The Relativistic Chuckle of the Week

Did you see this one? A 69-year-old Dutch man is suing to legally change his age to 49.  This is not on the Babylon Bee or The Onion where it seems more fitting. Some of the gems which come out of the article include how he feels discriminated against when trying to find work or trying to hook-up with someone on the dating app Tinder.

Quote: “We live in a time when you can change your name and change your gender. Why can’t I decide my own age?”

Just let that one stew for a while.

I don’t fault this man at all. I applaud his creativity, actually. What, I believe, gets the biggest chuckle is the fact that the court will rule on this within the next four weeks.

Let me say that again: the courts will rule on this.

What’s puzzling is that the court didn’t immediately toss it out as frivolous. Do they not have more pressing legal issues than ruling whether by legal decree that a court has the authority to countermand 20 revolutions of the sun? Talk about pretentiousness! What kind of a court do they think they have?

Here’s one maybe I’ll see in my realm one day. Let’s say a student comes to me and says that he or she will not accept the 69% they earned on their test. That number is discriminatory, they might say. That number doesn’t reflect their actual ability. They could have done better if they studied more, so therefore I am judging their knowledge and habits, not their potential knowledge or their actual intelligence. That number is discriminatory because some universities will think that they don’t belong at their school. A poor grade might prevent them from getting a job. They might be looked down as being unintelligent and another might not want to date them because of it. “Shouldn’t I be able to choose my own grade? Who are you, Mr. Teacher, to judge me?” they might ask.

How might a teacher respond? “I’ll have a ruling within four weeks.”

Yeah, for some reason, I don’t think that would fly.

I wish the man all the best in trying to get the most out of life. Your age is how you feel. Who cares what your birth certificate says.

Ahhh – more fodder for writing. There is never a lack of clever twists.

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A Review of THE AFRICAN CONNECTION from Michelle Clement James

Book reviewer Michelle Clement James posted a review of book two of The Forgotten Child Trilogy: The African Connection. 

It’s a terrific review, excerpted below. Please hit the link to read the full review and check out her book website. And if you haven’t started reading The Forgotten Child Trilogy yet, what are you waiting for?

“I have read and reviewed several of Mark Sasse’s books and I have to say The Forgotten Child Trilogy is fabulous and are my favorites!  Book Two, The African Connection, is every bit as intriguing as the first book, A Man Too Old, for a Place Too Far. I recommend you read Book One first so that you have a good understanding of who the characters are and how they fit into the story.

One of the most endearing traits of The African Connection is the way the author takes you into another realm with characters like Bee, who is flighty and childlike, and Ash, who is more than patient with Bee, but who can be stern with her at the same time.  These two and Zette, who has more power than Bee or Ash, appear out of “thin air” first to Francis Frick and then to others. But don’t think they are ghosts, they are far more than that.”

READ FULL REVIEW HERE!

The African Connection HERE!

Book One HERE! Only $1.89

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Making Peace with Increments

Successful discipline in any field is the art of making peace with increments.  Whether writing a novel, losing weight, learning guitar, studying for a master’s, or driving in a traffic jam heading home on a Friday afternoon, if you can come to terms with where you are at, you’re on the right track to success.

Humans are famously impatient. We like results. Like yesterday. How many diets go awry because tangible progress has slowed or because discouragement sets in thinking how much further the journey is?

How many stalled novels have bit the dustpan of obscurity over the years because 4000 words seems much too far away from 50,000 words?

But if we can make peace with increments, rejoice in the small, be happy in the seemingly insignificant, EVENTUALLY, your goal will be reached.

Guitar. I’m not a musician, but I love music and I have always loved writing lyrics and thinking up melodies to match.  About fifteen years ago, I watched a friend learn guitar. I was intrigued. I asked him what he did. He said he practiced for thirty minutes everyday for six months. At the end of those six months, while he wasn’t Eddie Van Halen, he was capable of playing chords fluently and even joined the worship band at his church. I was impressed, so I said to myself that I would try it. I got a basic guitar book, a guitar, and  cleared aside 30 minutes a day, and I started playing. It was painful, figuratively on my ears and literally on my fingertips. But as the daily thirty minutes went by, my fingers started to develop callouses and my chords started to develop some attributes of musicology. Six months later, he was right. I could play the guitar. I plateaued at that point because I achieved what I wanted. I wanted to play enough guitar to help me write songs. Success. And I owe it all to increments.

