maybe "rants" isn't the right word. these are simple thoughts about my life. some may be more colorful than others. some language may be offensive, but it depends on your definition of offensive. consider this your warning ;)

03 April 2016

I don't know if I would sell

So I just finished watching "The Big Short," and I must say I really enjoyed it. I'm not here to lobby for it and toss out a bunch Oscar snub comments, or defend why it should have won this or that. And I'm not using this as a politically-charged post for or against any candidate or even any angle regarding the primary focus of financial criminality in the movie/book (which I want to read).

I'm here to share my admiration for (the portrayal of) Mark Baum's moral compass.

He wants to do what's right. But what resonated even more with me was that he wants to ask all the questions. He has an inquisitive eye, which many (including his wife) want him to tone down for his own sanity and overall quality of life.

But he wants to know, and not just to know, but because he wants to know why, he wants to expose how, and he wants to learn and potentially execute how things can be done more effectively and legally with the "right" people in mind.

SPOILER ALERT (but not really): What he does at the end of the film is what I figured he would, but I had hoped he would not. Would I do the same thing had I been in that position? Probably, but in theory, I would like to say I could stick to my guns and keep my integrity in the face of a man made catastrophe.

So, yeah...going back to Mark Baum...with another mention of the fact that I haven't read the book yet...

Even with the structure of the movie, using Gosling's Vennett as narrator, taking into consideration of Bale's Dr. Burry, Pitt's, Rickert, and Magaro and Wittrock as the duo from Brownfield, Steve Carell's Mark Baum was set up to be disliked early on. And I think that was part of the plan, full-knowing the general American public's enjoyment of Carell. But his Baum...his just edgy enough to be an asshole, while still hard-nosed to fit in (ish) with these financial types, but what really struck me is how he is the same way with everyone, including his wife played by Marisa Tomei.

(Sidenote: I was kind of hoping Emma Stone would make an appearance because #CrazyStupidLove)

I keep getting sidetracked...(actually, the more honest wording would be..."I keep sidetracking myself.")


What I'm trying to say is that I feel like Mark Baum sometimes. I don't ask questions to make people look bad. I don't do it for personal benefit. I ask questions and challenge and poke and prod and inquire because I genuinely want to know why things are happening the way they are. Are they right? Who are these methods serving? Who implemented these practices? Is it a hopeless case, or can it be reformed?

Everyone has their motivations for pushing ahead or even staying out (like Rickert), but what makes me sad is that Mark Baum's drive for revealing truth isn't more common. It isn't to prove self-righteousness, and it isn't even for personal benefit. It's for the masses. It's for the people. It's to broaden our perspectives as a society.
Truth is like poetry. And most people hate fucking poetry.-Overheard at a Washington D.C. bar
I know I don't have all the answers, and I will never claim to. What I can do, and what I choose to do on a daily basis is ask the hard questions. Of myself and of my environment, those around me included. A lot of people aren't a fan of this, and I'm fully aware of this. It has taken me a long time to be able to ask myself challenging, truly inquisitive questions on a constant basis, and I don't expect others who have chosen to not question like I have to instantaneously flip a behavioral shift and start doing this. This isn't an end all, be all practice, but I can say from experience, that being able to Mark Baum a few things and ask the tough questions can really open your world up. Even if you don't know how far down the rabbit hole goes, or whether you're falling down said rabbit hole, or if it's within yourself, it takes a hell of a risk to do it.

And whether you sell the swaps or not, just know why you're doing it, and that'll bring you a bigger payoff than anyone else can get you.

21 February 2016

Addressing some laws

More days than not in recent past (as in, say, the last two weeks) I've been operating at a higher level, a more positive one, and in some ways, a more dynamic one. The last three days have been absolutely packed with different events in my personal and professional life and energy has been brewing and bubbling fantastically. That being said, this morning took an unexpected turn and jarred me for the majority of the day.

I was driving to Notre Dame for a work-related event and on the way there, while waiting at a red light behind two other vehicles in my lane, I heard a loud screech of skidding tires and I saw a full-size SUV in the crossing traffic crash into the rear passenger side of a minivan that was speeding past it. The van spun around (thankfully staying upright) and came to a stop in front of the SUV, both vehicles in the middle of the intersection in front of me and the other cars waiting at the light. 

