Something Big: Something We All Want?

Something Big: Something We All Want

I ordered the DVD for Dean Martin’s Something Big film after realising that I did not have a copy already and that I had not seen it for ages. I love the film, or more accurately, I love the theme of the film. It goes without saying that this would be a personal favourite. I am, and always will be, a Dean Martin fanboy. But this lackadaisical western cross of comedy/action has always appealed to me. Something big? You bet, isn’t that something that we all want?

In the film Dean plays Joe Baker, a man who went west to find fame and fortune. He left Pennsylvania and his fiancée behind and planned to make something of himself in a self allocated time period of two years. In the film, his two years have stretched to four and his fiancée, Dover McBride has told Joe his time is up.

Baker now has to hurry up and do his something big before he has to leave and marry the woman he loves.

I suppose the film struck a chord with me because in some ways it inadvertently paralleled my own life.  And I think that it could resonate with a lot of people.

If you take away the sexist tone of the film – the movie places all women in the category of sexual objects of desire/lust – and look at the plot line, you realise it is about dreaming. It is also about chasing that dream. Dean’s character is a dreamer and his fiancée is not. There is a scene once she arrives in the west where she confronts her fiancé and tells him about when The Wild West Show came through her  village in Scotland.

Her point was that the whole show was make-believe and that Baker was not the big star, or The Wild West Show, he was just a man who wasn’t about all that “bigger than life” malarkey. But this is a movie and Martin’s character does do his something big, albeit, after murdering an entire Mexican bandit gang with a gatling gun; something that critics moaned about when the film opened in 1971. But the point is that Baker did something we all want. Not wholesale murder and plunder, but something big.

People dream. At least normal people do. We all have dreams and aspirations. It is in our genetic makeup. For a lot of people their dreams die when they grow up, or their dreams change. Instead of becoming rich and famous or a variation of same, they become married with children. Their dreams then mature and become more about looking out for their family and children. They when they are older, they dream of retiring with enough money to last their autumn years.

I have always been a sort of Peter Pan kind of guy. My dreams were always the same. I wanted to be a respected writer and actor. That was it. Of course there were variations on the dream, but it never strayed too far from the original desire. Even after being married twice and having two children, events that did spawn a new set of dreams, I never lost that wish to be a man of words or imagination.

Neither of my wives liked my dreams. My first wife did support it. At first. But when living in Southern California, the reality of my pursuit became too much for my first wife and she threw down the gauntlet. I had to choose between her and my dream. Foolishly, I chose her.

Mistake.

Something Big; Something We All Want
There will always be someone ready to knock your dreams down.

We divorced four years later after bringing my son into the world. I wasn’t very good at “real life” and this sped our disintegrating marriage to its bitter conclusion. After a few years of solitary misery, I then married again.

To be fair, my second wife did not realise the depth of my desire to be a scribe and artist. When I actively worked to be both, I received an intervention session or two from her. “People like us don’t do those types of jobs,” was how the intervention began. Her point was really that people like her did not do those type of jobs.  Knowing now that she was a passive aggressive, I doubt that she ever really believed that. It was just a way of keeping me reliant upon her for my happiness.

Years later when her efforts to destroy any chance I had at working in my chosen profession reached fruition and I lost my agent,  I was suicidal. The day I got my last communiqué from my agent/manager, a part of me died. So did my marriage. I stuck with it for a long time after because of our daughter, but the relationship had been irrevocably severed.

My dreams, as a result, died too. I turned my back on the two things that had always pleased me and fulfilled me in ways that nothing else could. Sure, I could take pride in both of my children and at how well they were turning out, but  my something big, had disappeared. Just as the “real me” had vanished.

We all want to do something big. What that thing is, varies from person to person. It is an individual wish and dream. I’ve gotten more second chances than any one man should. Last year I was given the ultimate second chance. Now I’m trying to fit my old, slightly refined, dreams into my remaining years.

I am working as a professional writer and I worked as an actor in  my first professional film in years. When I am not agonising over my financial situation, I am marvelling at the direction my life has taken. I’m also waiting excitedly for my “showreel” so I can start auditioning for more film roles.

