Travel the Road Less Taken

Critics. What's the saying about critics? If you can't do, critique? That's not it, but something like that.

When I began writing, one of the things I had done was read Roger Ebert's movie reviews. There were times I agreed, and others when I disagreed, like when he gave four stars to PROMETHEUS and one to KICK ASS. Either way, I always learned something about story and film. With Ebert's passing, I'm left with no critic that I really trust.

That's a monstrous woman

I read a favorable review on RogerEbert.com for the movie GODZILLA. I saw the film and was smiling because the monsters destroyed Honolulu and San Francisco; two of my favorite places in which I'm very familiar with. They got some details wrong, but who cares?

One of the commenters of the review stated Hollywood can't come up with an original idea, therefore the remakes. How many Superman, Batman and Spiderman movies have been made? How many gawd dayem Paranormal Activity movies will there be? The fifth will be released late 2014 per IMDb.

Another commenter responded more profoundly: Would the market support original movies (indies)?

And this is the crux of the issue. Will the market—dat be us, folks—support it?

I've spent endless hours researching literary agents. Their initial acceptance is whether they like your writing. They'll say talent, voice, original idea, perfection are what they look for. But it comes down to do they connect with what you've pored your heart into?

From reading hundreds of agent interviews and blogs, I know that they ponder who they can pitch your book to. Because you can have all the talent in the ten dimensions of multiple universes, but if they don't think they can sell your book, then they'll reject it.

It's not you, it's the passion that is your book. Ouch.

Who's behind me?

People think Hollywood has a very narrow view of what can make money, and they wouldn't be wrong. There are several indie movies that have made it big (please don't say the Paranormal Activity franchise), but the likelihood of that happening is small. And there have been many blockbusters who've failed as well, which is why the suits in Holly's wood (sounds kinda dirty but I can't picture why) are hard pressed to greenlight projects unless there's a market for it—dat be money, folks.

Worse, is that the suits in the publishing world are even tighter. So tight that if you stick a lump of coal up their asses you wouldn't be able to take it back out. Plus, that would be painful. And smelly.

So why write? Some passionately declare it's their passion. Others call it their calling. Me? It's just what I do. I love to storytell. So sue me. Wait! Don't. Seriously. Don't.

In spewing the end of the world, I suggest that we all try new things. Watch indie movies. Read mid-list authors. Take the road less traveled, unless you get lost easily. Then maybe carry a GPS device. 

Suck My Dick

I was listening to a lecture about dating. The woman being interviewed stated specific things she looks for in men and gave an example of what she doesn't like. A guy had picked her up on their first date in a limo, took her to a very nice restaurant, and they ended up making out in the limo. He pushed her head to his crotch. She was immediately turned off, wasn't that impressed by the excessiveness of the date, and left the guy hanging...well pitchin' a tent.

When I talk to people who are in organized religion, I feel like that woman. Though there are times that I feel effeminate, but that's for another post.

I had worked for the USPS as a temp, and some of us were talking about the possible existence of UFO's. Another temp, a Christian, raised his head from the mail bin and said they absolutely do not exist. I asked why not? He said the Bible said so. I've only read snippets of the book, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't say UFO's do not exist. I'm also sure it doesn't even have UFO in it.

But, hey, I write about creatures that look satanic, so who am I?

I'd watched GOD'S NOT DEAD, directed by Harold Cronk, and I knew this movie was made by people who preach to the choir for the people who are in the choir. And in no way in Hell am I one of those people. Shit! I said Hell. Well...typed it. Twice!

I watched it because I'm curious about a lot of stuff, including the entity, force, or whatever people call God. The basic premise of the movie is that a philosophy professor challenges a Christian student to prove the existence of God. The professor, played by Hercules, Hercules—Kevin Sorbo—had stated to the class that God is dead, and the student wouldn't accept it. Challenge accepted!

Since we're supposed to be convinced that God does exist in the form that the Bible professes, there are two problems with the film.

