The Grooviest Dream Book Ever – Dreams 1-2-3: Make Your Dreams Come True

Dreams 1-2-3
Dreams 1-2-3 @Amazon. Available in print and for Kindle.

A great book about dreams that can even help make your dreams come true

When you dream you have access to the best life coach ever, but thing is, coach speaks a language foreign to most folks. It’s a language of symbolism, and it’s not that hard to understand once you learn how it works.

I wrote Dreams 1-2-3: Remember, Interpret, and Live Your Dreams so that both beginners and dream experts benefit from it and really make the connection between their dreams and their waking lives. Living your dreams and making them come true is more than a euphemism; when taken literally it’s the best advice. Ever. I show you how to interpret dreams and use the information to your benefit, written in clear language and packed with examples and tips.

I have studied dreams for twenty years and know the theories of Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, Ann Faraday, Robert Johnson and many more, but I spare you the gritty details and academic jargon and just show you how it’s done. I think dream interpretation is understandable by everyone if they see their dreams as stories with details based on their waking lives. I make it as simple as possible while detailed enough to really get the ideas across.

To learn more, check out the book’s website at dreams1-2-3.com.

How I met a Child Molester and Almost Worked in P0rn

When you meet truly bad people in this world, you might have a hard time remembering their faces.

I don’t remember the face of the child molester. He was a little taller than me, and I was a 5’11” buck at the time, recently out of high school, working at a pizza place to make ends meet and living in my car. The year: 1988. Age: 18. He was white, maybe in his early 30s, maybe some facial hair. He had the face of a spy, someone so nondescript you could watch him rob a bank and twenty minutes later not remember anything more than a generic description.

I never actually saw the guy molest anyone. What I know for sure about him is he was involved in making pornography, child pornography too, and tried to recruit me into the business of adult porn. And I accepted his offer. He lived in the same apartment complex as several friends of mine, and heard about me and my circumstances from neighborhood kids who saw me sleep in my car. That’s how he knew I was vulnerable.

One night I came to work after a couple of days off and was told a man dropped in the night before looking for me. My coworkers didn’t remember much about him, didn’t see his car, could hardly describe him, but they sure remembered what he held: a banana clip: a high-capacity, curved magazine for assault rifles. At the time, assault rifles were exotic weapons for civilians to own. I think he carried it as a psychological trick to obscure what people remembered about him. What you remember about the robber is the gun, not the face. Hold something dangerous or exotic (he could have carried a snake and had the same effect) and that’s what people remember.

We had a fairly busy night at the pizza place. Most of my other coworkers were finished and enjoying an after-work drink when the man walked in looking for me. I was the closing server, which meant I finished up the work and was last to leave. The man asked me to come outside and talk with him. I agreed.

Around back of the restaurant he had parked his van. To understand why I climbed into the passenger seat and listened to his offer, and to understand why I accepted it, you would have to know my circumstances at the time.

Living in my car began as a grand adventure. I lived in a suburb and stayed in daily contact with friends from high school, one of whom sometimes lived in my car too. We had places to go, people to see, beer to drink. I had left home late in my senior year of high school and moved in with a family I’d known since middle school. They gave me until graduation day to figure out another living situation. When that day came I packed my belongings into my old Toyota Tercel and just started driving around town.

The man told me he had seen me around and wanted to use me as a porno actor. If I accepted his offer I would be in Chicago by the next morning, set up in an apartment and immediately making money. I told him I was straight and would only have sex with females, and he replied that I didn’t have to have sex with males.

Sold.

Like I said, I was vulnerable. Living in my car got old after while. It was a struggle. When you live in a car you see no path to a better life. You think about necessities like safety and warmth and gas in the tank. You can’t invite a girl over for a dinner of fast food in a cramped little car that had been wrecked and resurrected twice. You don’t believe goals like going to college or having a girlfriend are within your reach.

So I accepted the offer, even though I knew nothing about the man and got a creepy feeling from him. I just wasn’t processing the information the way I should have. Necessity overrode everything else. The man came along and offered me a way out of my predicament.

I told him to wait as I went inside the pizza place to tell my coworkers I was going to be in movies and had to leave right away. They were sitting at a booth with a pitcher of beer. Usually, I would finish my work and join them, but instead asked Dennis – coworker, high school buddy, and best friend at the time – to close the service area. I offered him all the tips I’d made that night, around $30-$40, to do it for me. When he asked why, I told him.

Thirty seconds later Dennis locked me in the walk-in cooler with him and refused to let me leave until I promised I would not take off to Chicago. He said we would get an apartment together and figure a way out of my predicament. Dennis was a good friend at the time. He saved my life that night. A month later we were living together with his brother in a cool three-bedroom place, fully furnished. The situation didn’t last, but it bridged a huge gap for me.

I walked back to the van and told the man who made me the offer of a lifetime that I couldn’t do it. I remember him trying to coax me back. He grew angry and sped off.

