Motion picture, baby

The Quarter Percent 👈🏽 DOWNLOAD BETA VERSION

Blurb A
During thirteen intense days of summer, 2030, profit is territory, and the quarter percent wield influence and prestige to fight for more of it. Behind the screens, a reclusive entrepreneur is rewriting the rules of the game. As the rules change, a former social media influencer struggles to adjust. On the Continent, a popular and charismatic king works covertly to undermine his rivals. His younger daughter takes on an exciting new challenge while his youngest finds herself in his cross-hairs. His oldest daughter is heir apparent. She marshals forces in a bold scheme to burnish her brand. She will do whatever it takes to win.

Thumbnail for the trailer, The Quarter Percent.
Click the image to download the BETA version


Blurb B
It is summer, 2030. Truth is the weapon, and profit is the territory. Behind the screens, Marvin Stone is a wealthy recluse who uses powerful, cutting-edge technology to rewrite the rules of the game. As the rules change, Augustine Santa Clara, a former social media star, struggles to adjust. On the Continent, the popular and charismatic King Cordial of Vale works covertly to undermine his rivals. His youngest daughter, Costmary, is in his cross-hairs. Rue, his older daughter, takes on an exciting new challenge. Gala is the King’s firstborn. When she is named Princess Regent, she forges new ties and unveils her master plan.

Trailer created by Ateeb Khan.

Cover art by Emanuel Malu. Click the image to download the BETA version.

Cara de la Reina

The mural "Cara de la Reina" is featured in my novel, The Quarter Percent. This graffiti style illustration was created for me by Emanuel Malu at Saita Studio.
The mural “Cara de la Reina” is featured in my novel, The Quarter Percent. This graffiti style illustration was created for me by Emanuel Malu at Saita Studio.

As I have discussed before, my amazing book promotion campaign fell flat because everyone I approached wanted me to be a popular author before agreeing to help me promote my book. Gah!

Over the weekend, I decided to beta test the promotion of a promotional copy of my novel, The Quarter Percent. After receiving a copy formatted for Kindle from the book designer, I wanted to see how a free PDF copy would be received by an influencer who has a large audience of avid e-book readers. This person’s audience only wants fiction books that are FREE or which cost $0.99. Perfect for a beta test? Or so I thought.

After three days of discussions, I was floored when this influencer insisted, today, that the book be published to Amazon first. He also asked me, “But how will you benefit from people reading it?” I am confused. Isn’t the point of publishing a novel to have people read it?

In other words, his audience is not interested in books that are cheap or free. They want popular releases for free or at a super discount. Yet, the advice I have received is to give away promotional copies of my novel to generate buzz. That makes no sense, you say? Large film studios deal with this nonsense, too. That is why they leak promotional copies of new releases to torrent sites.

My confusion arises from the fact that official publication on Amazon defeats the purpose of beta testing the novel with readers in different locations, and watching how they respond to it. I need this information so I can know how and where to promote the story. What I don’t want is readers who are not the intended audience to write reviews on the Amazon page complaining that the novel has words and that the themes are ‘difficult’.

I used to joke that I am an alien from outer space. But I am beginning to believe that either I stepped into a wormhole and this is the underverse, or the inhabitants of this planet are insane.

A tale in the crypt

Gala meets Velour’s First Minister

Jennifer Horn has done a fantastic job again creating this storyboard for a key scene for my novel, The Quarter Percent.

In the first scene of the final chapter, Gala and the First Minister of Velour are in the crypt of Ruby Palace. On screen is a replay of the ‘fall of the house of Moss’. At a prestigious awards ceremony, in front of the crowned heads of the Continent, Mrs. Moss spills the dirt on the Continent’s aristocrats. Gala explains that it is her system of interpersonal sabotage.

Morse coded message I created online

In the epilogue, one of the characters receives an invitation card on his breakfast tray. The card is written in Morse. He presses it to the screen of his tablet to translate the message.

(^ω^)


Have a happy week ahead, everyone.

I went and did a thing

Greetings, everyone. Since my amazing book promotion idea got twisted in the game, I had a few other ideas. One person who helped me is Australian illustrator, Jennifer Horn. She created these storyboards for some key scenes in my novel, which I am calling The Quarter Percent. I asked for rough sketches because I’m redrafting at the moment. Here are three of the key scenes.


