Friday, November 11, 2016

UP on the Creative Path

One of my favorite movies is UP by Pixar.  I remember looking around the movie theater and watching the adults cry and the kids laugh.  It reached nearly everyone.  The marriage montage at the beginning is already a classic sequence.  The crafting of the story must have come easy, right?  


Read these comments on the creation of UP from Ed Catmull, Pixar Animation Studios President in a recent speech:

"The first version of UP took place on a castle floating in the sky, and there was a king in the castle who had two sons; the sons didn't like each other. And the people in the castle were at war with the people on the ground, and...the two sons happened to fall overboard and ended up wandering around in enemy territory. And in this wandering around they came across a large bird.

"This version of the movie didn't work; all that was left was the bird the word 'up.' [Creativity] is a path that is filled with false turns and errors, and the errors are a necessary part of the process."

As I like to say, trust the process.  And of course...

...Keep writing and keep living!

More tips on creativity: Double Your Creativity in 3 Hours

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

I Concede

As the presidential candidate of the SODA Party (Screenwriters and Other Disadvantaged Americans), I hereby concede the election to Mr. Trump.  Both Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton campaigned hard and I acknowledge their efforts for America. 

I appreciate the two votes I got in Rhode Island and another handful scattered across this great land.  I was hoping for double digits, but alas…it was not to be.  Yes, I am disappointed, but as with others that lost, I promise to support our country's principles.    

Let’s all come together and play nice on our national playground.  And God bless the United States of America!

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Last Statesman

As Election Day nears, I become more confused.  I get the feeling that neither of the two major candidates are terribly concerned about what is good for America.  It’s seems as though it’s all about them. 

Okay, okay, I know it’s politics—I get it.  But I yearn for a candidate closer to a statesman or stateswoman.  In fact, who was the last statesperson in our country?  I realize that politicians are politicians, but one guy stands out to me as someone who seemed to stand for what he thought was right, to the point that he had to leave his own party for it.  Yes, I’m thinking of Joe Lieberman.  

Now I often disagreed with Lieberman’s stands on issues, but I always had the feeling that he felt those stands were good for America, regardless of criticism.  Perhaps I’m mistaken about him, but I like to think of him as a symbol of what I’d like to see in American politics today. 

In the words of Paul Simon, which I have slightly altered: “Where have you gone, Joseph Lieberman; a nation turns its lonely eyes to you—woo, woo, woo.”  

So what can you do, and who should you vote for?  Well, that’s for you to decide, but in any case, keep living!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

How to get whatever you want from your parents!

Grow up!  That’s the deal.  You grow up, and your parents will give you most anything you want short of a Mustang Shelby GT350.  There are six dimensions to GROWTH that your parents are looking for as you grow into adulthood.

G is for Grateful – Eat the food and be thankful for car trips that the starving children in China don’t get.

R is for Responsible – The Key to Freedom is Responsibility.  Be responsible for your room, your school work, and your chores. Be joyful when you take out the garbage, sing praises when you clean the bathtub, and rejoice exceedingly when you work to save money to buy the things you want.

O is for Open – Realize that there are other people on this planet and be open to their needs as well as your own.  That includes brother and sister.  You’re not going to be able to kick him or her out of the nest anyway, so make the best of it.

W is for Willing to Wash – Wash your face, brush your teeth, and take care of your body--and that includes your armpits.

T is for Teachable – You have somewhere between 12-18 years’ experience behind you; your parents have somewhere between 60 and 100 combined.  Be willing to listen and learn. 

H is for Honest – Don’t deny you ate that cookie; there’s chocolate all over your face.  If you can’t admit to your problems, you can’t solve them.  This takes humility, and humility is the prerequisite for progress. 

Do the above and you will not only be happier and more successful, you will keep living.

Monday, May 16, 2016

10 Books that Changed My Life

Below are ten books that came at the right moment in my life.  They aren’t necessarily the most entertaining books, but they are the ones that significantly moved me to productive action and positive change.

The Bible and the The Book of Mormon. These have worked so well together in my life that I have listed them as one.  I read the Book of Mormon for the first time in ninth grade.  My home life was troubled, and so was I.  I give the influence of The Book of Mormon credit for getting me through high school and keeping me free from alcohol, drugs, and girls that do. 

As a Man Thinketh by James Allen.  For some reason, it wasn’t until I started my LDS (Mormon) mission in South America that I understood that I actually had free will.  This little book gave me that first glimpse that I could act rather than be acted upon.  
photo from
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Persig.  This book puts rationality on the surgeon’s table.  It released me from taking a purely analytical approach to life, things, and people, and opened me up to intuition, feelings, and creativity.  Now, when someone asks in surprise “How did you know that?” I say, “Just my masculine intuition.”

