Tylenol Doesn't Cure Knowitall

Nice white skirt...the car's

No man knows less than the man who knows it all -Some white dude I met at Starbucks.

I was admiring a friend's Fiat Abarth 500. I had seen someone drive an Abarth a couple years ago and loved the sportiness of the car, the cornering ability, the compactness, the Italian design.

"Why don't you get one?" my friend said.

I'd told him that I would but decided to get by my midlife crisis caR instead. 

"The Abarth is faster," he said. "And those caRs were my bread and butter."

Tasty.

He was an import tuner back in the day. Think The Fast and the Furious.

Since I knew nothing about the Abarth 500, I couldn't refute his claim. How could I? But I was slow and curious. Or maybe my ego said, "Fuck dat shit. My caR is faster." Now, my caR isn't a drag car, wasn't built for speed like a Corvette, but it was engineered to be a streetable track car. And Honda accomplished it to the point of making that caR legendary. 

So I looked up quarter-mile times for both cars and found the Abarth 500 was about .2 seconds slower than mine, stock.

The quarter-mile times were attained by race car drivers, and I even have a video of a Japanese racer who attained faster times, making my caR .4 seconds faster. But since I ain't close to being a race car driver, why argue the point in the first place?

I'd met another know-it-all at a New Year's Eve party. He was bragging about how high his alcohol tolerance was, how much alcohol he can consume, and described that he once threw up pure alcohol (no food) after a college party. Fabulous. I don't drink much. I get the Asian glow. For those not in the know, I get beet red when I drink something like a Coors Light. Yes, I'm a cheap date.

So as I was munching on a blackened potsticker, he stated that there are carcinogens present when food is burnt. I said a little won't hurt. He shook his head at me and said it doesn't matter. It can cause cancer. Shut the fuck up! Here was a dude who talked like an alcoholic, drank like one, then barfed pure alcohol telling me I could get sick from a burnt potsticker. Cirrhosis anyone?

A former coworker of mine chastised me for being at the same job for almost ten years. Before my current employment, my longest job had lasted three years. So it would seem that I've plateaued (in the corporate world, yes). But the main reason I've stayed, as I explained to my good ole buddy pal, is the freedom to work in Hawaii, or anywhere else I choose. And it's a day job, meaning I earn a paycheck so I can pursue my passions. I don't look for fulfillment through that job. I suppose if I had, I'd do something different, but I don't so I won't. He was comparing himself to me because at the time he was working for Google. In the Bay Area, working for a big tech company like that is sorta like being cool. 

I guess I ain't cool.

Those who think they know it all have no way of finding out they don't. -Leo Buscaglia

I recently read/edited another writer's romance paranormal novel. Normally, I wouldn't because it's time consuming. But it was a way for me to use what I have learned from my writing coach and apply it to a piece of work other than mine. I applauded my friend for even completing a book. I've met a lot of writers that don't freakin' write. Say what? But as I was trying my best to communicate simply the issues that I had seen, she spent a lot of time defending her book. And rightly so. It's her freakin' baby!

I cautioned her to take any advice of mine with a grain of salt, but I wasn't sure she heard my criticisms. For example, I explained that the rules of a fantasy world that she created must be adhered to. Otherwise, the story falls apart. In Harry Potter, material things, like money and food, can't be created by magic. So when food shows up on the table in the Great Hall, it was the house elves who had actually prepared it before hand. Otherwise, the fact that Ron came from a poor wizarding family and Malfoy came from a wealthy one doesn't make sense.

At one point as I was explaining a storytelling concept, my friend was brushing her teeth.

Though, it was an electric toothbrush, and it was after midnight (we all have jobs), I suspected she wasn't completely paying attention. And that's OK because it isn't my book.

I'm always open to learning new things and having insights about writing and storytelling. I think with any subject matter, the road to learning never ends. But we have to be open to it.

When the student is ready, the teacher will come and sit on yo couch and drink yo liquor and lay some knowledge, yo. Dat's how's it be, yo.

Pot Holes

It was Bigfoot!

It was Bigfoot!

There are few things that could ruin a leisure drive. We’re not really concerned about traffic because we ain’t not going no wheres. I know. Bad grammar. Fresh air, people watching, feeling the freedom of driving, not being tethered to anything, maybe enjoying a cool drink, spending time talking to the love of your life, listening to her laugh, sigh, breath all add to the serenity of a leisurely drive.

Bam. Pot hole.

When we read a book, listen to a story, or watch a movie we’re in a similar mindset. We want drama, action, passion, adventure with none of the consequences. We may be invested in the characters, but we would never want to put ourselves in their shoes. Escapism.

