Poem 4: Dickensian Wounds

These delicate wounds have humbled me.

They’ve made me stand, so proud and keen.

All those fears you told me to frame

inside my meek heart

have broken down inside of each beat.

 

These steady delusions that I’ve stumbled upon

have made me fight a mirror of mirages.

There’s a weeping rush of broken sweat

that emanates from what was once

a blistering doubt.

 

I’m no longer the striking erosion you

thought I’d become,

an acute sensation of what they

all thought was to come.

Lying here,

with hopes and dreams

and still beliefs

is a future that you had once believed.

 

These mounting murmurs that come from your mouths

will falter freely with every lost journey that you took.

You can’t reproach me anymore,

nothing will stop me now.

 

These final days I’ll stand by you

our hands clasped

together

one wound to another.

 

 

Poem 3: Charlottenburg 1986

Do you remember the days when we were friends…

 

when that fertile field felt funny under my feet

with stones that ricocheted razor-sharp

against the pillars of Reichstag and grazed

against my swollen back.

 

New napalmed Nazi signs blazed

and branded onto the timid tender

arms of you, a Catholic girl that shaded and shifted your

arms with pulsing childlike blended skin.

 

Chilling and chastising accounts of open canopies

marred the city’s blooming clouds that were

floating over the crafty graffiti on the wall and

floating by a breeze that blazed over the rumbling S-Bahn.

 

Your hasty heaving screams pierced near my body

blocking my bloodshot bursting eyes

shifted once by the steel-glazed guns and

shifted by broken daisies left dangling and deserted.

 

For now, you and I will still remain under close watch

under their piercing, tranquil stares

praying that the gloom of the city will swallow us

praying that the memories of our mind will vanish

forever.

 

Unless otherwise noted, everything on this website, including all text, photos, and recipes, are copyrighted (c) by the author himself.

Revisiting Toys: A Look Back at Toy Story

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When 1994 ended, one of the greatest years in movie history ended (sorry, 1939!).  Pulp Fiction brought about John Travolta’s comeback.   Shawshank Redemption became the greatest prison drama film of all time (sorry, Escape from Alcatraz).  Forrest Gump showed audiences worldwide what was possible when meshing history with Tom Hanks.  Two of today’s renowned directors showcased their abilities in their directorial debuts, Kevin Smith with Clerks and before he went to Middle Earth, Peter Jackson with Heavenly Creatures .  Then, there was, at that point, in what my opinion was the crowning achievement in animation, The Lion King.

lion

The Lion King had beautifully drawn 2-D characters that told an epic story, one that was Shakespearean in scope.  (Not really surprising…it was loosely based on “Hamlet”.)  It had music beautifully composed and songs that were written by Elton John.  It had voices provided by James Earl Jones (that booming voice), Jeremy Irons and Whoopi Goldberg.  It had memorable characters, from Simba to Mufasa to Scar, and these characters live on today on stage in its successful musical production.  It couldn’t possibly be beaten, right?

Of course…then comes 1995, which would bring about a film that would change the game of animation forever.  Today, CGI has become a major factor in many animated feature films and it all began with Pixar, the company behind this film.

The movie is, of course, Toy Story – the first computer generated feature film and the reason for the success of many films that would follow, not just from Pixar, but other studios from DreamWorks, Sony and Universal.  So, in a way, I guess you could say that Toy Story became a test subject for other films and succeeded in its mission to prove that films could be spectacular and tell an emotional story, too.

Toy Story, in case you’ve been living on an uninhabited island for the past 24 years, is about a group of toys that learn about friendship and try to overcome the elements that test it.  Voiced by the aforementioned Hanks, Woody is the leader of a gang of toys that include Mr. Potato Head (the late Don Rickles), Slinky Dog (the late Jim Varney), Rex (voiced by Wallace Shawn) and Bo Peep (voiced by Annie Potts), plus various other toys owned by Andy (voiced by John Morris).