Dennis told me later that he knew the man was involved in pornography, and suspected he had been recruiting local kids. Yes, kids. I was 18 but looked 16, with blond hair, blue eyes and athletic build. Looking back now, I suspect his offer was a lie to lure me out of town away from any support I had and turn me into something he wanted me to be. I’ve learned a lot about how molesters and sex traffickers work. They never keep their promises.

No, I suspect that soon after arriving in some seedy south-Chicago housing project I would have been fed hard drugs, my identity documents taken, and locked in an apartment with a bunch of other kids – runaways and drug addicts. That’s what usually happens. I would then be sexually exploited, and when I was desperate enough, they would have me on film doing anything they wanted. When my expiration date came – the day I started looking haggard or fighting back – I would be killed or cast off, depending on how much I knew about the operation and how far my mind was gone.

Around a month later, I was driving around town drinking beers with Dennis and another friend along a main drag through our big suburb, Kettering, Ohio. We passed the man who made me the offer. He was driving the other direction in a white, convertible Chrysler LeBaron with the top down. In his hand: a flute of Champagne held delicately by the stem, while the other hand held the steering wheel. In the back of the car: two girls, maybe 13-14 years old, maybe younger, made up to look like they starred in a Whitesnake video, completely vamped out with teased hair, gobs of makeup and skimpy outfits. They looked confused, sad, pretty. He looked like he thought he was King of the World.

I saw all that in a flash. Then the man turned the car around and followed us. I sped up to 60 mph in a 35 zone. He stayed right on my bumper. Eventually I pulled into a parking lot and watched him drive passed, Champagne glass held in the air, glare on his face, never to be seen again.

Thank you, Dennis, for caring. You gave me the opportunity to do something good with my life, rather than sell myself into sexual slavery.

That’s the story of how I met a child molester and almost worked in porn.

The Shaman from Brooklyn, the Dark Master and the Generational Curse

shaman from brooklyn
A depiction of a shaman. Steve looked more “normal.”

Steve is not what most people think of when they picture a shaman. Instead of wearing masks and feathers, he wears jeans and button-downs, although the medicine bag hidden under his shirt gives him away. While people know him as a funny guy from Brooklyn with a Master’s degree in clinical counseling, I know him as the man who helped me lift a generational curse from my family. Before getting to that part of the story, first some background.

Steve does not advertise. You can’t look him up in the Raleigh, North Carolina Yellow Pages under “shaman.” You have to know someone who knows him, a reference. My reference was a lady I was dating who had lost her husband years prior in a biking accident. Her husband’s spirit hung around wanting to make everything right between them (there were unresolved issues when he died), and she needed help, so a friend of hers referred her to Steve. After her good experience, she referred me to him because she suspected, and I agreed, there were deeper reasons for my problems than garden variety.

I was a heavy drinker back then. It caused rifts in our relationship. One morning I woke up at her place with a broken toe, a pissed off lover and no memory of what happened. I had quit drinking before but came back to the bottle because it provided relief from anxiety (at a heavy price of producing more anxiety when I was sober) and opened connections to my feelings. It’s hard to describe how I knew that my drinking was connected to something spiritual. To really get the picture you have to go back to when I was nine years old.

That is when I had my first nightmare about the “Dark Master,” the term my dreams used to name him. He appeared to be a wicked man who had died but did not pass away, the “undead.” The closest I can describe him is he looked sort of like the Cryptkeeper from “Tales from the Crypt,” except he had no hair and appeared a bit more human. In the first nightmare I remember, he chased me around my neighborhood. I got away by hiding under a pinball machine. I had the distinct feeling he not only wanted to kill me, but claim my soul as a prize.

When I was 13 I met him again in a therapeutic setting. At the time I was in a “gifted kids” class. The teacher brought in a dream interpreter as a special speaker. The speaker asked for a volunteer to share a nightmare that had produced vivid memories. My hand shot up.

With my classmates surrounding me to provide an anchor to reality, the dream interpreter put me back into the nightmare, safely, by using hypnotic techniques. He asked me to visualize the conflict behind the dream, and my mind painted a picture of two families in a terrible quarrel. I saw them in a rural area, on what looked like a farm or plantation, faced off as two sides. The dream interpreter asked me to ask them why they were fighting. The characters erupted in an argument, and as best I could tell they were angry at each other over past wrongs. Blood had spilled. People had died.

The interpreter then asked me to try to resolve the feud, so I inserted myself between the two quarreling sides and declared, “Fighting is wrong. Can’t we all just get along?” Yes, it was my Rodney King moment, years before he became a household name. The two sides paused for a moment as my childish logic sunk in. They looked at each other, years of boiling hatred between them, and finally one of the elders stepped forward and said, “The boy is right. We have feuded long enough. Time to end this today.”

Kidding! The two sides did actually pause, followed quickly by another eruption of arguing and accusations even louder and more heated than before. My childish logic could not solve the feud. The scene became dangerous as some of the people turned against me, and the dream interpreter brought me out of the hypnosis before the situation melted down.

