The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, October 29, 2010

Drugs only work by imitating chemicals already made by the brain. Train your mind to produce good feelings--set yourself free!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Because there was a rooster on the other side? Because it had evolved legs? Because its muscles, tendons, and ligaments provided the leverage for propulsion? Because it had eaten enough corn and worms to provide energy? Because its sensory apparatus provided information that there was food on the other side? Because...because...

There are actually endless possible answers to that question. All interesting. All partial. And in the same way, we have endless possible reasons why we, as human beings, do the things we do. If you are a biologist, you might answer the question one way. An evolutionary psychologist, another. A behaviorist, another. And so on, and so on.

If you are a writer, it is critical that you have the best-rounded understanding of human and animal behavior that you can manage. You must have a solid theory of WHY we do what we do, and be prepared to defend it through the structure of mythic argumentation. I just made that term up, but hopefully you know what I mean.

If you are interested in getting the most out of your life every day, you need to be able to look at the motivations of human beings from every conceivable angle, and each perspective will teach you something different. Don't get "stuck" in one point of view, like some political bigot who can only see his side of the issue.

If you are interested in minimizing the stress in your life, you MUST understand how your mind came to interpret your life situation as threatening. How and why it engaged a warning system designed for escaping tigers when the bill collectors call. When your kids misbehave at school. It is NOT a tiger, and you have time to take a deep breath, calm your responses, and think things through--if you let yourself.

Every road you take will show you a different face of the mountain, which is always, always, larger than our experience of it.

Why did the chicken cross the road? Because it did. What you believe that means says more about you than it ever will about chickens or roads.


I don't like to put ads here, but it would be unfair not to tell you guys that, for just three more days, the


If you're a writer, you don't want to miss this.

Order your copy TODAY at:

When the child you were, and the ancient you will be BOTH agree upon your actions and life are blessed indeed.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Satisfying your needs is critical. Striving after "wants" is a game. Differentiating between the two is critical to a happy, healthy life.

Monday, October 25, 2010

End Bullying:
1) protect kids and shame bullies
2) make good kids strong
Japanese community centers have great judo classes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Laughter brings many benefits, such as increased lung capacity and the ability to tolerate idiots"--Robin Burchett

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Shakyamuni Buddha

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Many people who order their lives rightly in all other ways are kept in poverty by their lack of gratitude. Having received one gift from God, they cut the wires which connect them with Him by failing to make acknowledgment.

Women are judged more by beauty, men more by power. This is unfair to alpha females and beta males. Deal with it.

We attract people at our level of energetic integration...and below. If you don't like what you're attracting, you have work to do.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


I enjoy speaking of the pure forms of meditation, stripped of cultural artifice. Here are some basic ideas, moving from VERY simple to more involved. If you can integrate one level, move on to the next.

1) Stop five times a day, every three hours, and breathe deep and slow for one minute. This is a MINIMUM. Anyone can afford this much time. If you tell yourself you don't, you are lying.

2) Spend 10-20 minutes a day "listening" to your heartbeat. Take your pulse if necessary. Sit quietly, head erect as if held by a string from above. Relax, calm, release your tensions. Relax your face.

3) Slow the breathing. When your mind wanders during your 10-20 minute sessions, "bounce" it back and forth between heartbeat and breathing. If you can "thread" your breath through a "doughnut" of your heartbeat, (those images will make sense once you've mastered the step), you have reached a deeper level of calm.

4) If you've mastered that level, visualize yourself sitting before a mirror. See yourself in the mirror, sitting relaxed, breathing, and feeling/listening to your heartbeat.

5) If you can hold that image, imagine yourself "pregnant" with your own "inner child" self.

6) If you can hold this, listen carefully to see if that inner self has anything to say to you.

Trust me--what I've presented here represents years of work for most people. But the qualities of relaxation, self-love, self-acceptance, visualization, and focus you will develop are profound.

Your Focus Needs More Focus! --Jackie Chan, "Karate Kid"

Both Right and Left, accuse the other side of the same partisan, lying, blind behavior their own side loves. Both have taken the Blue pill.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Repeat After me: "My brain is NOT a garbage can with a hairy lid!"

