Friday, August 26, 2016

"Why?" - The Question My Dog Never Asks

Puppy Hennessy alert and ready for life.

It's a question I often ask - to myself and before others.
  • Why is the third hand on the watch called a second hand?
  • Why isn't there a special name for the tops of your feet?
  • Why do I eat when I'm not hungry?
And deeper questions:
  • Why are we born?
  • Why do we have to get old?
  • Why do the Miami Dolphins often tank at the end of a season and fail to make the playoffs? 
I heard it may be a Scorpio thing - this incessant digging, probing and questioning ... to get to the bottom of things, and to discover their purpose.

The other thing I noticed is that my dog doesn't ever do any of this.

I bet you even Scorpio dogs don't hold the question of "why" on their minds. I believe it's a very human endeavor ... and one that can be as uplifting and expanding as it is exasperating and depressing.

Just look at my pooch. The picture of her as a puppy shows a very alert and attentive, as well as incredibly cute, canine. Nowadays, she will often sit there on her lovely dog bed perch and just exist. When there is someone on the porch, she will bark and race towards the door, routinely sliding into it in her haste to protect the household and all its inhabitants. When she's hungry, she'll get up and sit before her mother and just stare. It's her way of saying "Hello, I'm hungry; it's time to get up and feed me." When she has an itch, she scratches. When she's tired, she sleeps.

Never once does she, I imagine, ever ask the question "why" for any of these endeavors.

Hers, like for many animals, is a world of instinct. Need followed up by action. I don't see a hesitation between the arising need (gotta pee) and the complimentary action (stand by the door). She doesn't have to ponder deeply the purpose of what she does. It's instinctual, and the activity of questioning it would only delay the satisfaction of a filled belly, an empty bladder or a scared intruder.

And then there are us humans. The heavy plodding along to find purpose in our world. The why's and wherefores of all the slings and arrows. It's enough to send us all over the edge. It can't be as simple as a need, a feeling and then an action. We must find the underlying purpose for these behaviors and endeavors. It's not enough for us to just be ... to love what we love and to turn from that which doesn't serve us.
  • A beautiful sunrise to become a smile on our face.
  • A gentle hug from a friend to become joy in the heart.
  • A lovely meal from a spouse to become a satisfied hunger. 
Can it be enough to live life, observe the observable, experience our desires and wants and then act upon them ... with the result being more observation, wants, needs and then actions.

Can it be that way? Can it be so effortless and free? If you say that it cannot, I just have to ask...

Why not?

James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer living in San Diego, California, don't ask him why. He can be reached at

Sunday, August 21, 2016

What the Child Wants! ... And other Musings over Milk and Meatloaf

If only you could go back, like in the play “Our Town,” and be present for your childhood, knowing then what you know now. Such little bodies, such newly developing minds, we didn’t know how to put words to match our feelings, needs and hearts’ requests. We didn’t know how to communicate our desires, our confusion, our misgivings, our utter distaste for milk and meat loaf.

Well OK, maybe, we found a way. Crying, stomping our feet, pushing that meat loaf onto the floor. But those other communications – those tender subtle, and hidden things we may understand now, but not comprehend back then. All we knew – many times – was that something felt right or wrong inside.

We wanted things. I wanted things. For it's true 40 … 45 years ago, I was a child. And, if I could have had it my way, as I know it now, I would have wanted to say certain statements and hear certain statements.

Hear certain statements like:
  • Good job Jimmy.
  • That elephant picture you drew could be hung in a museum of art.
  • Oh, it sure looked like an elephant to us ... well, it STILL could go in a museum of art.
  • We want to hear from you, and know what you are thinking, believing and feeling.
  • We value your individuality and unique perspective on the world.
  • Tell us what you see.
  • Show us who you are.
  • What is your dream today?
  • We love you with all your different ways of being.
  • What a joy it is to have you with us.
Say certain statements like:
  • No more milk please – I am lactose intolerant.
  • I am not believing these vaccinations are helping me – look at my poofed-up arm.
  • I have much to say and much to learn, and I really need the space and patience to grow.
  • I am not alone in my growing pains, am I?  Can we all share with each other what is really going on with us?
  • I wanted to be born, and I chose you all for a purpose. Can we find that purpose, honor it, cherish it, live it and then celebrate it?
  • I love being here – you people are a treasure to me.
  • I love you all.