Rue and Karl – Illustration by Jennifer Horn

Rue and Karl are now friends after their bitter divorce ten years earlier. Karl reminds Rue that he has custody of their frozen embryos from the divorce. They are about to be destroyed. Karl proposes that they start a family instead. Rue agrees, on condition that they ask three gestational carriers to carry the babies at the same time. She also decides to publicise the news of the surrogacy to stir up controversy, which will drum up business for her luxury yacht building company. That decision will backfire because…

Costmary and Karen – Illustration by Jennifer Horn

Costmary’s private dispute with her father, Cordial, has leaked to the press. Social media is Team Costmary. The public takes her sister, the thrice-divorced Rue, to task for promoting a ‘happy families’ image in light of her sister’s hardship. Costmary is having crisis talks with her publicist and friend, Karen. Earlier that day, Cordial had filed a vaguely worded writ against his subjects. Reading between the lines, journalists guessed correctly that the writ was meant for Costmary. To make matters worse, he served her with a €45 billion lawsuit. It represents the stock value of her vegan brand, Costmary’s Farm. Her father’s latest salvo has come as a shock.

Cordial and Marvin – Illustration by Jennifer Horn

Rue and Costmary’s father, Cordial, is distracted at the moment. Three weeks before the closing deadline of a multinational trade deal, he is having a video chat with the reclusive Marvin Stone, CEO of Marvin Stone Technologies, LLC. Marvin has launched a brand new, super exclusive insurance policy that only a quarter of the one percent can afford. Marvin invited twenty-three individuals to sign up for the policy. Cordial is angry because he was not on the list. But Marvin excluded him on purpose. It seems the strategy was effective.

+ – <

You can find Jennifer Horn on Instagram @Eskyjen and view her Facebook Art Page here. She has been kind, encouraging and a lovely person to collaborate with. As always, thank you for your support. Have a productive week ahead.

Notes 7/3

Coffee with milk in a dark mug
Image by Nicholas Ng via Unsplash

A few days ago, a post from one of our blogging colleagues, supporting peaceful protest, vapourised just as I posted a response to it. The suppression of speech and shredding of proprietary content is only the beginning of the issues plaguing social media platforms. As Upper Echelon Gamers puts it, “Companies do not care about you.”

Many social media users complain about content banned for “reasons” including nebulous and somewhat petty rules violations. Meanwhile, the most vile content continues to be added to those same platforms seemingly without resistance. I once saw a post with an offensive word spelled out on Scrabble tiles. The justification for posting it was wordy. He knew exactly what he was doing and who would be reading. Another subscriber from a different country threatened, from the comfort of his bedsit, to get me ‘deported’ even though I am a long term resident of a country he has never even visited.

I believe that a platform like WordPress has the resources to hire staff to manually review posts flagged by an algorithm, and warn users about community policy violations. It is lazy to smoke every post that uses the flagged keyword or hashtag of the day. If you have a blog, keyword lists are not enough. People who use speech to denigrate others know how to evade the censors.

Brown paper in envelopes with fountain pen
Image by Ankhesenamunn via Unsplash

I once had a subscriber suggest here, on this blog, that “the races” should shove off to a remote part of the world so she wouldn’t have to live in harmony with us. A mutual write-off won’t make the world a better place. I’ve tried to initiate discussions on the problematic phrasing, virtue signalling and outright opportunism that occurs in times like these. Invariably, my remarks bring out a defensive response. I think the best approach is to keep using our blogs to challenge retrogressive ideas in a non-confrontational way: Art, fiction, reflections, photography, poetry, music and film. The resistance is here on WordPress.

That’s why I’m always beating the drum of engagement. As wonky as it is, this platform enables us to see more of the world. Of course it is risky to reach out and start conversations with people we have never met face-to-face. Sure, it can be a painful undertaking. And yes, it might be a terrible idea but in the exchange, I feel that getting noticed disrupts the status quo of toxic ideologies.

This leaves me with a most important question. How do we get closer to those individuals, to influence them away from divisive and destructive ideas, when the voices of the well-intentioned continue to be suppressed?

(^ν^)


Post script: As a side note, it has been five days since my attempts to upgrade this account have been thwarted. Yet, on Dashboard, I see a notice encouraging me to buy a unique domain. That is a machine talking. Not a single peep has been heard from the mysterious Help Desk humans. As far as I am concerned, they have left town.

Rinse, repeat …

Collage with postage stamps

So far, the new WordPress editor is driving me bonkers and is about to get slapped upside the head with my pimp hand after trying to stitch me up via Siri. 

Warning! Rant …

I spent the last four days trying to delete my Instagram account, which I started four days ago. Before that, I was forced to shred my Twitter posts, all 202 of them and delete my account. Long story short, Twitter is Babylon.

