(Fear The) Fear The Walking Dead

Hello world.

No preamble today, as time is of the essence.

I don’t like Zombies. I don’t like Zombie movies. I don’t like Zombie books. That’s me. But there are a couple of exceptions. Among the very few is the series “The walking dead“. Continue reading

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Take THAT, UFC200!

Hello everyone, welcome back to another installment of UFC PPV AfterMMAth.

It seems like anyone with the ability to express themselves spoke of one thing and one thing only these past few weeks – UFC200. Continue reading

About Those Resolutions

Hello 2016, Goodbye 2015, Happy New Year everyone!

I’m here to confess another little tidbit. I’m an amateur guitar player. I’m very serious about being an amateur, I’ve been doing this for close to 30 years now. Never had the time, nor the inclination to become professional about this either. It’s too much practice if we want to get down to it, and quite frankly, I am not one to play for a crowd of any kind, so why bother? So yeah, I can pull off some pretty nice tunes (rhythm guitar, forget solos), but that’s just for me, myself and I.

It’s a real kick for me to succeed in playing a riff I like. If I can pull it off, it doesn’t really matter if it’s just part of a song with 10 more riffs. It’s about the chord progression. If I can make it from chord 1 to chord 3, or 8 or whatever without messing it up, I’m satisfied. Those in my immediate proximity might be very irritated until that happens, but what can you do…

Great chord progressions start somewhere, go through some turmoil and can only end with a resolution. You might not understand what I’m saying, but trust me, every riff you like is resolved one way or the other. It’s that chord, or note that let’s you release that breath you were holding. That final note that, only once played, a new progression starts. It’s the progression of different notes that takes you on an emotional ride and the resolution is the satisfying end. It could very well be a surprise, but it is absolutely satisfying.

Stories are like chord progressions. They too, have a beginning, middle and end. They too, take you on an emotional ride, and… yes, they too, should be resolved in a satisfying way.

What does it mean to resolve a story?

Well, stories (good ones) are based – in a nut shell – on the gap between what a character wants, and the hand that life deals her. That creates problems. These problems need to be resolved by the time we put the book down.

Otherwise, we remain frustrated.

Note, that I keep using the terms “resolve” and “satisfy“. These absolutely do not mean that every problem is resolved to our hero’s best interests. It does not mean a “happy end” and it does not even mean our hero stays alive…

It only means that every question raised during this emotional ride gets answered in a logical (logical within the story) and believable way. No loose ends. No little sub plot left hanging. No “leave it to the readers” as in – let them write the end of the story. Yeah, an end might leave things for the reader to ponder, but it’s up to the writer to answer the main questions, to show how each story line ends – even if the end is not absolute (say, a couple gets married – we don’t necessarily have to know if they stay together or have kids [Only if it’s directly tied to an open story question]).

Think about the best books you’ve read. They may differ in many ways, from style to subject matter. One thing I absolutely guarantee they have in common – being great – is that they are all resolved with a satisfying ending.

I sincerely hope that 2015 is ending in a very satisfying way for all of you – and this time I do mean a happy ending. Let’s all ride into the sunset with the loot and the girl, and live happily ever after.

Happy 2016 everyone,

 

UFC Weekend Special – Part 3

Hello there people of the MMA universe and other internet dwellers. WHAT A WEEKEND! What a treat. Short preamble today, mostly to put things in context and since I have a bunch to say down the line.

The great prediction extravaganza starts right here with THIS post.

On Part 1 – we summarize Thursday’s UFC Fight night

On Part 2 – we summarize Friday night’s TUF Finale

On Part 3 (the one you’re currently reading) – we are summarizing UFC 194.

We Roll:

Max Holloway Vs Jeremy Stephens

It seems like this was a classic case of two good strikers respecting each other enough to avoid an all out war. Stephens went for multiple TD attempts – which seems to confirm this, and Max didn’t open up as he usually does. But don’t let this fool you. It wasn’t a bad/boring fight. Just not a slug fest. I picked up 1 for 1 with Holloway’s decision win.

