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March 2001


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February 2001

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We Hope To See You At Our Next Celebration

Sunday March 4
4-9 PM
Bruce Taylorís condo

For directions: Please phone Bob Olson at (425) 747-3879.

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Art Sharing
Sunday, February 11 , 2001

Bruce Taylor read one of his old stories that he is recycling titled "The Hat". Roberta Gregory showed two of her Kitty Kat Toons (one of which is below). Pippin Sardo read her own poetry and selections from other authors. Carl Sloan presented a slide show of his and Lidaís photographic art: Light Dancing and Headgames with FOKUS models, Mike Monroe, Bob Olson, Pippin Sardo, Honna Swenson and Bruce Taylor. Seiko Olson and Lida Sloan performed piano pieces. Todd Christoffel serenaded the group on his guitar with some of his original ballads, accompanied by his son Max Christoffel. Sarah Byam joined us reading her very original story "Jo Jo Goes to Pieces". (Editorís note: he really does.)

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Other Stuff

COME ONE, COME ALL!!! March 31 and April 1 will see FOKUS meeting at the beautiful beachfront house of Bob and Seiko Olson in Ocean Shores. This is a nearly free weekend; all you need to do is get there and pay approx. $20 for food for the whole weekend! Pippin Sardo will arrange gourmet meals, including a possible clam/chicken/etc. bake on the beach. Car pools can be arranged for those without transportation, or those who would like to caravan down. This is an opportunity for beach fun not to be missed. Call Bob and Seiko Olson, 425-747-3879, as soon as possible so that accommodations and meals can be arranged.

Bruce Taylor hasnít sold much recently, but sure has had a lot of manuscripts come back. (Ouch! Eek! Ow!) Bruce will be a panelist at Norwescon 24 (April 12-15) and World HorrorCon in Seattle, Memorial Day weekend. Call Bruce for details.

Upcoming FOKUS meetings:

  • May 5 - 6, Bush House in Index (to be confirmed)

    If you want to advertise something your are doing in our newsletter please call Bob or Bruce. This is an excellent free bulletin board for your announcements.

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    Bruce Taylor's Editorial: The Game

    You hear this stuff all the time, on the news, on the street: "I feel that the energy crisis...", "I feel that George Bush...", "We feel that the weather this winter..." Whatís wrong with these three statements? Guess what: none of them have anything to do with feelings. However, there is a sense of intimacy created where no intimacy exists. The correct way to express the above mentioned phrases would be with the word, "think": "I think that the energy crisis...", "I think that George Bush...". Emotional feelings are powerful, but very much misstated, hence obviously misunderstood in our culture. Feelings are basically seen by the ad-folks as that which can be easily manipulated/played on to get you to part with your money (remember the pathos ad: "Help! Iíve fallen and I canít get up!")

    The real issue about feelings is their power, hence all the money spent by ad agencies to manipulate without coming out and saying to you, "Hey, I bet you feel like shit. So, if you buy this Lexus, and spend a lot of money, we hope youíll feel much better, so much better that you can compare yourself to others, and then feel better at the expense of others, and then go out and buy more stuff." Of course thatís a crop of crap because feeling good about oneself can only be an inside job. Nothing you can buy on Godís Green Earth can make you feel O.K. if you donít feel O.K. in the first place. Lots of people on this planet seem to do just fine without a Lexus, or a new computer, or washing machine. If people are pretty much happy with their lives and who they are, you canít sell them anything by manipulating their feelings, so itís reeeeeal important to keep people confused with the idea that what they feel is who they are. Feel guilty? That means you are a guilty person obviously, so hereís what you can buy to become less guilty. Feel worthless? This means youíre a worthless person, so buy that Lexus and that will mean -- you get the picture? God forbid that people get the idea that feelings simply give information and arenít meant to be confused with personality. Feeling worthless simply means you have to do some exploration as to why you donít feel worthwhile in your own eyes. Feeling guilty simply means that youíve transgressed your moral code and youíre feeling badly about yourself.

    The two most powerful words in any language are "I feel". They are a profound statement about what youíre experiencing and canít be argued with. If someone tries to argue you out of your feelings say, "I feel angry because you come across like youíre trying to argue me out of my feelings." and if they continue, state, "I feel manipulated." This gives the other person information about how they are coming across to you. Not everyone likes that, but that is his or her problem: youíve kept your integrity.

    For this reason artists are usually at the center of controversy. Why? Art makes you think, but above all, art makes you feel. When art makes you laugh, cry, get pissed off, wonder, or puzzled, it has done what it was meant to do. Above all, the artist has done it with integrity by giving you his/her worldview through his/her medium: people are free to like it or not, but unfortunately, many get pissed at the artist for making a statement that they do not agree with. They are killing the messenger for the message (otherwise known as censorship). "I donít like what this arouses in me, therefore if I censor/stop you I wonít have to deal with the impact your art has on me -- or others." Itís much easier to do this than to examine why the artistic piece has the impact that it does. Boris Pasternack as well as Ray Bradbury could speak a lot about that. After all, to examine the impact of art could lead to introspection, and thatís very risky and (potentially) unprofitable stuff. Hey! All the more reason to create art: to get others to feel, and someday more and more people will start to think about what they feel and why. And, wouldnít that be a blessing? Maybe not for the Madison Avenue people, but then, who the hell would miss those manipulative bozos?

