Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Come all to the festival of lights

It's Chanukah eve. No, that doesn’t count as part of the holiday, but to gear up for the eight crazily early nights in December, there are a few things you should be aware of. When thinking of the truly great drinking peoples of the world, Jews are rarely at the top of the charts, but that’s just of one of many misconceptions about the tribe. Manischewitz is the alcoholic equivalent of tic tacs, and Jews toast with it for eight nights, everyone at the table deceived by its sweetness until, blam, they’re singing songs and dancing. Christmas songs are carols of joy or sorrow, but Chanukah songs are upbeat Klezmer grooveathons and not all by Lenny Kravitz. Everyone up and about until macaroons, cake, and RING JELLS THE GREATEST DESSERT are served, and then, and only then does it slow down. And then again the next night seven more times.

It’s the festival of lights—basically a latke-laden rave.

Here’s the 5 best Chanukah drinking games.

1. Spin the Jaegerdreidel
Instead of clay, fill your dreidels with Jaeger and whoever it spins closest to drinks the contents. Chase with your choice of Gold Star or Manischewitz and voila. You’ll be blintzed out of your mind.

2. Every time someone at your family dinner says, “shame, wonderful, “I can’t believe it,” amen, pass, brisket, your mother, wild, “I think undercooked the meat,” “she was such a nice girl,” “it’s not exactly Stephen Tyler,” or “did you use any Brylcream?”" Take a swig of that red grape elixir. Good times follow.

3. Hebrew History Hopscotch
Draw out a time line of the Jewish people and think of all the Jews who really needed a drink in history. Then toast to each one accordingly. Use this with extreme caution, as it may result in hospitalization.

4. Make the board game, “Moses down the River.”
This is somewhat like the boardgame Life, but Hebrew-themed. You roll a die to move your manger down the river, safely through danger to the doorstep. Each square you draw a chance card. Along the way, you may encounter angry Pharoahs, snakes, divine plagues, floating jagged chariot wheels, sea otters, and papyrus recipes for ancient Egyptian wheat snacks. For every tile you safely pass, toast to it.

5. Mel Brooks Movie-thon
For each laugh, one drink. Also may cause hospitalization.

And there you have it. With incentives like these, even the Pope will try a little gefilte fish.

Monday, 29 November 2010


Whatever happened to Happy Hardcore? If there was ever a time in my life I wanted music to power every synapse with a glowing aura of Tabasco, it’s now. I still have the CDs I bought a while back, but Anabolic Frolic is to excitement what Midas is to gold. I have to satisfy the human need for new, bring it back. This is my open petition for 4/4 rhythmic madness to be reincarnated in Happy2bHardcore Chapter 9.

Ok, ok, I know this post is obscure. But hear me out, this comes from wanting to hop around like electrified bubble tea. A lot of danceable radio is harsh and crude—lyrics scrawled on the club bathroom wall about “taking bitches home” and “showing off Bentleys.” What does that have to do with lighting up a dance floor like it's a nuclear-infused etch-a-sketch?

I’m about inventing the next great dance move that doesn’t require trained recitals and a director. Not all non-abusive dance music needs to be for Bar Mitzvahs and weddings. So many people making music, and trust me I’ve heard some really good stuff out there. What about Bootsy Collins? Franz Ferdinand? Countless others.

All you musicians out there, don’t sing another dirge and call it smashing because that’s been done before. There’s a ton of funny jams I’d dance to just for the sake of it, even if it ain't exactly Shakespeare. I can dig a beat that can't hold a straight face.

The issue is raising the bar. Crafting an infectious foray into joyous bodily energy explosions doesn’t need to involve buying out the bar or telling the world how much you don’t give a fuck. The fact is you don’t even need a tab of e nestled under the tongue to get funky again. Take it easy: all you need is a groove, a dream, and toes to tap.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Recession Officially Spirals to Depression as Nation Still Searches for Meaning of "Swaggerlicious"

NEW YORK, NY--Hit-machine diva Darby Lovelace began the first day of her class action lawsuit and simultaneous criminal trial for releasing the song "Swaggerlicious." Since its debut at #1 on the top 40 last Tuesday, the nation's productivity has ground to a halt.