I have studied dreams for 20 years and can tell you there are all sorts of ways of interpreting what happened that day. The original nightmare could have been about trouble in my own family. We were barely making it financially at the time. Soon after the experience with the dream interpreter, my parents got divorced. So yes, there are conventional explanations for what happened, but not for why the nightmares continued.

I forgot about the experience with the dream interpreter until many years later when I had another nightmare about the Dark Master (referred to as DM from here on). I was in college at the time and working with another dream interpreter, my mentor Larry. The intervening years had been rough, but I had finally quit drinking (the first time) and began uncovering all sorts of shit buried deep in my mind. In the nightmare, three henchmen chased me around city streets at night trying to capture and deliver me to DM. I was ready for a fight, so I ditched the henchmen and found him at the top of a black office tower. He lay in a glass coffin in the middle of a room. Seeing him set my head on fire, figuratively. I can’t adequately describe the fury, the hatred. It was like I turned into a bolt of lightning, all sizzle and pop.

I reached into the coffin and wrapped my hands around his neck. ‘Squeeze! Squeeze harder!’ The flesh of his neck felt rubbery as my fingers sunk in. I tried to choke the life out of him, but he was already dead. He looked directly in my eyes and seemed pleased.

DM wanted me angry. It diverted me from my true purpose, which is to unite and harmonize, to forgive and heal. Picture Luke Skywalker from Star Wars the first time he fights Darth Vader. He is overcome by anger, and it leads to his defeat. Vader and The Emperor want Luke mad, want to corrupt him and turn him to the dark side. DM had the same thing in mind for me.

That Christmas I was visiting my mom, first time I had seen her in several years. I was on a spiritual trip as well as a holiday one, and for the first time since early childhood felt reunited inside, strong and healthy and clear. We were in the kitchen. I was making breakfast burritos. Mom says, “My mom told me once about a feud between our family and another family. I guess it was pretty bad. People died.”

I froze with spatula in hand. Eureka! I made the connection between my dreams about DM, the family feud I had visualized with the dream interpreter, and my family history. I did some research and found that the story seemingly had some historical connection. My maternal family line descends from the Campbells, a Scottish Highland clan that sided with the British Crown against the other Highland clans. In one of the most famous betrayals of all time, the Campbells sent a militia to the clan compound of the MacDonalds. They convinced the MacDonalds to open their doors and offer hospitality for the night. It was a Highland tradition to give lodging to even hated enemies. They would stop the quarrel for the night, sleep, get up, eat breakfast, then go back to fighting. Those Scotts and their traditions!

Well, during the night the Campbell militia rose from their beds, crept around the compound, found members of the MacDonald Clan sleeping and slaughtered them. Around 50 MacDonald clan members were murdered that night, an event known as the Massacre of Glencoe.

I tell you this so that you know what was in my mind when I walked into the office of Steve the Shaman with a broken toe and a troubled heart. My heavy drinking had plenty of roots in my own experience, but the deepest root seemed to be connected to my family tree. Yes, my father is an alcoholic. Yes, I followed in his footsteps as a heavy drinker. Yes, there is a connection between DNA and alcoholism. However, my younger brother is almost identical to me physically, but he grew up with a stepfather who drank only in moderation, and he never battled the bottle like I did. The causes for my drinking, I felt, ran deeper than personal or even hereditary.

I told Steve about the nightmares, the experience with the dream interpreter and the Massacre of Glencoe. With a combination of levity and amusement he listened, asked a few questions. Then he went into a sort of trance looking for the roots of my trouble, and surprised me with what he said:

“There is something in your family that goes back many generations, but what I see is not related to the Massacre of Glencoe. I see a woman from your maternal line who stole another woman’s husband through seduction. The other woman became insanely enraged and hired a black magician to cast a curse on the women of your family line. They were cursed to marry tragic men, and the power of that curse continues to this day.”

As crazy as it sounds, it made sense. All I really know about my maternal great-grandmother is she married tragic men and had a hard life. My grandmother outlived five husbands, widowed five times over. They were all tragic men, especially my grandfather, who died at age 43 from his third heart attack. My father, as I mentioned, is an alcoholic. My mom remarried a good man, a military officer. Great guy. I really like him and appreciate what he has done to give her love and stability. I think her faith in God broke the cycle of tragedy, but it jumped to me. Before I was born I was aware of it and knew what I was taking on, Steve said.

He pulled more surprises: My mom became pregnant around age 16 with my father’s child but miscarried. The child was female. He said the miscarriage was intentional, in a sense: I knew that body was not equipped to handle the challenges facing me, so my soul abandoned it and waited for the next opportunity. Two years later, my mom conceived again, a boy that time, and my soul knew the body was better equipped for the unique challenges ahead. Because the curse was specifically on the females of my maternal line, as a male I had more distance from it. Mom will freak out if she ever reads this story, but it is the truth as I know it. To understand why I accept this truth, you would have to have been there with me in Steve’s office that day, and in the classroom when the dream interpreter read my mind, and in my head during the nightmares.