Bam. Plot hole. OK. Nothing to worry about. Just like on our drive, one or two maybe three pot holes won’t ruin our enjoyment. But a dozen deep holes later, our experience will not only be marred, but we’ll not likely drive down that street again.

Ouch

Ouch

Prometheus has gotten so much flack for its story and plot holes that it has ignited the web. Just google Prometheus and plot holes and the result may surprise you.

There’s a special place in my heart for Alien. Not literally of course.

Hard Boiled

Hard Boiled

My 7th grade English teacher gave us a book report assignment and I had gotten my hands on the Alien novelette. She said she knew Dan O’Bannon, who authored the Alien screenplay, and were personal friends with him. I asked how, but I’d forgotten her answer. I know…bad, bad, bad. She asked if I wanted to write a letter to him and I said hellz yeah! Well, I just said yeah.

Then she asked my friend and I if we wanted to watch it after class. My friend was also a fan, but neither of us had seen the flick. We agreed and met with my teacher and watched Alien for the first time. The scene that everyone remembers and knows had left us speechless, scared shitless, where to this day any phantom lump in my chest or stomach ache brought fears of being infected with a chest buster. Fortunately for me it was nothing. Whew.

Dan O’Bannon graciously answered my letter and it’s something that I’ve been grateful for to this day.

Plot holes are to be expected in a story written by humans. It’s difficult to account for everything and have certain things not coincide. If we look at Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, there exist societal classes. We see this with Ron representing the poorer class, while Draco represents the higher, noble wizarding family. But if there’s magic, why doesn’t one just whip their wand and create money? We don’t find out till later in the books that magic in Harry’s world can’t create wealth and food. Since we in the "real” world live in classes, we accept classes in Rowling’s story without questioning it. So our experience isn’t ruined.

Do I have a zit?
Do I have a zit?

But when I, and apparently the rest of the world, watched Prometheus, the major plot holes became the focus of our disgust with the film. And it’s these inconsistencies that ruin the serene drive that we all paid good money for.

Many on the net tried to defend the plot holes. Some made sense. For example, the moon in Alien was labeled as LV-426, but the crew of Prometheus lands on LV-223. Prometheus the movie was the prequel to Alien. But the mystery of where those chest busters came from started on LV-426 and is where so much havoc resided during the sequel, Aliens. Many called this a plot hole. Since the ending of Prometheus left much to be desired, it also may have indicated to us that this is indeed not LV-426. OK. I just geeked out there.

This same person also said this is science fiction. We’re supposed to suspend logic. No. We’re supposed to suspend our disbelief. Like the existence of sound in space, gravity in a spaceship, or an alien growing in our bodies as big as our arms without us knowing.

So here's a small plot hole. I credit this to Red Letter Media review. One of the world building scenes where Guy Pierce plays an old guy hologram (get it?) looks at actual individuals who he calls to the stage, then continues to look at them when those individuals are on stage. Either that was a mistake by the filmmaker, or that is some gawd dayem advanced holographic AI.

This sun tan lotion better work. I'm pale as a ghost

This sun tan lotion better work. I'm pale as a ghost

The first scene is also questionable. If the Engineer killed himself to seed planet Earth, supposedly, then why did the dinosaurs evolve first? Did writers forget about the over hundred million years those big lizards ruled the planet? Well, it could be argued the Engineer seeded the planet after the dinosaurs died off. Then how do you explain the vast different number of lines of the genus homo? Like homo erectus, homo neanderthalensis, and the slew of other homos? Don’t laugh.

Sure, a species could evolve into divergent lines due to geographic barriers, food limitations, etc. But somehow homo sapiens made it, which coincidentally look pretty much like the Engineer. If I were to seed a planet with my DNA, I’d make damn sure it’s that exact form that evolves.

I don’t want to list all plot holes. They’re all documented. Here’s one place where you can find some: http://www.movieplotholes.com/prometheus.html

As storytellers, we try to minimize plot holes. I’m not sure if it’s possible to get rid of them all, especially when you’re writing sci-fi/fantasy. Just look at the Bible. But we should be able to at least get rid of the major ones and not ruin the experience of our audience.

More and More About Less and Less

As a writer and a former student of acting, I people watch. Sometimes I’m judgmental when I don’t mean to be. A lot of times I form stories in my head. And most of the time the stories happen on their own. Not sure what it is that makes me do this, but here I am. If you’ve read my bio, then you know how I feel about the martial arts school I’d come from. But in their defense they have worked very hard to become nationally recognized, especially under the Ed Parker name, and have good relations with certain officials in the Chinese community.

