Leggo My Ego

I’ve been waiting for this night for seven years! I write about ego in NIGHTFALL, talk about it, how it can affect choices. I don’t actually lecture about it, making the narrative a freaking lecture, which was how I felt Dan Brown was doing in THE SYMBOL. I just weaved the affects of ego through the narrative, hoping that I’ve communicated my views through subtext.

Broke Back

Broke Back

Tonight was a historic night.

One of the most talked about UFC fights was UFC 162, Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman (pictured left). Silva (pictured right) has been the reigning middle weight (185 lb) champion for the past seven years. In mixed martial arts (MMA), that is unheard of because no one has accomplished that, save Silva.

I’ve always felt that Silva had an ego, though you'd never know with the words he uses. Like a shark that can sense blood from a thousand miles away, I can sense a person's ego. We see evidence of Silva's arrogance in his previous fights when he taunts his opponents, giving little respect, despite the fact that he says he respects every single opponent.

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Actions speaks louder than words. Women know this. I know this. Does this make me a woman?

Silva’s fights always starts with some form of reading his opponent, where they’ll attempt some form of attack, but Silva always evades, doing calculations like a supercomputer, reading their reach, timing, rhythm, skill, mind set, etc. And once he’s done with his calculations, he pounces and often finishes his opponents in the second round.

When the main event of UFC 162 started, I saw Silva come out, completely relaxed. Weidman charges to the middle of the octagon, also relaxed. In spite of Weidman, who is a very accomplished wrestler, taking Silva to the mat, the champion easily evaded all submissions attempts and got back to his feet. A few moments later, Silva’s supercomputer was on its way to finishing the calculations. I know this because when the champion starts taunting the challenger, he'd figured out Weidman. My body reacted from watching all of Silva's other fights, expecting a huge knock out finish of the challenger. From my point of view, Weidman seemed lost, but he also looked relaxed, a good thing. End first round.

Here’s the important part. When the second round began, Silva came out and taunted Weidman again. When Weidman tried to strike, Silva would dodge and move as if the challenger had nothing on him. The champion even pretended he was hurt when a punch grazed by his cheeks, an expert at going with the flow of punches, making him very difficult to knock out. More taunting, show boating ensued, something the fans of the UFC, and me, were used to.

Then it came. Weidman threw a combination, which was a little messy but worked because a half-hearted back fist had forced Silva’s head to flow left, and he blinked. Weidman quickly followed it with a punch to the chin, knocking down (out even as Silva’s eyes rolled up) the former champion. Weidman then followed Silva with punches to the ground to make sure he was done.

Knocked Tha Ef Out

Knocked Tha Ef Out

So this is a long diatribe about how ego can be anyone’s downfall. I’m not saying I don’t have one, but I’m aware of it enough to not let it step in front of me and control my actions. Most of the time.

Ego has brought down civilizations, religions war over which god is better killing millions upon millions, corporations have withered away when the focus is on material wealth rather than serving the people. Sometimes it takes time. I mean, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it took a damn long time before it fell. Israel is still a subject of huge contention. Blackberry and Microsoft were caught with their pants down when Apple released the iPhone.

I’ve written how I’ve left my martial arts school because I didn’t believe in them anymore, their form of teaching, and the egos displayed in every inch of that school. They commented on my website, trying to dissuade me from my opinion, and as I’ve written here, I don’t read reviews unless I’ve solicited for it. My former school, on the other hand, have changed part of their system to accommodate for my criticism, and failed because they simply didn’t understand my article and the simple truth about how humans learn physical movement. The crazy part is that article listed simple things they could do to improve their student’s abilities. Dorks.

Yes, I do have a spy there. And they will never figure out whom. If they did, oops. Sorry, dude. Or dudet.

My Boat Is Bigger Than Yours

Entering my fourth week living in Hawaii, I find myself a bit lonely and go off looking for parties and get-togethers. So I go to this guy's 65-foot boat, which he told a woman is big (compensating?), and enjoy Waikiki's Friday night fireworks, a regular thing. Everyone brings food and drink, the owner of the boat fires up the BBQ, and friends and strangers talk.

One woman from Taiwan, I think, sulks about her Apple stock. Back in September it was trading above $700 per share, and was da most valuable company on da planet. Sorry. My Hawaiian came out a little. Now it pingpongs in the mid 400's. As much as I love Apple, I don't own stock cuz no one really knows how stocks will behave, AAPL being the most recent and best example. (Just a note: I've done a little research and there's no real reason for the stock's downfall, save for emotional sell off due to false rumors.)

