The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Moaning Stones

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If you look at all three goal areas, and can find a single accomplishment that would affect all three arenas, you may have found a blessed "critical path" For instance: there is a publishing company interested in the "101" workbook. They spoke of video and web-based supplementation. Video and static photos tend to add weight to the subject, so I need to lean out maybe ten more pounds. My morning visualization in the physical arena revolves around a "six-pack" right now, for that reason. But the truth is that if the project is successful, it will lead to a number of very positive changes: financial, familial (I have a relative with some financial stress. It would be good to help more) and being a physical role model (in general, if your abs are toned, the rest of your body tends to be fit as well. This is why the abs are called "the window of health". It's quite possible to be strong as hell, and flabby in the middle.)

So a single accomplishment could, quite possibly, have impact on my family, my fitness, and my finances...all at the same time. What other single "critical path" can have such wide-ranging effect?

1) Keeping your word to yourself.

2) Writing your goals out every morning

3) Learning better stress-coping techniques.

4) Improving visualization

5) Learning to cope with fear.

6) Telling the truth

That's just off the top of my head. If/when you can find any single goal/accomplishment that can move multiple areas, that's a critical path, and any effort you put into it will have multiple pay-back.

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Picked up a "600 Cartoon" set while in Florida for Jason, and some of the stuff on it is just wonderful. Cartoons I haven't seen in decades: Calvin and the Colonel, Colonel Bleep (!), Gumby, Little Lulu, Little Audry, George Pal Puppetoons (early Ray Harryhausen!). Just...wow. I also got my hands on the "Real Ghostbusters" episode I wrote back twenty-five years ago, "Moaning Stones." Fascinating how my basic beliefs about race and identity were well-formed, even before I could express it in my books. Basically, it's this: for the average person, it is quite valuable to have a sense of your ancestors and what they accomplished and struggled for. One of the great strengths of the Jewish community is a cultural myth that connects them directly to God. Black Americans don't have that in the same pure, direct way, and it can be crippling.

Personally, lacking any sense of tribe at all, I was forced to cut through that bullshit: as a child I felt I wasn't black, wasn't white. Boys mocked me, and girls beat me up. America lied about who I was, and couldn't care less about me. My mother resented my birth, and my father couldn't be bothered to be there to raise me. (All of this is the way I FELT AT THE TIME, not necessarily "reality.") The only option I saw was to try to answer the question "who am I" separate from all these identity markers. I guess it took about thirty years of work, but it was worth it (and there are much more direct routes). But the plot of that old Ghostbusters deals with Winston Zedimore fighting a demon first conquered by his ancestor, a great witch-doctor. Unless Winston can believe he is descended from greatness, the demon may destroy the world. Fluffy stuff for a morning cartoon...but then I was never a comedy writer.

The truth is that racial identification is quite useful in a tribal sense, but can be counter-productive when trying to build nations or international community. It is fascinating how racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia all seem to cluster together: people with one have far more tendency to have others. In other words, it is just a tendency to really buy into the "us-them" dichotomy. And resolving those dualities are a necessary step to increasing consciousness and awareness.

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I know I'm in a good mood. Just had a knock on the door. Someone noticed that my driver's side car window was smashed out and someone stole my GPS. My attitude is: "hmm. Always something, isn't it. More shit to shovel." And back to blogging. Fuck 'em. Today is going to be a good day, and no one can take that from me.

11 comments:

Reluctant Lawyer said...

I distinctly remember the final scene in the Ghostbuster's cartoon you mentioned. If I recall, the demon shows Winston each of his ancestors and then realizes that he is descended from the witch doctor. Pretty deep for a cartoon.

Any word on the 101 beta test?

Frank Sauer said...

Steve,
my sons, wife, and I all remember The Moaning Stones. And what a wonderful name for the old shaman/wizard/witch doctor - Shimabuku - a wonderful African name (for an Okinowan karate master).
Cheers,
Frank Sauer

Mike Ralls said...

I was really into the "Real Ghostbuster's" when I was a kid, so I probably saw the episode you wrote. I'm trying to recall, and I have this image of a cartoon witch doctor, but I'm not sure if it's the one from the episode. Is "Moaning Stones" available anywhere? DVD set or something?

>can find a single accomplishment that would affect all three arenas, you may have found a blessed "critical path"<

Hmm . . . if I finally finish my thesis that would free up a lot of mental stress and downgrade a procrastination tool, ("I'm not going to work on my short story today, I need to buckle down and get some work done on my thesis . . . -hours pass- . . man, I'm too tired to work on my thesis, I'll do it tomorrow, rather, rinse, repeat). I guess the mental ease and sense of accomplishment from that could help my workouts and relationship with my wife (both going pretty well, but there is always room for improvement).