I have sworn that I would never use Facebook products ever. I had to go back on my word because I’m not able to travel overseas this year. 

Instagram’s software decided that my photos were professional-looking. I was prompted to upgrade to a professional account and pay for advertising. They then said that I needed a Facebook page (so they can mine my data and sell me ads). I declined because I wasn’t going to sell my artwork anyway, and their analytics are irrelevant. I was planning to post photos from my archives to establish some credentials. I wanted other artists to pay attention to me when I engaged with them. Instead, from the fourth post in, my photos started vanishing. Soon after, I was not allowed to react to stories, or comment on more than four consecutive posts. So I said, I’m done. Four days later, after several thwarted attempts, I finally did it.

I was miserable the whole time.

You have to understand, I study programming and machine learning so I know how algorithms work. I don’t believe that their algorithms are even-handed. Machine learning code requires human input and all of that “the algorithm changes constantly” nonsense you see in tech magazines, is shorthand for “our programmers are constantly re-drafting the code so that people who are not buying advertisements will feel compelled to do that”.  

I had zero followers and was getting suppressed. It is a clear sign that Facebook exists to sell advertisements. They don’t cater to anyone who refuses to add to their bottom line. I don’t have access to their servers, so there is nothing I can do to change their policy to help myself.

Please do not ask me about all of the accounts I visited in stealth mode. Oh, I spied on everybody: neighbours all the way to my former teachers, classmates, childhood friends, crushes, crushes’ crushes, uni friends, colleagues. People are so nice when they don’t know it’s me commenting.

One of my cousins, who is a fashion designer, sent me a lovely welcome audio message to thank me for joining her army of fans. In real life, her husband banned her from talking to me because I told my cousin she should not allow her husband to name himself CEO of her multinational fashion brand, which she started on her own. He has no business training, mind you. He claims on his social media accounts that he is naturally better at business because he’s a dude and men are traditionally the provider. It’s a very long story – and you can read about it at that link. 

I woke up on Sunday morning to a face full of the power couple in an Instagram live stream. Their marriage is amazing and perfect and stuff so they were cohosting a marriage counselling session with a very good-looking celebrity singer couple. I had to intervene after a guest complained that her man wasn’t ready to have children. She joked that her friend told her to take a sample of his you-know-what while he was sleeping. I quickly jumped in the chat to say that it was assault and battery. (If I had a partner kinda sorta joke that they would impregnate me in my sleep, there’d be no discussion about it: that would be the very end. Don’t say hi to me, get lost forever).

Of course the power couples ignored me. Because, they don’t have any knowledge about fundamental human rights. And why would they? They’re not really helping anyone, they’re building a brand.

 

How did you meet your husband?

Praia and Augustine

“How did you meet your husband, Praia?”

“It is a very long story.”

“Start and keep going until you get to the end. My brain is saturated with work stuff. Cleanse me with your tale of true love.”

“I met him in Bhutan five years ago. I was already in country for three months when we met. I was a field tech volunteer with the Yoon-Kim Foundation. I was involved with Xu Ming, the film director. You might have heard of him?”

“Who hasn’t?”

“He was there to film a documentary about the Yoon-Kim Foundation. My boss asked me to guide him and his crew high up in the mountains. He wanted to capture some nature scenes. It was pure lust. At least, for him.”

“What about you? What was it for you?”

“I thought he was the one. He was humble, thoughtful and attentive. While I was deeply infatuated with Ming, I met my husband. He was taking a year off after finishing an internship. He decided to be a volunteer medic in Bhutan  while looking for fellowships. Everything was platonic. We went on hikes, explored some parks, had picnics, took photos. We didn’t hold hands or kiss or anything. He had a girlfriend back in Canada: a commercial pilot.”

“Hot stuff.”

“I was crushed when I saw her photos. Former Air Force pilot, two engineering degrees, speaks five languages, double D cup, skinny as a toothpick, super long legs, the type of creamy platinum blonde hair you only read about. He won the lottery ten times over, right?”

“Depends on what he wants.” 

“Good point. But I never thought that at the time. Well, one day, while we were waiting for a ride to pick us up from a remote village, he looked into my eyes and said he wanted me to run away with him to America.”

“What?”

“I thought he was joking. So I said what you just said.”

“What did he say?”

“He repeated what he said.”

“What did you do?”

“I asked him about the genius supermodel genius. I didn’t care if he thought I was insecure. She was dynamite.”

“That happened to Ming?”

“A few days after that shocking declaration, Ming called me from Shanghai. Anyway, I told him I loved him and he seemed happy. But a day later, I texted him to ask if he was coming  to Bhutan to see me. He told me he had to  be in Kyrgyzstan for a location shoot for that big budget film.”

