The Matrix and God Are Blowin’ In The Wind

If I asked you to name the first Bob Dylan song that comes to mind, what would it be? Continue reading

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Book Report – December 11th 2014

Hello everyone and welcome back.

It slowed down here a notch this week, but that doesn’t mean I was idle. In fact, I was everything but idle.

While I enjoy writing these blog posts, I do have my main project in the works and have been for a while now. To recap, after writing a second draft for my first novel, I decided to use that experience and write the story that begged to be written. I’ve placed Novel #1 on figurative ice and started Novel #2 from scratch.

What that means is of course, coming up with a new idea, concept and create a plot, A to Z. It means a heck of a lot more, of course, but with your permission, I’d skip the lecture and summarize this by “writing a lot of words that move the story forward, from the introduction of my hero through to tying all loose ends.”

So words I’ve written this week. Plenty of those things. 14,068 words this week, but who’s counting? In terms of progress, I obviously feel great. I’m at the part of the story where writing becomes as fast as – hopefully – it would be reading. Think last quarter of the book when the heat is on.

You might be wondering what type of book I’m writing, to which the answer is – A politically charged thriller.

So there you have it. That’s what yours truly has been up to these past few days. I tried to keep this place interesting with a fantastic blog post by Jake Threadgood about his experience in Iran. Until I complete my first draft (Judging by current rate, we’re talking end of 2014), you may notice slower updates on this here blog, but stay tuned. I promise some shenanigans.

For now, I write, cause writers write, they just do, that’s how we roll!

madafaka1

About the size… Does it matter?

Hello everyone, and thank you new followers. I shouldn’t take that for granted of course, so if I haven’t told you lately that I love you, there you go 🙂

As you may have noticed, we’ve been talking about matters of life or death here lately.

So if I may (and let’s face it, I may. My blog my rules!), Allow me to indulge in a question that’s on many people’s mind which is not a life/death scenario, yet intrigues men and women alike. The question of… sizedoes it matter?

See, from my experience, these things come in all sizes and colors. There are big, thick ones. There are big but thin ones. Small and thick, small and thin. Personally I don’t care, as long as they give me enough pleasure. Of course, there are times when I look at one and say “How the hell am I going to take all this in???”

I’ve heard people say “but it’s too short.” or “It’s too thin”. I’ve heard people complain that it should be bigger. Hell, I even heard people say it should be shorter. Much shorter. But really, what counts? The quality or quantity?

Let me ask you people this then – What do you intend to do with this thing? Well, can you do it regardless of size?

Oh, excuse me just a second.

Just so we’re all on the same page here (pun intended) – we are talking about books here. You knew that, right?

What else did you think I was going on about? Oh, do you kiss your mama with that mouth!?

But I digress.

So. Sizes.

As I said, I don’t really mind how thick a book is. I’ve read a series of 4 books, with north of 800 pages each by Tad Williams and enjoyed them just as I enjoyed a 180 pages book by Ursula Le Guin.

The answer to this question, at least in my book (notice the crafty word-play…) is shorter than a novel.
Your book should be as long as it takes to give the reader your story from start to end, but no longer than that. Now, putting aside style, editing, and other aspects of writing without which there shouldn’t even be a book to begin with…

Consider these:

  • Your plot is complete, from the introduction and through to a satisfactory conclusion.
  • Your sub-plot/s have been resolved.
  • Your characters, mainly the protagonist and the few other significant ones have gotten the chance to come to life.
  • Your story delivered on its premise.
  • Your book includes only what is necessary to move your story forward

Well, in that case, does it matter if it took a 100 pages or 1000? Well, putting aside questions like “Who would buy a book with 1000 pages?”
Of course, different genres have some “standards” and you might want to think about these points above if you’re way off.

In other words – “Too short” likely means you didn’t tell your story (not all of it), and “Too long” might mean you either should have stopped writing sooner, or you may want to check for “filler” (Those pages where there are a lot of words but little story).

I’m going to stop this post right here, as to not make it too long. If you think it’s too short, and that I missed something, why don’t you tell me about it right here?

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, Thank you all for stopping by. I appreciate it year-round.

Better than a thousand hollow words

Welcome back folks. It’s nice of you to drop by again.

Today, I want to share a conversation with you. Just a normal Q&A, back and forth, chitchat between two people.

One of them is me. The other one, we will call M.I.F for reasons which will become apparent as you read.

This conversation took place in Facebook, as many these days do. Between two friends who have never met in real life. In light of this, the nature of the conversation is of course, trying to understand who the other person is. What he likes, dislikes and to try and get a peek into his views of the world. Just 2 guys talking here. Also, please excuse some grammar and spelling errors. Both of us speak English as second language.