Steve’s office was a converted second floor bedroom. He lived in a beautiful, rustic home with his wife, surrounded by acres of Carolina fields and trees. On the walls of his office were posters of the human body and its endocrine system, its meridians, energy centers and circuits. Native figurines displayed on shelves and desktops. Books with topics like spiritualism, shamanism and homeopathic medicine lined bookcases. He smoked organic American Spirit cigarettes, a rare brand for people who know that it’s not the tobacco that kills most people who die from using it, it’s the crap companies put in the tobacco and the heavily fertilized soil it’s grown in. I smoke those cigarettes, too. It was one helluva coincidence, same as Steve somehow knew about the tragedy in my maternal line without asking me. Same as he saw my dreams like they were his own. Dude is the real thing, a real shaman, but a complete Brooklyn boy, too. He is one of my favorite people on this planet.

What happened next is a little fuzzy in my memory because Steve and I went into trance together. I’m not talking about the “spaced out” trance that most people associate with trances. It’s more like a guided meditation heavy on the visuals. Steve had me sit on a short, wooden stool as he put on a tape of shamanic drumming. He grabbed some shaman’s tools including a small drum and a flute-like instrument, stood behind me and began working.

He looked at my body while in trance and saw inside of it, and said there was a black knife made of metaphysical energy buried between my shoulder blades. Dark Master had stabbed me in my heart, and with the blade lodged there it hindered my efforts to improve myself and heal my life, because DM could influence my feelings directly by zapping my heart with negative energy. I had felt it many times before meeting Steve, but had no frame of reference for understanding it.

A scene in the first Lord of the Rings movie reminds me of what it’s like to have a metaphysical knife in your heart. Frodo is stabbed by a Nazgul and a splinter of the blade is lodged in his shoulder near his heart. If you read the book you know that the sliver of blade that broke off affected Frodo throughout the rest of the story (it’s not as clear in the movies). Anytime he got near a Nazgul, the sliver blazed inside him, causing intense suffering and influencing his feelings to make him want to give up the quest to destroy the One Ring. That is what the thing in my heart was like.

Steve removed the blade using shamanic techniques. It was rough; damn thing was buried deep, but it had to come out first or else the work we did together was bound to fail: I might get temporary relief, but with the blade inside me, DM would eventually find a way to blast me with black magic. He would take my life off course.

What happened next is hard to explain. Removing the blade was like peeling off a cold, wet blanket. I found myself capable of “going higher” than ever before, meaning I could go to the mental place where Steve saw me as a metaphysical body. Even with the boost I got, it was extremely difficult. An hour had passed since we started the trance, and weariness grew in me from staying intensely focused for that long. Something inside of me fiercely resisted the work. DM didn’t want to give up, and I had come partially under its power.

Then two things happened that connected everything together. First, Steve reminded me of an image from my dreams: funnel clouds. I had recurring dreams of tornadoes chasing me, which I did not tell him about but he saw anyway as if my dreams were his. He told me the funnel clouds weren’t after me, they were after DM. He told me to look inside the funnel. At the top, kid you not, I saw the All-Seeing Eye. I opened up and allowed the Eye to see inside me. Instead of running in terror when something saw the darkness in me, I was relieved. At that moment I realized I was built exactly the way I was supposed to be. The darkness is to be embraced, accepted, even loved, but also kept at a distance. It is the fire that forges the tool.

Next, I saw a pyramid of white light form around my body. I saw it in my mind, but felt it with my nerves. I’ve been under hypnosis. I’ve gone into trance. I’ve meditated. I’ve tripped hardcore on psychedelics. But never have I seen something so vividly in my mind. Never have I felt it with my physical senses.

The moment had arrived. I would either be rid of DM, or would choose, subconsciously, to allow him to continue having a channel directly to my heart. My life was literally on the line.

When the pyramid formed, I felt a connection open directly to DM like a phone call. I sensed his thoughts, his fear, his hatred. My mentor Larry had prepared me for the battle through conversations about the Star Wars mythology and how it applied to my life. At heart, Star Wars is about forgiveness. In Return of the Jedi, Luke walks into the dragon’s lair and confronts Vader and the Emperor. They think it is the moment of their triumph, but Luke has learned that the strongest force in the universe is love, and love is expressed through forgiveness.

With that in mind, I saw DM as the tragic figure he was – or is. I felt sorry for him, the magician entrapped by his own power. You see, the power of a curse is bound to the one who casts it, even after death. I saw DM as dead but alive because his physical body had perished centuries before I was born, but his soul or life essence or whatever you want to call it was bound to the curse. He was as much a victim of his power as he was victimizer. Karma is a bitch!

After DM went up into the funnel and I was finally free of him, Steve loudly clapped his hands once and brought me back to reality. Around 90 minutes had passed since I first walked in. We both wanted a smoke.

