Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Wounded Knee - You Can Justify It In The End

I love this song "One Tin Solider" by Coven from the movie "The Legend of Billy Jack."
Spotted Elk lies dead after Wounded Knee Massacre, 1890

It tells a story of "Valley People" who wanted a treasure that was in the territory of the "Mountain People." Whereas the Mountain People were loving and ready to share, the valley bullies decided they wanted the treasure for their very own. And so they killed the mountain folk in order to get that "reward."

The reason I love the song so much, besides the ironic ending which we will get to later, was because of these poignant lines:

"Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and cheat a friend
Do it in the name of Heaven, you can justify it in the end
"

You can justify it in the end. 

Cleaning up the mess December 29, 1890, South Dakota
This leads me to Wounded Knee and all the other justified killings humans have ever thought were a "good idea." For all the times warriors, soldiers, and freedom fighters stood in righteousness over their murderous actions, there has been a small cry of sanity hoping for another way.

Wounded Knee - originally termed a "battle" by the victor, later termed a "massacre" by realists - took place December 29, 1890 in South Dakota. The day before, the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment led bands of Miniconjou and Hunkpapa Lakota to Wounded Knee Creek where the Lakota set up camp, surrounded by the Calvary. On the morning of December 29, the troops went into the camp to take away the firearms of the Lakota. That's when all hell broke loose. By the time it was over, between 200 and 300 Lakota men, women, and children had been killed and 51 were wounded. On the U.S. military side, 25-30 soldiers perished, with at least 20 soldiers later awarded the Medal of Honor.

All right. Is that enough insanity for you? No?

Cleaning up the mess, Some time after 1938, Germany.
Consider any other killing. Consider the Holocaust, which ironically carries similar views of mass graves. Consider the simple gang drive-by shooting on the streets of Chicago. Consider the bombs, missiles and drones that wipe out children, families, villages and cities in foreign lands. Consider 911 deaths, and the subsequent deaths of those the U.S. believed perpetrated that terror? Consider the nuclear detonations of August 1945 in two cities in Japan. Consider the hanging of blacks in the south in the an ugly nation's past, or the hangings of dictators in foreign countries today.

It is all insane.

There may be some minds struggling with the previous paragraph above, as some murder may appear justified while others are horrific. But is it not all murder on a tangible level? Do not the 10 Commandments include "Thou shalt not kill" without any asterisks or addendum? Does not one limb break the same as another; one mother wail in agony the same as another, one heart break the same as another? 

All asterisks and addendums were added to "thou shall not kill" after the fact, once a mind could justify not turning the other cheek, but instead pushing and pulling for "bringing the terrorists to justice." Who is the terrorist when all murder results in the same brokenness and horror? The righteous leaders may be able to rally enough fear and hatred in the people to support the pure madness and evil of murder, but does it ever justify it?

Wounded Knee, with its anniversary today, can stand as an example of a humanity gone wrong, a story that shifted from a battle to a massacre, but one that will always be - on a very real level - insanity. We can all learn from it, to realize killing is killing, and it will always have the same result: more killing.

Now, back to the end of our song with which we started this story. Our Valley People wanted that treasure for their very own. Remember?

Now the valley cried in anger - "Mount your horses, draw your sword"
And they killed the mountain people - So they won their just reward
Now they stood beside the treasure - On the mountain dark and red
Turn the stone and which beneath it - "Peace on Earth" was all it said.

Perhaps the only real ending to the story will be peace; perhaps it will be standing for something else besides killing, greed and leverage. Perhaps it will be our own sanity. Perhaps the only thing we ever will be able to truly "justify in the end" will be brotherly and sisterly love.


James Anthony Ellis is a writer living in San Diego, California. He can be reached at www.LegacyProductions.org. 




Monday, December 28, 2015

For an Entrepreneur - Time to Get Crackin... Pretty Soon

Today is Monday, December 28. You know what that means. 

It's the Monday after Christmas and a few days before the New Years. And you know that that means!

It's a time period where most people are still reeling from the holiday feeling and still in restful anticipation of another holiday.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?

No? Neither do I. All I know is it's an odd, off-time, where the world appears to be slumbering and sleeping off a Christmas roast beast meal. Work? That's hard to do when you have the winding down of an old year ... and all that freaking chocolate candy calling your name.


However because I'm an entrepreneur with only one boss - the banks and creditors who also call my name - I must keep working and looking for work. Because of this, I have created a regiment, to keep me moving in the right direction. I don't get a holiday break like the college and school kids do, and I don't have "vacation time" saved up. Nope. I'm stuck having to CHOOSE my own life and do all I can to make it all work out.

And so what do I need to do? Simply, I must be faithful to a protocol and regiment laid down before me, with the magic start time of Monday, December 28.

Here we go.:
  • Prayer ... check!  
  • Yoga ... check! 
  • Mediation ... check! 
  • Writing... check! 
Now ... if I could only get some ... checks.


From what I understand, if we - as humans with intentions, dreams and ideals - continue in faith down a path of higher purpose, we shall be rewarded. Must it appear in the form of money, checks, abundant bank accounts? I do not know. I realize I do get attached to such monetary rewards, as the creditors and banks really seem to dig money and all it can leverage.

However I am going to stay open minded ... here on this magic day of Monday, December 28: the first day BACK TO WORK after Christmas, in a time period a bit odd on the energy scale but a phase that I must tread through in order to keep an account book balanced, a career rich with purposeful work, and a life full of joy, happiness and blessings.

At least I DO KNOW what that means.


James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer living in San Diego, California. He can be reached at www.LegacyProductions.org.


