Midnight Matinée

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82 Guiding Lights to a Better Life

The following is more self-help. But I find myself checking this list every time I need some direction in life, writing or creativity.

  1. Ground your attention on yourself. Be conscious at every moment of what you are thinking, sensing, feeling, desiring, and doing.
  2. Always finish what you have begun.
  3. Whatever you are doing, do it as well as possible.
  4. Do not become attached to anything that can destroy you in the course of time.
  5. Develop your generosity ‒ but secretly.
  6. Treat everyone as if he or she was a close relative.
  7. Organize what you have disorganized.
  8. Learn to receive and give thanks for every gift.
  9. Stop defining yourself.
  10. Do not lie or steal, for you lie to yourself and steal from yourself.
  11. Help your neighbor, but do not make him dependent.
  12. Do not encourage others to imitate you.
  13. Make work plans and accomplish them.
  14. Do not take up too much space.
  15. Make no useless movements or sounds.
  16. If you lack faith, pretend to have it.
  17. Do not allow yourself to be impressed by strong personalities.
  18. Do not regard anyone or anything as your possession.
  19. Share fairly.
  20. Do not seduce.
  21. Sleep and eat only as much as necessary.
  22. Do not speak of your personal problems.
  23. Do not express judgment or criticism when you are ignorant of most of the factors involved.
  24. Do not establish useless friendships.
  25. Do not follow fashions.
  26. Do not sell yourself.
  27. Respect contracts you have signed.
  28. Be on time.
  29. Never envy the luck or success of anyone.
  30. Say no more than necessary.
  31. Do not think of the profits your work will engender.
  32. Never threaten anyone.
  33. Keep your promises.
  34. In any discussion, put yourself in the other person’s place.
  35. Admit that someone else may be superior to you.
  36. Do not eliminate, but transmute.
  37. Conquer your fears, for each of them represents a camouflaged desire.
  38. Help others to help themselves.
  39. Conquer your aversions and come closer to those who inspire rejection in you.
  40. Do not react to what others say about you, whether praise or blame.
  41. Transform your pride into dignity.
  42. Transform your anger into creativity.
  43. Transform your greed into respect for beauty.
  44. Transform your envy into admiration for the values of the other.
  45. Transform your hate into charity.
  46. Neither praise nor insult yourself.
  47. Regard what does not belong to you as if it did belong to you.
  48. Do not complain.
  49. Develop your imagination.
  50. Never give orders to gain the satisfaction of being obeyed.
  51. Pay for services performed for you.
  52. Do not proselytize your work or ideas.
  53. Do not try to make others feel for you emotions such as pity, admiration, sympathy, or complicity.
  54. Do not try to distinguish yourself by your appearance.
  55. Never contradict; instead, be silent.
  56. Do not contract debts; acquire and pay immediately.
  57. If you offend someone, ask his or her pardon; if you have offended a person publicly, apologize publicly.
  58. When you realize you have said something that is mistaken, do not persist in error through pride; instead, immediately retract it.
  59. Never defend your old ideas simply because you are the one who expressed them.
  60. Do not keep useless objects.
  61. Do not adorn yourself with exotic ideas.
  62. Do not have your photograph taken with famous people.
  63. Justify yourself to no one, and keep your own counsel.
  64. Never define yourself by what you possess.
  65. Never speak of yourself without considering that you might change.
  66. Accept that nothing belongs to you.
  67. When someone asks your opinion about something or someone, speak only of his or her qualities.
  68. When you become ill, regard your illness as your teacher, not as something to be hated.
  69. Look directly, and do not hide yourself.
  70. Do not forget your dead, but accord them a limited place and do not allow them to invade your life.
  71. Wherever you live, always find a space that you devote to the sacred.
  72. When you perform a service, make your effort inconspicuous.
  73. If you decide to work to help others, do it with pleasure.
  74. If you are hesitating between doing and not doing, take the risk of doing.
  75. Do not try to be everything to your spouse; accept that there are things that you cannot give him or her but which others can.
  76. When someone is speaking to an interested audience, do not contradict that person and steal his or her audience.
  77. Live on money you have earned.
  78. Never brag about amorous adventures.
  79. Never glorify your weaknesses.
  80. Never visit someone only to pass the time.
  81. Obtain things in order to share them.
  82. If you are meditating and a devil appears, make the devil meditate too.