I wish I could say I never drank alcohol again. A few times in the years since meeting Steve the Shaman I have gone through a drinking phase, followed by a reminder of why I don’t drink and a long period of abstinence. I have not had another nightmare about DM or any sense of his presence, although he has become a shorthand for recognizing my personal shadow. When my ego is feeling bruised or I’m getting full of myself, I know shadow is at work. The difference now is it’s manageable; I don’t fall back into the hole, and the longer I stay out of it, the more it fills in. Best of all, I know the curse is gone. My maternal line is free to marry good men and have children free from the sins of the past.

To this day I have second thoughts about all of it, whether I interpreted the nightmares correctly, whether Steve is just really good at helping people act out their issues and find resolutions. If it hadn’t happened to me, I might look at my story as a psychological drama and nothing more, played out in imaginative ways. Either way, judging by the results, it worked.

And that’s the story of the Shaman from Brooklyn, the Dark Master and the Generational Curse.

Conscious Dreaming and Jared Loughner

Dreams have been great sources of wisdom, inspiration, and discovery throughout human history. Never before have I heard of a case like Loughner’s where lucid dreaming is pointed to as a possible reason for committing mass murder.

A lot of people trying to wrap their minds around the motives of Jared Loughner — the Tucson shooter who murdered six people Saturday at a Safeway and wounded many more — are puzzling over the latest information to emerge: he was a “conscious dreamer.” Before a misunderstanding starts, let’s find out what that means.

I’m writing a book about dream interpretation and am personally familiar with conscious dreaming, which is simply the ability to “wake up” during a dream and continue dreaming while conscious but asleep. In my experience, it’s a rare ability but one that can be developed by just about anyone, to experience at least a few conscious dreams. Also known as lucid dreams because of the lucid awareness of the dreamer, conscious dreaming is something like Neo in the Matrix, with the ability to create reality — or an illusion of it.

Neo
Neo stopping bullets

A friend of Loughner’s said that the shooter became increasingly disconnected with everyday reality as the dreaming world took over his life. Sounds kind of dangerous, right? Like something you wouldn’t want your kids to do. Something that could be isolating, or even forbidden (and indeed, conscious dreaming is forbidden by some fundamentalist sects, under pretense that the source is demonic). In Jared’s case though, he learned the wrong lessons in his dream world.

Instead of gaining greater appreciation for life like most people do after lucid dreaming, Loughner grew to discount it, even to deny the existence or relevance of the material world. The jarring contrast between the real world and his fantasy land where he could create anything he wanted sent him further into his imagination. He learned to fly like Superman, a friend of his reported, and probably did what most people his age would do and created a fantasy sex partner. The experience of sex — like everything in the land of lucid dreaming — is a full sensory experience, in many ways better than the real thing.

Some people react to discovering the ability to lucid dream by experiencing everything they’ve ever wanted, going anywhere they want and doing anything. The creative potential is unlimited. Want to live in your own universe? You can. But just know that living in this universe and having to learn how to get what you want from it can be more difficult the more it is avoided. That is the risk — overindulgence always has a price.

Another approach to lucid dreaming is allowing the dream to take the conscious mind into its world for a guided tour. That requires listening to and learning from everything that emerges. It also requires engagement with life and the world on a higher level while awake.

Dreams have been great sources of wisdom, inspiration, and discovery throughout human history. Never before have I heard of a case like Loughner’s where lucid dreaming is pointed to as a possible reason for committing mass murder.

The Mother Jones article I used as a reference quoted one of his friends as saying the shooter was trying to “wake people up” by being a cog in the machine, a glitch in the Matrix. Again, he failed to learn an essential lesson from lucid dreaming: everyone deserves the right to their own reality, to their own dream. If people want to be sheep, let them be sheep. If they want to sleepwalk through life unaware of the deeper layers, of the hypocrisies and abuses and contradictions, so be it. In the Matrix, the betraying character just wants to rejoin the ignorant masses, where he can eat a steak and be someone important. But to do so he has to betray his comrades and take from them what’s most valuable to everyone: their lives, and that is the worst betrayal.

Life provides the potential to “wake up” and uncover the deeper layers Loughner experienced in his dreams. But it is an individual choice, and often difficult to do. All of reality — this universe — is built from something that when examined closely enough seems to disappear. Many mystics and religious ascetics report the same sort of blurring of the lines between our world and the soil it grows from. And a few great souls have reportedly attained the ability to affect reality in this world much the same as it can be created in a lucid dream.

I suspect that the purpose is to teach us all how to be responsible creators. If one learns to lucid dream and goes about it humbly, deeper meanings are uncovered and more power is given to the dreamer to affect reality in the waking world. However, I know of a few cases where dreamers overindulged and their ability to lucid dream disappeared like a gun locked safely away. In the wrong hands….

Which is exactly what appears to have happened with Jared Loughner.

For more about lucid dreaming, the best book I’ve read on the subject is Conscious Dreamer, by Robert Moss.