Here goes:

Gil: Please recommend three places to visit in your country.

M.I.F: To Americans, Israelis and perhaps British, I recommend the following. I said America and Israel cause they have a bad image (perception) of Iran. Not all of them but I know many of them do. These three countries can meet the real Iran. We like guests. We’d especially welcome Israeli people, because in the past, before the Islamic revolution of 1979 many Jews lived in iran and also thousand years ago there was a really good relationship between Persians and Jewish people. Even now in Iran, there are many Jews, Muslims, Christians, many atheists and then Zarathustra live in Iran. We want peace with America and Israel, don’t listen to the media outlets, maybe about 70% Iranians are the friends of peace and they do not agree with this Islamic republic of Iran, and about 70% of Iranians disagree with these Islamic rules and this regime in Iran. They are not happy with that because before 1979 Iran was a free country like the west and we NEVER, EVER had any Islamic rules in Iran and these Islamic rules came to my country from Arabic countries. You can read about this also and make sure my words are correct. Any way, I would welcome all guests to Iran and i hope to see a good relation again between Iran, Israel and America.

Gil: What kind of music do you like? Any favorite artists?

M.I.F: I love sonati (traditional Persian music). I listen to rap, rock, Reggae, and all kinds of music. I don’t hate any kind of music, If that music gives me a good feeling i will listen to it (lol). My favorite artist is Homayoun Shajarian, a Persian singer who sings sonati, and also the Persian rapper (hichkas). I like 50 cent, Bob Marley, Eminem, and many other artists.

Gil: What sports do you like (If you do)? Any favorite teams? Athletes?

M.I.F: I love cycling as I was a cyclist, cars racing, swimming and many kinds of sport, my favorite team is the biking team of Astana, lotto, Columbia htc team etc. My favorite athletes are Marco Pantani, Alberto Contador, Mark Cavendish, Lance Armstrong etc.

Gil: What was the last movie you watched? Would you recommend it?

M.I.F: As i love comedies, my favorite movies were Dictator, Ted, The hangover, American pie etc. I recommend these movies if you didn’t see them (lol).

Gil: The lonely island scenario. What book would you take with you?

M.I.F: (lol) Weird question. If i was there, I think i wouldn’t need Quran(koran) or any holy book cause there is no Allah or god in that time to help me or any different god from different religion. This is my belief. I’d want a book about: how can i live in The lonely island and what can I do and what do I need and how can I run away from this hell (lol). Also, to spend my time with other books, I prefer to read the beautiful Persian poems from Maulana Rumi, Saadi, Hafiz, Omar Khayyam, Ferdowsi etc. I love Omar Khayyam and I think his book is good to spend my time. Let me write one of his poems:

 Khayyam, if you are intoxicated with wine, enjoy! If you are seated with a lover of thine, enjoy! In the end, the Void the whole world employ Imagine thou art not, while waiting in line, enjoy!

Meaning: In life devote yourself to joy and love Behold the beauty of the peaceful dove Those who live, in the end must all perish Live as if you are already in heavens above

Gil: Who was (or is) your greatest inspiration?

M.I.F: My inspiration person is Cyrus the great father of Persia (Iran) from 2600 years ago. When he said respect to all people with any beliefs and anyone is free to choose his/her religion or way and many beautiful words he said on his first charter of human rights in the world about 2600 years ago. He was a great man. I also love Maulana Rumi the Persian (Iranian) poet when he said: Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu Buddhist, Sufi, or Zen. Not any religion or cultural system. I am not from the East or the West, not out of the ocean or up from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not composed of elements at all. I do not exist, am not an entity in this world or in the next, did not descend from Adam and Eve or any origin story. My place is placeless, a trace of the traceless. Neither body or soul. I belong to the beloved, have seen the two worlds as one and that one call to and know, first, last, outer, inner, only that breath breathing human being. or one of other poems of him is:I profess the religion of love, Love is my religion and my faith. My mother is love My father is love My prophet is love My God is love I am a child of love I have come only to speak of love. Etc.

Gil: What did you (or do you still) want to be when you grow up?

M.I.F: Well I am happy with what I have and so it should be. I have my 2 shops as I’m 21 years old. It’s true, we say people have many dreams to have all they want and each one of us has different wishes. Some can and their dreams will come true as they work hard for their wishes and some can’t because they didn’t try, or maybe their life changed by other things and they couldn’t do something to make their dreams come true. This world is too weird. My dream is peace between everyone. Each one of us, different countries, and I’m trying to help this world to be in peace. A big/hard wish but I hope slowly this wish will come true too, and many wishes I have which are not just about myself, but rather about the world or even my land Iran. I’m not selfish so i don’t have too much dreams for myself. I am happy with my life.