Demain Maia Vs. Gunnar Nelson

Before this fight started I was wondering about one thing only. Will this be a BJJ contest, or would these two guys cancel each other out and opt to strike? Well, after a 15 minutes BJJ clinic by BJJ master Demian Maia, the answer was – neither. Maia just took over and dominated the fight with TD after TD and submission attempt after another. Nelson’s ability to weather this attack is testament to his ability and heart. 2 for 2. Seems like I’m well on my way to a 100% prediction night!

Ronaldo Souza Vs. Yoel Romero

Or am I?…

In my little world, there’s no way Romero knocks out Jacare, so this will either be a decision win for Souza, or a submission win. You know, I don’t like it when judging and refereeing gets in the way, but last night was a case where it just overshadowed the fight and it’s a damn shame. It’s a shame of a title contention magnitude. Leave aside the negligible spoiled prediction rate here. Three things just screamed to high heaven as wrong. One being the overall score. Jacare won rounds 2 and 3. Romero somehow got the decision win… Two, being that phantom 10-8 round… where? when did that happen?… the fact that Yoel dropped Jacare in the first (just a tumble, Jacare was a 100%) and controlled half of the round? Up until then, Jacare was out striking him… how does that translate into 10-8? I just don’t get it. and Three… that fence grab… Jacare – an excellent BJJ practitioner mind you – was well on his way to a beautiful TD when “Mr. No gay for Jesus” grabs the fence… Oh shame on you. What would Jesus do? immediately following that, Yoel drops Jacare for a TD of his own. Now, true, the ref stood them up immediately for the cheat, but come on man… that’s not enough. The judges completely ignored that. A point should have been deducted there. That really pissed me off… now Jacare has to reset his quest for a title shot. 2 for 3.

Chris Weidman Vs. Luke Rockhold

Well, while everyone were busy getting their panties in a bunch for Aldo and McGregor, mine were in a bunch for this one. My own main event of the evening. Having watched Rockhold close up, mauling Phillippou and following him ever since the Strikeforce days I knew he had it in him to beat anyone in MW. He is exactly as advertised. Strong, skilled in all disciplines, hard-working and training in AKA with elite fighters doesn’t hurt him one bit. First round was ok. I even tended to give it to Luke. Second one was definitely Rockhold’s with multiple kicks and strikes. Third started good for Weidman but then he tried a spinning kick and the fight spiraled out of control for him, with Rockhold in full mount and raining leather. Dear Herb, I normally like your reffing decisions. This should have been stopped right there and then. But I get it. A champ gets a chance to redeem himself. Not for long though. Luke picked up where he left off and finished the fight to win the belt. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the only way to win a belt off of a reigning champion. 3 for 4.

Jose Aldo Vs. Conor McGregor

It’s been quite a few hours since that moment in history – and make no mistake, that was historical in UFC terms – and still, It’s hard to find the right words to express the shock. Not that Conor won. I predicted (along with many) that he would. But damn… 13 seconds… I won’t bore you with too much verbiage here. Conor said it all – “Precision beats power and timing beats speed“. The man knows… ask Chad Mendes who’ve been a victim twice in his last fights to exactly that. Jose Aldo is a legend of the sport, and not even that can taint his status. Conor is a legend in the making. I honestly can’t say where his limits are… I’d like to see Frankie/Conor as soon as they’re ready. Regardless of the outcome of this one, I look at the list of LW UFC fighters and drool at the prospect of him going up a weight class… 4 for 5.

Thank you judges for spoiling what should’ve been a perfect prediction night… but it’s all good. 4 out of 5 following the previous night’s 6 out of 7 more than compensates for the miserable 1 out of 4 that started this prediction extravaganza

And it’s not over until Donald Cerrone sings folks!