First off, the student's argument for God's existence seems compelling. And the argument against is less compelling, a little manipulating, but that's OK.

The professor lost his belief in God when he witnessed his mother succumb to cancer. He prayed but God didn't save her. The student then rebuts and states sometimes the answer is no.

Uh...all right. So if I slapped you, then it's fine because sometimes I feel like slapping someone. I'm not God, so you say. But aren't we created in the image of God? See how I manipulated that? See how stupid that sounds?

I don't see dead people cause they're buried

Part of the professor's argument is Stephen Hawking, who claims in his book The Grand Design that the universe needed to be created so it created itself. The student then argues that that doesn't make sense. He uses this example (paraphrasing): It would be like claiming spam is the best tasting food because in all of history no food had tasted better. That statement proves nothing, professes the student, and he is correct. Creation vs Spam. Good points of reference to make when trying to prove God's existence.

The student then does some clever manipulation of words, which I'll spare you, and moves on to his next statement: Creation happened because God said it should happen.

I don't see how that statement is different than what Hawking claimed. Both suffer from the same failure, circular reasoning, as argued by the student in regards to Hawking's logic. 

In other words, you can't use the word to define that word. Define the word square:

Square - it's a shape in a form of a square.

Define spaghetti:

Spaghetti - an Italian dish in the form of spaghetti.

What makes the student's arguments compelling is his ability to manipulate our thinking much like a magician makes us look at one thing while he's doing another. And this is what I hate about organized religion. It's not the religion. If anything, all religions have similar goals, to give humans basic core values to live by.

But when people manipulate religion into something else, it pisses me off. And these people think they're so high and mighty they don't see that their own priests are committing atrocities like the molestation of boys.

Twisting of words, an evangelist most powerful tool, is the first problem with this film.

The second goes hand in hand with the first: vilifying those who oppose religion, in this case Christianity. The philosophy professor is the obvious aggressor and evil weasel antagonist. And we have the student's girlfriend who gives him an ultimatum, choose her or choose to accept the professor's challenge. Fine. He chose the challenge.

Hell to tha NO! He chose GOD.

Gawd, seriously? But the professor isn't the only one who was villainified. I know. That ain't a word. Neither was ain't and now it is!

I'm too sexy for my cape, too sexy for my cape, cape...

I'm too sexy for my cape, too sexy for my cape, cape...

We have a Muslim father who beats up her daughter who secretly listens to Christian music on her iPod. Is the iPod GOD approved? Then we have Superman—Dean Cain—who plays a highly insensitive douche that breaks up with his girlfriend when he finds out she has cancer. All are cartoonish in their villainous villainified ways.

Very manipulative.

I love Fruitvale StationIt's the story about a black man who was wrongly shot to death by a police officer at a BART station on New Year's Eve. Part of the genius of that film is that the police were not vilified. Because that's not what the story is about. It's about the last day of Oscar Grant's life, a remembrance of him as a human being.

So too should Cronk have focused on the debate instead of trying to manipulate us into the final answer that God does exist. History shows that forcing and manipulating an idea upon a people doesn't bode well. And the fact that Rotten Tomatoes has a score of 17% is a reflection that his manipulation hasn't gone unnoticed. And to be fair, many Christians didn't review the film well, either.

Had Cronk focused on the debate between student and teacher, even in his manipulating ways (Spam anyone?) it would have been more interesting and engrossing. All that other stuff—for gawd's sake, leave Superman out of it—just magnified his forced hand in the film. And he'd only do that if he didn't feel confident that he could convince people outside of the choir that God exists. Otherwise, why force the subject in the first place?

Add a Layer of Depth to Characters by Being Quirky

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My latest obsession is the hit TV show, The Big Bang Theory, currently in its seventh season. I relate to the four male characters because they're all nerds and geeks. Well, they're nerdier and geekier than I am, but I can relate to their skills, or lack thereof with women, their love of geek culture, and their quirky personalities. Which brings me to character depth.