“Nothing unusual about that.”

“When I told him I missed him, he laughed out loud and called me a silly girl.”

Ahh …”

“Yes. I don’t remember what I said to him, but I felt stupid, thinking it was serious.”

“Then you ran into your husband’s arms?”

“No. The last thing I needed was a rebound fling from a non-thing. I found the most remote village in Bhutan and hid out there. I don’t think I showered for the first six weeks.”

“Rejection is pain.”

“I was ashamed and angry, and I took it out on myself. I believed that Ming was into me. It makes me cringe even now.”

“And then you ran into your husband’s arms?”

“Not yet. It’s a really long story. While I was outdoors rolling up tents one morning, my tablet lit up. It was Ming. He wanted to video conference but I had no makeup on, my hair was dirty and pinned up, I was in baggy pajamas, three parkas and mucking boots.”

“Sounds like you were having the time of your life out there.”

“Oh, I felt happy and free. Smelly, and … free. I looked at my tablet and for a moment thought about pressing the accept button. Let him see me looking destroyed.”

“How long was that moment?”

“It was long. But I chucked it in my bag and finished up my morning work duties. When I came home for my lunch break, I saw that I had a video message. Ming said he missed me and wanted me to fly to Paris to see him. He had an awards ceremony and wanted to bring me on the red carpet.”

“And?!”

“After what he put me through? He should have sent me an apology. I laughed out loud. I’m sure the entire village heard me.”

“Was it the kind of laugh you hear in movies when the villain realises he trekked across the universe, wiped out dozens of civilisations to retrieve a box, only to open it and realise it was empty the whole time?”

“Exactly. And I was laughing at myself. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He rejected me and there he was, begging me to drop everything and run to him.”

“Right? Was it a rebound summons?”

“Maybe? I didn’t think about that at the time. I remember thinking he was hideous. That’s when I finally took a shower. I had to scrub him off me.”

“Was it like waking up from a trance?”

“Not really. I think I started to feel better after accepting that I was being silly. He was  right about that. Now comes the part you’ve been waiting for.”

“Wait, I need more juice. All right… Go.”

“All right. So I’m sitting on the edge of my bed, after scrubbing a month’s worth of dead skin off my body. My hair is fluffed out and all over the place. I hear a knock on my door. I open it, thinking it’s one of the villagers …”

“Wait … it’s your husband at the door.”

“Yes. Accompanied by … genius supermodel genius.”

“Ugh…”

“She sparkles, by the way. I am sure it was the loads of highlighting primer she had on but let me say, she was the design template for hentai fantasy. She had translucent teeth, skin and hair.”

“Ugh….”

“They got a ride up to the village and wanted to ‘explore the area’.”

“How smug.”

“The way he looked at me though, you’d never believe he’d ever seen a woman before. I felt scared for a minute.”

“And, how did you react to the way he looked at you?”

“I pulled my ‘best bitch’ face and told them to see me at the village tuck shop after my work duties were done. It was only after they walked away that I realised I was wearing a pair of huge, neon yellow room slippers, a bright pink dressing gown, and no bra.”

“Please … stop. You met your supreme love rival, GSG, in a bathrobe?”

“And don’t forget that my nipples were poking through.”

“Crushing.”

“I face-planted on my bed. Anyway, when we all met up later, he was asking me if I was with someone. Like, a love interest. I thought he was looking for some sign that I wanted him, so I took a shot. I said that romance was elusive and that I wanted to run away to America, where I could meet people who understood the words coming out of my mouth.”

“What did GSG say to that?”

“She smiled sweetly, in her computer-generated-waifu way, and squeezed his hand. She was saying something inspiring, because she’s also a guru and totally into keeping it simple with her feather-soft complexion. But I could barely hear it because her engagement ring blinded me. It blinded me because it was that big.”

“Oh, no! Not again … This is not a romantic story, Praia. It’s a suspense horror thriller.”

“Believe me, a week later, I was this close to throwing myself off the side of a hill into a gully, when my phone rang. It was him. He was on his way to see me. I hung up.”

“How on earth did you both get married?! Wait a second. I need blueberry popcorn.”

“I’m getting there. When he shows up, we have a quarrel. The gist of it is that I ask him if he thinks I’d be grateful to let him get on me because he’s engaged to every otaku’s wet dream. I say I’m not interested in running away to America to get dumped. Not that I could even consider moving unless I had a job waiting.”

“Right on, babe.”