At the end of the film Something Big, Dean Martin’s character rides off into the sunset with the girl and you know that if the two do get married, his dreams are over. He will fit back into the mendacity of everyday life and his wife will make sure of it. She doesn’t want The Wild West Show, which means that she’ll make sure her husband does not either.

I have been blessed in so many ways after my last few tumultuous years. I’ve met people who have literally changed my life. DiMarkco Chandler co-owner and co-founder of the Las Vegas Guardian Express; Natasha Harmer, who put me in her film; Marilyn Armstrong and her wonderful husband Garry, and so many other WordPress pals, that to express my gratitude to all of them would make up the world’s longest blog post.

Sorry, I did not mean to go into yet another long-winded thank you. My point was and this is the last thing I’ll say on it, I promise, Something Big, could be the story of my life, or yours. Isn’t that something we all want? Something big or some huge defining thing that has our name all over it? Whether your something big is having children or owning your own house. What ever that dream is, don’t forget it or give up on it. Your something big is too important to give up.

By Michael SmithDreaming Big for Something Big

United Kingdom

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Nelson Mandela, a Movie, and an Epiphany

Nelson+Mandela+

I have had an amazing amount of things happen to me this year, it seems as if Lady Luck or God or whoever is in charge “up-there” is attempting to make up for my health issues and near-death experiences of last year. But for all the interesting and further “life-changing” events, the last two weeks have been the most…tumultuous? A fortnight of Nelson Mandela, making a movie, and having a sudden epiphany about my life.

I’ll explain.

On June 26, the paper that I work for, and believe me when I tell you I’ve never worked for a better company, had received news from a very reliable source that Nelson Mandela had died. Madiba was no more. The source (actually sources) were very highly placed in South Africa and had no axe to grind or ulterior motive apart from telling the world the truth.

My publisher asked me to write a piece about the facts as they’d been presented, which I sadly did. We placed the finished article in the “pending” file to wait for our second confirmation that Madiba had died. Our news editor, a great chap and one hell of a newsman/writer, in fit of over-zealousness, published my article.

All hell broke loose.

In under four hours, the article had gotten over half a million views. It also was attacked, both verbally and physically. I received a huge amount of hate-mail and negativity from readers. I got threats from individuals to remove the story at once. Our new’s site was attacked with repeated DDoS attacks that were traced back to South Africa.

The South African government, or their sanctioned agents, attempted to kill the story and our website. They succeeded in slowing the story down, but it is still alive and it is still the truth, in our eyes. Not long after the second day of DDoS attacks on our site, we received further confirmation that the iconic Nelson Mandela was dead.

While the rest of the world’s new’s sites continue to support President Zuma‘s fiction of the man being alive, we know the truth and it will come out.

But moving on from the death of Nelson Mandela, something the South African people aren’t allowed to do yet, by Zuma and Mandela’s family, follow this link to read about it, last weekend I made a movie.

Well, acted in a movie to be truthful. I had a ball! I’ve said repeatedly in my earlier posts that I had not been in front of the camera since *cough* the 1990s. Tash Harmer the owner operator of Films and Things, and if you don’t follow her F&T blog, stop reading this right this instant and do so; Tash is in University and she wrote a brilliant script for a short feature that received top honours at her Uni.

She decided to use the script to shoot her first professional effort. She wisely surrounded herself with a familiar crew, fellow Uni chums Meera Daji, Fiona Lockwood, and Katie-marie Holbrookboosh Penniman Jr, all of whom are in the same media type course as Tash.

Thank you all

I got the lead of Chris in the Once Bitten, Twice Shy short sans audition. Tash’s faith in me never wavered and I’ll always be grateful for the chance that she gave me. The chance to see if I still had my chops. Time and the film will hopefully show that I have still, “got it.”

But what I have definitely gotten is the chance to do the other thing, apart from writing, that I love. Bless you Tash and the gang, I’ll drop everything to work with you and the wonderful actors I worked with that day (who are, by the by, Steve Speak and Sanna Kelly).