The next MMA post can be expected following next Saturday’s event, in which we will summarize a December to remember!

We can finally rest a little…

Thank you,

 


Two Faces Of The Same Coin

Welcome back folks,

Hope you’re well on your way to get all your holiday shopping done (cause God knows it ain’t about the holiday anymore…). If you got a minute, I’d like to let you in on a little (not very secretive) secret.

I like the bad guys in books and movies.

I have nothing against a good hero (as have been documented on this blog, more than once… Or twice…), but as likable, capable or strong as the on-screen good guys are, the protagonist is only as good as the antagonist makes him. Want to test this theory? Let’s look at some of the best protagonists:

  • Clarice Starling / Hannibal Lecter – How good is Jodie Foster’s character in this story? You got it. As good as Anthony Hopkins’.
  • We sure loved Jack Nicholson’s McMurphy as opposed by Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher).
  • Dr. Richard Kimble was framed and threatened by some devious men, making his flight and fight far more interesting.

We could run down the imdb database for hours here, but instead I wanted to talk about one “bad guy” in particular. Well, “bad guy” is not really doing him justice. He’d prefer “Outlaw“, or if you insist, a man living truly by his own set of rules.

Boyd Crowder (Walton Goggins)

crowder1

(Image credit: http://www.breitbart.com)

I love Raylan Givens’s character. I love Timothy Oliphant’s job as the Marshal. But try to imagine this with a lesser rival than Boyd. Not only is this a match made in TV heaven, a phenomenal casting job. It is first, and foremost a well crafted character.

A villain can be extremely malicious, cruel, even psychotic. He can be a megalomaniac, demonic and a generally nefarious prick. But every once in a while, you find a villain who is not as extreme. In fact, sometimes, the better villain is someone who is just bad enough to oppose our hero but not very far at all.

The reason I love Boyd Crowder as an antagonist (again, with all credit to Walton Goggins) is that when things are said and done, he is Raylan’s childhood friend. He is a lot like Raylan in many ways (least of which is his attitude towards “norms”). He is nothing if not your normal small town Joe. Sure, he’ll go outside of the law to achieve his goals, and do some really bad things in the process. But not only does he truly believe what he does is right (my favorite kind of villain – a villain who thinks he’s not one), he always play right around the line between right and wrong. Is he hurting people? Yes. Is he looking to hurt people? No. Stay out of his way and you’ll be fine.

Put a Hero who’s all of the above, just inside the confines of law, and you have conflict, but with so much room for story development. These guys can interact in ways that others can’t (not believably anyway). You have freedom to explore developments which may put these rivals on the same side of a fight, while putting their own rivalry “on-hold”.

The amount of banter gold (see a few samples below) couldn’t have possibly be written in, unless there was a significant familiarity and shared experience (and shared partners).

Justified – one of my all time favorite TV shows – ended aptly, with these two friends doing what friends do. Sit down for a chat. There was no real need for these two to go out guns a blazing. It was never their weapon of choice anyway. Raylan might be the fastest gunslinger east of the Mississippi and Boyd was an explosive expert, but what they got, they normally did by using their deep well of words.

And on that note, allow me to end this post by sharing some of these words (credit: imdb.com):

Raylan Givens: I’m Raylan Givens!
Boyd Crowder: No, I’m Raylan Givens!
Raylan Givens: Are you trying to be funny?
Boyd Crowder: A little.

Another one:

Raylan Givens: You didn’t happen to bring your rocket launcher, did you?
Boyd Crowder: I didn’t think to pack one.

Another:

Boyd Crowder: Truth always sounds like lies to a sinner.

And another:

Boyd Crowder: Well if my survival is a happy bi-product of my selfless act, so be it.

One last time…

Raylan Givens: Well, I suppose if I allow myself to be sentimental, despite all that has occurred, there is one thing I wander back to.
Boyd Crowder: We dug coal together.
Raylan Givens: That’s right.

