Found the Freemasons!

I found them! I found the Freemasons! Ipod II 765 Click to enlarge

I took a short break from work today and walked amongst my peeps.  I went to Chinatown.  Chinatown is a huge tourist trap.  There are restaurants that serve food from every province of China.  And along the dingy streets are little shops that sells authentic Chinese wares.  Wares that you can only find in old China.  There were back scratchers, water pistols, Manchurian queues (the ponytails) sewn in hats, cone straw caps for those sunny days, tea cups with zodiac symbols, Japanese swords, solar-powered crickets that chirped in satin green boxes, postcards of half naked men and women.  Real authentic stuff.

The problem with walking amongst my peeps are the tourists.  It's like 50% Asians and 50% non Asians.  So I leave the beaten path and go up one street.  Now, it's more like 90% Asians.  I can hear the mahjong tiles percolating through a shut steel door, the smell of rot and herbs stream out of an herbal store, Cantonese being yelled across the streets, elders crowd into a scummy coffee shop (rumored to be leaders of a Triad chapter).  Then lo and behold I find the Freemasons.  Didn't think there were Chinese peeps in that organization.

I once took a cruise with some friends to Mexico.  The first stop was Puerto Vallarta.  The beach front properties sported souvenir stores, restaurants, and chain bars like Senior Frogs with tons of drunk Americans dancing and laughing.  My friend and I decide to explore a bit and go a street back.  Then the realities of Mexico hit us.  Human stench coursed up our noses.  Kids in gray rags walked bare foot.  The only Americans we saw from the cruise ship visited a massive church, the only building in good condition.  It looked like bombs destroyed the buildings and marred the streets into rubble.  To say it was night and day would be ridiculous.  The experience, however, was much appreciated, singeing the images in my mind.

I applied this to my writing.  In my book, I've created a fairly simple utopia.  On the front, every thing looks and works fine.  But behind the scene, evil lurks that my hero has to deal with.  More daunting, he realizes that this evil has lurked for most of his life under his nose.  I think a lot of stories start out with a nice image.  Then as things start to unfold, we as the audience find sinister things are squirming underneath neat layers.

I did this with myepisodes. The story seems easy enough.  A researcher is sent to find out why a pack of wolves are devouring innocent people.  But underneath someone is driving the events that are taking place.  The question becomes, will our hero find out?  Read them and find out.

Is Rebelling a Bad Thing?

The hero of the 7th Province has a choice.  He either rebels against his close friend and former mentor, or join him in taking over the world.  Each choice ends in war.  That's a tough place to be.  Is there a correct choice?  For the hero I'm not sure.  As a writer, the choices that each character makes, ultimately mine, is a crap shoot. I love that.

Even though I've plotted my whole novel, each day I wrote brought new discoveries and challenges that made me giddy.  I'm never sure how things were to happen.  I just know they had to happen.  As a result, writing my fantasy was a huge adventure.

Is rebelling bad?

I have a secret.  It's one of my favorite things about myself.  I don't get along well with authority figures.  That doesn't bode well since my day job is encrusted in a corporate empire.  The funny thing is they have a lot of propaganda that emphasizes their business values.  I won't get into the hypocrisy of it.

Is rebelling not a good thing?

A parent tells a child to kiss Uncle Louie.  Child scrunches her little face and shakes her head.  Parents eggs the child on, saying Uncle Louie loves the child.  Child pouts her lips, turns, runs toward her parent's leg, and grasps with all her might.  Parent gets upset, unhinges the child, pushes her to Uncle Louie, and forces her to kiss him on the cheek.  (I credit this example to my best friend.)

Is this wrong?

Hell yeah.

The parent just took the child's power away, forced her to kiss a strange man, despite her not wanting to.  If Uncle Louie were a child molester, the parent just punched a large hole in the child's ability to resist the attack.  In the child's mind love is associated with force.  And we wonder why some women stay with men who batter them.

What if the child was just being a brat?

Firm discipline should take place.  You decide what firm is.  That's different in each culture, society, family and individual.  But in the example above, the child is not being a brat.

Teaching a lot of adolescent kids made me realize one thing.  Almost every single one exerts their own independence.  Every parent exerts their control in an attempt to guide them.  It's the nature of the ocean, the ebb and flow.  Parents think their kids are being a pain in the ass.  Offsprings think their parents are being assholes.  What more could you ask for in a relationship?

Think of a pendulum searching for their own center.

Parents often ask me to infect a behavioral change.  But that's an impossible task.  All I can do is mentor them without limitation.  Tom Cruise taught me that.

He was on Inside the Actor's Studio.  A great show by the way.  He said that his mother never limited him in what he did.  She was watchful, but allowed him to explore the world.  Now he's some actor making at least twenty million dollars per movie, chump change.

As you sit in your day job, and if it's not the place you want to be, then what are you doing about it?

See part 1 to this article.

The Twilight Samurai

When I was doing research for my book, I'd read books on Vikings, Native American Indians and Samurais. There was also a lifetime of Chinese period soap operas lurking in my head that made its way on paper. My brother pointed out a common theme that I used without knowing it in my episodes.

Then I ventured down to individuals such as Miyamoto Musashi, Geronimo, and Ibn Fadlan.  I've also used Sun Tzu's Art of War and Robert Greene's The 33 Strategies of War.  I then obsessed over movies such as Braveheart, the events at the Battle for Thermopile and the History Channel.

The Samurai culture has always interested me.  In my research there was a movie I came across called The Twilight Samurai.  I immediately fell in love with it.  So much so that I bought a copy of it.  Not download it!  Bought.  It stars Hiroyuki Sanada.  If you've seen Tom Cruise's The Last Samurai, then you've seen Sanada.  He was the one who taught Cruise's character how to sword fight.

Twilight won a dozen Japanese awards and was nominated best foreign language film in the 2002 Academy Awards.

Despite the fact that Sanada plays a low ranking Samurai, I fell in love with the character.  The character is widowed, humble to a fault, works a low paying job, loves raising his two daughters, one of the best Samurais, cares nothing for advancement, and dreams of working on his own farm.  Empathy techniques at work?

The romance in the movie works so well, tons of chemistry, and no sex scenes.  I like sex scenes, don't get me wrong, like in a porno.  But it seems a lot of movies use sex to get the movie goer to come--ahem--instead of using it as a tool to forward the romantic story.

Take The Matrix as an example.  Look at the special effects, which the movie required.  Most of it, if not all, wasn't terribly advanced or over done for it's time.  Special effects was used as a tool to forward the plot, never used to get the movie goer to come.

One thing that really caught me about Twilight is there seems to be no real antagonist.  Where's Darth Samurai?  Then it occurred to me.  The antagonist was society.  The hero struggles with money, raising his daughters, living with his senile mother and the disrespect the other Samurai.  He's constantly badgered to remarry, to advance, to succumb to everyday standards.

His response?

"I'm too cool for ya'll."

Not really.  But he does resist it all.  Then comes his childhood love.  She is the monkey wrench to his well oiled machine.  From there, the story develops well, the romance progresses with all its angst, using the sign of the times to present obstacles, and there's enough action to help the story along.  Though the sword fighting is not central to the movie.

If you like Samurai movies, rent this.  You'll love it.