Gil: If a movie was made about you, who would be playing your part?

M.I.F: I’d prefer that I act in that movie (lol) because I think I can be a good actor and that movie will be more appealing, as it’s my life and I can act all feeling so true, and it will be just the true feeling in each part of my life in that movie.

Gil: What do you value the most about your friends?

M.I.F: Friends always help each other. With my good friend, we help each other, we have fun, When he or she is sad I’m sad, the valued thing with the real friends is that they don’t leave you alone and in the lonely moments they are with you.

Gil: What do you consider the most important lesson life taught you?

M.I.F:As I’m silly sometimes, I do stupid things. Don’t  laugh (lol). I’m sure you did too because we are all human and each one of us do the wrong things sometimes. All of humans, even the biggest persons. Experience – that’s what we get, sometimes. When I make mistakes, I will not be sad about it, maybe you can’t believe that, but I will be happy because it will be experience and is like a medal for me. Or an achievement (lol). It’s true and I’m not kidding. We should never be sad for making mistakes because any mistake is a step towards victory. I believe that we should never give up.

M.I.F: Which places do you like to visit? which place you choose for living (except the place you living now)?

Gil: I appreciate the greatness of nature Vs. the contrasting humbleness of men. For that reason, places that interest me are places where that contrast is evident. Examples include the grand Canyon in the US, the Amazon, Antarctica. I will likely not make it to most of these, but would be happy to see some. If there’s one place I’d like to live it’s the Golan Heights at the north of Israel. A beautiful place.

M.I.F: Which pet would you like to have? which pet wouldn’t you like?

Gil: As far as pets, I’m a dog person. I had a few and loved them. Currently taking a break from pets as I have enough on my plate. I don’t particularly like cats (Sorry internet :)) and I’d never keep a wild animal captive.

M.I.F: Out of the books you read, what are your favorite books?

Gil: Good thing you asked in the plural form, as I have quite a few. The books that really had an impact of me include: 1984/George Orwell, The Man In The Maze/Robert Silverberg, Lord Of The Rings/JRR Tolkien, Otherland/Tad Williams and Foundation/Isaac Asimov among others.

M.I.F: Which behavior don’t you like with people?

Gil: I will phrase it that way, people who do not have capacity for compassion. I feel sad for these folks. No matter what happens in our lives, there’s always someone who might have it less fortunate.

M.I.F: Which person is your biggest inspiration person? and why?

Gil: I’d have to say that on a personal level, my father was and still is my biggest inspiration. A person who’s done his best to be positive, honest and hard-working, who put his family’s needs ahead of his own. A person who fought Cancer for years, so he can see his kids reach a stage in their life where he could let go. A person who did not need anyone’s approval to be a good person. Another person who I’ve always thought highly of is Martin Luther King who showed that non-violence can achieve great things and overcome great wrongs.

M.I.F: What kind of music do you like to hear?

Gil: I love Rock music of many kinds. Some of my favorites include Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Bruce Springsteen, Nirvana and many many more. I’m also a big fan of Israeli singers who mix rock, and other western styles with middle eastern influences. Look up ‘Ehud Banai’ (Who I believe is from a Persian descent) in YouTube 🙂 Another Persian Israeli singer is Rita. Whether I like her style or not, her voice is simply amazing.

M.I.F: What are your dreams and wishes?

Gil: I am very modest in that regard. I believe I share the great dream of being happy. I do my best to be happy at all times, regardless of circumstances. I find that negative feelings tend to invite more such feelings into our lives. Outside of myself, I hope that people will find a way to live with each other in peace. So many lives, so much energy, money and resources are directed towards hate… it makes me wonder how can we not see that directing these to peaceful and productive existence would make this world so much better.

M.I.F: What is your purpose in life? And tell me about ultimate goal in your life.

Gil: This is a question I am still trying to answer myself 🙂 My ultimate goal in life is to try to live in peace with myself and others.

M.I.F: Which person did you want to be? and why?

Gil: As a youngster I wanted to be a DJ on the radio. I love music and always wanted to be the one to share it with people. These days I just want to be the best me I can possibly be.

M.I.F: Tell me about the biggest and important thing you learned from this world.

