Monkey Behavior

Have you seen those wild life specials where a group of congregating chimpanzees are screaming, slapping their hands above their heads? Sometimes I have a sneaking suspicion they have their own language that we don't know about. Anyways, that's another post. Animal behavior often explains some of the odd things, sometimes called sins, that we humans portray.

When a father kills his wive and children, when a woman cheats on her man, when a boy goes to strange lengths to show a fifth grade girl he likes her can come from animalistic behavior. Thanks, Darwin.

We see all of this in the animal world.

Today I was eating at a ramen house and saw a group of young Asian boys hanging outside. One of them wore his sunglasses backwards, shading the back if his neck from the hot afternoon sun. He must have said something funny. Because one of his friends started laughing, screaming almost, slapping his hands together above his head. Sound familiar?

Is this important in story telling?

In my currentEpisode,my character is faced with an opportunity to prove his innocence. He has a choice. Prove it with dignity or with violence. Why the two opposite choices? If you'vereadwhat he's been through, then you'll undersand why he could choose violence.

Sometimes in life we don't see how our behaviors can originate from our innate animal behavior.  If we are closest to our chimpanzee cousins, then how can we deny the strange behavior that some people exhibit?  Do I agree with it?  Not all the time.  But as story tellers, we should allow for some raucous action.

One that comes to mind is Hermione punching Draco in the nose in the third Potter book.  I thought that scene was right on.  A bigoist taunting someone should get their nose punched in.  Not because it was right.  Because that kind of behavior would elicit another.  Cause and effect.

I once had a student who was constantly bullied by another boy who didn't respect my student's ethnic heritage.  The bully called him obscene names.  My student asked him to stop and even avoided him.  But the bully looked for him like  a shark.  Heckling my student.  Barraging him with physical threats.  So my studentslappedhim.  Hard.

That bully never bullied him again.

The alpha male was now replaced by another.

Harry vs Neo

I saw Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. And with the slew of good to raving reviews that are out there, I’m not going to add to it.  Now, for you Potter fans, I’m not here to say how good or bad it is.  I love stories and always ask myself why I like certain stories in comparison to why I don’t. I liked this one, based on Harry’s sixth year at Hogwarts.

J.K. Rowling has said in many interviews that the books would get darker, and this one, with the death of a main character, is definitely dark.

One other series I’ve been obsessed with are the Matrix movies.  The first one was a sleeper hit.  Every one loved it, critics and fans.  But once the sequels hit theaters, despite its financial success, not many really liked them.

And I think I know why.

With both Potter and Matrix sequels going toward dark, why did one do and feel well, while the other just felt monotone?


The sixth movie had enough humor to bring the laughs all the way up to the climax.  The climax was the darkest part of the whole movie, so the laughs ended.  Makes sense.

Matrix had humor and sarcasm.  There were also different types of characters. One wished they didn’t take the red pill, another would pimp out a virtual girl, then there was one guy half black, half Asian who was enthusiastic, etc.  Those characters contrasted the war that was going on.

With both the Matrix sequels, there was no humor at all, no characters with color.  That’s why to me it felt monotone.  People will say that Neo and his crew were fighting a losing war.  But Harry and crew are fighting what seems to be a losing war, too.


Now the question becomes why laughs are needed in a dark movie?

I was talking to a coworker who is an avid churchgoer.  We were talking about perspectives on life, and I asked him what he thought about the world.  His response was this is a fallen world.  Then I told him mine, which of course is prettyPollyanish.

He countered with, “Then why is there so much suffering in this world?”

I imagined him and his choir of religious heathens eating this fallen view of the world and answered, “Because in order to have light, you must have dark.”

I personally don’t like it but understand the philosophical side.

In story, humor is not just a good release of tension.  It also contrasts the dark, making the dark darker when the dark comes.  As the story works toward its dark climax, we feel even darker as the dark falls upon us.  Which is the exact purpose of the sixth Potter movie.

Good Idea vs. Inspiration

Living in a metropolitan area allows me to encounter tons of people.  In talking to them, almost every one I run into have a good idea.  Either they have a book they want to write, an invention that would revolutionize daily life, a hobby they'd like to explore, a business they want to start.  Just to list a few. Question is how many of those people explore or pursue it?

I'd venture a guess that it's 2% or less.

So what's inspiration?  Is it the same as a good idea?

In talking to all these people, a lot of them also have inspirations.  They have a book they want to write, an invention that would revolutionize daily life, a hobby they'd like to explore, a business they want to start.

Again, I'd go on a limb and guess that less than 2% pursue or explore their inspirations.

When you walk into a store, like a Walmart, you're surrounded by tons of merchandise.  Think about this.  Where did all that stuff come from?

A factory in China.

Ha!  Yes but no.  Go further back.  Where did any of those things--George Foreman Grill, flat screen TVs, gum, textiles--really come from?  Someone's mind.  Think about it.  A long time ago someone who loved fish said, "I'd love to have live fish at my house, so I can look at them when I come home."  Hence, fish tanks came to existence.

Any of you know how J.K. Rowling got the idea of Harry Potter?  She had a vision, an inspiration, of this boy.  She then spent the next several hours imagining the world of Harry Potter, spent the next five years writing it.

Look at all the movies that come out every year.  All of them started in someone's head.  Sometimes it took several heads to come up with the story idea.  But it got made and released.

The difference between a good idea or an inspiration becoming real is action.  Go out and do it.

Way of Success

People are always concerned with the ‘how’. How’re you going to do that? How are you going to lose all that weight? How are you going to be a big time movie star? How are you going to afford that expensive home? I’m struggling with this as I look to buy a house in CA. Yikes!

There’s nothing wrong with wondering how anything is going to happen. But most people are afraid to take the first step because they can’t envision every step of the way. A lot of personal growth guru’s say don’t worry about how to attain something. I never understood it until I researched J.K. Rowling. She’s always wanted to be a writer, to publish a book. Simple enough, right? From all the interviews I’ve read and heard, the one thing that she didn’t concern herself was the ‘how’. She had an inspiration, a vision of Harry Potter. From there, she took steps to develop the wizardry world. She wanted to build a foundation of what magic could and couldn’t do. Then she focused on the plot, focused on the goals of each character, thought out the massive back stories. What’d she do next? She began writing. Not rocket science.

For most writers, published or not, the publishing world is a mystery. Even literary agents who’ve worked in the industry for decades still don’t know exactly what makes a book a bestseller. But if you want to be a best selling author, then you must first write. Once you’re done, the next step is revise. Get outside help. Then revise again. Send out query letters, and so on and so forth.

Look at it from Tom Tom’s view, or any other GPS. Enter the starting point. Enter the destination. Tom Tom takes you from the starting point, tells you to drive a couple of miles. Once you get there, make a right at Main St. Drive three hundred yards, then turn left. It does this until you reach your destination.

Life works in the same manner. Know where you are. Know where you want to go. And proceed. The how will present itself. You’ll never see the whole map. It can be detrimental. You might miss a turn. You’ll never see more than a couple hundred yards in front of you. Don’t need to. Stay the course and know you’ll get there.

Most important of all, enjoy the ride. Why do anything if it’s not fun?