But alas, the days are past. Over 40 years later, the time has come and gone. The bodies have grown bigger, the minds and hearts have developed as they did. What we can do with those statements now? Now that time has past, our bodies have grown, our crying out loud only coming on lonely nights in the dark alone? 

It must be too late. 

Or is it? Do we still have the time and space to use such sentiments for the good of not only ourselves but the collective as well? What can be done with expressions wanted so long ago from a voice that could not yet be heard? I would say ... speak them now. Say to another what you wanted to hear! Use those statements, don’t let them go to waste. Whatever they are for you. We can still use them – even the milk and meatloaf ones – not for the past times but for the present times, with those in front of us today.

We can bring it to our birth family; we can bring it to our new family – our own children, nephews, nieces and cousins. We can bring it to young ones we meet at parties, gatherings and events. At the market. Everyone – the young and the old – can be gifted with the sentiments we always wanted share. For a “new family,” seen every day, in every face, we can say what we’ve always wanted to say, hear what we’ve always wanted to hear, be what we’ve always wanted to be.

James Anthony Ellis - writer and producer living in San Diego - now enjoys soymilk and Tofurkey. His next book about "miscommunication" arrives October 2016. He can be reached at

Friday, August 19, 2016

I Am Your Toothache - Listen

Hello there. Welcome. I would like to introduce myself.

I am your toothache. I throb like a bitch and yell at you until you can no longer think straight ... until you curse the day you were born. I convince you to hold that mouth of yours hard, and to get something cold to press up against your cheek. I have you wincing and grimacing, and then finally calling the dentist in a mad plea for relief. I originated with a mother's plea for you to brush up and down, and then a family dentist's suggestion to floss and floss often. Now I'm your toothache, and I'm one mean ass-kicker. 


I am your weeds in your garden. I grow somehow despite the lack of rainwater and despite the death of all other green and growing things. I grow and grow in your garden, to ultimately take over the beauty there. I show up real ugly in an otherwise pleasant garden setting. Among the pretty flowers and blossoming shrubbery, I look like drab, lifeless green and brown thorny leaves. I'm an inconvenient truth in your yard, and you hate me. Too bad. I'm here. And I'm here because you let the garden go, you silly person.


I am the ants in your kitchen. I am a mass of small black rolling insects that troll up and down the counters eating up the crumbs and crap you've left behind. I just know when you leave the space and when you've said the magic phrase: "Oh, I'll clean that up in the morning." Once I hear that sloppy sentence come slobbering out of your lazy-ass mouth, I am charged into action. Time to get the army and charge full steam ahead, straight for your butter knife, your sugar bowl and all those pie crumbs that didn't make it into your pie hole. So have a rest. We'll see ya in the morning.

Hello fine sir and madam.

I am the pain in your heart. I am the longing. For something better. For something new. I am the hurt that resides in the chest as you wish for something different. Something different than the way it is. Perhaps it's a longing for something familiar, known such a long time ago. Peace. Harmony. Abundance. Wealth. Health. A natural state of being. The way it was, and the way it truly is deep down. I am the pain you experience when you let the attention slip away towards other distractions, to judgments and to scorn and to blame. I'm the pain you have when you've neglected the good or the other messages that would have kept you on track: free of weeds, pesky insects and tartar on the teeth.

I am the Universe. I give you messages all the time. Unemotional. Unattached. But loving you all the same. And all the time. I mean ALL the crazy flippin' time.


I am here...