Saturday, December 26, 2015

Grace's Bracelet - A Gift for the Ages


  
It was a tough year. It was the end of the year in 2009. I was quite down and depressed. Wasn't sure what could lift my spirits, if anything.

And then there was Grace's bracelet.

Yes, it was a difficult time for all. It was hard for my entire family. For my mom. My 77-year-old mother had fallen ill and was not up to participating much in the holidays. The home-for-the-holidays wasn't ever going to be as it once was.

Giving and receiving gifts, store bought, was always the call of the season. Shopping, gift-wrapping, more shopping, and more gift-wrapping were the norm.


But not this year, and perhaps never again. It was not going to be the same. Not that it ever had to be the same forever, but change is change, and when the past is filled with the beauty and wonder of unconditional gift-giving, change can take on a painful sting.

But then again, there was Grace's bracelet.

A friendship bracelet, made of multi-colored string, fashioned together by a caring teen's hands, lacing in and over and through, until a final gift was created. By the hands of a niece - giving, loving, unconditional.

It would be enough.

In the face of a broken heart, when the family unit wasn't what it used to be, when store-bought gifts would no longer hold the symbol of consideration, carry the currency of care, stand for the transaction of the sacred, it would arrive here: in the simple giving - revealed not in high-powered tools or high-priced products, but in the form of a handmade friendship bracelet.

Like Dr. Seuss' Grinch would discover after his failed attempt at stealing Christmas through packages, boxes and bows, this innocent boy, so loving the tradition of Christmas giving and receiving, would find the light and the love in "something a little bit more."

More than products, more than the store's empty offerings, the gift from a loving niece would reveal the truth once again: it's the care that counts, it's the love that lasts.


James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer who still owns a friendship bracelet created by his niece. It can be found on his dresser. He can be found at LegacyProductions.org.

Friday, December 25, 2015

It's a Pretty Darn Wonderful Life - And Here is Why

Brought to us by a holiday classic "It's a Wonderful Life" this is a lesson in "context" ... a lesson in the way we hold in our minds the world before us ... how we approach that life in our attitude, energy and presence. What context do we hold in our lives as we move about this crazy world?  What is our choice of mindset?
  • "Hurray, here we go!" 
  • "Life is hard" 
  • "Oh drats, what's coming next?"
With so many ups and downs, smiles and frowns, we may believe that our emotions and attitudes are at the effect of our situations and circumstances. However, let's take a look at the classic movie "It's a Wonderful Life." I just want to point out the last part of the movie, not the dreaded circumstances that befell our dear hero George Bailey.

In the face of a bankruptcy, a jail term and the loss of his prized possessions, the reformed George - after seeing the depth of what matters to him - comes home to a house full of characters:
  1. A bank examiner and his cronies
  2. Law enforcement
  3. The media and newspapers
  4. George's children

Now, this is some great movie making, as the director made choices quite symbolic for its main messages. The children are hidden from view at first. All George sees when he rushes in the home are the bankers wanting to repossess his home, some law enforcement with a warrant for his arrest, and newspaper reporters wanting to document the entire mess.

And what is George's response to this obvious breach of territory and decency? The old George (prior to some angelic guidance) would have been distraught and raging. However, since he had been through quite a journey to realize what's truly of value to him, George had these responses:


For the bankers: "Well hello Mr. Bank Examiner!"

For the law: "I bet you it's a warrant for my arrest. Isn't it wonderful? I'm going to jail."

To the press: "Oh reporters."

This latter response was a complete "throw-away line," meaning he said it in passing, to demonstrate it didn't matter what the press represents or what they did with the story. In a symbolic gesture, in just that instant of a dismissive throw-away line, we see that George doesn't care what people or the public thinks of him. He knows who he is and what he loves. And that is enough.


In that position, in that reality, he has realized his own self-worth, and therefor he can choose the attitude, emotion, affection and CONTEXT that leads out in front of him. The money didn't hold the power. The possessions did not matter. The public image did not matter. His love mattered, and it shined so strongly on his children.

And what reward did George receive with this shift of context and mindset? The home was saved, the wife returned through the door, the money was plentiful and his home was filled with the warmth and friendship that would matter the most. And what of the children, the symbol of innocence and love? They stood atop the stairs looking upon their father with a wish for a merry Christmas. In that moment, with George's new context, all he could do was rush up the stairs - kissing the broken stair knob on the way - towards the higher realm where he belongs.

He went to a place where we ALL BELONG. The higher realms of innocence and love. And he did it, and we all can do it, with a shift. A shift of mind. A shift of heart. A shift of context.


James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer living in San Diego. He can be reached for a context boost at www.LegacyProductions.org.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Free the Writer and Free the Book Within You NOW!

Back in the old days it was tough!






I recall when I first started writing books back in college and I had to research  publishers and self-publishing printers. I remember all the big printer equipment and companies were located in - get this - Michigan. And it all seemed so impossible. The thousands of dollars worth of thousands of books (they had giant "runs" to save money) and all that shipping, and the thought of giant boxes of books being shipped out to your parent's house so it could fill up a garage up to the rafters.

What a great idea ... that I knew would not lead me anywhere.

Nowadays it is different. And I am here - after self-publishing seven books in the past four years - to tell you the old days are gone! Self-publishing your book has never been easier.

You can have your book published. Yes you can. You need not listen to any other voice inside your head. Not enough time. Not enough money. Not good enough. These are all voices of resistance that have no power ... once you realize ... you can do it. No longer sitting on a shelf, in a binder, with the label "Book Not Published Yet" your book calls you, and your readership is awaiting the breakthrough.