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9 Points for Developing a Narrative

Do you ever get stuck in developing a narrative? Once upon a time, I’d get stuck at the most unexpected stage of the story and then sit there tapping my teeth – it’s a thing – for hours. Imagine what my dentist thought.

Since this sort of thing happened as often as the postman visiting your mum, I decided to find a reliable framework to resolve me issue. Thus, these 9 points for forming a narrative. Don’t ask me where I found them, because I forgot.

The idea is to ask a question that is also the running theme for the story. Then you kind of answer that question in 9 stages or acts — similar to a Vaudeville show. Check this out:
*SPOILER WARNING*
What happens if we could change destiny?
And one man’s in charge of it
And he spends his time preventing murders
Now, there’s no murder
Until the day that man’s setup!
Now he’s forced to solve: Who set him up?
And he discovers it was the one man he could trust 
And we learn – after he stops this man: humanity cannot have the power to change destiny
Because humanity would abuse that power
— Minority Report
You can apply this framework to other movies too — give it a go. I applied it to Tarkovsky‘s Stalker and learned a lot about how its narrative actually works within the film, which is incredibly visceral.
Now, I’ve used the framework over a dozen times and it’s given me some invaluable insight into crafting narrative. Remarkable! 
You can even change things around. I won’t tell you how, but I’m sure you’ll figure it out.
Of course these 9 points wouldn’t work on every story — that’d be like having the Key to the Universe — Oh Master of the Universe, strike thy lightning upon our souls! But it does work for a lot of movies and shows too.
You’re thinking: At last! Well, once you try it, drop me a comment to let me know what you think. What did you change? What did you do different? Often the writing will reveal secrets of the story that you can use to enrich the work — Sensational!
Later
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Warning: Some personal love poetry

I love poetry. Its cadences, economy and brevity inspire me. I’ve even reviewed some on this blog. That said, I’m no good at it. I like reading it — and I learn some stuff from it. Here’s something I wrote to my ex:

Through deepest night and darkest hours, your smile and touch – your look, your wiles – bring me hope and care, love and madness. 

In love is madness and in you is hope so pure so true, I go mad at times knowing this truth, because I don’t want you to slip away – it’d be fruitless and blue. 

So I do stupid things like a child with fire, but I dowse those flames with guile because I admire. 

I admire your heart, your soul and beauty; your kindness, your candour, you’re a cutie. Please bear with me, I’m still growing. Hopefully with you, forever, old, wise and with knowing. 

Love you, babe. 

Anyway, reviewing poetry is an interesting thing. You can learn a lot about language, grammar and emotion. I should read more, and I recommend Poem Hunter. And if you must know, she broke my heart – now filled with sorrow, but a star does rise on each and every morrow.

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Body swap movies 

Body swap movies offer such a rich buffet of comedic conflicts that I literally enjoy anyone that comes on the TV. 

Probably would be an idea to try writing one. What could go wrong?

Imagine you swapped bodies with — the cat down the road! The priest across the street! The lady next door trying to get you to commit spiritual suicide! Whatever!

Yep, I reckon it would have to be great because that type of shit always is.

I found some old stuff…

Electric eyes you cannot ignore. These marbles were originally intended for Lord Jinn. Drifting in and out of the dream? It’s exhilarating… walking between dimensions.

Did you know this is the 7th? Imagination is Lucky no. 7. You helm from the 3rd, correct? Tsk, it’s not for traveling – not at all. Space is too spread out where you’re from and the fabric is missing folds, you see.

But I’m busy, busy! You must hurry along now. The Lord does not tolerate lower dimensioners. Plus no one likes dying on foreign soil. Run along now, run. Our Lord is coming and I have much to do.

You step back. Don’t trip or tumble. The leaves skip and jump as you roll away from the summit, and the warning of the Clock Knight.

~ This is from one of the first stories I ever wrote. Copyrighted, of course! Such nostalgia.