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Henley Reeves

Now you see me, now I hope you’ve seen this film. Isla Fisher plays Henley Reeves in the movie Now You See Me. I have the score. I play it on my iPod without let up. I play it in my car without relent. As for Henley? She’s one of those characters you wish you knew in real life and had an “in” on all her tricks. What would Women Who Wow Wednesday be without a magician in the mix? This is where I have to say spoilers lie therein, skip to the last paragraph.

The Four Horsemen

The Four Horsemen

Let’s start with actress Isla Fisher. The first time I saw this fun-loving redhead, she starred as Gloria Cleary in Wedding Crashers, the sex-crazed lunatic who hooks up with Vince Vaughn’s character, Jeremy Grey. She went on to star in movies such as Horton Hears a Who!, Bachelorette and The Great Gatsby.

In Now You See Me, Henley Reeves is a magician who attempts the impossible. Chained inside a tank filled with water, she battles to free herself before time runs out and a school of piranha makes meat of the young conjurer. She struggles, but her showmanship saves her, impressing the audience.

Later in the film, while Woody Harrelson’s character Merritt McKinney attempts to pick her up with lines such as, “You deserve to be made to feel special,” Henley feigns disinterest, but enjoys his attention nonetheless. She follows her instincts with what may be the score of a lifetime.

Now You See Me

Now You See Me

As one of the Four Horsemen, she becomes part of the biggest name in magic. Her earlier reservations as to whether she should join the group melt when she discovers an intricate plan three other magicians would soon rather not discuss. Henley’s contribution toward the team gives way to her desire for justice. In regards to the audience, justice becomes a Robin Hood affair.

Even with the threat of a jail term, Henley is able to maintain a humorous disposition. Her idea of fun is spinning a chair with her feet while handcuffed. She’s the girl walking out of the police station with a pair of thin gloves and a smug look on her face. She can beat the system and at the same time have no regard for the police’s desire for wanting to speak with her.

Above all else, Henley smirks whenever she wants to indicate she’s always a few steps ahead of whomever she feels is her competition. No matter how many times her competitors feel they’ve taken advantage of her, she reinforces her cunningness for situations that renders them helpless.

What’s more? No matter what anyone does, Henley never gives in to peer pressure. As terrible as things may sometimes get, she’s always the example others should follow.

Henley Reeves, a magician, a friend—she’s able to live life on the edge and at the end of the day she can still maintain her sense of humor.

What do you think of the movie Now You See Me? What do you think of Henley Reeves?

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Zombies and Mental Illness

Zombies are undead eating machines. They kill, consume and hunt for victims. They have an insatiable appetite. Their goals are simple. Kill and eat. Is it a wonder zombies have a reputation of being one of the most feared creatures in Horror?

The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead

Monday Mayhem has always been about the other side of madness. It will always be about zombies, aliens and the craziness attached to an apocalypse or invasion. In short, Monday Mayhem is more about humanity’s reaction to perceived threats than anything else is that may prompt discussion.

In that vein, let’s discuss the similarities between zombie behaviors and known mental illnesses.

First off, let’s get one thing out of the way. I’m not saying those with mental illness are zombies or represent the undead. I’m simply outlining traits I’ve noticed in zombies that also appear in those suffering from mental illness. I have the highest respect for those stricken in such a terrible fashion, and I wish nothing but the best support and aid for their full recovery.

Schizophrenia—Definition from Wikipedia:

“Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a breakdown in thinking and poor emotional responses. Common symptoms include delusions, such as paranoia; hearing voices or noises that are not there; disorganized thinking; a lack of emotion and a lack of motivation.”

Zombies tend to roam around aimlessly for long periods without accomplishing much. They need an external stimulus such as a human scent for them to press forward with a goal. They lack emotion when wandering about in their dormant state.

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)—Definition from Wikipedia:

Narcissus by Caravaggio. Gazing at his own reflection.

Narcissus by Caravaggio. Gazing at his own reflection.

“Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder in which a person is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity, mentally unable to see the destructive damage they are causing to themselves and to others in the process.”

Zombies are self-centered monsters with nothing on their mind other than themselves. They can’t see the destruction they cause when they’re on the hunt for victims to satiate their selfish appetite. Once they find a victim, they’ll consume them until there’s nothing left of their soul.