I have learned a lot over the past few years. You don't have to wait on the publishing deal, which may never come. You can get it done now. Your way. There are many benefits to self-publishing, using a system I have found through Amazon's "CreateSpace."
  • Your book GETS PUBLISHED!
  • Library-Quality Books - Professional trade paperback binding. Looks cool!
  • Inventory Freedom - Books are printed to meet demand, not to be stored in bulk.
  • Affordable Copies - You can buy your own books at a low price, regardless of order quantity.
  • Free ISBN number.
  • Easy Money - Easy system to receive royalties through direct deposit.
  • Control - You are in control of your book: the design, the marketing, the branding.
  • Competitive Royalties - Some of the highest royalties in the industry. Much higher than those offered through larger publishers.
Sales commissions vary depending if you sell directly from your own stash, or if you sell through online services such as Amazon or CreateSpace's "e-Store." But in either case, ignoring the super-star author realm, the general figure for self-publishing (50 to 80 percent) is so much higher than what is available with small to large publishers (5 to 15 percent).

So what are writers waiting for?

No more headaches with pitches to publishers and agents. No more minuscule commissions that make you wonder why you ever sold your soul and product to some other person in the first place. No more boxes filling up your parent's garage with no place for any cars. No more keeping your ideas and inspiration on a shelf. Get your book organized, written and available to the public now!

To make it all easier on the authors out there, I have set up a webinar to walk you through, step by step, the writing and publishing process. It is easier than you may think. If you had a goal for 2015 to get a book published, don't miss this webinar outlining each step - from manuscript to a soft-cover, perfect bound book, available on Amazon, in libraries, in schools and in bookstores everywhere.
This webinar is perfect for the writer at any level in the publishing process:
  • Discover your "why" in creating a book.
  • Overcome your own objections in taking the next step.
  • Learn the 5-step process in organizing your thoughts, yourself and your book.
  • Be inspired in a community of like-minded authors ready to express their passion.
  • Learn the 7 basic steps in self-publishing your book.

It will transform you into a published author. You are ready. Yes, you are.

James Anthony Ellis is owner of Legacy Productions. His free webinar "Freeing the Book Within You" is Monday, November 30 from 5:30 - 6:30 pm PST. Interested parties e-mail him directly at JimEllis1103@Yahoo.com.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thank You Veterans - What Can We Do For You?



With all the rituals designed to thank our military veterans, we may wonder what our vets would actually want in appreciation. Or do we?

You’ve seen the patriotic scene before. A moment before a professional hockey, baseball or basketball game, a service man or woman - in full fatigues or uniform - arises and comes to the center court, center ice or the pitchers mound. There are a few words over the loud speaker from a boomeranging voice informing us of this person’s service to our country. There is perhaps the National Anthem. And he or she is the token military we are to thank in that very moment.

And so we do ... normally in a rousing applause as we stand.

We follow that by sitting down - having done our own patriotic duty - before enjoying a hot dog, a beer and the game in front of us.

With all the various ceremonies, rituals and parades designed to thank our war, military and service veterans, we may wonder what our vets would actually want in appreciation for that service. Or do we?

I don’t think we do.

I do think we believe it’s enough to stand up and applaud at the game. We may believe it’s enough that there is a visit from the Commander in Chief in his own photo op standing in front of a chosen platoon. We may believe the parades, full of flags and pomp and circumstance, do suffice. Or we may think the benefits the people returning from war receive is an adequate compensation for their hard work and dedicated service.

Either way, it’s interesting to consider that during these times of acknowledgment and appreciation, on Veterans Day and other days, we never seem to ask ... "So, how would you like to be thanked?”
This does not happen. No. Nowadays, we aren’t even convinced the health and living benefits are covering the needs of those returning. We know that there is indeed damage to those returning from their service, especially in war-torn landscapes. But we don’t see much of it. We don’t see the hidden and unhidden wounds, and we definitely do not see the coffins, the symbol of the greatest damage of all. Nowadays, we don’t call service men and women “humans” or even “soldiers,” but rather ”boots on the ground.”

Nowadays, the military is only viewed as visitors to the pitcher mounds and center courts, or in maudlin TV commercials surprising their mother or child upon their glorious return.

But what is the reality for these soldiers, officers, military men and women who serve a country that is supposed to serve them as well?

And how can we - as citizens who do appreciate their efforts and sacrifices - truly thank them? Perhaps instead of making up our own way by waving a flag or a momentary applause, we can approach them and simply ask, ”What can I do for you?”


James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer living in Lemon Grove, CA. He hates war and those who send men and women into needless battles. But he loves the human spirit and wants those service people to receive the very best. He can be reached at www.LegacyProductions.org.

Friday, October 30, 2015

This is Men! Real Men


Ok, one more about hockey. Though, as you can tell by now, my stories aren't about the surface topic. Though we'll start there.


This one is about men. Real men. Now for those of you who may think this topic sexist or old-fashioned or silly, you may be right ... and you can excuse yourself if you want. 

Back to topic, where else will you find some examples of real men but - where else - NHL Hockey?

Here is the scene. It's the first game of the Stanley Cup Finals between the New York Rangers and the LA Kings in 2014. Uber LA defenseman Drew Doughty believes he has been intentionally banged with the end of a Ranger's stick. On the bench he pleads his case with the officials getting visibly upset. Two of his teammates, Matt Greene to his left and Jeff Carter on the ice, attempt to calm down their irate teammate. How do they do it? Gently? Calmly? With the sort of deep empathy and compassion that would soothe Doughty's inner child?

Hell no. 