Now on to my epiphany.

I have heard all my life two adages that have always irritated the hell out of me. The first one goes: All things come to those who wait, and the second one goes: Everything happens for a reason.

My reaction has always been a heartfelt and loud B***Sh**!

Not any more. I got divorced almost two years ago and I’ve never been happier. The loss of my second wife freed my mind, and her’s I think, and allowed me to devote more time to my first passion, writing. I now have broken the 70,000 view mark and beaten my 600 follow count by a good sum (and it’s still rising) and I’m working as a professional writer whose work is seen by millions. To paraphrase the Bible, “my cup runneth over.”

Blogging aside, and you’ll never know how much I love all of you  in the blogging community who’ve read, followed and interacted with me since I started this blogging venture, as I mentioned above,   I’ve gotten employed for the first time of my life as a professional writer and I’ve acted again, really acted for the first time in years. These two events combined with the warmth I’ve gotten from the blogging community, as well as getting Freshly Pressed last year, have really made me feel complete for the first time in years.

The divorce, my work injury and subsequent near death from a heart attack, and my ill-health retirement from same, all seem to have conspired to put me in this,  almost obscenely, happy place. I work with people that I love and respect as brother’s and sister’s who all have the same hopes, dreams and the overwhelming urge to write.

And I get paid huge dividends for my labour, as does everyone who works for the Guardian Express Las Vegas. I got a chance to re-live my passion for acting and I stumbled by chance into the world of the real news, I usually write what I call the “fluff” aka entertainment. I’ve been truly blessed.

So my epiphany  is this: Everything does, indeed, happen for a reason and good things do come to those who wait; even it that waiting period lasts a lifetime.

So there you have it. An encapsulated, if not long, period of my life and its changes and my changes. I love you all and I thank you all for going with me on this fascinating and wondrous journey. May the force be with you, or may you live long and prosper, or may you never get a wooden nickel.

Or to paraphrase one of my daughter Megs’ and my favourite film’s, Demolition Man, “Be well.”

Mugging at Kate!

Healthy Heart: Rehab and Diet

Before you ask; no, no-one looked like that at my session.
Before you ask; no, no-one looked like that at my session.

Today was my first rehabilitation session with the Cardio group. I think that I was the youngest,  but there was one other chap (a foreigner like me) who may have been a year or two younger. Either way, he and I were the “youngsters” of the group.

Having to wait for over seven and a half months to do my rehab, I was a little excited and a bit worried. I got there way too early and felt awkward as hell sitting in the hallway while waiting for the Physiotherapist to call me and the other “heart” patients in.

When I first got there a chap with a goatee who was being wheeled into an operating theatre waved to me and said, “Oh, hi Mike.” I nodded back and then spent the next twenty minutes wondering, ‘Who in the hell was that?’ It is at times like these that my idiotic vanity about wearing my glasses frustrates me almost enough to start wearing them.

But not quite.

In the interim, more folks gathered in the hallway and we were all called in together. I and two other folks were the “noob’s” of the group and got special attention. I do not know about the other two (a chap and a woman) but I felt stupid and clumsy. Not to mention the fact that I had to slow myself down.

At first, I felt that all the exercises were too easy. I was annoyed that I’d had to spit out my nicotine gum and I was beginning to think that all this had been a complete waste of time.

Then we got to the “sitting” exercise. It’s simple. You sit on a small stool (bench) and stand up. You then repeat this process for two whole minutes. At the midway point the first time we did this exercise, I looked at the chap next to me and said, “This one is going to be the killer.”

He nodded and grinned. The second time we had to do the exercise, he looked at me and said, “Did you say this was going to be a killer?” It was my turn to grin and nod. “You’re right, ” he said, “It’s a killer.”

This will give you an idea of this "killer" exercise. Again, none of my session mates looked like this.
This will give you an idea of this “killer” exercise. Again, none of my session mates looked like this.

