Think / Able - and Check out My Parkinson's Facebook Page

Think / Able - and Check out My Parkinson's Facebook Page
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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween!

            Halloween is a great time of year. Kids get to dress up (as do adults who want to be the Scream villain, the V for Vendetta guy, superheroes, or a sexy nurse). They get to beg for candy that will rot their teeth, which is completely different than it was when we were kids (because back then it was a rite of passage, and the candy NEVER caused cavities). People of all ages get to go to spooky seasonal places, and yeah, it’s a fun time, no matter how scary you like it (I'm a PG13 guy - I don't like rooting for villain slashers).
            In the past and present, we’ve done the pumpkin carving thing.

             In the past, we did Salem for Halloween (best year ever, if only because of the town’s vibe and the costumes).

            In the past, we did big pumpkins.

            In the past, we did different ghost acting venues where we were able to shoot zombies, see Pennhurst commercialized (a tragic place where the state / families institutionalized people with serious mental health issues – the workers often abused these people), and go to the seasonal stuff at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. We also saw ghost talks by authors.

            This year, we did Rise of the Jack O Lanterns on Long Island. Other than Salem, this was the best Halloween ever! So much skill and talent to go with the imagination... fantastic stuff!! For us, it was a 4-hour drive, but it was worth it. Rather than review it, I'll let you see my pictures and let you know that it was awesome!!

            All of our photos are HERE.

Monday, October 30, 2017

On Writing...

            As Halloween week begins, I get ready to present my supernatural writing at the school where I tutor. I did this last year, too; however, last year, I performed on Halloween, and this year is the final day of Samhain, which is a 2-day pagan festival of the dead (versions of it became Mexico’s Day of the Dead). Events at school necessitated a shuffle.
            If you’d be interested to read my paranormal / supernatural / superhero excerpts, you can go here. If you have a Kindle, I’m giving my 2 books away free, but only digitally here. Print stuff costs, but it's minimal (I make about $1 a book with these prices - sometimes less) at varying costs, self publisher Create Space doesn't give leeway there (Amazon Kindle gives 5 days free). If you'd like Create Space advice, feel free to ask.
            That said, in honor of all things writing, I thought I’d give my advice to the writers here on these sites (many of whom want to express their life history / struggles / interests in blog or story, be it Parkinson's, hiking, whatever) about what makes good (in my opinion) writing (based only on advice I’ve given and heard in 17 years of teacher – not that I’m an expert since I’m not). 
             I also recommend reading Stephen King’s On Writing and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. I’m sure you know him. She is a positive and empowering women’s issues author, but men will like it, too. I encourage you to read her as well.

1)      Most importantly, if you don’t feel you have anything to say, you don’t, BUT if you feel and flow through your ideas, whether I like your topic or not (or other people on this site do or don't), your chosen audience who likes your topic will. That said, I bet you do have good things to say! Confidence, confidence, confidence! Show us your stuff! Remember, I can teach commas. I can't teach confidence. How can you find that?
2)      Sometimes, you gotta put your cojones on the line (or in the words of Negan on The Walking Dead – your lady balls). Yes, there are haters, and yes, there are trolls, but I bet there are fans, too. You won’t know unless you try. Besides, if E.L. James can make a career out of 50 Shades, there’s an audience for your good stuff, too (by the way, she's self published and began by writing fan fiction - go figure). On another note, how many times did J.K. Rowling get rejected before she released all those best sellers, before they became movies, before they were made into amusement parks, and before she had enough money to buy a small country? The story about the answer is here. You may not do those things, but your fans await what you will do for them!

3)    You need to prewrite. On a scale of 1-10, it’s a 15 in order of importance. I brain write A LOT before I go to paper. Often, I will jot notes down. Then, I organize my mind’s jumbled thoughts (outline / contemplate flow of ideas and words  / cut and paste) to the point where I have a skeleton in my mind before I write a skeleton on my computer. Over time, the bones gets flesh. Eventually, it gets serious detailing (sometimes, I’ll rewrite 20-30+ times – really). Then, I can foreshadow and do all kinds of "crazy good things!"

4)      You can’t proofread enough. Edit, re-edit, and re-edit it until (as Mike Desantis, my quantitative measures teacher – RIP - would say), you’ve done your best; now move on For you, this means go to a real editor. Take this person’s suggestions, and then fix the rest. Re-edit one more time for good measure. You won’t be perfect (nobody ever is), but you’ll be close enough!
5)      You need to figure out a writing area and get comfortable there. Kick out the kids, significant others, and phones. Blare your music or work in silence. Whatever it takes!
6)      Opening your prose up to expressing your life and your characters’ lives completely is a good thing. Boring characters are static (they never change), and they are boring. Round characters grow. No character is all good, all of the time. The same can be said for evil characters. Think about real lives that you learned about. Who do you like and why? What were the things that caused that person's blemishes? How are they overcome? If you're going around looking for God, well, you're only going to find God in God. People are flawed. Remember that while writing.
7)      Be detailed. Be descriptive. Be simple and straightforward. Flow between sentences and paragraphs. Poetic tones are better left for the poets. Throw your thesaurus away. How? Why? Details? And so? Says who? One liners like this work.
8)      Read… a lot. It’s important to expose yourself to multiple genres in action.
9)      Watch well-written shows (I recommend This is Us) a lot. It’s important to expose yourself to multiple genres to see life expressed by voices.
10)  Practice writing… a lot. Malcolm Gladwell talked about your 10,000 hours. Have at ‘em.
11)  Ask questions to people whose writing you like. Praise them. You want this. They want this. 
12)  Write positive reviews on Amazon when possible. Remember, criticizing other writers in a “you suck” way was done best by Mark Twain in "Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses". You can actually learn a lot from his rules of writing in there. That said, just remember that if you make fun of E.L. James or Stephanie Meyer, they’re rich, and you’re not. When you get rich, you can go back and forth with them.
13) Your writing is your baby, but you can change and mold this baby. In fact, you need to. You don't need to love it warts and all if you can make it better by changing it. On that note, read and reread your stuff.
14) Have heroes and mentors in writing and life.
15) If someone tells you that you will never be a good teacher / writer until you learn grammar, listen to said person. Thanks, Ron Borkert, for that advice in 1998. I'd like to think I figured a lot of this out, but I'm always learning. And on that note, always learn, always contemplate, and always imagine better. You can do it!

