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AUTHOR SUBJECT: Story structure
Velusion
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Posted: 7/15/2016 9:25:22 PM
The script I wrote for the movie I'm producing was written around 5 years ago.  Some time after that I decided to do what should have been done first; I decided to learn about what makes a good story.  Not so much the story itself but rather how it is told... I took several months reading and learning then comparing what I had learned to movies that I consider good examples of story telling.  I quickly discovered that ALL of them had one thing in common.  It didn't matter if the story was a comedy, action, drama, or horror. They all followed tried and true rules of story telling.  We hear a lot about character arcs and the climax but that really doesn't begin to describe what makes a good story.. I discovered that you can take just about any good story and map out  the elements that made it a good story. Even a seemingly pointless story such as the one told in Napolean Dynamite follows the rules of good story telling.  Sure, there are always those who can and DO break the rules but, in my opinion, breaking the rules is for gifted story tells,, such as Tarentino.  Nearly all other films that I enjoy follow the rules..

I took my new knowledge and applied it to the script I wrote. I was happy to discover that, without knowing it, I was following atleast some of the rules.. Some of my story needed to be reworked and I'll admit, it's much better now.  It tells a story that makes more sense and isn't filled with things that don't really propel the story forward.  I looked at each scene and asked myself, "what does this scene mean?"  what was I trying to say.  If the answer was "I don't know", I either rewrote the scene or cut it.... I have to tell you, it's been an enjoyable journey... Don't get me wrong, I didn't just fill the pages with explanation that leads the reader (and future viewers) by the hand.  I hate when story tellers do that.  Instead I tried to write scenes that followed a rythme and seemed to give information at the proper time.

The basic structure I'm using consists of these elements:
Balance
Catalyst
Big Event (first turning point)
Pinch
Crisis(2nd turning point)
Climax
Realization

There are other details to the structure and techniques such as forshadowing, flashblack etc that I'm using as well but the basic structure I'm using is the one used by nearly all good 3 (or 4 or 5) act stories... I'm also a strong believer in the idea that today's stories must start out with a good Hook to let the reader/viewer know what they are in for during the rest of the story. 

It was hard for me to adapt my thinking about certain ways of telling a story since I grew up watching movies in the 70s which were much slower paced than today's movies.  Movies of the 70's expected that the viewer had an attention span longer than 2 minutes who were willing to watch the movie slowly unfold.  I still like that way of telling a story but it seems to be a fact that because of rock videos and youtube, people have come to expect something more than just the basic story to keep them awake and interested. The attention span seems to have erroded over the years.  I can't see younger people sitting through Ghandi or The English Patient without wanting to blow their brains out.

Maybe we can start a discussion on the subject of story telling and script writing.  What makes a good story?

What do you say?

REPLIES:   54
mokkimachi
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Posted: 7/16/2016 8:03:39 AM
Moviemaking evolved from storytelling to marketing. 

You remind me of Mike Cervello. 



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Posted: 7/16/2016 9:59:02 AM
All good points, Marius, except for that remark about Mike Cervello. That guy is a high functioning science experiment. I think he started out as a potato suspended over a mayonnaise jar with tooth picks.. The thing is this; I want to talk about story writing. Your views actually belong in a separate thread that asks the question 'is a movie art or product or both?' Todays crop of crap is obviously only product. The people who make this crap would agree with your notes absolutely. Call me an idealist but I still think a movie can have a good story and shouldn't have to rely on blood and guts and boobs and celebrities and trendy music (not that there's anything wrong with those things). The story I wrote does have blood and guts and even monsters but I think I've written a good story that has more going on than just that... I have no delusions about making a block buster movie. I don't have the money or the people or the networking and I am not a part of the system. I'm simply making a movie. We'll see what happens when I'm ready to show it. Lightning could strike or maybe it will just be something that I can cross off on my bucket list.. I look at your movies, Marius, and I know you didn't make any of them for the sake of making money. They appear to be something you wanted to do. Something that means something to you, so, I know you know what I'm talking about. Your comments above are clinical and they are correct but there really is no need to follow any of them when you're making the kinds of movies WE are capable of. I see too many Indie films that were apparently trying to keep up with Hollywood in hopes of being noticed.. Well, I think people who do that are shooting themselves in the foot. I say let your movies be your brand and not a cheap imitation of someone else's.
Mike Conway
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Posted: 7/16/2016 5:56:59 PM
 Point noted about the pace of 70's movies, compared to now, though a 70's movie (STAR WARS) is what changed that.  Now, you can't just have one ending resolution; the Terminator rises out of the flames and you have to kill him again.