The story begins with Andy’s birthday party and causes the toys to become stressed that one of them may be replaced with a new toy.  As the party moves forward, they become relieved when there are no new gadgets that can break their bond…but wait, just as they are about to go back to their normal duties, in comes the introduction of Andy’s newest gift, Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen).

It is at this point in the film that a common trait emerges that can be apparent in us – envy.  The reason why the film works is because of how relatable these toys become.  Imagine being the popular kid in the neighborhood until a new boy or girl moves in to the area and gets much of the attention.  We’ve been there, whether it’s at home, school or work and we can sense how Woody feels with the arrival of Buzz.  In turn, Woody begins to feel isolated, which in turn makes him jealous and annoyed.

Through the rage and frustration that Woody is feeling, he accidentally causes Buzz to topple out the window.  The other toys don’t see it the same way and feel it was done on purpose, thus we get Woody now feeling misunderstood as well (another feeling, I’m sure, we know all too well).  Andy, who begins to look for Buzz and can’t find him, has to settle for Woody.  And so Andy, his mom and Woody make the journey to “Pizza Planet”.  Also, joining them is Buzz and after a series of mishaps, both he and Woody find themselves in the “Claw Machine”.  Of course, they’re “won” as a prize and the winner is Andy’s next door neighbor, Sid.

Woody begins to realize that he has to work with Buzz in order to escape the wrath and crazy antics of Sid and in order to do so, they need the help of Sid’s other mutilated toys.  In the meantime, Buzz goes from “happy-go-lucky” to depressed when he finds out that he’s just a toy.  It is now Woody that needs to turn him around and get him to realize that without him, they won’t be able to return home.  Just like human relationships, the friendship between Woody and Buzz starts rocky, but begins to grow with mutual admiration.  Woody and Buzz escape Sid’s lair.

They realize that they missed the departure of Andy and company.  Involving a dog, a race car and a rocket, the other toys realize that Woody is trying to help Buzz, not hurt him.  Soon, they land in the back seat and Andy, who thought he had lost both of them, is reunited with them.  As the first film ends, Woody and Buzz and the rest of the gang end up in the new home.

andy

Up to this point, this animated gem is the most realistic film in the genre with lively characters and personalities that match our own.  It’s a film about friendship and about sharing a bond and using (especially if you’re an 80s kid), familiar moments in our own childhood.  Not only does this film set out to accomplish a legacy, but it’s the reason for Pixar’s success for almost 25 years.

FINAL GRADE:  A

 

What kind of childhood memories, if any, does this film evoke for you?  Do you see other themes in the film?  Is there a Pixar film you believe to better?  Sound off in the “Comments” section and next time, I will be reviewing the second installment in the series.

MOTIVATION FACTOR #5: The Monthly Goal List

Previous Motivation Factors:

MOTIVATION FACTOR #1: Buy A Notebook, Not A Planner.

MOTIVATION FACTOR #2: Set Yearly SMART Goals

MOTIVATION FACTOR #3: Divide Your Major Goals Into Mini-Goals

MOTIVATION FACTOR #4: Create a Master List

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In the previous factors, we’ve covered two of the five elements of the “Base 5 System”.  As a reminder, the first element was setting ten goals for the year and then setting mini-goals for the first goal you were going to work on.  The second element was the master list.  This is where you write down every single item to work on including your mini-goals.  Now that you’ve got that done, it’s time to use both of them to assess your monthly goals.

Your monthly goals or monthly list works a little different than the yearly goals you set.  (I may be using monthly goals and monthly list interchangeably here, so feel free to call it whatever works best for you.)  If you’re using a college-ruled notebook (which I’ve recommended), I usually keep my monthly list to always 30 items.  So as you look over your previous two subjects in the notebook, you want to list the 30 most important things you’ve got to do for the next 30 days (or 31 or 28…depending on what month you’re in obviously).  You don’t have to list them in any certain order right now, you’re just making a list of those 30 items you want to work on through the month.