I froze. Panicked really. The sound of the tires skidding across the pavement was a brutal bleating, and the crunch of the vehicles is what set me off. The driver and front passenger of the SUV got out and as others had already exited their cars with the cell phones in hand, I opted to pull around the scene and head towards the university. As I pulled around, I noticed the driver's door and driver's side passenger door open, and in the middle row seat on that side there was a young girl, who looked to be around 7-9 years old, and she was crying. The adult from the driver's seat was standing next to her outside the car and I could hear them saying, "You're ok. You're ok." as I drove by.

I've driven by plenty of accident aftermath scenarios, but it has been quite a while since I've seen an accident unfold in front of me. And with a recent revisiting of the Angelina story this past week, this tossed the energy of the week into the blender. Nonetheless, I was off to Notre Dame and had to focus in for work, which was fine once I was in the building around some great energy in an improv workshop.

Being blunt with myself, I said to myself, "Get it together, Marlon, you have a lot to do today and there isn't time for weepy memories to take over your day." Typically, I try to address feelings as they arise, positive or negative, but as adulting does with most of us, "the show must go on." Life doesn't give you a pause button just because you need to take a time out.

I head to the first part of the improv workshop and leave to head back to a lighting workshop at the theatre where I work. Once I'm in the car the mood sets in again. I stop and get coffee and a donut, and while in the drive thru, I hear staccato horn honks and hear a thud and a crunch of two vehicles, although milder than the one that morning. I turn around and see a red Prius with a white minivan behind it. The van backs up slightly, and the Prius speeds off through the parking lot. 

"You have GOT to be fucking kidding me," I exclaim in my car. Seriously. That was my out loud reaction. Inside my head I think, "Ok, that's two." Because, threes, right?

I go to the lighting workshop. I enjoy it. I take off to find a friend for a hug before heading back to Notre Dame to catch the tail end of the workshop I was present at in the morning. And then I head to a local coffee shop, The Well, for an all-day event to raise money to donate to UNICEF for Syrian Refugees. Partially to help out with a portion here or there, but also to enjoy some of the awesomeness in my new-to-me community.

So today I spent more time driving around than I do normally, and of course this is what happens when i spend more time on the road.

The law of conservation of energy states (loosely) that energy in an isolated system cannot be created or destroyed.

The law of attraction deems you can bring positive events by emitting positive energy and likewise with negative events and negative thoughts and energy.

With that in mind after the inciting incident of the morning's turn of events, I knew I needed to focus on positive things and allow myself to soak in all that is good. But then I also think to myself, I am not an isolated system. Neither is Saturday. And the world itself isn't an isolated system. (In regards to the spiritual sense, anyway.) But to some extent, there can be an argument for conservation of energy in life: births and deaths, relationships starting and ending. And even with the law of attraction, there are things like this morning, that are curveballs, and yet events that may be considered coincidental (like the van/Prius situation) they may have very well be somewhat generated by energies felt after the morning.

And then I think of Batman. (I know, I'm all over the place, but if you've read through a few blog posts here, you know this is normal, and I typically come back to the primary point, whether it looks like I will or not.)

But yes, Batman.

What does happen when an unstoppable force comes up against an immovable object?

And this is when my uniquely wired psyche throws me a huge curveball:

What if I'm both for myself? My own unstoppable force AND the immovable object?

This video, although primarily focusing on a scientific explanation (as opposed to spiritual/emotional), gives me a solid answer.

The rest of the day turned out to be a lot of fun around a lot of very interesting people. So many different people enjoying the event, participating and performing, sharing stories, and just a grand day of being a community. The last hip hop act of the night was a very unique performance for me to catch. It's been a while since I've listened to much rap or hip hop, and although I feared for his safety as he precariously perched on top of a barstool as well as thrashing about the stage, I enjoyed the fact that this is the one of the rawest emotional performances I've seen outside of a theatre. In between tracks he would share his message of staying true to yourself and being honest with yourself. He voiced his opinion on always wanting to dig in more and executing actions and not just talking about them. For his authenticity and honest, unadulterated energy, I enjoyed it immensely.

