The Caveman Guide to Training and Development, II, to be Released!

Picture2More CAVE wisdom on training and development. I know it’s been a while since the first volume, but I think you find this one just as good as The Caveman Guide to Training and Development my original Best Seller.

Also, a note on In Makr’s Shadow. Coming out with a new look. This version is too dark. The book is less about darkness and more about the light. Not your clichéd futuristic end-of-world, man-fighting-machines stories.  The machines in the background provide the conflict. Somewhere between artifical intelligence and mankind is a solution to re-building.

This idea of humans having to confront machines, the backround, and eirerly close to the pssible truth as electronic devices take away our idividuality, define us as individuals, and provide so much power to the world that not part of our lives go untouched. It is logical we are likely to make the big mistake. The one percent control the world. How so when the other 99 percent also have power? There’s nothing to have done. The book shows that there is. While we contemplate that, our heroes make up the one percent–that is the fighters–while the rest live in a lovely fatastic prison–the prisoners wildest dreams always come true–unless they’re dead.

In Makr’s Shadow on Sale!

In Makr’s Shadow is free for a limited time only on Smashwords. Click on the cover image to reach the web page. The novel is still available as a Kindle, Nook, Kobo book, and available through most book stores that sell ebooks. Previously published as Harry’s Reality.

Shaw's Reality

In Makr's ShadowFrom In Makr’s Shadow:

“In what used to be a city, lurking in the darkness of an alley, Captain Carlos Montoya stood facing the ambush point, an ancient asphalt pavement with deep potholes that looked more like crevasses, craters that looked like canyons, with eroded, saw-like jagged edges that could shred a man before he could fall to the bottom to die. Of course, there was also the possibility of simply falling through the existing turf.

“Carlos fidgeted as much as any Shadow could and remain invisible to the outside world. Waiting days shrouded in darkness for the Cyber to move from point A to B was nothing. Still, he was always unnerved to come out of hiding. Carlos and his people remained hidden in the shadows all their lives; they were his soldiers, warriors, or guerillas. His soldiers fought and died, his warriors were heroic and his guerrillas were…

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Who Knew Neil Simon Could Be So Educational?

Students from the Camden Community College Theatre Department in Blackwood, New Jersey, recently produced Neil Simon’s THE STAR SPANGLED GIRL and did a superb job producing the play in record time! Student performances were great, the lighting and sound spot on, and the set quite remarkable.

With the exception of professional shows, most plays these days are produced in five or six weeks. The CCC production team had only four weeks. One of those weeks was committed to technical aspects of the show, so not much time for tweaking–not that it seemed to need much.

Three actors and thousands of lines, blocking and direction were memorized, then executed as intended by the playwright. That’s putting it all in a very small “nut shell.” The performances made the show and most of the pressure was on them to make it work. The cast did a did a pretty good job, despite working unfamiliar material. I can’t imagine they were familiar with Neil Simon’s unique style.

With the exception of direction and technical support, this was a student-run production. A full-length play with only three characters means a lot of work, including building the set–and a lot of time management, especially for students.

Actors: Trent Davis-Rozycki (Norman), Julian Class (Andy), and Katheryne Koch (Sophie) all made the audience smile, chuckle and groan in fabulous Neil Simon fashion.

THE STAR SPANGLED GIRL is challenging from the start. Simon’s plays require a special comic timing and rhythm. And even though the play is 47 years-old and the cast half that age, the CCC cast managed to put on a first-rate production of a difficult play.

Although some might call the play dated, I think this cast would disagree. In some ways this play is not typical Neil Simon. It wasn’t one of his big successes on Broadway, but it still holds up–and it’s relevant today.

In 1967, half the U.S. population was divided on a number of subjects, especially politics. And today, only the protests are different. Is it comforting to turn back the clock and see we haven’t changed? I don’t know. That, perhaps, is why we should pay attention to the world around us. And, theatre helps us do that.

Theatre often provides a vehicle for time (or dimensional travel to another reality), as well as a mechanism for implanting and clarifying ideas.

The theatre arts are a collaboration of many individual arts, with a single purpose. Sometimes, that purpose is to make us laugh at ourselves, at our foibles as humans. These arts include music (even if it is in the background or between scenes, it affects our perception), movement and dance, creating sound and lighting effects, sometimes even puppetry, and, of course, drama.