Finished?  Ok, now that you’ve got that list down, next to those 30 items, draw a vertical line down the page.  Next to those 30 items, put a date down when you’d like to complete them.  You don’t have to have a date for every item.  For example, if an item carries over to another month or it’s not high on the priority list, you may not want to set a date yet and that’s ok.  But if there’s something that must be completed by a certain deadline, by all means, put that date down.  I usually have dates with about half of the items on the list.

Got that done?  Great…draw another vertical line next to that.  Now comes the prioritization part.  Decide what your top 6 items on the list are and mark them with the letter “A”.  Once you’re done with that, take the next six items, and mark them with a “B”.  Keep doing that until you have A through E marked six times each.  Now that you’ve finished that, go back to your “A” items and number those in order of importance with a “1”, “2”, etc.  Then, do the same with the other lettered items.  So you should now have a list that ranges from “A-1” to “E-6”.  Your month has now begun.

I will come back in a few blogs to this list, but for next time, I will go over the Weekly List.

 

If you do use this system and would like to leave a comment on how it goes for you, please feel free.  Thank you for reading another “Motivation Factor”.

MOTIVATION FACTOR #4: Create a Master List

For previous factors, click on the following links:

MOTIVATION FACTOR #1: Buy A Notebook, Not A Planner.

MOTIVATION FACTOR #2: Set Yearly SMART Goals

MOTIVATION FACTOR #3: Divide Your Major Goals Into Mini-Goals

The fourth motivation factor is very simple.  It’s creating a master list, which means a list of practically everything you’re going to do.  I reserve the second subject of the 5 subject notebook for the “Master List.”  It’s a list of what you do daily, what you do weekly, what you do monthly, and quarterly, and every six months, and….well, you get the point.

The one thing I don’t recommend is hurrying the process up so that you forget something.  You’re putting down a lot of things….I even include sleeping, brushing my teeth – things that are part of my daily routine.  However, make it specific…if your goal is to sleep 8 hours a day, then write that instead of just “sleep”.  Another thing on the master list is to write in the planner every day.  You’re really writing down everything you’re going to be doing.

Think of your weekly engagements.  A simple goal for the week may be to work 40 hours, but you still write that.  It can be anything from attending church on Sundays to playing in that weekly Bingo game.

Think of things during the months.  If you know you’re going to be celebrating someone’s birthday in the next month, write that down.  The one thing that is important about the master list is that you want to make sure it’s updated thoroughly at all times, especially before a new month hits because the things that are going to go on your monthly list come from your master list.

You also want to include the goals that you set in Subject #1.  That includes the big, large goals and the mini-goals.  I also put down deadlines and anything else important that goes with it.  The monthly list is going to be based on whatever you have put on your master list.  The weekly list is going to be based on what you have on the monthly list and the daily list is going to be based on the weekly list, so you can see the importance of the master list.

So, in summary:

Subject #1:  Yearly Goals and Mini-goals.

Subject #2:  Master List

 

Next week, I’ll go more in depth about how the Master List and Monthly Goals work together.

Revisiting Rocky: A Final Word on the Rocky Series

Rocky IV Review

Rocky V Review

Rocky III Review

Rocky II Review

Creed Review

Rocky Balboa Review

Rocky Review

 

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Simply said, the Rocky series provides inspiration to many people.  With its underdog story, the iconic characters, the motivational music, and quotable lines – the film series has become the “role model of movies”.  Not just in the US, but around the world, the films have become an example of great storytelling with uplifting themes.

I was in Germany when I first started watching the films and I remember how big of a star Sylvester Stallone became.  In fact, his portrayal of his character in Rocky IV was so realistic that I remember there being a big story about how East Germany wouldn’t let him into their country.  They felt that the actor had anti-Russian feelings (which of course wasn’t true).  To many people, the Rocky story is similar to their lives.  For those of us striving to prove that we can “go the distance” in whatever we do, the inspiration is Rocky Balboa.