And I couldn't let this day go by without getting it out of my head. There is much to be said about energy and emotion, and as you know I enjoy telling stories, I had to tell one about today. When I got to Notre Dame shortly after the first accident happened, I texted a friend about it. The words that were shared in the response resonated brilliantly,

Breathing. Breathing. 
Acknowledging our impermanence and permanence. That we aren't promised more than this moment.

For now it is time to regroup, recharge, and rest well.

24 January 2016

I'm here.

Whenever I'm acting in a show, I take a pre-show nap. I have to. To release my mind, calm down, let go, and essentially find my mental prairie of peace and clarity. It helps. It always does. It ensures I leave behind everything I don't need for the performance and allows me to focus my all-too-often scattered energy. Sleeping through the night can serve the same purpose, but most mornings I wake up the next day still a little scattered. But today is different. I know everyday is different, but today feels different. It feels like I took a pre-show nap and today is a brand new performance for a show I have been cast in that I've failed to focus on for way too long. I'm ready. I'm rested, I'm energized, and I have a relaxed readiness that can be mistaken for calm nonchalance. But that's not for you to worry about. I'm locked in. Good morning, January 24, 2016. Good morning, world. I'm here and I'm present. Let's do this thing.

30 December 2015

One artist's opinion on The Old Navy Artist Shirt

Let me start with this, I don't have a problem with Old Navy's shirt that has "artist" crossed out in the phrase "young aspiring artist". I don't. At all.

Full disclosure, I used to work for Old Navy for a couple years in recent past. Used to. Past tense. And I left on great terms. And no one at GAP Inc. asked me to write this or has offered to compensate me. I'm writing this because I see so many tweets and posts from proponents of the performing arts (including great arts organizations) bashing the "derogatory"...wait for it...ARTWORK on this individual piece of clothing.

That being said...why do I even have an opinion on this?

I've been a supporter of the arts for much longer than Old Navy has even been around. I've often had to defend the importance of the arts, in general, and in my life, personal and professional. I grew up playing the violin, singing in choir, acting in plays, and generally being a mascot in my everyday life, not just in high school. I love the performing arts, and I always will.

And this is what I thought when I saw the image...

"Oh, 'artist' is highlighted with paint (an artistic medium) and the young artist has chosen their vocation."

Ok, maybe I don't sound that eloquent in my head, but that's the general attitude of it. I did not see it as a bashing of the arts because I see art in every profession. Writing, teaching, building...Presidenting...

There is art in every single one of us. Yes, if we pigeonhole the term "art" in regards to visual and performing arts, then yes, through that lens I can totally understand where you can take this graphic designer's work of ART and INTERPRET it offensively.

For example...a carpenter. Master Builder (#LegoMovie), wood burner, whittler, whatever. These are artists. They have a craft in their skill set. They have a canvas: the wood. They have tools: chisels, saws, hammers. They have an audience: the consumer.

A teacher. They have their stories to tell: lessons. They have their audience: students. They have their stage: the classroom

An author or playwright. This one is more straightforward. They have a story to tell: the essay, book, or script. They have the tools: their minds, keyboards, typewriters, notepads, napkins, whatever. And they have their audience: you.

A president. The story: leading. The tools: their education and background, their eyes and ears, their staff. The audience: the citizens.

A chef. The story: presenting a course, or a meal through several courses. The tools: utensils, cookware, stove, oven. The audience: you, your mouth, your tastebuds.

You want a "less creative" profession? Well maybe that's the real aren't seeing the creativity in the profession. 

Let's take a position that is considered an administrative/management position (if the example of President didn't do it for you).

Human Resources Manager.

The story: leading a company through regulations and generally making sure the company doesn't get in trouble. Hiring and disciplining employees. Sharing information about benefits, the company, and the team.

The tools: hiring practices, training material, company history.

The audience: current and new employees.

How about another one?


The story: organizing, preparing, and presenting the state of the organization for better or for worse.

The tools: numbers, reports, profit & loss statements, computers, adding machines, printers.

The audience: auditors, board members, the IRS.

Or even going back to one of the professions listed on the shirt itself...


The story: gathering data about a world where very few actually know about.