Prosecutor Ron Hayworth elaborated. "These are dire times indeed. The safety and continual prosperity of our society can't continue if that catchy tune is allowed to play on the radio. I shudder to think of the song spreading further unchecked."

"Swaggerlicious? My secretary Jennifer just threw up the middle finger at me, told me I didn't have the swag to give orders and continued to dance to the song when I asked her to make a photocopy." Said Office Manager and class-action participant Dave Barry. "Then she put the song on repeat. Look, I'm only immune until this swimmer's ear wears off, then I could turn into one of them. Something has to be done."

New York City's bus system has also been plagued by constant shutoffs due to drivers sauntering off their vehicles searching desperately for hair gel and graphic tees.

The CDC released a report this week recommending quarantine from the dance-hit. Colin Barnes, head of infectious diseases spoke at a press conference yesterday. "The human brain was not meant to feel this much swagger at once, we can't handle it. It's akin to staring at the sun. Prolonged exposure to this song results in 'altered brain chemistry and hormonal imbalance,' 'decreased immune responsiveness,' and 'loss of nervous system control.' The average person can't process the meaning of such swagger, so they vacuously fill the void of explanation with a sub-conscious shock, much like being shot in the kneecap, except you can dance." The national health organization declared it an "infectious and easily communicable disease" and that "vaccinations are being worked on with haste."

With the Federal Trade Commission set to release their report tomorrow, there has been much speculation in the business community as well. "As you can see by the this graph, the NYSE stock index rapidly declined since [the song] debuted on Tuesday, and each day has gotten progressively worse." Spouted Larry Daniels laser pointing to a weekly chart. "Pretty much every sector with the exception of a few chemical stocks have declined and trade volume itself is at an all-time low. Now's the time to start panicking."

However, not all businesses have fallen on swag times. Many clubs in NYC's meatpacking district have extended their clubs to tents in the streets in order to meet demands. "So many fucking people want to dance to this shit, it's redonk." Said Harvey Clarkson, owner of The Beach, a dance club, scratching his bleached goatee. "Gotta give the people what they want. I make sure the DJ plays Lovelace's new song at least six times an hour. Business has never been better."

Ms. Lovelace's laweyer, Karen Ramirez, had this to say about the pending cases to a jury full of bedazzled and blinged-out jurors, their skin red from recent sleeve-tatoos. "My client has done nothing wrong here. She put out a single that people like, and there's nothing illegal about that. And she's got the swag to back it up. This is about free speech. Free speech and the ability to walk with as much swag as you can muster. And don't we all want that? Our nation's future rests in your hands and earbuds."

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Go, go, go

Go to your high school reunions. If it's anything like mine was last night, you'll have an absolute blast. Seeing everyone doing their thing, no matter what it is, is a sight to behold. Hugging people, toasting them up, talking them up--thank you guys for making it a great night.

A lot of cool cats graduated with me and this post is a shoutout to everyone who came last night. And time eases things; even people that you didn't speak to, speak to them now. Why not? Guaranteed all parties involved will crack a smile.

So, while you're recovering the day after, laugh some more by watching Viral Video Film School hosted by Brett Erlich. Dig through the archives to whichever topic hits your fancy, such as Shirtless Karaoke Internet Dating or Fat Morons in Spandex. The show is professionally done and hosted on CurrentTV, the station Al Gore founded. So watching is like shaking the vice president's hand.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Lighten up T.S. Elliot, Keats did just fine

What is beauty? The question has been pondered since the dawn of sentience. Rightfully so. The human preoccupation with beauty is essential to our understanding of the universe. I don’t just mean physical beauty, although that’s included; I’m talking fluidity, symmetry, harmony, karma, progress, that sense of “rightness” you get in your gut when something feels “natural.” For the sake of argument, let’s define beauty as the epitome of positive and ugly as the abyss of negative.