I'm watching

I'm watching

This same woman announced for Steve Jobs' revival, which would scare the shit out of me if it happened, and shakes her tiny fist at the overcast sky. Being an Apple fan, I'm prone to reading everything about the fruit company, even though I may not invest in it, except to give my money to buy those precious--my precious--products. So I said that it wasn't due to Jobs' death that the stock fell, or else the stock would have fallen when his death was announced in October of 2011, and that back in September of last year, the stock had grown to its highest ever.

Then the popular guy in our group stated it was! He went on to say that Apple's map debacle would never have happened had Jobs been alive. People have very short memories because Steve had released products that tanked like MobileMe. Jobs also said, when meeting President Obama for the first time, that he'd be a one-term president. Even the chosen one isn't right all the time.

Duh...where do I go...

Duh...where do I go...

In vain, I try to give my opinion, but the popular guy shook his head and spoke over me, shelling his diatribe, the same crap that helped pummel the stock in the first place, none of it having any basis. My ego stepped in front of me and puffed his broad, massive, humongous, armor plated chest. I, on the other hand, kept quiet.

As an artist, not only do I have to read people, but myself--my ego almost getting me in trouble for arguing with people who regurgitate emotional baseless articles about Apple. Those two would never have listened to me, despite the fact that I was wearing an Apple cap. Not that people wearing Apple caps would know everything about Apple, but maybe I would have a different opinion, given that this is a get-together and we're here to converse.

Nope.

You may ask why I stopped myself? Well, sometimes I feel that I don't connect with people, and I've asked myself why? Normally, the reason is that I judge them. When you judge someone, like that person is below you, you can't connect with them. That's how a lot of slave owners got away with mistreating slaves, slaves aren't human. They disconnected themselves from the real truth.

There were two other guys that were friends with the popular dude, and immediately I read them as being a little closed minded. That's me pre-judging them, so I throw that notion away in an attempt to connect. One of them brought pork bellies to the BBQ, and I said yuck. It's pure fat. The one who brought it looked toward the horizon and said you only live once, and the other stated once in a while is ok, it's the accumulation that you have to worry about. I agree with that. My vice is ice cream, and I consume that once a week. But pork belly? I think that's a bit worse than ice cream. But they slurped it up like it was their last meal before the needle.

Then the conversation got to iPhones. Somehow we got to talking about pricing, and I said that you can get an iPhone for free on a two-year contract, if you're ok to settle for older tech. The guys lectured me saying their has never been an iPhone for free.

NEVER

Suck on this muthahfuckahs

Suck on this muthahfuckahs

Now, at this point I could have pulled my iPhone and proved them wrong. But what's the point. My initial read of them was correct. They're in their own little club, and anyone who brings their own opinion will be met with opposition. Does that mean that I don't like anyone with their own opinion? No, that's stupid. But a debate can only be held if opinions are given, not stopped. Does that mean I should always rely on my first impression of others. Yep. But I give them a chance to disprove it. And in this case, they only proved it.

Onward to another party.

Appreciate, Don't Depreciate

Black face anyone?

Black face anyone?

In researching and thinking about what people in my fantasy world do, say for fun, I had to hearken back to the days of yore. Not your, nor mine, but yore (woulda worked better verbally). Specifically, the medieval days because technologically that’s where my world relates closest. Being a huge fan of the Renaissance Faire, I get a slight glimpse of a world that once existed. In those times, there wasn’t much to do except follow a craft: glass blowing, blacksmithing, or delve into the arts like painting, sculpting, acting, writing. Plays were huge back then. And the Royal Court was a huge orgy. But if you couldn’t go to those things, then what did people do in those days of yore?

Earth Theater...I mean Globe Theater

Earth Theater...I mean Globe Theater

Aside from all the chores that needed to be done (there were a lot), there wasn’t much. So delving into a craft or an art was ideal, from my point of view. I suppose if I lived in my world, which I do every day, then I’d be a storyteller.

However, today we have access to thousands of things that can entertain us and turn our minds into a pile of mush. Yes, we can dive into a craft or explore an art form, but for most neither of those constitutes making a living. As a result, we watch TV, watch a ball game, a boxing match, go to the pub, hang out with friends, then there’s movies. But I think the biggest luxury came about in 2007: the iPhone.

That's a big iPhone

That's a big iPhone

When I got it as a gift (thanks bro!) it changed my world. I listened to music, lectures, surfed the web a lot more than I did on my computer, played games (most were web games since the app store had yet to exist).

The world changed again. Apple released the iPad.  I told myself, I don’t need an iPad. If the iPad 2 was a massive improvement, then I’d get one. For now, at least, my iPhone was enough.

The iPad 2 came out. I played with it at the store, but was under whelmed. Then my girlfriend at the time gave me one for my birthday (thanks!). Now, I rarely use my computer to surf the web. I carry my iPad with me all the time. I'm an Apple freak!  Ugh. Gawd help me lawd.