Uhhhhh...

Uhhhhh...

And in the great comedic words of Brian Regan: I don’t want to step on anyone’s beliefs…well…here we go.

I had received an invitation celebrating the head black belt’s 25th anniversary in martial arts, honoring him as teacher and master. The man has done a lot for the school and the discipline. And here’s where I have an issue: the discipline.

Da Man

Da Man

I had majored in kinesiology, study of human movement, at university. One of the fundamental principles in learning movement is repetition.

Ah...uh...it's an A!

Ah...uh...it's an A!

Take writing for example. When we first learned how to write the letter ‘A’, we probably traced dashed lines that formed that letter. The teacher then removed the training wheels and asked us to write the letter ‘A’ on a blank sheet of recycled paper. We learned how to sound out simple words like ‘see’, ‘dog’, ‘run’. Learned the basic structure of a sentence. Then we were taught what a basic paragraph looked like.

Whoppah!

Whoppah!

Learning martial arts isn’t too far from that. You learn what a fighting stance is, where to put your hands, learn defensive moves like blocking and attacks like punching and kicking. The teacher demonstrates. The student follows.

Once a student learns the alphabet (punching, kicking, blocking), simple self-defense techniques are taught. Someone grabs your shirt, you trap his wrists by grabbing them so he can’t hit you and knee him in the nuts, the balls, the family jewels. More properly known as the groin. (Why are all attackers male?) As the color of your belt changes, so does the complexity of the techniques, like learning how to write a paragraph.

There’s only one problem with this.

When a high school student is given an assignment to write an essay, she must come up with the words on her own. She’ll be given a subject, but she has to do the work.

Fighting is no different. When a person gets attacked, she must fend for herself. Her teacher won’t be there to help. And because people are different, so are their attacks. An attack on a woman will be different than on a man. A man attacking will be different than a woman attacking.

Now, if you’ve watched a boxing match, you’d know that a fight is very dynamic.

Fundamental principle in human reaction: When learning how to cope with two or more different kinds of stimuli, one must train in that similar environment. So if you want to play classical music, then you'll train to play classical music. Make sense?

The Greatest Ever

The Greatest Ever

Boxers work on technique all the time. Thing is, he can have the best punch in the world, but it’s useless if he can’t hit his opponent. So he focuses on accuracy through different drills like mitt and bag work, and, more importantly, he spars. Not only does he have to contend with his own footwork and where he is in relation to his opponent, he must deal with his opponent’s aggression, physical strength, etc. However, having one sparring partner can become stagnant. Often boxers will have several to mix things up. One person’s tells in poker will differ from another, as an example.

My former school did almost no partner drills or pad/bag work with their general student population. No physical drills in an art that is physical. So what did they do? Practice self-defense techniques in the air. Something Bruce Lee argued against vehemently. Below is a video of how most of the training is done but wasn't from the school I'm referring to. It's just a random video that showcases my point.

It was at this point where I’d realized their method of teaching was highly limited. Then came the straw that broke the camel’s back.

We had often made fun of other disciplines like Tae Kwan Do, Karate and such. That once someone gets a black belt, they learn more of the same stuff. They have a saying: You learn more and more about less and less. Clever, yes. Astute? Not so much.

In the school, once a black belt is earned, “new” techniques are learned. All of which are practiced without a partner, in the air, like a student learning to trace more and more complex essays. The value wasn't there. It's like a wrestler practicing alone on the mat. If he only does that, he's not going to fare well against a live person.

They teach: Think outside of the box but bring it to us first and we’ll let you know if we approve of it. My best friend brought them ideas, which they shot down, only to integrate them and call it their own. They gave no credit to my friend. Why? I'm not sure. I don’t think they know. Many of their teachers left, teachers whom I like to term thinkers.

So when I got the invitation, all I could think of was how little has changed there. Certainly, the head black belt has learned a lot. Knowing what I know about human movement, I am certain he’s learned more and more about less and less.

Do Ya Hear Me?

Propaganda.  We've all seen it.  Heard it. "Elect me and I will save the world."

"Read my lips:  no new taxes."

I've worked in many corporations.  The one thing they all do is shell out propaganda.  They hail how innocent and awesome they are.

When I turn on my computer at work, the homepage is locked to our intranet webpage.  Every day we're bombarded by propaganda.  Sometimes I feel chained.

So it was a bit entertaining for me to read an article my company posted about why teens are angry.  They even had a doctor share some advise.  I mean, he's got a PhD.

"I think zombies are defined by behavior and can be "explained" by many handy shortcuts: the supernatural, radiation, a virus, space visitors, secret weapons, a Harvard education..."  -Roger Ebert in reviewing The Crazies.