While I've looked at the "beats" and the "turns," it boils down to this - an interesting character with a lot of obstacles.  The obstacles can be cynica characters, as well as a life changing event.

I still love my action filled sci-fi/horror, but there are a couple of movies that I've watched recently that I really liked.  RUDDERLESS and SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED don't fit the common mold.  The first is about a dad.  His son committed a mass shooting at his college, then kills himself.  Life changing event on so many levels.  It's really a subtle movie, but it created a situation where I had to see how the dad handles it.  While it doesn't seem to have a huge pay-off ending, it stuck with me and I'll never forget it.

SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED is for the romantic at heart viewer.  It starts out with a meeting of journalists - almost like a FACT OR FAKED session.  Which story do we pursue?  Apparently, some dude placed an ad for a time traveling companion, "safety not guaranteed" and that is the story a reporter and two interns follow up on.  It's all about the quirky characters and they are written with a certain amount of charm.  While not much of a genre movie, this landed director Collin Treverrow directing/writing gigs on JURASSIC WORLD and STAR WARS IX.  That's kind of interesting, because SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED is a small, non-action indie.

I want to approach writing a screenplay with having it please me.  The moment you think of tailoring it for the industry, it will probaby lose its soul and whatever made it interesting in the first place.  I do like pace, but I've come to realize it's about the characters, how well they are performed, an interesting concept, and some turns that you really had to think about; stuff that other people wouldn't see coming.  And, of course, the pay-off.  It doesn't have to be huge JUPITER ASCENDING explosions, but rather something that sticks with you when it's done.

mokkimachi
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Posted: 7/17/2016 1:11:40 AM
Decide on a target market and keep rewriting until it speaks to them.



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Posted: 7/17/2016 8:11:35 AM
aaagh,,,, I never said anything about using formulas.  I don't think I implied "a surefire shortcut to greatness"..

Star Wars is a perfect example of a well structured story.  It's not a formula.  It  follows the structure I was trying to discuss earlier.. It's not just about a character overcoming obstacles.  There is meaning to the story.  There is a reason for telling it.

Stories without structure are kind of like making a movie of someone changing a flat tire.  They are traveling happily down the road .  The tire blows.  they get out and change the tire then get back on the road... the end....   I've seen plenty of not so good films that follow this idea.  Instead of telling a story, the film makers shows us an event in the person's life.  Balance- out of balance- back into balance- the end...  but in the end, what did we learn about the character?  What did he/she learn about themself? What did we learn about ourself?  ... Nothing..



mokkimachi
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Posted: 7/17/2016 10:00:04 AM
I'll go eat pizza with chilli chicken tonight.  Enjoy writing!



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Posted: 7/17/2016 11:03:50 AM
You still don't get it, Marius.. You still haven't got a clue why I attempted to start this discussion..

 Enjoy your chicken pizza..

mokkimachi
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Posted: 7/17/2016 12:27:12 PM
Perhaps we need reasons to put things in a script. 




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Posted: 7/17/2016 5:11:03 PM
Well, I do have one character that is kind of unusual.  He's an egocentric clown who talks just to hear his own voice.  He's fond of regurgitating the obvious while trying to convince others that his wit is unmatched.  He's the kind of guy who would offer you his shirt even though he's naked.   His name is Bergie Van Baff

mokkimachi
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Posted: 7/17/2016 9:56:38 PM
Are you playing in this movie?