Major depressive disorder (MDD)—Definition from Wikipedia:

“Major depressive disorder (MDD) (also known as clinical depression, major depression, unipolar depression, or unipolar disorder; or as recurrent depression in the case of repeated episodes) is a mental disorder characterized by a pervasive and persistent low mood that is accompanied by low self-esteem and by a loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities.”

Zombies by nature are dark. Their mood ranges from gloomy to brooding. They’re dead inside. They’re a shell of their former selves. In spite of frequent kills, when they don’t have what they want, they withdraw into themselves. They lack joy.

Bipolar disorder—Definition from Wikipedia:

“Bipolar disorder (also known as bipolar affective disorder, manic-depressive disorder, or manic depression) is a mental illness typically classified as a mood disorder. It is characterized by episodes of an elevated or agitated mood known as mania, usually alternating with episodes of depression. These episodes can impair the individual’s ability to function in ordinary life.”

Zombies have wild mood swings. Their highs originate from the thrill of chasing and catching their victims. Once they lack a victim to destroy, they shut down into a state of moaning. They lack balance in their lives.

These mental illnesses immediately caught my attention in regards to similar behavior patterns in zombies. I could have also listed Avoidant personality disorder, Perfectionism, and Münchausen syndrome, but for lack of space and time, I did not.

I feel sorry for the zombies because they have no control over how they act or feel. One minute they’re quiet and the next they’re out to destroy anyone getting in their way. In their world, they’re the only ones that matter.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Can you think of other mental illnesses that correlate with behaviors zombies exhibit?

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Vacation Planning

I have yet to remember a winter as brutal as the one we had. It’s still holding on with its last dying breath. The east coast has had it rough, too. Many experienced leaky roofs, flooded basements and broken eaves troughs. I know our roof had a one-foot ice accumulation that took forever to melt. Thankfully, from now on, any storms coming our way will have the sun to deal with, which is a perfect introduction to my Freedom Friday post—summer vacation planning.

Ottawa

Ottawa

Last year, my family and I took to the highway to visit our country’s capital, Ottawa. I must say, we had a great time. We stayed at a well-known hotel, took in the museums, the restaurants, planned activities for the kids, and made it a point to have some much-needed downtime, something my wife and I always appreciate during a vacation.

This year, we’re not sure where we want to go. We talked about hopping in the car to head north where the resort communities lie. However, we haven’t made definite arrangements. Most of our travel plans involve extensive packing and unpacking. My natural inclination is to stay home, but where would the fun be in that? Although years ago, we did set up a gazebo in our backyard, plenty of deck chairs and enjoyed our virtual paradise all summer with BBQs and pool activities. Boy, we had fun.

Nova Scotia has been kind to us in past years, too. We traveled there in 2011 and in 2012. I wrote about the 2012 trip in my Nova Scotia post a year ago. We went twice because in 2011 the whole vacation was a washout. Rained the whole time we were there. I figured, the same thing couldn’t happen again the following year, so we took a chance and tried a second time. Sure enough, the sun apologized for the previous year’s misstep and obliged us with gorgeous sunny days.

Vacation Planning

Peggy’s Cove

I think what we’ll do this year is take a few weekend jaunts throughout the summer to various destinations throughout our province. We haven’t been to Algonquin Park, and I know many of my friends have raved about it from past conversations with them. Maybe we’ll take it as it comes and travel by the seat of our pants. After all, that’s how I write on occasion, so why not travel the same way?

All of a sudden, I remember about Jack Dawson, the character from James Cameron’s movie Titanic. He said, “I love waking up in the morning not knowing what’s gonna happen or who I’m gonna meet, where I’m gonna wind up.”

Perhaps it’s time to toss our planning and go with the wind to see where it carries us. I know we’ve done it before. Who’s to say we can’t do it again? The most fun we had has always involved no GPS, plenty of time on our hands and an open itinerary.

Sounds to me it’s time once again to seize the day!

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Have you decided where to go for your vacation this summer? If so, what made you decide on going there?

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Clementine

Few women in life are memorable. Fewer women in film are so. Joel (Jim Carrey) doesn’t remember ripping the pages from his journal. Apparently, it’s been two years since his last entry. Taking a day off work in February, walking the beach in Montauk seems to ease his preoccupation with the guy who had hit his car overnight. He’s a mess. Maybe he should get back with Naomi. She loved Joel.