They let their bud have it. Greene is barking "Come on!" Carter is poking Doughty's arm and jersey. Still in the heat of battle, Doughty then looks over at Carter and jabs his teammate with some strong language. Not a lip reader myself, my guess would be "Shut the F&*# Up!"

Click this link for a view and then come back: CLICK HERE

Now where does the "real man" part come into this story? Not in the strong language or the barking. Not in the emotional upset of any of the players, though this is justifiable for men in battle. Where does the "real man" aspect arise in this scenario?

It's subtle, but it's right there - in Carter - as he skates off. It's right there in the silence of his non-response, in his knowing there is nothing to take personal in Doughty's verbal onslaught. It's in a man who couldn't care less about another's emotions even if they were directed at him. It's in a person who sees through surface feelings and realizes the truth of the moment.

Now I don't live inside Carter's head and don't know if his teammate's words wounded him or not. But I'd put big money down on the fact it didn't reach him one bit.

Warriors have a job. Men on missions have a purpose. And no amount of emotion will sway their purpose.

For you men out there - consider this any time you start to engage with another person's emotional jabs. Consider this any time you take anything personal or choose to be pulled into a fight with, say, a girlfriend or a wife. Would a warrior battle his woman? Would a leader get emotionally tangled by another's supposed attack?

A real man wouldn't even SEE the attack. A man worth his weight would stay on course no matter what is happening around him. No matter the storms of life, a man stays steady with the job at hand. And in the end, when the storms are over, the man may stand proud, with the award raised above his head, as a real man, as a winning warrior, as a triumphant King.


Jim Ellis is an LA Kings fan who is quite proud of all the LA Kings players, especially the likes of Doughty who lets his passion out. More good stuff at LegacyProductions.org.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Top 10 Crazy Things We Do Around NHL Hockey





With the start of the hockey season, we are in full force of pendulum swing emotions, crazed high-fives and some heart-stopping, full-force game-viewing participation. Yup, it gets nuts. So what are just 10 of the crazy things we do around our LA Kings hockey team?
  1. Drive in traffic to LA, drop off our dog with pet sitter in a questionable part of town, pay $25 to park and then get best seats where we can hear the cursing.  
  2. Hire Bailey the Mascot to come to Lemon Grove near San Diego for Jennifer's birthday celebration.  
  3. Give in to superstitions so our team wins, such as wearing Kings' beanie from 1978. (See picture)
  4. Get a small game of air hockey to play during the period breaks.
  5. Create a Facebook message thread over 1,000 posts long with buds from across Southern California, as we chat during the game.  
  6. Invite my men's team over to watch certain games, and serve cookies with the LA Kings logo on them.  
  7. Tweet announcers Patrick O'Neal and Jimmy Fox to get some clarity around some plays.
  8. Get up at 4 am to make it to Redondo Beach so we can do a run/walk 5k with some of the players ... and their dogs.  
  9. Jersey Quick 32 for me; Jersey Kopitar 11 for Jennifer.  
  10. Hold breath for 2.5 hours every single game.  

Jim Ellis has liked the Los Angeles Kings ever since he was 9 years old. He even went to the Miracle on Manchester comeback game in 1982. Yes he did. His family can vouch for that. Other topics at LegacyProductions.org.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Capitalism - For Profit or Pigs?

Now I don't pretend to be an economic expert, or someone who really holds an answer to the best socioeconomic infrastructure for our fair land. And I don't know about "isms" such as communism and socialism, which apparently are – from all the public relations media kits – horrible systems that would crush the wonderful free market we enjoy in America today.

But there has got to be something inherently evil in this capitalism thing ... or perhaps it’s just something inherently evil in the humans who would use the system to apply leverage over others less advantaged. 

Yes, leverage. I mean it truly IS a system of leverage right? And – given the proclivities of any of those humans who wield an ego within a societal structure – can such a system ever really work? 

Now again, my brain – it ain’t that big. I don’t understand the ins and outs of our capitalism society, even though my pop was an Economics Major and I have an outrageously high credit score. 

So I just keep it at a simple level for my understanding.

It doesn’t take too much analysis to see that the word “capitalism” has at its root the word “capitalize.” Capitalize? Capitalize on what … and over whom?

We live in a world where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and the middle class – normally burdened with the highest tax load – starts to fade from view. This means that some people at the top (the infamous 1 percent) experience powerful leverage over others, as they capitalize on their good fortune.

Now, I’m all for healthy competition and believe hard work should be rewarded. But just like the competition found on the baseball diamond, the football gridiron or the hockey rink, our economic landscape must have hard-and-fast, black-and-white rules and regulations that are applied equally through impartial means. This way, no one agency, person, corporation or monopoly can completely squash competitors because of some unfair advantage.

But who are the referees and umpires within our economic landscape? Are they impartial? And do the laws created here apply equally and to everyone?

I am guessing that the game is rigged. I have a friend who says those wielding power in the business world – the bankers, the mortgage lenders, the politicians – are INDEED living by "The Golden Rule.” And that sounds so incredibly sweet and honorable and loving ... until you hear him define it as “those who have the gold make the rules.”

Such a sick reality is seen clearly when, for example, banks are bailed out with funds supplied by tax money from those ripped off by the poor practices of the same institutions. It’s seen when the common person gets dinged with a financial penalty when they can't afford manditory healthcare, while healthcare CEOs make upwards of $50,000 per day. It’s seen when one pretty-boy pharmaceutical owner chooses to raise the cost of an AIDS medication Daraprim from $13.50 to $750 per pill because he notes how undervalued it has become, and because - well - he can.

