life is that not everybody gets to make it big. But most people don’t even try. And to make it big the work has to be done. So why not enjoy the work–the journey–as we stroll toward whatever life may present?

It's a lot like sex. The goal of sex is rarely to make a child. Hence condoms and birth control. Though, sex is the only way to make a child. That's the reason why it feels so good. It pulls the curtain to the Hell that will come when the parents have to raise the child. Sorta like having dessert before dinner. Joking. Eh. Kinda. But sex feels good because we're connecting with our partners, exploring in adult play, trying to get each other off. Again the reward is in the journey.

Dude...

When I first started to develop the characters of my book, Nightfall, I knew one of the subjects I was going to be exploring was ego, and how ego weaves its ugly opinions into their lives and shape their world. And the startling thing I've found was that part of the development wrote itself. It's character arc, how a person moves from who they are today to who they should be tomorrow. 

The story of Scrooge is a great example. When the story begins, Scrooge is greedy, hoarding his riches. Through spiritual enlightenment, namely the three ghosts, Scrooge evolves into a person who is giving and caring.

I was like that. Being Asian, I was raised to save, save, save. Before I was born, my family of six lived in a bedroom-sized apartment. My mother is a huge saver. So I grew up to be very cheap. I had an argument with an ex one time because she asked me to buy her a three-dollar bottle of water at a movie theater. I bought it, but then we fought about it because I was upset at having to spend that much money for water. Safeway sells it for less than a buck. Common!

But I realized that I wasn't poor anymore. I was earning more than enough money to live on, my savings was healthy, and I wasn't living from paycheck to paycheck. But I was still in the mental space of being poor. Luckily for the woman in my life today, I'm not in that head space anymore.

Recently, I asked a friend if I can get a ride to a dinner event. I would take Bart, a public transit system, and get off at the 16th Street station that was literally a five minute drive to the restaurant. He wanted me to get off several stations passed that because it was closer to where he lived. So I reiterated that the restaurant was only a five minute drive from the 16th station.

He then went off and said, "You're the one who needs a ride, dude. Not me, dude. Just meet us at Balboa. I don't mean to be rude, dude!"

Hmm. OK. I can understand if I was asking for rides all the time, but we hadn't hung out for a couple months, so I wasn't sure what his problem was.

Dude. Deeeoooood. Dewd. Dood. Diud. Dhude (the H is silent).

Then I remembered an incident. He had liked this girl for a while and was stalking her online. He asked her a question about a conversation she and I had had. We were talking about FOBs (fresh off the boat) and traded our experiences with them. He then asked her if he was an FOB and she said yes. He took offense to that and might have blamed me for that classification. It wasn't I who had turned him down for a date. But I think he started using the word 'dude' a lot to further himself from being a FOBby dude.

A friend and I met up with a girl one Friday evening to watch a group of bands play. I'm not a huge fan of live music, but I went because I'm always trying to break old habits and thinking. The girl was late, Asian time, and the first thing she said was, "San Francisco is so pretentious."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because the restaurants and bars are very douchery." Translation: they charged a lot. "I've been to a lot of them and they're all like that."

"How many restaurants have you been to?" I asked.

"Thirty."

There are over 4,000 restaurants in San Francisco. It's a foodie town that houses everything from food trucks to Michelin rated establishments (Translation: hella good grub). So for her to make a determination that the city is douchery from a sample size of thirty restaurants is kinda small, especially when the variability seemed to be non-existent because she's choosing expensive places, obviously.

Thinking that you deserve to eat well versus just eating good food is egotistical. Personally, I love hole-in-the-walls (not glory holes) just as much as Michelin rated restaurants.

I've always hated the corporate world. I work in it because it's just a paycheck to me. And that's what is so soul-sucking, that the work has no meaning to me. Think of a woman having sex for money, so she can eat, shade herself from the rain, feed her children. Sex should be pleasurable, be an intimate communication of the bodies, and/or maybe, depending on who came first, to procreate.

I look at everyone who seems to love the corporate world and ask myself, "Don't you all want more out of life?" I hear from old corporate execs that they should have spent more time with friends and family. And if I were to get laid off, I don't think I'd mind it so much. I would be shocked at first, but then I'd be free of my voluntary jail sentence to my 6X6 cubicle. 

All of this thinking, of course, is egotistical, like I'm too good for the corporate world. And me spending all this time writing isn't taking away from friends and family, that my writing is more important than the job that affords me to write. Well, yes, to me. But it's still ego. Knowing this truth doesn't change how I feel, but it helps take me off of my high horse. And get on a smaller one. What? It's not a bad joke!