Kate Winslet as Clementine

Kate Winslet as Clementine

Clementine (Kate Winslet) captures Joel’s attention in the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It may be because he saw her slip a shot of alcohol into her mug at a restaurant or because of her blue hair. Then there’s the fact they take the same train together and he can’t lift his eyes off her, but she’s someone worthy to have eyes on. After all, Women Who Wow Wednesday wouldn’t be what it is without a female lead to think of as worthy.

She says, “Hi,” and he answers, “I’m sorry?” He can’t believe she’s talking to him.

She asks him if he ever shops at Barnes & Noble. He says sure. She then says that’s where she’s positive they met. She’s been a book slave for five years, but he probably doesn’t recognize her because of the hair color. It changes a lot. Today her hair is called Blue Ruin. Tomorrow it may be Red Menace, Yellow Fever or maybe even Green Revolution.

She introduces herself as Clementine and asks for no jokes about her name, please. Not because they offend her, but because she’s heard them all before: Huckleberry Hound comes to mind, “Oh, my darlin’, oh, my darlin’, oh, my darlin’ Clementine. You were lost and gone forever, dreadful sorry Clementine.”

Joel loves the name, calling it pretty, then says, “It means merciful. Right? Clemency?”

Clementine

Clementine

She says, “It hardly fits. I’m vindictive, truth be told.”

Clementine has to be one of the most interesting characters on film. She describes herself as an “out of sorts”, “sorta nutso” gal, but gets anxious when she’s thinking she’s not living her life to the fullest, taking advantage of every possibility, making sure she’s not wasting one second of the little time she has—at least, that’s what she says.

Joel’s never met anyone like her. He’s taken a shine to her.

On Valentine’s Day, the day they meet the first time, he spends the evening with her, talking with her at her apartment. When he gets home, he couldn’t wait to call her. The first thing out of her mouth is, “Miss me?” He says yes, and she laughs. She actually tells him she will marry him. That’s the first day.

Clementine does what we can only imagine. She treads on thin ice and wonders why we can’t do the same. She’s a bucketful of energy, a firecracker and she has a way about her that someone can only describe as odd. But in all this, in her weird and eccentric ways, Clementine enjoys life and doesn’t mind showing it to everyone around her.

What does Joel see in Clementine? He can’t place his finger on it. He knows there’s something about her—

She’s unique. Different. And it’s that uniqueness that makes her someone to get to know outside the funny look she has to her hair. She makes him imagine of a world beyond himself. A world open to new ideas and thoughts.

Clementine may be strange, but she’s whom we want to become. Children discovering new things each and every day of our lives.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Have you seen the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? What did you think of Clementine?

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Olaf the Zombie

Last week’s Women Who Wow Wednesday featured Anna and Elsa from the movie Frozen. A couple of my readers had asked if I would consider writing about Olaf the snowman. You see, they thought Olaf exhibited zombie traits and it would make for a great subject for a Monday Mayhem post. At this moment, I agree.

Olaf the snowman

Olaf the snowman

However, at the time, I didn’t see how an animated snowman would become the symbol of zombieism in a Disney movie about two siblings trying to mend their relationship after a grave fallout. I’ll admit, even I couldn’t see the connection.

But after careful consideration, multiple viewings of Frozen, and plenty of ice cream—I don’t know, I’m just making this up as I go along—I’ve come to the conclusion that Olaf the snowman is in fact a genuine, true to life, not of this world zombie. Well, that’s to say Olaf displays undead tendencies. Let’s see what I mean—I’m dying to find out, too!

For those unfamiliar with the movie Frozen, I’ll give you a quick spoiler-free summary.

Princesses Anna and Elsa are sisters. Elsa has this magical power to conjure snow out of nothingness. She’s so good at it that she can create an ice rink with a simple step of her foot, a storm with the wave of a hand, and a snowman that talks. Yes, we’re talking about Olaf. He’s what we call possessed. Maybe not, but his personality is warm and cuddly.

Olaf

Olaf

On numerous occasions, Olaf falls apart. Much like a zombie, even after losing his head he still manages to stay alive while his parts try to find themselves. On one hand, it’s funny. Who doesn’t want a talking snowman who falls apart and succeeds in putting itself together? On the other hand, it’s creepy. Imagine strolling in the middle of the backyard during winter to find the snowman you had broken into pieces confronting you with revenge on its mind for what you did. Not so different from zombies, huh?