The tools: this list is just as expansive as the space they travel in. Oxygen tanks, computers, rockets, space suits, helmets...

The audience: The World. Literally. The home space station.

So yeah, you want to say there's no art in those professions?

Why should a graphic designer be stoned for putting forth something they felt proud of? Why should a company who generally presents positive messages on their clothing all of a sudden change their attitude?

Why can't you explain to your children, coworkers, and team members that there is art in everything and that WE are all artists. Similar to when parents write letters to celebrities and companies about their "insensitive" material...why can't we have the discussions in our own homes and why are trying to make for-profit businesses change what they're doing to make money when we can educate each other.

The issue is not the opinion of art in this one, singular piece of clothing. It's the attitude towards art and artists that has been hammered into our collective consciousness.

We are all artists. We are all musicians. We are all painters, storytellers, writers, and actors. 

Have you ever worked in retail? Food service? Customer service? You have acting experience.

Have you ever cut the grass, trimmed a hedge, or done someone's make up? You're an artist.

Do you ever communicate through spoken, written, or sign language? You're a storyteller.

I know that I may receive some backlash from my fine/performing arts colleagues, but that's ok. I'm telling my story now, as it came up, in the way that I know best...writing.

I am an artist. Not because I've lived in and around the performing arts. Not because I have a degree in Theatre. Not because I work at a theatre company. But because I choose to appreciate art in as much as I can, and THAT is why I don't have a problem with "the shirt."

p.s. What if the screenprint was messed up and the artist's intention was for "aspiring" to be crossed out so that it read "Young Artist"?

Art in Life, Life in Art

In the Fall of 2014, I was blessed with the opportunity to act in a show entitled Take Me Out, by Richard Greenberg. The director had expressed his interest in working with me, but as the roles in the show would have it, his hands were tied (thanks to the playwright and artistic integrity) and I was cast as Takeshi Kawabata, the Japanese character in the play.
The story follows a fictional baseball team called The Empires, and their star player, Darren Lemming, has just made an announcement (via press conference) that he is gay. There are plenty of racial and homophobic controversies that ensue, all on the canvas of America's past time, baseball, and my role spoke to me so much, not just during the rehearsal process, but throughout the performance run.

Kawabata is one of the closers on the Empires roster. He is from Japan and speaks no English. He was signed by the Empires after dominating at home, and needed no translator, only a coach to put him in as needed and take him out when his time was done. He was disowned by his family for following a hobby as a career path, but came to America to play. And play, he did. Shoving off the circus that happened around him, he focused on the one thing that granted him purpose and peace: baseball. And he doesn't succeed at that, he takes it personally. And when he does, it's about the team. 

I had no idea that being Filipino and moving to the Midwest (intentionally) would be such a springboard for my growth in theatre as well as teach me so much about who I am as a man.

I am the middle child of two Filipino immigrants. Yes, I proudly claim my middle-child complex, and my status as a first-generation American. I more often identify myself as American than Filipino, and to be quite honest, I'm still struggling (spoken: growing) with that too.

Some Asian (and Filipino) stereotypes have been fulfilled. I was raised on a lot of meals that included rice. I love basketball. I was great at math through grade school, I learned to play the violin at a fairly young age. I enlisted in the Navy.

But this isn't about being Asian or Filipino. This is about me bringing Kawabata to life.

My desire to go into the arts was often frowned upon at home. It was beat into me that I should choose a career in math or science if I want to succeed. Or something "noble" like being a doctor, lawyer, or accountant. Nothing against those professions, they just weren't what I was interested in.

And so I went into the arts, but not without sailing away and coming home. Literally and figuratively. Because of my home life through high school (#LongStoryShort), I enlisted in the US Navy, and since I scored high enough on the ASVAB (95, baby!) I qualified to take the Nuke test. This test would determine if I could enter the Nuclear Training Program, and out of 80, I scored a 62, which was higher than my classmates who took the Nuke test earned  (and they earned 99's on the ASVAB). And I took it with pieces of scratch paper and no calculator. But it's not about that.

So I go into the Navy and train to be an Electrician's Mate. Put department on a submarine. As far away from the arts I could imagine, and right in line with what I "should be doing" as a my elders decreed. But I separated for a service-connected disability, and was honorably discharged.