I have also run into this imbalance on a very basic and personal level. A simple example comes in bank fees. Whenever we make a mistake on our checking accounts, say in a late payment, we are accessed a $25 to $35 fee by the bank. However, when our banks make a mistake on our account, what fees do they pay?

The game is rigged.

What results have we seen when the leverage is held by those who have climbed up the ladder, through either sheer hard work or a silver spoon leg-up from a family link or a crony member of a “good ole boys club?” The result is the growing gap between classes, as those with the leverage apply it harder and harder and harder, in order to get their way … in order to capitalize.

It’s put well in an October 4 Fourwinds10.com story by freelance writer Jennifer Lea Reynolds: “It's no secret that various industries increase customer pricing so the company can make a profit. That's Economics 101. However, when prices surge so exorbitantly that the average person can barely afford an item while the company walks all the way to the bank, that's Greed 101.”

Whatever label we assign and whatever level we are looking at it, there must be something wrong with a capitalistic system that rests on this strategy: “How can I get the most amount of work out of this person and pay him or her the least amount of money?” Compare that to this strategy: “How can I take the best care of a vendor, employee or consultant who is taking care of me?”

We meet up with the latter consciousness very rarely, perhaps because of being trapped in puny identities as lizard-brain humans with separatist personalities, lowly individual competitors without honor. The idea – at this point in our evolution – that people will rise above their competitive and capitalistic traits and then, just because, be generous and trickle down the wealth to all is ludicrous and naive.

No – there is a conflict of interest in this system. We want the most out of someone and reward them the least in return. This is a system based on separation, a care for the little self, and a disdain for the other. The interests rest with the individual, and not the collective. This is not about a relationship or the trade of goods and services in a win-win, but rather it's about how one person can best USE another for their own sake. At core, it’s rotten. At root, it’s darkness. At the center, it is evil.

It is a haven for the ego to push for its will over the good of another. It’s the prison system where someone dominates over another, calling the shots, having the upper hand, holding the cards, and wielding the weapon.

You have experienced the negative aspect of this system in various ways I’m sure. I have a friend who lives in a rich neighborhood, drives a nice car, has all the money he could need. And even so, instead of paying a Webmaster what he had bid and what he deserved on a web design project, this friend asked, "Can’t you come down in price for me and help me out?"

In his warped haggling, it wasn’t ever going to be about the win-win or the right action born of generosity and an abundant mind. It was all about what he could get for himself regardless of another person’s good. Even after getting an incredible discount on the project, was my friend gracious and full of gratitude? No, that would not be the behavior observed in what could only be called a “capitalistic pig.”

And what does all this come down to? Leverage. There is that word again. That is the bottom line in this capitalistic system, and it does not work. Not in the long run. People who wield leverage will always fight to maintain that leverage. It is what separates them from their brothers and sisters. It is what makes them "powerful," and in the end ... wretched and ruined.

I’m reminded of the bad guys and good guys of the old myths and movies that included a scene involving a duel. Routinely, the scene was set up the same each time, and for dramatic effect. The good guy would be in a sword fight with the bad guy, and the bad guy would accidentally drop his sword. What would the good guy do? He would throw him the sword to continue the battle, on even and fair terms. Then when the good guy dropped his sword, what would the bad guy do? He would totally use that leverage to attempt to kill the good guy. And the viewing audience would feel the rage.

On the deepest level, we know that right action is not based on advantage or leverage, but rather fairness and equality.

So what would work here? I don’t know about an “ism,” but I believe the structure that would ultimately work in any society is one based on an honor system, as we remain in honor and integrity with a higher law – called “natural law." It would be a system based on a unity founded on a common denominator of which no one would rise above in stature, self-interest or entitlement. It would be based on the win-win consciousness where all parties’ needs are considered and covered, where giving equates to having and hording equates to lack, where abundance is found in a flow that starts from within, where a community so aligned in abundance and care would be able to take care of its own … where as Creedence Clearwater Revival sang, “people on the river are happy to give.”

Whereas I may or may not have some of the solution, I do know that the leverage found within a capitalizing society and mentality will not get us to where we want to be. Nor to a place of being who we need to be.


James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer who isn't sure which "ism" would ever be attached to him. Colloquialism? He can be reached at www.LegacyProductions.org

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Wife Appreciation Day - Never Too Late




Last Sunday was "wife appreciation day." Who else missed it? Yup, had this reprint all ready to go, and I let it get by last Sunday. I say it’s never too late to appreciate our wives; let’s make it a continual process eh? Whereas I write many silly things and many serious things, this one comes from the heart.



I Love My Wife Because...

Because

Because

Because there are no words - in this limited language of letters, sentences and punctuation marks - to capture an essence
To capture her

She is free

She can see

The foibles and toils and troubles

She can feel 

What it means to live in a world of foibles and toils and troubles

In anxious anticipation of humanity's underbelly 

And yet

And yet

And yet she is free

She can see

The beauty, and the garden and the love

All that comes to mere humans from above

In the walk through the desert where the promise of hidden creek keeps her on the trail
In the snuggle with a faithful pet who reflects back the beauty of pure relation

In the giggle that recalls the desperate need to mock all that is false

In the intuitive perceptions that crack the porcelain pretense 

In the willingness to give to and be present for others 

The same others who reveal not the same presence, willingness, perception, faith, promise, beauty, feeling, essence
Unconditional

The love

From her

And towards her

Because 

Because 

Because

When Sports and Sportsmanship were Innocent


Kidd to Taylor: "Hit me."
With all the talk at present about Tom Brady and the Patriots' possible tendency to cheat, the author takes a poke at sports and those who cheated in the past ... as well as a peak at a childhood that had to rely on an "honor system." 