Then there’s the whole summer melting thing. Olaf loves summer. He hasn’t a clue as to what summer would do to him, but he loves the sun. In a part of the movie where he finally gets close to fire, he realizes he’s hot, and he begins melting. For a split second, you could attest to the fact you saw a zombie in Olaf’s melted state. I’m talking rotted eyes, skin falling off its body, skull appearing from under the snow. It’s quite disconcerting. I wouldn’t want to be in the same room while this happens.

Have I talked about the possessed limbs yet? I haven’t? Well, then. Olaf’s arms are branches stuck in his torso from Elsa’s conjuring. If they detach from his torso, they remain alive, crawling, bending, grabbing—similar to zombies. Have you seen zombie arms independent from their bodies? They’re crazy sights. They have a life of their own. In Olaf’s case, his arm separated from his body and smacked someone in the face. But we won’t get into that, will we?

So, do you see how innocent Olaf the snowman is really a zombie in disguise. I wouldn’t have believed it either hadn’t I seen it for myself.

Now I’m wondering if I should build a snowman next winter.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What do you think of Olaf the snowman/zombie? Would he pose a threat to humanity?

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Motivation

What motivates you? Do you wake up, hop out of bed, breathe deeply and say to yourself, “Today’s going to be the best day of my life.” Do you? I do. Every morning I say that, even when sleeping an inordinate amount of hours on the weekend. And why not? Today ought to be the best day of our life because today is the only day that matters. That’s why for Freedom Friday I thought I’d show you what I’ve learned in the past couple of years in hopes it may move you to freedom—freedom to accomplish your dreams and freedom to become who you are meant to be.

Motivation

Motivation

I started watching motivational videos in the winter of 2012 after a long, dark period in my life. I had lost something incredibly important to me that year and it hurt bad. Those who know me know this dark season had lasted for months. Behind the smiles, the laughter and the song stood a man on the threshold of perpetual sadness.

Then, one morning I woke up thinking I didn’t want to feel that way anymore. I changed, just like that. I realized everything I thought could happen, never did. The still small voice in my head returned and I knew my life was about to get a whole lot better.

This blog began on the day I regained my life back. I knew exactly what I needed to do next.

I’ve had people ask me, “What motivates you? How do you keep the creativity going?” I simply answer, “I have a lot of catching up to do.”

When you wasted half of your life in fear of failure, there really isn’t much else to say. It’s all a matter of getting it done.

In the throes of this newfound energy propelling me forward, I dusted off an old manuscript I had written some time ago about a killer who hates zombies and would do anything to put them out of their misery. That killer’s name was Ranger Martin, and he called my name to finish his story.

Fear

Fear

If you learn anything from this post, take away this: Fear does not exist.

I’ll say it one more time: Fear does not exist.

We build this image of the future of what we’d like to become, where we’d like to see ourselves and within seconds of those thoughts, we kill the dream.

“I’m not good enough. I don’t think I can do it. I’ll fail. It’s too difficult. It’s too much work. I can’t. I’m afraid. People will laugh at me. People won’t take me seriously.”

Let me tell you, just because you hear someone say those things don’t mean you have to believe them. The only defeat we’ll feel is from ourselves. We are our own worst enemy. Once we understand that, once we see that, everything else will fall into place. I’m of the belief everyone, no matter how small or how weak, is capable of great things—incredible things that will astound those around them making others take note and say, “I want to be like that guy. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what he’s got, but I want to be like that guy.”

I challenge my readership today to take that one step that will make the difference. Take that shot to a life filled with challenges, opportunity and hope. Tear apart the bondage that renders you desperate. Throw away the shackles that bind you. Nothing in this world can say you can’t. You can say you can’t. Don’t. I know what it feels like to hear the words “I’m a failure.” I know what it feels like to think I’m no good. I’ve been there. It’s not pretty.

But I say, picture your dream and go after it. If someone tells you you can’t. Tell them, watch me. If you hear that voice in the back of your head telling you you can’t. Tell it, watch me. Then, do it. Every minute lost on a worry is a minute given to failure. You don’t want to fail, do you?

