Get better by doing!

Many people want to be better at something. Or they want to learn a new skill or diversify their activities. But sometimes they don’t know how to get better, or even how to learn to get better.

Maybe, they see their favorite YouTuber’s newest video and wish they could be as good as them so they can make their own YouTube videos.

Perhaps, there is a person they look up to, that has a position or does a job they wish they could one day have, but feel like their skills are so poor compared to them they could never do it.

I have one piece of advice – Go out there and do it!

Seriously, just start doing it!! We think we need to be experts or highly skilled in order to begin, but that’s not true at all. Go out there and just start doing what you want to do. Yes you might be awful, yes you might look back and be embarrassed, but every time you do it you’ll learn something.

In the Order of the Phoenix when Harry was secretly teaching fellow students how to defend themselves, he told them one very profound thing that we all need to remember, “Every great wizard in history has started out as nothing more than we are now. Students. If they can do it, why not us?”

If you want to be great, do it, learn from your mistakes, keep getting better, and begin growing in confidence in your new skill.

That YouTuber or other hero you want to emulate, they started at some point as beginners just like you are, they just went out there and started doing it.

You should too


Quantity creates Quality

The old saying when talking about work, especially creative work is “Quality over Quantity.” In a sense, focus on creating the best work possible instead of many subpar works.

But that’s not really how it ends up working. Think about it. There are so many industries where people have to create works or produce something on a regular basis. Some as common as monthly, weekly, or even daily. They have to produce something or else nothing goes out and you lose fans or audience.

But many of these people who produce extremely regularly end up producing things that are better quality than if they spent an entire year creating one thing.

Let take TV shows for instance, YOUR favorite TV show even… American mainstream television usually generates anywhere between 10-25 episodes a season. There are some shows that have over 100 episodes, 200 episodes even! Not every single episode is gold. Not every single episode is the best. But from time to time, because they have to produce on a regular basis, they end up creating something that is memorable. They end up producing an episode that is considered one of the best ever.

But that didn’t happen because they spent more and more time to perfect the episode. Many TV shows have a short schedule for each episode. They need to produce the quantity that is required of them.

But in having to produce quantity, they will end up creating quality.

The more you write the better you get, the more pictures you take the better photographer you become, the more you paint the better artist you end up being.

And in creating quantity, your creative “juices” get flowing and all of a sudden you come up with an idea that you never would have if you were stuck on creating that one “quality” work. And who knows, that new idea might be a million times better than the one you have been working on for ages.

So go out there… Create. Produce quantity so that one day you can begin to create quality.

Penny Lane

Recently James Cordon had Paul McCartney on his show during a segment he calls Carpool Karaoke. If you’ve never seen them before, James Cordon (a late night host) will get famous musicians to “carpool” with him and they sing songs and have some time to chat as well.

Most are pretty straightforward and exactly what you would think. But there are a few where the guest is great and has good conversation as well as have fun while singing with James. Adele is one of my favorites as she and James had some “quality banter.”

But then, James had the man himself. Paul McCartney. If you haven’t seen it, below the video is embedded.

Paul is such a good genuine man. But then there is the music. There is something special about The Beatles. Their songs transcend genre. Their songs transcend generations. The Beatles hit a chord in hearts of everyone who has listened to their music.

In addition, watching this and seeing the people who get the privilege to meet Sir Paul, you can see how he and his music has changed their lives. You can tell that when they listen to Sir Paul or the Beatles that they want to sing along, they are flooded with the good memories those songs come with.

Not sure what I wanted to say or convey in this blog post other than Paul McCartney is truly a special musician. I wanted to share this video and a few thoughts about it, but it’s hard to put how music affects your heart and soul into words.

Just read a few of the comments in this video. Seeing this video moved people to tears. People say they would sell their first born to be in that pub with Sir Paul. Music affects us in a way that nothing else can.

James, I know you’ll never read this (haha), but you never have to make another Carpool Karaoke again. This is the best one you’ll ever do and none will ever be as good as this one.


Definition: the illusion of being real

A big SAT word. I’m not much a big word guy, but I love this word. Why? Probably because I love the magic behind movies, especially sci-fi and fantasy movies which at face value are completely unrealistic. Spacefighters flying through space with ease, dragons flying around the world, laser guns, magic… none of these things are real, but the world the stories take place are built in a way that we believe them.

I am willing to bet that 90% of the time when someone likes or enjoys a book or movie because of its realism, more than likely it is because of the verisimilitude it provides instead. They believe the world is real and the characters act in a way that is believable. But transforming robots aren’t real, you don’t know how you would act if big giant robots started fighting in downtown so how do you know it’s realistic? People with superpowers aren’t real, so how do you know how people would react to someone like Superman existing? It’s not the realism, it’s the fact we believe it’s realistic.

I’ll give you an example: The movie Cloverfield is what I feel a perfect example of a movie being not realistic at all but giving you verisimilitude, and even at a point, breaking the verisimilitude.

People who liked the movie talked about how realistic it was and I am over here thinking “Realistic? A giant monster is attacking New York! What is realistic about that!” What they really like is how the movie was presented in such a way they believe it is real. They believe in the verisimilitude of the movie, the ILLUSION that is real.

For me at least there was a part where they broke the verisimilitude. The main character, Rob, is trying to rescue Beth, a girl he likes, from a building that is about to collapse. A piece of rebar has impaled her shoulder, this is a major injury, yet after they rescue her she runs around like nothing had happened.