At the end of the session we had tea or coffee (lovely touch, that) and a fifteen minute “cool-down” period. We all chatted and asked the odd question of the three ladies who ran the rehab group. When our time was up, I grabbed my hat and jacket and  said to the group, “see you later ladies.”

My stool sitting chum grinned and said, “See you next week!”

A good start to my eight week program and one that I expect to benefit greatly from as well as enjoy as the ladies running it make this whole thing a fun experience.

My new diet is another matter entirely. My first session last week with the Cardio specialist was an exercise of a different sort. I sat there dumbfounded for most of it. The reason?

Well:

Tuna fish in a tin (can) has no Omega 3. Zero. Zip. It’s something to do with the canning process. If it isn’t fresh (and who can afford that on a regular basis, I ask you) it isn’t healthy.

Salmon, mackerel, sardines, pilchards and kippers all are chock-a-block (full) of the stuff; tinned or otherwise. Now the only thing wrong with this list is that I only really like sardines and pilchards. So it’s going to be the Omega 3 supplements for me I’m afraid. Everything else is too damned fishy and oily.

Salad for my main meal (tea in this country, dinner in the US) is okay, but, it needs to be full of peppers, onions, carrots, et al, for it to be of any real benefit. This new fad of “5 a day” that is being almost literally shoved down our throats dictates that even loaded with the maximum of goodies, salad does not even equal one of that five.

Okay! I heard you the first time!
Okay! I heard you the first time!

I did explain that after my heart attack and surgeries that I did not eat that much. It is pretty much impossible for me to have five of anything per day! I also pointed out that if I increased my food intake, my “measurements” for the healthy zone were going to be shot.

On the positive side, I was told that my occasional ingestion of eggs and low-salt, low-fat bacon was okay. That my move away from meat as my main staple, while not necessary, was nonetheless helpful. I was also told that low-salt was a misnomer because no matter how high the salt content is, it is still salt.

I was also told to stop eating the fancy (spelled expensive) margarine since to get it to actually lower my cholesterol I’d have to eat gallons of it. A good old olive oil based margarine was just as efficient and cheaper.

As I sit here feeling comfortably healthy and full from my mackerel and toast snack, I am looking forward to my next week’s session and my salad for tea.

Perhaps I can work up to this “5-a-day” requirement, but, I’m not holding my breath.

Photo on 26-04-2013 at 10.10

Life After Almost Dying…

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I wanted a nice “eye-catching” title for my post today. After battling with myself for all of two minutes, I decided not to use the Life after Death title I wanted. Because, although I was technically “dead” while they operation on me for hours, I wasn’t really dead.

At least, I don’t think so.

I mean,  I did not see a white light; get visited by old dear dead relatives; receive any messages from beyond and I did not have any earth shattering visions. I was a little disappointed.

But then, I felt the same three years ago when they pumped me full of radioactive gunk and ran tests on me. I sort of hoped that I’d get some sort of super power, like Spiderman or even Dr Doom. (I know he’s a bad guy, okay?)

I have mentioned that before I was checked out of the hospital early (the staff and the doctors/surgeons were amazed that I’d “recovered” in 4 days) the cardiologist gave me a “pep” talk.

Said talk consisted of me suddenly realising one day that I’d almost died and that I would react, most probably, badly to it.

Hasn’t happened.

Yet.

But I have changed. No doubt about it. I’m different.

I could not have told you why either. Not until the other day at least.

I’ve finally been allowed to attend cardiology rehabilitation. I won’t go into the reasons why I’ve had to wait for over six months after the heart attack and two surgeries to attend. I’ve written about it all before. At my first “rehab” appointment I was given a questionnaire to fill in. Very much like the one I’d filled in on my first visit to my local GP after I got home from the hospital.

It asks lots of questions about how you feel.

Do you worry? Are you stressed? And so on.