Novels. I’ve said this before. I was a failed novelist who never wrote a novel. I always wanted to write one, and about seventeen years ago I finally started. I wrote three pages, destroyed it all, cried inside, and abandoned all hope of ever writing a novel. About ten years later, through my renewed interest in writing prompted by a new pursuit in drama, I tried again. I wrote little by little. I tried to enjoy the process. I tried to understand the long-haul mentality. I enjoyed where I was in the process.  I counted every word every day. Literally. And before I knew it, I had written a 61,000 word novel.  Then I tried to write another. Now I’ve written eight, and I’m still at the early point in my journey.

Whatever you are trying to accomplish, don’t get stuck lamenting how far away the finish line is.  But DO focus on two things:

  1. The daily increments. Have you done what you can today in your journey? If you can say ‘yes’ to that, then be proud of yourself.
  2. Look back at progress. Look where the increments of the last two weeks have taken you. The last month. The last two months. Remind yourself of where you came from and let it reaffirm that you are on the right track.

I write this for myself, because I’m on other journeys as I write. Perhaps I’ll share another time. But I hope this can be a small reminder to those on a journey of accomplishment that if you make peace in the increments, you will find your way.

“Miss, it’s raining. Now what?”

“Miss, it’s raining. Now what?”

This is a curious phrase I heard yesterday. What do you suppose the context was? Is rain going to ruin an outdoor event? A picnic, perhaps. Or a sporting event.

No. It couldn’t be.

How do I know that this question could not refer to that type of situation?

Because it was asked in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia while a noticeably light rain came gently from the sky. A question like that points to one issue and one issue alone: when one lives in the dessert, RAIN is a big, concerning deal!

Let me describe a comparable situation so you’ll begin to understand what rain means in Jeddah. I grew up in PA and lived in upstate New York for many years. I know what snow is. Then I moved to Virginia, I learned that they don’t know what snow is.  The lightest of dustings would cancel all events for the day. Schools would close. Churches would close. Panic would ensue. It was a cultural experience to say the least.

Here’s two snow examples that this northern person couldn’t rap my head around. One early morning in Virginia, we get a call from the school administration to inform us that there will be no school that day because of the snow. Okay. Fine. Morning arrives, there’s no snow. The roads are bare. I mean, dry. Pavement. That is all. And there’s no school because apparently dry pavement is dangerous to drive on. So we, on our day off, drove through the treacherous roads (dry, mind you) to the cinema forty-five minutes away and had a nice family day.

The second anecdote is similar. One early Sunday morning in Virginia, we head off to church – another 45 minute drive (we lived in the boondocks). The roads on the way to church were dry. As in no snow.  (see example above) We arrive at church to find that church was cancelled on the account of snow which didn’t exist. So we went out for breakfast. The restaurant was empty. The non-snow kept everyone away.

Now back to Jeddah. It was the middle of the school day yesterday, and we hear a strange noise in the sky – thunder! Everyone is excited. We peek outside and there is some wetness from the sky. A light sprinkle. I hear a student walk up to a teacher  and with a very concerned voice asks: “Miss, it’s raining. Now what?”

Within an hour of the sprinkles, one hundred kids were picked up by their parents and brought home early. By noon, it was sunny. As in no rain. It was a beautiful day. As the beauty of the day ensued, reports pulled in from many other local schools which indicated that they closed early for the day. Because, I suppose, it was sunny after it sprinkled.

(Now, if I can put aside my snarkiness for a moment, to be fair, Jeddah has no drainage. So if it does rain hard, it can flood quickly. And in Virginia, they don’t understand how to remove snow from the roads. So if it does snow hard, people can be stranded quickly.)