THE STAR SPANGLED GIRL takes place in 1967. In a small 1960’s-styled apartment. Its occupants are roommates engaged in publishing a protest magazine. To get us to that point, the theatre must use the arts of scenic design, realistic painting, and decorating. Music embellishes the period, effectively placing the audience in 1967.

After the show, the student actors and student technical staff of THE STAR SPANGLED GIRL sat on stage for a “Talk Back” for the audience. I was surprised most of the audience stayed to ask questions not only about the play, the actors and their experience. I was pleased with the answers.

These community college actors spoke of their burning desires to perform their art, and their intentions to continue as long as possible in the theatre arena. This conviction comes at a time when most students haven’t clue as to their future, so it is surprising in freshman and sophomores.

None of the actors said that they wanted to be a “star,” and each realized his or her passion might be limited or last only so long. Actors aren’t always limited by their ability; more often, they are limited by the world and opportunities around them. College is the time to show them the reality of what they want to do.

I asked a seemingly unrelated question. I asked if the actors saw a connection with psychology or sociology (hinting at deeper understanding), and all three students agreed most definitely that they viewed theatre as a way to see and explore how other people think and behave.

When asked why they did theatre, the students didn’t respond that they loved the applause, but more importantly that they viewed their experience as an opportunity view society, thus, giving them wider perspectives about the world around them.

“Who knew theatre could educational”–even Neil Simon?

 A note for Neil Simon fans, critics and others who may regard his work as simplistic. His plays are simple, but ask yourself if you are laughing at the simpicity or because there is truth between the lines. His one-liners are entertaining, but beneathe that sarcasm is a message for theatre-goers. Simon has contributed more than thirty plays and almost as many films to the entertainment industry. He has won one Tony, had numerous Tony Award nominations and won many other awards. His style relies on one-liners, sarcasm that has an almost slapstick effect, but at the same time, his characters can be poignant and make more a serious point–all the while his story makes us laugh at the stereotypes he captures for us.

The Reality of Being Human – a Musical About Love in The Road Company’s Triumphant THE COLOR PURPLE


Kim Spencer as “Shug” Avery and Danielle Harley-Scott as Celie. Photo by David Gruen

Resilience and Redemption

Audio Voiceover.

“Unlike any other art, the total, intense focus of theatre is on the human being, his or her existence, and his or her relationship with life. It is a part of human nature to need to examine who we are in relationship, with where we are. Consequently, basic elements of theatre and drama exist in every society.” Debra Bruch, PhD – from her work at the University of Michigan, The Experience of Theatre.

This is one answer to the question of why we go to the theatre; however, there are many more. We also go because we love the magic, we like to feel, and we want to be entertained. In pure theatre terms, it is cathartic, allowing us release our hearts and souls through the art.

All of those things were present, in a full house on a Thursday opening night, when I saw THE COLOR PURPLE, THE MUSICAL at The Grand Theatre in Williamstown. The Road Company’s production is remarkable: an exuberant, emotional rollercoaster of the resilience and the redemption that love can bring.

THE COLOR PURPLE, based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker, features music and lyrics written by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray, with a book by Marsha Norman. On Broadway from 2005 to 2008, it earned eleven Tony Award nominations, winning one for one of its actors.

This is the story about Celie, a woman who undergoes tremendous cruelty in some of its harshest forms, recovers and grows stronger still, and eventually takes charge of her life without depending on others. The time is the early 20th century in rural Georgia.

Dev Eagle as the Preacher, Bryan Pitt as Mister, Danielle Harley-Scott as Celie. Photo by David Gruen.

Dev Eagle as the Preacher, Bryan Pitt as Mister, Danielle Harley-Scott as Celie. Photo by David Gruen.

After bearing two children, fathered by her stepfather, by the time she is fourteen years old, Celie is forced to marry a man, whose sole intention is to use her as a slave, taking care of his children, his farm and him. Known only as “Mister” in the first act, he finds her “ugly,” while two women he really wants have rejected him.


From the early high-energy gospel scene, you might think THE COLOR PURPLE is about the spirit of religion, but it is not. Not really–although you could say our characters are re-born, and ultimately remind us of the wonder of the world. It is a grim reality to start with, exploring the depths of human cruelty—with humiliation, physical and mental abuse and slavery.