Beautiful is the sunset, the bright pastels, the burst of light that confidently coats a once-blue canvas like a finger-painting. More beautiful is the person who takes in the sunset, not jaded by seeing thousands of sunsets in their lives, knowing that there will be another sunset tomorrow, yet takes it in for the sake appreciating the most colorful phenomenon in nature. Beautiful is counting the stars in constellations with a loved one, even if you don’t say word, whether it’s from bed or from a campfire. Beautiful is the best woman I know; more beautiful is the curl of her smile turning to a laugh.

Beautiful is a great idea, a joke, treatise, or cure for cancer. Brainstorming, sharing, and publishing an idea so complete it becomes synonymous with civilization itself, like refrigeration, indoor plumbing, and chess. Beauty is what excites you, makes your heart thump. It’s “starting as you mean to go on” and "let us go then you and I." Beauty is your favorite line from a movie, a dunk from the free-throw line, and the harmonic opening to “Bohemian Rhapsody.” It’s the line of a dress and making lists of what inspires you. Beauty is style and hard work; it's purpose, form and function.

There’s more to say, but here’s the truth--Keats and all. Ugliness, something reviled, is being jaded, numbed, uncaring, unfeeling, uninvolved, setting aside the intellect or emotions. Ugliness is hopelessness, “you can’t do it because I can't do it,” and denial. Truly banal is the person who can’t admit their physical or intellectual flaws, or more importantly, ugliness from their actions. Self-destruction trumping self-improvement. Ugliness is a lie, sewage, and quintessentially the incapacity and unwillingness to recognize all the amazing, awe-inspiring feats of intuition and know-how in this world. Whether someone is discounting a beautiful face or an expertly crafted pair of Italian dress shoes, saying beauty is not needed, even for a moment, is the ugliest thing a person has ever said.

And sadly, people say it every day.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Happy happy Thanksgiving / no such thing as corniness

I sit here chewing my Trident and listening to the Crazy Heart soundtrack. Watch that movie—Jeff Bridges acts and sings like the King of Cool. Great drama, deep-dose-of-deep-sky cinematography; you just get the feeling while watching it that the human soul is being excavated expertly on the fly. I’m thankful for having seen it.

Thankful for those I love, my family, friends, thankful for the time I’m given to make magic, fun, and progress happen. Thankful for the tea leaves in the kettle, thankful for my mom’s cosmically good stuffing, thankful for this blog as an outlet, thankful that I have so many friends, thankful that I’ve set my life on the right road. Things big and small, all flowing through the power to affect myself and others positively with every tick tock; thankful that I will never in good conscience forsake that responsibility.

Then there’s the people that inspire me, the music that fuels me, the combined library of great human insight from great thinkers that expands me. There’s a lot to be thankful for. So don’t think this entry is too corny, and don’t think it’s too corny to hold hands during the imminent food coma and ponder fondly the millions of worthy endeavors available to you; the chances to create, plan, and thrust forward. Nothing’s too corny except the unwillingness to laugh at ourselves and others with the people we care about most. And to truly understand that the apex of openness is possible for anyone willing to combine the heart, mind, and soul. Now go eat up and be merry, don’t hold back a thing.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The rites of constant creativity

You’re about to type something soon, so watch your hands move as you ferret between the keys, as your fingers stamp your thoughts into digital immortality. Ok, so maybe it isn’t that grand, but trust me on this. Now watch other people type. Pretty cool, eh? Everyone has their own tempo, their own center to the keyboard. You’ll start to associate personality traits to the hunt and pecker, the high-finger-archer, the home-rower. Not everyone uses the home row keys. I don’t.

Back in the 4th grade, in Ms. Hendrick's class, I developed some sort of hybrid system where my right hand tends to move more than my left while I’m typing. And while I tend to only use my left hand pinky for the “q, a, and z and shift” letters, I use my right hand pinky for “enter, shift, all sorts of numbers, multiple letters.” It’s not standard. But it works. Is there ever a reason I should change that? It’s something that’s so ingrained in me and I type a lot. A LOT. I’m a fast and fairly accurate typist, too. Really. I don’t know what the states of my carpal tunnel muscles are, but I haven’t had any pains yet. And furthermore, there’s a weird of sense of pride in how I type; the unorthodoxy and the fact that I get it done as fast as Mila Jovovich hunts zombies. But is it technically, “wrong?” Maybe it’s biomechanically inefficient compared to the home row system. Only time and researchers at John's Hopkins can tell.