When I was a child, we played football out on the recess field.



When I was a child, we had rules like the professionals had – rules such as no holding while blocking a rusher, no off-sides when rushing a passer, and having to catch the ball with two feet in-bounds. Yes, if you had one foot in and one foot out of bounds, the catch was incomplete. Just like the pros. The college teams could have one foot in-bounds and still consider it a catch. But we wanted to be more like the pros. The professionals and all their greatness was something to look up to.



When I was a child, we played by the rules, because that’s just what you did to make the games … well, games.



Of course we had no referees, so we had to play on what they called “the honor system.” Such a system had everyone own the rules on the football field and be responsible for playing fair. It was the right thing to do, it felt good, and we believed it’s what the pros would do.



But that may not be true … right?



Right Mike Tomlin? This is the Pittsburgh Steelers coach who – by accident he says – stepped on the field during a play in the third quarter of the Thanksgiving night's game against the Baltimore Ravens in 2013. The coach lingered on the same sidelines that Raven Jocoby Jones raced along trying to avoid the coach, who later said he was unaware of his placement on the field. What could one expect from a cheater but a lie?



Right Cam Newton? This is the Carolina Panthers quarterback who in a 2013 game flopped to the ground, out of bounds, as he embellished a late hit resulting in a penalty against the Miami Dolphins. The two Dolphins in question did not hit Newton out of bounds, but a flailing and over-dramatic Newton sprawled to the turf before arising with a wide grin on his face.
 

Isn’t that right every punter in the NFL who has ever hoped to draw a penalty flag after pretending to get hit by an opposing player?

And such dishonorable play can even be found in other pro sports … right?

Right Zach Parise? This is the New Jersey Devil left-winger who was hoping no one noticed that his goal came off a deliberate “hand pass” during the Devils’ game versus the Los Angeles Kings in May 2012, even though it’s clearly illegal to score that way.


Right Dewayne Wise? This is the New York Yankee outfielder who, in a June 2012 game, didn’t dispute an errant call that had him mistakenly catching a foul ball. What was all-the-more disturbing was that Wise chose to pretend he did catch the ball, as he secretly – in front of thousands of onlookers and network television cameras – clutched nothing in his glove, and then jogged off the field.


Right Lance Armstrong? This is the world-class bicyclist who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and who finally admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs – a secret habit of many a dishonorable cheater in modern-day athletics.

Right Jason Kidd? This is the Brooklyn Nets basketball coach who pretended to drop a cup of soda on the floor in order to manipulate extra time in a game against the Los Angeles Lakers. TV replays caught Kidd telling Nets guard Tyshawn Taylor to "hit me" with 8.3 seconds left in the game. Taylor immediately walked into Kidd who spilled a beverage, forcing the officials to take time to clean up the court while a Nets assistant coach drew up an offensive play in an impromptu huddle. "The cup slipped out of my hand," Kidd told reporters after the game, but later recanted and admitted to the ploy. When Kidd was told of one colleague who grinned with a remark that it was an “expensive” mistake, Kidd, too, smiled.


Smiled. He smiled. Like Cam Newton smiled. Like Mike Tomlin smiled. What is wrong with these professionals, these disgraceful and dishonorable adults who not only place winning over sportsmanship, but cross the limits on more than a simple sideline?

When I as a child, and we played at recess, we had our rules too … and if someone had only one foot in-bounds and he knew it, he did not pretend to get a catch. That would haunt us kids. That would be an empty win. That would simply feel so bad in our head and our stomach.

When I was a child, we played by the rules. We had to. Not because we would be fined or suspended or lose some possible income, but because that’s what you do when you want to play and play in the right way. That’s what you do when you want to win, and win in the right way.

Maybe for these pros – out on the field, the courts, the rinks and the raceways – they can take a cue from an innocent time in the past, when the most important thing was making sure the game was, well, a game.



James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer living in Lemon Grove. The author of "The Honor Book," he still plays sports games with the men in his international men’s organization MDI, where they normally have refs. He can be reached at www.LegacyProductions.org.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

True Care Found in all the Odd Places

All right, this one may seem a bit odd.

 But you're used to that by now from me?

It was a magic moment, and though this may come across sounding silly, this is a true story, and it did mean a lot to me. 



It all happened at the Giant Pizza King place on Federal Boulevard in Lemon Grove. It was here, I found true love.





No, it wasn't the pizza, though I do love this place's pizza. And no this isn't a romantic tale. It's the story of a moment rarely found in this day and age of fast-food, fast-paced, careless crazy inconsideration. 



I think many of us are dead to the truth that deep down all of us do care about each other, with a brotherly and sisterly love. For, many of these feelings and realities exist way below the surface, unknown to the conscious and incapacitated mind. Such moments of recollection have to rush up quickly and in the moment; it's the only place you can glimpse beyond the illusion of the separate world in which we coexist. 



So here's how it went down. It was halftime of the Monday Night Football game. I went down the hill to get a large pizza. It was "take out." I entered the pizza joint, paid my bill, then picked up the pizza box. The gent there had walked away from the counter, as I walked the other direction. Noticing I had accidentally knocked his receipt book on the ground, I leaned down to pick up that book, and just so happened to make a bit of a noise. At that moment, unknowing what was happening with me and apparently believing I may have hurt myself, the gentleman looked over with wide open eyes and a concerned look, asking "Are you ok?" 



I will always remember his face. 



It was filled with true care and consideration. It rushed up onto his face, before he had the chance to think. And that is the key. The true face must exist beyond all thoughts. Was this man concerned for his own self? Was he filled with thoughts that were self-serving, such as "oh no, I hope this doesn't mean I will have to fork out insurance for this man's injury" or "oh no, his injury will preclude him from paying the bill?"  