Those who can't feel the littleness of great things in themselves oft overlook the greatness of little things in others
--The Book Of Tea

Does Stress Make You Ugly?

Please try this: Five times a day, at every hour divisible by three (nine, twelve, three, six, and nine) take sixty seconds and breathe deep, low, and slow. Inhale through your nose, exhale through the mouth. This single change can transform your life in weeks.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Finding a relationship is a matter of balancing beauty and power. Holding it is a matter of balancing head and heart.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tananarive and I will be signing
THE LIVING DEAD 2 at Dark Delicacies at 2 p.m today, 3512
W. Magnolia Blvd in Burbank.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Due to some kind of glitch I
cannot fix, I have no access to the
original LIFEWRITING message
board. I've created a new community
board called the "101" which deals with the same
issues, and all of you are invited to sign up.
As always, we specialize in concepts of
conscious living, conscious writing, raising
energy and other subjects that we've
been discussing can be addressed.

It is the 101 board, and is totally free
and can be reached at:

Hop over, sign up and ask any questions
you want about the issues we've been
dealing with, the questions I've raised,
and more. But ultimately, the best
questions deal with the connection
between career, relationship, physicality
and spirit.

Join us!


Sunday, October 10, 2010

There is no labor from which most people shrink as they do from that of sustained and consecutive thought. It is the world's hardest work.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

TacFit Spetznaz Kettlebell
If you are irritated by marketing hype, I ask you to ignore that twitch in Scott's case--he's just doing what you have to do to get noticed in the marketplace. Otherwise, some of the best, and most intelligent innovations can get lost in the blizzard, and in Scott's case, that would be a tragedy. The reason? He is quite possibly the very best fitness guy out there. I certainly think so, but can't quite separate out the fact that:
1) his stuff is a perfect evolution from flesh to spirit.
2) he is a brother and dear friend.
1) he is an international martial arts champion, and therefore he is simply incapable of creating a product that isn’t effective, efficient, and slanted toward my own interests.
2) His stuff is exotic—there isn’t anything quite like it. Therefore it appeals to the part of me always looking for “something different.”
Separate from those things, his information is just…phenomenal, useful, hyper-efficient, and no b.s. Yeah, he uses hype. But if you look at the fitness marketplace, and all of the utter crap out there, you understand that good people go broke unless they blow their own horns.
That’s the context. About a year ago, Scott started talking about his TacFit program, which grew out of FlowFit and other Rmax International goodies. If the guy had a weakness, it was that his material wasn’t organized for turn-key application. You really had to have a highly developed intuition about your body. His material was clearly sequenced for advanced athletes and martial artists. FlowFit changed that, actually teaching intuition and subjective measurement of stress/strain. In one 17-minute practice he combined all basic components of fitness and physical health, requiring no equipment. Excellent.
TacFit took this idea further, into the development of more advanced and intense components of fitness. He had folded about fifteen different fitness components—that I could identify—into the program, and I simply had seen nothing like it. A sample of his thinking: rather than just doing “more” reps or increasing resistance when a particular level became too easy, he increases complexity, thereby increasing neurological engagement. This was physical exercise as MENTAL challenge. Lovely. TacFit used a variety of equipment, but “TacFit Commando” was designed specifically to be used with no equipment and little room. Perfect for travel.
Scott tests stuff on his “Core Cadre,” special offers and bonuses that take his basic ideas in new directions. He ALWAYS tests his stuff on himself, coaches and friends first, never offering anything to the public he hasn’t proven. Good going. The “Mass Attack” variation was designed to slap on bulk. “ROPE” (Rapid Onset Pullup Employment) was designed to add more pulling component to the program. Brutal. Some of this was the most intense midsection work I’ve ever seen—stabilization at the same time you are working contraction and expansion. The DOMS were brutal.
And then he started talking about a kettlebell program, and I was all ears. You see, Kettlebells are the only form of weight training I’ve ever been able to stick with. No ragging on other forms—this is my own crap, not a problem with weights. Not sure why, really, but the multi-planar motions, emphasis on Olympic-style lifts done for high reps, and emphasis on whole-body motion (there is no isolation) as well as some other factors just turn me on. For the uninitiated, KBs look like cannonballs with handles on them, and are used in a variety of truly bizarre and incredibly fun lifts that have more carry-over to “real life” strength and fitness than anything I’ve seen. In fifteen minutes a day (really!) you can give yourself a whole-body workout that will shame most of what most people spend 90 minutes doing in a gym.
Love ‘em. Tananarive loves ‘em. But since I started playing with TacFit nine months ago, I’d put them aside.
Well, yesterday I finally got my copy of his program. Superb. By selecting complex, multi-planar motions, you are less likely to “get tight” when the motions themselves are almost like yoga. But then, other motions are like MA warm-ups. Or proprioception games. Or drills to improve energy transference. Joe Wilson, one of Scott’s core advanced coaches and the kind of guy who knocks out Shaolin Monks for fun (in a good way) once told me NOT to practice martial arts. Rather, to sophisticate myself, and then just pour that sophistication into whatever art I happened to be practicing.
Well the result of working out with KBs was certainly along this line. And the result of working TacFit Commando was along this line. I did my first workout yesterday, and had to drop down to a 12 Kg weight to feel comfortable. Could feel that there were lines and angles where my flexibility/strength had holes in it. Or is that coordination/power? Or maybe endurance/balance. Jeeze, this is different. It will take another 24 hours before the Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness really kicks in, but I woke up this morning after a fine night’s sleep, feeling great. And last night at Silat practice, without any stretching at all, I kicked to the head, casually. Fascinating.
Look, I’ll keep you posted. I’m still going partially on trust. But I have every reason to trust this man—he hasn’t let me down yet. And the entire TacFit progression has, so far, been the exercise routine I’ve been looking for my entire life. If this is as deep and valid, it’s going to be a helluva ride.