Corporate Ladder to Nuthin'

I’m sitting in Starbucks and have just sent off another set of pages to go under my writing coach’s machete. I’ve gotten numb after reading through her many comments, constructive as they are. Now, most of the people studying here are college kids, eager to graduate and hit the corporate world.

I hate the corporate world. OK. Hate is a strong word. I loathe the corporate world. OK. Loath is just a synonym of hate. My bad.

There’s just something about that world that irks me. The volunteer 6 X 6 jail cell called a cubicle, earning a fraction of what one makes for the company, and the ridding of individuality by conforming to made up rules crafted to protect both the company and their assets (i.e. sexual harassment suits. OK. Bad example) doesn’t sit well with me.

However, I am thankful for my job. This particular position (I’m prohibited by my company’s code of conduct to reveal who employs me due to my radical ideas on this and all social sites) gives me a lot of freedom, and at the moment I earn enough to write amazing articles such as this (sarcasm anyone?), but more importantly, focus on my books and pay for my writing coach who costs a pretty penny. Well...she doesn’t cost a pretty penny, her services do. That don’t sound right neither.

Last week I was roving around Netflix and saw that they had added a movie called Nightcrawler, starring Jake Gyllenhaal. He plays Louis, a guy who is a psychopath, which lends well to his new occupation of filming crimes and atrocities of the streets of Los Angeles. He needs help with some of his duties and interviews an ex-junkie, Rick Garcia, played by Rick Garcia. Uh...no sarcasm here. 

Are you happy to see me?

Are you happy to see me?

Imediately, Louis lies, feeding Rick a story about how he just lost an employee and is interviewing for a replacement

Rick gives Louis a cautious look and says the ad didn’t state what the job was.

“It’s a fine opportunity for some lucky someone,” Louis says. I think every job I’ve ever interviewed for had stated this in some manner.

Louis proceeds to ask Rick about his prior jobs and what he learned from them. Soon after, Louis hires him, paying him a massive sum of thirty bucks cash per night. Woot!

Aside from the awesome storyline of the movie, the interaction between Louis and Rick, employer and employee, are my favorite because Louis represents the corporate world and Rick represents the lowly everyday Joe who’s trying to scrape a living.

Louis spouts nuggets of wisdom like communication is the key to success, and fear stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. The funny thing is my office has posters with words of wisdom hanging on the walls as well, hoping that they drive the worker bees to do better (sarcasm anyone?).

Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings

Is Batman really Superman?

Is Batman really Superman?

I’d just gotten back from the San Diego Comic Con, 2013. If you search for that on the net, then everybody and their mothers’ brothers’ cousins’ roommates’ acquaintance who met at the bar the other night has written about it. So I’m not gonna add to that but will give my take as a storyteller and what this massive wet dream for fandom means. Hmm…women don’t have wet dreams so forget I wrote that. Can’t I just press the delete button? And Zack Snyder, director of MAN OF STEEL, made a surprise announcement:

Anyways, I’m letting my thoughts on Comic Con simmer before I ramble about it.

Today at work, I was catching up on all the emails that had accrued while I was out. Most of it was either deleted or filed away, and very little of it required my attention. I tried to get everything done before I left for the four-day weekend. When asked what I do for work, I often find myself stating that I manage emails, since it seems to be the main focus. And I also find that other people in the corporate world manage emails, too. So people go to university, study hard all night, go into deep debt with student loans to manage an email box. Woot! Love the corporate world.

Cynic? Yeah. What else do you expect of me?

I've won a million dollars!

I've won a million dollars!

As I was managing my email box, I was listening to a lecture. Not that deleting or filing emails isn’t fulfilling…but if I can learn something and work at the same time, then why not? Two guys were talking about knowing oneself, and that you can’t know yourself and not be vulnerable to emotional pain. For example, to be in a healthy and successful relationship where two people come together, be it plutonic or romantic, they suggested that we have to open ourselves up totally. It’s only then can relationships flourish toward whatever they are working for. Romance novels, movies, and Hallmark Specials often depict failing relationships due to miscommunication, and there’s truth in that. But to be that open, we do leave ourselves vulnerable. And the two guys support that whole-heartedly. If we do get hurt, then it’s exhilarating because it means we’re alive, that we’re feeling something.

That took me back to my martial arts days when my teachers were sparring. They said they weren’t alive until they felt pain. I was a lot younger and ignorant then, but I thought they were psycho.

But, again, there’s truth in that. Not the psycho part…well maybe.

When researching what it took to be a good writer, I ran across a book that stated you need to feel.

And that makes sense. Everything we do as artists, be it storyteller, actor, painter, sculptor, fighter, we’re communicating with emotion. As a writer, I'm trying to tie the reader to the character with emotion.