And so, in my early twenties, with a much better work ethic than I had gone into the Navy with, I was faced with a huge question: What now?

So I resumed the path I wanted before I graduated high school - I went into the arts. I moved back to California and started at a community college in Northern California, DVC. And I couldn't be happier to be back in the theatre. Acting was great, learning to direct was even better. I directed my first full-length show, Stephen Adly Guirgis' Jesus Hopped the 'A' Train, and it put DVC on the map, and gave those of us involved a huge gold star in our lives.

I finished up my undergraduate education at Long Beach State (#GoBeach) and earned myself a Bachelor's of Arts in Theatre with an emphasis in Directing. As love and life would have it, I got married and moved out to the Midwest (away from all those I had networked and worked with in California) to start a new chapter in my life. Eventually I had returned to the theatre (spoken: after my divorce) and now enter, Take Me Out auditions.

So here I was, in a state I've never lived in, isolated by my own doing (my ex had moved back to California) and I was here to do what I've loved all along: contribute my art in a theatre. Through Take Me Out, I found more of myself in Kawabata than I had initially realized. Not because I am Filipino, but because of my life's path. I chose to focus on theatre, much to the dismay of many around me. I left an area that I did not feel was supportive of me in the ways that I needed and went to a place that felt welcoming. There I begin to thrive. There I find solace in many things I could not find else. 

Here in Indiana, I've signed with the Empires.

And now, in almost exactly a year's time from performing in Take Me Out, I'm getting ready to open a show that I've been given the opportunity to direct Water by the Spoonful (by Quiara Alegria Hudes) at the theatre company that I was blessed with a full-time job at as well. In the world of Take Me Out, Kawabata misses the mark and (#SPOILERALERT) the fastball doesn't end up in the catcher's mitt.

But that's a play, a scripted play, and I'm not Kawabata. I'm Deleon. And this isn't scripted. So I take the mound every game I'm called up for, and I throw the best game that I can.

For information on Water by the Spoonful, click HERE for the Facebook event or visit the South Bend Civic Theatre site HERE

19 December 2015

10 Lessons from a Navy Seal

This came up in my Facebook feed today, and I watched it twice. I've seen it before, but like many things, words, songs, movies, advice...everything can sound different at different points in your life.

Aside from the last three words in this video, I could watch this ad nauseam. It truly is worth watching in its entirety. At least to me, but then again, I clicked on the link because an admiral was pictured, not because it said UT Austin.

Here is a Table of Contents, if you will, of the lessons the admiral shares. Please note that the titles listed below are of my own creation/annotation (and are for my own future reference):
  • 1:24 Make decisions, or The Butterfly Effect
  • 4:40 Make your bed, or Tasks and Goals
  • 6:14 The boat crews, or Find Your Teammates
  • 7:20 It's about heart, or Size Doesn't Matter
  • 8:38 Uniform Inspections, or The Struggle of Perfectionists
  • 10:06 Learn from everything, or Own the Circus
  • 11:30 Dive head first, or Fly Outside the Box
  • 12:50 Don't back down, or Shark Punching
  • 14:00 Keep your cool, or Calmness in Calamity
  • 15:38 Don't lose hope, or Singing while Sinking
  • 17:50 Don't quit, or You Can't Un-Ring a Bell


01 July 2014

Photo Blog Challenge-July 1: Red and White

As with many holidays, decorations and preparations start well before the target date. With Independence Day approaching, finding red, white, and blue isn't a difficult task. However, finding something solely red and white, took a little more observation. My adventure to the beach today literally showed me the light.
A single red flag flown atop a white, unmanned lifeguard tower. Or the red flag whipping about in the wind below the white-hot sun. Either way, it was my red and white target of the day (but still with a blue background).

The first time I went to this beach (last week), it was overcast, and about an hour in, the clouds surpassed holding capacity, and the rain came down in the most glorious summer rain I've played in since I lived on the east coast. This time, the sun was shining, and it was a great summer day. But the red flag meant no swimming, due to strong riptides and too much E Coli measured in the waters.

But I'll be damned if I didn't have fun. So I did.