“So he pulls out a tablet with an electronic marriage license application. Downloaded it from the Canadian High Commission’s website. And filled in his part of it.”

“Where were you when this was happening?”

“In a staff lounge in the free medical clinic set up by the foundation.”

“So, he was engaged to someone else a week earlier, but he wanted to marry you right then, to prove he was serious about you?”

“It felt weird for sure, but I didn’t ask him about … GSG … because I was insecure and jealous.”

“But you signed the marriage license?”

“Yes. Two days later, the license cleared, we signed some forms and we were married.”

“So in other words, you really liked him?”

“I did.”

“Wait, you didn’t have a bash after you moved here.”

“Nope.”

“You must let me plan your wedding. I’m a disgraced ex-fashionista. I’ve got you covered.”

“All right! Go for it.”

( ◠ ‿ ◠ )

Have you made it to the end of this very long story?  This is a chapter from a work of fiction I’m writing. Reread a few chapters recently and I see there is lots of polishing to be done. Hopefully, time is on my side.

If you’d like to stay in touch with me on Twitter, this  is me: @dotjp_n. Or send me a message on this blog’s contact form. Have a great Tuesday.

Kissing

Temple kissing

Her face was fully inside his mouth when she realized that his hands had clamped her head in place. One of her eyeballs plopped out and dribbled along the teeth lining his lower jaw.  As it settled into a jagged crater, the eyeball surveyed an astral grey amalgam of filling. A nerve ending in the retina swapped that image with the screenshot of a scene from Robocop. The tiny hairs in her nostrils weren’t quite so swayed. This was a human, and the tiny hairs proved it by enhancing the coffee stains and cigarette smoke emanating from his lungs.

Her right shoulder chipped in to help. Twisting to the left, it wrenched her face from his grip. Taking the hint, her left hand pulled open the door of her car. She had been standing with her back to it so she was able to slide in, gracefully, bottom first.

As she steered her car right, to exit the driveway, the man’s narrow body flattened out in her rearview mirror. His knees and elbows were still bent. His hands flopped down at the wrist. His tongue was stuck to the roof of his open mouth, as if he had been rudely interrupted, mid-hunt.

“Eat or be eaten” sustains the appetite for the short term. But human tribes, under threat, preemptively culled predatory populations (of animals and cannibals) so that they themselves could thrive. She wondered if this had happened to the dinosaurs before they went extinct.

Image: Lakshmana Temple depiction of couple kissing, dates back to 950 AD.

The Puppet Prince

Masked ball participant at Venice Carnival 2010

Sophie’s man was always fresh out of ideas. But he desperately needed a new roster of financial ventures to stay solvent. At the outset, his advisors found it difficult to tether him to a coherent idea. Thus, for his own good, his role had to be more “paperweight” and less “partner”. Occasionally, when hurled at an aide, his temper would do a lot of damage. Otherwise, Sophie compelled him to exist as a voiceless lunk.

The man’s lack of foresight had threatened to destroy Sophie’s childhood ambitions. However, she couldn’t simply chuck him to one side, grab a tiara and let that be that. This was not 18th century Russia. Yet, even in those days, serfs would not obey autocrats unless convinced of their right to rule.

And yet, it is 18th century Russia, though the serfs are tending to plots in unformed space. Tapping and scrolling, oblivious to bandwidth overheads, they tithe their landlords in views and clicks. Under Sophie’s influence, the landlords gather with advertisers and content providers at the private soirĂŠes she hosts. Grateful, they pay their dues in cash and kind.

Now, as then, the serfs assert the right to touch their rulers, and lash out if someone in power abuses their privilege. The man has an irrational fear of being stoned in public, so Sophie controls him by pointing out what he stands to lose. She does that by feeding him to the serfs, one intractable flaw at a time. Then, she makes the alternative easy to bear: “Let qualified advisors do the heavy lifting. Go along and do not interfere.” She accomplishes this task by training the man to be helpless.

It is breakfast time in the drawing room. As usual, a valet is spreading homemade jam on a slice of crumb-free toast. A mandarin tells the man when to start sipping his coffee. The pages of the morning papers are carefully screened and selected articles outlined in green ink. The same mandarin hovers nearby and murmurs a summary of each one into the man’s right ear.

Though somewhat soothed by the devoted scratchings of knife on bread, the man is in a strop. An item of blind gossip had been planted in the previous evening’s tabloid, and a copy “forgotten” on a coffee table outside the drawing room. He’d seen it on his way in. Someone had blabbed about that day last month when he was pouting about going outside for thirty minutes to cut a ribbon. The front page photo showed him wearing the tiniest frown as he was leaving the car. The sun was in his face, but no matter.