What things in your life have you hybridized? Not exactly followed the book, yet it works for you? I’m sure it’s a long list if you really think about it. Start up a conversation with your friends about this—see all the details and dimples, how it works, why it works. The way you shoot a basketball, the way you hold your pen, hold a steering wheel, your running gait. The way you handle a fork and knife, how you sit in a chair, how you like to have sex, everything. Any time you’re not feeling creative, go back to the comparison you had with your friends and remember you’re crafty even in how you tie your shoes before going out into the wild blue yonder.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The Mysterious End of J. Robert Oppenheimer

I don’t make ultimatums; they’re hasty monikers of fear. As in, “I have to accomplish this or I’m a failure” or “you must do this or else.” They're self-defeating, self-aggrandizing in the false gravitas, and not healthy or fair. “Or else” is not in my vocabulary. I do something to the best of my ability because I want, know, and feel to use my full potential at every corner, adjacent corner, and dilapidated building that makes you wonder when was the last time someone lived there. Whether refugees of the mole people are squatting in there, whether someday it will be the site of a movie about a hobo who cures cancer in the flood-damaged basement filled with vats and beakers retrieved from J. Robert Oppenheimer’s winter home/lab.

I’m human, so I’ll make mistakes. Mistakes are learning opportunities, and a double learning opportunity if someone points out a mistake with extra observation slathered on it. Mix all that in your mindblender and out will pop progress.

Everything we do matters, not because life is short, but because life has millions of decisions, and each decision brings with it the possibility to affect someone close or far. Even decisions one might consider passive affect others. If I choose to not participate in a conversation or a social outing, or a work project, I’m still making a choice, that there's something more I could have done positively. Mistakes only turn into regrets if remorse overtakes opportunity. I might have dismissed it in the past, but now I revel in that tremendous power of choice. Like Emperor Palpatine, except I can’t shoot lightning from my fingers and don’t want to dominate all life in the Galaxy.

J. Robert Oppenheimer is remembered for leading the Manhattan project. After the war, he warned of politics meddling with the greatest threat to humanity—nuclear weapons. He warned of ultimatums, of having to back up courage with insanity and fear, of pushing a little red button. He knew, as he was dying of throat cancer, that progress is inherently good, but only if it’s given the respect it needs. Did he regret not openly supporting his co-workers' protests and conferences to stop nuclear proliferation? At his end, after an intense life, did he think of himself as large or small? Full of courage or fear? Questions abound.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Jimmy Hoffa’s Casket on the Unearthing of Jimmy Hoffa

I can hear them digging. Alright, Jimmy, my love. This is it. They’ve finally found us. I don’t know how really; Frankie hid us well. For 35 long, happy years, we’ve been blissfully together for almost as long as you and your wife were. You’ve never talked much, but you’ve always been a great listener.

And now these bastards are gonna take you away from me. Look, don’t get me wrong, I understand the fascination about you, the great man you are and were, but can’t they just give it a rest? 35 years they’ve been looking for Jimmy Hoffa. A lot of hot air, a lot of people wondering what happened to you when they should’ve been worried about missing the sale on Mac N Cheese at the Stop N Save. What do you think of that, that marketing lingo where and is abbreviated to N? ‘Cause I well… doesn’t matter, never mind.

And another thing, I don’t believe what all those people said you did. You’ve been a stand up guy. Never hit me, never did anything to me. I know you Jimmy, you wouldn’t hurt a fly.

Come to think of it, what have you done for me? You’ve barely said anything since we’ve met. And quite frankly your hygiene is disgusting lately. You don’t even say good night to me anymore. Did you ever? Ugh.