Now go out there and win. Always believe, “Today’s going to be the best day of my life.”

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What motivates you?

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Anna and Elsa

If you haven’t seen the movie Frozen and want to see it, don’t read this post. I will spoil it for you. Jump to the last paragraph. If you have seen it, then you will know why I chose both Anna and Elsa as this week’s Women Who Wow Wednesday feature. I couldn’t choose one or the other because one wouldn’t be complete without the other. Therefore, it’s a special day when I not only can chat about one inspiring character, but also present a second one who equally inspires.

Frozen's Anna and Elsa

Frozen’s Anna and Elsa

Princesses Anna and Elsa were little girls when it happened. Elsa has a magical gift. She’s able to spin snow from nothingness. With the wave of a hand, she’s also able to create frozen mountains, ice rinks and snow slides. But one morning Anna’s excitement got the best of her. Wanting Elsa to play with her in the palace, Anna coaxed her to create an indoor winterscape complete with an ice rink and snowman. Unable to keep up with Anna’s delightful exuberance, Elsa blames herself for the accident that follows.

Years later, when Elsa becomes Queen Elsa of Arendelle, during the evening festivities of her coronation, she turns on her sister, forbidding her to marry a man she just met. This doesn’t sit well with Anna prompting her to ask why Elsa has grown cold toward her. Little does Anna know that Elsa is attempting to protect her from her magical powers with, of which she believes she once supposedly attacked Anna.

Elsa and Anna

Elsa and Anna

This leads Elsa to lash out in fear of hurting anyone else. She retreats to the mountains, conjuring an ice castle where she plans to live for the rest of her life, alone from everyone and anyone she loves. Anna has all she can do to blame herself for her sister’s sudden departure from the kingdom and desire to live alone.

As the story progresses, the audience has a first class seat to enjoying one of the most interesting relationships Disney has ever created.

Anna’s optimism is contagious, and her forgiving nature, incredible. No matter how many times Elsa shuts her out, Anna remains firm in her belief that they will one day be sisters again, just like it was when they were little girls. At the same time, Elsa tries her best not to hurt anyone with her ice powers. She doesn’t care if no one understands, as long as everyone’s safe, that’s what’s important to her.

Frozen is nothing short of amazing. However, the characters Anna and Elsa are two personalities one will not easily forget. As beautiful the music is and as funny as the story goes, nothing comes close to the interactions these sisters have with one another and the ultimate joy they express when being together.

If you’re looking for a story to keep you entertained, Anna and Elsa’s will inspire and enrich in the film Frozen. One thing though, one view’s not enough to absorb all the little character nuances. Prepare to become enthralled many times over by the movie’s music and magic.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Have you seen Frozen? Did you like the character Anna? What did you like most about her?

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Terminators vs. Zombies

They keep coming and coming and don’t let up. They’ll hunt you down and kill you without mercy. They have no soul. They’re impervious to pain. They are dead inside, unable to feel empathy or feel anything for that matter. They will not rest until every single human soul lies dead under their feet.

If you think I’m talking about terminators, raise your hands. C’mon, don’t be shy. They sound like terminators, don’t they? They’re not, at least not in my book. I’m talking about zombies. How many of you guessed right? Well, you’re wrong, too. They’re terminators. Not sure, are you? Welcome to another edition of Monday Mayhem.

The Terminator

The Terminator

For those not familiar with the origins of The Terminator movie, one day, director James Cameron was suffering from a very high fever when in the midst of his dreams a metal skull appeared to him. It had burst into flames and filled his mind in a frenzy of horror. When he awoke, he immediately took to his typewriter and within twenty-four hours had the treatment written of The Terminator. Just like that.

For those unfamiliar with a film treatment, it’s a short story written in present tense prose with a liberal dollop of the director’s style. It’s much more detailed than an outline.

The idea behind The Terminator lies in man’s quest for immortality. A terminator does not feel, does not ponder on life’s great mysteries, does not fill its head with silly arguments of what is right and wrong. It roams and kills. Nothing more. Not much different from the undead, really.

Let’s have a look at similarities between terminators and zombies.