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Posted: 7/22/2016 12:08:01 PM
OK. So story structure is either a taboo subject or isn't really considered at the Indie level. Fine... What about this; what about a discussion of the things we like in a story... Forget story.  What about a discussion of the things we like in a movie? 

I like a movie that is complete.  By the time the movie is over, I like to know what happened.  None of this lazy film making we see quite a bit of these days where the movie just ends and you have no idea what happened.. At that point the director usually says it was intentional.  He/she wants the audience to decide what happens themself.. Laaaaazzzzyyyyyy.

I like a move that starts out one place then, by the end, brings you someplace else.  It doesn't have to be a location but it usually is..   I mean, for example, the farm boy from a small town in the mid-west.... By the end of the movie he's married into a weathly family and saves his mother in law while on a skiing trip in Switzerland.

I love it when the movie has ONE MORE SCENE...  The movie is over. Fades to black. You think the credits will roll but the picture comes back up and there is one more scene.. Something a little extra. A bonus..  I love that.  I like the way they did that in Napolean Dynamite but I don't like when it's put after the credits.  I don't like thinking I'm being manipulated into watching the credits if I want to see the final scene..

Any others?

mokkimachi
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Posted: 7/22/2016 11:46:39 PM
To have a discussion we need people on here. 
 


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Posted: 7/23/2016 5:34:57 AM
Yes. I realized after I posted last that nobody participates because, with the exception of a few night watchmen, everyone has packed up and left.... but really, where did they go?  I haven't seen any groups on FB like the one we use to have here.  Where have all the wacked out colorful people gone?.. Maybe the season has passed...

mokkimachi
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Posted: 7/23/2016 5:55:39 AM
Probably use phone apps now. 


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Posted: 7/24/2016 10:02:00 AM


The Iphone has been the death of so many things.  It blows my mind to see groups of people in close proximity to each other all staring blankly at their little hand held toy called the cel phone.  They seem to be oblivious to the fact that other people are around them.. Maybe that's the point; they don't want to have to interact, at least not in person. I sometimes look over their shoulder to see what is so fascinating to them. Usually they are reading posts on FB or playing a game.  Somehow that, to them, is better than living in the here and now... My favorite is when they sit there frantically texting someone. They send the text, wait for a response then they send another, and another, and another.  I feeling like yelling out "for god sake man, just call the person and talk to them!!"... I think texting is a dangerous thing.  It allows people to lead secret lives. Remember the one about the pregnant lady with her husband at a sporting event?  The guy behind her was looking over her shoulder and could see that she and her boyfriend were carrying on a conversation right in the presence of her husband!  She's sitting there, carrying her husband's child (presumably) and she texting things like "I wish I was with you right now"  to her boyfriend....When I was single 4 or 5 years ago I was out on a date with some skanky creature who was texting during our meal at a fine steak joint.  I thought to myself "how cute, she's probably texting her girlfriend to tell her about the date".. Well, I was wrong.  She was texting another guy who was trying to get in her panties too.  She even took a picture of me with her phone during the date. I discovered later that she did this because the other guy wanted to see what I look like.  How sick is that?.. How do I know this? As it turned out the guy was a friend of mine.  He knew she was on a day but didn't know it was with me. He told me about it a few days later.

But what does any of this have to do with movies?  Not much.  I just felt like ranting.

The story I wrote has 2 stories running in parallel.  They are both the main story but they are completely different. Story #2 can be seen as a mirror of story #1 in the sense that as story #1 becomes more intense, so does story #2.  I know that sounds obvious to say that both stories develop at the same time but I tried to make it seem like story #2 is happening because of story #1.. An analogous view, if you will.  Later,  both stories merge. They become intertwined then eventually resolves the story as a whole.  There are plenty of movies that do what I just described.  They probably have a name for it but I don't know what it is and I don't really care.