Gil: There are many great lessons I learned (and I have plenty of room for more). Perhaps the most important thing I learned was to understand that I’m responsible for everything in my life. To realize that nothing in the past could be changed and that the future is not here yet, therefore, I can only change what I do in the present. Because of that realization, I choose to avoid falling into the pitfall called regret, forgive myself and others and do my best at present time.

I hope you enjoyed our conversation. To complete Buddha’s quote in the title

Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.

I hope you did not find any of these word hollow. Each one of these, and so many more that are spoken every day, are meant to bring about the goal of many in the middle east – Peace.

My Iranian Friend could not be named in this forum to avoid persecution in his homeland.

I’m grateful for your cooperation my friend!

We both met on Facebook as part of the Israel-Love-Iran group and one of the goals of this group is to encourage communication between people of these two countries. I wanted to share this, and encourage others to have more of these! We are not our leaders, we are not politicians, we’re people and as you could see above, we have no problem with each other.

Feel free to share this post, spread the word. Hopefully one day, we could meet in Tel Aviv or in Tehran and chat over some coffee. Until then, Peace, Shalom, man solh raa arezou mikonam.

Come on and ride on the peace train!

What have you done for Peace lately?

Until next time,

Just a little of that human touch

Welcome back folks, nice to see you again.

I was contemplating what my next post might be and the more I thought, the more I realized that there’s just so much in this world that bores me… Don’t get me wrong, I’m a curious guy and there’s a lot of things to marvel at. But while resting my head on the pillow last night, something crystallized somewhere in that gray matter box.

See, you can tell me about your new car. It could be a beautiful piece of machinery, with the best parts and a fantastic set of perks. It could be the fastest, strongest, most awesome looking car in the world, and all I’d have to offer would be “Does it take you from point A to point B without breaking down?”

You can also tell me about your one year travel to _____ (fill in the blank) with great details. You can describe the night sky as seen from a specific cave once every 46 years, or how this or that rock hangs by the hair for a millennium and you had a ham sandwich in its shade. All you’d get from me is “Got some photos?”

Please don’t take that personally. I get bored easily.

But what I came to understand last night is that the reason I get bored with such things is that they lack just the one ingredient I am so interested in. Just a little of that human touch.

If all we’re talking about is an object, or a pretty sight then trust me, I can appreciate it all by my lonesome. But if you got a story for me about that car salesman who sold you that fancy car, I’m all ears.

Of course, I then had to go to YouTube and play that marvelous Springsteen song (embedded below) and marvel again at his fantastic writing skills, which in turn led me to the next piece of wisdom 🙂

We write stories. Some of them are great, some are epic. Go ahead and think of any great book you read. They are all stories about human (or parallel entity) interaction aren’t they? They could be epics spanning time and space. They could be humorous, tragic, romantic or otherwise. They could play out in magnificent scenery with descriptions that only the best wordsmiths could come up with. But when you’re asked to say what the story is about, you would have to say “It’s about people. interacting. or not.”

It’s all about that human touch in the end of the day.

With that, I’ll bid you farewell and go seek some of that human touch myself. Until next time…

You get a 100!

Woo Hoo! This makes it a hundred “Hellos” and “Welcomes” to my humble virtuabode 🙂

Huzzah! It's the 100th post!

I know that there’s nothing really special about the 100th post other than to yours truly, yet, I am quite amazed I got here and still going. So kudos moi!

So, to celebrate this festive event what I decided to do is…. drum roll…. unveil the Gil Shalev Wall Of Fame project! Trumpets!

10 walls with 10 first inductees by category. That makes it a 100 inductions. all worthy of a 100% appreciation.

I’m starting with a 100 and every 100 posts will add a 100 more, so no need to ask “Where is___?”.

These lists are not ordered, these are not a “top 10” lists. Ok?

Click the photos to go to the relevant wall of fame!

Cool, right?

Songs

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Albums

Albumcollagesm

Guitarists

Guitaristscollagesm

Singers

SingersCollagesm

Books

Bookscollagesm

Writers

Writerscollagesm

Films

filmscollagesm

TV Series

TVcollagesm

Soccer

soccercollagesm

MMA

MMACollagesm

It took some thinking, and some crafting so that explains the delay. I wanted this to be special 🙂

Would love to hear what you think.

Energy renewed!

Hello world!

I’m back and with some renewed energy. It has been about a month since I had to almost completely ignore this blog of mine, and I have missed it. Life wasn’t (and indeed ISn’t) boring, as you could see in my previous posts I was away from home, working in Seattle and had to juggle more than one major task. Not to say I am not busy these days… But where I had to do my “day job” during the day as well as the evenings (leaving scarce time to write) I can now at least use the evenings to work on my writing. Continue reading