The musical explores the enormous heart and strength we have to survive and thrive after experiencing the cruelty of our fellow man. What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger echoes throughout the play. Surprisingly, race plays a very small role, and purposely so.

Benita Simpson as Sophia and John Clark as Harpo. Photo by David Gruen.

Benita Simpson as Sophia and John Clark as Harpo. Photo by David Gruen.

THE COLOR PURPLE is full of contrasts and juxtapositions, pitting wretched misery against the cheerful and beautiful in song and dance.

The most telling songs, though, are the quiet, simple numbers; the more raucous ones seem designed to thrill an audience with vibration rather than give it something to think about. The music is very good overall, and the singers divine. It’s good to stir these emotions, and remind us we are human.

Spanning four decades, this dark tale is an unbelievably vibrant, vivid and victorious celebration of life. The Road Company production of THE COLOR PURPLE was indeed powerful in all the important ways that matter to the theatre–the acting, the music, the dance, the costumes and the lighting. What could be better for a show that celebrates anything than lights changing the set’s colors scheme? Steve Pracilio’s lighting design fleshes out the scenes brilliantly. Ruslan Odintsov’s musical direction provided the perfect sound for the sweet and soft songs to the bold and brash ones.

Danielle Harley-Scott as Celie. Photo by David Bruen.

Danielle Harley-Scott as Celie. Photo by David Gruen.

Director Suzanne Baldino-Jones did an amazing job of staging so many scenes with so little set, but the fantastic ensemble cast helped with its ability to remove the focus from environment and turn it over to the action. By itself, the set: a southern tree, steps with a voluminous background and front porch, doesn’t seem like much at first. Arthur Leo Taylor’s choreography, amazing in its diversity, takes advantage of any leftover space onstage and, and sometimes, in the aisles. There hardly seems time to breathe without action of some kind all over the stage. It’s not that an elaborate realistic set wouldn’t be nice; it’s just not needed.

However, when the scene changes to Africa, everything seems jarred out of place, with the play suddenly becoming as big as the real world. Then again, since the characters are growing rapidly, so should the world around them. Perhaps there is more relevance than we might think. The tribe in Africa, Nettie discovers, is as proud and as hard as her own people back home in Georgia, USA. The music pounds in the second act, revving the audience for a finale. The stronger the beat, the stronger the characters we’ve come to admire, and the stronger we become.

Danielle Harley-Scott is ideal as Celie, sweet and meek in Act I, ferocious and fearless in Act II. Benita Simpson’s “Sophia” exemplifies a woman with a tough exterior but soft inside. Bryan Pitt as “Mister,” singularly great in both acts, seamlessly makes the transition from the cold, callous bastard of the first act, to the reverent man in the second. Kim Spencer’s “Shrug Avery” is enchanting as a temporarily defeated woman who finds the strength to come back, making the audience watch her every move as Celie does. John Clark does a fine job as “Harpo,” Mister’s son who struggles to be his own man, and B. Lauren Thomas is truly engaging as Celie’s sister, Nettie. The singers are astonishing.

The first act is eventful, serious and taut, while the second act goes wild and so does the audience. The Road Company’s THE COLOR PURPLE, THE MUSICAL, brought the audience to its feet with thunderous applause and without hesitation. While the story is dark and gloomy, the end leaves you with an odd feeling inside, tears in your eyes and a smile on your face.

THE COLOR PURPLE runs through November 8.

Based on the novel by written by Alice Walker and The Warner Bros./Amblin Entertainment motion picture
Book by Marsha Norman
Music and Lyrics by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray
Directed by Suzanne Baldino-Jones
Choreographed by Arthur Taylor
Music Direction by Ruslan Odintsov
The Road Company at
Grand Theatre
405 S. Main Street
Williamstown, NJ 08094

In Makr’s Shadow on Sale!

In Makr's ShadowFrom In Makr’s Shadow:

“In what used to be a city, lurking in the darkness of an alley, Captain Carlos Montoya stood facing the ambush point, an ancient asphalt pavement with deep potholes that looked more like crevasses, craters that looked like canyons, with eroded, saw-like jagged edges that could shred a man before he could fall to the bottom to die. Of course, there was also the possibility of simply falling through the existing turf.