Character depth is important in storytelling as it helps root us emotionally to the players in the story. But how do you measure depth. In the physical world, a measuring tape is used to measure from one point to another, for example. You do the same thing with characters, measuring one trait to the other.

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One of my favorite movies is the original The Karate Kid. The main character, Daniel, isn't a physically strong kid, one of his character traits. His nemesis, Johnny, is strong and beats Daniel up with ease. What makes things worse is Johnny has friends who also beat on him, emphasizing Daniel's trait, physical powerlessness. What provides depth is Daniel's other character trait, his strong personality. 

Stereotypically, a meek character is accompanied with a meek personality. That is not the case with Daniel. His ability to charm Johnny's ex-girlfriend and willingness to standup for himself, despite getting beat up for his efforts, shows inner strength. 

The measurement from his strength of character to his inability to back it up in a fist fight is part of Daniel's depth as a character. We feel depth because there's a difference within his personality compared to his physicality, and we pull for him because he tries to close the gap between the two, making up part of his character arc. What Daniel doesn't realize is that he needs to shift his focus away from the destination, beating Johnny by becoming stronger, and move toward the journey of realizing that his physical powerlessness means nothing.

You can add another layer of depth using something called a quirk. I had learned this during a weekend long lecture called Beyond Structure from David Freeman. Amazing lecture by the way, teaching storytelling techniques instead of theory. I'd highly recommend taking it as it is worth the trip and money.

A quirk, like icing on a cake, is a peculiar aspect of a character. You can't make a delicious cake with just icing, just as you can't make a complete character with just quirks. If you look at the Karate Kid movie franchise, part of its success was due to the continuing story line of Daniel's character development. I think part of its demise, in my opinion with the fourth movie, was that the quirks, the icing of the cake, the old martial arts teacher enlightening a new student, was used as the basis of the movie, instead of delving in deeper.

But that's a subject for another post. We're talkin' quirks here.

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In The Big Bang Theory, all of the characters seem to be built on quirks. Jim Parsons plays Sheldon Cooper. His character traits are narcissism, extreme intelligence (he's a doctor of physics), and anal retentiveness. The issue here is that these traits sort of look alike, despite the fact that they are different things. So to help add a layer of depth, the creators gave him the love of all things that is geek culture—comic books, movies, collectibles, science fiction and fantasy, RPGs and video games, D&D, etc. In fact, all the male characters have this particular quirk. And to differentiate Sheldon from the rest of the cast, the writers removed his ability to read people, and as a result, see sarcasm. Which provides great comic relief. There are other quirks, but this is just an example.

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Sheldon's coworker and friend is Raj Koothrappali, a doctor in astrophysics, played by Kunal Nayyar. One of Raj's traits is his inability to talk to attractive women, a common trait among nerds and geeks. Obviously, he loves women, but what gives him depth is that he's a very effeminate man, displaying homosexual tendencies. So, you'd think his inability to talk to women would be his quirk, despite the running joke throughout the series, but it isn't.

A character trait, as I was taught, affects how one sees the world. If your character is shy, then the world becomes a very small place, constrained by his own limitations. If she is assertive, then the world becomes very big because she's open to new things. A quirk doesn't necessarily define how the character views the world as a whole. It's just a peculiarity.

For Raj, his quirk is his ability to charm women when he's under the influence. As we all know, alcohol is liquid courage. Raj is like Popeye, needing spinach to defeat the demon within. Raj's character arc is fairly simple, overcome his shyness toward women he's attracted to.

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Simon Helberg plays Howard Wolowitz, a mechanical engineer. He's an interesting character because, not only is he a nerd, but he's a lady's man, he thinks. We'd need a long tape to measure nerd to lady's man. Opposite of Raj, Howard can talk to women, but his delusion makes him overly aggressive and creepy, adding to the comedy. He's a momma's boy, so his world is defined by his codependence to her, and her to him, another running joke because he won't move out of his mother's house. He's the only character who doesn't have a doctorate, which is his quirk. It doesn't define his world because he doesn't let it, despite having his ego bruised every now and then when that fact is made plain. Howard's lack of 'doctor' in front of his name helps differentiate him from the other male characters who do hold doctorates.