So I’ve learned over the years that weather and culture and location can have a great bearing on a great many things. It can drive a student to the point of questioning how school could possibly continue if a drop of rain is falling from the sky.

NOTE: I’ll leave you with a photo. This is a real photograph – not edited – that shows the downpour of Jeddah. Notice the glistening on the walk. That’s called wetness.)P_20181030_091124

 

A Student of Mine is a Columnist at Arab News

I have a student. His name is Sami. He’s a go-getter.

Last year, he was a stabilizing force on my theatre tech team.

This year, he is my improv partner, as he pops into my room during break and we do these quite creative improv sessions which are funny and enjoyable.

He signed on to be the producer/manager of my upcoming black box experimental piece.

He is an actor who will be in my future productions. No doubt.

He’s the type of kid you love to pick on simply because you love having him around.

Oh, and this eighteen-year-old is also a columnist at Arab News.

Yeah, pretty cool stuff. A couple weeks ago, he sent me an article he was writing and I gave him a few pointers. He goes off and sends it to Arab News who sent him a contract to be one of their opinion columnists.

How awesome is that?

His first piece “Sheltering Children from the Real World Only prepares them for Failure” was just published.

Check out this ARAB NEWS LINK to read it for himself.

Congrats, Sami. Well done!

Now get my show ready!

Writing for Pleasure

Last night I decided to write for pleasure. My pleasure.

Sadly, a lot of writing time can be consumed with the less desirable parts of the trade: marketing, editing, blurb-writing, social media, writing-to-get-the-blasted-thing-done.

We’ve all been there. But when’s the last time you wrote for pleasure, not for purpose.

Much of what I have written this year has been purpose-driven, and, of course, that’s not bad. It’s good actually. Get a plan, stick to it, work hard, reach your goal. That’s been my driving force for years. Luckily, most of the time it has coincided with pleasure, simply because I love to write.

But there is something to be said for deadline-free, purpose-free, just-have-fun kind of writing.

That’s what I’m doing now. I’m writing a dramatic duet.  Just because I want to. How selfishly creative of me. For me, pleasure writing using comes back to writing drama. It’s just so fun to watch the characters begin to form and to have new ideas pop into my head which lead to more ideas. I can get consumed by the narrative and forget about the outer-trappings of the world. To be transported as a writer! How delightful, indeed.

If you haven’t written for pleasure in a while, take a day off from your novel. Refresh your creativity on something that grabs your mind. Allow yourself to “go down the rabbit hole” and forget about the deadlines and the unfinished work ahead of you.

Enjoy the words. Laugh at the characters. Be silly with your expectations. Remember when you had yet to publish anything? When you would sit for hours all alone and laugh at the ridiculous things you’d written. You didn’t care what others thought or whether you should query an agent. You wrote for the love of it. You wrote for pleasure.

I must admit–it’s quite fun to be doing that again.

My Musings about the Mid-Term Election on LoneUmbrella.com

One of my former students runs a terrific site called Lone Umbrella, where he does top-notch, fact-based political analysis. I sure wish I could take credit for his brilliance! But alas, he’s just that good. 

He asked me to be a guest contributor on his site and I had the privilege of writing up my analysis of the upcoming midterm election. Here’s an excerpt:

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Mid-term elections are volatile. Almost always. They historically display the cantankerousness of the American electorate with pristine clarity. Mid-term elections are like the shiny new Christmas toy that finds itself dunked in an April mud puddle simply because you’ve become bored with it. That’s what happens. Two years after a presidential election is just enough time for the euphoria of “change” and “hope” and “greatness” and all other election slogans to wear thin to such a degree that the populace brutally penalizes the president’s party to let the other jokers have their turn messing things up. It’s a cynical cycle without question. The numbers back this up very clearly. Let’s take a look at the data before conjecturing their meaning for 2018.

In post-World War II America—which covers a span of eighteen mid-term elections—the president’s party on average loses 24 seats in the House of Representatives. Currently, there are 235 Republican representatives, 193 Democratic reps with seven vacancies.

Piqued your interest? READ the ENTIRE ARTICLE ON LONE UMBRELLA