And here’s a gift from Jack Kerouac (grammar errors are his):



1.      Scribble secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
2.      Submissive to everything, open, listening
3.      Try never get drunk outside yr own home
4.      Be in love with yr life
5.      Something that you feel will find its own form
6.      Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7.      Blow as deep as you want to blow
8.      Write what you want bottomless from the bottom of the mind
9.      The unspeakable visions of the individual
10.   No time for poetry but exactly what is
11.   Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12.   In traced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13.   Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14.   Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15.   Telling the true story of the world in interior monologue
16.   The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17.   Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
18.   Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19.   Accept loss forever
20.   Believe in the holy contour of life
21.   Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22.   Dont think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23.   Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24.   No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
25.   Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26.   Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27.   In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28.   Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29.   You’re a Genius all the time

30.   Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Pro-Choice Parkinson's (All about choosing my own destiny - not letting my destiny be chosen for me by some nasty disease)!

            In my life with Parkinson’s, I often think about what choices I do and don’t have. People have our best interest at heart, and we don’t always want to think about what our best interests are (especially when they don't feel good). For instance, I’d rather eat food I like than eat healthy things or pay more for healthy things. I’d rather not tell people I love that I’m having issues with medicines that are complicated and scary, when I know it will worry them since it’s worrying me. However, doing things like this is part of my new normal, so I need to “suck it up and do what I need to do.”
            Nevertheless, if I did have choices, this is what I would choose to do.
1.      I’d spend more time with my wife, just cuddled up, even if it’s only to do things like catch up on This is Us or The Goldbergs. Heck, I'd choose to do more things like watching old school air shows and pumpkin carving.

2.      I’d choose to use my magical Jedi powers to get people to ask how my Parkinson’s is. While I don’t want to scare you or to be Parkinson’s 24/7, it would be nice to be asked how I am as this is part of my everyday person (you don't have to be afraid of me crying "ableism" if you do or at all / most people mean well, even if they don't know how to say it - those who mean it just suck). Generally, I’ll summarize it and won’t bombard you with a list of medicines, effects, and bathroom times / notations, unless I’m writing about it as a blog post for people who want to know a lot more about Parkinson’s. Even here, I'm working to keep it shorter.
3.      I’d shut these damn tremors off without medicine, pharmaceutical or holistic.
4.      I’d spend more time with family. At the very least, I would have already made time to show them my Iceland pictures and have seen their pictures of my nephew Dylan at Reptile Land.

5.      I’d choose to be on vacation somewhere warm and relatively tropical or archaeological. Right now, the Great Petroglyph Tour or Bora Bora would suffice.

6.      I’d have a comfortable temperature 24/7 where my dystonia foot’s toes and my knuckles wouldn’t feel arthritic. My toes feel 90° off and my knuckles are keeping me from speed typing the end of my supernatural / superhero book so I can release it ASAP and get on with my Parkinson’s book so I can get back to working on my next supernatural book follow up. I've got a lot of things to write before Parkinson's takes my digits.
7.      I’d choose to enact a law that keeps the Yankees from getting back in the World Series through trades or free agency. Right now, I’m OK whether the Dodgers or Astros win… as long as Verlander and Kershaw both win.

8.      I’d pay someone to invent 0 calorie chocolate iced donuts stuffed with brownie batter AND 0 calorie V+S cheese steaks. They can do pizza, hot dogs, chicken, burgers, and fries, too. 

9.      I’d find more time to watch my nephew dance to Sic Him on a Chicken by Zac Brown and Thunderstruck by AC / DC when he’s not playing with his snakes.

10.  I’d be as happy as my nephew playing with his toy snakes.
11.  I’d go to the Faroe Islands to see the Northern lights, but that would all be a part of a cruise through the Orkneys, Shetlands, and back to Iceland.

12.  I’d choose to find more stories of people who inspire me. I know there's a lot more out there.
13.  I’d choose to take less naps and more swims and hikes.

14.  I’d choose to find writing options and lecture presentation opportunities like this one.

15.  I’d choose to be less negative, a lot less negative.
16.  I’d also use my Jedi powers to freeze my brain when it goes through Parkinson’s anxiety moments. See #15.
17.  I’d find time for more humor in my life. Kevin Hart and Jeff Dunham live in person can’t come soon enough, but Dave Chappelle on Netflix is pretty dang good, too.

18.  I’d choose to find more supernatural inspiration with shows like Stranger Things, The Walking Dead, and the first season of Heroes.

19.  I’d used my Jedi mind powers to stop that arthritic feeling in my left knee. There’s a lot of good vistas and outdoor staircases to hike and see, like this one at McAfee Knob in Virginia, which I really need to see.

20.  I’d choose to be more forgiving and loving. I'm working on it. I swear.

Thanks for reading! Check back soon for more and be sure to read through my archives!