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We now come to the main character Leonard, a doctor in physics, played by Johnny Galecki. Along with loving the geek culture, he's intelligent but humble. These two traits define great depth because, stereotypically, someone who is highly intelligent is also going to be narcissistic, as we see in Sheldon. What gives Leonard's humbleness more weight is his mother issues; she gave him no love and attention during his childhood, which is funny because it continues into his adult life. So when it comes to women, he becomes desperate and needy. And we all know how much women love those two things, wink wink and wink.

What I find interesting is Leonard's quirk. Out of the four male characters, Leonard is the only normal guy. Not that he has life figured out. Obviously, none of these characters do, which makes them interesting. I think Leonard's 'normal guy' quirk was done on purpose because this helps set the character apart from the others, and gives us, the audience, someone to relate to. Don't get me wrong. Watching the series, I find that I can relate to all of the characters. But Leonard was the first one I rooted for, and I always felt his disappointments when he didn't get the girl he wanted.

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This leads us to the female character, Penny, played by Kaley Cuoco. Penny is the blonde who waits tables so she can live and go on auditions, isn't the smartest, loves to shop, and is superficial. No, not stereotypical at all of a blonde woman living in Southern California. In the beginning of the series, there wasn't much depth written for the character as you can see. If I were to guess her quirk, it'd be her alcoholism, but again, it isn't interesting because it doesn't really affect her life. Her alcohol consumption is used more for comedic relief than anything else. However, her interest and love for Leonard, as the series continues, helps define and clarify her growth, and thankfully, makes her interesting. 

We nerds and geeks will watch the show, wondering how Leonard wins her over. In the beginning, we see her date very attractive guys, guys we think are in her league. But the slow and steady attraction to Leonard provides insight into her and a romantic element to a rather all male cast.

The Kiss.gif

That is until we see Blossom. Raj and Howard play a joke and find Sheldon a potential girlfriend through a dating site: Mayim Bialik's character, Amy Farrah Fowler, who has a doctorate in neuroscience. She's almost a mirror image of Sheldon—narcissistic, highly intelligent—but instead of being OCD, she's neurotic. When she befriends Penny, the cool girl, she can't help but assign herself as Penny's bestie—best friend. Amy's quirk was born out of that need for acceptance and is displayed through lesbian tendencies, despite the fact that Amy is a heterosexual woman in need of deep physical intimacy but keeps it down due to her neuroticism.

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Lastly, we come to Bernadette, played by Melissa Raunch. Bernadette's character traits are pretty cool: cheerful, intelligent, and incredibly assertive sexually, professionally and as a person. For me, there's a well-rounded feel to her like Leonard.

Quick point:  her traits look different when displayed through dialogue and action. For Sheldon, that's not necessarily the case. His narcism and anal retentiveness can look alike through words and actions, coupled that with his high intelligence, sounding like a know-it-all, can be lost. As a result, he's also the one with the most quirks. With Leonard and Bernadette, their traits don't meld together, so they have a well-rounded feel.

Back to Bernadette. Her quirk comes from her voice, which is obvious if you've seen her interviews on the late night circuit. On the show, Bernadette has a high pitched voice that borders on nasally. This creates a sense of depth because someone who is confident in herself and her sexuality isn't going to have a girl-like tiny voice. It isn't until her character gets into a relationship with Howard that her voice adds another level of quirkiness. Her assertive personality manifests through her voice and accent when she's forced to become aggressive with Howard. 

As I said, Howard is codependent on his mother. And when Bernadette gets a little angry, she sounds a lot like Howard's mother. We know Bernadette's voice is a quirk because neither the high pitched nor the cigarette-smoking Jewish mother voices define how she sees the world. But as a quirk, it works well to help emphasize who the character is as a person, a woman who knows what she wants.