Or start with these short Youtube videos:

There Will Be Blood: why good Christians scare me

I know Jesus in a savior way but choose “other” as my religion rather than be associated with the fundamentalists who have hijacked the message of Christianity.

My despising of George Bush excludes me from many mainstream Christian churches. He’s my Antichrist. Jesus said feed the poor, pity the rich, live at peace, tell the truth. George says screw the poor, serve the rich, launch wars and tell any damn lie I please. For those of you who disagree, wake up. Jesus burns the chafe.

I know for a fact that Jesus doesn’t pick sides and won’t be at the pearly gates weighing souls against their adherence to his religion 2,000 years after he died. I was there. The original version looks nothing like what we see on television and in churches today.

My soul has lived many human lives and will return until this world no longer needs me. I have an EZ Pass through all spiritual toll booths. I wave to Jesus going by the gates and we share a chuckle about the line of souls waiting with fear and trembling for him to dispense exactly what they’ve been expecting.

The road to spiritual maturity requires many lives. Inevitably, one of those lives stinks. But it is never unworthy. Never.

My differences with common Christian doctrine extend back to the beginning. There was a Garden we can call Eden. There is a Garden right here all around us where our creator wants us to play like Adam and Eve. Or Adam and Steve for all the universe cares as long as union is entered into consciously and lovingly. Our creator is a clever teacher to entice souls into experiencing lives often including suffering and injustice. The pleasures are here for a reason.

And it all began with a Big Bang billions of years ago.

Evolution is a theory and should be taught in the scientific tradition. Darwin never claimed that humans evolved from apes. Nothing disproves that the human life form didn’t develop from simple organisms in the seas, then God breathed special life – souls – into two bodies. Those two, so enthralled at experiencing each other separately in incredibly sensitive flesh, copulated like crazy producing offspring to spread into the world and mate with the natives.

A lot of public copulating went in the early days before we knew shame, I imagine. For many of us today that is a damn good reason to be. I think therefore I am? Nah, I can think of a much better reason to be alive. The monks have it wrong: ‘ohm’ isn’t the sound of creation, it’s ‘ahhh’… baby that was fabulous. ;-)~ Let’s do it again!

The creator inserted a few strands of DNA and off we go, fusing matter with spirit. Could have happened same as evolution or intelligent design. So-called Christian leaders habitually distract their flocks with small issues to indoctrinate otherwise capable minds. It’s an age-old technique of manipulation. Some people have to live that way, God bless them. Just don’t infiltrate my school board with your simple-mindedness because scientifically, you are clueless, and I’m a scientist – old school. I’ve seen way more than enough proof that life and the cosmos cannot be explained by any theory, but we can sure try. And that explanation makes a lot more sense. Otherwise, why put us in a world so obviously contrary to scripture? To test our faith.

I’m testing my fate and faith by believing my own conclusions being open to everything. Everyone’s got something good to say about God. I hold all with the same esteem.

Some Christian churches receive the wisdom of the ever-unfolding moment and use the Bible as a compass, not a map with clearly defined borders and destinations. Boundaries and morality create space for the soul to more fully inhabit the flesh. The morality of Bible-only churches is stifling to the soul that wants to use the body and mind for what they’re intended:

Exploration. Of ourselves, each other, our world and the universe so full of clues about its creation. Of the fifty churches I’ve attended, two or three might have understood me. The rest would embark on a quest to save my soul. Sorry but I once convinced half of a Methodist ladies’ convention to have wine with dinner. Once I enticed one, the rest cut loose with a glass or two of wine. A few even got imported beers. Don’t condemn me before seeing the tips those nice ladies poured on me for convincing them to loosen up. Hours of being preached to wears out about anyone’s patience.

I stomached five minutes of Jesus Camp until they marched out the cardboard cutout of George Bush and prayed to it. What you do unto these, you do unto me, sayeth Hayseuse. Adults can believe whatever deluded bullshit they want, but when they make children believe it, they’ve committed a crime.

These Bush-worshipers are supporting a crime against humanity. George W. refers frequently to history’s judgment, but billions of voices have already joined to condemn a preconceived war twisted to fit around a national tragedy, serving the interests of dynastic families propped upon the backs of the rich and elite. They should all be flogged and humiliated in public.

My church would never support a cabal that could be seen coming in 2000 before November. They would be ashamed now that the truth is out to have voted for the men and redirect it where it belongs. The way the Bush scion took office – took office – foretold the trouble to come. When he answered during the campaign that Jesus was his favorite political philosopher, this student of political philosophy literally cracked up laughing. People in politics who knew W.’s shuck-and-jive routine from his fraternity days (and later years as purveyor of dirty tricks and family glad-handing) found the comparison absurd. Say Jesus and His followers voted for Bush despite the glaringly obvious fact that he was not qualified. Christians should have seen the shiftiness in his eyes from the beginning.

No well-informed person could be a member a church pushing a political agenda disguised as morality. A shame because I have a ministry waiting for a community.