Most internet marketing gurus make money teaching people to be internet marketing gurus. Isn't this a kind of Ponzi scheme?

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

“Let Me In” (2010)

Let’s talk about the new vampire horror film, based on the Swedish “Let The Right One In.” The first thing I want to say is that I won’t go into plot elements as deeply as I did with “The Social Network” (not that I went that far) because plot twists actually are important in this film. However,
It is probably pretty widely known that the film revolves around the relationship between isolated, bullied twelve-year old Owen and a twelve year old (appearing) vampire named Abby. Instead of looking at the plot and how it appears through the lens of the Hero’s Journey, let’s look a bit at Owen and Abby through the lens of the Chakra system.
The Chakras are a Vedic tool similar to Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, starting with the most basic “mechanical organism” needs (survival, sex, shelter) and working up to more evolved complex and subjective needs (love, intellectual clarity, spiritual truth.)
The relationship growing between these two is based on wounds in the heart—both are lonely. Owen’s emptiness is created by absent parents (his father is merely a voice on the phone. His mother’s face is never clearly and directly viewed), while Abby is a…well, a vampire who must remain separate from…well, her cattle. That’s really the only way to put it. We can accept that she is lonely, and wants companionship, but the fact that she requires human help just to survive makes it reasonable to question her motivations.
Be that as it may, if you were to look at a diagram, Owen is threatened on the level of survival (a bit. He is being bullied, but very little bullying actually leads to death. Fear, yes...the real problem is that he has no allies, and doesn’t know how to acquire them). Sexuality? Owen craves a girlfriend, human contact. He is powerless and invisible, and sorry, that’s never terribly attractive. And that leads us to Chakra #3, power. Owen ain’t got it, and he wants it, as we all do (at least enough power to protect ourselves and our values.) And that leads to Chakra #4—love and emotion. He craves contact.
Now, Abby. First Chakra—survival. She needs blood to survive, and needs a human being to fetch the blood (most of the time). Second Chakra—sexuality. We know little, but it is suggested that Abby uses sexual contact of some kind to bond herself to her familiar “the Father.”
Third Chakra—power. She is vastly, inhumanly powerful. Her apparent helplessness is all affectation, and this is actually the heart of the horror. Owen has no way of understanding what he is doing. Anyone who thinks the power differential between Bill Clinton and a 22 year old intern was inappropriate should vomit at the gap between Owen and Abby.
Fourth Chakra: Heartspace. From Chloe Moritz’ wonderful performance, I think we can believe she genuinely likes and cares for her familiar…and Owen. But do we believe for a fraction of a second she would sacrifice herself for them? That she wants what is best for THEM? Her definition of love, and that of any sane, moral human being are vastly different. And without clarifying that difference for Owen, she is exploiting him more than any kiddy pimp or child molester in human history has ever exploited the gap between himself and his victim.
This is real horror. So there we are, with two needy characters doing a sensuous dance around each other, spiraling their way to hell. I LOVED this movie, but the critics who discussed its “romanticism”…well, let’s just say I wonder if they’ve ever had a healthy relationship in their lives. If this is “romanticism” the term itself needs to be redefined.