In conclusion, this long exasperated post about quirks only shows how they can help clarify and tag characters into the audiences' minds. But it isn't a requirement nor do quirks have to be quirky, meaning comedic.

In my book, NIGHTFALL, my main character, Talon, loves his wife, is forever loyal to her, and would die for her in an instant. His quirk is that he loves smelling his wife's hair. It brings him peace. In turn, she asks him why he does that, knowing full well what the answer is, as a way to play and flirt and acknowledge his love for her.

Quirks are a great way to ground the character, root us to them, adding another layer of depth to words on a page, or film.

Open vs. Closed

No. This post is not about Apple's closed vs. Android's open system. Anyone still talking about that doesn't understand their business models.

Do I Look Bored?
Do I Look Bored?

One of the theories of good storytelling suggests tying different characters' arcs into a common theme. In Don Jon, the main character, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is addicted to porn because he savors that perfect girl doing perfect things like giving the perfect blowjob. His new girlfriend, played by Scarlett Johansson, is addicted to romance movies where the perfect guy meets the perfect girl and they're perfect for each other. Both adult and romantic films are forms of porn because they depict a sort of perfection, or perversion, that doesn't wholly exist in the real world.

This past weekend's social events seemed to depict one common theme. Saturday, I had dinner with a group of people and was talking to an acquaintance. Mr. SUV jabbered about his girlfriend, so I asked him why she wasn't here. She's complex, Mr. SUV responded. My interest piqued because I love observing and talking about relationships, what makes them work, what doesn't. I asked what made her so complex?

"Well...I call her my girlfriend, but...she doesn't really want to see me. We don't see each other much."

I pursed my lips. "So, you're taking a break?"

"No...we still talk...she doesn't want to spend time with me. It's frustrating."

Uh...what? Trying to get more information resulted with more confusion on my part, but the thought that came to mind was:

Moments later, he was talking up his SUV, how good it was, the value, its horsepower. He would drive a hybrid but it wouldn't impress the ladies. What? Quality women don't care about the car you drive, they care about being with a confident man, I barged in. The ladies at the table nodded.

"You haven't seen the kind of women I meet," Mr. SUV said.

"What women? You have a girlfriend."

He chuckled. I was a little frustrated with him, I don't know why.

The next day, I went with a hiking group to Yosemite on a day trip. It was incredibly beautiful, air smelled clean. I'd made my way around and talked to everyone, sharing my humorous side throughout the day. Afterward, about ten of us went to dinner and the strangeness from the night before continued, despite being a completely different group of people.

A Harvard grad kept pestering me about the racial mixture of Venezuelans. I told him several times I didn't know because I left my country at a very young age. Mr. Harvard wasn't listening because he was crushing on Prada Girl, whom he carpooled with.

Prada Girl was flicking through Facebook, paying little attention to the conversation until the topic strolled to shopping. She liked having brand name purses such as Prada and showed off hers. Before going back to her phone, she mentioned that her older brother had paid for a lot of that stuff. I asked why.

Then Middle Woman said that's what brothers are for. I asked her if she was the youngest. No, she had two siblings, an older brother and a younger sister. Curiosity tickled my mind, and I asked if Middle Woman felt left out because she was the center child. She shook her head.

The conversation moved to our jobs, and Miss Moneypants was asked if she liked what she did. Miss Moneypants worked for a company that built components for satellites. "I'd be happier if I made more money."

"Would you be happy if you were paid 500,000 dollars as a prostitute?" I quipped.

"Why would you ask that?" Miss Moneypants said, shaking her head.

"You seem to put a lot of happiness on money," I said. 

Another woman was brave enough to turn that question on me, which I appreciated. Before I could answer, Miss Moneypants stated angrily, "I know YOU would."

ooh...I need to get a hair cut
ooh...I need to get a hair cut

Several people said I was asking personal questions. I guess that depends on who you are. It's not like I had a gun and threatened them to answer. They could just have ignore me.