Now, not much about the premise of this movie is “realistic” but they told the story in such a way that I believe in the verisimilitude. But that rescue was just too unbelievable, too implausible for me believe in the illusion anymore.

Giant monster ravaging New York City? Sure why not. Young woman being impaled by a thick rod of rebar and running around like it never happened? Sorry, you lost me.

So as a writer or filmmaker, remember you are not trying to be realistic, you are trying to maintain verisimilitude. When you are trying to maintain that, it doesn’t matter how fantastical or futuristic you setting is, there are still rules you have to follow or else you will lose the illusion you need for people to enjoy your story.

You are Special

Mr. Rogers was right… You are special.

But that doesn’t mean you are better than anyone else. It also doesn’t mean you are entitled to anything. You may have to work hard for others to see that value.

In this time, many young people are branded “snowflakes.” It is used as an insult and attacking how young people grow up thinking they are special because of the programming they watched and participation trophies for everything they do.

But, I believe that nothing is wrong with believing you are special. There is nothing wrong with believing everyone offers the world something that no other person can. Not only is nothing wrong with this, but this is a good thing.

I will agree with some of the sentiment in the “snowflake” branding. Just because you are special doesn’t mean you are entitled to whatever you want, or that anything should be handed to you because you “deserve it.”

That IS a toxic mindset. That is not what Mr. Rogers meant when he called his young viewers special. That is not Mr. Rogers wanted to instill in those children.

You are special. But you don’t deserve anything just because you are special. What Mr. Rogers wanted to teach when he said you were special was that you were worth something, that you can (through hard work and perseverance) accomplish whatever you want, and that you can make the world a better place.

I am thankful for men like Mr. Rogers who faithfully and unselfishly served and lifted up his viewers. We need more people like him. We need more people to teach us what it truly means to be special. Because we are special, and the sooner we learn what that means, the world can change.

Olympics Musing #1

At what point do reach the pinnacle of human performance?

Every Olympics we see people break Olympic and World Records. This has been happening for years now, in several events every Olympics. Sometimes by not much, sometimes by a ton.

But when do reach the point that we saw the fast, strongest, BEST to ever compete in a particular event? When do we reach the point that in certain events do we do not break records anymore.

Sprinters can’t run faster, lifters can’t lift anymore, boarders can’t do any more flips or revolutions. Even with advances in equipment, advances in training methods and even with doping, surely we will reach a point that we can’t do any better.

Maybe that will never happen. But logically, you’d think it would have to happen. Physically as humans we can’t run 100m in 2 seconds, or lift tons over our head

Just a something I’m thinking about during these Olympics. We watch the Olympics because of the amazing feats that happen, and we can see the top of human performance, but when do we finally reach that peak?

Rey’s Parents

Okay… Warning… Spoilers for The Last Jedi ahead…

and Attack of the Clones.
and Empire Strikes Back.

One of the controversial reveals in lastest installment of Star Wars, is when Kylo Ren exposed to Rey that her parents were nobodies. From no where.

Some people loved this, others despise it.

Personally, I think there is more than meets the eye. I believe that Kylo is not telling the whole truth, maybe even outright lying.

In the second act of all three Star Wars movies, the “second” of the Dark Jedi have tried to turn someone strong in the force to their side.

In Last Jedi, Kylo Ren tried to manipulate Rey into thinking that she was nobody, from nowhere, worth nothing to everybody… except to him. To him, she was a way to solidify his position as the new Supreme Leader with a disciple with great power.

Of course, he is deceiving her. It’s the way of the Sith. Deception, misdirection, manipulation. They will do anything to fulfill their selfish desires for power.

BUT… there is a strong argument for the other side of this debate. That Kylo was 100% telling the truth and she has no special parentage.

In Empire Strikes Back, Darth Vader uttered a line that changed cinema forever, “I am your father!” The plot twist of all plot twists. Nothing as crazy had really ever been revealed in film before. He tried to use the fact that Obi Wan had lied to Luke and that Luke’s search for a father figure and trusting mentor was over.

“You can destroy the Emperor… Join me and we can rule the galaxy as father and son!”

This was such an unbelievable revelation that Lucas and the director had to have Yoda confirm this claim in Return of the Jedi because according to their screen testing, people still didn’t believe Vader was truthful.

In Attack of the Clones, Count Dooku captured Obi Wan Kenobi, who was investigating for the Jedi Council and had found what he thought was the spider at the center of the web. While in captivity, Dooku tried to shift Obi Wan’s allegiance. Dooku told an unbelievable story about how a Sith Lord was running the Senate and if he would be allowed to continue to run free he would rule the galaxy before long.

Obi Wan scoffed at this proclamation. A Sith Lord running the Senate? Absolutely not! The Jedi would know! But in the end, Dooku was right. He told the 100% truth in his attempt to seduce Obi Wan to the dark side.

In both previous cases, Vader and Dooku told the TRUTH! 100% No lies, a little deception, maybe, but you can still deceive and still tell the truth.

So when we look at Kylo Ren’s attempt to have Rey join his side, the only other times we’ve seen a Dark Jedi try and seduce someone to the Dark Side, they told the truth. Maybe that means Kylo Ren IS telling the truth and Rey’s parents are nobody.

Either way, The Last Jedi is not the last we’ve heard of Ray’s parents. Even if it’s just a throw away line that serves to only inform the audience that yes, Kylo Ren is telling the truth.

What do you think? Is Kylo Ren lying? Are Rey’s parents someone special? Or is Kylo right, and she’s nobody from nowhere?

If she is nobody, does it bother you? Or do you love it?