Watching an interview with J.J. Abrams when he started work on Star Trek, he asked himself, why care about James T. Kirk? Essentially, how does he get the audience to care about Kirk, who is an egomaniac? It’s an interesting question because Kirk has such a huge fan base. Abram’s answer: kill his father. I was like, he stole my idea! Not really, but the main purpose of my prologue is to root my main character to the reader.

As humans, we’re given emotions for a reason. It tells us what’s going on, it informs of us of any changes that need to be made, it's data of some sort. Man, I sound like I work in IT. I suppose it’s a good thing. But it sucks when we’re in it, freeing when we’re out.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Actions Speak Louder Than Words I love it when I spend days upon days on a couple of chapters only to finally admit to myself that I need to rewrite the whole thing. It’s a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good because I realize I have to rewrite it. It’s bad because I kept on ignoring that realization. Cest la vie.

When I think about a scene and the characters involved, I think a lot about their actions. Their actions, more than what they say, tell a deeper story. If someone slams their hand on the table and says, “I’m calm,” we know that’s not true. If a character does something meaningless with no foreseeable goal, then it’s possible they’re there to just eaves drop without appearing to be, for example.

I learned from my days in acting that drawing from life and putting them in art is a great resource of inspiration.

My nephew had interviewed for a job where I work, the glorious corporate world. He’d been working through college at Home Depot. After being called back for a second interview, I had inquired what the managers had thought about my nephew. Unfortunately for him, I have no pull. Their main concern was he seemed desperate to leave Home Depot.

From what my nephew had told me, it didn’t sound like it. Now, if someone worked through college at a retail store, graduate, and then looks for a job, they’re looking to move on. Right? I mean, is it a sin to go out and use your college degree to get a better job?

Why is everyone smiling while there's a dead person on the table?

Why is everyone smiling while there's a dead person on the table?

I had just watched an episode of Bones, and the psychologist talked about self-projection. An example of this is when we hate something about another person; it’s really something we hate about ourselves. I tend to find this true more often than not, especially within me.

It’s amazing how much some of the people at work complain. How some of them feel imprisoned. How they yearn for the weekend, look forward to vacations, but can’t leave their jobs because they have to pay for their Bimmers or Luis Vuittons. Are they projecting themselves onto my nephew, desperate to leave?

How true it is

How true it is

I've been keeping an eye on how AT&T reacted once Verizon had gotten the right to sell the famed iPhone 4.  A little history. Verizon had been on a successful ad campaign against AT&T. So when AT&T started selling the iPhone 4, they got rid of their unlimited data plan, something that pissed off a lot of customers. Instead of improving their network to handle all of their customers thanks to Apple's iPhone exclusivity, they limited new customers' usage:  We have the fastest network.  Just don't use it that much. Here's what AT&T did once Verizon iPhone 4 went on sale:

First AT&T said they weren't worried.

Then they touted their one advantage over Verizon.

Next, CEO of AT&T hates on Apple's app store.

Oh, hey. Since we at AT&T love our customers so much we decided to give you 1,000 minutes for free...if you have an iPhone.

Last but not least, AT&T quietly matched Verizon’s unlimited data plan, since Verizon offered it to new iPhone 4 customers.

What does all this say about AT&T? They're worried.

Actions do speak much louder than words.

Are You a Complainer?

Working in the corporate world lends my ears to a lot of complaining.  Currently we're getting a lot of rain.

But for the past few years we weren't receiving the needed amount of rain and headed toward a drought.  So I'm thankful for this storm.  But all I hear throughout the office is how terrible this weather is.  How awful it is out there.  How inconvenient the rain is.

So would they rather have this?

Because people were complaining how we didn't get a lot of rain.  Either way, complainers can't seem to be satisfied with anything.

Here's a good one.  A lot of companies are going through layoffs.  Mine was no different.  But some of my coworkers complained how busy we were.  We were so busy that overtime was authorized.  I don't know about them, but busy should equal job security.  I'm not a proponent of guarantees, but in a time when unemployment is higher than normal, you'd think they'd be glad it was busy.

I'm not saying I don't complain.  I tend to do it in my head.  And once I'm done, I feel tight, angry, and depressed.  So I've become aware of it and do what I can to quiet my mind.  Sometimes, though, I whine like a baby.  In those cases, I either write a post, surf the web, workout, take a drive, listen to music, watch a good movie...you get the idea.

But a habitual conscious effort will replace a lot of complaining.  Because the best way to replace a habit is with another one.  Just don't replace it with another bad one.  I've seen this before.  When people know their complaining doesn't do anything, they take on addictive habits.  Like watching reality TV.  Sit at bars staring at the ladies and giving them the hibbie jibbies.  Or eat crap food.

Find what gives you joy.  True joy.  And do it.  You never know where it'll lead.