It’s called, Save the World. Jesus I love you but your followers scare me. When oilmen get religion, There Will Be Blood.

Open source software for writers, designers and musicians: yes it is free

The last few days I have been glued to a computer screen working with two free, open-source design programs, and I’m so appreciative of the free love, I’m going to spread it. Here are some great free programs that you can trust:

Open Office – Stick it here, Microsoft, all of your expensive Office programs given away must make your employees wonder whether to keep investing their 401ks in company stock.

GIMP – Same for you, Adobe Photoshop. I’ve yet to find anything payware has over the freeware. I can layer, mask, screen, filter, script, add text, edit photos, crop, scale….

Inkscape – Same for you, Illustrator. Vector graphics for flyers, posters, web pages. Manipulate text, color and shape.

Scribus – Same for you, inDesign. I’ll lay out my own book. It’s called Second Coming, currently being edited by yours truly. Soon….

Audacity – Record music, edit sound, mix, sample and much more. Comparable to CakeWalk.

This is a start. I’ve been in this chair ALLLL day preparing artwork for the launch of the new theme. Here we go….

The Bullzee: Who can talk shit the longest

I propose a challenge, an award and a new Guinness Record all in one. Joining the Emmy, Razzie and the guy who bounced on a pogo stick for a week straight, I believe the world needs a new high water mark. Thinking of hip-waders, we might call this a high BS mark, because the Bullzee will be awarded for the longest continuously spoken stream of complete bull shit. Don’t laugh — this is art!

Like any award or world record, this one has rules. We can modify them on the run. I’m having this brainstorm before walking out the door to the coffee shop — the idea couldn’t wait.

1. No more than a three second pause between words. 3.01 seconds disqualifies the attempt at the time stamp of the last spoken word.

2. Only words spoken in a common, verifiable language — preferez l’Anglais — count. Singing does not. Random sounds are allowed as part of the attempt but do not qualify for the continuous steam. Thus a long “uh” better last no more than three seconds. A continuous stream of cussing does not count either. Words must be strung together in a that makes sense but has no factual basis. So for example, a New Yorker going off about the subway does not count, but a Little Rock resident who has never been to New York ranting about the subway — that’s complete bull shit.

3. Alteration of the audio to extend the time of speaking or sound output through such means as delay repeats or slowing the tempo will disqualify an attempt. However, one exception is a brief use slow motion to emphasize a really funny part. Do so at your own risk, because the judges (whoever the hell they are) will decide whether your shit is cracked up, and if it isn’t, you lose.

4. Audio effects such as phaser, flanger and resonator are acceptable as long as they do not alter the time signature of the audio recording.

5. Reading from any source does not count. Eyeballs will be examined closely if a teleprompter is suspected of being used. Audio sources such as earpieces are not allowed. No help of any kind — not a friend off-camera feeding lines, an obscure comedy routine fed into the ear — no help. The BS stream must be completely off the top of the head. Think of Marshall keeping it real with the homies in Detroit.

6. The spirit of the Bullzee is an award for the street poet, a record dedicated to the guys and gals who do this sort of nonsense every day, whether hanging on a street corner with the boyz or just hanging on a street corner ’cause they live there. However, no racial overtones are expected. Everyone has a little street poet in them. I’d love to see the Ayatollah bust a rap on George junior.

7. This is not a group effort. One person, one attempt.

8. In order to authenticate the attempt, a time stamp with at least tenths of a second, or a running digital clock facing the camera must be used. I’ll think more about that. Time to get some java….

8. And just to be clear: complete bull. Who wants to win the first Bullzee?

I will be making my own attempt later.

Bloody Counter-Strike blamed for offline violence

The game stands out among others for realistic violence among many violent and realistic games. Hundreds of thousands of people around the world play online every day in head-to-head competition. A few weeks ago in California, nearly a hundred people gathered for a game tournament that ended in a physical brawl, with chairs flying and shots fired.

Most of the action though occurs during the game, where differences are settled old-school: with a bullet to the head or a knife to the belly. However, the question has been asked and will continue to be debated: does simulated violence in games like Counter-Strike inspire real violence?

Counter-Strike is a first-person shooter (FPS), a 3-D, 360-degree world of paramilitary team-play using a variety of weapons like rifles, machine guns and grenades. One team called the “terrorists” attempts to complete an objective such as bombing a site with explosives, preventing the rescue of hostages, or assassination. The “counter-terrorists” try to stop them, usually with a hail of bullets. Killing off the other team is just as good as completing the objective. Blood flies everywhere.

What makes Counter-Strike so immensely popular and unique is the realism: real weapons, real tactics, real movements, real bullets…. Not real, but the experience of game play can be so life-like and consuming, the difference is hard to tell. Some players take Counter-Strike very seriously, obsessive and highly competitive, and apparently, sometimes violent in real life.

The fights reported in California cybercafes over Counter-Strike are a result of turf wars between Asian gangs, not vengeful players out to settle a score in real life. However, news reports about violence involving video games frequently mention Counter-Strike, and inevitably an association is made.