Zombies in Moscow

Zombies in Moscow

Persistence—Terminators do not know when to give up. They will keep coming after its target until either it dies a terrible death or its battery depletes. The likelihood of its battery depleting is next to zero. Therefore, you can run it down, drive a metal rod through its body, crush it with a steel girder, and blow it up. It will still come after you without relent. A zombie works the same way. Once it spots its victim, it will stop at nothing to capture it. Other than a shotgun blast to the head, nothing will deter it from its aim to make human its main dinner dish. It will keep coming and coming. It will not stop until we’re all dead.

Roaming—Those treacherous endoskeletons travel long distances to achieve their mission objective. They smash through doors, crash through windows, overcome gun blast wounds all for the sake of killing their targets. They’ll even drag their way to them if they have to, which is no different from the undead who chase after their prey. No manner of defense will discourage zombies from their inordinate plan to attack and dismember their victims. And yes, they’ll also drag to capture their victim.

Unfeeling—The driving force behind a terminator is its mission to kill its target. It does not care if its intended target has a family. It does not equate the loss of life to the loss of a relationship. Its design dictates merciless killing as its goal. In much the same way, a zombie’s ultimate quest is to satiate its craving for human. It has no empathy for the potential loss of a brilliant life. It doesn’t understand the bond between humans, the love of a parent for a child, the love of a mate for a mate. It possesses no heart. It does not cry for its victim nor does it rejoice after the killing. It can’t do any of that because it simply does not feel. How dreadful a life when a sentient life walks the earth soulless, empty and void.

Regardless of the many similarities mentioned, and I’m sure you can think of more, you know what I would find interesting? Instead of terminators and zombies going after humans, why not have them in a massive battle against each other? Wouldn’t that be something to look forward? But I think we’d know who would win.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Can you think of other similarities between the metal endoskeletons and the undead?

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A Law of Success

I’m a firm believer in being lazy. Now, now, before you go off thinking I’m a sluggard of a man, hear me out. I’m also a firm believer in working smarter, not harder. If it takes three days to accomplish a task, I want to know how I can cut that time to one day. Like I said, I’m lazy and any time saved is time earned to do other things of interest.

Unbalanced force

Unbalanced force

Welcome to my Freedom Friday post where I open my mind and allow my brains to fall out. Today I would like to place you at a vantage point into my thinking regarding work vs. rest. Don’t worry I’m not introducing anything radical you haven’t heard before. Perhaps, I’ll even learn something myself.

I’ve written about this subject in my posts Sleep and A Day Off. Not to be redundant, but in those posts I had mention how sleep is my secret weapon against creative slumps. I’m trying hard not to make it sound like I’m bragging. I’m relating information that works for me that may also work for others. Anyway, back to the subject at hand. My secret weapon against a creative slump, brain fog, and mind block is sleep. On the weekend, I sleep an inordinate amount of hours because during the week I keep a strict seven-hour sleep schedule, depending on the night and if I have to wake up early the next morning (eg. 4:30 AM—yeah, I’m on farmer’s hours).

Did I ever tell you I suffered from insomnia for a long, long time? I think I had mentioned it. Well, of course I did. I wrote about it in my Insomnia post. For a number of years I averaged two hours of sleep. Yes, you read that right—a number a years, two hours of sleep. I learned a thing or two.

Let’s get to the meat of this post.

Newton’s First Law of Motion states: An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

You might ask, “Jack, what are you doing talking about the laws of physics?” Well, let’s take Newton’s First Law of Motion and analyze it further. There may actually be a lesson there for all of us.

Isaac Newton

Isaac Newton

The first part of the law states that an object at rest stays at rest. I learned some time ago that rest replenishes my creative flow by allowing my mind to mull over problems during my sleep cycle. My evidence? Without fail, every morning I wake up with a truckload of ideas I can’t wait to get down on paper. Many of my blog posts come from my early morning shaves soon after a good night’s sleep. I’m so used to it, I can’t wait to fall asleep knowing the next morning I’ll have some other ideas that will catch my fancy.

The second part of the law states that an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction. In my opinion, this is the ideal situation. Wouldn’t it be a grand thing to experience life in a constant predictable cycle? It can be. It means eliminating the distractions and carrying forward without anyone or anything getting in the way. It also means a heightened sense of concentration achieved by allowing you the rest needed to complete a task. Sounds counterproductive, but it does work.

