The Elimination Game

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It’s Monday. Likely you are waking up right now, searching for a reason to go back to your soul-crushing job. Oh, right. The paycheck.

Every day you drive to work feeling like Sam and Frodo on their way to Mount Doom. “The one place in Middle Earth we don’t want to see any closer, and it’s the one place we’re trying to get to.”

And if you’re like me, sometimes you cry a little on your way to work.

You just know there are good, creative jobs out there that you’re more than qualified for! …But are you proving it?

Do you want to be a painter? You’re painting, right?

Want to write? You’re writing every chance you get, right?

Want to be a cop? You’re taking classes, aren’t you?

working-hard-300x225If not, then dare I say you’re right where you need to be. You complain about going to work, you begrudgingly put in the hours, then you come home and waste your evening watching Game of Thrones only to go to bed late and do it all over again.

If this is you, it’s time to eliminate.

The principal is simple. Evaluate your daily schedule and determine what sucks up most of your time that doesn’t enhance your chances for a better future and get rid of it.

That’s right. Cancel your HBO subscription. Do away with your Candy Crush account. Shorten your showers.

I deleted my personal Facebook account a couple of months ago because some days I’d realize I’d scrolled so far down my feed that I’d be reading statuses that said: “Boycott Carter for Boycotting the Olympics.”

I eliminated other things from my life as well (like iTunes shopping, reading five chapters a day, movies, etc.), because it is that important to me to become a bestselling author so I can quit my day job and actually make a living doing what I was born to do.

So my life is split into three categories:

1) Family

2) Writing

3) Day job

Now, I may still struggle between giving due time to my family and not write, but I make up for that time at my job. I don’t spend my lunches complaining about work with my coworkers, having the same gripe session over and over again. I don’t zone out to The Price is Right that’s playing in the break room.

No, I have my laptop with me and I’m working it to death because I’ve only got an hour to write as much as I can. I don’t tune out when work is slow – I pull out my pen and paper and write until my fingers bleed, or the ink runs out in my pen.

Every. Second. Counts.

I don’t want to be at this job a second longer than I need to be.

How long have you been at your dead-end job? Make a goal to be out by a certain time, and work to beat that goal.

You weren’t born to watch TV or play online Poker. Have you ever considered that you’re still at your job because of those things? Eliminate that crap and work yourself out of your job.

Or, just be miserable for the rest of your life.

Your choice.

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Inside Out Early Reviews!

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If you know me, you know I’m freakishly, uncontrollably, unfathomably, impossibly, unquestionably, super excited about Pixar’s newest movie coming out this summer! (Let’s add a few more exclamation points for emphasis… !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) Especially after coming out of the Dark Age of 2014, being completely absent of any movie from the greatest movie studio in the history of the universe.

Inside Out is the story of a little girl named Riley and the emotions that live inside her head. Thinking through what the movie could be about, I deducted that this could quite possibly be the saddest movie Pixar has come out with since the heart-breaking Up.

I mean, one of the emotions is Sadness, and she’s bound to get her fair share of screen time, and the trailer suggests that the family is not as close as it could be…

Well, I’ve been digging around lately for some early reviews, and so far, the consensus is not just that it could be the saddest movie since Up, but it also has the potential to be the greatest movie Pixar has ever made. And let’s face it, they have their work cut out for them to reach that status!

For those of you a little skeptical after the deplorable Cars 2 and the mediocre Brave and Monsters University (two movies that I actually really enjoyed), put your anxieties and fears to rest.

I read a book written by Pixar’s president and co-founder stating that the studio is serious about getting back to their roots, and with what they have planned and the radical changes they’ve made inside the studio, I have no doubt that they will succeed and they’re about to enter into their second Golden Era just as Disney had (their third) with the release of The Princess and the Frog several years ago.

Read the review for Inside Out by CinemaBlend and let your emotions celebrate and anticipate!

Share with us below what movies Inside Out has to beat in order to be the best Pixar movie ever.

Also, something else to get excited about: My new Facebook fan page! Join it and enjoy!

One of My Favorite Blogs

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This guy is awesome. He worked at a dead-end job a few years back, hated it, but had a wife and kids to support. But he wasn’t going to let his job ruin his life like it does so many others. Jon-Acuff-Do-Over

So he decided to do his life over.

His name is Jon Acuff. You need to check out his blog, and read his book, Do Over (I haven’t yet, but I’m looking forward to picking up a copy). He’s basically like a genius when it comes to writing snappy blog posts and witty Facebook statuses. He’s like the Babe Ruth of the social media sphere.

Here’s his blog:

http://acuff.me

Check it out and I’m sure you’ll have as much fun as I do.

Welcome Summer With This Fun Treat

liam_james_in_the_way_way_back-1920x1080I try to be selective with the movies I recommend on this blog, but as I type this the end credits are rolling on one that just took me by complete surprise. I watched it because it was a serious roll for one of my favorites, Steve Carrell, AKA Michael Scott.

The Way Way Back is a coming-of-age story about a boy who’s just trying to make it through his fourteenth summer without his self-image dissipating any more than it has already.

It’s got the feel of 500 Days of Summer, and is full of 100% awesomeness. Plus, it’s got a great soundtrack to boot. I’ll be revising this movie every summer, as it is a good reminder that we can, in fact, change the things around us if we just step outside of our comfort zones.

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Our Best Friends?

PfoteThey say dog is man’s best friend. I disagree.

Let me explain.

People have had a strong attachment to animals, particularly dogs, for many years. I don’t know the history of man’s relationship with animals, and I’m not going to pretend to. But let’s just go back to the early 1900’s. Even then, people have had a strong attachment to their animals. Think Old Yeller and even The Grapes of Wrath where even the most stoic group of men mourn over a dead dog on the side of the road.