> so I need to lean out maybe ten more pounds.<

If you don't mind me asking, do you know what your body fat % is? Because if it's below 15% it might be awfully hard to lose 10lbs of fat.

> 1) Keeping your word to yourself.

That is so damn hard, but if you can do it the world is yours.

Cheers,
Mike

Marty S said...

Steve: While I agree with you observation about clustering I'm not sure you have completely hit the correct analysis of the situation. My own analysis is as follows. First of all I replace homophobia with the term homosexualism so that we are dealing with more similar things. then I would identify xenophobia as one of the root causes of racism and homosexualism. However, fear of the stranger/foreigner doesn't seem to fit as an underlying factor in sexism. I believe there is another group of people, who are racist and/or sexist because they fear the competition. I would further break these people down into those near the bottom of the ladder who are afraid of dropping off the ladder completely and those at the top who do not feel confident enough in their position to face the competition.

Josh Jasper said...

Marty - I think "heterosexism" might fit better. And I think you're not getting the whole story either. Anti-gay sentiment has a lot to do with internal social ordering, whereas racism deals with people from outside of your tribe or group. My impression of xenophobia is that it's fear of the outsider. Anti gay sentiment is fear of corruption from within.

Steve - I'm sorry to hear about your car. I was mugged in my own neighborhood, and one neighbor had his car stolen in broad daylight. I'm glad to hear you're not letting it get you down.

Marty S said...

Josh: xenophobia is the irrational fear of the stranger or foreigner. For many people members of other races and homosexuals fall into the category of stranger. I come from a relatively cosmopolitan area, but have only known one black, one Muslim, and two homosexuals well. I have an Asian daughter in-law, but otherwise have known no Asians well. Of course I have known more people in these categories casually, but I still think for many people these groups can be classified as strangers.

Josh Jasper said...

Marty, there's been a lot of actual academic research done on how the western world views homosexuality, and why it's not tolerated so often. In large part, it's because it's considered an internal corruption of one's own group. The idea that homosexuality might be infectious, or that gay people might convert straight people is part of that fear.

"The recruitment of our children is absolutely necessary
for the survival and growth of homosexuality."
-Anita Bryant, 1977

There's some xenophobia there, but it's also something difference, and unique to anti-gay attitudes. People can ask themselves "what if my child turns out to be gay". You can't ask yourself that about race. People are afraid of being seen as gay if they're white, black, Arabic or Chinese. Even if they're not gay, it's a bad thing to have anyone even think you're gay. No one in your community is going to suspect you of being another race. And it's unlikely they'll suspect you of being in another religion.

Ashe Hunt said...

This post here is proof positive that stories have power. Never really followed The Real Ghostbusters but I distinctly remember this episode, particularly because it dealt with the ancestry of a character who looked like me. Very very significant, even at that young of an age. The same with the Aubry Knight series, still my favorite, and Great Sky Woman was a triumph of outstanding proportions. If you EVER doubted the import of what you do and the stories you create, know there is at least one person in the world who truly appreciates your creations.

I really needed to say this to you. When I meet you in person one day, I'll say the same. Looking forward to the future.

poltergeist said...

"Someone noticed that my driver's side car window was smashed out and someone stole my GPS".

Tough break. Sorry. Too bad it wasn't a military-grade GPS. You'd be able to track it. TARGET it even. LOL Perhaps with the rash of vehicular GPS systems being stolen in cottage-industry fashion these days Qualcomm will get a clue and add a very doable chip much like those found in cell phones and add a "doomsday" feature whereby if the chip is disabled or destroyed, so goes the entire unit.

poltergeist said...

PS:

Umm ... that would be kinda humorous on second-thought. Mr. Thief is rolling merrily down the highway with your stolen GPS in his ride when suddenly radio-traffic is heard coming from the unit saying ...

"Target GPS acquired and painted ... weapons stores locked ... firing sequence to begin in 10, 9, 8, 7, 6...".

That would make a nice Caught On Tape segment showing the perp's expression.

Sorry ... just a wicked humor moment on my part this morning.

Eric Deal said...

I always use to wonder what were the missing links to my ancestry. I don't know if I'll ever get all the pieces to my history but ever since I did a ancestry test and discovered that my DNA matched the Mende people of Sierra Leone my life has changed forever. First I co-founded a website that connected people from the African diaspora then I partnered with a foundation to build water wells in Sierra Leone. And because I decided to take this journey, next month I'm going to meet the president of SL and take part in an official naming ceremony. This is just the beginning and it never would of happened if I didn't question who I am.