Now, did you catch the fact I didn’t mention the last portion of the law? I left it last to make a point. It simply states that an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

We all have those unbalanced forces in our lives that seem to suck the energy from our productivity. That’s the negative part of the equation. We’re going on our merry way, doing what we set out to do, carrying on with our daily lives when suddenly something happens and we’re stuck in the middle of a battlefield picking up the pieces. Whether it’s a death in the family, job loss, an accident or a real bad day, this happens to everyone and we can’t avoid it.

The other side of the equation involves those same unbalanced forces setting our lives on fire by spectacular means, giving us a new perspective on things and leading us to change. I’m talking about the sudden proposal of marriage, finding out you’re going to have a baby, getting a promotion, deciding to buy a new house, and yes, even winning the lottery. Good things do happen to good people.

The trick to Newton’s law of motion is to keep life at an even keel. Too little rest, we procrastinate. Too much unbalanced force, we stress out. Steady as she goes, and we’re just right. Success comes when we gain that perfect balance. Once we attain that, nothing will stop us from achieving our dreams.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What other laws of physics can we utilize as a metaphor for success?

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Angela

Few movies have a feeling attached to the presentation. You know the ones, Lost in Translation, Juno, Elizabethtown. Although subjective, the feeling is that of loneliness coupled with the search for meaning. At times, dark comedy screams a message so clear that no one understands it. American Beauty is that way. It succeeds with showing what happens when preconceptions turn to fear. At the same time, the film opens the mind to a world not much different from our own, but sparkles with beauty.

Kevin Spacey & Mena Suvari in American Beauty

Kevin Spacey & Mena Suvari in American Beauty

Women Who Wow Wednesday presents Angela, the cheerleader who captures the imagination of a middle-aged man forcing a change in him.

To know Angela (Mena Suvari) you must know Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey). Let him describe in his own words his life:

“My name is Lester Burnham. This is my neighborhood. This is my street. This is my life. I am 42 years old. In less than a year, I will be dead. Of course, I don’t know that yet. And in a way, I am dead already.”

Later on, he says:

“Both my wife and daughter think I’m this gigantic loser. And they’re right. I have lost something. I’m not exactly sure what it is, but I know I didn’t always feel this… sedated. But you know what? It’s never too late to get it back.”

From there the focus shifts to his office cubicle where he sits slouched in his chair speaking with a client on the phone. If you study the mess he calls a desk, you’ll see a small sign hanging on his cubicle wall saying, “Look closer.” The sign is a message to the viewing audience from director Sam Mendes. It’s to encourage the viewer to pay attention because there’s more to this story than meets the eye.

In the midst of Lester’s middle class family lies a disturbing isolation within its members—the domineering wife, the negligent father, the angry teen. Each have their own agenda, each want validation for their role in the family.

Angela

Angela

When Angela finally appears in the film, Lester has all he can do to get out of the evening drive to support his daughter’s cheerleading squad, the same squad cheering for the town’s basketball team. His excuse? He says he’s missing the James Bond marathon on TNT.

When meeting Angela for the first time she gives the illusion she’s self-absorbed and indifferent. Her attitude hovers around “you scratch my back and I’ll accept it.” But remember the movie’s tagline? Look closer.

Angela possesses the ability to move people into doing things they wouldn’t do had she not inspired the change. In Lester’s case, it’s obvious. She’s a Rockwell High award-winning Dancing Spartanette. She strikes him. His mind scrambles and all of a sudden, he’s a teenager again, wanting to get to know her like all the other teenage boys her age. The only difference, he’s not a teenager. He’s a married man. For someone such as Angela to spur those feeling in someone without regard to marital status, she must really have something wrong with her.

The truth is, though, you’ll have to look closer. There’s more to Angela than the outward snob moniker she wears so well. She sports a vulnerability few have seen other than Lester. That vulnerability comes to play later in the film, regardless of us having to deal with her current label as the class tease.

What else makes Angela different? Even if she feels there’s nothing worse than being ordinary, she proves she’s more mature than any girl her age. How? Remember how knowing Lester is the same as knowing Angela? His change in mindset couldn’t have happened hadn’t Angela shown up in his life. Had she not given him a second breath, a second hope for the future, he would have been a recluse for the rest of his miserable existence. Angela did that—not Lester. She did it by simply becoming a symbol to what he wanted from life—hope. She provided him that hope.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What did you like about American Beauty? What did you think of Angela?

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