I know I’m just a girl from humble pine origins, but I deserve better than this. We never go anywhere. It’s like you’re practically dead to the world. You know what? Let them take you. I don’t need you anymore. I don’t need someone who doesn’t give back in the relationship. It’s a one way street with you. So get out, just go. Go. I said go. Dig faster you bastards!

Local Zero to Hero Story Turns Tragic as Man’s Head Explodes

BALTIMORE, MD—A local high school teacher, David Northwood, died yesterday of a massive head explosion. Emergency services rushed to the scene, his apartment house, and found his brains splattered all over school papers, pornographic VHS, and a comprehensive collection of Gak Weekly. Mr. Northwood, a math teacher at Elwood Memorial High School, had recently been in the news for, to quote Timothy Piatkowski, 16, a student in a previous article, “being really cool one day and letting us out of class early.”

Mr. Northwood, 37 at the age of his death, was subsequently reported to “keep being cool by letting us out early a few more times. Oh, and he brought in his Gak collection too. Really showed us the meaning of perserverence.”

“Mr. Northwood’s life got a lot more interesting after those events,” commented Sarah McGhee, the school’s principal, “he became quite a hit with the students. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, the administration keeps an eye on it. We're shocked by his death and are putting up several D.A.R.E. posters to prevent such tragedies from occurring in the future.”

Following the second incidence of letting his students out of class before the scheduled end time, Mr. Northwood began to receive Facebook friend requests from all his students. So many in fact, that he had to devote hours of his time to accept them, confirm all his photos were cropped correctly, and adjust his profile was just the right amount of revealing. The worrying flurry of stardom resulted in missed episodes of American Idol, his favorite show. Students not even in his class began to send friend requests as well.

Zackary Zatarain, 16, talked passionately about Mr. Northwood. “No, I didn’t have him for math, but I really wish I did. He was so cool. Letting people out of class like that. That takes courage, courage Ms. Fleming doesn’t have. He was my hero. I want to be a rebel just like him when I grow up. Just not bald and paunchy.”

Not only did he receive Facebook requests, but Friendster and MySpace requests as well. Students began to form clubs and even make T-shirts to celebrate Mr. Northwood’s tremendous achievements. Kelly Breezemont, co-founder of the Northwood Red Star club, had this to say in her typed manifesto. “And we shall take the example of the great teacher, our teacher, Mr. Northwood. For he has delivered the weeping proletariat out of the bonds of their oppressors. Those who would keep us until the final punctuating tick of the wall clock. Those who would not give us control of our own time.”

Rock Against the Clock, a benefit concert, was held in honor of Mr. Northwood on Friday, just days before the revered math teacher died of a massive head explosion. All the school’s burgeoning bands played in the auditorium, which was commandeered by the Northwood Red Star Club and La Raz√≥n del Tiempo. Bands put on covers of Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine, and even a few original songs. Purple Bean Soup, a three piece troupe, sung loudly and proudly to “Our Savior Northwood for Principal” and had the crowd “really jamming and had their lighters up, ‘cause we don’t care if lighters are banned, right guys!” One on-hand spectator told us.

Mr. Northwood had few friends, but we tracked down one of his confidants, Doris Smith, a bartender at a local watering hole, “Jack’s Funky Breath.” “Yeah, Dave came onto me once or twice, but I just felt bad for him, all he would talk was about was his love of people getting Gak’d at the Kids’ Choice Awards and how lonely he was. But, recently he’d been coming in a lot more worried and stressed than usual. His face was beat red, he talked about how everyone suddenly liked him and he didn’t know why. He felt like an alien on his own planet. You know, like Martians with antennas. Do people still watch TV on antennas?”

From Ms. Smith statements and forensic evidence, investigators have pieced together that the massive head explosion was caused by an intense increase in intracranial and extraattention pressure. “Sometimes a man just can’t take it anymore and this is what happens,” Said Roger Winters, the detective who discovered the fate of Mr. Northwood. “This is just another tragic case of a man who couldn’t handle being in the spotlight.”

Sunday, 21 November 2010

The snowball effect

Ask me “what’s up?” “How’s it going?” “How was your day?” I’ll always answer fully now. Questions should be answered in a meaningful way. I take questions and answers very seriously. That doesn’t exclude sense of humor, by the way.