+_*

Image credit: Carnevale di Venezia, Italiana 2010 (Italy), photo by Anja/Edward N. Johnson, 13 February 2010, via Wikimedia.

Notes: Four years on WordPress. Time really flies. My archives are bursting and so was I. Big thanks to everyone who has made this loads of fun.

Strawberry Sea

Lords of the Fallen

Christian fell out of the wormhole and landed flat on his back. Overhead, his hovercraft exploded. The blast appeared to freeze as it was swallowed up by the singularity.

Within moments, shortwave radiation activated his solar plexus. The nerve endings shocked his heart into rhythm, and his lungs billowed open. His first breath was a revelation. Air, in three-dimensional space, tasted sweet and astringent.

The first light of that morning prized open his pupils and flooded his eyes, enabling him to see his surroundings. He convulsed, fingers scraping at the ground, as his brain recalibrated itself. A phalanx of trees looked him over. Their leaves nodded lazily as they cast off the raindrops that weighted them down.

As a comic book hero, Christian’s circumstances were limited by whatever someone else decided to print.

“I can’t live to my fullest potential acting out roles others are scripting for me.”

An illustrator had scribbled those words near Christian’s mouth. They were cruel and ironic.

“There are advantages,” Christian thought, while battling a Bandroid in volume 91, on page 316. “My victory is guaranteed.”

Eight pages later, he changed his mind. “Please someone,” he pleaded, “write me a way out of here.”

On page 326, someone drew him into our cryptic universe. That was how he found himself stretched out on the eastern bank of the Ganges, dreaming of a strawberry sea.

+_~

Notes: Keep calm and rebel on, rebels. With special thanks to Lilian Wong for including me in her Twitter poetry campaign, which started on September 4 – @LilianYWong. Image Credit: Playstation Europe. Lords of the Fallen, via Flickr, used with permission.

London, 1953

The intruder pulls me away from the closet door, believing I’m too frightened to react. But I am a woman with a plan.

One roundhouse kick to his chest fractures a rib. He reels backwards. His abdomen and chest form a ramp and I use it to vault over his head. Twisting in mid-air, I end the discussion, heel to jaw. He’s on a timeout.

His accomplice rushes in to assess the situation. My fists plough through his face. The concussion blinds him temporarily. Ax kick to the knee. He’s on the floor. I stomp on some fingers to disable a hand.

My bodyguards have finally joined us. They look shocked. (They’re also fired). I point to my wrist and say, “You were taking too long.”

I adjust my tiara and make my way to the banquet hall. Two hundred guests, most of them blood relatives, are waiting. My smile says, “Welcome to my coronation reception.” But to be honest, I am a bundle of nerves.

♔

London, 1953 (Coronation Day)

Notes: Feminist Tuesday. Special shoutouts to Mek @ Work in Progress and the Artful Blasphemer. Thank you all very much for your support.

Photo: Claire Foy in “The Crown”, courtesy, Live for Film.

Wallis

Wallis Simpson photographed with former king Edward on their wedding day. She was a real feminist, unlike some contemporary feminists who pay lip service to the idea, mistakenly thinking that a strong woman is angry. Faux feminists wouldn't recognise an actual feminist if one stomped on them

The Merry Widow looked weary this afternoon. Her minders took note as they unearthed her body from a trough of pink salt. People said she was well-preserved, meaning it as a compliment. They had no idea how literal that was.

Despite the attention on spa Wednesday, she felt hollow. A long walk outside would have helped but her sponsors forbade prolonged exposure to the sun. They shuttered her windows. They gave her books, soft lights and sweet music to keep her subdued.

From the walls of her bedroom, the covers of Life and Time mocked her. “Parasite of international society has zero net worth. Ha ha ha ha ha!” Sponsors fetched her every three weeks or so. They shoved her in front of cameras to promote various agendas. They fed her milk and farm fresh produce. Only enough, and the nurse made sure, to maintain her trim figure. When she was younger, she had been ruthless about looking petite. These days, she always felt a little hungry.

It is possible to succeed and fail miserably at the same time. She was a strong woman with more ambition than decorum. There were two lessons she hadn’t learned. One, do not offend the wrong people, starting with her sister-in-law, Queen Elizabeth. And two, when you reach your endgame, stop. The high profile fling was a ploy for social deference. Instead, she found herself serving the establishment for the rest of her life.