The doctor's article was a magnificently crafted and well written piece of crap.  I found one crucial thing missing.  And upon teaching and mentoring kids for most of my adult life, there has become no one-size-fits-all advice, save one.

Listening.

I had a student once whose parents put him under so much pressure to do well in high school that he was on the verge of suicide.  At first I thought, "What did I do?"  But it had been a year since the end of our sessions.  So I thought back to them to see what was the root cause of such destructive behavior.

My student and I had taken a walk one day and just talked.  My approach in teaching, despite coming from a very tier-structured martial arts background, was to view any student as an equal.  I'm not a teacher.  They are not students.  We are human beings.

The subject of ivy league education came up, something his parents expected of him.  I asked him if he wanted to go.  He answered yes.  There was a lot of trepidation in his voice.  So I asked him if he was sure.  He slumped his shoulder and said he really didn't care about going to an ivy league school.  That he was happy to just receive a normal (whatever that means) education.

I presented what I'd learned to his parents and, of course, they were upset.  Like I had opened Pandora's Box.

A couple years later, he was on the verge of suicide.

Being loving parents, they got the best help they could afford.  Interestingly enough, the parents were instructed to relieve all pressures of any kind, which included the pressure of school, and to allow him to express himself in anyway he wanted to.

Today, I'm very glad to say he's thriving.

We talk so much about listening when in intimate relationships.  But we rarely talk about it when it comes to raising children.

I tell parents that their children are like people (wink wink).  Treat them like people.  Ask them how they feel.  What they want? Why do they want or feel that way?  Is there anything they need?  If not, let them know you'll be there with no judgement.  For judgement is the lock that will shut the door to their children.

Be open with them, and they'll be open with you.

In my lessons, I let my students, no matter the age, say what they want.  Swearing included.  I do give advice, if they want, but I tell them it's up to them to follow it.  My mentoring process changes as they change, which is why I believe there is no one-size-fits-all guide to children.

Just listen.

Hard Lessons

In my years of guiding people in their lives, I've learned there are two kinds of lessons.  One learned without experience and one by experience-the hard way.  Noshee in myepisodeslearned many lessons by experience.  My whole book is about lessons learned the hard way. Which way is better?

Let's ask a question.  Does getting hit by a car feel good?  I can tell you by experience it doesn't.  But if I wanted to teach someone this, would I plow through them with my car?

Maybe.

For most people they don't need to be hit by a car to know it'll hurt.  I guess, I wasn't one of those.

I was talking to friends, a mother and father, who have a daughter.  She's been dating this boy who doesn't treat her well.  I can't go into detail but he's abusive.  By his behavior he's possessive, needy and manipulative.  I know this because I was once possessive, needy and manipulating.  It takes one to know one.

My friends want their daughter to rid of this boy for good reason.  They talked to their daughter on numerous occasions, but she's become codependent.  In her case, the codependence comes from a lack of self-worth, despite her confident facade.  And it's sad because my friends feel helpless to do anything.  In listening to their conversations I know the daughter has to learn this lesson the hard way.  The lesson that she deserves to be treated with much more respect, the lesson that she deserves someone who'll truly love her, the lesson that she deserves her independence.

Just as I had to learn that my behavior of possession, neediness, and manipulation wasn't healthy for the women I dated, it was unhealthy for me as a human being.

For those who think the parents should force separation, let's look at the bigger picture.

If they were succesful in permanently separating the couple, they would alleviate the immediate situation.  But will the daughter have learned the lesson of self-worth that she deserves better?  That her relationship is unhealthy?  No.  How do I know this?  Because humans repeat their behavior until lessons are learned.  And lessons are learned only if the person is ready to change.  It's obvious to me the daughter isn't ready for that.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

Not only will she repeat the behavior, she may enter another relationship that is even worse.  Once she learns this lesson, she'll be able to identify future relationships that won't be good for her, no matter how good they appear on paper.

She's also an actress.  In the future, a role may be given to her.  A role in which the female character went through something similar.  And she nails the audition because she knows exactly what the character is experiencing.  And this role may catapult her career.  Where without this experience she may not get the role.

This experience can also lead to the man, her 'soul' mate.  Again, without going through the hard lesson, she may not see herself deserving someone so great and overlook him.  There are infinite possibilities.

Sometimes, lessons must be learned by experience.

Brain Washed?

There's one in every organization. A devoted minion waiting to please their master. How do people gain these devotees is something I write about in my book. This past Saturday I went to a friend's black belt presentation.  Then attended an after party at an instructor's house.