Mike, you wrote that you want the screenplays you write to please you.  I think everyone wants that. Maybe I didn't make my thoughts clear but I was never talking about tailoring my stories for the industry.  I think we can all admit that anything can be analyzed to determine what made it good.  I don't think good is ever an accident. Any narrative can be analyzed and boiled down to the mechanics behind the presentation.  Steven Spielberg films are examples of flawless storytelling but I would never consider them the act of formula writing.  It isn't shoved in your face but the elements of the story are there and they are artfully executed.  A sentence has a subject and a predicate. This is not a formula.  This is the structure of a sentence.  Stories are the same.  There are no flashing lights telling anyone when the protagonist's world goes out of balance but it does happen. Sirens don't go off when the big event occurs or when act 1 is over.  Nobody blows a whistle telling us that the climax is about to start but it does happen.  It's all there and it needs to be there to have a well structured story.  Does anyone out there agree?


mokkimachi
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Posted: 7/25/2016 2:58:19 AM
Blast those iphones! 

Your story will have a structure by the sound of it.


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Posted: 7/25/2016 4:18:50 AM
You know, it's funny, Marius.  When you and I left IndieClub years ago I stopped by on occasion just to see what would happen.  I know I was a trouble maker and you were very,,,, well, you were you... I thought that maybe the club would grow and become more stable,,, but it didn't.  It became boring.  Slowly people stopped posting as often, and now it's all but dead.  In one sense I feel vindicated.  I've always believed that so many people came here, not only for the indie film camaraderie, but also for the fun and wacky conversation... Maybe it looks like I was right..  perhaps if you and I keep it interesting the people will come back and join in.

Sv Bell | Black Flag Pictures
Sv+Bell
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Posted: 7/25/2016 7:28:03 AM
I'd say this: to hell with story structure. Don't worry about it. Just make a film that flows the way you want to see a film flow. It dosn't have to follow a certain structure, follow a paint-by-number pattern! Write it the way you want it, and when you'll analyze it afterward, you'll notice it will to a certain storytelling structure. :-)
mokkimachi
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Posted: 7/25/2016 11:34:49 PM
You really love this forum. 

 


Velusion
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Posted: 7/26/2016 9:27:33 AM
Why do you say stuff like that? You come here too. Why do you come? This place is dead now but when it was really going it was a great place to learn new things, share with others, and to argue with a guy called DR.FX... A lot of people had a lot of things going on... Now, nothing.. I suppose I'll stop coming after a while too but for now, what's wrong with loving a place that use to be great? Everyone visits websites for a reason. What's yours?
mokkimachi
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Posted: 7/26/2016 10:56:02 AM
I came here much because you came here. 


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Posted: 7/26/2016 11:37:33 AM
That was honest.... anyway, I'm on FB and you can always find me through my website; morphicmotion.com ................. I'm afraid it's time to tip my hat and say Yoi tsuitachi.
mokkimachi
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Posted: 7/26/2016 12:09:11 PM
I'm sorry it didn't live up to expectations :(



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Posted: 7/26/2016 6:56:56 PM
Marius, so, whatta you wanna do?  Stick around and use this place as our own private forum or just stay in touch via FB?  Have you been to my page ?  Go to FB and type in velusion.  Look for James T Rogers.

By the way, I didn't see what you posted above my little farewell.  I'm touched...


mokkimachi
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Posted: 7/26/2016 10:49:10 PM
Let's use this as a club.  More people might join if there are conversations to join into. 