For too long I said, “nothing much.” Those questions are doorways to a million conversational paths, to connecting with another person, with finding out about their day and what they think, enriching both people in the conversation. If you don’t have something going on in your life, that’s a whole other problem, and you’re not living, so go fix both problems.

But I am living, and there’s a lot going on and always will be. Even if I’m just watching TV, I can always say what I’m watching, ask what the other person thinks, treat them with respect and attention. If I’m writing, I’ll talk about what’s the context, how I feel about it, ask for feedback, ask them what’s going on in their lives. Because I care. Now and forever I will. Not doing so was a cop-out, laziness and not using my brain.

Same goes for “whatever” and “I don’t care.” Those aren’t valid answers. Even if you really don’t care about some issue, there has to be a reason why. There’s a million things to say and do. Share yourself with people. Cat Stevens, you’re a sage.

Negativity snowballs. That’s why I wouldn’t answer. I said no, I didn’t want a part of this question, because I didn’t want a part of any question that followed. That’s fear and horseshit. The snowball effect doesn’t just apply to simple ice breakers. It’s a sarcastic remark that turns into another which turns into a crack, which turns into a feeling of insecurity, which turns into all these negative things you wished you could take back. There’s always something better to say than that one belittling joke. It’s just lazy and heartless to fall back on those quick, easy quips.

Sarcasm is usually an instance where substance could have been inserted, but laziness or pettiness took over.

Negativity has no place in my life. The real good stuff, the stuff that makes people smile and live up to their potentials, that’s the positive. Making others feel good, myself feel good from that, of the people involved in the conversation, dropping their guard and speaking to each other truly from within.

Positivity snowballs too, but that’s the good snowball, the kind you build snowmen and igloos with. Sign me up for the good stuff.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Kurt Vonnegut's 8 Rules to Writing

Read #4 first. Says it all and why Kurt Vonnegut is my favorite author. My friend Josh and I just talked about this list, props to him. Figured I’d go through and give my two cents.

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.

Make sure your story could have only been told the way you told it. Make it unique and purposeful.

2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.

If every character is rotten and irredeemable, then it’s very hard for the reader to get enjoyment or knowledge out of the story. Heros feel right.

3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.

Also put the character in a place to want things. A hobo might want to live in a palace, but he probably wants to cash in his lotto ticket and get a cheeseburger first.

4. Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.

There are two great lessons in writing. This, and don’t be afraid to delete your own work. But this is far more important. Movement movement movement.

5. Start as close to the end as possible.

This will help with the concept of constant action. Move the reader along as fast as Taco Bell moves bowels.

6. Be a Sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.

He doesn’t really mean be a sadist, he means be sadistic; a sadist wouldn’t want his characters to succeed. And if you don’t want your characters to succeed, neither will your readers.

7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.

This is the only one I disagree with. But he’s Kurt and I am but a lowly peon. I think he means have your audience in mind when you write, which is good. But, writing for the broadest base of people is better because it allows your story to be bigger, really big, tackling big things that everyone ponders. And it will help you in critiques.

8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.

Mystery for the sake of mystery drags out a story and only exists when the author couldn’t think of actual substance to inject.

So move, move, move. And groove.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Thousands Gather to Celebrate Ascension of Quickbooks to "Fucking Amazing Business Software" Status

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA--Intuit released its newest version of the popular small-business accounting software, Quickbooks, to excited cheers of the crowd on hand welcoming the coming of such a product. The updated software, promising revelatory insight into business trends, addressed the crowd that had been camped overnight in front of the office park.

"My children, my businessmen, lend me your ears. Rejoice under the power that is the Quickbooks!" Thus spake the Quickbooks avatar, "Quiffy." "I will be there for you, embrace you in my numerically analytical arms, and bring you forth to the profitable promised-land, replete with graphs, spreadsheets, and pie charts. Now bow!"