~_~

Photo credit: Duke and Duchess of Windsor on their wedding day, June 3, 1937. “Los Duques de Windsor, un amor que cambiĂł el rumbo de la historia,” via Hola magazine. 

48, Single Men Only

If you were a spornosexual dandy in your twenties and thirties, forty was the year you were smoking hot. You could do no wrong. Women wilted at the sight of you and men wanted to be you. The first thing you needed to be an expert at when you hit forty was how to be with women. I don’t care how much you suck at your job, this was the most important skill you needed to have at that age.

If you weren’t lucky enough to have won the style sense lottery, are unhappily single or divorced but gainfully employed and reasonably sane, this post is for you.

You are not a small animal, so stop acting like one. First, do not compare women to inanimate objects. It’s not a compliment. If you think she’s beautiful say, “You’re beautiful”. That’s it. If you like her say, “I like you.” No explanation necessary. Never try to be poetic or descriptive about why you like her. If she wants a man to read her poetry she should join a book club. Because a woman with that as a priority will bring you nothing but misery and pain.

Second, never initiate a conversation with a woman when you feel horny. You’re going to mess up. You’re going to put your foot in your mouth and she’s going to slap you.

Image courtesy Brent Music Reviews Why is that leopard pretending to be you, Cee Lo? The universally scorned Cee Lo Green is forty years old and is the perfect example of a man who has a seriously high opinion of himself. He is still living in his twenty something past. He needs to take stock before forty eight. Note how the small leopards in Twitter ate him after he gave in to his animal instincts.

Assess yourself before you wreck yourself. Think of all the wonderful things about yourself that you admire. Your humour, your good looks, your charm, your ability to use eye contact to melt panties. Now strike all of those things off your list because no one sees you that way.

In other words, don’t be a pompous oaf. If you’re overweight, balding and lumpy; take medication for diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease before drinking half a bottle of cognac; have erectile dysfunction and smoke like a chimney, please leave the woman’s tiny little breakout alone. If she’s younger and fitter than you are, it is simply oaflike to use the fact that she’s over the age of eighteen against her.

By the age of thirty seven most men have a working knowledge of who they were at twenty seven. Socially, it is not a requirement for men to constantly reassess and update themselves as they grow. Women have a better advantage because we always see ourselves as we are going to be in ten years.

Now imagine reaching forty eight and interacting with women as if you’re twenty seven. Are you having problems getting women to stay interested? That’s why.

Listen. It’s really important to pay attention to what is being said to you. Assume she’s not speaking in metaphors. She knows exactly what she’s thinking and she’s telling you exactly what’s going on in her mind. Ask lots of questions if you don’t understand. Be direct and use simple phrasing. It’s what forensic scientists, economists and Nobel prize winning physicists do all the time.

Third “animal point”? Stop making out in cars. Get comfortable first. Her breast is not a horn so don’t pump or tap it. I don’t want to hear any of that crapiology from the 1920s when people were passing syphilis around like it was cornbread. It is 2015. There is no excuse for you to not know how your body works. The Playboy Channel is not the way to learn. Your superhuman ability to sustain an erection for days is a cause for concern. Borrow an anatomy textbook from your local library and read it from beginning to end.

Fourth animal point. The law of reciprocity applies. Before you start inspecting manicures for length and sustainability, see your above list of flaws and pick them apart at home. Be thorough. At forty eight did you really ask her to gag on it? Alright, get an unpeeled banana and shove it down your throat to see what it feels like. Try something a bit more rigid and unyielding up your rectum. Jam it in. Ask someone to yank on your hair really hard and pull it out. Tell them to ignore your pleas to stop. Try waxing the hair off your legs. Pull hard through the pain. Don’t cry. I know you’re bleeding, but just go with it.

If you say you’ve enjoyed all that, you are lying. But that’s what you sound like when you talk to women about “passionate lovemaking.”

Shut up. Awkward silences help you to assess the way you feel in the space that you’ve created with each other. Your job is not to entertain a woman. She should know how to entertain herself. You’re simply enjoying her company and that’s all any woman should ask of you.

Good luck.

Envy™ The Food Drink of Glampions

Matcha Green Tea Latte For Two
Image: Green tea latte via Green Tea Guide

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Envy is the tax which all distinction must pay.” He’s probably never met a Glampion. A Glampion’s envy is the heavy tax which innocent bystanders are forced to pay. When someone picks on you, they might be living out a fantasy life inspired by someone famous, real or imagined.

Is it reasonable to say that these people have a twisted opinion of themselves? I think we each have different measures for our self concept. However, it is important to maintain a balanced perspective.