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Posted: 7/27/2016 5:40:12 AM
Yeah, I know. Sometimes my writing comes across as very formal and serious. I don't really take much in life very seriously, least of all a film making forum. All I was saying is this place use to be fun. That's all, but, by the same token, I don't feel a need to act like a clown when I'm here. I sometimes try to evoke a response but it's usually just for my own mild amusement. On the other hand, when actually talking about film making, I am serious. For instance, this STORY STRUCTURE thread we are in right now. I was serious. Mike Conway didn't seem to understand what I was talking about and you seemed to want to go off subject. Yeah, that irritated me but it didn't ruin my day.. The thing is that you, Marius, have a way of mixing sarcasm with truth and also with absurd humor (I like absurd humor). I sometimes don't know how to take you. I always assume you're not intentionally being insulting but it does read that way sometimes...... anyway, I'm at work right now and I have to get at it or the boss might get pissed..
Mike Conway
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Posted: 7/27/2016 9:26:35 PM
 I thought I understood, but perhaps I didn't.  :>)  I understand the structure, as I've read from Snyder, Fields, and McKee.  I think you need to have constant obstacles for an audience to stay with a character, whether it's a dog pissing on his leg, or an overbearing boss, or an arch enemy.  How he responds to each of those things, is what tells you more about him.  That doesn't mean that this happens in lieu of structure.  

You want to have a discussion on structure and I want to talk about character.  If a character learns from obstacles, it goes hand in hand with structure (Story = what a character has learned)..  I don't see a lot of indies doing that.

Back to my bullshit, I was just thinking about SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION as an example of a script with satisfying elements.  For two hours, you watch a man go through those numerous obstacles and minor triumphs (like the library and tax forms).  Then there is a series of big payoffs - poetic justice for the crooked Warden and guards, a large sum of money, and then the reunion of two friends on a beach, after both had gone through hell.  I like the pendulum of extreme low and high points, where the highs are an emotional release for the viewer.  I mentioned SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED, because it did that, also, though on a smaller scale.

Most indie fare is plot or dialogue based.  Emotional payoffs and interesting characters are hard to come by, even with structure in place.  On the other hand, I applaud someone who isn't afraid to take narrative risks, by defying structure and expectation.  Yes, I love STAR WARS, but I like LASER BLAST, too.


I like your new Avatar, btw.

mokkimachi
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Posted: 7/27/2016 9:46:28 PM
You misunderstand me a lot. 

So you're a working class guy?  A real homer simpson eh?  Excellent. 



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Posted: 7/28/2016 5:23:44 AM
That shot from Laserblast is one of my favorites.  I blew it up and printed it 13 x 19.  It's hanging in my bedroom.  My wife just doesn't understand.




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Posted: 7/28/2016 5:30:17 AM
Marius,
My script is complete.  I'm just  tinkering with it a little before I start breaking it down for production.. 

By the way, I love how you called me a Homer Simpson!  That one will keep me smiling all day long..

Oh, one more thing;  I work on a military installation, Hill Airforce base (look it up on Google Earth).  I am an Engineering Technician. That is to say, I work with a bunch of engineers and other technicians to come up with new tools, equipment, and processes for the mechanics to use while doing their job, which is to fix the military fighter jets and cargo planes...  I betcha didn't know I was smart :)


Sv Bell | Black Flag Pictures
Sv+Bell
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Posted: 7/28/2016 7:16:25 PM
Laserblast is an awesome, underrated lil'flick!
I can't get enough of that one. When it came out I wanted to build myself a laser gun like Billy's...


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Posted: 7/28/2016 8:02:13 PM
The first stop motion model I ever tried to make was one of the aliens from LaserBlast.  ....The MST3K version will have you rolling on the floor in stitches..


Mike Conway
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Posted: 7/28/2016 10:58:17 PM
 I think there is something very powerful about those aliens.  When that trailer first came out, I was blown away by how they looked.  Sure they are animated, but there is something about the look of the turtle heads on a reptilian body, while holding a ray gun.  They have a vague familiarity about them and look like something that could exist in a future universe.

 That's an awesome bedroom photo!

mokkimachi
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Posted: 7/28/2016 11:33:54 PM
You maintain the military industrial complex? 
 