"Answer me, or I'll—uh—ask you another question!"

There's a bigger issue here, and I'm not sure if it's because these people were Asians. Everyone seemed very closed, unable to have an open conversation. In a way, I think, they don't want to confront themselves and see that they might be living a lie.

In the instance of Mr. SUV, he places his own value on what people think of him, so he has this girlfriend who doesn't want to spend time with him. Miss Moneypants places her happiness on money, the one thing that can be easily taken away. Prada Girl hides behind her brand name clothes and accessories, while Mr. Harvard can't seem to get it up and flirt with Prada Girl, so he pretends to be intellectual about something he has no involvement in.

Much like the characters in Don Jon, both are trying to recreate the life they see on the screen, not knowing that life isn't perfect. Part of their growth is that happiness shouldn't be linked to anything that life has to offer but is innate within them, and, as such, they should let go of all pretense.

Compare & Contrast

Do you ever compare yourself to others? Of course you do. Everyone does. I do. Who doesn't? Dead people, I guess. At least they don't have road rage. What? Have you not seen World War Z? Honestly, I liked the book better.

Holy Shiet
Holy Shiet

I was at my niece's birthday dinner the other night, and her father raved about his friend's daughter who was about to graduate from college. She'd already received job offers with a six-digit salary. Instinctually, I wanted to get into a debate about why that's important for him (the comparison of his friends' children to his own). But it would be pointless, so my mind went silent.

Aw Shiet

Aw Shiet

Have you ever been stuck in traffic and needed to be in the next lane, but no one would let you in because they're assholes, and you just needed to be in that lane cuz it moved about a FPH (foot per hour) faster than yours did? Tried to make that sentence last longer. Then you wedge your way in, and then found that the lane that you were in suddenly moved two FPH faster, and now you wanted to be in that lane, but it just so happens the person in that lane is also an asshole, and you swear the universe was working against you and wished you had a gun? Whew!

As a writer, I find myself comparing myself to other writers, and given my age, I get jealous when youngens, like Victoria Roth, has everything that I'd love to have. Well, except breasts. If I had breasts, I don't think I'd write much and probably had let myself go because how else am I going to grow breasts? She doesn't have a penis, and I'm attached to mine, literally. Sorry.

I learned long ago that comparing myself to others in any area of life wasn't good, just like wanting to be in the next lane can create stress. Everyone will arrive at their destination on their own time; it's the nature of things. Not all oak trees will grow at the same rate, everyone's lifespan will differ, and everyone's impact on the world will be different. What we have control over is how we react to the outside world that we have no control over, as stated in THE SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE.

What everyone truly wants is happiness. We think we'd be happy if we got that really expensive purse, or that car because the ladies will love it, or that book deal because riches are just around the corner, or a better body because better sex is in the next room. OK. That last one has some truth. But happiness is innate within, despite what we have and what we do. Just look at kids. They have nothing, no titles, no fame, no glory. Put them together and leave them alone and they'll have a day filled with play, blissed out of their minds. Gawd! Blissed isn't a word?

See My Shit
See My Shit

Tom Shadyac, who directed Ace Ventura, Liar Liar, etc, had found himself in a brutal bicycle accident. How do you find yourself in an accident? It led him to explore what it means to be human in a documentary called I Am. One of the areas of exploration is why we accumulate so much materialistic stuff. The answer: we're trying to find peace, happiness. That rush of buying something is like a dopamine hit, but because this isn't something that can be maintained, we buy more and more stuff. And I get this, as I type on my Mac, listening to music on my iPhone, and stalk, I mean, research literary agents on my iPad, while my midlife crisis car sits in my garage along with four snowboards.