The theme of this post is “envy”. It could have been insecurity or defensiveness because often these three form a triad. Envy happens when others can’t be happy with what you have. Insecurity is most likely the trigger. Defensiveness is the easiest remedy: We measure our this with their that.

Power envy happens when Glampions secretly wish they could be as influential as [name a celebrity]. Their desires thwarted, they turn on someone they believe to be weaker than they are. People of this mindset either lack the capacity to face up to their own inadequacies or they don’t have the self confidence to thrive in the presence of others who are doing well. Many of the people we envy struggle in some way and would be fortunate to be in our shoes.


Why be so nasty and so rude, when I can be so fierce, so fabulous and so successful.
Nene Leakes, Sunday March 15, 2015, via her Twitter account.

Sometimes I really want to sock it to people who get it twisted. In doing so, I am mindful that there’s a difference between being fierce and being rude.

We can thrive in a world of talented, shining stars. It is hard to remember that because mediocre people dominate our news feeds. I believe we should set high standards for ourselves. Sometimes we will be discouraged. I think we should do as much as we can, and drop that when we want to try something else.

We work hard to become champions raised up by substantial wins. Sometimes, however, we might get distracted by two-dimensional tokens of achievement. This is where a balanced perspective plays a role. It allows us to measure the weight of our trophies before using them to browbeat others. When we do that, it is hard for Glampions to crush our spirits with their own paper-thin trophies.

For the benefit of others who lack perspective: Shine your own light. They don’t need to comprehend your brilliance for you to be a star in your own right. If you burn brightly enough, the blind may never see you, but your rays might penetrate through the skin.

Note: Updated November 22, 2016 @ 08.04. This post was originally published on March 17, 2015.

Viral Harsh Realities

viralharshrealities

Freshly Pressed is bogus ploppy plop. It’s got a year old article from a man who posts every two years and Lily Ellyn, a Christian expatriate living in Korea who’s obsessed with sex. I bet if I told her I’ve stopped doing it, she would still find a way to judge me. She’s married to a man who gives her butterflies. So, it’s okay for her but I should want not.

She’s also a greedy little girl who’s complained that 1.6 million article views aren’t making her happy enough. Writing is hard work so she’s scared the expectations are plenty if she has millions of views. But she wants more followers so she can feel validated as a writer (“It’s not fair! Only 200 + people are following me”). But you, fellow blogger, are preventing her from getting more follows because you’re taking up space. She has nine hundred plus subscribers as of this press. Should her readers say “congrats” or hand her a tissue? I’ll do neither.

If I have my way, Lily will define herself forever as the woman who got 1.6 million views for one article. When she meets people she’ll sneak it into the conversation. It’ll stunt her personal growth and dampen her creative outpourings.

I met an expatriate woman (bearded, long grey hair, bad posture) who published one book back when she was pretty. “Oh you know I published a book.” Don’t worry, it was nothing special (shocking what publishers go for). I bit off her head after she ordered me to decorate my office with US flags (I’m not an American citizen so, why).

A Canadian intervened before I could feast on her spleen.

Opinionated Man is just the opposite. He is on a mission to get attention. He has a strategy and targets and works hard. Lily has a problem. She says writing is hard work and she wants to give it up. If this is true, then writing is definitely not her calling. She envies friends who have book deals. She projects unto them envious thoughts of her own achievement. It’s hard to keep up with greedy people. They want what they don’t want. They fantasise that everyone wants to be like them.

Here’s where I stand. Writing is a compulsion and this is an outlet. I’m afraid I’ll accidentally trash some of my work before a backup. In 2008, I lost half a book when my two month old Dell Inspiron’s hard drive spontaneously wiped itself. Recovery software didn’t find it. It’s a crippling blow and I still feel devastated. I didn’t have notes because the work existed in its own space.

I started a blog in part to get things out without worrying about publishers. If no one reads, my self esteem is still intact. I’m fragile in lots of other ways and life is too precious to get hung up on page views.

I’m amazed at how writers are beholden to publishers. They’re responsible for your low self worth? I sort of get how that starts.

One editor said, “I’m promoting feminism among women of colour to make the world a better place.” An essay of mine addressing those two issues got rejected. However, a rant written by an Asian woman hating on white belly dancers got published. I thought, this is a game called “the editor is a two topic pony (you are racists/you hate fat girls) and will not publish material she could not write herself.”

And so the world continues to marinate in that mediocre soup. I continue to have zero expectations and immense gratitude every time someone indicates they’re paying attention. I’m defined by compulsiveness at the moment. I allow my story to write itself. I’m its engine.