The mob of followers dropped to their knees and sung hymns to the praise of Quickbooks throughout the day's ascension ceremony. The throngs of devotees only dispersed after the customary "bankrupted restaurateur's sacrificial feast" was over.

Wally Burns, a 43 year-old local stationary store owner, commented. "This is the tastiest failed restaurateur they've ever cooked. And it was a beautiful ceremony too. I especially liked the new jewels they put on Quickbooks's improved crown."

Paige Soderling, a 26 year-old confectionary shop owner, who made the pilgrimage from St. Petersburg, Florida was seen genuflecting at the Quickbooks's dais. "It's just so awesome! The answers to all my questions. I finally understand that people between the age of one through ninety-nine like chocolate cake. It's totally improved my business model!"

As thousands of people filed out of the parking lot, they each gave generously to a collection plate, fingering a 'Q' shape across their chests. Mary McFranzy, a former rug-store owner from Tacoma, Washington, elaborated. "We must give of ourselves so that the greater good can be served. These donations help clothe and feed the poor, help sustain green technology and promote world harmony."

Around the parking lot were posters prominently displaying meeting times at areas across the country from which to receive the Quickbooks software. The meetings ranged from "Tuesday at 10am to Sunday at 7am through any time one of our children could give back the appropriate amount of devotion. Donations less than $100 not accepted."

Intuit, nor "Quiffy," the Quickbooks avatar, could be reached for comment.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Honest sickness

I’ve had flu-like symptoms the past days, don’t know if it’s actually the flu, but hey, sick is sick. Funny though: there's the physical symptoms, but I’ve been enlivened knowing my goals are still there and my ability to pursue them, however clogged by mucus and fever I might sound. When I was depressed, I enjoyed being sick because it was an excuse to do nothing, veg out, and ignore my responsibilities.

I lied to myself and others when I was depressed, wanted to justify my lack of motivation, an excuse. I should have gotten up, made do, not fear that I couldn’t do something, and just try for it. However, the past few days I’ve pushed through. I still wrote, I still adhered to what I’ve realized in the past 2 weeks. But because I was sick and had some nap time and so forth, some feelings came up: anxiety. Sub-consciously I’d been determining my self-worth through how much I produce; this has been going on for a long time, except that when I was depressed I would also consciously think and say things of that ilk as well—that life is all about the work we do. And through that, my self-esteem would bounce up and down; if it’s down, it can get even more down through feeling incapable.

That’s an incomplete thought process and a dangerous cycle. Life is not all about the work we do, it’s about who we are, how much of ourselves we give, how much love we have in our soul. Life is complex. My self-worth can’t be so fragile as to fluctuate hourly with my productivity. It makes no sense to, and it’s not true to the good within me.

Here’s what I’m getting at: each day is different, and each day has questions. J. Michael Straczynski put forth in his show Babylon 5 the idea of 2 essential questions in life. “Who am I?” and “What do I want?” In the show, there is a battle between the ancient devotees of each question, and they oppose each other to duke it out with the rational minds in the universe at stake. However, it becomes clear to those caught in the middle that each question cannot precede the other: they both have to be asked. You can’t know one without the other, and each tells a piece of you. Choosing entirely a morbidly ascetic or hellbendingly desirous life philosophy doesn’t work; there must be balance and understanding of the answer to “Who am I?” and “What do I want?” in each of us.

My epiphany was two-parted in this way, but simple; I am good, and I want to do good. When faced with tackling a part of my psyche that is giving me anxiety, I must first feel the anxiety to understand it, find where it’s coming from, and use logic and the fact that there’s always more to be learned from whatever arises in us; and not to quash it, but to improve my sub-conscious, improve every facet of me. Yes, it’s weird and warped, and a work in progress. But I’m facing all my issues as they come up, head on, and with immediacy.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Perfection is a question

Look around right now. Doesn’t matter if you’re at a desk or a Starbucks or floating on some driftwood in the Cuyahoga. Was your seat crafted well? The answer can be yes or no with many layers of detail. When you walk down the street, look at the lamp poles, look at the cars, look at the siding of buildings. Were these things made with care and pride, do they work the best they can work? Could they have been made better? Can you think of how to make them better?