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    An inquiry from Bob Olson:
    Hello Out There!
    (Looking for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe)

    I had a dream. A pack of kids were sitting at my knees and I was telling a story, making it up as I went along, getting inspiration and fantasy ideas from my audience, which is my storytelling style.. A dark little boy suggested, "Make the big boys blue and mean and the little boy and girl yellow and kind." As I changed my story, the group grew and changed, from little kids to include teenagers in the back of the crowd, twenty feet away. The teenagers were dark-skinned and light-skinned, dusky and pale. They seemed no part of our story telling scene. They looked like hostile aliens, glaring at each other. One boy raised a fist and, before he could strike the first blow, I was in an instant between his fist and an angry face. Like some strange ghost, suddenly, I was an apparition halting a blow in motion. Appalled teenagers unclenched their fists and tempers cooled. My dream ended.

    Hello out there, angry world -- "Canít we just get along?" (Rodney King).

    Maintaining this attitude of peacekeeping, I was watching a TV special the other night dealing with the scientific search for intelligent life in our universe. Why do we always seem to come up empty handed? I found one ambivalent conjecture intriguing: On the one hand, considering the light-years in time for communication from a distant star system, an intelligent civilization could develop, progress and self-destruct before we could hear from them. On the other hand, a truly intelligent civilization ought to contain their prejudices and hostilities and avoid self-destruction.

    These thoughts shape my motivation. At heart I am a peacekeeper and conflict resolution is my best talent. I have procrastinated a long time. I havenít worked with groups in ages, and even to read my most recent stories and essays you have to go back to FOKUS Newsletters a few months ago. Perhaps writing is not the most important expression of my life at this time. Certainly my real satisfaction in the past two months has not been through writing. Helping friends in their accomplishment has been more satisfying. I have realized this through editing the work of my convict friends and the Christian testimonial of my companion Bob Calvert, that provided the cover story for the February issue of Voice Magazine, published by FGBMI (Full Gospel Businessmen International). I feel there is something special in my editing that subtly promotes conflict resolution.

    The strange ending of my dream recollects dramatic events in my life in which I have had the good fortune to intervene in crisis. In 1951, as a student social worker, myself and my fellow workers were companions and escorts to a black couple attempting to integrate a south side Chicago apartment. A police barricade kept a mob at bay in the developing stages of a full-scale riot. Our violent racist neighbors immediately calmed down at the sight of their social worker friends. I felt love and power when the violence ceased. As an instructor of evening classes in a military stockade one night my students were acting out of control because I was delayed for nearly a half-hour. The situation was approaching chaos while my supervisor attempted to explain my delay. Guards were on their way, nightsticks in hand. Luckily, as I was sighted coming down the hall, my students seated themselves quietly like Catholic third graders in a parochial school. Another time I actually did step between swung fists in a high school brawl. Iíll never be able to explain the strange phenomenon of my having this talent to resolve conflict.

    These days, one of my friends is a convict who has taken college courses in prison to become a certified counselor. Although he remains behind bars, he often brings peace to prison unrest. Another of my friends, an author of best-selling books on near-death and spirituality as a doctor, offers medical proof of the existence of God in every human body. I am fortunate to have a place in the lives of many friends. Perhaps the irons of my ambitions rest on the coals of too many fires. My life would be more simple and effective if I were to concentrate my energy in constructive communication toward conflict resolution.

    Hello out there! Are there signs of intelligent life on this planet? Can we be peacekeepers instead of warmongers? I believe the realization of my art lies in being more than writing. My best sense of being has been in the times I have spent as a teacher/counselor, talking, sharing, loving, storytelling, editing and writing with a loving heart. I seek this opportunity.

    If you can offer Bob an opportunity to meet with a class you teach or a small group you belong to, he would love to volunteer his services. Some of Bobís special skills and interests include: conflict resolution, value education, cultural diversity, storytelling, creative writing, near-death experiences and art expression. Bob has been fortunate enough to have worked with many of the pioneers in these fields.
    Please call him.- - - - - Bob Olson 425-747-3879

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    Advice From The Experts:

    "THE TRUTH IS THIS: Writing is a bumper-to-bumper crawl through hell with an occasional jolt to the next level of anguish. To be a writer means hitching oneís self-esteem to the slimy tail of success. Slip loose, and itís into the wreckage of failed artists." --
    Arthur Plotnik, The Elements of Authorship

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    Kitty Kat Toons, Roberta Gregory

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    Last updated:  February 28, 2001