One question towards the end  jumped off the page at me.

http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&docid=j5v0icf_wah8RM&tbnid=z6Ic8jgYKePDqM:&ved=0CAQQjB0&url=http%3A%2F%2Fkatarzyna24.wordpress.com%2F2008%2F02%2F25%2Ftempus-fugit%2F&ei=T8J-UZmJAsnO0QWG54GoAQ&bvm=bv.45645796,d.d2k&psig=AFQjCNHb5ni8pL-zIGKHpnKS5wOA_ognkA&ust=1367348112581422
katarzyna24.wordpress.com

Do you feel like you are in a hurry or like there is not enough time?

Bingo!

That is exactly how I feel.

I’ve been rushing around trying to do so many things; mainly because I’m afraid if I don’t, I’ll never get anything accomplished.

It  has dawned on me that I’ve spent the vast majority of my life not doing the things I was passionate about or even enjoyed doing.

My “too close for comfort” brush against the big guy with the scythe and hood made me realise it was time to stop futzing around. I then jumped back into the writing of my blog with almost manic energy (after  I’d started feeling like I really was alive after all) and then took stock.

At the end of that stock take, I’d made up my mind. Try everything that you’ve wanted to do for years; things that, damn it, you were good at. Writing and acting leapt to the front of the queue.

I am writing (a bit more sedately as I’m having to share my output) my blog, of course, but I’m also writing for Rogue Cinema. I’ve gotten my first freelance job, I’ve applied to The New Yorker Times, I’ve been accepted by What Culture and I’ll be acting for the first time in years around June/July this year. I am also, starting on May 16th, a host for Tomorrow Comes Media.

Some of my research.
Some of my research.

I am also up to chapter 7 of my book and I’m still sorting out ideas for more short stories for my collection.

I’m also researching, reading and discovering new authors and films. All these are just on the creative side of my life.

I’ve found that I can also take care of my house, garden, exercise, cook and try to get on top of my financial crisis.

Life is, at the moment, pretty damned sweet.

It is also busy.

So life after almost dying is good and, it has to be said, much better than the alternative.

Writing something!
Writing something!

 

RIP Margaret Thatcher: The Iron Lady has Gone

1925 - 2013 RIP
1925 – 2013 RIP

It was with surprise and a touch of sadness when I learned that Margaret Thatcher died today. She was 87 and a legend.

But even legends die.

This formidable women who changed the face of politics, Britain, and, in no small way, the world. Daughter of a grocery shop owner and as a child grew up in a household that was active in politics and the church.

She started in politics at an early age, running for local office in Dartford where she was the youngest and first female candidate in an all male race. It was during this time that she married Denis Thatcher.

But this is not a biographical recounting of this powerful woman, It is a look at how she embodied the theme of “girl power” long before it became an in vogue subject to talk about. She wasn’t a Spice Girl, but she was the perfect model of a strong female role model.

A role model that the world watched as she held office as Prime Minister longer than anyone before or since.

Whether you agreed with her political stance or even the party she represented, you can still admire her strength and her will, which is still being felt in the country today.

So I’m placing my metaphorical hat over my heart and bowing my head in remembrance.

So long Ms Thatcher (born: 13 October 1925 – died: 8 April 2013) – the Iron Lady is gone, but will never be forgotten.

The BIG THREE-OH-OH or 300 (for Purists)

Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 04.15.42

So I lay my head down to take a nap (I’ve been very busy lately and damned if it’s not tiring) and when I wake up, all fuzzy headed and wondering where the hell am I and what just happened. I pass the 300 follower point on my blog!

(How’s that for one long-assed opening sentence? Well I’ve got plenty more where that came from.)

Seriously though, I am pleased, excited, happy, (You like me, you really like me! Sorry Sally Field, I couldn’t resist.) and surprised. When I started blogging seriously back in 2011 I never dreamed that it would become such a huge part of my life.

Mind you I never knew that I was going to have two heath issues in one year (one of which was kind of critical) and have all that extra time to write. I did pretty good while I was working full-time at a real job, but my “not-real” job is a lot more fun and the lunch breaks are better.

You will all be happy to know that this is a short post. It will not be one of my 1000 word plus Margaret Mitchell length rants or reviews.