I am the weeds in your garden. I am the ants in the kitchen. I am your neck-ache, your heartache, your side-ache, your wrist-ache, your headache.  I am your toothache. I am the one trying to get you to move, to do something ... for yourself, for others, for a community and for humanity.

I am the Universe.

I am you.

James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer living in San Diego, CA. He just went to the dentist and is doing much, much better. He can be reached at

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Spell Check Ruined Me

I used to be so good.

I used to receive happy faces, stars, A's and even E's ... remember E's?

I guess you could say I was "excellent."

My spelling throughout grammar school was really good, even though I wasn't an avid reader and even though I'd get confused with those tests with exercises displaying four misspelled words alongside one correctly spelled, where we had to pick the right one. I mean, what was that about? Surviving that mind-bender, I also spelled well in high school and college. I even knew the very vital difference between "its" and "it's" and "there" and "their." I was on the school paper in high school. I was also an editor on the college paper "The Daily 49er." I had it going on.

Then along came spell check. The son of a bitch.

It arrived, of course, with the word processing programs, showing us the easy pathway to spelling all words correctly. The computer programs were even set up so that if a word was misspelled, a red squiggly line would underscore it. All life looked bright and cheery, especially for us writers. Never again would a mishap befall us with a wretched misspelled word.

But what has happened over the years as I have been supported so strongly with my spelling ability? Has it made me a better speller, a better writer? No, I have gotten lazy and sloppy. I have become one of the worst spellers out there. I have rested so heavily on the red squiggly lines and even the faithful auto-correct, that I've come to the point now that I'll just throw a bunch of letters out there like a bucket of paint onto a porch. At first I hold out for the auto-correct to clean up my mess, and then if that doesn't fix it, I next rely on the red squiggly line wherein I can right-click and "search a word" in order to grab the correct one. This spell checker functionality comes to save the day!

But wait a minute! Save the day? What am I? Some slacker who can't do things on my own? Some bully who has someone else do my term paper? Some immature king who needs a bunch of slaves to do my grunt work? Some kid who needs a maid to come behind me and pick up my dropped clothes? Some lazy litterbug who can't take care of my own trash?

That's what happens when you have OTHER people do things for you, or when you have to rely on some other system to do what you could be doing with your own skill and effort. What happens over time is you lose the functionality yourself. You lose the abilities, the drive and the motivation to grow and expand.

If someone or something will do it for us, why would we even try? 

It makes me think of all the other places where we have other people do things for us, when we could be empowered and uplifted to do them ourselves:
  • The home owners who hire the gardener instead of planting the flowers themselves. 
  • The "shadow artist" who hides his or her own creative gifts behind the support of another artist.
  • The street beggar who would rather ask for a free handout than look for ANY sort of job.
  • The trickster citizen who "works the system" by trying to get free government handouts rather than being a contributing member of society.
That damn spell checker.  It ruined me. It got me soft and lazy. I lost my edge. I lost my precision with my writing. And to think, even with spell check, sometimes "positivity" becomes "pomposity," a word completely the opposite of what I was intending. 

In conclusion, what can we take away from this article, besides the fact that the analogies in Jim's head make sense if you really think about them? First off: beware of auto-correct and the red squiggly line - they are not always 100 percent right. Two: You can give yourself your own happy faces, stars and E's when you reflect honestly about your own performance. Three: having things done for you and getting free shit may cost you in the long run.

And finally: maybe the easy way isn't always the best way.

James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer living in Lemon Grove, CA. He can be reached at where most things are spelled right.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Have You Ever Really Thought of our Planet's Name?

The name "Earth."

Oh my gosh. Have you ever really thought about the name of our home planet?


We have heard the term so many times, we just take it at face value and let it pass on by.

But think about it. Compared to some cool names of planets - Venus, Saturn, Mercury - the name of our Earth is a real clunker. Say it over and over again, and you may start to hear what I'm hearing. It's like any random word ... if you say it enough times, it takes on a whole new identity, leaving you with the thought, "have I really ever thought of this word before?"