Apple just recently announced the iPad Mini. Yeah. A miniature version of the iPad. Clever. A lot of people are complaining that Apple used old technology (based on the iPad 2), that the resolution of the screen is worse than the top competitors, that the pricing is way too high. How spoiled are we when we complain that technology is too old. My iPad 2 is still pretty awesome, despite it being ancient tech. And I’m not even tempted to buy the iPad 4, which apparently is about a thousand times better than what I have. So what?

There are starving children in the world. Children who don’t know when their next meal will come. Where the real enemy is starvation. That is a real problem.

I’d recently watched Gerard Butler in MACHINE GUN PREACHER. Yeah. He’s a preacher who literally carries a machine gun. He plays a real life preacher who dedicates his life to rescuing children in Sudan from being raped, killed and turned into soldiers. I doubt those kids complain about the iPad Mini being old tech.

For most of us who live in the Western world, we should take a moment and appreciate all the wonderful things we have. Sure. There will always be people who have more, who do more amazing things, who seemingly live a better life. But none of those things will make us happier, give us fulfillment, or enrich our lives. Having more stuff, more wealth can definitely enhance your life. Got an iPad 2, but want the best of the best? Then get an iPad 4. Shit. Buy a whole bunch. Just don’t expect it to make you happy.

Excuse me. There's a lemon in my martini

Excuse me. There's a lemon in my martini

Browsing through Facebook, I found a lot of my friends are partying a lot. Unfortunately, most of these events are held at night. I work a day job so the only time I can workout and write is after, during those cool events. So I either forgo the little time I have to write, and sculpt my body into a Chinese God (don’t know if they’re as buff as Greek Gods), or do what I really want. Partying and meeting new people while talking about nonsense was never my thing. So the choice, which was never a choice to begin with, was easy. I may never get published, in the traditional sense. But I do feel lucky that I can write the stories that flutter in my mind.

With the holidays arriving faster than Santa can deliver presents, appreciate all that you have, see that most of our problems aren’t, and enjoy life as it presents itself to us.

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.

Got Romance?

Macho, macho man, we are macho men...

Macho, macho man, we are macho men...

What is romance? And why are half of the books sold romance novels, trashy or otherwise? Is it indicative of women's lack or need of it? Variety is the spice of life, so maybe they need different men as stated in Steve Harvey's book.

I, being a macho, macho man, am stereotyped to not know the answer to this or any other thing about women. Oddly, this myth is not perpetuated by women, but by men. I can't count how many times men in the media state they know nothing about women and never will. And if that were true, then freakin' learn, dammit! Women certainly want us to, which may be why romance is so lucrative.

Having completed my first novel, I've been asked is there romance in it? I don't know.

I think you need a tic tac

I think you need a tic tac

Hey! Have you seen this:

A man gathers his briefcase, closes his office door, enters an ambiguous, crowded elevator. Taking a deep breath, he looks at his Tag timekeeper, exits the sky scrapin' building, and raises his hand.

A yeller taxi screeches. A radiant woman gets out, with hair from a high-priced salon wafts in the warm breeze, dressed in perfect fitted clothes, carrying a Burberry purse. Don't ask me how I know that brand.

They're eyes lock and the world comes to a startling but pleasurable halt. Her hair waves coyly at him. His stature postures over her like a gentle beast ready to pounce. Her eyes gaze ever so softly into his. She brushes her hair with the back of her hand.

What do we know and have been programmed to know from this cliche? A scene we've seen in countless movies, TV shows, books, plays, and commercials.

He is the it boy. She is the it girl. And by the massive powers of God, the universe, Shiva, Buddha, Geezus Krist, and the dominant iPhone with FaceTime, they're meant for each other for all time, passed time, into infinity and beyond, and a little more.

Whew! I need a smoke.

Going back to the question, does my book have romance?

Should I close my legs?

Should I close my legs?

I didn't know how to answer that question until I readRoger Ebert's essay on Lost In Translation,starring Bill Murray and Scarlet Johansen, directed by Sofia Copola. In fact, I saw this in the theater years ago and didn't know why I loved it until now.

In many ways, the movie starts out to be a cliche. A lonely man visits Japan. He runs into an equally lonely woman. They're subtly attracted to each other, but by no means are they the it couple. He's an older married man, she's the younger married woman. I thought they were going to hit it off. A nice romp in the bed, some drama about his wife or her husband catching them, then a climatic ending where they both leave their respective spouses, and run toward each other as the waves splash onto the sandy beach.

Why do you have pants on while I'm in a bikini?

Why do you have pants on while I'm in a bikini?