Boyd Crowder: We dug coal together.

If you haven’t watched Justified, too bad. Go watch it. Now.

Until next time,


Hairy lips, healthy balls

Sharing this pearl as I found it highly entertaining 🙂

A ‘Stache should always be accompanied by some form of chin coverage. At the very least a goatee. The same is not true for a beard.

Have a great weekend folks!


BEN TROVATO – Durban Poison

You know who else liked moustaches? I’ll tell you. Hitler. Stalin. Saddam. Gaddafi. Mussolini. That’s who. And here we are, being bullied into growing fanny dusters fit only for tyrants. Movember my ass. Having us walk around with moustaches for a month isn’t going to raise awareness of men’s health. All it will do is make women ridicule us even more than usual.

You mightn’t be so quick to put out a welcome mat on the doorstep of Casa Nostrils if it wasn’t called a moustache, a word that has the ring of the usual French nonsense about it. But what if you lived in Germany, where a moustache is called a schnorrbart? Would you want to be associated with Schnorrvember? Or, if you’re in Iceland, Yfirvaraskeggvember? Never mind if you’re from Slovenia. Those poor bastards would have to celebrate Brkivember. The idea of three vowels in one word is…

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Guest Post – “Writing: Agony Or Ecstasy?” by Christina Ranallo

Happy Monday everyone!

Today, I want to share a motivational post, written by my friend Christina Ranallo of PenPaperWrite. No further preamble necessary. Here it is:

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Raymond Carver said:

“Writing’s not terrible, it’s wonderful. I keep my own hours, do what I please. When I want to travel, I can. I’m doing what I most wanted to do all my life. I’m not into the agonies of creation. “

So why is it that so many writers show up at our writer’s groups with pained expressions when they talk about the craft Carver anointed as wonderful, liberating and life fulfilling?

Did they miss something?

Carver makes writing sound like a dream come true but for the majority of new writers the dream is often a nightmare and it looks like this:

“I keep rewriting and rewriting.”

“I don’t know where to start”.

“I never seem to finish anything.”

Then there is the agony masked by logistics:

“I can only write a paragraph a day because I work.”

“I have no place to write.”

“My family doesn’t understand that I want to write.”,

“I have an old computer” and the list goes on.

Raymond Carver’s casual dismissal of suffering for the sake of creation hides a life filled with obstacles that one would argue caused more than mild upsets along the writer’s path to success.

Carver’s life as a writer started out as a teenage father submitting stories for cash to help ally financial difficulties. In his own words from a Paris Review interview (1983):

“Nobody ever asked me to be a writer. But it was tough to stay alive and pay bills and put food on the table and at the same time to think of myself as a writer and to learn to write.”

Carver turned to drinking full-time, abused his wife, cheated on her and finally got sober, and remarried less than two months before his death from cancer at fifty years old.

Doesn’t sound agony free to me.

The point is Raymond Carver saw writing as wonderful. He saw it as liberating and life fulfilling. Take this as a lesson in focus. Facing obstacles in a matter of fact way leaves writing a path all it’s own.

Whatever task it takes to bring your words to the page do it. Whatever excuses stop you from writing, discard them.

If people tell you that you can’t write, ignore them.

At the end of Raymond Carver’s short story Cathedral a blind man asks the narrator to close his eyes and draw a cathedral.

In the end all creation comes from the same place; the idea waiting to be born, to see the light. How difficult it is to bring that idea into the world is up to you. Avoid the agony or embrace it, either way it’s up to you, the writer to find the wonder.

It’s worth it. Writing is worth it.

Christina

QUESTION: Is there agony in your creative process?

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Can you answer that question?

If you’re a writer, or want to be one, you would’ve drawn some strength from these wise words 🙂

If you liked this, please make sure you visit www.penpaperwrite.com and see how it can help you (I know it can).

See you soon with a post all of my own.