 






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Posted: 7/29/2016 6:51:46 AM
LOL.. Yes. I have mixed feeling about working for the military. For me, it's just a paycheck. Believe me when I say that I see this place for what it is; a factory to fix the killing machines.. Strange thing is that there are a lot of very religious people who work here and think nothing of the fact that their efforts help to kill people, many of whom are innocent souls just trying to live a peaceful life... I thought I said earlier that I wrote my script 4 or 5 years ago. lately I've just been doing some re-writes. It was always done. Just in need of some work. I still have the 3D book on my computer. True, I never finished it but it's still an impressive journal in its present state. Thanks for reminding me about it.. Mike, I agree. Those aliens are powerful. I have some more pictures of them somewhere. Behind the scenes pictures!..... I haven't been able to find much information about the making of Laser Blast. It isn't very well documented. I do have a feeling that THEY tried to make something more impressive (story wise) but it didn't come across.. I'd love to see a sequel.
mokkimachi
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Posted: 7/29/2016 10:13:50 PM
Interesting;  Kevin's father also assembles flying vehichles. 

Great hair color job, but let's use some paragraphs then shall we? 



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Posted: 7/30/2016 4:57:38 AM
I don't know what it is but whenever I post from my computer at work, it always ends up as one paragraph.  While I type, the paragraphs are there but after I post it, they are gone... If I go in to edit the post to put the paragraphs back I see that the post IS formated as seperate paragraphs. .. I can't figure out where the disconnect is.

Ok, so now I know you have a brother who flies jets, a father who builds and flies prop jobs and you are flying off to have breakfast somewhere else.  You didn't mention your mother.  Tell me a little about the woman to gave you life and taught you to walk.

I'm guessing that you must be an adult simply by the passage of time since we met.  What do you do for a living? Still living at home, keeping the house clean, doing your chores and staying out of dad's way so he doesn't kick you out of the nest?


mokkimachi
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Posted: 7/30/2016 10:12:47 AM
Let&apo;s get into the details over time.  It&apo;s not wise to just dump all sorts of personal information in one place I would think. 


Save


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Posted: 7/30/2016 12:02:50 PM
Hmmm, No details about you..... and after all I've told you about me..  so sad.  People put such a premium on their personal privacy as though it were a commodity that must be saved.   In the end, who really knows you unless you let them.  You go to your shallow grave as just another anonymous creature, not much different than an ant except that an ant doesn't have an ego.  Our ego makes us feel so special. How special?  Who will ever know if you keep it to yourself.  I say take off the mask and say HELLO to the world. Love you or hate you at least they will know you.

If you go right now it will be something like this:
"Marius was involved in a clash between rival baboon troops. They were doing battle over water rights down in the valley. He got in the way and was torn to pieces. He'll never again perform his trapeze act with the traveling circus. "  

"He was a trapeze artist?  I didn't know that"

"Yes, he joined the circus right after dropping out of cosmetology school."

"wow,,, tell me more."

"He met his wife on his second day of work under the big top.  He loved her the minute he laid eyes on her and her long flowing beard"

"She had a beard"

"Pauline the bearded woman they called her.  Nice girl and strong as an ox."

"huh, I guess there was a lot I didn't know about my friend"

"did you know he wet his bed until he was almost 25?"

"I did not know that"

"yes sir.. a weak bladder they'd say but I knew the truth.  It wasn't his bladder.  The nuns use to beat him in the orphanage if he got out of bed to use the bathroom.  A cruel beating I'm told.  They would beat him severely with stockings filled with apples and oranges."

"poor guy"

"don't feel too bad for him.  Eventually he was adopted by two good and loving parents.  They treated him well. Bought him movie equipment. Sent him to school.  The finest colleges.

"but you said he never.."

"never mind what I said.... and stop looking at me that way"


Now you see.  That is what I'll have to put up with if you keep things private.

Ok, well, I'm off.  Time to find some people I haven't told my life story to yet.. I think I saw some homeless guys down the hill by the train station.  I bet if I bring them sandwiches they'll sit there and listen to me.

mokkimachi
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Posted: 7/30/2016 1:35:18 PM
Did you want to hear my life story? 