No, this is a quick 0410 in the morning shout of “Hurrah!” and thanks. Thanks to all you great folks out there who have made the ultimate show of interest and followed little old me.

I am eternally grateful and pleased to make your acquaintance.

Now go out and get your friends to follow.

Now.

Just kidding! I love you all for reading, following, commenting, and “liking” my stuff. Gee, it seems like I’ve said that before. The only fly in this honeyed ointment is that WordPress obviously do not give an award for the big 300!

So… what? Is 300 not as amazing as 200 was?

Still complaining aside, I’ll leave you all with one thought; this is how a blog post from moi looks when written at 0400 hours in the morning…after a nap!

Thanks guys! I raise my coffee cup in toast and say, “You’re the best!”

Cheers!
Cheers!

 

Getting Used to the Silence

My front garden (aka front yard)
My front garden (aka front yard)

Up until Friday the 26th of March this year, I was used to a (to me anyway) fairly full house. Then my daughter and her fella moved out of the house.

Now the house feels very empty…and quiet.

I’ve spent the past two days cleaning and washing and sorting the house until it looks fresh. It also looks empty. I decided this morning to take a few pictures and describe this silent location I live in. So tighten up your belts, the tour starts now.

The first thing you’ll see coming into my abode will be the front hallway –

My front hallway.
My front hallway.

Not too exciting by anyone’s standards but it is mine and it leads into the kitchen.

IMG_0067
See! I told you I’d been cleaning!

Then, if you turn around and go straight to your left you enter…The front room, aka sitting room.

My entertainment corner! Video games are mandatory.
My entertainment corner! Video games are mandatory.
My place of work...the downstairs one. Gloves for the heavy jobs only.
My place of work…the downstairs one. Gloves for the heavy jobs only.
My Stevie King collection, unfortunately a lot of them are in the attic due to lack of bookcases.
My Stevie King collection, unfortunately a lot of them are in the attic due to lack of bookcases.
My "remembrance" wall, The Twin towers skyline before 9/11 and my Gran Know way on the right.
My “remembrance” wall, The Twin towers skyline before 9/11 and my Gran Knox way on the right.

Then if you go up the stairs the first room you come to will be this one –

My third bedroom, cum spare room, cum office.
My third bedroom, cum spare room, cum office.

Then the very empty and too quiet second bedroom –

It's so empty! *sniff*
It’s so empty! *sniff*

And finally my last refuge at night, the master bedroom!

Complete with American "made in Missouri" quilt.
Complete with American “made in Missouri” quilt.

I’ve stopped the tour here. Why? Well because as the post title says “Getting Used to the Silence”  and that is a bit of a misnomer. I’ve discovered that since I have become the sole occupant of this house, that it makes one hell of a row at night. Especially at bedtime and especially just as I’m drifting off to sleep.

I don’t know how I never noticed it before. the house: creaks, pops, shuffles (I know, weird right), groans, snaps and makes a myriad of other sounds that defy description.

The end result of this cacophony of noise? Me jumping back awake every two minutes or so until I’ve convinced myself that, “Yes the downstairs doors were all locked and bolted. And yes, you are alone in the house!”

I personally blame the emptiness, and the pervading quiet that disarms me and is taking ages to get used to.

But honestly, it is allowing me to get on with my new-found work (I’m writing for Rogue Cinema and I’m now a part of the staff with owner/editor Duane L Martin and a bunch of other folks (including Misty Layne from Cinema Schninema).

I’m also signing on with Tomorrow Comes Media to participate in their author’s tour programme as well as writing my own blog and trying to write my first book (along with creating more short stories for a collection).

On top of that, I’m still watching films and excitedly awaiting the shooting date of Once Bitten, Twice Shy written, directed and produced by the super talented Natasha Harmer.

My cup truly “runneth over.”

So I’m trying to get used to the silence (except at night) and working on a schedule that will allow me to do everything and get to spend some quality me-time in my back garden.

We've got the sun, now we just need some warmth!
We’ve got the sun, now we just need some warmth!