“Carlos fidgeted as much as any Shadow could and remain invisible to the outside world. Waiting days shrouded in darkness for the Cyber to move from point A to B was nothing. Still, he was always unnerved to come out of hiding. Carlos and his people remained hidden in the shadows all their lives; they were his soldiers, warriors, or guerillas. His soldiers fought and died, his warriors were heroic and his guerrillas were stealthy. It all depended on Carlos’ state of mind. Today they were warriors.

“His warriors waited anxiously in the shadows of a building cluster; they were cocked like a weapon system, ready to explode and destroy.

“Like the rest of his people, Carlos dressed head-to-toe with a Stealth cloak that made him virtually invisible, a shadow blending in the darkness and gloomy fog. His telltale heat signature vanished as his body’s radiated warmth dissipated evenly through the rough-hewed fabric.

“It was the same for the group of fifteen smoky apparitions behind him that also merged easily into the nightshade. Focusing his attention on the immediate darkest areas that lay between the buildings up ahead, he stood poised, ready for this encounter with Makr’s Cyber Protectors. With luck, he would see his enemy before it detected him.”

In Makr’s Shadow is available in Kindle, Nook, Kobo and other epub formats. For a limited time only, I’m offering it for free via Smashwords. Click here on the image to go to the page. Available on Smashwords web page in all formats. The only difference is in how you upload to your device or app as well as your computer.


The Reality of an Alien Invasion: It’s Nothing Like Hollywood

What would a competent alien invasion force do differently from the normal Hollywood portrayals? This answer to the above question is re-posted from Ariel Williams’ answer on Quora. I felt it fit our discussion of reality and what if. I hope you enjoy. I did.

Firstly, although the aliens may be carbon based life as we are and have similar biologies to us they almost certainly do not have compatible amino acid combinations. So what does that mean? It means that almost all biological material on Earth would be poisonous or indigestible if consumed to them and vice versa.

There are many ways to assemble amino acid chains and life on Earth has adapted to cohabitating with many of these methods. On an alien world with just slightly different elemental makeup in their crust this would likely change the entire spectrum of how those molecules mix and match. Just a tiny bit more of an already uncommon or semi-rare element on the surface like ammonia, neodymium or boron (to pick three random ones) might change everything.

There are many foods that are poisonous even to most native species on Earth yet palatable to others. This same concept would be taken to an even greater extreme with aliens. Their biology is likely to be very different from ours.

So the good news is they don’t want to eat us or our tasty cows, chickens, pigs, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, or coffee. That is also the bad news. This means they have no need for most forms of life on our planet.

The plan should ideally be done without humanity realizing it is under attack. If they have the chance to irradiate their planet it can make it uninhabitable by any life even their own.

This answer makes a few assumptions.

  1. The aliens have been traveling a very long time and can potentially survive in deep space for long periods of time. Even at light speed, travel would take many years and they are likely going much slower than that..
  2. The aliens have learned how to mine and manipulate asteroids to build the colossal ships and fuel needed to travel here.
  3. The aliens have different biologies to ours and cannot eat our food nor can they catch nearly any of our diseases.
  4. They are here to colonize the Earth because it is an ideal Garden World in the Circumstellar habitable zone of its star and has similar gravity to their homeworld.
They want our planet for colonization because it is a rocky body, has a good gravity, is in the zone where liquid water exists in all three states and we have a large moon to help deter meteor impacts. In real estate the three most important things are location, location and location. This goes doubly so in space. They don’t want us or  our plants and food, they want the water, air, sun and the land.

Stage One: Kill the most dangerous species, humans.

  1. Silently take samples of many lifeforms and micro organisms. Small robotic probes can do this without being detected. They could even be as small as an insect.
  2. Engineered viruses can be created to wipe out most every human on Earth. Remember that amino acid thing? That also means the virus is not likely to have any effect on them if they design it right. While using a bioweapon on another nation would be suicide as you can’t stop the spread, due to their different body chemistry this is not an issue.
  3. Similar engineered viruses that target key organisms in the food chain could kill most other life. Primary targets could be plankton, bee’s and livestock. Without plankton most of the ocean dies, without pollinators like bees the land animals die. The only reason to kill livestock like pigs and cows is to speed the death of humans.
  4. As the population dwindles and becomes less stable, wars may break out. Some small numbers will turtle in bunkers and secure facilities that limit the chance of exposure and many weapon systems can be remotely activated. Sophisticated weaponry would need to be ready to place in orbit to destroy any attempts to launch or use nuclear or chemical weapons by the native populace. There is not a high chance of this but preparations need to be made. Radioactive contamination is going to be dangerous to all carbon based lifeforms, even the aliens.