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Posted: 7/30/2016 8:45:37 PM
Nope. Save your life story.  I don't think I could handle the excitement.,,, Instead, tell me about South Africa.  Is it very dangerous? Does anyone there wear shoes? You already told me that you have to travel miles just to get your mail.  Are there any hospitals or do people rely on the Red Cross for medical attention.  Do you own any black people or do they work for sandwiches?  So many questions....

mokkimachi
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Posted: 7/31/2016 12:48:31 AM
South Africa has everything from tropical paradise to Wild West-like dessert and everything from Switserland-like mountains to African savannah inbetween. 

Politically one can't say much for it though under ANC "government", or ANC's lack of political will to be good. 

Don't know much about the Red Cross.  Who's business is that?


Mike Conway
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Posted: 7/31/2016 2:13:08 AM
Holy cow, what a read. That reminds me I need to get my wife to clean under the fridge.

Posted From A Mobile Device


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Posted: 7/31/2016 6:44:52 PM
I clean under my fridge.. The wife won't do it.

Marius, that all sounds so bleak.  35 or 40 years ago the Philippines was like that until the people finally rose up and said ENOUGH is enough..  It's still fucked over there but for different reasons.

If you ever want to come to the USA I'd be happy to sponsor you.  Get a school visa then when you get here, marry some white bubble head  with a cel phone in one hand and a large order of French fries in the other and you'll be able to stay..


mokkimachi
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Posted: 8/1/2016 12:56:21 AM
I'll remember that if it becomes necessary;  how kind of you to offer James! 

Yes, we wear shoes. 

State hospitals don't have a good reputation under ANC mismanagement.  Private hospitals better but unaffordable to the poor. 

Rhetorical politics aside, South Africa is good. 



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Posted: 8/1/2016 10:02:31 AM
Lucky for me I'll be dead in the next 30 years.
mokkimachi
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Posted: 8/1/2016 11:39:51 AM
More please.  I want more conversation. 


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Posted: 8/1/2016 12:14:12 PM
ok... let me make a pot of coffee then I'll be right back......


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Posted: 8/1/2016 1:32:12 PM
For me, the world suddenly became ugly in 2001.  September 11 2001 to be exact.  That's when a bunch of muslims crashed planes into buildings on US soil...

When I was growing up I never knew anything about the world and I didn't care.  My world consisted of movies, tv, and special effects make-up.  In the '70s my dad brought home the newspaper everyday (he worked for the Chicago Tribune).  I would see it sitting on the table then go over and immediately pull out the Entertainment section.  I was not the least bit concerned about politics or crime or anything else except the movie theater schedules and articles about people making movies.  That was my world.  A very narrow world view I admit but one that stayed with me until 2001.  That's when I grew up and to this day, I still wish I hadn't.

All of a sudden I discovered that there were people called muslims who want to kill all of us.  I was shocked! Where did these people suddenly come from??? Oh, and what's this?  A story about some kind of aliens that are sucking our society dry... They call them Illegal Aliens.  When did this happen?  Why didn't anybody tell me?  Mexicans streaming across our borders and taking our social services money.  What!?  they are also taking our jobs!!!... what's this?  pregnant illegal aliens are running across our borders like football players trying to score a touchdown.  " lady and gentlemen, holy cow!  I think she's going to make it!! TOUCH DOWN!! she made it across the border then gave birth!!! The illegal aliens offspring is now a US citizen!!!!  sign him and his family up for welfare!!!"...  Who is responsible for this??.. Another story?..... Black people killing everything in sight?  Their neighborhoods are like war zones?  Right here in the USA???  Who's in charge here!!!.. and politicians stealing tax money, raping women, doing drugs.  WHAT??!!.. All this and I'm still on page one!!!

The thing is this; before I opened my eyes to the state of the world I was a much happier person.  In my world I never had any problems with mexicans. I didn't know if they were legal or not and I didn't care.... I didn't know what a muslim was.  I had heard rumors that all politicians were crooked but I learned that from the cartoons I watched.  It was funny.  I use to live in neighborhoods with black people and never had a problem with them.  I didn't know that the economy was bad and that people didn't have health care and that kids are getting dumber by the minute.  I didn't know and I didn't care..