Why do you think that is?

3690_1I think I may have an idea and you can you can take it with a grain of salt.

I feel like the older I get the more compassionate I feel toward animals. I used to love going to Sea World, but knowing how it is an abuse to one of the smartest mammals on the planet, I would be hard pressed to buy another ticket. I am deeply bothered when I see a dead deer on the highway. And don’t even get me started on the movie My Dog Skip or the book The Yearling. 

I think – and I may be wrong – but I think that animals embody a sense of childhood, or innocence, that we all once had and sorely miss.

When our dog Prim does something wrong, I may yell at her for it, but deep down, I know she never intended marley-and-meharm or did anything out of malice. Or when our other dog Pixie takes fifteen minutes before finding a suitable spot to potty on the grass, she’s not doing it to be mean or waste my time – she’s just enjoying being outside for all I know.

But I think animals remind us, even subconsciously, what it was like to be innocent, and when we see Marley die, even see Dug get yelled at and called a “bad dog,” when he did nothing wrong, then it pains us greatly because it’s like a piece of our forgotten innocence has just been torn further away from us.

Dug-upIt’s like an assault on our childhood.

Or maybe I’m looking too much into it and it’s just a simple fact that we just feel a deep bond toward animals for no other reason than that they’re cute and fun to play with and beautiful to watch.

So to say that dog is man’s best friend, I disagree. I think that the pets we bring into our houses become our very family. And to lose them is to lose not only a family member and loyal friend, but also a piece of our younger selves.

The Best Easter Book I’ve Ever Read

Bottom-of-the-33rdThis may be a bit unorthodox, but here goes:

With the number of books I’ve read in my lifetime, I believe I can qualify as a book critic if I wanted to. And I, an often-tough critic, give The Bottom of the 33rd by Dan Barry a certified 100% approval rating. Why don’t you take a moment to read a couple of select paragraphs from the Prologue to see if it convinces you to get this book:

“Three thirty in the morning.

“Holy Saturday, the awkward Christian pause between the Sorrow and the Joy, has surrendered to the first hushed hours of Easter. The cold and dark cling to the rooftops in a Rhode Island place called Pawtucket. Triple-decker houses, packed with three, four, six sleeping families, loom over its empty, half-lit streets, while the river that cascades through its deserted downtown releases a steady, dreamy sigh. Yet somewhere in the almost sacred stillness, a white orb disturbs the peace, skipping along the night-damp grass, flitting through the night-crisp air, causing general unrest at three thirty in the morning on Sunday, Easter Sunday.”

“Someone not here tonight could pose quite legitimate questions to the players and fans, questions that would naturally start with why. Why did you keep playing? Why did you stay? At two o’clock in the morning, and then at three o’clock, why didn’t you just – leave? The official answer, that some umpire refused to call it a night, would be so lacking in the weight of common sense that it might twirl off like a deflating balloon before the sentence could be finished. But the truer answer might be as unsatisfying to the outsider as it is surprising to these inhabitants of this in-between place, where time’s boundaries have blurred.

“Why did you keep playing? Why did you stay?

“Because we are bound by duty. Because we aspire to greater things. Because we are loyal. Because, in our own secular way, we are celebrating communion, and resurrection, and possibility.”

Do not delay this Easter Season. Get The Bottom of the 33rd on Amazon here.

Books For Your Kids to Read This Summer

Even though, collectively my kids are just two years old, I read to them as much as I can. Now, I may cheat and read to them books I’m reading for myself, at least they’re hearing and seeing me read. I’ve listed a few books below that I’m excited for our kids to read when they’re of age, and perhaps yours are there now, so you can enjoy these awesome titles with them.

101 Dalmatians by Dodie Smith

Sarabeth and I read this a few years back and still consider it one of the best fictions we’ve come across. This book is a milestone of children’s literature. It is just as engaging for adults as it is for kids. Talking dogs handling real-life problems. It’s a great ride, even if you’ve seen the old movies. There are still plenty of surprises to keep you and your kids on the edge of your seat.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

I’ve never had so much fun giving my brain a workout. This is a highly imaginative book for kids who might be turned off by the girl heroine in Alice in Wonderland. If memory serves correctly, it was the first full-length novel I ever read, and I liked it so much I returned to it as an adult, and had just as much fun.

Peter and the Starcatchers trilogy by Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry

Ever wonder how Peter Pan became Peter Pan? Find out in this adventure book loaded with short chapters and lots of pictures. This would make a good movie. There are four in the series, but I’d say the first and second are the two worth reading. And no, the author is not related to J.M. Barrie.

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery 

Talk about pure gold. While your boys are immersed in Neverland adventures, pull out this classic treasure for your girls. Even as an adult I find these books to be among some of the greatest literature. It’s yet another book about an orphan who is reluctantly taken in by the Cuthberts, and how she changes their lives and the world of Avonlea for the better.

Bone Book 1Bone

Back in the days of yore (the 90’s), my parents paid for my subscription to the Disney Adventures magazine. For a good year or so, they published snippets of the first of the Bone story, and I was hooked. Yes, it’s a graphic novel, but it’s family-friendly …think Lord of the Rings meets Mickey Mouse. The books (there are 9 of them) have since reemerged and are now finding their way into the hands of kids of the ipod generation. Just good old-fashioned fairytale fun.

7007561Gregor the Overlander series by Suzanne Collins

Before there was Katnis, there was Gregor. Giant insects, dark caverns, evil talking rats, traitors, suspense, heart… these books have it all. I will say that as an adult a couple of the middle books get a little dry, but it’s all worth it for the grand finale of the entire last book. This is a series you and your kids definitely don’t want to miss out on.

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