Stage Two: Clean the slate.

Capture 3 large meteorites and send them on a collision path with the Earth that will take less than 1-3 years to reach the planet. One will be stony and 20-50 km the other two will be 10-20 km and iron-nickel based. Place the two iron-nickel meteorites on a different orbit that will miss the Earth but can be easily corrected to be an impact using thrusters similar to what the ship uses. The larger stony asteroid will be sent directly for the Earth. Ideally, the stony meteor will take less than a year to reach the Earth at speeds just under what the humans would find suspicious.

  1. This can be done concurrently with the epidemic. While the epidemic is at work there will be too much chaos to counter the impact. Most conservative theories think we would need as much as 3 years to a decade of lead time on a potential large impact to sufficiently stop it. We do not even have any technologies for this scenario prepared beyond pure theoretical concepts.
  2. When the first asteroid nears the Earth use controlled detonations to break it into smaller pieces which can each strike different regions or continents. 10-20 pieces should do the job. This will eliminate almost all remaining humans and much of the ecosystem.
  3. Place the second meteorite on a final approach for the Earth. This is the planet killer. Big enough and solid enough to send ejecta (earth, water,) into the sky and cause an Impact winter but not so big that the Earth’s water is ejected into orbit or the crust is melted. The impact should be a water landing in a fairly deep area to spread the ejecta via steam and water vapor, and reduce the chance of melting the crust. The impact winter will eliminate the majority of life reliant on photosynthesis.
  4. Repeat step 4 again with the third meteor one year later. At the end of one year most of the ejecta will have returned to the ground and sun levels will rise again.
  5. Continue repeating this process annually until all photosynthetic reliant life dies out. This will kill all plants, and most animals.

Stage Three: Cleanup and xenoform.

<Image by sketchboook DeviantArt>

  1. During the ice age a targeted sterilization program can be fully begun. Any remaining humans in deep bunkers will be found and destroyed. Any nuclear weapons will be collected or dismantled.
  2. Specific programs will begin that will destroy any hardy or resistant life forms that manage to survive the Impact Winter.
  3. Those slightly different mixtures of surface materials will be utilized during this stage. Any materials found on the homeworld in greater concentrations will be mined from asteroids and salted on the Earth during the violent storms of the ice age. Chemical compounds will be produced to sequester any chemicals more common on Earth that could be difficult for the homeworld flora and fauna.
  4. After the last impact winter, begin producing greenhouses to cultivate the seeds native to your homeworld. This will be a massive project and the seeds will be raised in ideal conditions for life on your planet. These will be expanded as needed. These can provide enough food to feed the seeded population.
  5. A seed population of under 100-200 could fully populate the Earth by using frozen embryos and sperm equivalents from 10-30,000 or more individuals. This would prevent inbreeding and create a viable genetic diversity in a very small space compared to carrying 5-10,000 breeding age pairs alive through the trip. 5-10,000 is the minimum viable genetic diversity theoretically feasible based on Earth creatures.
  6. Xenoform the environment making any slight changes that are needed to support native life without greenhouses.
  7. This should carry you through for many, many years until you need to leave again.

    Wash, Rinse, Repeat with several hundred vessels each carrying 100-200 colonists and 10-30,000 fertilization samples. In 100,000 years your species could consecutively spread to a large portion of the galaxy by this method.

Original link.

THE CIVIL WAR, the Musical – Glorious, Awe-Inspiring!

civil war marqueeSouth Jersey’s Eagle Theatre has awed another audience with the magnificent and powerful, THE CIVIL WAR, the musical. Ted Wioncek truly defined the term “artistic direction” as he put the pieces together. Wioncek and Chris Miller, the lighting designer, put together a great theatre concept for the show. And it works!