If you've read mybio, you know my opinion of that.

I hadn't been back to the school for many years.  By choice mind you.  Most of the students have changed.  But nothing outside of that has.  They still teach the rigid style of martial arts, the same kind that Bruce Lee rebelled against.  But there was something more sinister going on that I'd forgotten over the years.

One of the common beliefs that the students and teachers hold is once someone gets a black belt that person is never wrong, or never questioned.  Now, they don't necessarily teach this, but that notion is enforced.

One indication is this.

One of the things students do is bow to all of the instructors when they enter and exit the school.  It's a form of respect.  It's fairly normal in all martial arts schools.  But when people started bowing to black belts at the after party, I shook my head.  It's unnecessary.  They were in someone's home, outside of the formal school setting. And no one stopped it.  Brain washed?

Many of the students also take whatever the black belts say as gospel.  They don't realize that black belts are just people with a freakin' belt colored in black.  And this is where the danger comes from.

A good student is one who follows but also thinks for himself.  And as a result, they should ask the teacher questions.  Why is this important?

A student must follow in order to learn.  This is how wisdom and knowledge is passed down.  Fair enough.  The student should then think, "Does this apply to me?"  Not all the time.

Here's an example:  If I were teaching a woman about self defense, she may not have the kind of strength and power that a man has.  So accuracy and reaction training is VERY important.  She has to be able to make every single strike count because her targets will be much more specific-eyes, nose, throat, solar plexus, groin.  Her reaction has to be instant, like avoiding a punch, because a single punch can end her day. And women have to take into account long hair if they have it.

That doesn't mean I don't focus on power or speed, which are directly related.  But I'd point out what she needs immediately in order to make her dangerous as soon as possible.  I'd teach her how men commonly attack women.  That way she knows what to look for, and what to attack if she is to be accosted.

If I were to teach a man, I'd still teach him the importance of striking the eyes, nose, throat, solar plexus and groin.  But his strength may be enough to offset the attacker without using lethal strikes.  So I would point out his physical strengths, his awareness of reach, and the common ways men are attacked.

I'd also get rid of the notion of self defense to both men and women.

As you can see, there are major differences in teaching males and females.  And the differences extend to teaching children.  They are further distilled down to individuals, depending on who they are.

A lot of these martial arts schools will teach a one-size-fits-all routine that don't take into account how a person learns, how a human body works, or even the self-worth of the student, the mental side.  Add the egos that are displayed in a lot of these schools, the bowing, the not able to question teachers, and the rigid routines, are the reasons why I left.

Bruce Lee rebelled against the gospel type of martial arts.  He was one of the first to emphasize mixing of martial arts.  There is truth in that, which is why MMA is so prevalent today.

Judmental Is Mental

One of the biggest things my character has to deal with is judgement from the people he serves to protect. They don't realize what he's doing is protecting them from a Hitleresque fate. I was at the gym and saw this girl. Cute. Then it happened. "Her eyes are too Asian," I said to myself.

Huh?

First off every one is perfect in their own way. It's why there isn't a perfect cherry blossom. No such thing. Because every blossom is perfect (From The Last Samurai). This applies to humans as well. Once we start comparing one to another is when this Eastern way of looking at things deteriorates.

When I was practicing crap martial arts, see my bio, we were given a special treat. Our teacher brought in a Chinese Kung Fu teacher to teach us a Chinese form. A form is a series of martial art movements against imaginary opponents. By the way, that in itself is not the best way to learn how to fight. And what makes a form Chinese? The slantiness of the movement?

As my friend and I practiced the form--we're both Chinese--we were marvelling at how different the movement was from the daily crap that we practiced. Keep in mind I didn't know I was studying crap martial arts till I was awakened.

One of the supervising instructors came to us and said, "You're too Chinese," referring to our movement.

My friend and I looked at each other. Then looked at our non-Chinese supervising teacher.

"Nooooo," I said. "Wouldn't want to be too Chinese." Were our eyes extra slanty?

Everbody knows not to be judgemental. Even those who are aware of why can place judgement on others. We are after all human. It's the conscious practice of being non-judgemental that's important. Not the mistakes of when we are. But if you're not aware that judgement is wrong, is the person still to blame?

I can't say. And neither does the hero of my book. So what does he do? Continues to serve despite the hate he gets from doing so.

In Bruce Lee's only filmed interview he was asked if he wanted to be thought of as Chinese or a North American. He was born in San Francisco. He said he wanted to be thought as a human being.

Here's an experiment: Spend an hour without placing judgement on others. If you do, no problem. Just start the hour over. See how long you can do it.