Counter-Strike players sometimes argue heatedly through headsets connected by the Internet, or by in-game chat message. Threats are routinely made, easily brushed off because the Internet is anonymous — or so players believe. Counter-Strike is being singled out to make the argument that the chicken comes before the egg, that violent games cause real-life violence. Question is, where is the line between harmless fun and harmful compulsion? And should the game get the blame when players are involved in real-life violence?

I have personally seen Counter-Strike bring out aggression and heard exchanges between players that would make an NBA ref blush. The arguing and threats are almost always juvenile huffing and puffing, but occasionally a real jackass with a dirty mouth will make threats — and mean it. When someone promises to hunt down another player in real life, the player can either make an invitation or laugh it off.

But in cybercafes the players are seated in the same room. I worked at a cybercafe where Counter-Strike was the favorite game and saw first-hand how players get on each other for bad play, with comments like, “Hey idiot, you just grenaded me!” or, “Get the hell out of my way, moron!” I never saw or heard of anyone getting violent (except of course, in the game). Once in a while threats were made. A bad move can bring down the wrath of other players, especially from the gung-ho types who take the game (too) seriously. It happens.

Player Logo
This is my current Counter-Strike player logo. Click to see my stats.

I tasted that wrath the very first time I played. In 1999, Counter-Strike was still an offshoot of Half-Life, an immensely popular game for home computer. Back then, players had to know everything down to what ammo to buy for each weapon, and the attention to detail attracted enthusiasts tired of blowing away computer-controlled fantasy creatures and longing for head-to-head, online competition. Counter-Strike quickly developed a cult-like online following. For months I watched customers play, but had not jumped in because of the feeling I’d like the game too much.

Then one night, I jumped in.

After closing the cybercafe, I sat down at a computer terminal in the dark, the only light coming from the fluorescent glow of the computer monitor. After setting the game controls and finding a server, I joined a game of Counter-Strike beta 1.3 in progress.

When my character popped into the cyber combat zone I was alone, though gunshots echoed in the distance. I ran around without a clue what to do, and came upon an empty house. Inside I found two guys in white lab coats standing in a corner minding their own business. and thought, great, targets, so I blasted them, then found two more and blasted them too.

Immediately, the scrolling chat at the bottom of the screen lit up with name calling and invective. Nasty stuff. I was supposed to rescue the guys in white coats, not cap them, and my team paid the price for my ignorance. They lost game money that is used to pay for armor and weapons at the beginning of each round.

They were very, very angry at me.

But no one threatened to hunt me down personally — although such threats have been directed my way more times than I can count. I’m willing to bleed pixels. The smack talk is part of the game, like the messy head shots that spray blood everywhere. Cussing. Promises of revenge. And like I said at the start, there are better ways to settle an argument. Let’s meet on the field of battle and see who has skillz.

There are many players who have been fragged by Rocky Whore (my old Counter-Strike screen name) but I do not expect any of them to come looking for me as I sit at a PC at PingTime on State Street in Madison, WI and blast away. In fact, I would be quite surprised if anyone took the game that far. But you never know. The servers that run the game through the Internet track IP addresses and game ID’s (update: now player profiles can include real name and contact info). If an angry player making threats also has access to the server I am playing on, there are ways that he (or she) can conceivably figure out who and where I am. An IP address alone is like a zip code indicating a general location, and CD keys can conceivably be tracked back to the point of sale. Though I do not know for sure if that could be done.

But there are other ways to track players: servers keep logs including in-game chat, and simple software can search for all instances of player names. Those names can be tracked from server to server too. If a player reveals personal information like a full name, school, work site or even home address, that information can be found and compiled. A clever psychopath bent on revenge has more ways than one to break the veil of anonymity.

Cover
The author of this post has a novel available at Amazon and other retail outlets. Click the cover the check it out!

There is the line that can not be crossed. Until it is, Counter-Strike and other bloody online games can dodge the accusatory bullets, because no causal connection can be made. There are other games like Grand Theft Auto, Quake and Doom that have been accused of inspiring violence. But they cannot and should not be blamed for their realism.

Until someone crosses the line.

If you are a concerned parent reading this article, don’t worry. Unless junior is a little prick who talks mad smack and flaunts his identity online, no one is coming to burn down your home. But follow the age guidelines and be very careful of allowing impressionable children into such a brutal environment. Children under age six are not able to differentiate between reality and virtual reality, and they experience games is if actually happening. So a five-year old experiencing their head being scattered by a shotgun is not something that should be bouncing around in a little head.

On that note, when I worked at the cybercafe, the people who owned the place would leave their kids for hours in front of the “computer babysitter.” One night the youngest son, 5 years old, played CS with a brutal bunch of players and the shotgun scenario happened. I could tell how much it disturbed the kid — he got up from the computer and walked over to the player who blew his brains all over the screen, tugged at his sleeve and said:

“Please don’t kill me again.”