Think about internal combustion, think about the computer-powered coordination of traffic lights. People worked on these things to achieve some level of perfection.

Naturally, I’m a very analytical person. I think about every topic, trying to think of every angle. I used to fear this was a problem. But, the mind should never be blank, always should be active, pressing forward your goals, a raging volcano of thought. Keep your mind active, constantly, every second of the day. Practice thinking about multiple things at once, that’s what I’ve learned. Keep the pace hot so that you’re mind is sharp. Use this momentum to think about the meaning of life, the universal human experience, the best route to work, how expensive that new toaster should really be. Pump blood and passion through your cortex.

What does this have to do with the pursuit of perfection? When I was depressed, I repressed this part of me, the part of me that has trust in my own thoughts, but is never afraid to question where they came from or where they’re going. If you feel fear creep in, don’t quash it immediately, understand where it’s coming from, analyze it, and know that there are always actions to be taken, always options. I would sit and be afraid that whatever I was writing or producing would not be competitive or good enough, and because I doted on it so much, I lost my confidence, and the work turned out badly. When you’re in a fragile state from high levels of fear, the failure serves as reinforcement.

But the correct way of thinking is that action and constantly, dilligently using your intelligence can defeat anything. Figure out what the problem is, use your head and your gut, and face it head on. When I write, I analyze what I’ve written, feel for what’s missing, ask if it’s well-crafted. Ask if it makes sense in context, ask if it’s exciting, will my readers feel it and understand it? Perfection is the pursuit of perfection. Of pride, of sharing your best with the world. Perfection is the question: "can I do better?"

I’m not afraid to ask AND answer all the questions zipping through my brain. And neither should you.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Hot Sauce for the Soul: A Promise

A week ago I was depressed. I couldn’t have written this blog entry. My mind was split and indecisive; part drill sergeant barking orders and part scared shitless kid cadet, too afraid he would mess up. Right, now I’m of one mind, of goals, priorities. I’m not afraid of anything. Last Monday something big happened to me. I felt an emotion, a deep-in-there drilling-for-soul-gold emotion. I hadn’t felt that in a long time, felt and known through that feeling that I was connected to my heart, and connected to other people. Jealousy is an ugly emotion, and as the toxic waste pumped through my heart and thunder pulsed through my chest, I remembered the ugliness that exists in us all if we don’t fight it.

I remembered a discovered truth from when I was 16 and clawing at the walls of the universe for the meaning of life. No regrets, and leave the world a better place than when I entered it. That’s my purpose. Each and every day we have the power to affect other human beings positively or negatively; I didn’t want to acknowledge that I was negatively affecting those I love and care about. I was too cowardly to face the challenges of life head on.

“Know thyself” is inked on my ceiling above my bed, has been for years. Last Monday I opened my eyes and looked at it. To make the world a better place, I have to know myself and be true to the goodness within me. Upon seeing that, my heart, mind, and soul were flooded with tremendous remorse, but also hope. And happiness. I then and now acknowledge that life is hard and that there is indeed a way to tackle all the curves life throws at you.

Well, I always thought the curves were the most interesting part of the road. To make the world a better place is to share the best of me each and every day—to use every moment and memory as a learning experience, to share myself with who I love, to make people laugh, to finish my novel, to be out there in the world, to face everything thrown at me head on. Strength comes from within, comes from fighting all the evil within us and outside in the world, all the greed, and laziness, negativity. Strength can’t be faked. Knowing these things makes me strong, and knowing that there is so much more to learn makes me to stronger.

Right now and forever, I commit to staying true to myself and the people I love. I commit to action, immediacy, and progress. This blog is a symbol of that commitment, of the joy of sharing with the world. Of no fear. Of the respect for the power we have to improve the lives of ourselves and others with purpose, drive, and determination. Now and forever.

Over the past week, I’ve accomplished more work, more job applications, more writing, more learning, more interaction, more everything than I have in a year. And why? Because now and forever I face life’s challenges head on. The happiness from that knowledge is like hotsauce for the soul.