No. I had already paid the bill. 



His concern wasn't about him. It was about me. It was about another human being, another person whose well-being could matter as much as one's own. Such a care must come in the moment, IN A FLASH, where the care for another goes beyond some selfish thought, generated by ego.



Yes, I saw it. You can't take it away from me. Sure, it is a silly story about a pizza and a receipt book and an errant noise signifying nothing of importance. But the look in the eyes - of unity, connection and mutual care - will always reside with me. And for this I am grateful. 



Thank you Giant Pizza King: for the look of care, the large black olive and mushroom pizza, and a reminder of a unity that will always be cherished. 




Jim Ellis is a writer, producer and pizza fan who can be reached at LegacyProductions.org.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Top 5 Infomercial Gifts I Want Damnit



Staying up late has me watching a few of those infomercials, and man are they convincing!

Especially when they throw in those "If you act now's."

With my birthday coming up in only one month, here are the special TV Infomercial Birthday wishes:


  1. The Chillow
  -  It's a pillow that somehow gets cold! Perfect for hot weather. Though fall and winter are upon us. So now it would be good after I run or something.  


  2. The Pocket Hose  -  
It's a garden hose that doesn't getting all tangled up but shrivels up into a small ball when you turn the spigot off. Everyone needs this! Admit it.   


  3. GripGo Car Phone Mount 
-  This would hold my cell phone in the car near the dashboard so I can always know where it is and feel safe that it ain't lost under the seat again. Vital.   


  4. Side Socket
  -  You know how your electric plugs sometimes bump up against your furniture? Ain't that rotten? That's why they made these sockets that twist to the side, and why they'll send you two if you call in the next 10 minutes.


  5. Cat Track Ball
  -   This is awesome. You can have your cat occupied for hours chasing a fake sphere under a cloth, since we know how bored cats can get during the day. I really want one of these items ... and I don't even have a cat.
And since you acted TODAY, here is a bonus one:


  • 65 Classic Soft Rock Hits

  -  The guy from Ambrosia couldn't be wrong.  




Jim Ellis is a writer and producer living in Lemon Grove. Birthday gifts can be sent by connecting at www.LegacyProductions.org.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Face of Humanity Staring Right Back at You

Yesterday I saw the face of humanity.

And it was beautiful.



Yesterday I went to see a friend who was in the Grossmont Hospital emergency room after an episode involving his medication ... and some alcohol.



It was a harsh scene:  two of his close friends, his sister, his sister's husband and then me, all in a huddle of intense conversation about this man's plight, his past, and his pain. We shared what we knew about him in order to bring understanding and compassion ... in order to help bring sense to a crazy world. As we talked, I would intermittently look around at the others in the waiting room. I saw many sad faces, many worried faces. Two women over in one corner. A family of three in another part of the room. A mother with her young sleeping child on another side.



I saw one man sitting in a chair, flanked by a friend on each side of him. Every now and then, a reality would hit and he would start to grieve, falling over to his left or right as he collapsed into tears and into a loved one's arms. I didn't just see sadness and despair, not just compassion and empathy. I saw the love and I saw the beauty. I saw humanity.



This is the same humanity that appears in all humans who have hearts, loves and losses. It's found in those humans in Iraq, Iran, America, Afghanistan, Russia. It's found in the humans in Syria. 



For every heart that has lost, there is a human who is torn apart. There is a human who cares, who deeply loves another and wants to remain connected and aligned. This sort of humanity runs, like a stream, through the fabric of all people of the planet. It knows not country boundaries, nor political allegiances, nor flags, nor some propaganda concept of "us and them." It knows not enmity, polarization, competition and attack. It knows only the uplift of connection and the ruin of separation.



It's at this level where the battle ends, where territory can be shared, where arms are put down, where war is studied and cheered no more. This is a level where the face of humanity looks itself in the mirror and sees what there truly is to see: love, truth and beauty.



Yesterday, I saw it for myself.

James Anthony Ellis is a writer living in Lemon Grove. He can be reached at LegacyProductions.org.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Meeting Up With Joe in a Chance Encounter with a Neighbor


In an unexpected encounter with Joe I learned about my house and what it means to have a neighbor.



Today while my wife Jennifer and I were walking our dog Hennessy, we came across Joe. We didn’t know his name; we hadn’t truly met. But there he was working on his home front yard as we took our walk up Massachusetts from Madera.

I made a quick comment about the vision he had for his front yard; he remarked a lighthearted ”what vision?” And so began a connection for a mere five minutes which included the history of our own house. Our own house. It was quite an intriguing five minutes.

You see, Joe has lived in Lemon Grove for decades, raised right there in the home on Massachusetts. When he commented that he could remember Lemon Grove history back as far as the year of my birth, I really got a glimpse of how much history this man has had with our fine town.

He talked about Berry Street, the street of our house. How the street ended not far passed where our home resides. How a Japanese man owned a farm beyond that marker. How the oldest eucalyptus tree used to grow right there on our driveway - with “a trunk as wide from me to you” - before the city had to take it out because it was causing problems with the street. How my house, back in the 1960s, was a dump for so long, before the previous owners added on a sunken garden in the front and a home in the back. How he once stopped by to tell me the dome light on my car was on. How he likes to look at Jupiter and the moon with his telescope from Berry Street Park at the right times of day. And how he, on this day, recognized us because of Hennessy, our famous Akita mix dog.

The feeling of warmth and recognition lasted for some time.