The character arc of Rocky Balboa is exactly what many of us go through – we live our lives at crossroads, personally and professionally.  When many others don’t believe in us, whether it’s our bosses, our co-workers, ourselves, some do and it’s that one moment of belief that helps us to get motivated to live the best life we can for ourselves.  Men and women will find inspiration in the love between Rocky and Adrian.  After a few times of awkwardness, they finally realize they love each other.  Then, Adrian is rushed to the hospital during her pregnancy and into a coma.  With Rocky by her side, Adrian comes out of it and together they have a baby boy.  When Rocky is down and out, Adrian is the one that lifts him up and reminds him that they’re in it together.  She’s there for him as a wife, but also as his best friend.  And even when Rocky’s relationship with his son goes sour, Adrian is the one to bond them together again.  All the way to her tragic death, she stands by Rocky’s side and even after she’s gone, she still provides the spark he needs in his life.

Rocky’s life is filled with various characters, besides Adrian.  He has a mentor in Mickey Goldmill and a friend in Paulie.  He also has a friend in Apollo Creed (eventually grown out of respect) and Gazzo (sparingly).  And even through his enemies, he learned valuable lessons.  (“You ain’t so bad” to Clubber Lang and he learned that people change fighting a Russian – who knew?).

The Rocky story is the ultimate story.  It blends themes of “life and death”, “friendship and hostility”, “rags to riches”, a life cycle that spans over 40 years.  The Rocky story is a story for yesterday’s generation, but also the generation that will come tomorrow.  It gives us the motivation to realize that no matter what life brings, we’re moving forward.  We’ll be OK.  You know how I know?  Because of the stuff in the basement.

We’ve gone the distance.  Yo, we did it, Rock.

Next week, we’ll revisit another inspirational story – one filled with childhood memories, toys, and someone to tell us to take our lives “to infinity and beyond.”

MOTIVATION FACTOR #3: Divide Your Major Goals Into Mini-Goals

goals

So now that you have a list of goals, written in the SMART format, what do you do?  It’s actually really simple as you take the first goal and work on that one.  For myself, I still use the first subject of a five-subject notebook and I skip a space in between the 10 yearly goals and the first goal I want to work on.

So after a skipped space, rewrite the first goal (either the first one in sequence or the first one in priority) and make sure you include the deadline.  Now you’re going to break that goal into mini-goals by brainstorming EVERYTHING you need to do to get the goal accomplished.  Don’t worry about what you have and don’t have, just write down all the things you need to do to get your goal moving to the end.  There’s really no set number, I just write until I can’t think of anything else.

Once you’re finished with that, you now have a major yearly goal written down with a list of mini-goals.  With that list of mini-goals, you’re going to do the same thing you did before and that’s put two numbers down afterwards, a sequence number and a priority number.  While this process may take a while (depending on how large of a goal you’ve set), I’ve also found it to be organized and motivational.

Now that you have that list finished, it’s time to get started on that first mini-goal.  Just like your major goals, this one should also be written with a deadline in mind.  And just like your major goals, it should be realistic.  Give yourself a few days to finish it if you have to…the idea is to make sure you don’t set an unrealistic time and then finding yourself overwhelmed when other goals begin crossing over at the same time.  It’s many cases it’s not life-ending if you don’t meet your deadline right away.  Just extend it and keep working at it.

Once you’ve finished that part, you can move on to the next mini-goal and work on that.  The idea is to just keep taking baby steps towards finishing the goal.  There will be barriers along the way, obstacles that you didn’t foresee and that’s OK because we can’t predict every fathom of life.  For myself, I take a deep breath and just move forward.  You can’t change anything in your past, so don’t dwell on a mistake or something that happened that stopped you in your tracks, just think of how you can get back to the task at hand.

As you start finishing your first major goal, you can then repeat the process with your second goal.  If able, you can start your second major goal while working on your first or you can wait and start and finish your first one.  If it starts to get overwhelming, go back to your earlier goal and complete that first because the last thing you want to do is start on something, put it aside and then forget about it.

Continue on until you finish all your goals that you’ve set.  Some of them may be pushed further down the road, some of them may be surprisingly started earlier.  No matter what, you’re now on your way to working on things that will help you feel happier and more accomplished in life.  Good luck as you move towards a more successful life!

Next week, I will go over the fourth motivation factor.