Wishcraft by Barbara Sher. A friend received this for Christmas and was making fun of the title, so I asked if I could have the book.  The main concept of the book is to do what you love for your career.  I was not fulfilled in Corporate America (see my book How I Became Perfect), so I worked on a self-directed M.A. at Goddard College (Vermont), and radically changed my career. 

The Self-Publishing Manual by Dan Poynter and The Screenwriter’s Bible by Yours Truly.  I list these two together because the one helped me self-publish the first edition of the other, and the other became the basis for a new career as a teacher and writing coach.

Winning Through Intimidation by Robert Ringer.  The title is misleading; it’s not about intimidation, but working from a position of strength.  It’s full of common sense for business. The “3 Types of People Theory” led to the formation of a business philosophy that has been with me for over 30 years: Be as wise as a serpent (not naïve or unaware), but as harmless as a dove (intend good to all)

The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen R. Covey and The Road Less Traveled by Scott Peck.  Hasn’t everyone read these books?  Though very different, both helped me better understand and apply principles I already believed to be true.

The Twelve Steps: A Spiritual Journey published by RPI Publishing.  I was getting along in years and was unmarried, so I began a year-long spiritual odyssey with the premise that if anyone needed to change it was me and that my only hope was the atonement and grace of Jesus Christ.  So I applied the Twelve Steps, discovered the deep emotional issues, and experienced miracles.  I am now married with two kids.  Voila!

Unstuck by Robert Reynolds.  I just finished this, but it’s helping me put everything in its proper perspective and ushering me into another spiritual odyssey.

I could list ten more; it was difficult picking only ten. We all have books that have influenced us for good at the right time. I wonder what your ten are.  Keep reading good books, keep applying them, and keep living.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Uncle Dave for President

Today, I announce my candidacy for President of the United States, and the formation of the SODA (Screenwriters and Other Disadvantaged Americans) Party!

Join the SODA Party
If elected, I will represent all screenwriters and Americans who can’t get their scripts read or otherwise can’t make all of their dreams come true.  It’s not well known that screenwriters suffer more than the average American and should preside over the Victim Class of our nation

My competitors:
Like many Americans, I am dissatisfied with our current slate of candidates. They look like characters from a movie comedy. Wouldn’t you agree?

Donald Trump – If he’s elected, numerous countries may not allow him to cross their borders.  If Mexico does build a fence (as he said Mexico would), it will be to keep him out.  Besides, my hairdo looks better than his, don’t you think? 

Ted Cruz –  He should run for Prime Minister of Canada. 

Hilary Clinton – If she’s elected, her husband Bill Clinton will be the First Lady, further confusing the gender issue. Also, she may have connections with Hell, since women who don’t vote for her will (allegedly) go there.

Crazy Uncle Bernie – the USSR candidate – if he’s elected, we’ll become a socialist state, which may not matter since we are practically there already.  Instead, elect Crazy Uncle Dave (me).

Marco Rubio – I’m trying to get him to switch parties and be my running mate because I know just what to make him say. Stay tuned for an announcement from him.
Stumping in rural Indiana

Drink to SODA
Our SODA Party Song will be “Don’t worry, be happy” and our SODA Party drink will be soda, naturally, or natural soda.  Perhaps just that alone will induce you to join the SODA party and create a three-party system in our country. However, what should really convince you are my qualifications.
A Westerner looks East to the White House

My qualifications
I am not political plus I believe in God, the environment, and the quadratic formula. 

Virtually everyone can vote for me because I am multicultural and have a diverse family heritage: English, Irish, French, German, Danish, and Scottish.  My wife is Southern and I promise to wear Hawaiian shirts in the Oval Office.

Need more proof? I favorably reviewed the movies “Dances with Wolves” and “The Color Purple” and have mentioned them in my book (The Screenwriter’s Bible, available at  Plus, if elected, I promise not to blow up any countries in the world except maybe North Korea…and one country to be named later.
Get your campaign button today

Finally, if that is not enough, I speak Spanish: Hablo español, mis gran amigos. Por favor, votan por mi y siguen viviendo. (Translation: I speak Spanish, my great friends, Please vote for me and keep living.) 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Republicans, Democrats & the Drowning Man

In a screenwriting class, I was asked about my politics.  I said, “I’m with Woody Allen whose character says (in Sleeper), ‘I don’t believe in political solutions.’”  One writer threw her hands in the air: “How crazy is that!“ Well, it’s time I came out of the closet and explained.

Imagine a drowning man 50 feet off shore. 

A Republican will stride along the shore and say, “He got himself into this situation; let him get himself out and learn to swim.  It will be good for his character.”

A Democrat will tax you and me, buy 100 feet of rope, throw it to the man, and let go of his or her end.

Either way, the man drowns. 

In my crazy and perhaps flawed philosophy, I like the idea of a person (or group of individuals) who spots the drowning man and swims out and saves him…and then teaches him how to swim.  As important as “political solutions” may be, I guess I believe in individual change more than political change. That way, the drowning man keeps living. 

Image from