Nope. The movie is about a deep connection between two people, which is probably why I loved it so much because I cherish deep connections.

Does my book have romance?

No. Not like the taxi example above. My story focuses on a married couple who has to contend with the death of their child. Then they have to contemplate the mortality of their other, who is called to duty when a looming war approaches.

My goal was to explore the pain of loss, the guilt one spouse places on the other, on oneself, and to explore war itself. It has been a painful and enlightening experience in the sense storytelling.

Rebel In Action

About a year ago after a long writing session at Borders, I was about to leave. I walked by the magazine rack and saw an article onWIREDabout how the iPhone blew up. I began to read because my brother had given me one for Christmas when it first came out. Very generous of him. The cool thing about it was how Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, challenged the wireless carriers. Something that none of the cell phone makers were able to do.

According to the article, the carriers dictated what features could go on a handset, how it should operate and such. But Jobs probably had a dream: phone calls from an iPod.

I also think there were several carriers and industry experts that scoffed at the idea, thinking the market for that would be small. And the Blackberry was king of smartphones at the time.

Jobs went ahead with his idea, basing the iPhone on a concept model Apple made before.

When the iPhone first came out, it was met with great fanfare. The reviews were mixed and several features were missing that were found on more mediocre cell phones. But it became a hit.

On June 19th, this past Friday, I stood in line for the newest iteration, the iPhone 3GS. News reporters, Mac fans, and Apple store employees gathered to what looked like a small scaled Star Trek convention. People came in costume, others carried old Macs while in line, customers were interviewed, employees handed out water or juice bottles for those in line. It was really cool.

So what's the point of this on a website that focuses on fantasy and individuality?

The iPhone was fantasy before it became real, and Jobs took on giants, namely the wireless carriers, and won. No one, not even RIM, makers of Crackberry (Blackberry), had changed the field as Apple did. Apple may be big, but in the scheme of things they're tiny in comparison to those they took on.

Dream big, don't listen to anyone who says you can't, and go forth with action. Isn't that what all great strories depict?

Do You Feel Guilty Feeling Attractive?

In my side story, the character, Noshee, was a cheater.  It's part of his backstory.  If you'd like to read the side stories check them out here. I'd talked to a friend about attraction.  In the context of marriage.  He's been married for several years and loves his wife dearly.

One day he stood in a never ending line at Starbucks, totally submerged in his crackberry.  A woman bumped him from behind by accident and apologized.  My friend turned around, smiled, and said, "No problem."

Her red lips widened, revealing her white teeth.  "Aren't those addicting?"

"Ugh.  I can't help but check my emails everytime my phone vibrates."

The blond-haired lady took out her iPhone from her purse and waved it.  "Tell me about it."

After receiving their coffees, they stood off to the side.  What happened next was a fury of non-sexual flirting.  My friend found himself cracking jokes.  She laughed and crinkled her nose.  He  listened to her personal stories of work life, egged her on with penetrating questions.   She noticeably became intrigued by him, not taking any notice of the morning sun glinting off his wedding band.

Interesting.

It wasn't until he mentioned his wife did she withdraw and exclaimed she'd better not be late today.

Unlike my character, my friend didn't follow through with his instincts.  But was he in the wrong for feeling attracted to the nice blond lady?  Most people would judge him in the wrong.  And for those who would dare judge him, he felt guilty.

Everybody gets up in morning, brushes their teeth, washes their face, fix their hair, applies makeup if you're a woman, or a guy if you're like that, puts on nice duds, maybe spritz some eau de toilette or parfum, and leave the house looking like a million bucks.  Lo and behold even married people do this.

Why?

"I wanna look nice."

OK.  Why?

To look attractive.  What my friend did, by following his instincts to be attractive, to lure the woman in, is his way.  It's always been  his way.  It's how men through out our animal history have been.  We want to attract women.

Are women guilty of this?  Hell yeah!  Married or not, women love it when guys find them hot.  It makes them feel good.  It can help boost their confidence.  And I'd suggest they play along.  Have fun.  That's why they have girls' night out.  They want to be checked out in a protective environment among other hens, while the cocks, that's roosters for you gutter-minded, prance around in heat.  Stalkers please keep out.

I told my friend not to feel guilty.  Guilt, something I explore at length in my book, is a victim emotion.  That is left for another post.  His instinct of  feeling attractive, to want to talk to other women, is an ingrained behavior.  That's how his greatest of grandfathers, the Geico caveman, spread his genes.  The human side, the conscious side of our minds, shouldn't follow through with an affair, like Noshee did.

In the end, my friend went home with a surprise bouquet of bright red tulips.  He realized through his guilt that he loved his wife, appreciated the home they've built and got it on.  Actually, I don't know if he got it on.