That's Da Shit
That's Da Shit

Now, I didn't go into debt buying all this stuff. I clearly knew I wasn't getting happier attaining snowboards, but I loved the graphics on them, so I hang them on my wall. My Mac is seven years old, and though, I would love to upgrade to the new Mac with retina, I don't think I need a faster processor to type on MS Word, since my typing speed hadn't improved much. I have an iPad 2, again I'd love to upgrade to the fifth iteration, but with Apple holding back on some of the features, like Touch ID, I chose to wait. And the car. Well, that's another story.

I'm content writing, telling my stories, ranting, and traveling. I'm planning another trip to Hawaii for three months. I'm coming back!

Hobby the Hobbit

Dat Sum Gud Paht 

Dat Sum Gud Paht 

Last night, I went to dinner at a hot pot restaurant. And not that kind of pot, though I have inhaled. For those not in the Asian Brethren, hot pot is a style of eating where people sit around a hot pot of boiling water (Duh?) and cook their food. Sometimes a hot grill surrounds the hot pot where, you guessed it my non-Asian Brethren, you can grill stuff. Afterward, we headed off to a dessert place to sit and chat, cuz chatting as we devoured our meals while pieces of food shot out isn't the most conversation inducing activity.

One of the ladies told us what she did, which sounded very technical, and I asked if she loved it. The guy next to me scoffed, stating that that was an extreme question.

Is it?

Doncha Luv Me 

Doncha Luv Me 

Would you keep your dog if you sorta kinda but not really liked it? Would you marry someone if you maybe loved, but probably not because you deluded yourself into thinking that you did, so you might love them if they stood in a certain light at a particular angle?

I asked him wouldn't it be great if he found something that he loved doing and could also make a living off of it? He nodded, shook his head, then waved it from side to side like Indians.

"What do you love doing?" I asked.

"Playing tennis."

"Would you wanna make a living doing that?"

He shrugged, then said, "Sure, I guess. If I had the talent and the ability and the time. But it's a hobby. Like writing is a hobby."

Whoa, buddy! "I'm a writer."

"Yeah. It's a hobby. Like photography."

Whoa, pal! "No. It's what I'm most passionate about." Outside of sex, of course, the ultimate passion.

I explained that I don't make money off of my writing, yet, so I have a day job so I can eat, drink and take out the ladies.

But I'd run into this pigeonholing of what writing is, and funnily enough, by Asians. What is it with my brethren?

Calcurator 

Calcurator 

As of this moment, I've yet to publish or self-publish my work, so what makes a writer, or any artist, a professional? Is it the distinction of being paid? What about those writers who have agents but have yet to sell books? Are they not professional? Or those self-published that have yet to collect on their works, are they just hobbyists? Because there's a lot people who self-publish just to put stuff out there.

I'm not sure what the clear answer is, but I do consider myself a professional in the sense that I can act professionally when I work with publishers and agents, despite my sadistic humor displayed on this site. For me though, there's more to it. The fact that my resolve is to get published, or self, and am doing what I can to polish my work, go to writing groups, pay for writing critiques, and continue to learn the art of storytelling and writing, while learning the business side of publishing, at least affords my writing beyond a hobby.

Tall coffee, prease

Tall coffee, prease

My fellow Asian brothah (not the one pictured) plays tennis for enjoyment but has no intent on doing it professionally because he doesn't think he can. I don't know whether he has the talent or ability, but he argued for his own limitation before even starting. And after teaching hundreds upon hundreds of students, I can tell you that talent is a small part of being good at something, and is often the one thing that holds people back because they didn't have to work to become good in the beginning.

In my opinion, which is the most important to my perspective, is that I'm a pro. I know this ain't a hobby. However, if that guy still thought I was just a hobbyist, then that speaks more to his own thinking about himself. Spending any time trying to convince him would be a waste. And I'm not trying not to be cliche, but to each his own. Whatever's clever. Whatever floats your boat. Whatever jerks your chain. What you see is what you get.