Now, here's the kicker;  I have an understanding of what's going on in the world now.  I'll never win at Jeopardy if the category is world history or current events but I know much more that I knew prior to 2001.  I see what is going on in other countries.  I live lived in a few countries besides the USA.  I talked to the people.  As where I was once blind, now I see................................................ so what?....................................what difference does it make now that I see?...................... How have I made my life better by knowing?.............. answer:............. I haven't.... and neither have you................ and neither has almost anyone else.  We stand around professing our knowledge of what's going on around us.  We regurgitate what we read in the papers just to keep the conversation going and make us seem smart but, in the final analysis, we have done NOTHING...  as for me, I was better off not knowing...   I stopped reading the papers and watching the news 5 or 6 years ago.. Now, when someone asks "did you hear about that shooting in Florida yesterday?"  I look them right in the eye and say "no, I don't know anything about it."

Marius, maybe you know what's going on in your world (south Africa) because you have to  or because you are genuinely interested. Either way, does knowing the things you know about your currupt politicians  and organized crime have any effect on your life?   By knowing, are you able to make a difference?  In my country, knowing means nothing.  Electing politicians who you know all about, who you agree with.  It means nothing.  President Obama was the best candidate for a president I ever saw.  I actually went out and voted for him.. He got into office and I waited for the big changes to occur.... They never came.  Obamacare is his legacy,, and from what I know about it, it seems like a failure.  He was in office for 8 years. We are still at war in the middle east. muslims are still killing everything thing that moves.  mexicans are still streaming across the border. Americans are still out of work.. He had good intentions but nothing really changed.  I would have been better off, personally, if I had never followed the elections, voted, and waited for change.  I would have been better off sculpting little monsters and planning to make a movie... 

If the goal of life is to be happy then why bother with things that make you unhappy, especially if there is nothing you can do to change it?


Mike Conway
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Posted: 8/1/2016 2:41:29 PM
 James, you make a good point in that you didn't know anything was bad, until you followed the news.  There is actually more good news, but bad news is what sells.  There is something to be said for filmmaking, story, effects, etc.  They are all about creating something, which is a very positive thing.

An example:  On Facebook, would you like to read your friends' ranting, political, religious hangups - or would you prefer to know them by what they are doing on projects, etc.?  For me, it's almost always the latter.  Too bad news isn't more like that.  


View My Profile
Posted: 8/1/2016 3:50:02 PM
Yes, Mike. You bring up a good point too.  The media seems to serve us nothing (almost nothing) but bad news. I guess its more sensational.  More people want to read it because it gives you an emotional charge to read about the horrible things that other people are capable of doing and that they are actually doing these things. I guess that even the news is only about "selling tickets".  The movie industry as of late is only interested in selling tickets.  They have it down to a truly perverted science.  I don't know what is worse; the idea that they feed us this crap or that we pay to watch it.  If given a choice between eating moldy bread or dog shit, people will take the moldy bread but let there be no mistake, neither would be good to eat.  Right now we, for the most part have a choice between truly terrible films and hollywood crap.. Well, I guess the hollywood crap is better so more people watch it and try to convince themselves that it was good..

.... maybe my last comment is a little out of line.  I think we would watch more of the truly terrible films too if they had ad budgets large enough to fool us into thinking it was going to be good.


mokkimachi
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Posted: 8/1/2016 11:44:40 PM
An ignorant is bliss motto would only work until you are directly affected.

What I liked about your post is that you reminded me that a possible purpose of life is to be happy.

It showed that in some respects you are my elder. 

 




View My Profile
Posted: 8/2/2016 4:05:16 AM
Well, thank you for the back handed complement.

South Africa sounds like a real shit hole.  You seem like a bright guy with the means to move around.  Why do you stay?


mokkimachi
View My Profile
Posted: 8/2/2016 10:37:13 AM
I meant more mature.  Not old. 



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