What I walked away with was a knowing of a need for community, neighbors who know your name, know your dog’s name, and can stop by to let you know your dome light has been left on. I walked away with the longing to know our brothers and sisters who live to the north, south, east and west of us. In this great community town. To be in communion. Since at the end of the day, connections are what truly count.

Especially those unexpected connections that can be made on, say, a simple dog walk up Massachusetts from Madera.


Jim Ellis is a writer and producer living in Lemon Grove. He can be reached on dog walks with Jennifer and Hennessy and at www.LegacyProductions.org.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

War - What is it Good For - Absolutely Nothing


War is a bunch of glorified and romanticized bullshit.
That’s hard to fathom if you haven't realized how much you’ve been duped and romanced by those who would convince you that war was vital for your freedom and your present nation’s way of being. Yes even though our history books will spin the wondrous tale of victorious WWI, WWII and the like ... it’s all rubbish.
A tough concept to swallow … unless you are a human with a human heart.
Take it to a microcosmic level and attempt to comprehend. Would the neighbor on your block who had a problem with your dog be wise in communicating and negotiating through conflict, or would it be best if he simply created an all-out attack on your house? Which one is the mature approach? The wise approach? Do our so-called "leaders" truly bring such a context of wisdom in finding common ground and unity, before the military "missions?"

The lying, falsifying or demented leader calls for his or her people to go into battle. Someday, the public will know there is bullshit in a newscast as soon as a supposed "leader" chooses sending his or her people to their death rather than being a mature adult and supporting true relations with honest negotiations. Do any parents worth their weight support their kid in a fight over working things out maturely? Why do we not expect the same from our "leaders?"

You will call this example ridiculous and out of scope, but it's only because you have thoroughly been sold a bill of goods; you have bought into the widespread and long-standing propaganda, the romance of war, the axis of evils and the "us and them" mind-warp, the false pride of a nation above all others ... even though the horror is so gruesome and hideous.

Our own sick and self-serving ego loves the idea of domination and must live vicariously through the rah-rah pride of some battle "over there" somewhere. We can justify the bloody messes because some machine has taught us that it's the right thing to think. Wake up and see the body bags, the tortured souls, the limbs that are scattered, the civilians blown apart without much care since such foreigners are not humans like "us." Justify this lie and continue to be fooled.

Meanwhile those who heed the call of peace and non-violence - sentiments spread by saints, unconventional outlaws, and master spiritual teachers - will continue to speak up. We will continue to march, continue to stand in civil disobedience, continue to fight the good fight without weapons of any sort. We will continue to pray... that the dream of war and the false victories profiting no one will someday end.


Jim Ellis - writer and producer living in Lemon Grove - only justifies battles on the sports fields and ice rinks where warriors still have the sanity of referees, rules, penalties and the delineation of players and spectators. He can be reached for a healthy argument at www.LegacyProductions.org

Thursday, September 17, 2015

It's Hot! - How to Deal...





Alright, has everyone else happened to notice?

It's been hot.

And not just hot - somehow it's bearable to deal with Lemon Grove's Best Climate on Earth when it's just hot. But it's beyond hot. Beyond Africa hot.

In order to survive such humidity and the overall yuck, the family unit (wife Jennifer and pet Hennessy) have come up with these 7 main ways to beat the heat:
  1. Complain a lot.
  2. Keep the front door open at night and use a fan to blow in the cold air and then close the door in the morning. 
  3. Keep the door closed during the day.
  4. Keep the curtains closed during the day.
  5. Find random excuses to look for items in the fridge.
  6. Naked Thursdays.
  7. Stand naked in front of the fridge, with the curtains closed, while complaining.

We hope these fine points help you and yours in your endeavor to stay cool.

Be cool.


James Anthony Ellis is a writer living in Lemon Grove. He can be reached at www.LegacyProductions.org.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

911 - Let Us Remember ... In a Different Way


This is a time to remember, yes. However, this may not be the sort of memorial you are accustomed on this poignant day. It is not meant to bring any disrespect, but rather bring the highest of respect. And embrace a view that encompasses us all.


For those lives that were lost, let us bury them with respect, honor and love. Let us do that once - for the sake of completion - and no longer use their lives and deaths as a vehicle by careless characters to realize an agenda still bent on revenge, war-mongering and holier-than-thou elitism. Allow the loss to be what it simply is, as all our losses are: painful.

Let us feel the pain of our losses. 

And let us remember. Yes, let us remember.



Remember not for the sake of continued bitterness and national righteousness. Remember not so we can hold a separatists' sword ready to plunge blindly at the next country the media and administration tells us to hate. Remember not because we pretend to still care about lives we never really knew.



If we are to remember anything, let us remember the love and the loss we feel when any human is murdered, killed or in any way lost to us. Let us remember that a lost life is not just an American's life, but a life lost to the family humanity - and such lives are being lost all over the globe, all over this city, in homes of family and friends we do know personally and intimately.



And finally let us remember a time, a mystical and sublime time, in the brief period following that fateful day. As the smoke still billowed and ashes still smoldered, there was a quiet hum that could be heard. It was the sound of the one heart that does truly care about the family humanity. It was a global community that grieved for the hearts that hurt and experienced loss. It was a planetary embrace for the common denominator that connects us all. There was a unity bond that arrived in the form of empathy and shared compassion. And it promised a peace - if we lived at this level and remembered this feeling always. 



As warmongers and media hounds do their best to tear down this level of unity, and hijack this day and those lives away from our brotherly and sisterly oneness, let us remember, let us truly remember ... we always hold the power to take that back. 



James Anthony Ellis is a writer living in Lemon Grove. He can be reached at LegacyProductions.org.