Not since LES MISÉRABLES have I seen anything that kept me as riveted to my seat as this one. I felt the very fabric of the American Civil War in its glory, its passion, and its unbelievable sadness. It’s not a sadness for those who lived in that time, or even the here and now, but a sadness that reaches forever and is felt by humanity everywhere. I knew the hearts of men and women, white or black, in that war against brothers–and sisters. Yes, sisters, too.

The Eagle Theatre production was outstanding.

As theatre, this story of the civil war works interestingly on many levels, weaving the “players,” blending them together finally in an innocent attempt to bring an end to the differences, but we know that what is expressed is hope–not the end. We experience the emotional highs and lows, the passionate embrace of war, and the subdued reluctance of all to an acceptance of sorts. To be fair, the “story” is a series of personalized vignettes, and the music, a mix of country, rock, folk and gospel, grab at audience heartstrings.

civil war civil war2 civil war3 civil war4THE CIVIL WAR, archetypal in concept, feel makes you feel privileged to be a part of history at that moment. I thoroughly enjoyed The Eagle Theatre’s production, complete with true-life pictures and the sounds of war and dramatic music. The cast was terrific as they usually are at The Eagle. The technical aspects of the show forged by Robert Klimowski reached as high and as creative as they could to add to the already amazing performances. The timing of action on stage to mesh with the Civil War images seen above was incredible. Lorraine Anderson’s costumes, made with the kind of material as the original uniforms, were unmatched by any I have seen recently in terms of authenticity. In a minimalist set, the costumes and the characters stand out, forcing us to listen to what they have to say (sing) and not be distracted.

I can never say enough about the professionalism I have seen with this theatre. I was especially impressed with newcomer, Kevin Hack, who played the Confederate captain. Genevieve Naccarelli as the Nurse stole a moment of the show with her amazing performance. Derrick Cobey was not to be outdone with his performance of Frederick Douglass and other characters. Dené Hill and Ciji Prosser with Rajeer Alford, Michael Hogan and Cobey had standout numbers as well. Kimberly Susskind was sweet as Sarah McEwan. Tim Rinehart, who shines as the Union captain, never ceases to amaze me with his range of characters. Tom Craig, Corey Buller, A.J. Mendini, Sean Elias, James Bock, Diego Rios, Nate Golden and Geoffrey Bruen were the “best.” I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone.

Tom Abruzzo’s music backstage and the music played and sung onstage were flawless, save for a crackle or two in the speakers–hardly something they could do anything about. The Eagle Theatre always produces and performs a show as far as it can go. It’s good that this theatre takes a risk producing a show that is not ready-made success, putting on a new face on it and finding the creative energy and talent to make it work.

THE CIVIL WAR moves you emotionally through the eyes of the northern and southern soldiers, wives back home and the slaves; however, the show uses generic renderings of people who lived and fought during that time. And, we’ve heard the same characters before. The message from Abraham Lincoln is the same as well. There’s nothing new to be heard, not a new twist on something old, or a realistic conclusion, but there is hope.

It seems in the past audiences have loved or loathed THE CIVIL WAR (The musical). Although nominated for several Tony’s, it didn’t last three months on Broadway, directed by one of Broadway’s best, Jerry Zaks. The criticism has been that Frank Wildhorn’s songs in this show are not the “one’s you hum on your way home”–that the Civil War and all its complexity cannot be relegated to a mere piece of history, that we are not reconciled as a people… I think you see where I’m going. Forget all of that.

Despite the inherent flaws of the show itself, the Eagle Theatre’s production of THE CIVIL WAR is excellent in every way. In fact, this production is probably better than the one on Broadway. I have that kind of faith in this theatre company.

On a more serious note. Although we have seen it often, in reality, we haven’t learned much about the horror of war . Perhaps, it’s a human frailty. That’s where I go when I find humanity wanting and a little blind to reality.

The Eagle Theatre presents the Professional Regional Area Premiere of Frank Wildhorn’s awe-inspiring musical, The Civil War: The Musical, starring Broadway performer Derrick Cobey. This engaging score, flourished with country, folk and rock influence, features the region’s most accomplished performers, adorned in time-period costume and décor.

September 19 & 20, 25 – 27, October 2 – 4, 8 – 11 | 8pm
September 21, 28 and October 5 | 3pm