Now nothing against men with this name, but just consider how close the planet's name is to the word "Earl." It's like having a home called Earl.
  • Space Being: Hey what planet are you from?
  • Me: Earl.
  • Space Being: Earl? Hahahha. What a silly name!
  • Me: Hey shut up, its mother's name was Earl.
  • Space Being: Back off man, or I'll zap you with my HypoLaserBeam. 
  • Me: What's that?
  • Space Being:  How would I know? It came from your head. 
While other galaxies have advanced sci-fi names like Plaeides and Andromada and Messier 81, with planets such as Roxemalia, we are stuck in the Milky Way with Earth. I don't see why we can't - like those new agey spiritual types - choose a new name if we want to. Something, you know, to make it more hip, more with the times, more elevated.

How about these ideas, just for the sake of brainstorming.
  • Highlander 5
  • Zorromeister
  • Prema Sunshine
That's just some fast brainstorming for you. But you get the idea.

With some creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, we can come up with a planet name of which we can truly be proud, and not have to be saddled with a goofball word that has been thrust upon us without consent.

Do I hear an "amen" people of Prema Sunshine?

James Anthony Ellis is a writer and producer living in San Diego, who isn't as upset at the planet name as he leads on. I mean it could be worse, think of Uranus. He can be reached at

Sunday, August 7, 2016

What Can You Do vs What Can't You Do?

This world is divided up into two MAIN realities:
  1. Things you CAN do.
  2. Things you CAN'T do.
Please see your mother, father, guardian, teacher, PE instructor, counselor, principal, clergyman, congressmen, law enforcement, truant officer and corporate-owned TV news for details on the matter in the physical world of rules, laws, jurisdictions, cultural norms, dogma and TV ratings.

For the remainder ... let's talk.

I wish to bring about the reality - what you can do vs what you can't do - as it plays out in our own minds, and within the communication we have with friends, family, coworkers and most importantly Facebook followers.

Here is the example. A friend calls you with a request some help moving. He or she needs help. What is your first thought? Of course it can depend on many factors, but I maintain that your brain is either programmed for what you CAN do in this situation or what you CAN'T do.

Imagine the face of the person with a CAN do attitude upon hearing the request.  The head is cocked to the side, a bit tilted upwards with eyes to the sky. They are asking themselves "what is possible" "what can I do" "how can I contribute to my friend?"  The face of the person bent on a CAN'T DO approach has eyes narrow, looking down, using most of his or her energy on figuring out "what can I do to get out of any sort of work, obligation or effort?"

This is subtle stuff!

It's way below the surface, but the effects are felt in a very profound way, especially within the give and take of relationships.

In our previous example, the CAN'T person will either quickly find an excuse not to help out on the move, or simply not reply if the request is in e-mail or voicemail. (Note: Though they will never say they "won't" do something, some may be simply open enough to say "nope," "no," or, of course, "can't."

The CAN people will search their minds to make it a "yes" on the request or - and here is the key point - they will open up their minds to see what is POSSIBLE as solution for the one requesting help. A true friend, a true support system, and a truly flexible and conscious thinker, the CAN person's mind goes into a direction of the need. These people consider ways in which their friends' needs can be met. A mutual friend? A local support group? A moving company? It doesn't matter what the solution is or could be; what matters is that the CAN person leans towards solution and care.

The CAN'T person dwells, even in the subconscious mind, on what is not going to work and what is not possible. The CAN'T person is all too satisfied with a "no" and then moving onto the next "no." In relationship, it's a drag, it's a drain and it's like having a conversation in a room with a 4-foot ceiling. The CAN person lives in possibility. He or she isn't a doormat or a "yes man" agreeing to whatever comes their way. This type of person is in touch with those around them and comes up with various options and ideas in this play we call life.

So moving forward in your own life, what are your thoughts around coming from a state of mind rich with options, possibilities and a connection to friend's needs and dreams?

Can you do it?

Or can you not? 

Jim Ellis is a writer and producer living in San Diego, California. He can be reached at