The Shunned

Since postponing the move to Hawaii, I've gone on a bevy of hikes, happy hours, house parties, game nights, BBQs, writing groups, and whatever else you can think of. Well...no swinger parties, but not because I wouldn't...just don't really know where they're held. Aside from that, I seem to have a hard time connecting with people, save the writing groups. Interesting discussions and analysis are always had, and I've always connected with people in those groups as they've helped my writing. Maybe because we all have a singular goal, I'm not sure, but I look forward to those whether I've submitted something for critiquing or not.

Damn Dat is One Skinny Pencil
Damn Dat is One Skinny Pencil

Recently, I've really had a hard time connecting with non-writers. On an urban hike to sightsee holiday lights, I ran into an acquaintance of mine and said Hi to his clique of photographers. Fellow artists, right? They joked about who had the longest lens, and one guy asked another if he was happy to see him. If you haven't figured this out, ladies, they were all men. So I quipped, "It's the girth. Girth is more important."

The breeze blew. Crickets fell silent. Even the stars seemed to stop twinkling. Girth. It's a double entendre. Common! The width of the lens is an important factor. Same goes for the penis. Ask any woman. Pencil dick is a real term.

What Tha
What Tha

They stared at me like I was an uninvited guest. I was, and my attempt at inserting myself into their banter failed. Or maybe they all had pencil dicks and wondered how I knew.

Aren't we all artists? Can't we just get along?

In high school, I always found myself with the nerds and geeks, not that I had a problem with that. I loved my friends and loved being passionate about geeky stuff. But, at this point, my inability to connect with fellow artists was the tipping point.

There's gotta be sumthin' wrong wif me. A Jew even scolded that my sarcasm could be construed as truth. Uh...yeah. Sarcasm. Look it up.

What do I need to change to gain acceptance? Am I too aggressive? Too assertive? Can people sense the anger boiling behind the humor? Do others feel my antisocial tendencies? Or am I so set in my ways that I just choose not to connect with people?

Then I got a hold of myself and shook. I found that to be rather difficult, easier to do to another person. Thinking back to the people that I had talked to, I wouldn't hang out with most of them. I didn't feel any type of connection to the group of photographers even before I said one word like the woman from the hike and dinner, whom I wouldn't touch with a ten foot electric cattle prod. OK. I would but that's because she's a freakin' bitch. In fact, the only people I seem to connect with are people of depth. Often times, peeps ain't open to discussing anything that deeply, which is kinda sad.

Chatting it up with a dude one time, I asked him why he thought his son needed to choose a practical career. "So he can get a slice of the financial pie." But is that going to make him happy? "You're thinking too deeply about it. He needs to support himself." I didn't dispute that, but if talking about happiness was too deep a subject, then, shit, what isn't? The weather?

Sun sure is bright and yeller.

Yeeup. And circular like a circle.

Is That Poo?
Is That Poo?

For a moment, I feared that I scare people away. Then Oakland came to mind. Whenever I looked lost in the murder capital, brothahs have always helped me out. And one guy who was late meeting up with his buddy asked if he could use my phone, then offered to pay me a buck for letting him. Common. I gots me unlimited minutos.

A part of the issue is people are afraid to feel. They don't mind feeling good, but anything that makes them feel bad, NO, stay away. Unfortunately, bad feelings do come up. That is the nature of being human, just like the nature of the weather is that sometimes it's sunny, sometimes it rains. We need both in order to grow.

Think about Hawaii. Everyone thinks it's a sunny local, and never in their minds would tha islands rain and have overcast. But they do. And it's not bad, nor is it good. It's just the nature of weather. Dammit! Somehow I made the weather a deep subject.

Coming back to my problem of not connecting, I realized there was nothing for me to do. For one, it isn't a problem. Trying to run away from a bear that can run faster than the fastest human without breaking a sweat is a problem. I'm going to connect to some people, but, at the moment, I don't connect to most. Changing myself, applying a filter, is the worst thing I can do because, as a writer, I have to allow my creativity to fly. Are there times when I need to filter myself. Of course. But at an outing when we're celebrating life? Fuck no.