Monday, October 04, 2010

“The Social Network”

Over the weekend I saw two films, “The Social Network” and “Let Me In” and loved them both. It would be instructive to look at them from the perspective of our core model: the Hero’s Journey and the Chakras. And we’ll do that a bit this week.
“Social Network” is the brainchild of Aaron Sorkin, creator of the “West Wing” and his screenplay is crackerjack. Let’s forget the question of whether this tale, about the creation of “Facebook” is historically precise. Like it or not, that is not the primary job of a theatrical film. The primary job of a theatrical film is to be entertaining and return the investment of the studios…and factual accuracy is often secondary.
Nonetheless a film must have at least the appearance of reality…verisimilitude, and here “Social Media” holds up fine. The basic idea that Sorkin seems to be promoting is that, in terms of the charkas, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was a borderline Asperger type with an enormous hole in his heart, which he tried to fill with his brain. A guy who never got invited to parties…and so decided to throw the biggest party in the world.
The confusion between head and heart is central. Does it ring true? To anyone who has been around nerd (or, say…science fiction fandom?) knows a lot of “Zuckerbergs.” Brilliant but socially inept people, the kind who believe you can be “too smart.” My position: intelligence is problem solving. The only way that can be a problem is if you aren’t aware enough to actually select the right problems to solve. Given this basic premise, we watch Zuckerberg march through the steps of the Hero’s Journey—
Confronted with Challenge: To mature as a human being, to be able to form genuine relationships and advance as a human being.
he is asked to program a social network for fellow Harvard students.
Rejects Challenge: he decides he doesn’t respect the people who proposed this.
Accepts Challenge: to steal this idea and go in another direction.
Road of Trials: A gigantic amount of programming, team building, genuine brilliance and hard work, against the backdrop of shifting social connections. Learning to respect boundaries and promises, to understand what is and is not “honest” or appropriate…in other words, to grow up.
Allies and Powers: his friend and Chief Financial Officer is his only real friend (within the context of the movie). Mark is drop-dead brilliant, no question, and has creativity to burn and an instinctive understanding of the needs of others…if not himself.
Confront Evil-Defeat. “Evil” in the film context is Sean Parker the co[creator of Napster (played beautifully by Justin Timberlake, who continues to impress.) Remember: this is a guy who convinced an entire generation of impressionable young people that stealing wasn’t stealing. And this man dazzled Mark and became his moral guidepost! It is notable that Mark’s parents never appear in this film. He has no family, no outside friends. The social isolation is phenomenal. Mentally, he is dazzling. Emotionally, he is an empty vessel.
Dark Night of the Soul—the success of his empire accompanies the collapse of his personal relationships and the revelation of his emptiness.
Leap of Faith—he does not, cannot take it. He is pursuing success monomaniacally, and has no real concept of the damage he is doing.
BECAUSE he cannot take the leap, he collapses back to the prior emotional level, where he becomes obsessed with winning back the girlfriend he lost and shamed at the beginning of the film, as if understanding that this is the road to redemption.
There will be many who think that his financial success, or his transformation of the cyber-landscape compensate for any failings. That is fine: those people have simply defined their own morality, and there are plenty of ‘em. You need to decide, for yourself, what YOU think the morality of all this is. Zuckerberg ended up the youngest billionaire in American history. He has plenty of time for therapy and growth, and will probably do fine. Even the people he hurt, he made staggeringly rich. So he isn’t really a “villain” even in the context of the film…although Sean Parker certainly seems to be.
What do you think?